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Thursday, October 31, 2013


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience the members of St. Peter's Circle. The Pope emphasised that the work of the Circle was carried out as a duty of the lay faithful, and commented that “every day each one of us is called to console, to become a humble but generous instrument of God's providence and of His merciful goodness, of His love that understands and sympathises, of His consolation that relieves and encourages”. Likewise, the Pope thanked them for Peter's Pence, the annual charitable offering collected by this group in the parishes of Rome.

Francis concluded by encouraging the members to continue in their work, “a visible sign of Christ's charity towards those who find themselves in need, in both a material and a spiritual sense, and to the pilgrims who come to Rome from all over the world. … continue in your work, drawing upon love for your brothers from the school of divine charity, through prayer and in listening to the Word of God”.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Servant of God Anton Durcovici of Iai, Romania (1888-1951), killed in hatred of the faith in the Sighet prison, Bucarest, Romania in 1993.


- Servant of God Honoria “Nano” Nagle (Joan of God), Irish foundress of the Union of the Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1718-1784).

- Servant of God Celestina Bottego, foundress of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary (1895-1980).

- Servant of God Olga della Madre di Dio (nee Olga Maria Fortunata Gugelmo), Italian professed nun of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Church (1910-1943).


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis' prayer intention for November is: “That priests who experience difficulties may find comfort in their suffering, support in their doubts, and confirmation in their fidelity”.

His mission intention is: “That as fruit of the continental mission, Latin American Churches may send missionaries to other Churches”.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., made the following declaration this morning:

On the occasion of the meeting of the 'Council of Cardinals' scheduled for early next October (1-3 October) and the subsequent meeting of the Synod Council (7-8 October), the Pope has informed the participants of his intention to convoke a Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on the occasion of the Feast of the Cathedral of St. Peter, 22 February. Pope Francis has decided to communicate his decision to convoke February's Consistory in advance in order to facilitate the planning of other meetings involving the participation of cardinals from different parts of the world.

Indeed, it is foreseen that the Pope, like his predecessors on other occasions, intends for the Consistory to be preceded by a meeting of the College of Cardinals.

Before this meeting – scheduled for the 17 and 18 February – there will take place the third meeting of the 'Council of Cardinals' (the so-called 'Eight Cardinals'), while after the Consistory, on 24 and 25 February, there will be the meeting of the Synod Council.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals for economic and organisational matters of the Holy See (the so-called 'Council of Fifteen') is expected to be scheduled as in previous years for the month of February, probably during the preceding week”.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - “Trafficking in human beings: modern slavery. Destitute peoples and the message of Jesus Christ” is the title of the seminar which, following a wish expressed by Pope Francis, has been organised by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of the Social Sciences, together with the FIAMC (the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations). The seminar, which will take place from 2 to 3 November in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV, will be attended by twenty-two participants from various countries and international organisations, including the Nigerian Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, United Nations special rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, and the Spanish doctor Professor Jose Antonio Lorente, scientific director of the Centro Pfizer – Junta de Andalucia Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO) of the University of Granada, Spain.

The workshop aims “to establish the real state of this phenomenon and an agenda to combat this heinous crime. For example, the natural sciences today can provide new tools that can be used against this new form of slavery, such as a digital registry to compare the DNA of unidentified missing children (including cases of illegal adoption) with that of their family members who have reported their disappearance”, writes Bishop Marcelo Sanchez-Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of the Social Sciences.

No one can deny that 'the trade in human persons constitutes a shocking offence against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights', and is an accelerator of criminal profits in this new century. The Second Vatican Council itself observed that 'slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, and disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than free and responsible persons' are 'infamies' which 'poison human society' … and constitute 'a supreme dishonour to the Creator'”.

According to the recent UNODC Report on Trafficking, “the International Labour Organisation estimated that between 2002 and 2010 '20.9 million people were victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation, 60% of whom are girls. Human organ trafficking reaches almost 1% of that figure, thus affecting around 20,000 people who are forced or deceived into giving up an organ, such as the liver, kidney, pancreas, cornea, lung and even the heart”.

Some observers speculate that, within ten years, human trafficking will surpass drugs and weapons trafficking to become the most profitable criminal activity in the world”, reiterated Bishop Sanchez-Sorondo. “International sex trafficking is not limited to poor and undeveloped areas of the world – it is a problem in virtually every region of the globe. Countries with large (often legal) sex industries create the demand for trafficked women and girls, while countries where traffickers can easily recruit provide the supply. Generally, economically depressed countries provide the easiest recruitment for trafficking”.

He concluded by recalling that, during the canonisation of the Mexican saint, Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, Pope Francis said that the work the saint carried out with the poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalised, “taught us this behaviour: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find 'touching Christ's flesh' repugnant. … Pope Francis' words are a clear reaction, following Jesus Christ's message, to this new form of contemporary slavery which constitutes an abhorrent violation of the dignity and rights of human beings”.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission “Eccclesia Dei”.

- Rabbi Arieh Sztokman, with his wife.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Rev. Joseph Gebara as coadjutor bishop of the eparchy of Nossa Senhora do Paraiso em Sao Paulo of the Greek Melkites (Catholics 443,000, priests 11, permanent deacons 3, religious 4), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Amatour, Lebanon in 1965, and was ordained a priest in 1993. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Institut Catholique, Paris, France, and a doctorate in history of religions and religious anthropology from the Sorbonne University, Paris. He has served in pastoral roles in the parishes of “Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre” and “Notre-Dame des Champs” in Paris, and is currently parish priest of “Notre-Dame de la Delivrance” in Hadath, Lebanon and deacon in the archieparchy of Beirut. He is also a lecturer at the Saint Paul Theological Institute of Harissa, the Saint Joseph University of Beirut, the Saint Esprit University of Kaslik and the Antonine University of Baabda.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, presented by Bishop Pablo Cedano Cedano, upon having reached the age limit.


Vatican City, 31 October 2013 (VIS) - We would like to remind our readers that no VIS bulletin will be transmitted on Friday 1 November, All Saints Day and a holiday in the Vatican. Service will resume on Monday 4 November.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Vatican City, 30 October 2013 (VIS) - “The communion of the holy”, one of the most beautiful aspects of our faith, as it was defined by Pope Francis, was the theme of the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience, which took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by more than 80,000 people.

The communion of the holy consists of two related meanings: the communion of holy things and communion between holy people, and the Pope focused on the second, “one of the most consolatory aspects of our faith”. In fact, the term “holy” refers to those who believe in Jesus Christ and who are integrated with him in the Church by baptism”.

The relationship between Jesus and the Father is “the 'matrix' of the link between us as Christians: if we are intimately inserted in this 'matrix', in this ardent fire of love, then we can truly become one heart and one soul, because God's love burns away all our selfishness, our prejudices, our divisions, both internal and external. If we are thus rooted at the source of Love, which is God, we encounter a reciprocal movement: from brothers to God. The experience of fraternal communion leads me to communion with God. God's love burns away our sins”.

Francis moved on to consider the second aspect of the communion of the holy: faith needs the support of others, especially in difficult times, and asked, “Who among us has not experienced insecurity, disorientation, and even doubt along the path of faith? We have all experienced this; I have too, it forms part of the path of faith, the path of our lives. None of this should surprise us, because we are human beings, marked by our frailty and limits. However, in these difficult moments it is necessary to trust in the help of God, through filial prayer and, at the same time, it is important to find the courage and the humility to open ourselves to others. In this communion – because communion means common union – were are a great family, whose members all help and support one another”.

The third aspect of the communion of the holy “goes beyond earthly life, it goes beyond death and lasts forever. It is a spiritual communion, born at baptism, and it is not interrupted by death but, thanks to the risen Christ, is destined to find its full meaning in eternal life. There is a deep and indissoluble bond between those who are still pilgrims in this world, between us, and those blessed who have crossed the threshold of death to enter into eternity. All baptised persons here on earth, the souls in Purgatory and those who are already in paradise form a great and single family. This communion between heaven and earth is achieved above all through intercessory prayer. This communion is ours, it makes us brothers, it accompanies us on our path through life and it means that we meet again in heaven. Let us continue on this path, with joy!” concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 30 October 2013 (VIS) – Following the catechesis of today's general audience, the Pope announced that he would greet a delegation of representatives of the various Iraqi religious groups, accompanied by Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and who “constitute the wealth of the country”. He invited all present “to pray for the dear nation of Iraq, unfortunately stricken daily by tragic episodes of violence, so that she may find the way of reconciliation, peace, unity and stability”.


Vatican City, 30 October 2013 (VIS) – The World Council of Churches (WCC) celebrates, from 30 October to 8 November, its tenth General Assembly in Busan, in the Republic of Korea, on the theme “God of Life, lead us to justice and peace”.

The Assembly, considered to be the most important management organ of the WCC, is convened every seven years and although the Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, she collaborates with this organisation, participating in the theological research of the Commission on Faith and Constitution on the principal questions that continue to divide Christians, in the field of ecclesiology and, above all, through the “Mixed Working Group” which co-ordinates the various joint activities and initiatives. For this reason, the event will be attended by an official Catholic delegation in the role of accredited observers.

The Holy Father has sent a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in which he expresses his hope that “the present Assembly will help to consolidate the commitment of all Christ's followers to intensified prayer and co-operation in the service of the Gospel and the integral good of our human family”. He continued, “the globalized world in which we live demands of us a common witness to the God-given dignity of every human being and the effective promotion of the cultural, social and legal conditions which enable individuals and communities to grow in freedom, and which support the mission of the family as the fundamental building-block of society, ensure a sound and integral education for the young, and guarantee for all the untrammelled exercise of religious liberty. In fidelity to the Gospel, and in response to the urgent needs of the present time, we are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment”.

I pray”, concluded the Holy Father, “that the General Assembly will contribute to a new impulse of vitality and vision on the part of all committed to the sacred cause of Christian unity, in fidelity to the Lord’s will for his Church and in openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Upon all gathered in Busan I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God, source of all life and of every spiritual gift”.


Vatican City, 30 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Richard Ng as bishop of Miri (area 42,000, population 600,000, Catholics 80,000, priests 16, religious 20), Malaysia. The bishop-elect was born in Kuching, Malaysia in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a licentiate in sacred scriptures from the Biblicum, Rome, and has served in a number of roles, including parish vicar of the cathedral of Kuching, lecturer in sacred scriptures in the major seminary of Kuching, and director of the archdiocesan Commission for Social Communications. He is currently rector of the major seminary of Kuching. He succeeds Bishop Anthony Lee Kok Hin, whose resignation upon having reached the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Vatican City, 29 October 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, announced in his address at the opening of the new academic year of the Pontifical Oriental Institute that a summit meeting of the patriarchs and major archbishops of the oriental Churches of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East will be held in the Vatican, in the presence of the Holy Father, on 21 November.

The meeting, which will take place from 19 to 22 November, will take as its general theme the debate “The Eastern Catholic Churches fifty years after Vatican Council II”.

The cardinal declared that “Pope Francis has agreed to repeat the meeting which took place for the first time in 2009”, when the heads of the Eastern Churches met with Benedict XVI in “a fruitful morning of reflection”, and will now have the opportunity “to speak before the Pope on the situation of eastern Christians”.


Vatican City, 29 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Leonard Paul Blair of Toledo in America, U.S.A., as archbishop of Hartford (area 5,926, population 1,996,000, Catholics 718,000, priests 393, permanent deacons 289, religious 818), U.S.A. Bishop Blair was born in Detroit, U.S.A. in 1949, was ordained to the priesthood in 1976, and received episcopal ordination in 1999. He succeeds Archbishop Henry Joseph Mansell, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon having reached the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Gabriel 'Leke Abegunrin of Osogbo, Nigeria, as archbishop of Ibadan (area 7,000, population 5,450,000, Catholics 443,000, priests 172, religious 965), Nigeria.
Archbishop 'Leke Abegunrin was born in Iwere-lle, Nigeria in 1949, was ordained to the priesthood in 1979, and received episcopal ordination in 1995. He succeeds Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon having reached the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Kurt R. Burnette as bishop of the eparchal See of Passaic of the Ruthenians (catholics 14,729, priests 80, permanent deacons 26, religious 27), U.S.A. Bishop-elect Burnette was born in Fakenham, England in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He is currently rector of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Pittsburgh.

- appointed Fr. Aureo Patricio Bonilla Bonilla, O.F.M., as apostolic vicar of Galapagos, (area 8.010, population 25,124, Catholics 18,850, priests 11, religious 13), Ecuador. The bishop-elect was born in Riobamba, Ecuador in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Antonianum Pontifical Athenaeum University of Rome, and has served in a number of roles, including president of the institutes and centres of Franciscan theological study of Latin America; secretary for formation of the Bolivarian Franciscan Conference; defender of the bond of the National Court of Appeal of the C.E.E.; provincial vicar, president of the judicial commission of the Franciscan order, deacon of the faculty of philosophy and theology and professor of canon law; judge at the National Court of Appeal and consultor for consecrated life of the Episcopal Commission of Ministers and Consecrated Life of the C.E.E.; and member of the tribunal of the archdiocese of Quito. He is currently provincial vicar of the Order of Friars Minor in Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Manuel Antonio Valarezo Luzariaga, O.F.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Vatican City, 28 October 2013 (VIS) – The Vatican Television Centre (CTV), instituted by Blessed John Paul II on 22 October 1983, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and, this morning, as he received its members in audience, Pope Francis remarked, “It has come a long way in these three decades of activity”. Nowadays we find ourselves before new challenges “which we cannot elude, in order to maintain a firm evangelical perspective in this form of global communication highway”.

The Holy Father, after thanking the employees of the CTV for their dedication, and also their families, since “they live according to the Pope's weekly agenda. He advised the workers to “play as a team”, since “the effectiveness of the pastoral of communication is possible when bonds are created, by making a group of people converge around shared projects, in a 'unity of planning and resources'. We know that this is not easy, but if you help each other together to work as a team, the burden is lessened and, above all, also your style of working becomes a testimony of communion”.

Be professionals in your service to the Church”, he continued. “Your work is of great quality, as it needs to be for the task that has been assigned to you. But your professionalism must always be in the service of the Church, in everything you do: in filming, in directing, in editorial decisions, in administration... Everything must be done with an ecclesiastical style and a perspective, that of the Holy See. It is necessary for the CTV to be able to effuse to spectators, to the faithful and to those who are further away, the perfume and hope of the Gospel”.


Vatican City, 28 October 2013 (VIS) - “Christians and Hindus: fostering human relationships through friendship and solidarity” is the theme of the message addressed to followers of Hinduism by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on the occasion of Deepevali, the feast of lights, which is celebrated on 3 November this year. The document is also signed by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary of the same dicastery.

In this highly competitive world where increasingly individualistic and materialistic tendencies adversely affect human relationships and often create divisions in families and society as a whole, we wish to share our thoughts on how Christians and Hindus can foster human relationships for the good of all humanity through friendship and solidarity.

Relationships are fundamental to human existence. Security and peace in the local, national and international communities are largely determined by the quality of our human interaction. Experience teaches us that, the deeper our human relationships, the more we are able to advance towards cooperation, peace-building, genuine solidarity and harmony. In short, the ability to foster respectful relationships is the measure of authentic human progress and essential for promoting peace and integral development.

Such relationships ought to flow naturally from our shared humanity. Indeed, human relationships are at the heart of human existence and its progress and naturally give rise to a sense of solidarity with others. Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological differences, all of us belong to the one human family.

Sadly, with the increase of materialism in society and a growing disregard for deeper spiritual and religious values, there now exists a dangerous trend to accord the same value to material things as to human relationships, thereby reducing the human person from a ‘someone’ to a ‘something’ that can be cast aside at will. Furthermore, individualistic tendencies engender a false sense of security and favour what His Holiness Pope Francis has described as ‘a culture of exclusion’, ‘a throwaway culture’ and ‘a globalisation of indifference’.

The promotion of a ‘culture of relationship’ and ‘a culture of solidarity’ is thus imperative for all peoples, and calls for the fostering of relationships based on friendship and mutual respect for the benefit of the entire human family. This requires a common recognition and promotion of the intrinsic dignity of the human person. It is evident then that friendship and solidarity are closely related. In the end, a 'culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters' (Pope Francis, Visit to the Community of Varginha (Manguinhos), Rio de Janeiro, 25 July 2013).

Finally, we wish to state our conviction that a culture of solidarity can only be achieved as 'the fruit of a concerted effort on the part of all, in service of the common good' (Pope Francis, Meeting with Brazil’s Leaders of Society, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013). Sustained by the teachings of our respective religions and aware of the importance of building genuine relationships, may we, Hindus and Christians, work individually and collectively, with all religious traditions and people of good will, to foster and strengthen the human family through friendship and solidarity”.


Vatican City, 27 October 2013 (VIS) – The pilgrimage of families to Rome as part of the Year of Faith concluded this morning with the Holy Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, which was crowded with participants, as were Via della Conciliazione and the adjacent streets. Below is the full text of the Holy Father's homily, following the Gospel reading.

The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on some basic features of the Christian family.

First: the family prays. The Gospel passage speaks about two ways of praying: one is false – that of the Pharisee – and the other is authentic – that of the tax collector. The Pharisee embodies an attitude which does not express thanksgiving to God for his blessings and his mercy, but rather self-satisfaction. The Pharisee feels himself justified, he feels his life is in order, he boasts of this, and he judges others from his pedestal. The tax collector, on the other hand, does not multiply words. His prayer is humble, sober, pervaded by a consciousness of his own unworthiness, of his own needs. Here is a man who truly realizes that he needs God’s forgiveness and his mercy.

The prayer of the tax collector is the prayer of the poor man, a prayer pleasing to God. It is a prayer which, as the first reading says, 'will reach to the clouds', unlike the prayer of the Pharisee, which is weighed down by vanity.

In the light of God’s word, I would like to ask you, dear families: Do you pray together from time to time as a family? Some of you do, I know. But so many people say to me: But how can we? As the tax collector does, it is clear: humbly, before God. Each one, with humility, allowing themselves to be gazed upon by the Lord and imploring his goodness, that he may visit us. But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace… Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realising that we need God, like the tax collector! And all families, we need God: all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness. And we need simplicity to pray as a family: simplicity is necessary! Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: its easy. And praying the Rosary together, as a family, is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents ... praying for each other. This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

The second reading suggests another thought: the family keeps the faith. The Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, makes a final reckoning and says: 'I have kept the faith'. But how did he keep the faith? Not in a safe! Nor did he hide it underground, like the somewhat lazy servant. Saint Paul compares his life to a fight and to a race. He kept the faith because he didn’t just defend it, but proclaimed it, spread it, took it to distant lands. He stood up to all those who wanted to preserve, to 'embalm' the message of Christ within the limits of Palestine. That is why he made courageous decisions, he went into hostile territory, he let himself be challenged by distant peoples and different cultures, he spoke frankly and fearlessly. Saint Paul kept the faith because, in the same way that he received it, he gave it away; he went out to the fringes, and didn’t dig himself into defensive positions.

Here too, we can ask: How do we keep our faith as a family? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness? We all know that families, especially young families, are often 'racing' from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this 'racing' could also be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families. Yesterday in this square we heard the testimonies of missionary families. They are missionary also in everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith! Keeping the faith in families and bringing to everyday things the salt and the leaven of faith.

And one more thought we can take from God’s word: the family experiences joy. In the responsorial psalm we find these words: 'let the humble hear and be glad'. The entire psalm is a hymn to the Lord who is the source of joy and peace. What is the reason for this gladness? It is that the Lord is near, he hears the cry of the lowly and he frees them from evil. As Saint Paul himself writes: 'Rejoice always … The Lord is near'. I would like to ask you all a question today. But each of you keep it in your heart and take it home. You can regard it as a kind of 'homework'. Only you must answer. How are things when it comes to joy at home? Is there joy in your family? You can answer this question.

Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well ... True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centred individualism prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth! May the joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!”


Vatican City, 27 October 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrated on the Day of the Family, part of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis prayed before an image of the Holy Family of Nazareth, to whom he commended all families in order that the wonder of grace be renewed in them.

Before praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted and thanked all the pilgrims, especially families, present in the square. He then addressed the bishops and the faithful of Equatorial Guinea, in Rome on the occasion of the ratification of an Agreement with the Holy See. “May the Immaculate Virgin protect your beloved people, so that they make progress on the path of harmony and justice”.

And now, let us pray the Angelus together. With this prayer, we invoke the maternal protection of Mary for families throughout the world, and especially for those who live in situations of great difficulty. Mary, Queen of the Family, pray for us!” concluded the Pope, inviting those present to repeat the invocation of the Virgin.


Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) – More than 150,000 people from 75 countries representing all five continents gathered in Rome this afternoon to meet the Pope in St. Peter's Square, following the pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter as part of the Year of Faith. The pilgrimage was entitled “Family, live the joy of faith”, and the Holy Father, who toured St. Peter's Square by open car, embracing children along the way, dedicated his address to this theme.

Francis entered the square, shaking hands with ten children carrying balloons; before his address he listened to several people who recounted their experiences: families going through difficult times and young people who would like to marry but are unable to find work, and he asked, “How is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today? … Life is often wearisome, and many times tragically so. We have heard this recently… But what is most burdensome in life is not this: what weighs more than all of these things is a lack of love. … Without love, the burden becomes even heavier, intolerable”.

Dear families”, he continued, “the Lord knows our struggles: he knows them. He knows the burdens we have in our lives. But the Lord also knows our great desire to find joy and rest! … Jesus wants our joy to be complete! He said this to the apostles and today he says it to us. … Take home this Word of Jesus, carry it in your hearts, share it with the family”.

Francis took his second word from the Rite of Marriage. “'I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness' … At that moment, the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together. And that is what marriage is! Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands. Hand in hand, always and for the rest of your lives. And do not pay attention to this makeshift culture, which can shatter our lives. With trust in God’s faithfulness, everything can be faced responsibly and without fear. Christian spouses are not naive; they know life’s problems and temptations. But they are not afraid to be responsible before God and before society. They do not run away, they do not hide, they do not shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world”.

He added, “Christians celebrate the sacrament of marriage because they know they need it! … They need Jesus’ help to walk beside one another in trust, to accept one another each day, and daily to forgive one another. And this is important! To know how to forgive one another in families because we all make mistakes, all of us! Sometimes we do things … which harm others. It is important to have the courage to ask for forgiveness when we are at fault in the family”.

He repeated the three key words for family life: please, thank you and sorry. “We say please so as not to be forceful in family life. ... We say thank you, thank you for love! … And the last word: sorry. We all make mistakes and … harsh words are spoken but please listen to my advice: don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family. … If love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus gives always gives us that love: he is its endless source”.

Finally, he offered as an example the scene of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Family as the image to represent this event. “Like all of you, the persons depicted in this scene have a journey to make: Mary and Joseph have travelled as pilgrims to Jerusalem in obedience to the Law of the Lord; the aged Simeon and the elderly prophetess Anna have come to the Temple led by the Holy Spirit. In this scene three generations come together, the interweaving of three generations. … These two elderly persons represent faith as memory. But let me ask you: Do you listen to your grandparents? … Grandparents are like the wisdom of the family, they are the wisdom of a people. … And a people that does not listen to grandparents is one that dies! … Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of Jesus who is the fulfilment of all God’s promises. Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it. Therefore, today we have grandparents and children. The children learn from their grandparents, from the previous generation”.

Dear families”, he concluded, “you, too, are a part of God’s people. Walk joyfully in the midst of this people. Remain ever close to Jesus and bring him to everyone by your witness”.


Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Saturday 16 October, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Republic of Panama, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the colloquial discussions, the parties discussed various themes relevant to the current situation of the country, especially in relation to the social policies initiated by the Government, and development projects for the nation. The country's long Christian tradition was mentioned, and the historic bilateral links were emphasised as being of particular interest with regard to current relations between the Church and the State. In this respect, gratitude was expressed for the gift of a statue of Santa Maria La Antigua, patroness of the nation, offered to the Pontiff by the head of State and placed in the Vatican Gardens. The conversation then turned to a panoramic view of the regional situation.


Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis awarded the Ratzinger Prize, granted by the Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI, to the Rev. Richard Burridge, Anglican minister and deacon of King's College, London, and to the German theologian Christian Schaller, layperson, lecturer in dogmatic theology and vice director of the Benedict XVI Institute in Regensburg, Germany, which is publishing critical editions of Joseph Ratzinger's full works.

The symposium, always organised by the Foundation, took place at the Lateran University in Rome from 24 to 26 October, and studied the theme “The Gospel: history and Christology”, taking Joseph Ratzinger's works as a starting point.

I thank you, and am happy to meet with you, especially as a sign of our recognition and of our great affection for Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. I would like to share with you a reflection, which comes to me spontaneously when I think of the truly unique gift that he has given the Church in his books on Jesus of Nazareth”.

I recall that when the first volume came out, some people said: what is this? A Pope doesn't write books on theology, he writes encyclicals! … Certainly, Pope Benedict had considered this problem, but also in this case, as always, he followed the voice of the Lord in his enlightened conscience. With these books, he did not offer teaching in the strict sense of the word, and he did not produce an academic study. He gave a gift to the Church, and to all humanity, of what was most precious to him: his knowledge of Jesus, the fruit of years and years of study, of prayer, of theological investigation, and he made it available in the most accessible form”.

He continued, “No one can measure the good he has done by means of this gift; only the Lord knows! But we all have a certain perception of this, having listened to so many people who, thanks to these books on Jesus of Nazareth, have nurtured and deepened their faith, or have indeed drawn close to Christ for the first time, as adults, bringing the demands of reason alongside their search for the face of God”.

At the same time, the work of Benedict XVI has stimulated a new era of study of the Gospels, between history and Christology, and our Symposium, for which I congratulate the organisers and speakers, forms a part of this”.

The Holy Father concluded by congratulating the recipients of this years prize, also in the name of his predecessor.


Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) – Today in the Sala di Papi of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis met with and briefly addressed a group of ex-students of the Jesuits of Uruguay.

Thank you again for your visit and your greetings. You bring so many memories to me! The only thing that surprises me is that no-one has brought any 'mate'! Did no-one have the courage? The Uruguayan streak is missing – when your president came, he brought 'mate'! Thank you, truly.

I see there are many young people: this is a promise and a hope. It brings to mind many memories linked to the companions who organised this visit, and many other good things.

I do not know when a visit to your country will be planned, but it certainly will not be before 2016. One thing is sure: if I visit Argentina, I must also visit Chile and Uruguay, all three together. So, we will meet again there.

I thank you again and ask a favour of you: pray for me. People here are very good, my companions are good and everyone works together, but there is much work to be done and it is difficult to keep up. Pray for me, and for my collaborators, so that we can carry on. Many thanks!”.


Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) - A letter from the Pope was published today, dated 7 October and written in Latin, in which he appoints Cardinal Raffaele Farina, S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, as his special envoy to the celebration of first centenary of the Sophia University of Tokyo, Japan, scheduled for 1 November 2013.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Fr. Juan Haidar, S.J., Argentine, associate professor of the faculty of theology and director of the Catholic Centre of the Sophia University; Fr. Celestino Cavagna, Italian, previously vicar general and secretary general of the archdiocese of Tokyo and currently parish priest of Tachikawa, Tokyo; and Fr. Nobukuni Suzuki, S.J., lecturer at the faculty of theology of the Sophia University.


Vatican City, 28 October 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Teruaki Nagasaki, the new ambassador of Japan to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence.

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.

- Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate 1991.

- Rrok Logu, ambassador of Albania to the Holy See, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday, 26 October the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.


Vatican City, 28 October 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Richard Joseph Gagnon as archbishop of Winnipeg (area 116,405, population 723,000, Catholics 169,000, priests 82, permanent deacons 19, religious 135), Canada. Archbishop Gagnon, previously bishop of Victoria, was born in Lethbridge, Canada in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1983, and received episcopal ordination in 2004. He succeeds Archbishop James Weisgerber, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, upon having reached the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of El Obeid, Sudan, presented by Bishop Macram Max Gassis, M.C.C.J., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria.

On Saturday, 26 October the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Luanda, Angola, presented by Bishop Anastacio Kahango O.F.M. Cap., upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Fr. Giovanni Battista Piccioli of the clergy of Portoviejo, Ecuador, and Fr. Bertram Victor Wick Enzler, episcopal vicar and member of the clergy of Guayaquil, Ecuador, as auxiliaries of Guayaquil (area 12,446, population 2,916,000, Catholics 2,657,000, priests 317, permanent deacons 21, religious 621), Ecuador.

Bishop-elect Piccioli was born in Erbusco, Italy in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1982. He holds a licentiate in theology from the theological faculty of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna. He was sent to Ecuador as a “fidei donum” missionary in 1995. He has served in the following pastoral roles and academic roles: in Italy, parish vicar of two parishes in Brescia and parish priest of San Vito di Bedizzole; in Ecuador, parish priest of “Santa Ana” in Manabi and “Santisima Trinidad del Floron” in Portoviejo, professor of theology in the major seminary of Portoviejo, and parish priest of “Santa Rosa de Lima” in San Vicente.

Bishop-elect Wick Enzler was born in Waldkirch, Switzerland in 1955, and was ordained a priest in 1991. He was sent to Portoviejo, Ecuador as a missionary in 1990, entering the “Santa Maria del fiat” Institute. He has served in the following pastoral roles: parish vicar in Guayaquil, parish priest in the peninsula Santa Elena and in the parishes of “Gesu Buon Pastor”, “Santa Madre de la Iglesia”, and “Santa Elena”; he currently holds the office of episcopal vicar.

- appointed Msgr. Aldo Giordano as apostolic nuncio to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. Archbishop-elect Giordano was previously special envoy and permanent observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who subsequently met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, mention was made of the Catholic Church's positive contribution in favour of the human, social and cultural development of the country, particularly in the fields of education and welfare, as well as the collaboration of the state in improving the quality of life for the population.

At the end of the visit, in the Sala dei Trattati of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the secretary for Relations with States exchanged the instruments for the ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea on relations between the Catholic Church and the State, signed in the city of Mongomo on 13 October 2012.

The Agreement, which seals the existing good bilateral relations, recognises the legal personality of the Church and her Institutions. It also relates to canonical marriage, places of worship, educational institutions, and spiritual assistance to Catholic faithful in hospitals and in prisons. By solemn act the Agreement, composed of nineteen articles and an Additional Protocol, came into effect on today's date in accordance with article 18.1.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - “The family is a community of life with its own consistency. It is not the sum of the persons by whom it is constituted, but rather a 'community of persons'”, said Pope Francis, quoting Blessed John Paul II's encyclical “Familiaris consortio”, in an address to participants in the twenty-first plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family taking place in Rome during these days, whom he received in audience this morning.

The family, continued the Pontiff, is “the place where we learn to love, the natural centre of human life”. … Each one of us builds his or her own personality within the family. … It is there that we learn the art of dialogue and interpersonal communication”. For this reason “the community-family … asks to be recognised as such, even more nowadays, when the protection of individual rights prevails”.

The family is based on marriage. Through an act of free and faithful love, Christian couples give witness that marriage, as a sacrament, is the foundation upon which they base their family and strengthens the conjugal union and mutual self-giving. … Conjugal and familiar love also clearly demonstrate the vocation of the person to love in a unique and everlasting way, and show that the trials, sacrifices and crises in the lives of couples, as in the family as a whole, represent stages of growth in goodness, truth and beauty. … It is an experience of faith in God and of reciprocal trust, profound freedom, and holiness, because holiness presupposes self-giving with trust and sacrifice every day throughout life!”.

The Holy Father continued by placing special emphasis on two phases of family life, childhood and old age, commenting that, “Children and the elderly represent the two poles of life and are also the most vulnerable and often the most forgotten group. A society that abandons its children or marginalises its elderly members not only carries out an act of injustice but also sanctions the failure of that society. Taking care of the young and the elderly is the choice of civilisation”.

Pope Francis expressed his approval of the new icon of the family, created by the Pontifical Council, which depicts the scene of the Presentation of Jesus at the temple with Mary and Joseph who bring the Child, as required by the law, and the two elderly figures of Simeon and Anna who, moved by the Spirit, welcome him as the Saviour. The title of the icon is 'His mercy extends from generation to generation'”.

The 'Good News' of the family”, he concluded, “is a very important part of evangelisation, that Christians can communicate to everyone through the witness of their lives; and they already do so – this is evident in secularised societies. … We therefore propose to all, with respect and courage, the beauty of marriage and the family, illuminated by the Gospel! And for this reason we draw close, with attention and affection, to families in difficulty, to those who are compelled to leave their homeland, who are divided, who do not have homes or work, or who suffer for many reasons; to couples in crisis or those who have separated. We wish to be close to all of them”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica Pope Francis consecrated two new bishops: Bishop Giampiero Gloder, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and Bishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio to Ghana. The Holy Father read the ritual homily, in accordance with the Roman Pontifical for episcopal ordinations, adding some personal reflections.

It is Christ who, in the bishop's ministry, continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and to sanctify believers, through the sacraments of the faith”, he said. “Indeed, 'episcopate' is the name of a service, not an honour. It is the bishop's responsibility to serve rather than to dominate, according to the commandment of the Master: 'the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves'”.

He then invited the new bishops to “proclaim the Word in every occasion, opportune or otherwise. … And through prayer and the offer of sacrifice for your people, you will draw from the fullness of Christ's holiness the many and varied riches of divine grace. Through prayer. Remember that first conflict in the Church of Jerusalem, when the bishops had so much work in looking after widows and orphans, and decided to appoint deacons. Why? To pray and preach the Word. A bishop who does not pray is a bishop who arrives only half way along the path. And if he does not pray to the Lord, he falls prey to worldliness”.

The bishop must accompany service and prayer with love. “Love, with the love of a father and of a brother, all those whom God entrusts to you. Above all, love the priests and deacons. They are your collaborators, the nearest of the near for you. Never make a priest wait: he asks for an audience? Answer immediately! Be close to them. But also love the poor, the defenceless and those who need welcome and help. Encourage the faithful to co-operate in the apostolic task and listen to them willingly”.

Finally, Francis encouraged them to pay close attention to “those who have strayed from the fold of Christ, because they too have been entrusted to you by the Lord. Pray for them. Remember that in the Catholic Church, brought together by the bond of charity, you are united with the College of bishops and must bring with you the care of all the Churches, generously assisting those most in need of help”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., today made the following declaration on the state of health of Archbishop Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:

As is known, he recently underwent a surgical procedure, which took place in Padua in the department of hepatobiliary surgery in the university hospital. The procedure was successful and today Archbishop Parolin will be discharged.

He will remain in Veneto during the coming days to allow a suitable period of rest and recovery, and in order to be able to assume the grave responsibilities of his new role, once fully recovered.

Archbishop Parolin, with whom I have spoken directly, wishes to express his gratitude firstly to the Pope, for his understanding, attention and closeness, and also to all those who have been close to him in this period, or have prayed for him. He hopes to take on soon the new responsibilities the Pope has entrusted to him”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India.

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, and family members.

- Archbishop Giampiero Gloder, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and family members.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archiepiscopal exarchate of Donetsk – Kharkiv, Ukraine, presented by Bishop Wasyl Ihor Medwit, OSBM, in accordance with canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Vatican City, 24 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish organisation for the defence of human rights, and praised its work in fighting “every form of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, preserving the memory of the Shoah and promoting mutual understanding through education and social action”.

The encounter with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre had been arranged with Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy Father emphasised that the Pope emeritus is always in “our affectionate thoughts and prayers”.

I have repeated many times, in recent weeks, the Church's condemnation of any form of anti-Semitism. Today I would like to underline that the problem of intolerance must be faced in its entirety: when any minority is persecuted and marginalised on account of its religious beliefs or ethnic origin, the good of society as a whole is placed in danger, and we must all consider ourselves affected. I think with particular sadness of the suffering, marginalisation and real persecution experienced by many Christians in various countries throughout the world. Let us unite our strengths to promote a culture of encounter, of mutual respect, understanding and forgiveness”.

Education is key to achieving this aim, but it must take the form “not only of the transmission of knowledge, but also the passing down of lived experience, that presupposes the establishment of a communion of life, of an 'alliance' with the young generations, always open to the truth. Indeed, we must be able to transmit to them not only knowledge about Jewish-Catholic dialogue, about the difficulties overcome and the progress made in recent decades; we must, above all, be able to transmit to them our passion for encounter and knowledge of the other, promoting the active and responsible involvement of young people. In this, shared commitment to the service of society and to its weakest members takes on a role of great importance”.

The Holy Father concluded by encouraging the members of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to continue their work of “transmitting to the young the values of common efforts to refuse walls and to build bridges between our cultures and traditions of faith. Go ahead, with trust, courage and hope. Shalom!”


Vatican City, 24 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- His Royal Highness Prince Guillaume, hereditary Grand-Duke of Luxembourg, with Princess Stephanie and entourage.

- Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, apostolic nuncio to Australia.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.

- Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S.A.

- Bishop Camillo Ballin M.C.C.J., apostolic vicar of North Arabia, with Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of South Arabia and Fr. Aldo Berardi O.SS.T., episcopal vicar for Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – Mary as a model of the Church “in the order of faith, charity and the perfect union with Christ”, according to the definition offered by the Vatican Council II, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, attended by over ninety thousand people.

Mary is a model of faith, not only as a Jewish girl who awaited the redemption of her people with all her heart, but also for the “yes” she proclaims at the Annunciation, when God reveals his plan to her. “From that moment Mary's faith receives a new light: it is focused on Jesus. … Mary's faith is the fulfilment of the faith of Israel, and in this sense it is the model of the faith of the Church, which has Christ, incarnation of God's infinite love, as her centre”.

The mother of Christ lives this faith “in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and worries of every mother: … it was precisely this normal existence of the Virgin that provided the terrain for the development of the singular relationship and profound dialogue between her and God, between her and her Son. Mary's 'yes', already perfect from the beginning, grew up until the time of the Cross. There, her maternity broadened to embrace every one of us, to lead us to her Son. Mary always lived immersed in the mystery of God made man, as His first and perfect disciple, contemplating everything in her heart in the light of the Holy Spirit, to understand and put into practice all of God's will”.

To explain the second aspect, Mary as a model of charity, the Pope used the Gospel story of her visit to Elizabeth. “Visiting her, the Virgin Mary did not take merely material assistance to her; she took this too, but she brought Jesus to her, Who already lived inside her womb. Bringing Jesus into her house meant bringing joy, the fullest joy … that comes from Jesus and from the Holy Spirit, and is expressed in freely given charity, in sharing, helping, and understanding. … Mary also wants to bring to us, to all, the great gift of Jesus; and with Him, she brings us His love, His peace, His joy. Thus is the Church: she is like Mary, she is not a shop, she is not a humanitarian organisation, she is not an NGO, but rather she is sent to bring Christ and His Gospel to all; she does not bring herself, she brings Jesus. And the Church must be like Mary when she went to visit Elizabeth. She must bring Jesus. If the Church did not bring Jesus, she would be a lifeless Church. She must bring the strength of Jesus, of Jesus' love”.

Mary is also a model of union with Christ. “The life of the holy Virgin”, concluded the Pope, “was the life of a woman of her people: she prayed, she worked, she went to the synagogue... but every action was carried out in perfect union with Jesus. This union reached its culmination on Calvary: there, Mary united with her Son in His martyrdom of the heart and in the offering of His life to the Father for the salvation of humanity. Our Lady made her Son's suffering her own, and accepted with Him the will of the Father, in that obedience that bears fruit, that leads to true victory over evil and death”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – Before today's General Audience the Holy Father received the participants in the National Congress of Italian Prison Chaplains. Pope Francis took this opportunity to extend a greeting to all detainees. “Tell them that I pray for them, I pray to the Lord and to the Virgin that they may positively overcome this difficult period in their lives, and that they are not discouraged, that they do not close themselves up, because the Lord is near them, He does not stay outside their cells, but instead He is inside with them. He too is still a prisoner, even today; He is a prisoner of our selfishness, our systems, of many injustices, because it is easy to punish the weakest while the big fish swim freely in the waters. No cell is so isolated that it may exclude the Lord”.

The Pope told of the friendship he maintained with a detainee in Buenos Aires, and said the the chaplains that their demanding and very important ministry “makes visible the presence of the Lord in prison, in the cell. You are a sign of Christ's closeness to those brothers in need of hope. Recently you spoke of a justice of reconciliation, but also of hope, of open doors, of horizons. This is not a utopia, it can be achieved. It is not easy, because our weaknesses are everywhere, and the devil too is everywhere, but it is always necessary to try”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., has communicated that on 14 November Pope Francis will make an official visit to the Quirinale Palace in response to the visit to the Vatican made by Giorgio Napoletano, president of the Italian Republic, on 8 June 2013.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – A communique was issued today by the Holy See Press Office, published in full below.

The Holy Father has been continually informed in detail and objectively on the situation regarding the diocese of Limburg. In the diocese, a situation has arisen in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst cannot, at the present moment, continue to exercise his episcopal ministry.

Following Cardinal Lajolo's 'fraternal visit' in September, the German Bishops' Conference, in accordance with an agreement between the bishop and the Chapter of Limburg Cathedral, has constituted a Commission to carry out a detailed examination of the matter of the building of the bishop's residence. Pending the results of this examination and of an analysis of responsibility for the matter, the Holy See considers it appropriate to authorise for Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst a period of stay outside the diocese.

By decision of the Holy See, Stadtdekan Wolfgang Rosch is today appointed as vicar general, an appointment that had previously been announced by the diocese of Limburg as taking effect from 1 January 2014. Vicar General Rosch will administer the diocese of Limburg during the absence of the diocesan bishop, within the sphere of competence associated with this office”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – 72 million dollars assigned to Catholic humanitarian organisations to alleviate the crisis in Syria and the surrounding regions; 55 entities working in the field; urgent aid given to 20 Syrian cities and 32 Catholic institutions involved so far, and indispensable aid for the refugees present in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus and Egypt. These are the data recorded on 9 October, as a result of the mapping of aid distributed in Syria, carried out following the meeting for the co-ordination of Catholic charitable associations present in the Syrian situation, convened by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” from 4 to 5 June 2013.

The Catholic Church and the local churches in the zone have been involved since the beginning of the crisis, in 2011, in the constant work of providing humanitarian aid to the population struck by the civil war in Syria. Pope Francis has paid particular attention to the evolution of the crisis and the aid work offered by charitable agencies, whom he received in audience during a meeting organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. “Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief”, said the Pope on that occasion, “is the most direct way of contributing to the pacification and edification of a society open to all its components”.

Until now, the difficulty of obtaining information regarding the needs of the population affected and the development of the political and social population has led to the sometimes sporadic nature of the aid given, and to a multiplicity of forms of support to to the institutions present in the field. Therefore, the meeting in June provided an opportunity to reunite the agencies active in the context of the crisis and to decide upon the establishment of an office for co-ordinating information on the humanitarian aid allocated by the Catholic Church, with the aim of avoiding the dispersal of efforts and ensuring a homogeneous approach. Management activity was entrusted to Caritas Middle East-North Africa, based in Beirut; it will have the task of appraising and monitoring the extent of the aid gathered, and of sharing necessary information with all the institutions involved, including those not present at the “Cor Unum” meeting.

This tool will allow the Church to obtain a complete picture of humanitarian aid efforts, with the intention of providing a detailed analysis of the needs in the field; to transfer to Caritas Syria the information necessary on charitable works in aid of the Syrian population; to highlight the profile of the Catholic Church among those involved in the humanitarian sector in Syria, and to share information within the network of Catholic organisations involved, both inside and outside Syrian territory.

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