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Monday, October 21, 2013


Vatican City, 21 October 2013 (VIS) - “I look with a sense of profound gratitude to Jesus Christ, at the many steps that have been taken in the relations between Lutherans and Catholics in recent decades, and not only through theological dialogue but also by means of brotherly collaboration in many pastoral fields and, above all, in commitment to progress in spiritual ecumenism” said the Pope, who this morning received in audience a delegation of the Lutheran World Federation and representatives from the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity.

It is precisely this spiritual ecumenism that constitutes, in a certain sense, “the spirit of our journey towards full communion, and already allows us to reap certain fruit, even if it is still imperfect; insofar as, in approaching, with a humble spirit, Our Lord Jesus Christ, we are sure to move closer together, and insofar as by invoking the Lord's gift of unity, we are sure that He will take us by the hand and will be our guide”.

This year marks fifty years of theological dialogue, and the anniversary of the fifth centenary of the Reformation is approaching. The Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity has therefore published the text “From conflict to communion: the Lutheran-Catholic interpretation of the Reformation in 2017”. The Pope underlined the importance for all to “meet each other in dialogue on the historical reality of the Reformation, on its consequences and the responses that should be given to it. Catholics and Lutherans can ask forgiveness for the harm they have done to each other and for their guilt before God, and together rejoice for the nostalgia for unity that the Lord has reawakened in our hearts, and which makes us look ahead with hope”.

In the light of the journey through these recent decades, and of the many examples of brotherly communion between Lutherans and Catholics to which we are witnesses, and comforted by trust in the grace that is bestowed upon us by the Lord Jesus Christ, I am sure that we will be able to continue along our path of dialogue and communion”, he continued, “also facing fundamental questions, as well as divergences that arise in the anthropological and ethical fields. Certainly, there are and there will be difficulties, which will require further patience, dialogue, and mutual comprehension, but let us not be afraid! We are well aware, as Benedict XVI reminded us many times, that unity is not primarily the result of our efforts, but of the action of the Holy Spirit, to which we must open our hearts with trust in order that it might lead us along the paths to reconciliation and communion”.


Vatican City, 20 October 2013 (VIS) – At midday the Pope appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, before the Marian prayer, he commented on today's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells a parable on the need to pray, always and incessantly. “The protagonist is a widow who, by pleading with a dishonest judge, manages to obtain justice from him. And Jesus concludes: if the widow manages to convince that judge, do you think that God does not listen to us, if we pray to him insistently? The expression Jesus uses is very powerful: 'And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?'”

"This description of prayer is striking to us. But let us ask: why does God want this? Does He not already know our needs? What's the point of 'insisting' with God?” observed the Pope.

This question allows us to explore in depth an important aspect of faith: “God invites us to pray with insistence not because He does not know what we need, or does not listen to us. On the contrary, He always hears and knows everything about us, with love. In our daily journey, especially in difficulties in the fight against the evil inside and outside us, the Lord is on our side, we fight with Him by our side, and our weapon is prayer, which makes us aware of His presence, His mercy, and also His help. But the fight against evil is hard and long, it requires patience and endurance. … It is a daily battle, but God is our ally, faith in Him is our strength, and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore, Jesus assures us of victory, but asks: 'when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'. If faith is dimmed, prayer is dimmed, and we walk in darkness; we lose our way in our journey through life."

"And so we learn from the widow of the Gospel to pray always and tirelessly. The widow was good! She knew how to fight for her children! And I think of many women who fight for their families, who pray, who never tire. I would like us to spare a thought today, all of us, for these women, whose attitude gives us a true witness of faith, of courage, a model of prayer. … Always pray! But not to convince the Lord with words ! He knows what we need better than us! Rather, perseverance in prayer is an expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him, every day, every moment, to overcome evil with good".


Vatican City, 20 October 2013 (VIS) – In his greetings after the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father mentioned that today is World Missionary Day, and commented that the “mission” of the Church is “to spread throughout the world the flame of faith, which Jesus ignited in the world: faith in God who is the Father, Love and Mercy. The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but rather the sharing of a flame that warms the soul. … On this Day we are close to all missionaries who work tirelessly and quietly, and who give their lives”.

Among them, he continued, was the Italian Afra Martinelli, killed a few days ago in Nigeria during a robbery. “Everyone mourned for her, Christians and Muslims. They cared for her greatly”, he continued. “She proclaimed the Gospel with her life, with the work she carried out, an education centre; in this way, she spread the flame of faith, she fought the good fight! … I also think of Stefano Sandor, who was proclaimed Blessed in Budapest yesterday. He was a Salesian layperson, exemplary in his service to the young, in oratory and in professional instruction. When the Communist regime closed down all Catholic works, he faced persecution with courage, and was killed at thirty-nine years of age. We join in giving thanks to the Salesian Family and the Hungarian Church”.

He expressed his closeness to the Philippine population, struck by a serious earthquake, and invited prayer for “that dear Nation, which has recently suffered several calamities”. He also warmly greeted the organisers of the event “100 Metres of Racing in the Faith”, promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, thanking them for reminding us that “the believer is an athlete of the spirit”.

Finally, he mentioned that this Sunday Mother's Day is celebrated in Argentina, and sent “an affectionate greeting to all mothers” in his country.


Vatican City, 19 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, an international community of benefactors who “adopt” and finance projects for the conservation, restoration and promotion of the Museums' treasures, and who met in Rome from 15 to 20 October to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary.

The Pope praised their work over the last three decades, in which they have contributed, amongst other things, to the “broader religious, artistic and cultural mission of the Museums”, mentioning in his welcome address that the founding of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums was inspired “not only by a praiseworthy sense of stewardship for the Church’s heritage of sacred art, but also by the desire to advance the spiritual and religious ideals which led to the foundation of the papal collections”.

He continued, “In every age the Church has called upon the arts to give expression to the beauty of her faith and to proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation, the dignity of human beings made in his image and likeness, and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring redemption and rebirth to a world touched by the tragedy of sin and death. The Vatican Museums, with their unique and rich history, make it possible for countless pilgrims and visitors to Rome to encounter this message through works of art which bear witness to the spiritual aspirations of humanity, the sublime mysteries of the Christian faith, and the quest of that supreme beauty which has its source and fulfilment in God”.

The Pontiff, before imparting his apostolic blessing, encouraged the Patrons to experience their patronage of the arts in the Vatican Museums as “a sign of your interior participation in the spiritual life and mission of the Church. May it also be an expression of our hope in the coming of that Kingdom whose beauty, harmony and peace are the expectation of every human heart and the inspiration of mankind’s highest artistic aspirations”.


Vatican City, 19 October 2013 (VIS) – On Saturday afternoon the letter was published by which the Pope nominates Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as his special envoy to the celebrations for the first centenary of the archdiocese of Lille, France, scheduled to take place from 26 to 27 October 2013.

The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Bernard Podvin of the clergy of Lille, spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of France, and Fr. Sylvain Bataille, rector of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome.


Vatican City, 21 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Kenneth F. Hackett, the new ambassador of the United States to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters.

- Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany.

- Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany.

- Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo, Chile.

On Saturday, 19 October the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

- Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, with his family.


On Saturday, 19 October, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Lucius Hre Kung of the clergy of Hakha, Myanmar, as bishop of the same diocese (area 10,045, population 720,397, Catholics 31,397, priests 63, permanent deacons , religious 80). The bishop-elect was born in Hnaring, Myanmar in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including: parish priest of Tedim, parish priest of Hnaring, vicar of the vicariate forane of Hakha, parish priest of the Cathedral, and vicar general.

- Gian Piero Milano, adjunct promoter of justice, as promoter of justice at the Ecclesiastic Tribunal of Vatican City State.
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