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Monday, March 31, 2014


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father met with the participants in the General Chapter of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, which will take as its theme “Witnesses of Gospel Radicalism”. “When one thinks of working for the good of souls, one overcomes the temptation of spiritual worldliness, and one does not seek other things, only God and His Kingdom. Temperance is a sense of moderation, of acceptance, a simple life”.

The Pope highlighted their work with the young and remarked that the experience of Don Bosco and his “preventative system” helped them in their commitment to living with them. “It is necessary to prepare the young to work in society in the spirit of the Gospel as workers for justice and peace, and to live as agents of the Church. … The presence of the community among them is marked by the tenderness that Don Bosco called 'amorevolezza', kindness, experimenting with new languages, but being well aware that the language of the heart is the fundamental language for being close to them and becoming their friends”.

Before concluding Francis spoke about the vocational dimension and mentioned that next year, which will be dedicated to consecrated life, will be a good opportunity to present the beauty of vocations to the young. Likewise, he gave thanks to God for the fact that they work “not as isolated individuals, but as a community supports the entire apostolate” and encouraged them to revive the charisma of their Founder, the bicentenary of whose birth will be celebrated soon.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' universal prayer intention for April is: “That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness”.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the initiatives forming part of the preparations for the canonisations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, to be celebrated on 27 April. The speakers were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, along with Msgr. Giulio Dellavite, secretary general for the Curia of Bergamo, Msgr. Walter Insero, head of the Office for Social Communications for the Vicariate of Rome, and Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office.

The initiatives will include a digital platform, the aim of which is to enable the faithful and pilgrims to have access to news and information regarding the ceremonies as well as a series of spiritual reflections on the life and teachings of both popes. Indeed, the official site www.2papisanti.org is an almost-completed portal which offers contacts, sections for press offices, information, videos and images as well as biographical documentation on John XXIII and John Paul II. It will be available in five languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish and Polish.

The application entitled “Santo Subito”, which may be downloaded free in both Android and IOS formats (in Italian, English, Spanish and Polish) and whose title draws on the famed saintliness of both Popes even during their lifetimes, will offer logistical information, as well as access to the main news on the canonisations, and will allow material relating to the various liturgical events to be downloaded.

Existing media include:

Official page of the Postulation with content in five languages:

Official Twitter page with content in five languages:

YouTube channel for the Postulation:

Portal: www.karol-wojtyla.org

This latter, developed in 2011 for the beatification of Karol Wojtyla, gives a detailed illustration of the stages in the canonical process leading to the recognition of the saintliness of John Paul II and is available in several languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

The parallel project #2popesaints, realised in collaboration with the students of communication sciences from the Roman university LUMSA involves a series of networks enabling young people to get to know the lives, teachings and testimony of faith of the two new saints. There will be a Facebook page entitled 2popesaints; on Twitter, the account @2popesaints; on Instagram, #2popesaints; and on YouTube, 2popesaints. Every day each one of the above will propose a theme relating to both popes in the media, starting from 16 April until the canonisation, and each event will be transmitted live on each network.

On Google+ there will be the possibility of following in a “hangout” the daily briefings during the week leading up to the canonisation. A QR code will also be created to allow rapid access to the site 2popesaints.org. The initiative “Rome connecting to the World”, a form of “twinning” between the faithful arriving in Rome and the young people of the city, will make it possible to get to know the most important locations in Rome along with the history of John XXIII and John Paul II, providing information on the Facebook page.

In the diocese of Rome, on 22 April in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini will preside at a meeting addressing young people, with the postulators for the causes of both saints: Msgr. Slavomir Oder (John Paul II) and Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano (John XXIII). On 26 April, starting at 9 p.m., there will be a “White night of prayer” and the churches throughout the centre of Rome will remain open for prayer and confession in various languages.

Similarly, the diocese of Bergamo will pay homage to XIII with the initiative “Le Opere Segno”, a series of activities dedicated to charity, human development and solidarity which affect daily lives. They include an aid project for Haiti to guarantee three years' education in the John XXIII school; an invitation to priests to contribute a month's salary and all the alms collected by the parish communities on 27 April to a fund set up in aid of families afflicted by the economic crisis; and the commemoration, on 12 April, of the publication of the encyclical “Pacem in Terris”, to be attended by ambassadors representing the countries where Angelo Roncalli carried out his diplomatic mission as an apostolic nuncio (Bulgaria, Turkey, Greek and France), and which will be presented by Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he commented on the Gospel reading from St. John, which relates the story of the man blind from birth to whom Jesus gave sight. The apostle narrates the event in just a few verses as his intention is to attract attention not to the miracle in itself, but rather to the questions it raises.

“Many times a good act, a work of charity, provokes gossip and questions from people who do not want to know the truth. … The cured blind man is first interrogated by the astonished crowd – and then by the doctors of the law. … In the end, the healed man attains faith, and this is the highest grace that he receives from Jesus: not only to see, but to know Him, to see him as the light of the world”, said Francis.

"While the blind man gradually approaches the light, on the contrary the doctors of the law slip ever deeper into inner blindness. Locked away in their arrogance, they believe they already have the light, and so they do not open themselves up to the truth of Jesus and do everything they can to deny the evidence. They call into question the identity of the cured man, and then deny God's action in healing, using the excuse that God does not act on the sabbath and even casting doubt as to whether the man was indeed born blind. Their shunning of the light becomes aggressive and leads to expulsion of the healed man from the temple".

The blind man's path is instead “a journey in stages, starting from knowledge of the name of Jesus. ... Following insistent questioning by the doctors of the law, he first considers him a prophet and then a man close to God. After being removed from the temple, he encounters Jesus again, Who 'opens his eyes' for the second time, revealing his true identity. 'I am the Messiah', he says. At this point, the previously blind man exclaims 'Lord, I believe!', and bows down before Jesus".

“At times our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opens up to the light of God and His grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is rather like that of the doctors of law. From the heights of our pride we judge others, even the Lord. Today, we are invited to open ourselves to Christ's light, so that our lives might bear fruit; to eliminate our behaviour that is not Christian; we are all Christians, but we all at times behave in ways which are not Christian, which are sins. We must repent of this, and eliminate these forms of behaviour … to behave like 'children of light', with humility, patience and mercy. … Those doctors of the law had neither humility, nor patience, nor mercy. … We must not be afraid! Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord, He Who always awaits us, to let us see better, to offer us more light, to forgive us … so we can be reborn to a new life”.

After the Angelus prayer the Bishop of Rome greeted a group of Italian soldiers who had made a pilgrimage on foot from Loreto to Rome “praying for a peaceful and just resolution of conflicts. And this is very good. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says that blessed are those who work for peace".

“And let us not forget”, he continued, addressing all present, “when we return home, to take the Gospel according to John, chapter 9, and read this story of the blind man whose sight was restored, and of those who supposedly could see yet slipped ever further into blindness”.


Vatican City, 29 March 2014 (VIS) – “Witnesses to the Gospel for a culture of encounter” is the theme of the Day of Sharing organised by the Apostolic Movement of the Blind, with the participation of the Gualandi Mission for the Deaf (the Little Mission for the Deaf-Mute), as well as the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially-Sighted. These organisations were received in audience this morning by Pope Francis, who commented on the theme of the Day.

“The first thing I observe is that this expression ends with the word 'encounter', but first this presupposes another encounter, the one with Christ. Indeed, to be witnesses of the Gospel, it is necessary to have encountered Him, Jesus. … Like the Samaritan woman. … A witness to the Gospel is someone who has encountered Jesus Christ, who knows him, or rather, who feels known by him: recognised, respected, loved, forgiven, and this encounter … fills him with a new joy, a new meaning for life. And this shines through, is communicated, is transmitted to others”.

“I have mentioned the Samaritan woman because she offers a clear example of the type of person Jesus liked to meet, to make them his witnesses: marginalised, excluded, disdained people. The Samaritan woman was this type, inasmuch as she was a woman, and a Samaritan – the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. But let us think also of the many that Jesus wished to encounter, especially people affected by illness and disability, to cure them and to restore their full dignity to them. It is very important that precisely these people become witnesses to a new attitude, that we can call a culture of encounter. A typical example is the man blind from birth … marginalised in the name of a false idea that he had received a divine punishment. Jesus radically refuses this way of thinking – truly blasphemous! - and performs an act of God, giving him the gift of sight. But the important thing is that this man, as soon as this happens to him, becomes a witness to Jesus and His work, that is the work of God, of life, love and mercy. While the Pharisees, from their safe distance, judges both him and Jesus as 'sinners'; the cured blind man, with disarming simplicity, defends Jesus and in the at the end professes his faith in Him, and also shares his fate: Jesus is excluded, and he is excluded too. But in reality the man enters into a new community, based on faith in Jesus and on brotherly love”.

“Here we have the two opposing cultures. The culture of encounter and the culture of exclusion, of prejudice. The sick or disabled person, precisely because of his or her frailty and limits, may become a witness to this encounter: the encounter with Jesus, that opens us to life and faith, and to the encounter with others, with the community. Indeed, only those who recognise their own fragility and their own limits can build bonds of fraternity and unity, in the Church and in society”, concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 29 March 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided over the rite of Reconciliation, confessing and imparting individual absolution to several penitents. This ceremony inaugurated an initiative of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, “24 Hours for the Lord”, which has involved the participation of dioceses from all over the world, and during which many churches remained open throughout Friday night and Saturday morning to enable the faithful to confess.

In his homily, the Pope mentioned that during Lent the Church renews her call for conversion and her call for us to change our lives. “Converting is not a question of a moment or a period during the year: it is a life-long commitment. Who amongst us presumes not to be a sinner? No-one. We all are. The Apostle John writes, 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness'”. And that is what happens in this celebration and in all this day of penance. The Word of God that we have listened to introduces us to two essential elements of Christian life”.

The first is to “clothe ourselves as new men”. Pope Francis explained, “The new man, 'created to be like God', is born in Baptism, where he receives the same life of God, which makes us His children and incorporates us in Christ and in his Church. This new life allows us to look at reality through different eyes, without being distracted by things that do not count ... from things which come to an end over time. For this reason we are required to abandon sinful behaviour and to focus on the essential. 'A man is more precious for what he is than for what he has'. This is the difference between life deformed by sin and life illuminated by grace”.

Remaining in love is the second element. “Jesus Christ's love lasts for ever, and will never end because it is the very life of God. This love conquers sin and gives the strength to rise and begin again, because through forgiveness the heart is renewed and rejuvenated. We all know this: our Father never tires of loving. ...We can speak about the hope of God: our Father always awaits us; not only does he leave the door open, he awaits us. … God is not only at the origin of love, but in Jesus Christ he calls to us to imitate his own way of loving: 'As I have loved you, so you must love one another'. To the extent that Christians live this love, they become credible disciples of Jesus Christ in the world. Love cannot stand to remain closed up in itself. It is by its nature open, it spreads and it is fruitful, it always generates new love”.

The Pope concluded by mentioning the initiative, “24 Hours for the Lord”, and inviting young people to participate in this as missionaries of reconciliation, communicating to those they meet “the joy of receiving the Father's forgiveness and of rediscovering full friendship with Him. And tell them”, he concluded, “that our Father awaits us, our Father forgives us, our Father celebrates us. If you go to Him with all your life, even with many sins, instead of reproaching you, he will rejoice: this is our Father. You must say this, you must tell many people, today. He who experiences divine mercy is compelled to become a bringer of mercy to the least and the poorest among us. In 'the least of these brothers and sisters', Jesus awaits us”.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria.

- Steven Todd Green, president of the “American Bible Society”, with his wife and entourage.

- Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Gent, Belgium.

On Saturday, 29 March, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

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


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Nicholas Gilbert Hudson as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Westminster (area 3,000, population 4,478,000, Catholics 394,708, priests 419, permanent deacons 78, religious 742), England. The bishop-elect was born in Wimbledon, England in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a master's degree in history from Jesus College, University of Cambridge, England, and a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest in the parish of Canterbury, director of the Christian Education Centre in Southwark, and member of the council of consultors in the same archdiocese, and vice rector and subsequently rector of the Venerable English College in Rome. He is currently priest in the “Sacred Heart” parish of Wimbledon.

On Saturday, 29 March, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Drohiczyn (area 8,000, population 290,300, Catholics 210,150, priests 233, religious 140) Poland, presented by Bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Tadeusz Pikus, formerly auxiliary of the archdiocese of Warsaw, Poland.

- confirmed Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz as prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life;

- appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, Mexico; Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodrigues Maradiaga S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See; Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto, Italy; Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, Japan; Archbishop Francisco Chimoio O.F.M. Cap. of Maputo, Mozambique; Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin, O.F.M. Conv., bishop of Treviso; Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, O.F.M. of Cuenca en Ecuador, Ecuador; Archbishop Ricardo Blasquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, U.S.A.; Archbishop Jaime Spengler O.F.M. of Porto Alegre, Brazil; Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago, Costa Rica; Bishop Lucas Van Looy S.D.B. of Gent, Belgium; Bishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora of Santander, Spain; Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke O.S.B. of Eichstatt, Germany; Bishop John Corriveau O.F.M. Cap. of Nelson, Canada; Bishop Kieran O'Reilley S.M.A. of Killaloe, Ireland; Bishop Eusebio Hernandez Sola O.A.R. of Tarazona, Spain; Fr. Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, S.J., apostolic prefect of Battambang, Cambodia; and the superior generals Fr. Bruno Marin O.S.B., abbot president of the Subiaco Benedictine Congregation; Fr. Bruno Cadore O.P., minister general of the Order of Preachers; Fr. Mauro Johri O.F.M. Cap., minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Capuchin; Fr. Enrique Sanchez Gonzalez M.C.C.I., superior general of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus; Fr. Emili Turu Rofes F.M.S., superior general of the Marist Brothers (Little Brothers of Mary); Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, rector general of the Societas Apostolatus Catholici; Giorgio Mario Mazzola, president general of the Institute “Cristo Re”.

- confirmed the following members of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., Cardinal Dominik Duka O.P., Cardinal Paolo Sardi S.T.L., Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B., Bishop Pierre Raffin O.P., Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon S.J., prepositor general of the Society of Jesus.

- confirmed the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., as secretary of the same dicastery.

- confirmed, until the completion of their respective mandates, the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and appointed His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, as a member.

- appointed the following consultors of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Archbishop Tomash Bernard Peta of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan; Bishop William Hanna Shomali, auxiliary and vicar general of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Jerusalem; Msgr. Francois Bousquet, France, rector of the convent of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy; Don Valentino Cottini, rector of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Italy; Fr. Clarence Devadass, secretary for the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Malaysia; Fr. Claudio Monge O.P., president of the Union des Religieux et des Religieuses de Turquie, Turkey; Fr. Jose Manuel H. Arenas, S.J., secretary of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Chile; Fr. William Skudlarek O.S.B., of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, U.S.A., secretary general of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in Rome; Sister Carmen Sammut S.M.N.D.A., Malta, superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa; Dr. Ilaria Morali, director of the department of Missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Italy.

- confirmed Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi as president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo and Bishop Barthelemy Adoukonou respectively as delegate and secretary of the same dicastery.

- confirmed, until the completion of their respective mandates, the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and appointed the following members of the same dicastery: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warsaw, ordinary of the Polish Ordinariate of the faithful of eastern rites without their own ordinary, Poland; Archbishop Denis James Hart of Melbourne, Australia; Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Archbishop Alfonso Cortes Contreras of Leon, Mexico; Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University S. Maria de los Buenos Aires, Argentina; Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Canada; Bishop Filomeno Do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda, Angola; Bishop Cecilio Raul Berzosa Martinez of Cuidad Rodrigo, Spain; Bishop Joaquim Giovanni Mol Guimaraes, auxiliary of Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Military Ordinary for the Federal Republic of Germany; Bishop Linus Lee Seong-Hyo, auxiliary of Suwon, Korea; Bishop Charles Morerod O.P. of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Switzerland; Rafael Vicuna, professor of molecular biology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Santiago, Chile.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, an expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and Greece, focused on issues of common interest, such as, in particular, the legal status of religious communities, the role of religion in society, and ecumenical collaboration.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the worldwide economic crisis, as well as the contribution of Greece within the European Union. Finally, concern was expressed regarding the future presence of Christians in the Middle East, in relation to political instability and the situations of conflict that affect various regions of the world.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – The vitality of the Church in Madagascar despite the difficult circumstances in which this country finds itself and the commitment of the dioceses to human development were some of the central issues in the message Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.

The Pope thanks the prelates for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelisation” and acknowledged the serious socio-economic problems encountered in Madagascar, mentioning at the same time that the bishops have urged all of society to contribute to building a new future”. He encouraged them to take their rightful place in the “task of reconstruction, with respect for the rights and duties of each person”. He writes, “It is important to maintain constructive relationships with the authorities of your country. You must search for unity, justice and peace to better serve your people, refusing any involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good”.

“In this context, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable commitment of your dioceses in social work”, he continues. “Indeed, there is an intimate connection between evangelisation and human development. ... I encourage you to persevere in your attention to the poor and materially and spiritually supporting those who devote themselves to them, especially religious congregations, whom I thank with all my heart for their dedication and for their authentic witness to Christ's love for all men. I also invite you to call out without fear to all Malagasy society, and especially its leaders, with regard to the issue of poverty, which is largely due to corruption and lack of attention to the common good”.

Education is field in which the Church is very active in Madagascar. Therefore, the Pope asks the prelates to do everything in their power to “ensure that the greatest number of children, including those from the poorest families, have access to education, since as a result of economic difficulties many parents no longer have the economic means”. He also urges them to guarantee a Christian presence in public schools, so that Christians occupied in the field of education may “contribute to forming the Gospel and human values in the young generations that will be the leaders of the society to come”.

He goes on to mention that in their message for the end of the Year of Faith the bishops complained of the loss of the true “fihavanana”, a way of life typical of Malgasy culture, which promotes harmony and solidarity, and in relation to this he affirms that “the values that the Creator has instilled in your culture must continue to be transmitted, illuminated from within by the message of the Gospel. The dignity of the human person and the culture of peace, dialogue and reconciliation will find their place in society, leading to a better future”.
The Pope praises the implementation in dioceses throughout Madagascar of “an ambitious and very dynamic programme of formation for life and love”, and emphasises that the family “needs to be protected and defended so that it so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony”. With regard to challenges in the field of interreligious dialogue, he repeats that it is “urgent to develop, and also at times to initiate, a lucid and constructive dialogue in order to maintain peace between communities and to promote the common good”. He urges the prelates “never to doubt the strength of the Gospel, nor its ability to convert hearts to the resurrected Christ”, reiterating that for this to happen, “it is necessary that Christians bear daily witness to the faith they proclaim”, and for this witness to be credible, “life must be consistent with faith”.
“This invitation”, he continues, “is directed mainly at the clergy and consecrated persons. The priesthood, like consecrated life, is not a means of social climbing, but rather a service to God and to man”. Likewise, he remarks that chastity and obedience are essential virtues for priests and concludes, “The same applies with respect to temporal goods and prudence in their management. Offering a poor example in this area is particularly disastrous because of the scandal it causes, especially before a population that lives in poverty”.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Hall of Blessings Pope Francis received in audience the six hundred participants in the annual course of the internal forum of the Apostolic Penitentiary. For a quarter of a century this dicastery has offered the course, especially to recently ordained priests and deacons, to contribute to the formation of good confessors.

In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to “treasure the experience acquired with wise creativity, to further help the Church and confessors to perform their ministry of mercy, which is so important”, and reflected on three key points related to confession.

“Firstly, the agent of the ministry of Reconciliation is the Holy Spirit”, he said. “The forgiveness that the Sacrament confers is the new life transmitted by the Risen Lord by means of His Spirit. … Therefore, you are required always to be “men of the Holy Spirit”, witnesses and proclaimers, joyful and strong, of the resurrection of the Lord”. The Bishop of Rome encouraged them to welcome penitents “not with the attitude of a judge or even that of a mere friend, but with God's charity. … A priest's heart is a heart that is able to be touched. … If it is true that tradition suggests the dual role of doctor and judge for confessors, we must never forget that the doctor cures and the judge absolves”.

Moving on to the second aspect, he explained, “If Reconciliation transmits the new life of the Risen Lord and renews baptismal grace, then your task is to give this generously to your brethren. A priest who does not take care of this part of his ministry … is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost sheep. … But mercy is at the heart of the Gospel! It is the good news that God loves us, that He always loves man the sinner, and with this love he draws man towards Him and invites him to convert. We must not forget that the faithful often struggle to receive this Sacrament, both for practical reasons and for the natural difficulty of confessing one's own sins to another man. Therefore, it is necessary to work hard upon ourselves, on our humanity, so as never to be an obstacle to but rather to facilitate an approach to mercy and forgiveness. … Confession is not a sentencing court, but rather an experience of forgiveness and mercy!”.

Finally, Pope Francis referred to the difficulties that may frequently be encountered in confession. “There are many reasons, both historical and spiritual. However, we know that the Lord wished to offer this immense gift to the Church, offering the baptised the security of the Father's forgiveness. For this reason, it is very important that particular care is taken in the celebration of this Sacrament of forgiveness and salvation in all dioceses and parish communities. It is essential that in every parish the faithful know when they can find available priests: when there is trust, the fruits can be seen”.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the exhibition Verbum Domini II: “God's Word goes out to the Nations” is an exhibition that gathers together more than 200 historical findings, texts and rare Bible artefacts that tell the story of the Bible's journey around the world. The exhibition is sponsored by the Museum of the Bible and will be held in the Vatican's Charlemagne Wing from 2 April to 22 June 2014.

The speakers in the conference were Cary Summers, Chief Operating Officer of the Museum of the Bible, Fr. Jose Maria Abrego de Lacy S.J., rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, deputy prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The works that make up the exhibition belong to the Green Collection, the Vatican Library, the Vatican Museums and other institutional and private collections in the United States and Europe, and include: a page of the Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV, a manuscript created around the year 200 which contains much of the text of the Gospels according to Luke and John; a double page of the famous Codex Vaticanus, a manuscipt on parchment from the first half of the fourth century; and the Codex Claromontanus of the fifth and seventh centuries, valuable evidence of the Gospels translated into Latin in the Vulgate of St. Jerome.

Entry to the museum is free, and allows the visitor to travel through time and space, discovering how the Word of God has gone out to the Nationals, being accessible to different cultures while remaining faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Bishop Fulgence Razakarivony of Ihosy;

- Bishop Jose Alfredo Caires de Nobrega of Mananjary;

- Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina;

- Bishop Antoine Scopelliti of Ambatondrazaka;

- Bishop Marcellin Randriamamonjy of Fenoarivo Antsinanana;

- Bishop Gaetano Di Pierro of Moramanga;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabeony of Toliara;

- Bishop Zygmunt Robaszkiewicz of Morombe;

- Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilambonianina of Morondava, with his auxiliary, Bishop Donald Joseph Leo Pelletier;

- Bishop Vincent Rakotozafy of Tolagnaro.

Yesterday, Thursday 27 March, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning Barack H. Obama, president of the United States of America, was received in audience by Pope Francis, after which he met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meeting, views were exchanged on some current international themes and hope was expressed that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, the Parties discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the Parties stated their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – The dialogue between God's lament and man's justifications was the theme selected by the Holy Father in the homily he pronounced at this morning's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, attended by Italian ministers and members of parliament. Pope Francis spoke about the infidelity of the People of God, a generation that does not accept His messages, and in their place, seek justifications for their sins. “It was a very great task to drive idolatry from the hearts of his people, to make them docile to His Word. But they followed this route for a little while, before turning back”.

“From being sinners, they went on to become corrupt”, he continued. “It is very hard for a corrupt person to turn back. The sinner, yes, because the Lord is merciful and awaits us all. But the corrupt are fixed on their affairs, and these people were corrupt. They therefore sought to justify themselves, because Jesus, with his simplicity, but with his strength in God, made trouble for them. And, step by step, they ended up convincing themselves that they had to kill Jesus, and one of them said, 'It is better for a man to die for the people'”.

“These people had taken the wrong path. They resisted the salvation of the Lord's love, and drifted from faith, from a theology of faith to a theology of duty: 'You must do this, this and this …'”. Describing them as hypocrites, Jesus said, “'They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them'. They rejected the Lord's love and this rejection set them on a path that was not the dialectic of freedom offered by the Lord, but that of the logic of necessity, where there is no room for the Lord. … They have become 'behavioural': men of good manners, but with bad habits. Jesus called them 'whitewashed sepulchres'. This is the Lord's pain, God's pain, God's lament”.

Pope Francis mentioned that during Lent “we would do well to think about the invitation from the Lord to love, and to ask ourselves, all of us: am I on this path? Or do I risk justifying myself and taking another path? A road with many junctions that does not, however, lead to any promise. … And we pray that the Lord gives us the grace to always follow the path of salvation, to open ourselves to the salvation that comes only from God, through faith, not that which is proposed to us by these 'professionals of duty' who had lost the faith and who led their people with this pastoral theology of duty”.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today the programme of the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land was published. The trip, which will take place from 24 to 26 May, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.15 a.m. and is schedule to arrive in Amman, Jordan at 1.15 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at Queen Alia International Airport, he will proceed to the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman, where he will be received by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, and will speak before the authorities of the kingdom of Jordan. At 4.00 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at the International Stadium in Amman, and later in the same afternoon he will meet with refugees and young disabled people in the Latin Church.

On Sunday, 25 May, the Pope will leave Jordan by helicopter at 8.15 a.m., destined for Bethlehem. In the presidential palace, after a courtesy visit to the president of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, he will address the Palestinian authorities. At 11 a.m. he will celebrate Mass and pray the Angelus in Manger Square in Bethlehem. The Holy Father will lunch with a number of Palestinian families in the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova and at 3 p.m. he will make a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity. He will then greet the children in the refugee camps of Deheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin and, at 3.45 p.m., will leave the State of Palestine to travel by helicopter to the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, where his arrival is scheduled for 4.30 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony he will proceed, again by helicopter, to Jerusalem, where at 6.15 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem, for the signing of a joint declaration. At 7 p.m. in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre an ecumenical meeting will take place, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, after which Pope Francis will dine with the patriarchs, bishops and the papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

On Monday, 26 May at 8.15 a.m. the Holy Father will visit the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques, and will give an address. He will subsequently visit the Western Wall, after which he will lay a wreath at Mount Herzl. At 10 a.m. he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, where he will speak, and at 10.45., he will make a courtesy visit to the two Chief Rabbis at the Heichal Shlomo Centre, next to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. At 11.45 he will proceed to the presidential palace where he will be received by the president of the State of Israel, Simon Peres. At 1 p.m., in the Notre Dame Centre, he will hold a private audience with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. At 3.30 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1, near the Viri Galileai Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. At 4 p.m., in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, he will address priests, men and women religious and seminarians. At 5.20 p.m. he will celebrate Mass with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and the Papal suite in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. At 7.30 p.m. he will transfer by helicopter from the Mount Scopus heliport to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where he will bid farewell to the State of Israel. The papal aeroplane will depart at 8.15 p.m. for Rome's Ciampino airport, where it is scheduled to land at approximately 11 p.m.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – On Tuesday, 1 April, in Vatican Radio's Sala Marconi, there will be a presentation of “The Voice of the Popes”, Vatican Radio's digital archive which brings together the voices of the popes who have succeeded to the see of St. Peter since 1931, the year in which the pontifical broadcasting entity was founded, from Pius XI to Francis. The institutional tasks of Vatican Radio are to consult, preserve and manage the papal audio archive ensuring that, in the case of use by third parties, the pastoral character of the material is conserved and intellectual property rights are protected.

The digitisation of the archive, which will take place in conjunction with the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on 27 April, will guarantee the conservation of the audio material, whose integrity may be endangered by wear and tear of archive supports, and will allow the archiving of audio material and text (metadata) in a far more efficient and rational way. The new digital support will also ensure easier use of content by information workers and scholars.

“The Vatican Radio technical directorate has completed the digitisation of the pontifical audio archive, reproducing the content of the 8000 tapes and original supports documenting the activities of popes, from Pius XI up to Francis, including Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who will soon be canonised”.

Speakers at the press conference for the presentation of “The Voices of the Popes”, moderated by Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director general of Vatican Radio, were: Cardinal Giovan Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Vatican specialist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, and Guido Gusso, Pope John XXIII's valet and Dean of the Hall of the Papal Antechamber under Pope John Paul II. The digitisation of the archive was undertaken with the contribution of the Banca Intesa Russia and with the support of Confartigianato Persone.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jean de Dieu Raoelison;

- Bishop Philippe Ranaivomanana of Antsirabe;

- Bishop Jean Claude Randrianarisoa of Miarinarivo;

- Bishop Gustavo Bombin Espino O.SS.T. of Tsiroanomandidy;

- Bishop Rosario Saro Vella S.D.B. of Ambanja;

- Bishop Roger Victor Solo Rakotondrajao of Mahajanga;

- Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara M.E.P., coadjutor of Port-Berge;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabemahafaly of Fianarantsoa;

- Bishop Fidelis Rakotonarivo S.J. of Ambositra;

- Bishop Benjamin Marc Balthason Ramaroson C.M. of Farafangana.

- Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano dell'Jonio, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – “The Sacraments of the Holy Orders and Matrimony, two specific vocations and two great paths to the Lord” were the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. “The ministers who are chosen and consecrated for this service prolong Jesus' presence over time, and they do so with the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of God, and with love”.

“Those who are ordained are placed at the head of the community. Yes, they are at the 'head', but for Jesus this means placing their authority at the service of the community. … 'whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave'. … A bishop who does not serve his community does not do good; a priest or a curate who does not place himself at the service of his community does not do good, he is mistaken”.

Pope Francis emphasised that “impassioned love for the Church” is a characteristic that always derives from this sacramental union with Christ. “The bishop, the priest, love the Church in their own community, they love the Church greatly. How? How Christ loves His Church. … The spouse loves his wife as Christ loves His Church. ... The priesthood and matrimony are two Sacraments that represent the path by which people habitually reach the Lord”.

Finally, the Pope cited the words of St. Paul to Timothy when he advised him not to neglect, but rather always to revive the gift given to him. “When the ministry is not nurtured by prayer, by listening to the Word of God, with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, and also with regular confession, the authentic sense of one's own service is inevitably lost from view, along with the joy that comes from profound communion with Jesus. … The priest who does not do these things loses, over time, his union with Jesus and becomes mediocre, which is not good for the Church. Therefore, we must help bishops and priests to pray, to listen to the Word of God that is our daily bread, to celebrate the Eucharist every day and to confess regularly”.

“Access to the priesthood cannot be sold. This is an initiative the Lord takes. The Lord calls”, he added, and concluded by encouraging the young who hear this call to “cherish this invitation and pray so that it might grow and bear fruit in all the Church”.


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – We publish below the full text of the telegram sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Holy Father, to Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain, on the occasion of the funeral of Adolfo Suarez, prime minister of Spain from 1976 to 1981, who died on 23 March at the age of 81. The funeral was held in the Cathedral of Avila.

“Profoundly saddened by the news of the death of Mr. Adolfo Suarez Gonzalez, ex-president of the government of Spain, His Holiness conveys his most heartfelt condolences, and raises prayers to the Lord for the eternal repose of this distinguished figure in recent Spanish history. He imparts to the family and loved ones of the departed the comfort of his apostolic blessing, as a sign of Christian hope in the Risen Lord”.


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique:

“With reference to the administration of the diocese of Limburg in Germany, the Congregation for Bishops has carefully studied the report of the Commission instituted by the bishop and by the Cathedral Chapter to undertake further investigations in relation to the responsibility for the construction of the 'St. Nikolaus' diocesan centre.

Awaiting the diocese of Limburg to ascertain a situation that impedes the fruitful exercise of his ministry on the part of Msgr. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Holy See has accepted the resignation presented by the prelate on 20 October 2013 and has appointed Msgr. Manfred Grothe as apostolic administrator “sede vacante”.

The former Bishop Tebartz-van Elst will in due course be assigned a different role.

The Holy Father entreatas the clergy and faithful of Limburg to accept the decisions of the Holy See with docility and willingness to rediscover a climate of charity and reconciliation”.


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent a message, on behalf of the Holy Father Francis, to the participants in the eighth Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, “Together around Mary, Our Lady”. The meeting, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon, to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, was organised by the St. Joseph University Alumni Assocation and the College of Our Lady of Jamhour.

The Holy Father shows his joy at seeing “Christians and Muslims united in their devotion to the Virgin Mary”, and comments that “the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa is a blessed place where everyone can go to invoke her”. He also encourages Christians and Muslims to “work together for peace and for the common good, thus contributing to the full development of the person and the edification of society”, and entrusts the participants in the meeting “and all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon”.


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – “The Virgin Mary and Islamic-Christian dialogue” was the theme of the address given by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, during the eighth meeting of the Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting which took place yesterday in Beirut, Lebanon, on 25 March, Solemnity of the Annunciation, which is celebrated by both Christians and Muslims. It is an important occasion and was declared a national holiday by the Lebanese government in 2010. In his address, which focused both on the figure of Mary and on the mission of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Fr. Ayuso emphasised that the feast of 25 March was “a true example of the co-existence between Muslims and Christians that characterises Lebanese history, in the midst of so many difficulties, and which also constitutes an important example for many other nations”.

“Since Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church recognises that Muslims honour the Virgin mother of Jesus, Mary, and invoke her with piety. … Mary is mentioned various times in the Koran. Respect for her is so evident that when she is mentioned in Islam, it is usual to add 'Alayha l-salam' ('Peace be upon her'). Christians also willingly join in this invocation. I must also mention those shrines dedicated to Mary which welcome both Muslims and Christians. In particular, here in Lebanon, how can we forget the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa?”

“Devotion creates sentiments of friendship: it is a phenomenon open to everyone. The cultural experiences that our communities can share encourage collaboration, solidarity and mutual recognition as sons and daughters of a single God, members of the same human family. Therefore, the Church addresses the followers of Islam with esteem. During the last fifty years, a dialogue of friendship and mutual respect has been constructed”.

With reference to the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, he went on to explain that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue “seeks to establish regular relationships with Muslim institutions and organisations, with the aim of promoting mutual understanding and trust, friendship and, where possible, collaboration. In fact, there exist agreements with various Muslim institutions enabling the possibility of holding periodical meetings, in accordance with the programmes and procedures approved by both parties. With regard to the methods of interreligious dialogue and, therefore, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, we must recall that dialogue is a two-way form of communication. … It is based on witness of one's own faith and, at the same time, openness to the religion of the other. It is not a betrayal of the mission of the Church, and much less a new method of conversion to Christianity. The document 'Dialogue and Proclamation', published jointly by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1991, identifies four different forms of interreligious dialogue: the dialogue of life, the dialogue of works, the dialogue of theological exchange and the dialogue of religious experience. These four forms demonstrate that it is not an experience confined to specialists”.

Fr. Ayuso concluded by analysing the role of Mary, in the light of the motto of the national holiday in Lebanon, “Together around Mary, Our Lady”. “In the Apostolic Exhortation 'Marialis Cultus', promulgated in 1974 by Pope Paul VI, Mary is presented as 'the Virgin who listens', 'the Virgin who prays', 'the Virgin in dialogue with God'. … But there is also the image of a model of dialogue of seeking when, addressing the Archangel Gabriel, she asks, 'How is it possible?'. Mary, a model for Muslims and Christians, is also a model of dialogue, teaching us to believe, not to close ourselves up in certainties, but rather to remain open and available to others”.


Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Manoel Joao Francisco of Chapeco, Brazil, as bishop of Cornelio Procopio (area 6,715, population 216,000, Catholics 183,000, priests 38, religious 40), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Getulio Teixeira Guimaraes, S.V.D., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, upon reaching the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Limburg, Germany, presented by Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

Yesterday, Tuesday 25 March, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all'Jonio as secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Vatican City, 25 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, U.S.A., presented the eighth World Meeting of Families, which will take place from 22 to 27 September 2015 in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family explained that the meeting will occur at very important moment in the life of the Church, as Pope Francis has focused attention on the theme of the family, to which he dedicated this February's Consistory, and which will be the theme of the next Synod in October. Other examples are last year's Family Pilgrimage of the Year of Faith on 26 and 27 October 2013, the 11th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Holy Father's encounter with engaged couples on 14 February 2014, and the Pope's Letter to Families, a series of events and initiatives that coincide with the United Nations' convocation of the Year of the Family.

“The Philadelphia meeting aims first to gather the Churches of the America, and it is encouraging participation by all the diverse cultures, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, that people this vast continent”, continued the prelate. “There is no doubt that the presence on the Chair of Peter of the first Latin American Pope makes the event even more meaningful. … The starting point and the guide for this journey are given to us by Pope Francis: 'the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life. We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today's world. … Our task is to show the world God's shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd's care that is wise, brave and full of love”.

“This is what we will do as we look towards the meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd's care that is 'wise, brave and full of love'. Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today's many and complex problems, and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the family and of life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, and the family and ecumenism. These are some of the routes and areas of common work that we will pursue with wisdom, bravery and love”.

“We would also hope that the meeting in Philadelphia sees a broad and active presence from the other Christian Churches and communities, as well as from representatives of the world's other great religions, together with other men and women who, though not religious, are committed to bringing peace and goodwill to our world. May our coming together for the family encourage all peoples to remember that we are one family of humankind and that it is together as a family that we must walk the path to true happiness”, he concluded.


Vatican City, 25 March 2014 (VIS) – According to a communique issued by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father has invited Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini C.S.S., of Campobasso-Boiano, Italy, to prepare the texts of the meditations for the stations of the Via Crucis on Good Friday at the Colosseum. They will follow the traditional pattern of the fourteen stations.


Vatican City, 25 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Fr. Aurelio Pesoa Ribera, O.F.M. and Fr. Jorge Angel Saldias Pedraza, O. P., as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of La Paz (area 10, 975, population 1,031,525, Catholics 825,220, priests 161, permanent deacons 1, religious 472), Bolivia.

Fr. Pesoa Ribera was born in Concepcion, Bolivia in 1962, gave his solemn vows in 1988, and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology from the “San Pablo” Bolivian Catholic University, and a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the “Antonianum” Pontifical Athenaeum, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the Franciscan province of “San Antonio” in Bolivia, including master of philosophy and theology for the temporal professed and vicar of the San Francisco fraternity in Cochabamba; lecturer in ecclesiology and theological anthropology in the “San Pablo” Bolivian Catholic University; provincial definitor; guardian and master of temporal professed for the two year philosophy course at Santa Cruz de la Sierra; president of the ecclesiastical tribunal of first instance in the archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra; and provincial vicar of the “San Antonio” parish. He is currently provincial minister of the “San Antonio” missionary province.

Fr. Saldias Pedraza was born in Buena Vista-La Arboleda, Bolivia in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Higher Institute of Theological Studies in Cochabamba. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including priest and rector of the archdiocesan shrine of “Nuestra Senora de Cotoca”; member of the presbyteral council of the archdiocese of Santa Cruz; provincial vicar of the Domenican vice-province of Bolivia, and rector of the chapel of “Santa Catalina” in the “Virgen del Socavon” parish of Cochabamba. He is currently priest and rector of the Community of the archdiocesan shrine of “Nuestra Senora de Cotoca”, priest of the parish of “Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria”, Paurito, episcopal vicar of the vicariate of Cotoca, and judge of the metropolitan ecclesiastical tribunal of the archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

- appointed Msgr. Marek Zalewski, nunciature advisor, as apostolic nuncio in Zimbabwe, elevating him at the same time to the dignity of archbishop. Msgr. Zalewski was born in Augustow, Poland in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has a degree in canon law, and has served in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1995, in the Pontifical Representations in the Central African Republic, at the United Nations in New York, Great Britain, Germany, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – Gratitude for the great work of evangelisation that is taking place in Guinea, despite a lack of material resources, and invitations to unity, reconciliation and dialogue with members of other religions were the key points of the Pope's address to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Guinea, whom he received in audience this morning, at the end of their “ad limina” visit.

“Christ's disciples form a living body that manifests the joy of the Gospel by the enthusiasm of faith, although the conditions under which the Good News is proclaimed are often difficult”, the Pope writes. “From a purely human point of view the means of evangelisation may seem ridiculous. Far from being discouraged, you must remember that this is the work of Jesus Himself, beyond all that we are able to discover and understand. However, for the Gospel to profoundly touch and convert hearts, we must remember that only if we are united in love can we give witness to the truth of the Gospel. … Discord between Christians is the greatest obstacle to evangelisation. It favours the development of groups that exploit poverty and credulity to propose easy but illusory problems to the problems faced by the people. In a world afflicted by many ethnic, political and religious conflicts, communities must be 'authentically fraternal and reconciled' for their witness to be 'luminous and attractive'. God will give us the grace, if we know how to receive it, to render unity greater than conflict”.

Pope Francis goes on to remark that, for the proclamation of the Gospel to be fruitful, all existence must be coherent with what is proclaimed. He thanks the bishops for having instituted centres for the formation of laypersons and catechists for this purpose, and he urged them to support families in which Christian marriage must be lived without ambiguity, given that polygamy is very widespread within the country. He also suggests that they encourage the young to “bear witness to their faith, by committing themselves within society, thereby demonstrating their attachment to their country. In collaboration with the different actors in social life, they must always be artisans of peace and reconciliation in the fight against the extreme poverty that Guinea faces. In this respect, despite difficulties, I encourage you to deepen your relationships with your Muslim compatriots, mutually learning to accept different ways of being, thinking and expressing oneself”.

The Pope turns his attention also to the religious who in Guinea “express the love of Christ in works of aid for the population, both in healthcare and in education and instruction … accomplishing a true act of evangelisation, and giving authentic testimony of God's tenderness towards all mankind, especially the poorest and weakest; a witness that touches hearts and firmly entrenches faith”. Despite a lack of resources, Francis urges the prelates always to support them, “both spiritually and materially so that they may courageously persevere in their work of evangelisation and social promotion”.

The final paragraphs of the Pope's address are dedicated to priests, who are however still few in number in Guinea. The Holy Father congratulates them for the recent opening of the “Benedict XVI” major seminary which offers hope for the future and emphasises that the example of priests who live their vocation with joy is essential for ensuring that the new priests “learn to live truly the requirements of ecclesiastical celibacy, and the proper relationship with material goods, rejecting worldliness and careerism – for the priesthood is not a means of social mobility – as well as a real engagement with the poorest”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Pope Francis received the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, whose president is Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski. “It is true that in suffering no-one is ever alone”, he said, “as God in his merciful love for mankind and for the world also embraces the most inhuman situations, in which the image of the Creator present in every person appears to be obscured or disfigured. Thus was Jesus, in his Passion. … And here, in the Passion of Jesus, there is the greatest school for whoever wishes to dedicate him to the service of his sick and suffering brethren”.

Pope Francis recalled, on the Feast of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which will be celebrated tomorrow, how Mary welcomes life on behalf of us all. “Mary offers her very existence, she made herself entirely available for God's will, becoming the locus of his presence, the place in which the Son of God resides”.

He continued, “The experience of fraternal sharing with those who suffer opens us to the true beauty of human life, which includes its fragility. In the protection and promotion of life, in whatever state and condition it may be found, we can recognise the dignity and the value of each single human being, from conception to natural death”. The Pope concluded by encouraging those present always to keep in mind “the flesh of Christ in the poor, in those who suffer, in children, including those who are unwanted, in people with physical or mental handicaps, and in the elderly”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – The Orthodox Bishop Agathanghelos, director general of the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Greek Church, accompanied by a group of collaborators, was received in audience by Pope Francis this morning. The Apostoliki Diakonia is the body in charge of the promotion of pastoral, cultural and editorial activities in Greece on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church.

As a result of the improved relations with the Greek Orthodox Church, following John Paul II's visit to Athens in 2001, it has been possible to carry out various collaborative projects of a cultural nature involving the Holy See and the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece.

During their stay in Rome, from 21 to 26 March, the Greek delegation will visit the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls to venerate the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. They will also meet with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, and the directors of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Visits are also scheduled to the Catacombs of St. Callisto, the Abbey of the Three Fountains, and the Sant'Egidio Community.


Vatican City, 23 March 2014 (VIS) – On the third Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims present. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff commented on the Gospel passage in which the Samaritan woman goes to collect water from the well and encounters in Jesus the water of mercy; she finds what she had sought, and returned to the judged and rejected to announce to them that she had encountered the one who had changed her life. “We too have many questions to pose, but we do not find the courage to put them to Jesus! Lent is the ideal time to look within ourselves, to let our truest spiritual needs emerge, and to ask the help of the Lord in prayer. The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to express ourselves thus: 'Jesus, give me the water so I may thirst no more'”.

“The result of this encounter at the well was that the woman was transformed. … For every encounter with Jesus changes our lives, always. It is a step ahead, a step closer to God. And so every encounter with Jesus changes our lives, always. … In this Gospel reading we also find the impetus to 'leave our amphora', our water jar, the symbol of all that is seemingly important, but which loses its value before 'God's love'. We all have one, or more than one! … What is your inner amphora, what weighs upon you, what distances you from God?” he asked the faithful. “Let us set it aside a little and hear in our hearts Christ's voice, offering us a different water, a water that brings us closer to the Lord”.

The Pope continued, “We are called to rediscover the importance and the meaning of our Christian life, beginning with our Baptism and, like the Samaritan woman, to bear witness to our brethren of the joy of the encounter with Jesus; bear witness to the joy of this encounter. Each encounter with Jesus changes our life, and each encounter with Jesus also fills us with joy, that joy that comes from within. Let us tell how many marvellous things the Lord is able to do within our hearts, once we find the courage to let go of our amphora”.


Vatican City, 23 March 2014 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father Francis mentioned that Monday 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, and he asked for prayers for all those who suffer from this disease. The Pope also encouraged all those present to celebrate “24 hours for the Lord”, a prayer initiative which will be held on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March. It will be a moment of penance that will begin with a celebration in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday afternoon, and various churches in the centre of Rome will stay open during the night for prayer and confession. “It will be a festival of forgiveness”, he said, “that will also take place in many dioceses and parishes throughout the world”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences for the death of His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on 21 March, at the age of 80. “The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding spiritual leaders, courageous and wise in leading people through very difficult times”, he writes. “Following his election as patriarch in 1980, His Holiness was an engaged witness of the successive violent conflicts that have brought untold death and suffering to the Middle East, especially Iraq and most recently Syria. His Holiness was a man of dialogue and peace with regard to the followers of all religious traditions”.

Pope Francis also mentions in the telegram the Patriarch's role as an observer at the Vatican Council II and gives thanks for his “extraordinary contribution to strengthening communion between Syrian Orthodox Christians and the Catholic faithful”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of the talks, emphasis was laid on the cordial relations between the Holy See and Nigeria, and appreciation was expressed for the positive contribution offered by the Church to the welfare of the entire country, especially in the areas of education and health care, as well as in promoting dialogue between the various components of society. Particular attention was given in the meeting to the protection of the dignity of the human person and his or her fundamental rights, beginning with religious freedom. In this context the joint condemnation of every form of violence was renewed and hope was expressed for a rapid return to peaceful coexistence in the whole Country.

Finally, an exchange of views took place regarding several issues of regional interest, with particular reference to the situations of crisis and conflict in central and sub-Saharan Africa.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the members of the “Corallo” Association, a network of local Catholic-inspired broadcasters from all regions of Italy. The Pope gave an off-the-cuff address to those present, in which he defined the virtues, mission and sins of the communication media.

“Your work should be carried out along these three routes: the path of truth, the path of goodness, and the path of beauty. But truth, goodness and beauty are consistent – they come from within, they are human. And, on the path of truth, along these three routes, we can find mistakes and even traps. 'I think, I look for the truth …': be careful not to become an intellectual without intelligence. 'I go in search of goodness': be careful not to be an ethicist without goodness. 'I like beauty': yes, but be careful not to do what is frequently done: do not look for cosmetics to create an artificial beauty that does not exist”.

The Pope went on to refer to the “harmonious unity” of the work of broadcasters, commenting that, although there are large and small media entities, “in the Church there is neither large nor small: everyone has his or her function and help for others, the hand cannot exist without the head, and so on. We are all members, and also your media, whether they be large or small, are members, harmonised in their vocation of service to the Church. No-one should consider themselves to be too small in relation to another that is too large. Everyone is important in this harmony, for the Church is harmony in diversity. … It is important to seek unity, and not to subscribe to the logic that the large fish swallows the smaller fish”.

Pope Francis then went on to speak about clericalism, which he defined as “one of the ills of the Church. But it is a sin of complicity, as priests are subject to the temptation to clericalise the laity, while many laypersons ask on their knees to be clericalised, because it is convenient. … So this is a sin committed by two hands. We must resist this temptation. The layperson must be a layperson, baptised and with the strength that comes from baptism. A servant, but with a lay vocation, and this cannot be sold, bargained for, and one is not complicit with the other, because it is a question of identity. … Is the deacon or the priest more important than the layperson? No! … The function of the layperson cannot be exercised by the priest, and the Holy Spirit is free: sometimes it inspires a priest to do something, and at other times it inspires a layperson. This is something that is discussed in the pastoral Council, which is very important. A parish that does not have a pastoral Council and a Council for economic affairs is not a good parish: it lacks life”.

Finally, the Holy Father commented that the media embody many virtues, but also many sins. With regard to the latter, the three most significant are those which “take the road of lies: … disinformation, slander and defamation. The last two are serious, but not as dangerous as the first. Slander is a mortal sin, but it is possible to clarify the situation and become aware that it is slander. Defamation is a mortal sin, but it is possible to say: this is an injustice, because this person did something at that time but has now repented and changed their life. But disinformation means telling half-truths, the part that is most convenient to me, and not saying the other half. Therefore, those who watch the television or listen to the radio are not able to arrive at a perfect judgement, because they do not have all the elements necessary to do so, and the media do not give them. Please, shun these three sins”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as announced on 5 December 2013, and has invited the following people to be members: Catherine Bonnet, France; Marie Collins, Ireland; Sheila Hollins, United Kingdom; Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., United States; Claudio Papale, Italy; Hanna Suchocka, Poland; Humberto Miguel Yanez S.J., Argentina; and Hans Zollner, S.J., Germany.

Their principal task will be to prepare the Commission's statutes, which will define its competence and functions. The Commission will subsequently be joined by other members, nominated from various geographical areas of the world.

Marie Collins, who suffered sexual abuse as a child and brought the priest responsible to justice in 1997, is the co-founder of the Marie Collins Foundation, an NGO providing help and legal assistance to victims of abuse and their families. Sheila Hollins is emeritus professor of Psychiatry and former president of the British Medical Assocation. Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap. is archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., and is well-known for his efforts for the protection of childhood and is a member of the Apostolic Visitation of dioceses and seminaries in Ireland in 2010. Claudio Papale is a lawyer and professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. Hanna Suchocka, former prime minister of Poland (1992-1993), is a professor at the University of Poznan, specialising in constitutional law, and the author of various texts on human rights. The Jesuit Fr. Manuel Yanez is professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian and Urbaniana Universities. Fr. Hans Zollner,S.J., psychotherapist and psychologist, is the academic vice-rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, director of the Institute of Psychology, and chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute's “Centre for Child Protection”.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., commented that by the institution of this Commission, Pope Francis has made it clear that the Church considers the protection of minors as a priority issue. “In the certainty that the Church must play a crucial role in this field, and looking to the future without forgetting the past, the Commission will adopt a multiple approach to promoting the protection of minors, which will include education for the prevention of the exploitation of children, legal procedures relating to offences against minors, civil and canonical duties and responsibilities, and the development of 'best practices' as defined and developed in society as a whole”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today announced that, following the motu proprio: Fidelis dispensator et prudens, which established the Secretariat for the Economy presided over by Cardinal George Pell, and following the institution of the Council for the Economy and the appointment of Cardinal Reinhard Marx as Cardinal coordinator of this organ, the Holy Father has nominated Msgr. Brian Ferme as Prelate Secretary of the Council for the Economy.

The Prelate Secretary has the task of assisting the Cardinal Coordinator in the fulfilment of the functions of the Council for the Economy, whose competences are associated with the guidance and supervision of the administrative and financial activities of the economic entities of the Holy See.

Msgr. Brian Ferme was born in 1955, and is a priest in the diocese of Portsmouth, England. He completed his philosophical, theological and canonical studies in Melbourne, Oxford and Rome. He is the author of numerous scientific publications and articles. He has served as professor of canon law at the Gregorian Pontifical University and subsequently at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he became dean of the faculty of canon law in 2000. In 2003, in Washington, he became dean of the faculty of canon law at the Catholic University of America, after which he transferred to Venice as head of the St. Pius X faculty of canon law. He collaborates with various dicasteries of the Roman Curia; in particular, he is a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – A letter was published today, written in Latin and dated 26 February, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as his special envoy to the celebration commemorating the 650th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral of Krakow, Poland, which will take place on 28 March.

The Cardinal will be accompanied by a mission composed of Msgr. Jacek Urban, canon of the metropolitan Chapter, and Msgr. Jan Machniak, canon of the Chapter of the Collegiate Church of St. Florian.

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