Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - In the wake of media comments concerning one of the Pope's titles - that of "Patriarch of the West" - which did not appear among the list of papal titles at the beginning of this year's edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" (pontifical yearbook), the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued a communique clarifying the reasons for the omission.

  "From a historical perspective," the communique reads, "the ancient Patriarchates of the East, defined by the Councils of Constantinople (381) and of Chalcedon (451), covered a fairly clearly demarcated territory. At the same time, the territory of the see of the Bishop of Rome remained somewhat vague. In the East, under the ecclesiastical imperial system of Justinian (527-565), alongside the four Eastern Patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), the Pope was included as the Patriarch of the West. Rome, on the other hand, favored the idea of the three Petrine episcopal sees: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. Without using the title 'Patriarch of the West,' the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-870), the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and the Council of Florence (1439), listed the Pope as the first of the then five Patriarchs.

  "The title 'Patriarch of the West' was adopted in the year 642 by Pope Theodore. Thereafter it appeared only occasionally and did not have a clear meaning. It flourished in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in the context of a general increase in the Pope's titles, and appeared for the first time in the 'Annuario Pontificio' in 1863."

  The term 'West' currently refers to a cultural context not limited only to Western Europe but including North America, Australia and New Zealand, thus differentiating itself from other cultural contexts, says the communique. "If we wished to give the term 'West' a meaning applicable to ecclesiastical juridical language, it could be understood only in reference to the Latin Church." In this way, the title "Patriarch of the West," would describe the Bishop of Rome's special relationship with the Latin Church, and his special jurisdiction over her.

  "The title 'Patriarch of the West,' never very clear, over history has become obsolete and practically unusable. It seems pointless, then, to insist on maintaining it. Even more so now that the Catholic Church, with Vatican Council II, has found, in the form of episcopal conferences and their international meetings, the canonical structure best suited to the needs of the Latin Church today."

  The communique concludes: "Abandoning the title of 'Patriarch of the West' clearly does not alter in any way the recognition of the ancient patriarchal Churches, so solemnly declared by Vatican Council II. ... The renouncement of this title aims to express a historical and theological reality, and at the same time, ... could prove useful to ecumenical dialogue."
CON-UC/PATRIARCH OF THE WEST/...                    VIS 20060322 (480)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that Friday, March 24, is World TB Day, an annual United Nations initiative to combat tuberculosis.

  This is, said the Holy Father, "an appropriate occasion to call for renewed commitment at the global level, that the necessary resources may be made available to cure our sick brothers and sisters, who often also live in situations of great poverty. I encourage the initiatives of assistance and solidarity towards them, hoping that they may always be guaranteed dignified conditions of life."
AG/WORLD TB DAY/...                            VIS 20060322 (110)


VATICAN CITY, MAR 22, 2006 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 35,000 faithful, Benedict XVI continued the catechesis he began last week on the calling and the mission of the Apostles.

  "St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians," said the Pope, "presents the Church as a structure 'built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.' ... The Gospels all agree in recounting that the call of the Apostles marked the first steps of Jesus' ministry."

  The Holy Father went on to consider this call in the various gospel accounts. St. Mark and St. Matthew place the scene at the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus called the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John to be "fishers of men." For his part, St. Luke dwells on the miraculous catch of fish, "a symbol of their mission as fishers of men. The destiny of those 'called' will, from now on, be intimately linked to that of Jesus. The Apostle is an envoy, but prior to that he is an 'expert' on Jesus."

  For St. John, the meeting took place on the banks of the River Jordan and "and throws light on [the Apostles'] spiritual world. They were men awaiting the Kingdom of God, anxious to know the Messiah Whose coming had been announced as imminent. And John the Baptist's identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God was sufficient to arouse in them the desire for a personal meeting with the Master."

  "Thus the Apostles' adventure began as an encounter between people who opened to one another," said Benedict XVI. "The disciples began to have a direct knowledge of the Master. Indeed, more than proclaiming an idea, they will be witnesses to the person of Christ. And before being sent to evangelize, they will have to 'be' with Jesus, establishing a personal relationship with Him. On this basis, evangelization will be nothing other than the announcement of what they experienced and an invitation to enter into the mystery of communion with Christ."

  Although Christ appears to limit the Apostles' mission to Israel alone when He says "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," in reality, the Pope explained, these words must be seen in the context of Israel as a "community of the covenant. According to messianic expectation, the divine promises will be fulfilled when God Himself, through His Chosen One, gathers His people together, like a shepherd his flock."

  "Jesus is the eschatological shepherd Who gathers the lost sheep of the house of Israel and goes out to seek them, because He knows and loves them. By this 'gathering,' the Kingdom of God is announced to all people." After Jesus' passion and resurrection, the Pope concluded, "the universal nature of the Apostles' mission became explicit. Christ will send the Apostles 'into all the world,' to 'all nations,' and 'to the end of the earth'."
AG/CALL APOSTLES/...                            VIS 20060322 (510)

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service