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Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - The prayer of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience this morning.

Addressing more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained how, according to the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin accused of having declared that Jesus would destroy the Temple and change the customs handed down by Moses. In his address before the council Stephen explained that, in saying these things, Jesus had been referring to His body, which was the new temple. In this way, Christ "inaugurated the new worship and, with the offer of Himself on the cross, replaced the ancient sacrifices", Benedict XVI said.

Stephen wished to show that the accusation of subverting the Law of Moses was unfounded, to which end he outlined his view of the history of salvation, of the covenant between God and man. "Thus", the Holy Father explained, "he reread the entire biblical narrative to show that it led to the 'place' of God's definitive presence, which is Jesus Christ and in particular His passion, death and resurrection. Stephen interpreted his status as a disciple of Jesus in the same light, ... following Him to martyrdom. Thus, meditation upon Sacred Scripture helped him to understand ... the present".

"In his meditation upon God's action in the history of salvation" the proto-martyr "highlighted the perennial temptation to reject God and His acts, and affirmed that Jesus is the Just One announced by the prophets. In Him, God made Himself definitively and uniquely present: Jesus is the 'place' of true worship".

Stephen's explanations and his life were interrupted by his stoning, yet "martyrdom was the culmination of his life and message, because he became one with Christ. Thus his meditation upon the action of God in history, on the divine Word which was entirely fulfilled in Jesus, became a form of participation in Christ's prayer on the cross".

The moment of Stephen's martyrdom "again revealed the fruitful relationship between the Word of God and prayer", the Pope said. Yet "where did this first Christian martyr find the strength to face his persecutors and to make the ultimate gift of self? The answer is simple: in his relationship with God, in his communion with Christ, in meditating upon the history of salvation, in witnessing the action of God which reached its apex in Jesus Christ".

St. Stephen believed that Jesus was "the Temple, 'not made by human hands', in which the presence of God the Father came so close as to enter our human flesh, bringing us to God and opening the doors of heaven for us. Our prayer must, then, be contemplation of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, of Jesus as Lord of our daily life. In Him, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we too can address God ... with the trust and abandonment of children who turn to a Father Who loves them with an infinite love".


Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a General Decree concerning the renewed juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis. The document, which bears the signature of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., was approved by the Holy Father on 27 April, and comes into force from the moment of its publication.

The publication of the decree is being accompanied by an explanatory text in English, written by Msgr. Osvaldo Neves de Almeida, excerpts from which are given below.

"In its sixty-one years of existence, Caritas Internationalis has always been a privileged instrument of the Church’s charitable activity. Drawing upon its long experience of this worthy institution, and in particular the developments of recent years, the Holy See has sought to update the juridical status of Caritas Internationalis, in order the better to support its activity in the context of the modern world".

"Blessed John Paul II gave it public canonical juridical personality by means of the Chirograph 'Durante l'ultima Cena'. ... This public juridical person is governed principally, though not exclusively, by its proper legislation and by the relevant provisions of the Code of Canon Law. The Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', in recognising the special bond linking Caritas Internationalis with the Apostolic See, implicitly established that its governance and operation should make reference to the First Section of the Secretariat of State. At the same time, the Chirograph gave the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' the task of following and accompanying the activity of Caritas Internationalis".

The process of updating the juridical framework of Caritas Internationalis

"The experience garnered in almost eight years of applying the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena' has made it possible to understand in greater detail how to carry forward a process of juridical updating that not only respects but expresses even better the nature of the organisation and clarifies the distribution of competences among dicasteries and offices with an interest in it".

"Between January and May of last year, a working group of representatives from Caritas Internationalis and the Holy See studied a new version of the Statutes of Caritas Internationalis, with the intention of resolving the interlinked doctrinal, juridical and economic issues. ... During the said meetings of the working group, one of the points to emerge was the need for legislation to complement the Chirograph 'Durante l’Ultima Cena', as a normative reference-point for the application of the new Statutes. Having received the draft Statutes, the Holy Father gave precise instructions to the Cardinal Secretary of State on the contents of the said text due to complement the Chirograph. Accordingly, in deference to these indications, the General Decree was drawn up and the new Statutes and Internal Rules were revised in accordance with it".

Some characteristic features of the new General Decree

"Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the General Decree clarify the competences of the principal dicasteries involved. In this regard, first and foremost, the role of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' has been strengthened (art. 1), the dicastery, that is, that follows the institutional activity of Caritas Internationalis and is responsible for approving its texts with doctrinal or moral content".

"Articles 4 and 5 establish guidelines for the future redaction of specific norms governing employment of personnel and the preparation of a suitable welfare regime. The employees of Caritas Internationalis, in fact, while they are not Vatican employees, are part of the working community of the Apostolic See".

"Article 6 ... establishes that at least three members of the Executive Board be papal appointments. This allows the Holy Father to designate individuals of specific proven competence, particular those coming from poor regions or regions deserving of privileged attention. ... It remains the case, however, that the majority of members are chosen by national Caritas agencies, which therefore continue to be responsible for the governance of this important structure of the Confederation.

"Moreover, provision is made for an Ecclesiastical Assistant and a Support Commission. ... In addition to the 'nihil obstat' of the Holy See for candidates for the offices of President and Secretary-General, ... the General Decree and the new Statutes require a 'nihil obstat' for the candidates for Treasurer".

"Article 7 re-affirms the general principle that significant canonical and Vatican legislation is binding upon those who are employed in entities situated within Vatican City and institutionally linked to the Holy See".


Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the conclusions of the eighteenth plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting was held in Rome from 27 April to 1 May and examined the theme: "The Global Search for 'Tranquillitas Ordinis'. 'Pacem in Terris', fifty years on". The conference was presented by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the "Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France, and Margaret S. Archer, professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne, Switzerland.

During the meeting participants focused their attention on the contribution Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical "Pacem in Terris" has made to the social doctrine of the Church. That document reaffirms the central thesis of all Church social doctrine, which is that "each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature that is endowed with intelligence and free will". On this basis the Encyclical underlines the notion of the common good, that is to say "all those social conditions which favour the full development of human personality". Participants in the plenary concluded that, in the modern world characterised by globalisation, the economic crisis and nationalist and religious conflicts, it is vital to rediscover the truth about human beings and the common good, because they are the cornerstones of social life.


Vatican City, 2 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Papantla, Mexico, presented by Bishop Lorenzo Cardenas Aregullin, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong.

- Appointed Msgr. Paul R. Sanchez of the clergy of Brooklyn, U.S.A., episcopal vicar for Queens, and Msgr. Raymond F. Chappetto, also of the clergy of Brooklyn, vicar for clergy and consecrated life and pastor of Our Lady of the Snows at Floral Park, as auxiliaries of Brooklyn (area 466, population 4,849,605, Catholics 1,556,575, priests 619, permanent deacons 179, religious 177). Bishop-elect Sanchez was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971. He has worked as pastor in a number of parishes and is a member of the diocesan liturgical commission. Bishop-elect Chappetto was born in Astoria in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1971. He has worked as pastor in various parishes in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday 1 May it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Fr. Raymond Poisson, pastor of the Sainte-Marguerite-d'Younville pastoral unit in the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, Canada, as auxiliary of Saint-Jerome (area 2,156, population 444,000, Catholics 431,000, priests 91, permanent deacons 19, religious 137), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Canada in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983. He studied in Canada and in Rome, and has served in pastoral duties and as private secretary to the bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil.

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