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

Monday, December 17, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions made reference to the recent Resolution approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations by which Palestine was recognised as a Non-member Observer State of the aforementioned Organisation. It is hoped that this initiative will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the Parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both.

Attention then turned to the situation in the Region, troubled by numerous conflicts, in the hope that the courage for reconciliation and peace will be found.

Finally, mention was made of the contribution Christian communities can offer to the common good in the Palestinian territories and throughout the Middle East.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "Any sporting activity, be it at amateur or professional level, requires loyalty in competition, respect for one's own body, a sense of solidarity and altruism; it and then also brings joy, satisfaction and celebration. All this presupposes a path of true human development, requiring sacrifice, tenacity, patience, and above all humility, which does not receive applause but which is the secret of victory".

This morning, with these words, the Pope received the athletes who represented Italy in the London 2012 Olympics, and who won a total of 28 medals, eight of them gold. The athletes were accompanied by the directors of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

"The Church regards sport as a part of man's entire being, and recognises that sporting activity is linked to education, the formation of the person, relationships between people and spirituality", said the Holy Father. "The athlete who lives his experience fully pays attention to God's plan for his life, learns to listen to His voice throughout the long periods of training, to recognise Him in the face of his companions and even that of his adversaries. ... I think of you, dear athletes, as both champions and witnesses, with a mission to accomplish: with the admiration you inspire, become valid models to imitate, ... masters of an honest and transparent sporting practice".

The Pope reiterated to the athletes that the pressure to obtain impressive results should not induce them "to take short cuts, as in the case of 'doping'. The team spirit that should encourage avoidance of these blind alleys should also give support to those who are aware of having made this mistake so that they might be heard and assisted.

In relation to the Year of Faith, the Holy Father emphasised that sport could also play a role in educating in "spiritual 'professionalism', or rather, living each day seeking the triumph of good over evil, truth over lies and love over hate, above all in ourselves. Considering the commitment to new evangelisation, the world of sport may also be considered as a modern "Courtyard of the Gentiles", that is, a valuable forum open to all, believers and non-believers, where it is possible to experience the joy and difficulties of encountering people of diverse cultures, languages and religious orientations".

Finally, the Pope recalled Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, "a young man who embodied both passion for sport - especially mountaineering - and passion for God", and invited the athletes to read his biography. "Blessed Pier Giorgio shows us that being Christians means loving life, loving nature, and above all, loving one's neighbour, and especially those in difficulty. I hope that each one of you will experience the greatest joy of all: that of improving and loving more day by day".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Today there took place an exchange of Notes between the Vatican and Taipei, by which the Secretary of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs communicated, respectively, that the Holy See and the Republic of China have completed the necessary procedures to allow the entry in force of the Agreement between the Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China on Collaboration in the field of higher education and on the recognition of studies, qualifications, diplomas and degrees.

The Agreement was signed in Taipei on 2 December 2011 by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Wu Ching-Ji, minister for Education of the Republic of China (ROC). On 20 November it was unanimously approved by the parliamentary assembly (Legislative Yuan) of the Republic of China.

It is an agreement "of a cultural and administrative character", stipulated within the framework of the UNESCO Regional Convention on the recognition of studies, diplomas and teaching grades in Asia and the Pacific, signed in Tokyo on 26 November 2011 with the participation of the Republic of China and the Holy See, among other States. It regulates two sectors: the academic-administrative domain of the reciprocal recognition of studies, qualifications, diplomas and grades, and that of collaboration in the field of higher education, which would include the presence of the Catholic Church in the university environment within the Chinese language zone.

By this agreement, the Republic of China concedes to the Holy See the recognition of study titles and ecclesiastical grades issued throughout the world, respect for canon law on the structure and management of Catholic universities and ecclesiastical faculties of theology in Taiwan, and the possibility of proposing Catholic values in the academic field in faculties other than those of theology. The latter two guarantees are included, fundamentally, in Article 2, which regards the recognition of the unique character of the education system, specific to ecclesiastical universities and faculties. This recognition implies respect for canon academic legislation, the protection of the Catholic character of academic institutions, the exclusive competence of the Holy See for content, academic programmes and the appointment of directors and teaching staff, as well as the individual written commitment on the part of teachers and administrative staff to moral conduct compatible with Catholic doctrine and morality. The rest of the Agreement is mostly concerned with the technical and bureaucratic aspects of the recognition of studies, qualifications, titles and grades. The relevant UNESCO Regional Conventions are cited, often literally.

The Agreement will also bring advantages to priests, seminarians and clergy from continental China who undertake studies at the Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei.


Vatican City, 16 December 2012 (VIS) - At midday, following his pastoral visit to the parish of San Patrizio al Colle Prenestino, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

Today's Gospel again presented the figure of John the Baptist; the Pope commented on the words of the Baptist when he spoke to the people gathered by the River Jordan to be baptised, who asked "What should we do?", while awaiting the Messiah, a question that proves to be "of current relevance".

"The first response is addressed to the crowds in general. The Baptist says, 'Whoever has two cloaks should give one to he who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise'. Here we can see a criterion of justice, inspired by charity", explained the Pope.  "Justice requires that we overcome the imbalance between those who have more than they need and those who lack basic necessities; charity impels us to care for one another, to reach out to others and meet their needs, instead of seeking excuses to defend our own interests. Justice and charity are not opposed, but both are necessary and complement each other".

"The second answer was addressed to some 'public officials', whose role was to collect taxes on behalf of the Romans. Tax collectors were disliked, largely because they often took advantage of their position in order to steal. The Baptist advises them neither to change jobs, nor to exact more than what was required. The prophet, in God's name, does not ask for exceptional gestures, but rather the honest fulfilment of one's duty. A first step toward eternal life is always keeping the commandments, in this case the seventh: 'Thou shalt not steal.'"

The third response concerns soldiers, "another category with a certain power, and therefore tempted to abuse it. John says to the soldiers, 'Do not oppress and extort anything from anyone; be content with your wages'. Again, conversion begins with honesty and respect for others, an indication that applies to everyone, especially those who bear greater responsibility."

After the Marian prayer, in his greetings in several languages, the Pope recalled that the European meeting of the Taize community will take place from 28 December to 2 January and, since the demand for accommodation will exceed availability, renewed the appeal already made in the parishes to families in Rome to extend their hospitality to the young people who will gather in the capital, "so that other families, with great simplicity, can enjoy this beautiful experience of Christian fellowship".

He went on to express his spiritual closeness to those who in Poland participate in  "Christmas Aid to Children". He said, "I hope this charitable and ecumenical initiative, a gesture of tangible assistance offered to those in need, will bring joy to the hearts of many children. May the flame of the candles lit by families during the Christmas Eve dinner be a symbol of this initiative, and may God reward the generosity of hearts and bestow His blessing to all".

Finally, the Pope greeted the children of Rome, gathered in St Peter's Square for the traditional blessing of the figures of Baby Jesus which will be placed in nativity displays on Christmas Eve.


Vatican City, 16 December 2012 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI, as bishop of Rome, visited the parish of San Patrizio al Colle Prenestino, an area urbanised between the 1960s and 1980s, and which has a new Church since 2007. The Pope was received by the parish community in which he met with the children baptised this year, accompanied by their fathers, and presided at the Holy Mass at 10 a.m.

On the third Sunday of Advent, called "Gaudete" Sunday as it invites us to be glad, the Holy Father observed that Advent is not only a time for conversion but also for joy, because "it is the time in which the anticipation of the Saviour is awakened in the hearts of believers, and awaiting the arrival of a loved one always brings joy".

The Pope commented on the first reading in which Zephaniah uses the expression "Sing aloud, O daughter Zion", explaining that the prophet intended to say that "there is no longer any reason for distrust ... or sadness, whatever situation we have to face, because we are certain of the presence of the Lord, which alone is enough to gladden and cheer the heart. The prophet also makes us understand that this joy is reciprocal; we are invited to rejoice, but also the Lord rejoices at His bond with us".

"In just a few days' time we will celebrate Christmas, the feast of the coming of God, who came among us as a child and as our brother to be with us and to share in our human condition. We must rejoice for His closeness and His presence, and always to seek to understand that He is truly near, so that the goodness of God and the joy of Christ might enter into us. ... St. Paul expressed emphatically in one of his letters that nothing can separate us from God's love as manifested in Christ. Only sin can lead us astray from Him, but this is an element that we ourselves bring to our relationship with Him. However, even when we turn away from Him, He never ceases to love us and to remain close to us with His mercy, His willingness to forgive and to welcome us anew in His love".

Therefore "we must never distress ourselves, as we can always express our wishes,our needs and our concerns to the Lord 'with prayer and petition'. This is a great cause for joy: to know that it is always possible to pray to the Lord and that the Lord hears us, that God is not distant from us, but truly listens to us, that He knows us and never turns away from our prayers, and even if He does not always respond as we might wish, he nevertheless responds."

However, "the joy that the Lord communicates to us must find grateful love in us. Indeed, we achieve full joy when we recognise His mercy, when we become aware of the signs of His goodness. ... He who receives the gifts of God in a spirit of selfishness does not know true joy; rather, it is he who finds in God's gifts the opportunity to love Him with sincere gratitude and to communicate His love to others whose heart is filled with joy", concluded the Pope.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope greeted the sick and elderly of the parish and returned to the Vatican to pray the Angelus.


Vatican City, 15 December 2012 (VIS) - A telegram of condolence was sent in the Holy Father's name by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to Msgr. Jerald A. Doyle, diocesan administrator of Bridgeport, United States of America, following the assassination of 26 people - twenty children and six adults - by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

Benedict XVI expressed his heartfelt grief and assured his closeness in prayer to the victims, their families and all those affected by this shocking event. "In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father's Message for the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 21 April 2013, fourth Sunday of Easter, was published today, in which Benedict XVI reflects on the theme of "Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith". Given below are extensive extracts from the message.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, what exactly is God’s faithfulness, to which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is his love! He, the Father, pours His love into our innermost self through the Holy Spirit. And this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer in order to live it to the full.

"The love of God sometimes follows paths one could never have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found. Hope is nourished, then, by this certainty: 'We ourselves have known and believed in the love that God has for us'. This deep, demanding love, which penetrates well below the surface, gives us courage; it gives us hope in our life’s journey and in our future; it makes us trust in ourselves, in history and in other people.

"I want to speak particularly to the young and I say to you once again: 'What would your life be without this love? God takes care of men and women from creation to the end of time, when He will bring His plan of salvation to completion. In the Risen Lord we have the certainty of our hope!' (Address to Young People of the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, 19 June 2011).

"Just as He did during His earthly existence, so today the risen Jesus walks along the streets of our life and sees us immersed in our activities, with all our desires and our needs. In the midst of our everyday circumstances He continues to speak to us; He calls us to live our life with Him, for only He is capable of satisfying our thirst for hope. He lives now among the community of disciples that is the Church, and still today calls people to follow Him. The call can come at any moment.

"Today too, Jesus continues to say, 'Come, follow me'. Accepting His invitation means no longer choosing our own path. Following Him means immersing our own will in the will of Jesus, truly giving Him priority, giving Him pride of place in every area of our lives: in the family, at work, in our personal interests, in ourselves. It means handing over our very lives to Him, living in profound intimacy with Him, entering through Him into communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit, and consequently with our brothers and sisters. This communion of life with Jesus is the privileged 'setting' in which we can experience hope and in which life will be full and free.

"Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with Him, so as to enter into His will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to His voice which is heard deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to God’s call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel, where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This latter 'must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.'

"Deep and constant prayer brings about growth in the faith of the Christian community, in the unceasingly renewed certainty that God never abandons His people and that He sustains them by raising up particular vocations – to the priesthood and the consecrated life – so that they can be signs of hope for the world.  Indeed, priests and religious are called to give themselves unconditionally to the People of God, in a service of love for the Gospel and the Church, serving that firm hope which can only come from an openness to the divine.

"By means of the witness of their faith and apostolic zeal, therefore, they can transmit, especially to the younger generations, a strong desire to respond generously and promptly to Christ Who calls them to follow Him more closely. Whenever a disciple of Jesus accepts the divine call to dedicate himself to the priestly ministry or to the consecrated life, we witness one of the most mature fruits of the Christian community, which helps us to look with particular trust and hope to the future of the Church and to her commitment to evangelisation. This constantly requires new workers to preach the Gospel, to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

"So let there be committed priests, who know how to accompany young people as 'companions on the journey', helping them, on life’s often tortuous and difficult path, to recognize Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, telling them, with Gospel courage, how beautiful it is to serve God, the Christian community, one’s brothers and sisters. Let there be priests who manifest the fruitfulness of an enthusiastic commitment, which gives a sense of completeness to their lives, because it is founded on faith in Him, who loved us first.

"Equally, I hope that young people, who are presented with so many superficial and ephemeral options, will be able to cultivate a desire for what is truly worthy, for lofty objectives, radical choices, service to others in imitation of Jesus. Dear young people, do not be afraid to follow Him and to walk the demanding and courageous paths of charity and generous commitment!  In that way you will be happy to serve, you will be witnesses of a joy that the world cannot give, you will be living flames of an infinite and eternal love, you will learn to 'give an account of the hope that is within you'!"


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Julian Herranz, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi.


On Saturday, 15 December, the Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Saint-Dizier, France, in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1989. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1994, and has served as a papal representative in India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belgium, Lebanon, Cuba, Bulgaria and in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. He was appointed to the College of Apostolic Protonotaries "de numero participantium" in 2009.

- Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Fr. Achim Buckenmaier, professor of dogmatic theology and director of the Academy for the Theology of the People of God at the Pontifical Lateran University, as consultors for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service