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Thursday, January 31, 2013


Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Following the bilateral negotiations held in past years with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an official meeting took place in Ramallah, Palestine on 30 January 2013, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine.

The talks were headed by Dr. Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, and Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.
The Parties exchanged views regarding the draft Agreement under discussion, especially the Preamble and Chapter I of the mentioned Agreement. The talks were held in an open and cordial atmosphere, the expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The Delegations expressed the wish that negotiations be accelerated and brought to a speedy conclusion. It was thus agreed that a joint technical group will meet to follow-up.

Gratitude was expressed for the Holy See’s contribution of 100.000 euro towards the restoration of the roof of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.


Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – The annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture was presented in a conference this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See. This year's plenary will be dedicated to the theme "Emerging Youth Cultures" and will take place from 6 to 9 February. Participating in the conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, respectively president and delegate of that dicastery, along with Fr. Enzo Fortunato, O.F.M. Conv., director of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis Press Office in Assisi and two youth representatives: Alessio Antonielli of Italy and Farasoa Mihaja Bemahazaka of Madagascar.

In an address presenting the event that was given a few days ago at the Convent of St. Francis in Assisi, Cardinal Ravasi said that its main area of interest would be "youth culture". "Walking down the streets with their ears blocked up with earphones, listening to their music, gives a sign that they are 'disconnected' from the unbearable social, political, and religious complexities that we adults have created. In a certain sense, they drop their gaze so as to exclude themselves because we have excluded them with our corruption and inconsistency, with uncertainty, unemployment, and marginalization. We parents, teachers, and priests, the ruling class, we must examine our conscience. The 'diversity' of youth, which in fact is not only negative, contains surprising seeds of fruitfulness and authenticity. We need only think of the choice to volunteer made by many young persons or their passion for music, sports, and friendship, which is their ways of telling us that man does not live by bread alone. We need only think of their spirituality, which is so original in its sincerity, or their freedom, which is hidden under a blanket of seeming indifference."

"For these and for many other reasons," concluded the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, "I am interested in the youth, who are the present (not only the future) of humanity. Of the five billion people living in developing countries, more than half are under the age of 25 (representing 85% of all the youth in the world). That is why, leaving aside the ever-necessary objective socio-psychological analysis of faith on the young, that is, the meaning of religious presence to them, we would rather focus on their faith, that is, trusting in their possibilities, even if they are buried underneath those differences that, at first glance, cause such an striking impression."

Bishop Avezedo, during his address at the press conference, laid out the plenary's program, clarifying that its objective is "to objectively enquire into the new, complex, and fragmented phenomenon of youth cultures with the help of experts and listening to the thoughts of the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Only the opening ceremony will be open to the public. It will be held in the Aula Magna of the LUMSA University and will have the novelty of a short rock concert preceding the first conference. The work document sent to all participants clarifies our perspective of cultural analysis of the transformations in adolescents and young adults who are questioning the practices of evangelisation."

"A few days ago," he commented, "the International Labour Organization said that 73.8 million young persons in the world are seeking employment and that there will be half a million more by 2014. This information raises a series of questions: Is there a distrust of government? Is there a fear of the future? Will the youth take to the streets in protest? Does the myth of eternal youth reveal a lack of value of adults?" In this context, and after the assembly takes an overall look at the situation, the program will focus on some of the most salient and wide-reaching cultural features such as how the "digital culture revolutionizes the model and the grammar of communications". The structures and rituals of this language, just like the importance of music, meeting places, etc. … All those questions that "require discernment on the part of the Church and a profound change in language and the creation of codes in which the Christian vision might be meaningful." Other topics for discussion will be the "emotional alphabet" of the youth, the value of the body, friendship networks, and the delay in attaining self-sufficiency.

The following day, three young adults from different continents will reflect on the reasons for having confidence in the youth. Despite the fear of the future and the worsening of economic conditions, there are "potentials, an incredible creativity, a spirit of volunteering that is full of altruism, … and answers to the questions of meaning and hope."

The next topic to be dealt with will be that of "generating the faith, which we have called the 'cultural battle'. Effectively," Bishop Avezedo said, "that means that creating conditions that make meeting Christ possible have to have a cultural as well as a pastoral and theological focus. The fatigue, and at times failure, of ecclesial practices that widen the gap between young persons and the Church needs to be understood. Also, the rates of being born into the faith are low. Adult generations either do not know how or do not have time to deal with their own faith or to generate the faith in their children."

"The audience with the Holy Father at the beginning of the plenary meeting will be a major incentive for the assembly. For 2,000 years, the Church hasn't had a predetermined artistic style or a predefined language. She looks to the person and the message of Jesus to communicate in these totally 'multi-verse' times. Emerging youth cultures reveal the vulnerability, the insecurity, and the fragility of repetitive formulas. The Pontifical Council for Culture's promising assembly frees us from superficiality and apathy and is unafraid of confronting the truth of cultural situations."


Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and

ten prelates from the Campania region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
   - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, along with auxiliaries
   - Bishop Antonio Di Donna, titular of Castellum in Numidia, and
   - Bishop Lucio Lemmo, titular of Turres Ammeniae,
   - Archbishop Beniamino Depalma, C.M., of Nola,
   - Archbishop Francesco Alfano of Sorrento-Castellammare di Stabia,
   - Bishop Gennaro Pascarella of Pozzuoli,
   - Bishop Salvatore Giovanni Rinaldi of Acerra,
   - Bishop Angelo Spinillo of Aversa,
   - Bishop Valentino Di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo, and
   - Msgr. Giuseppe Regine, diocesan administrator of Ischia.


Vatican City, 31 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Ignatius Menezes as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Allahabad (area 46,774, population 32,199,000, Catholics 13,263, priests 90, religious 370), India. Bishop Menezes, emeritus of Ajmer, India, succeeds Bishop Isidore Fernandes, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Allahabad the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Fr. Laurent Birfuore Dabire as bishop of Dori (area 34,766, population 950,000, Catholics 10,000, priests 19, religious 20), Burkina Faso. Bishop-elect Dabire was born in Dissin, Burkina Faso in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1995. Previously judicial vicar and chancellor of the Diocese of Diebougou, Burkina Faso from 2005, the bishop-elect holds a doctorate in canon law and comparative law from Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and teaches law at the Unite Universitaire of Bamako, Mali.

- appointed Fr. Jonas Dembele as bishop of Kayes (area 160,000, population 1,432,000, Catholics 8,000, priests 18, religious 18), Mali. Bishop-elect Dembele, of the clergy of San, Mali was born in Sokoura, Mali in 1963, and was ordained a priest in 1992. Along with having served as pastor to several parishes in Mali since 1992, the bishop-elect was general secretary of the Diocesan Union of the Clergy of San and the National Union of the Clergy of Mali between 2002 and 2008.

- appointed Bishop Stanislas Lalanne as bishop of Pontoise (area 1,246, population 1,160,719, Catholics 844,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 28, religious 216), France. Bishop Lalanne, previously of Coutances, France, was born in Metz, France in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1975, and received episcopal ordination in 2007. On the national episcopal conference her serves on the "Etudes et projets" committee and is also a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and an advisor to the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE).

- appointed Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of Xai-Xai, Mozambique as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Bishop Muandula is president of the Mozambique Bishops' Conference. His Holiness also appointed Dr. Marco Impagliazzo as a consultor of that same pontifical council. Dr. Impagliazzo, who teaches Contemporary History at the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy, is president of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

The Holy Father has appointed these cardinals, created in the consistory of 24 November 2012, as members of the following dicasteries and organs of the Roman Curia:

1) to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria;

2) to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India;

3) to the the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia;

4) to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Rome, Italy.

5) to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon;

6) to the presidency committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria and Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;

7) to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia;

8) to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon and Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;

9) to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India;
10) to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon;

11) to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, Rome, Italy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – The first and most fundamental definition that the Creed teaches us about God is that He is the Almighty Father. This was the theme of Benedict XVI's Wednesday catechesis during today's general audience that was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

"It isn't always easy today to speak about fatherhood," the Pope began, "...and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father. For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father, or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as Father or to confidently surrender themselves to Him. But Biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a 'father'. Above all it is the Gospel that reveals to us this face of God as Father, who loves us even to the point of giving us the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity."

In the light of the Scriptures and the writings of the evangelists, the Holy Father explained that God is our Father because "He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus. And, as Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us His Word, His teaching, His grace, His Spirit. ...If He is so good as to 'make His sun rise on the bad and the good and … rain to fall on the just and the unjust', then we can always, without fear and in complete faith, entrust ourselves to His forgiveness as Father when we choose the wrong path."

Tracing the history of salvation, Psalm 136 repeats "for his mercy endures forever", and the pontiff emphasized, "The love of God the Father never fails, never tires of us. … Faith gives us this certainty that becomes the sure rock upon which to build our lives. We can face every difficulty and every danger, the experience of the darkness of times of crisis and pain, sustained by the confidence that God does not abandon us and is always near to save us and bring us to everlasting life."

The kind face of the Father who is in heaven is fully shown in the Lord Jesus. "Knowing Him we know the Father and seeing Him we can see the Father. … Faith in God the Father requires that we believe in the Son, through the action of the Spirit, recognizing the Cross that saves as the definitive revelation of divine love. God is our Father, forgiving our sins and bringing us to the joy of the risen life."

"We can ask ourselves, how is it possible to imagine an all-powerful God by looking at the Cross of Christ? … We would certainly like a divine omnipotence that corresponded to our thoughts and our desires; an 'almighty' God … who vanquishes our adversaries, who changes the course of events, and who takes away our pain. … Faced with evil and suffering, ... it is difficult for many of us to believe in God the Father and to believe that He is all-powerful."

"Faith in God the Almighty, however, leads us to follow very different paths: learning to understand that God's thoughts and God's paths are different from ours and that even His omnipotence is different―it isn't expressed with mechanical or arbitrary force... Actually, God, in creating free creatures, in giving us freedom, gave up a part of His power, allowing us the power of our freedom. Thus He loves and respects love's free response to His call. His omnipotence isn't expressed in violence or destruction but rather through love, mercy, and forgiveness; through His tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance, and which is made of patience, clemency, and love."

"Only the truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion. Only the truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because He made them all, reveals His strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion because He wants us as His children. ...The omnipotence of love isn't a worldly power, but is that of total gift and Jesus, the Son of God, reveals to the world the Father's true omnipotence by giving His life for us sinners. This is the true ... divine power: responding to evil not with evil but with good, responding to murderous hatred with a love that gives life. Evil is thus truly vanquished, because it is washed by God's love. Death is thus definitively defeated, because it is transformed into the gift of life. God the Father resurrects His Son. Death, the great enemy, is swallowed up and deprived of its sting and we are freed from sin; we can grasp our reality as children of God."

"So, when we say 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty', we express our faith in the power of God's love who―in His Son who died and rose again―conquers hate, evil, and sin and gives us eternal life, a life as children who desire to remain forever in the 'Father's House'."


Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, 29 January, the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held a plenary meeting in Jerusalem to continue negotiations pursuant to Article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.

The meeting was headed by Mr. Daniel Ayalon, M.K, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary of the Holy See for the Relations with States. The Holy See's delegation thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon for his contribution to the negotiations and wished him success in his new endeavours.

The negotiations took place in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere. The Commission took notice that significant progress was made and looks forward to a speedy conclusion of the Agreement. The parties have agreed on future steps and to hold the next plenary meeting in June 2013 at Vatican City.


Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Juan Carlos Barreto Barreto as bishop of Quibdo (area 12,500, population 198,310, Catholics 186,010, priests 49, religious 62), Colombia. The bishop-elect, previously of the clergy of the diocese of Espinal, Colombia, was born in Guamo, Colombia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. Bishop-elect Barreto has served as pastor in several Colombian parishes and as diocesan delegate to several organizations. Since 2008 he has been rector of the Espinal diocese's major seminary, La Providencia.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the calendar of celebrations that are due to be presided by the Holy Father in February and March.


Saturday 2: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day of Consecrated Life. At 5:30pm in the Vatican Basilica: Mass with members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

Monday 11: At 11:00am in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace: Ordinary public consistory for several causes for canonisation.

Wednesday 13: Ash Wednesday. At 4:30pm in the Basilica of Sant'Anselmo: "statio" and penitential procession. At 5:00pm in the Basilica of Santa Sabina: blessing and imposition of ashes.

Sunday 17: First Sunday of Lent. At 6:00pm in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace: beginning of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.

Saturday 23: At 9:00am in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel: conclusion of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.


Sunday 24: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9:30am in St. Peter's Square: blessing of palms, procession, and Mass.

Thursday 28: Holy Thursday. At 5:30pm in the Basilica of St. John Lateran: beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.

Friday 29: Good Friday. At 5:00pm in the Vatican Basilica: celebration of the Lord's Passion. At 9:15pm at the Colosseum: Way of the Cross.

Saturday 30: Holy Saturday. At 8:30pm in the Vatican Basilica: Easter vigil.

Sunday 31: Easter Sunday. At 10:15am in St. Peter's Square: Mass. At midday, from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica: "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.


Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the Holy Father's message for the 21st World Day of the Sick (7–11 February) and the celebrations for the Day that will take place in Altotting, Bavaria, Germany. Participating in the press conference were: Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers along with Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of that same dicastery; Msgr. Ludwig Limbrunner, rector of the shrine to Our Lady of Altotting, Bavaria, Germany; and Rev. Janusz Surzykiewicz, professor of pastoral theology at the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Bavaria, Germany. The Message is entitled:"Go and Do Likewise".

This Day, Archbishop Zimowski explained, is "a unique moment of reflection, of renewed attention and commitment, on behalf of everyone, to all to the problems inherent to caring for life, health, and suffering. In particular, the Holy Father … emphasizes that its celebration should be strongly characterized by prayer, sharing, and offering up suffering for the good of the Church, as well as serving as a call so that everyone might recognize, in the face of their sick brother or sister, the face of Christ who, suffering, dying, and rising, saved humanity."

The Pope's text challenges us "to let the figure of the Good Samaritan call to us". It is a Gospel narrative that constitutes a "parable that is paradigmatic and ever-topical for all of the Church's action, especially her outreach in the area of health, disease, and suffering." In the story "Jesus, with his actions and words, reveals God's deep love for every human being, above all those suffering illness or pain." The Pope, however, "puts the emphasis on the end of the parable when Jesus ... concludes with an urgent mandate: 'Go and do likewise'."

"This is," the archbishop continued, "an incisive mandate because with these words Jesus shows us what, even today, the attitude and behaviour of His disciples with others, especially those in need of care, must be. Looking to how Christ acted, therefore, we can understand God's infinite love, can feel ourselves to be part of this love, and sent to show it with our care and our closeness to all those in need of help because of being wounded in body and in spirit. But this capacity to love cannot come solely from our efforts, but rather is born of our being in constant relationship with Christ through a life of faith. From this stems the call and the duty of each Christian to be a 'Good Samaritan', who ... is everyone who stops at the suffering of another, everyone who is sensitive to the suffering of others, everyone who is moved by the misfortunes of others, everyone who wants to try and be 'God's hands'."

"Before concluding his message, the Holy Father pointed out the Year of Faith as 'a propitious occasion for rediscovering the Good Samaritan and of living in imitation of him': in imitation of his knowing how 'to see with compassion' and love someone who needed care and assistance; in his knowing how to bend down and pick up the needs of others'. ...This is why it is useful to 'turn our gaze' to the many witnesses to the faith and their charitable self-giving. It can be said that the entire history of the Church … is marked by countless witnesses. The Pope indicates some of those who are closest to us in time: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face; the venerable Luigi Novarese; Raoul Follereau; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; and St. Anna Schaffer of Mindelstetten."

"Blessed John Paul II, in the section of his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris referencing the Good Samaritan, wrote: 'At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by His suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this double aspect He has completely revealed the meaning of suffering.' In naming five Good Samaritans who are close to us in history, Benedict XVI takes into consideration both dimensions: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and St. Anna Schaffer do good out of their own suffering while the other three witnesses do good for those who are suffering."


Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) – Recalling his trip to Lebanon and inviting the whole Church to remember the problems of and the Christian communities in the Middle East in their prayers, the Holy Father has invitedthrough his cardinal secretary of stateHis Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, to prepare the texts for the Via Crucis on Good Friday at the Colosseum. Under the guidance of the Patriarch, the texts will be prepared by two young Lebanese and will follow the traditional pattern of the fourteen stations.


Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Alexander King Sample as archbishop of the archdiocese of Portland (area 76,937, population 3,296,705, Catholics 412,725, priests 300, permanent deacons 72, religious 653), Oregon, USA. Bishop Sample, previously bishop of Marquette, Michigan, USA, was born in Kalispell, Montana, USA, in 1960, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and received episcopal ordination in 2006. In the national bishops' conference he currently serves on the Subcommittees on Native American Catholics and on the Catechism. He is also vice-postulator for the cause for canonisation of Venerable Frederic Baraga, first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette. He succeeds Archbishop John George Vlazny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Vatican City, 28 January 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., in the Holy Father's name, sent a telegram to Archbishop Helio Adelar Rubert of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, for the death of 231 youths on Saturday in a fire at a discotheque of that locality.

"The Pope," reads the text, "shocked by the tragic death of hundreds of young people … asks that you express his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, sharing in the sorrow of all those who mourn them. He entrusts the dead to God, the Father of mercy, and prays for the comfort and restoration of the wounded and for the courage and consolation of all those affected by the tragedy. He sends his apostolic blessing to all those who are suffering and those who are assisting them."


Vatican City, 28 January 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will grant Plenary Indulgence to the faithful participating in the 21st World Day of the Sick to be celebrated 711 February, in Altotting, Germany according to a decree published today and signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Persons following the example of the Good Samaritan, who "with a spirit of faith and a merciful soul, put themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters who are suffering or who, if sick, endure the pains and hardships of life … bearing witness to the faith through the path of the Gospel of suffering" will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful:

A) each time from 711 February, in the Marian Shrine of Altotting or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, that they participate in a ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick, praying the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Faithful in public hospitals or any private house who, like the Good Samaritan, charitably assist the ill and who, because of such service, cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if, for at least a few hours on that day, they generously provide their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself and pray the Our Father, the Creed, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible that which is necessary to obtain the plenary indulgence.

The faithful who because of illness, advance age, or other similar reasons cannot take part in the aforementioned celebrations will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of carrying out as soon as possible the usual conditions, spiritually participating in the sacred events of the determined days, particularly through liturgical celebrations and the Supreme Pontiff's message broadcast by television or radio, they pray for all the sick and offer their physical and spiritual suffering to God through the Virgin Mary, 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the Sick).

B) Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, between the indicated days, with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord beseeching assistance for the sick in spirit during this Year of Faith.


Vatican City, 27 January 2013 (VIS) – "Each moment can be the auspicious 'today' of our conversion. Each day can be the salvific 'today' because salvation is a continuous story for the Church and for each of Christ's disciples. This is the Christian meaning of 'carpe diem'; seize the day that God calls on you to offer you salvation." These were the words that the Pope addressed to the faithful gathered at noon today in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.

As is customary, Benedict XVI commented on the Sunday liturgy's readings, particularly the Gospel where St. Luke speaks of Jesus' presence in the synagogue of Nazareth on a Saturday. "As an observer believer, the Lord does not avoid the weekly liturgy rhythm and joins in with the assembly of his fellow countryman to pray and listen to the Scriptures. The rite called for a reading from the Torah or from the Prophets, followed by a commentary. That day, Jesus rose to read and found the passage from the prophet Isaiah that begins: 'The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring Good News to the afflicted.'" On finishing the reading, "in an attentive silence, Jesus says: 'Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.' St. Cyril of Alexandria affirms that 'today', situated between Jesus' first and His final coming, corresponds to the believer's ability to listen and repent. However, an even more radical meaning is that Jesus himself is the 'today' of salvation history because He completes the fullness of redemption."

"This Gospel passage also challenges us 'today'. Firstly, it makes us think of our way of living Sunday; it is a day of family and of rest but even more, it is the day that we dedicate to the Lord, participating in the Eucharist in which we are nourished with the Body and Blood of Christ and with His life-giving Word. Secondly, in our times of dispersion and distraction, this Gospel passage invites us to ask ourselves about our ability to listen. Before we can speak of God and with God, we have to listen to Him, and the Church's liturgy is the 'school' of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us."

After praying the Angelus, the Pop released into the Roman sky two doves that a boy and a girl from Catholic Action had brought to him to conclude the Caravan of Peace in St. Peter's Square, the theme to which the month of January is traditionally dedicated.


Vatican City, 27 January 2013 (VIS) – On this International Remembrance Day dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust, Benedict XVI, after praying the Angelus, said: "The memory of this enormous tragedy that so severely struck mainly the Jewish people should represent for all a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, so that every form of hatred and racism is overcome, and so that the respect and dignity of the human person is promoted".

Today also marks the 60th World Day for the Fight Against Leprosy and the Pope expressed his "nearness to those suffering from that disease" and encouraged the work of researchers, health care workers, and volunteers in that area, particularly those who are part of Catholic organizations and the association Friends of Raoul Follereau. "I ask for the spiritual intercession of St. Damien De Veuster and St. Marianna Copewho gave their lives for those afflicted by leprosyfor you all."

"This Sunday," he continued, "also marks a special day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land. I thank all those who are promoting it in the different parts of the world and a special greeting to those present here."

The Pope concluded by addressing the Polish faithful. "Today I join with the Church in Poland in giving thanks for the life and ministry of the late Cardinal Jozef Glemp. May the Lord reward his pastoral dedication and keep him in His glory!"


Vatican City, 26 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the opening of the judicial year. His address, from which ample extracts follow, focused on the relationship between faith and marriage in light of the "current crisis of faith that affects various areas of the world, bearing with it a crisis of conjugal society."

The Code of Canon Law defines the natural reality of marriage as the irrevocable covenant between a man and a woman. Mutual trust, in fact, is the indispensable basis of any agreement or covenant. On a theological level, the relationship between faith and marriage has an even deeper meaning. Even though a natural reality, the spousal bond between two baptised persons has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”

Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family. First, the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another and whether a union that lasts an entire life is truly possible. … Thinking that persons might become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous’ and only entering into relationships with others that can be interrupted at any time is part of a widespread mentality. Everyone is aware of how a human being's choice to bind themself with a bond lasting an entire life influences each person’s basic perspective according to which they are either anchored to a merely human plane or open themselves to the light of faith in the Lord.”

"‘Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,’ Jesus taught His disciples, reminding them of the human being’s essential incapacity to carry out alone that which is necessary for the true good. Rejecting the divine proposal leads, in fact, to a profound imbalance in all human relationships, including marriage, and facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization. These, together with the flight from patiently borne suffering, condemns humanity to becoming locked within its own selfishness and self-centredness. On the contrary, accepting faith makes human persons capable of giving themselves … and thus of discovering the extent of being a human person."

Faith in God, sustained by God’s grace, is therefore a very important element in living mutual devotion and conjugal faithfulness. This does not mean to assert that faithfulness, among other properties, are not possible in the legitimate marriage between unbaptised couples. In fact, it is not devoid of goods that ‘come from God the Creator and are included, in a certain inchoative way, in the marital love that unites Christ with His Church’. But, of course, closing oneself off from God or rejecting the sacred dimension of the conjugal bond and its value in the order of grace make the concrete embodiment of the highest model of marriage conceived of by the Church, according to God’s plan, arduous. It may even undermine the very validity of the covenant if … it results in a rejection of the very principle of the conjugal obligation of faithfulness or of other essential elements or properties of the marriage.”

Tertullian, in his famous “Letter to His Wife”, which speaks about married life marked by faith, writes that Christian couples are truly ‘two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining one another.’"

The saints who lived their matrimonial and familial union within a Christian perspective were able to overcome even the most adverse situations, sometimes achieving the sanctification of their spouse and children through a love reinforced by a strong faith in God, sincere religious piety, and an intense sacramental life. Such experiences, marked by faith, allow us to understand, even today, how precious is the sacrifice offered by the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered a divorce—'being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble, and refraining from becoming involved in a new union. … In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church'.”

Lastly, I would like to reflect briefly on the ‘bonum coniugum’. Faith is important in carrying out the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting, always and in every case, the welfare of the other, on the basis of a true and indissoluble ‘consortium vitae’. Indeed, the context of Christian spouses living a true ‘communio coniugalis’ has its own dynamism of faith by which the ‘confessio’—the personal, sincere response to the announcement of salvation—involves the believer in the action of God’s love. ‘Confessio' and ‘caritas’ are 'the two ways in which God involves us, make us act with Him, in Him and for humanity, for His creation. … “Confessio” is not an abstract thing, it is “caritas”, it is love. Only in this way is it really the reflection of divine truth, which as truth is also, inseparably, love'.”

Only through the call of love, does the presence of the Gospel become not just a word but a living reality. In other words, while it is true that ‘Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt’, we must conclude that ‘Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.’ If this holds true in the broader context of communal life, it should be even more valuable to the conjugal union. It is in that union, in fact, that faith makes the spouses’ love grow and bear fruit, giving space to the presence of the Triune God and making the conjugal life itself, lived thusly, to be ‘joyful news’ to the world.”

I recognize the difficulties, from a legal and a practical perspective, in elucidating the essential element of the ‘bonum coniugum’, understood so far mainly in relation to the circumstance of invalidity. The ‘bonum coniugum’ also takes on importance in the area of simulating consent. Certainly, in cases submitted to your judgement, there will be an ‘in facto’ inquiry that can verify the possible validity of the grounds for annulment, predominant to or coexistent with the three Augustinian ‘goods’: procreativity, exclusivity, and perpetuity. Therefore, don’t let it escape your consideration that there might be cases where, precisely because of the absence of faith, the good of the spouses is damaged and thus excluded from the consent itself. For example, this can happen when one member of the couple has an erroneous understanding of the martial bond or of the principle of parity or when there is a refusal of the dual union that characterizes the marital bond by either excluding fidelity or by excluding the use of intercourse ‘humano modo’.

With these considerations I certainly do not wish to suggest any facile relationship between a lack of faith and the invalidity of a marital union, but rather to highlight how such a deficiency may, but not necessarily, damage the goods of marriage, since the reference to the natural order desired by God is inherent to the conjugal covenant.”


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon at 5:30pm, for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Benedict XVI presided over second Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. The celebration marked the closure of the 46th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year had the theme: "What does God require of us?" Many representatives from other Churches and ecclesial communities participated in the celebrations, including Metropolitan-Archbishop Gennadios (Limouris), representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Rev. Richardson, representing the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"Communion in the same faith is the basis for ecumenism," the Holy Father said, emphasizing that "God gives us unity as something inseparable from the faith" and that "the profession of baptismal faith in God, the Father and Creator, who has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and holiness already unites Christians. Without faithwhich is first a gift from God, but also the response of human persons―the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a type of 'contract', to adhere to out of common interest. … The doctrinal questions that still divide us should not be overlooked or minimized. Rather, they should be faced with courage, in a spirit of fraternity and mutual respect. Dialogue, when it reflects the priority of faith, can be open to God's action with the firm confidence that alone we cannot build unity, but that the Holy Spirit is the one who guides us toward full communion and who allows us to see the spiritual wealth present in the different Churches and ecclesial communities."

"In today's society," the Pope noted, "it seems that the Christian message seems to have less and less of an impact on personal and communal lives. This represents a challenge to all the Churches and ecclesial communities. … While we walk toward full unity, therefore, we have to pursue a concrete collaboration between the disciples of Christ in order to further the spread of the faith in the modern world. Nowadays there is a great need for reconciliation, dialogue, and mutual understanding, for a more incisive presence in today's reality."

"True faith in God is inseparable from personal holiness as well as from the search for justice," the pontiff highlighted. After recalling that the theme for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was proposed by the Student Christian Movement in India in collaboration with the All India Catholic University Federation and the National Council of Churches in India, he assured his prayers for all the Christians of that country who "at times are called to bear witness to their faith under difficult conditions. 'Walking humbly with God' means, first of all, walking in the radicality of faith, like Abraham, trusting in God, even placing our every hope and aspiration in Him, but it also means walking beyond barriers, beyond the hatred, racism, and social and religious discrimination that divide and damage all of society."

"Our search for unity in truth and love, should never lose sight of the perception that Christian unity is the work and the gift of the Holy Spirit and that it goes well beyond our efforts. Spiritual ecumenism, therefore, especially prayer, is at the heart of ecumenical commitment. Ecumenism, however, will never bear lasting fruit unless it is accompanied by the concrete gestures of conversion that move our conscience and favour the healing of memories and relationships. … Genuine conversion … is a fundamental element of our ecumenical commitment. The renewal of the inner life of our hearts and minds, which is reflected in everyday life, is crucial in any dialogue or path of reconciliation, making ecumenism a reciprocal commitment of understanding, respect, and love, 'so that the world may believe'."


Vatican City, 28 January 2013, (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and

eight prelates from the Campania region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Andrea Mugione of Benevento,
- Archbishop Pasquale Cascio of Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi-Conza-Nusco-Bisaccia,
- Bishop Michele De Rosa of Cerreto Sannita-Telese-Sant’Agata de’ Goti
- Bishop Giovanni D’Alise of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia,
- Bishop Francesco Marino of Avellino,
- Bishop Ciro Miniero of Vallo della Lucania,
- Bishop Antonio De Luca, C.SS.R., of Teggiano-Policastro, and
- Dom Beda Umberto Paluzzi, O.S.B., Abbot of Montevergine.

On Saturday, 26 January, the Holy Father received Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, in audience.


Vatican City, 26 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Guy Charbonneau, P.M.E., as bishop of the diocese of Choluteca (area 5,775, population 700,000, Catholics 586,000, priests 28, religious 67),Honduras. The bishop-elect was born in 1946 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and ordained a priest in 1970. Between 1970 and 2003 he served in various pastoral and administrative roles on parochial, diocesan, and national levels in Honduras. From 2008 to the present he was Superior General of the Society of Foreign Missions of Quebec, Canada.

- appointed Msgr. Laurent Djalwana Lompo as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Niamey (area 200,000, population 7,400,000, Catholics 20,100, priests 42, religious 90), Niger. The bishop-elect was born in 1967 in Koulbou, Niger and ordained a priest in 1997. He has served as pastor in and vocations director for the archdiocese. From 2003 to the present he served as the archdiocese's vicar general. The Holy Father has also assigned him the titular see of Buffada.

- appointed Fr. Rafael Garcia de la Serrana Villalobos as vice director of the Department of Technical Services for the Governorate of Vatican City State. Fr. de la Serrana Villalobos is a member of the clergy of the personal prelature Opus Dei.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The commission was instituted ten years ago as a initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The commission has dedicated this week to exploring "more fully the communion and communication which existed between the Churches in the first five centuries of Christian history", Benedict XVI said, expressing his hope that "relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation, particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel."

"Many of you," he concluded, "come from areas where Christians, as individuals and communities, face painful trials and difficulties which are a source of deep concern to us all. Through you, I would like to assure all the faithful of the Middle East of my spiritual closeness and my prayer that this land, so important in God’s plan of salvation, may be led, through constructive dialogue and cooperation, to a future of justice and lasting peace. All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in serving the cause of peace and justice in fidelity to the Lord’s will. May the example and intercession of the countless martyrs and saints, who throughout the ages have borne courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen all of us in meeting the challenges of the present with confidence and hope in the future which the Lord is opening before us."


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – 'Ministrorum institutio' is the title of the Motu Proprio by which the Holy Father modifies the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor bonus', (John Paul II, 1988) and transfers the competency for seminaries from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for the Clergy. Following are ample extracts from the document.

"The formation of sacred ministers was one of the main concerns of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, who wrote that, 'fully aware that the desired renewal of the whole Church depends to a great extent on the ministry of its priests, [the Council] proclaims the extreme importance of priestly training'. In this context, canon 232 of the Code of Canon Law claims 'the duty and the proper and exclusive right' of the formation of those who are designated for the sacred ministries―that by regulation takes place in seminaries―as belonging to the Church."

"The first body of a universal character entrusted with the foundation, government, and administration of seminaries … was the Congregatio Seminariorum instituted by Benedict XIII in the constitution 'Creditae Nobis' (1725). Over time that organisation became defunct and the seminaries continued to receive the Holy See's particular consideration through the Sacred Congregation of the Council (which today is the Congregation for the Clergy) or also through the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars and, from 1906, only by means of the latter."

"With the Apostolic Constitution 'Sapienti consilio' (1908), St. Pius X reserved jurisdiction over seminaries to the Sacred Consistorial Congregation. … With the Motu Proprio 'Seminaria clericorum' (1915), Benedict XV … created a new dicastery that took the name 'Sacra Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus'. The Holy Father explained his decision as due to concern for the increasing amount of issues and the importance of the office. … The new dicastery ... was adopted by the Code of Canon Law of 1917."

"It is significant to note that, during the drafting of the new Code, there was discussion regarding the possibility of maintaining the same provision but, in the end, it seemed more appropriate to premise the entire norm as an introduction to the part that dealt with the clergy. Thus the rules and directives regarding seminaries were included … under the apt title of 'The Formation of Clerics'. … The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council again recalled that 'major seminaries are necessary for priestly formation' … Therefore, according to the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law of 1983, seminaries fall under the sphere of the 'formation of clerics' that, to be true and effective, must seal permanent formation with seminary formation …"

"As my venerated predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, affirmed in the Apostolic Exhortation 'Pastores dabo vobis' (1992) … 'It is particularly important to be aware of and to respect the intrinsic link between formation before ordination to the priesthood and formation after ordination. Should there be a break in continuity, or worse a complete difference between these two phases of formation, there would be serious and immediate repercussions on pastoral work and fraternal communion among priests, especially those in different age groups'."

"I find it opportune, therefore, to assign the promotion and governance of everything regarding the formation, the life, and the ministry of priests and deacons to the Congregation for the Clergy: from the pastoral care for vocations and the selection of candidates for Holy Ordersincluding their personal, spiritual, doctrinal, and pastoral formation in seminaries and special centres for permanent deacons―to their permanent formation―including living conditions and procedures for exercising their ministry and their welfare and social assistance."


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – With the Motu Proprio “Fides per doctrinam” that was signed 16 January and published today, the Holy Father modifies the apostolic constitution "Pastor bonus", transferring responsibility for catechesis from the Congregation for the Clergy to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. Following are ample extracts from the document.

"Faith," the Pope writes, "needs to be supported by doctrine that is capable of illuminating the minds and hearts of believers. This particular historical moment in which we are living, marked among other things by a dramatic crisis of faith, requires an awareness that is able to respond to the high expectations that arise in the hearts of believers when facing the new questions that challenge the world and the Church. Understanding faith, therefore, always requires that its content be expressed in a new language, one capable of presenting the living hope of believers to those inquiring into its purpose."

"On the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, while the Church continues to reflect on the richness of the teaching contained its documents and to find new ways of putting it into practice, it is possible to see the long path travelled over these decades in the area of catechesis. It has been a path, however, that in the years following the Council has not been without mistakes, even serious ones, both in method and in content. All of this has brought about profound reflection and led to the development of post-conciliar documents that represent a new wealth in catechesis."

"The Council's teachings and the subsequent Magisterium, as interpreters of the Church's great tradition in this field, have connected the Catechism ever more closely to the process of evangelisation. The Catechism, therefore, represents a significant step in the daily life of the Church, announcing and communicating the Word of God in a living and effective manner, so that it might reach all and that believers might be trained and educated in Christ to build His body, which is the Church."

"In the Apostolic Letter, formulated as a Motu Proprio, 'Ubicumque et sempter' of 21 September, 2010, I instituted the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation to pursue 'its own ends both by encouraging reflection on topics of the new evangelisation, and by identifying and promoting suitable ways and means to accomplish it'. In particular, I wanted to assign the task of promoting 'the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an essential and complete formulation of the content of the faith for the people of our time' to the new dicastery."

"Given all this, I believe it opportune that that dicastery assume as part of its institutional tasks the one of caring for, on behalf of the Roman Pontiff, the relevant instrument of evangelisation that the Catechism, along with catechetical teaching in all its diverse forms, represents for the Church in order to bring about a more organic and effective pastoral outreach. This new pontifical council will be able to provide the local churches and the diocesan bishops an appropriate service in this area."

"Accepting the agreement proposed by the heads of the dicasteries concerned, therefore, I have decided to transfer the competency for catechesis that the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor bonus' had entrusted to the Congregation for the Clergy on 28 June 1988, to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, with the same jurisdiction in the matter as previously exercised by the Congregation as required by canon law."


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – This Sunday, 27 January, will mark the 60th World Day for the Fight Against Leprosy. For the occasion, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, has published a message entitled: "A Fitting Occasion for Intensifying the Service of Charity". In the text of the document the archbishop notes that Hansen's disease is "a malady that is as old as it is grave when we consider the suffering, the social exclusion and the poverty that [it] involves".

"According to the most recent data of the WHO," the message states, "about 220,000 peoplemen, women and childrencontracted leprosy in 2011 and many of these new cases were diagnosed when the disease was at an advanced stage. These data demonstrate the continuationnotwithstanding the praiseworthy action of international and national, governmental and non-governmental, institutions, such as the WHO and the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Sasakawa Foundationof a still insufficient level of access to centres that offer diagnoses and of a lack of education as regards prevention in communities that run the risk of contagion, as well as the need for specifically designed medico-hygienic initiatives. All of this is fundamental in the case of leprosy, which by now does not lead to death if it is suitably treated, as it is the case, to a greater extent, of the other ‘neglected diseases’ ... These are pathologies that constitute authentic scourges in some parts of the world but which do not receive sufficient attention from the international community; amongst these pathologies we find dengue fever, sleeping sickness, bilharziosis, onchocerciasis, leishmaniasis, and trachoma."

"In the face of such a health-care emergency, in the light of the Year of Faith as well, and with the wish to commit ourselves increasingly intensely, as Catholics, to carrying out what Jesus requested by his commandment ‘Euntes docete et curate infirmos’ and by our baptism, I wish to renew my invitation to work to ensure that this Sixtieth World Leprosy Day constitutes a new ‘fitting occasion for intensifying the service of charity in our ecclesial communities, so that each one of us can be a good Samaritan for others, for those close to us’."

"An equally important role should also be played by all those people who are victims of leprosy, who are called to cooperate in the establishment of a more inclusive and just society that will allow the integration of those people who have been cured of leprosy; in spreading and promoting its forms of diagnosis and treatment; in stressing the need to receive therapies so as to be cured, thereby contributing to a weakening of the disease; and in distributing those medico-hygienic criteria that are indispensable to hindering its further propagation in the contexts to which they belong."

"As a Christian, a person who has been afflicted by leprosy also has the possibility of living his or her condition in a perspective of faith, ‘finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love’, praying and offering up his or her suffering for the good of the Church and humanity. In awareness that what has been emphasised is certainly not easy, and requires charity towards themselves and their neighbours, hope, courage, patience and determination, I would like to observe, employing the words of St. Paul, that none of us ‘received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear’: we have ‘received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"’. And, ‘if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him’. Even in the most adverse situations, a Christian is certain that ‘nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’," concludes the text.


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

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

- Mr. Nikolay Sadchikov, ambassador of the Russian Federation, on his farewell visit.


Vatican City, 25 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kalookan, Philippines presented by Bishop Deogracias S. Iniguez in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Bishop Buenaventura Malayo Famadico as bishop of San Pablo (area 1,203, population 2,821,000, Catholics 2,466,000, priests 172, religious 508), Philippines. Bishop Famadico was born in 1956 in Banton, Romblon, Philippines, was ordained to the priesthood in 1983, and received episcopal ordination in 2002. He was previously bishop of Gumaca, Philippines from 2003. He succeeds Bishop Leo M. Drona, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of San Pablo the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, Poland for the death of Cardinal Jozef Glemp, archbishop of that archdiocese from 1981 to 2006. Cardinal Glemp died yesterday at the age of 83.

Following are ample excerpts from his telegram.

"'Caritati in iustitia'—for charity in justice—this episcopal motto accompanied him throughout his entire life and guided his way of thinking, of judging , of making decisions, and in offering guidelines of pastoral outreach. He was a 'just' man, in the spirit of St. Joseph, his patron, and those who, in biblical tradition, knew how to listen to the voice of God's call, addressed not just to them personally, but also to the communities to which they were sent. Such justice, full of humble obedience to God's will, was the basis of his deep love for God and man, which was his light, inspiration, and strength in the difficult ministry of leading the Church at a time when significant social and political transformations were affecting Poland and Europe."

"The love of God and of Church and his concern for the life and dignity of every person made him an apostle of unity against division, of harmony in the face of confrontation, of the building of a happy future based on the past joyous and sorrowful experiences of the Church and the nation. Continuing the work of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, in constant communion with and spiritually connected to Pope John Paul II, he resolved many issues and problems in the political, social, and religious life of the Polish people with great prudence. Trusting in Divine Providence, he looked hopefully toward the new millennium into which he led the community of believers in Poland."

"The last stage of his life was tried by suffering, which he endured with a serenity of spirit. Even in this test he remained a witness to trusting in the goodness and love of omnipotent God."

"Personally, I always appreciated his sincere goodness, his simplicity, his openness, and his cordial dedication to the cause of the Church in Poland and in the world. Thus will he remain in my memory and my prayers. May the Lord welcome him in His glory."


Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI's message for the 47th World Communications Day was presented this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See. The Day, which will take place this year on Sunday, 12 May, has the theme of "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelisation". Participating in the presentation were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of that same dicastery.

"The message of this World Communications Day," said Archbishop Celli, "presents a positive assessment, though not a naive one for that matter, of social media. They are considered an opportunity for dialogue and debate and capable of strengthening the bonds of unity among people and effectively promoting the harmony of the human family. However, this positive character requires that one's actions be conducted with concern for privacy, with responsibility and dedication to the truth, and with authenticity, given that it has to do not only with information and knowledge but, essentially, with communicating a part of our very selves."

"The social dynamic of the social media, it is appropriate to point out, lies within the even richer and more profound dynamic of the human heart's existential search. There is an interweaving of questions and answers that gives meaning to the human person's path. In this context, the Pope touches upon a delicate aspect of the matter when he speaks of the ocean of excessive information that overwhelms 'the gentle voice of reason'."

"The theme of the Day speaks of new spaces for evangelisation: evangelisation that announces the Word, that proclaims Jesus Christ. In this regard we must remember what Benedict XVI wrote in his message for the World Communications Day in 2011, when he emphasized that it was not only an explicit expression of the Faith, but essentially, an effective witness 'in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically'."

Following Archbishop Celli's address, Msgr. Tighe explained that "the Pope takes for granted the importance of the digital environment as a reality in the lives of many people. It is not some sort of parallel or merely virtual world but an existential environment where people live and move. It is a ‘continent’ where the Church must be present and where believers, if they are to be authentic in their presence, will seek to share with others the deepest source of their joy and hope, Jesus Christ. The forum created by the social networks allows us to share the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching."

Likewise, the Holy Father "identifies some of the challenges that we must address if our presence is to be effective. We must become more fluent in the language of the social networks; a language that is born of the convergence of text, image and sound, a language that is characterized by brevity and that seeks to engage hearts and minds as well as the intellect. In this regard, the Pope reminds us to draw on our Christian heritage which is rich in signs, symbols and artistic expression. We need to remember a basic truth of communications: our witness – our actions and our patterns of behaviour – is often more eloquent than our words and proclamations in expressing who we are and what we believe. In the digital arena, the Pope suggests that our willingness to engage patiently and respectfully with the questions and doubts of those we encounter in the networks can be a powerful expression of our care and concern for them. Notwithstanding the challenges, we should always be hopeful."


Vatican City, 24 January 2013 (VIS) – "Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelisation" is the title chosen by the Pope for his message for the World Communications Day this year. The message is dated from the Vatican, 24 January, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists. Following is the full text of the message.

"As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new 'agora', an open public square in which people share ideas, information, and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate that, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility, and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention, which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression that appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. 'Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful'.

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which His teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate 'choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically'. A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in 'a still, small voice'. We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the 'kindly light' of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelisation, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: 'If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal'.

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation'."
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