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Monday, January 14, 2013


Vatican City, 14 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received members of the General Inspectorate of Public Safety in the Vatican as is customary at the beginning of the new year, to exchange greetings for the new year. In his address he emphasized the dedication and professionalism with which they undertake their tasks, especially during events with faithful and pilgrims who "arrive from all over the world to meet the successor of Peter and to visit the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, as well as to pray at the tombs of my venerated predecessors, particularly Blessed John Paul II.

The Pope recalled that the duty of the members of the Inspectorate also extends to his pastoral visits and apostolic trips to Italy and he thanked them for "the manner and spirit that animate your vigilant and qualified service. It is a manner that, at the same time that it honours your identity as functionaries of the Italian State and members of the Church, also attests to the good relations between Italy and the Holy See." He also expressed the desire that this task, not exempt from sacrifice and danger, be always inspired by "a steadfast Christian faith that is, undoubtedly, the most precious treasure and spiritual valour that your families have entrusted you with and which you are called to impart to your children. The Year of Faith that the entire Church is now living is also, for you, an opportunity to return to the Gospel message in order to let it enter more deeply into your consciences and your daily life, courageously witnessing to the love of God in every area, even that of your jobs."

"May your presence be," he concluded, "an ever more valid guarantee of that good order and tranquillity that are fundamental to building a peaceful and calm social life and that, besides being taught by the Gospel message, are a sign of true civilization."


Vatican City, 13 January 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Sistine Chapel the Holy Father baptised 20 children born in the past few months and children of employees of the Vatican City State.

In his homily the Pope recalled that, once an adult, Jesus began his public ministry by going to the River Jordan to receive a baptism of penitence and conversion from John. "Was Jesus in need of penitence and conversion?" the pontiff asked. "Certainly not. And yet … he wanted to place himself alongside the sinners … expressing God's nearness. … He demonstrates solidarity with us, with the weariness we feel in trying to convert, trying to leave aside our selfishness, trying to tear ourselves away from our sins, in order to tell us that, if we accept Him in our lives, He is capable of lifting us back up and leading us to the height of God the Father. … Jesus truly immersed himself in our human condition … and is capable of understanding our weakness and fragility. This is why He is moved to compassion. He chooses to suffer with human beings, to be penitent along with us. This is God's plan that Jesus wants to accomplish: the divine mission of healing the wounded and tending the sick, of taking upon himself the sin of the world."

Afterwards he explained that, at the moment that Jesus lets himself be baptised by John, "the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifest in the form of a dove while a voice from above expresses the Father's pleasure, recognizing His Son, the Only Begotten, the Beloved. … Thus the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled … the Lord God comes with power to destroy the works of sin and his arm exercises dominion to disarm the Evil One. However, we realize that this arm is the arm extended on the cross and that the power of Christ is the power of He who suffers for us. This is the power of God, which is different from the world's power. This is how God comes, with the power to destroy sin."

Through Baptism, the children baptised today "will be united profoundly and for all time with Jesus, immersed in the mystery of His power … in the mystery of his death, which is the source of life, in order to participate in His resurrection, to be reborn to new life … The heavens have also opened over your children and God says: these are my children with whom I am well pleased. Included in this relationship and freed from original sin they become living members of the one body that is the Church and become capable of fully living their call to holiness so that they might inherit the eternal life obtained for us through Jesus' resurrection."

Addressing the parents who had asked for Baptism for their children, the Holy Father highlighted that they show their "faith, the joy of being Christians and of belonging to the Church. It is a joy that springs from the awareness of having received a great gift from God: faith, a gift that none of us could have merited but which has been freely given to us and to which we have responded with our 'yes'. ... The path of faith that begins today for these children is based, therefore, on a certainty, on the experience that there is nothing greater than knowing Christ and communicating friendship with Him to others. Only in this friendship are the great potentialities of the human condition truly revealed and what is beautiful and liberating can be experienced."

He reminded the godparents that to them falls "the important duty of sustaining and helping the parents in their task of educating. … May you always know how to set a good example for them through exercising the Christian virtues. It is not easy to openly and uncompromisingly express that which you believe in, especially in the climate we are living in, faced with a society that often considers those who live their faith in Jesus as old-fashioned and out of date. In the wake of this mentality, even Christians run the risk of seeing their relationship with Jesus as limiting, as something that inhibits self-realization. … But that is not so! It is precisely through proceeding along the path of faith that we come to understand how Jesus exercises the liberating activity of God's love in us, which allows us to overcome our selfishness …. in order to lead us to a full life in communion with God and openness to others. 'God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.' These words from the First Letter of John express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith: the Christian image of God as well as the resulting image of mankind and its path."

"The water with which these children will be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, will immerse them in the 'source' of life that is God himself and will make them into His children. The seed of the theological virtues, inspired by Godfaith, hope, and lovethe seed that is today planted in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, must always be nourished with the Word of God and the Sacraments, so that these Christian virtues might grow and arrive at their full maturity, until they make of each one of these a true witness of the Lord," he concluded.


Vatican City, 13 January 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the first Sunday after Epiphany, which concludes the liturgical season of Christmas, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"Today we celebrate," the Pope said, "the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. That childborn of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his birth―we see as an adult, immersing himself in the waters of the River Jordan and thus sanctifying all waters and the entire world, as an Eastern tradition affirms. But why did Jesus, who had not the shadow of sin, go to be baptised by the prophet John? Why did he want to undertake this gesture of penitence and conversion together with so many others who wanted to prepare for the coming of the Messiah? This gesture that marks the beginning of Christ's public life, as all the evangelists testify, is part of the same line of the Incarnation, of God's descent from the highest heaven to the abyss of hell. The meaning of this divine abasement is summed up in a single word: love, which is the very name of God."

Jesus who is baptised in the River Jordan is 'the new man who wants to live as a child of God, that is, in love; he is the one who, faced with the evils of the world, chooses the path of humility and responsibility, chooses not to save himself, but instead to offer his life for truth and justice. Being a Christian means living this way, but this way of life bears with it a rebirth: being reborn from above, from God, from Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism that Christ gave the Church to renew persons to new life."

The Holy Father, recalling that this morning he had baptised several children in the Sistine Chapel, wanted to extend his blessing and prayers "to all newborns. Above all I would like to invite us all to recall our own Baptism, that spiritual rebirth that opened the path of eternal life to us. May every Christians, in this Year of Faith, discover anew the beauty of being reborn from above, from the love of God, and live as a true child of God."


Vatican City, 14 January 2013 (VIS) – After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that today marks the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and, in his annual message for the occasion, compared immigration to "a pilgrimage of faith and hope".

"Those who leave their lands," he emphasized, "do so because they hope for a better future, but also because they trust in God who guides the steps of the human being, as He did with Abraham. In this way immigrants are bearers of faith and hope to the world. Today I greet each one of them with a special prayer and blessing."

In his greetings in French, the Pope repeated this theme, expressing the desire that immigrants and their families, wherever they gather, "be welcomed and assisted so that they might have a dignified existence. Like Jesus," he urged, "we must be near to those who suffer and who have no voice of their own to make themselves heard."


Vatican City, 12 January 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy Father received in audience His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco along with his wife, Princess Charlene, and entourage. Following the audience with the Pope, the prince met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the course of cordial discussions several topics were covered including the meaningful contribution of the Catholic Church to the principality’s social life and international interests such as the integral development of peoples and the protection of natural resources and the environment.


Vatican City, 12 January 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., celebrated Mass this morning in the Chapel of Mary Mother of the Family in the Governorate Palace of the Vatican to inaugurate the 84th judicial year of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State.

"We would like to invoke Divine Wisdom," the cardinal said, "for the delicate and serious task of administrating justice." He then greeted, among others, the President of the Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, the judges, the promoter of justice, and the various workers in the administrative office, relaying to them "blessed greetings from the Holy Father who follows your appreciated labour with attentive interest."

Commenting on the Gospel reading that focused on St. John the Baptist, the Secretary of State emphasized that the prophet's example and witness are "a summons to believers so that they may set aside attention-seeking, their wanting to be seen, thus reducing their own ego so that the love for Jesus might grow in each of us and in others. He is the Way the, Truth, and the Life. This attitude requires humility of heart, which is a gift from God that we must unceasingly ask for in prayer. This is why the John the Apostle, whom we listened to in the First Reading, … recommends confident prayer to the Father who, if the one who asks is ready to do His will, will grant their request. We also ask and pray for our brothers and sisters, so that they might not remain obstinately in evil and thus refuse conversion. Mutual prayer acquires the value of an exquisite act of charity. St. Paul also recommends several times that we pray for one other and Jesus prays that Peter, after repenting, might confirm the faith of the other apostles."

"In this Mass our prayer community turns to the Lord so that each of us might carry out our service in the administration of justice toward our unique community of the Vatican City State with humility and in truth. I wish all of you who are participating in the inauguration of the judicial year in various ways, to be able to grow in the awareness that harmony, justice, and peace are not fully achievable without dedication to God and acceptance of His grace. Each of us is also invited to an informed openness to the Transcendent, which the Holy Father recommended to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See a few days ago. He affirmed that without such an openness, 'humans easily fall pray to relativism and thus find it difficult to act justly or to commit themselves to peace'," the cardinal concluded.


Vatican City, 11 January 2013 (VIS) - This afternoon, the Holy Father received the Corps of the Gendarmerie and the Fire Department of the Vatican City Sate in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican palace. After a greeting offered by Commander Domenico Giani, director of Security Services and Civil Protection, Benedict XVI addressed those gathered.

This occasion,” said the Pope, “gives me the opportunity to express to you … my appreciation, my heartfelt encouragement, and mostly my deep gratitude for the generous work you carry out discretely, competently, efficiently, and not without sacrifice. Almost every day I have the opportunity to meet some of you in your various places of work and to personally witness your professionalism in collaborating on and guaranteeing the Pope’s surveillance as well as the necessary safety and order of those who reside in the state and those who take part in the celebrations and events that take place in the Vatican.”

The Corps of the Gendarmerie is called to carry out, among other tasks, that of courteously and kindly greeting the Vatican’s pilgrims and visitors who come from Rome, Italy, and every part of the world. This labour of vigilance and control, which you conduct with diligence and care, is certainly substantial and delicate. At times it requires more than a little patience, perseverance, and willingness to listen. It is a very useful service to the tranquil and safe conduct of daily life and of the religious events of Vatican City.”

The Pope urged the gendarmes and firefighters to see on each pilgrim and visitor “the face of a brother or sister whom God has placed on your path” and to therefore “to welcome them with courtesy and assist them knowing that they are part of the great human family. Your task,” he emphasized, “will be more efficient for the Holy See and more enriching for you the more that it is undertaken with serenity and harmony. To that end it is necessary that the gendarmes, who for a long time have guaranteed their service within the Corps, and those responsible for their mandate establish, ever more fully, trusting relationships that can sustain and nourish all the members of the Vatican's Gendarmerie, even in difficult moments."

"May your unique presence at the heart of Christianity, where crowds and faithful constantly gather to meet the successor of Peter and to visit the tombs of the Apostles, always arouse in each of you the task of intensifying the spiritual dimension of life as well as the commitment to deepen your Christian faith, bearing courageous witness to it in each area of life with coherent conduct," the Holy Father concluded.


Vatican City, 14 January 2013 (VIS) – On Saturday, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

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

six prelates from the Abruzzo-Molise region of the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, C.S.S., of Campobasso-Boiano;
- Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto;
- Archbishop Emidio Cipollone of Lanciano-Ortona;
- Bishop Domenico Angelo Scotti of Trivento;
- Bishop Gianfranco De Luca of Termoli-Larino; and
- Bishop Salvatore Visco of Isernia-Venafro.


Vatican City, 12 January 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Julio Parrilla Diaz as bishop of Riobamba (area 7,014, population 517,000, Catholics 405,000, priests 79, permanent deacons 7, religious 218), Ecuador. Bishop Parrilla Diaz, previously bishop of Loja, Ecuador, was born in Orense, Spain in 1946, ordained a priest in 1975, and received episcopal ordination in 2008. In the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference he currently serves as president of the Caritas Pastoral Social Commission.

- appointed Bishop Daniel Kozelinski Netto as apostolic visitor to the faithful Byzantine Rite Ukrainians resident in Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Venezuela. Bishop Kozelinski Netto is also titular of Eminentiana, apostolic administrator of Santa María del Patrocinio en Buenos Aires of the Ukrainians, Argentina, and auxiliary of the eparchy of Sao Joao Batista em Curitiba of the Ukrainians, Brazil.
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