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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.
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