Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Before his catechesis in the General Audience this morning, the Holy Father spoke of his decision to leave the pontificate. Interrupted by the applause of the crowd filling the Paul VI Hall he said:

"As you know, I have decidedthank you for your kindnessto renounce the ministry which the Lord entrusted to me on 19 April 2005. I have done this in full freedom for the good of the Church, after much prayer and having examined my conscience before God, knowing full well the seriousness of this act, but also realizing that I am no longer able to carry out the Petrine ministry with the strength which it demands. I am strengthened and reassured by the certainty that the Church is Christ’s, who will never leave her without his guidance and care. I thank all of you for the love and for the prayers with which you have accompanied me. Thank you; in these days which have not been easy for me, I have felt almost physically the power of prayeryour prayerswhich the love of the Church has given me. Continue to pray for me, for the Church, and for the future Pope. The Lord will guide us."


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated the catechesis of today's General Audience to the season of Lent, which begins today, Ash Wednesday. "Forty days," he said, "that prepare us for the celebration of Easter. It is a time of particular commitment in our spiritual journey. … Forty days was also the period that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public life, when he was tempted by the devil."

Reflecting on Jesus' temptations in the desert, is "an invitation to each of us to respond to a fundamental question: What is truly important in our lives? … The core of the three temptations that Jesus faced is the proposal to instrumentalize God, to use Him for personal interests, for self-glory and success. In essence, it is putting oneself in God's place, eliminating Him from our existence and making Him seem superfluous. … Giving God the first place is a path that each Christian has to undertake. 'Conversion' … means following Jesus, so that His Gospel becomes the practical guide of our lives. … It means recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, on His love ...This requires us to make our decisions in light of the Word of God. Today it is no longer possible to be a Christian as a simple consequence of living in a society that has Christian roots. Even those who come from a Christian family … must renew daily their decision to be Christian, to give God the first place in the face of the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, in the face of the criticism of many of their contemporaries."

"The tests that Christians are subjected to by society today are numerous and affect our personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in our everyday lives, or to leave space for prayer and inner silence. It is not easy to publicly oppose the decisions that many consider to be obvious, such as abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to avoid hereditary diseases. The temptation to set one's faith aside is always present and conversion becomes a response to God that must be confirmed at various times throughout our lives."

The Holy Father recalled that in history there have been "great conversions such as St. Paul's on the road to Damascus or St. Augustine's. But also in our age, when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God's grace acts and works wonders in the lives of many people … as was the case for the Orthodox Russian scientist Pavel Florensky who, after a completely agnostic education … found himself exclaiming, 'It's impossible without God.' He completely changed his life, even becoming a monk." The Pope also cited the case of the intellectual Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), "a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin, who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she discovered Him by looking deep within herself, writing: 'There is a well deep within me. And God is that well.' … In her scattered and restless life, she rediscovered God in the midst of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah."

"In our age, there are more than a few conversions that are seen as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, have turned away from the faith for years, then later rediscover Christ and His Gospel. … In this time of Lent, in the Year of Faith, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, overcoming the tendency to be wrapped up in ourselves and to make room for God, seeing our everyday reality with His eyes. Conversion means not being wrapped up in ourselves in the search for success, prestige, or social position, but rather of making each day, in the small things, truth, faith in God, and love, become what is most important," the Pope concluded.


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father sent a message to the faithful in Brazil for the Fraternity Campaign that takes place in that country every year during Lent, and that has the theme of "Fraternity and Youth" this year.

"The path of Lent opens before us permeated with prayer, penitence, and charity, to prepare us to experience and to participate more deeply in Jesus Christ's passion, death, and resurrection," the Pope writes. "In Brazil, this preparation has found valuable support and encouragement in the Fraternity Campaign, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary and which is coloured by the spiritual overtones of the 27th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro this July."

"I gladly join in this Lenten initiative of the Church in Brazil and I send each and every one of you my cordial greetings in the Lord, to whom I entrust the efforts of those who are committed to helping the youth become … 'protagonists of a more just and more fraternal society inspired by the Gospel'. The 'signs of the times' in society and in the Church also arise through the youth. Disregarding these signs, or not discerning them, means losing opportunities for renewal. If they are part of the present then they will also be part of the future. We want the youth to be protagonists and to be integrated into the community that welcomes them, which demonstrates the confidence that the Church has in each of them. This requires guidespriests, consecrated persons, or lay persons―who remain young at heart even if they are not young in age, who are capable of walking without imposing a march, capable of solidarity and empathy, capable of giving the witness of salvation, which is nourished by faith and the following of Christ every day."


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Pope sent a message to participants in the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which celebrates its 36th anniversary this year.

The Holy Father praised "the methodology followed by IFAD, which gives ongoing development priority over mere assistance, and places the group dimension alongside the purely individual dimension, to the point of setting up forms of interest-free grants and loans, often choosing, as the primary beneficiaries, the 'poorest of the poor'. This activity shows that approaches inspired by the principle of gratuitousness and by the culture of gift can 'find their place within normal economic activity' (Caritas in Veritate)."

"Indeed, the approach taken by the Fund is to link the elimination of poverty not only to the fight against hunger and the guarantee of food security, but also to the creation of work opportunities and institutional decision-making structures. It is well known that when these elements are missing, the involvement of rural labourers in choices that affect them is restricted, hence reinforcing their sense of being limited in their capacity and their dignity."

"In this area there are two specific lines taken by the Organization that are to be commended. The first is the constant attention given to Africa, where, by supporting projects of 'rural credit', IFAD aims to endow small farmers with modest but essential financial resources, and to empower them in the decision-making and administrative phase as well. The second line is the support given to indigenous communities, which have a particular care for preserving biodiversity, recognized as a precious good that the Creator has placed at the disposal of the entire human family. The safeguarding of these peoples’ identity needs to be given priority, and their indispensable role in handing down traditional know-how needs to be acknowledged."

"The Catholic Church, in her teaching and her activity, has always upheld the centrality of the worker on the land, urging concrete political and economic action in areas that affect him. This stance, I am happy to observe, harmonizes with the Fund’s approach in underlining the role of farmers, as individuals and as small groups, thus actively involving them in the development of their communities and countries. This attention to the person, both individually and collectively, will be more effective if it is achieved through forms of association, both cooperatives and small family businesses with the wherewithal to produce an income that is sufficient to support a decent standard of living."

Referring to "the next International Year that the United Nations has chosen to dedicate to the rural family," the Pope added that it will promote "a deep-rooted and sound notion of agricultural development and of the fight against poverty, based on this fundamental cell of society. IFAD knows from experience that the family is at the heart of the social order, and what serves to regulate family life, prior to the laws of a State or international norms, are the moral principles inscribed in the natural patrimony of values which are immediately identifiable in the rural world as well. These principles inspire the conduct of individuals, the relationship between spouses and between generations, and the sense of shared ownership. To ignore this reality, or to fail to recognize it, would be to undermine the foundations not only of the family, but of the entire rural community, with consequences whose gravity is easily foreseeable."


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, presented the Holy Father's activities up to 28 February.

Tomorrow, as announced in Tuesday's briefing, Benedict XVI will meet with the Roman pastors in the Paul VI Hall. On the 15th he will receive, respectively, the "Pro Petri Sede" association and the president of Romania. On the 16th he will meet with the president of Guatemala. On those same days he will meet with the Italian bishops from Liguria and Lombardy on their 'ad limina' visits. However, the audience with the president of Cameroon, which was scheduled for 28 February, has been cancelled as well as the 'ad limina' visits scheduled with the Italian prelates from the Le Marche region between 25 and 28 February. On Saturday the 16th at 6:00pm, the Pope will meet with the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, and the following Saturday, the 23rd in the late morning, with the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano. "Both," Fr. Lombardi clarified, "have expressed the desire to meet briefly with the Pope."

From the 17th, after the Angelus, until the morning of the 23th, the Holy Father and the Roman Curia have the Lenten Spiritual Exercises, which will be led this year by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. As is traditional, for the Wednesday of that week there will be no general audience and no activity with the Pope is planned. On the 24th, he will pray the Angelus with the faithful who are gathered in St. Peter's Square.

On the 25th, the Holy Father will receive some of the cardinals in a private audience. On the 27th, the general audience will take place in St. Peter's Square. On the 28th, the last day of his pontificate, Benedict XVI will meet with members of the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall and at 5:00pm he will travel by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo.

The period of Sede vacante begins on 1 March. All the visits and activities that call for the Pope's presence during that time are therefore cancelled.

Finally, the director of the Holy See Press Office recalled that when the period of Sede vacante begins, the congregations of cardinals to prepare for the conclave also begin. The congregations have a number of juridical requirements to meet along with serving to exchange viewpoints regarding the problems to be addressed, the situation of the Church, etc., so that each of the members of the College of Cardinals might develop his criteria regarding the election of the new Pope. For this reason, the regulations provide that the beginning of the conclave be established between 15 and 20 days from the beginning of the Sede vacante. "If everything goes normally, it could be envisioned," Fr. Lombardi said, "that the conclave begins between 15 and 19 March. At the moment, we cannot give an exact date because it falls to the cardinals to determine it."


Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca as auditor general of the Apostolic Camera. Bishop Sciacca, titular of Fundi, is the secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service