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Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Resurrection, the heart of the Christian message, and the two ways it is announced—profession of faith and narration—were the themes with which Pope Francis returned to the catechesis for the Year of Faith in this morning's general audience.

As is becoming his custom, the Holy Father travelled around St. Peter's Square in the white, open-top Jeep to greet the dozens of thousands of people who want to meet him, many of whom put their babies forward so he can take them in his arms. After his warm greeting of the faithful, the Pope prayed with those present and, after giving them a “good morning!”, he began his catechesis with the quote of the celebrated passage of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain”.

Unfortunately,” he said, “there have often been attempts to obscure the faith in Jesus' Resurrection and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves. Our faith is 'watered down', we might say; not strong faith. Sometimes this has been because of superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, because we are busy with thousands of other things that seem more important than our faith, or even because we have a limited view of life. But it is precisely the Resurrection that offers us the greatest hope because it opens our lives and the life of the world to God's eternal future, to complete happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, and death can be conquered. This leads us to living our everyday lives more confidently, to facing them courageously and committedly. Christ's Resurrection shines new light on our everyday realities. Christ's Resurrection is our strength!”

Moving on to explain the two ways that the truth of the Resurrection is shared in the New Testament, Francis spoke first of professions of faith, that is, of the concise formulas expressing the core of the faith. Such examples can be found in the Letter to the Corinthians or the Letter to the Romans in which St. Paul writes: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). From the Church's first steps, her faith in the Mystery of Jesus' Death and Resurrection has been steadfast and clear.”

However, the Pope preferred to emphasize the witness that takes the form of a story, recalling above all that, in these types of testimonials, women are the first witnesses. They are the ones who, at dawn, go to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body and find the first sign: the empty tomb. They then encounter the divine messenger who tells them: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, is not here. He is risen.

The women,” he attested, “are compelled by love and know how to welcome this announcement with faith. They believe and immediately they share [the announcement]. They don't keep it for themselves but convey it. They can't contain the joy of knowing that Jesus is alive, the hope that fills their hearts. This should also happen in our lives. We should feel the joy of being Christians! We believe in the Risen One who has conquered evil and death! We must have the courage to 'go out' to bring this joy and this light to all the areas of our lives. Christ's Resurrection is our greatest certainty. It is our most precious treasure! How can we not share this treasure, this certainty, with others? It is not just for us: it is to be proclaimed; to be given to others; to be shared with others. This is precisely our witness.”

Francis noted another element of the profession of faith in the New Testament: that only men are recorded as witnesses of the Resurrection, the Apostles but no women. “This is because,” he explained, “according to Jewish law of the time, women and children couldn't give reliable, credible witness. In the Gospels, however, women have a primary, fundamental role. We can see here an argument in favour of the historical actuality of the Resurrection. If it had been made up, in the context of the time, it would not have been connected to the testimonials of women. The evangelists instead simply narrate what had happened: the women were the first witnesses. This says that God's choices are not made in accordance with human criteria. The first witnesses of Jesus' birth are the shepherds, simple and humble people. The first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful. And this is a bit the mission of women, of mothers and women: witnessing to their children and their grandchildren that Jesus is alive. He is the Living One. He is the Risen One. Mothers and women, go forward with this witness! For God, what counts is our hearts.”

This also leads us to reflect on how women, in the Church and in the journey of faith, have had and still today have a unique role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and conveying his face, because seeing with faith always takes love's gaze, which is simple and profound. It is more difficult for the Apostles and disciples to believe: not for the women. Peter runs to the tomb, but stops before the empty tomb. Thomas has to touch the wounds on Jesus' body with his own hands. Even in our faith journeys it is important to know and to feel that God loves us; not to be afraid to love him: faith is professed with the mouth and with the heart, with words and with love.”

The Holy Father recalled that, after the apparitions to the women, there were others in which Jesus made himself present in a new way. “He is the Crucified One but his body is glorious. He did not return to his earthly life, but rather in a new condition. At first they don't recognize him and only through his words and his deeds are their eyes opened. Encountering the Risen One transforms them, gives new strength to their faith, an unshakeable foundation. For us too, there are many signs by which the Risen One makes himself known: Sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the other Sacraments, charity, these gestures of love bring a ray of the Risen One. Let us be enlightened by Christ's Resurrection and transformed by its power so that, through us too, the signs of death might give way to signs of life in the world.”

At the end, seeing that there were many young persons in the square, the Pope addressed them: “Take this certainty to all, the lord is alive and walks beside us in our lives. This is your mission. Take this hope forward with you. Be anchored to this hope, this anchor that is heaven. Hold tight to the lifeline. Be anchored and carry this hope forward. You, witnesses of Jesus, carry forward the testimony that Jesus is alive and that this will give us hope; it will bring hope to this world that has grown a bit old because of wars, evil, and sin. Young people, go forward!


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the calendar of celebrations scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father in the months of April and May, 2013.

7 April, Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday: 5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran for the Bishop of Rome to take possession of the Roman cathedra.

14 April, Sunday: 5:30pm, Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls

21 April, Sunday: 9:30am, Mass and priestly ordinations in St. Peter's Basilica.

28 April, Sunday: 10:00am, Mass and confirmations in St. Peter's Square.

4 May, Saturday: 6:00pm, Recitation of the Rosary in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

5 May, Sunday: 10:00am, Mass for Confraternities in St. Peter's Square.

12 May, Sunday: 9:30am, Mass and canonizations of Blesseds Antonio Primaldo and Companions; Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui; and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.

18 May, Saturday: 6:00pm, Pentecost Vigil in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.

19 May, Pentecost Sunday: 10:00am, Mass in St. Peter's Square with the participation of ecclesial movements.


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the eighth anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II yesterday, Pope Francis visited his tomb in St. Peter's Basilica. The Holy Father—accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, his personal secretary—prayed for a long while before Blessed John Paul II's tomb in the St. Sebastian Chapel and then also stopped at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and St. Pius X.

Like his visit to the tomb of St. Peter and the Vatican Grottoes,” reads a note from the Press Office of the Holy See, “this afternoon's visit to the Basilica expresses the profound spiritual continuity of the Petrine Ministry of the Popes that Francis lives and feels intensely. This is also evident in the meeting and the frequent phone calls with his predecessor, Benedict XVI.”


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – This past Monday afternoon, 1 April, the Pope visited the tomb of St. Peter, which is located in the necropolis under the Vatican Basilica. He stayed to pray in the Clementine Chapel (Chapel of St. Peter), the closest place to the burial of the first Apostle, which is found directly under the Basilica's central altar and the cupola.

The Holy Father travelled the main street of the necropolis accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, secretary of the Fabric of St. Peter, and Pietro Zanander and Mario Bosco, directors of the necropolis. Afterwards, the Pope went to the Vatican Grottoes to pay homage at the tombs of the Popes of the last century who are buried there: Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul I.


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – On the occasion of the celebration yesterday, 2 April, of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, published the following message:

Dearest brothers and sisters, on the occasion of the Sixth World Autism Awareness Day, which this year takes place during the liturgical period of the Easter festivities, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers intends to express the solicitude of the Church for autistic people and their families, inviting Christian communities and people of good will to express authentic solidarity towards them.”

I would like to take as a point of departure for my reflections the approach of Jesus who drew near to, and walked with, the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). The look marked by loss, and even more by amazement, that shaped the steps of Cleopas and Simon could be a similar expression to—and equally similarly be found within—that which marks the faces and the hearts of parents who have a son or a daughter with autism.”

Autism: this is a word that still generates fear today even though in very many cultures which traditionally excluded handicaps the ‘diversely able’ have begun to be accepted socially, and many of the prejudices that have surrounded people with disabilities and even their parents have begun to be dismantled. To define someone as autistic seems automatically to involve a negative judgement about those who are afflicted by it, and, implicitly, a sentence involving a definitive distancing from society. On the other hand, the person concerned seems to be unable to communicate in a productive way with other people, at times as though shut up in a ‘glass bell’, in his or her impenetrable, but for us wonderful, interior universe.”

This is a ‘typical and stereotyped’ image of the autistic child which requires profound revision. Ever since her birth, as a guiding theme, the Church has always expressed her care for this aspect of medicine through practical testimonies at a universal level. Above all else, this is witness to Love beyond stigma, that social stigma that isolates a sick person and makes him or her feel an extraneous body. I am referring to that sense of loneliness that is often narrated within modern society but which becomes even more present in modern health care which is perfect in its ‘technical aspects’ but increasingly deprived of, and not attentive to, that affective dimension which should, instead, be the defining aspect of every therapeutic act or pathway.”

Faced with the problems and the difficulties that these children and their parents encounter, the Church with humility proposes the way of service to the suffering brother, accompanying him with compassion and tenderness on his tortuous human and psycho-relational journey, and taking advantage of the help of parishes, of associations, of Church movements and of men and women of good will.”

Dear brothers and sisters, setting oneself to listen must necessarily be accompanied by an authentic fraternal solidarity. There should never fail to be global care for the ‘frail’ person, as a person with autism can be: this takes concrete form with that sense of nearness that every worker, each according to his or her role, must know how to transmit to the sick person and his or her family, not making that person feel a number but making real the situation of a shared journey that is made up of deeds, of attitudes and of words—perhaps not dramatic ones but ones that suggest a daily life that is nearer to normality. This means listening to the imperious exhortation that we should not lose sight of the person in his or her totality: no procedure, however perfect it may be, can be ‘effective’ if it is deprived of the ‘salt’ of Love, of that Love that each one of these sick people, if looked at in their eyes, asks of you. Their smile, the serenity of a family that sees its loved one at the centre of the complex organisation that each one of us, by our specific tasks, is called to manage for his or her life, and perceived and achieved sharing: this is the best ‘outcome’ that will enrich us.”

In practice, this is a matter of welcoming autistic children in the various sectors of social, educational, catechistic and liturgical activity in a way that corresponds and is proportionate to their capacity for relationships. Such solidarity, for those who have received the gift of Faith, becomes a loving presence and compassionate nearness for those who suffer, following the example and in imitation of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan who by his passion, death and resurrection redeemed humanity.”

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, during the Year of Faith, wishes to share with people who suffer because of autism the hope and certainty that adherence to Love enables us to recognise the Risen Christ every time that he makes himself our neighbour on the journey of life. Let what John Paul II, in whose intercession we trust and the eighth anniversary of whose return to the house of the Father we remember specifically today, be a reference point for us: ‘The quality of life in a community is measured largely by its commitment to assist the weaker and needier members with respect for their dignity as men and women. The world of rights cannot only be the prerogative of the healthy. People with disabilities must also be enabled to participate in social life as far as they can, and helped to fulfil all their physical, psychological and spiritual potential. Only by recognizing the rights of its weakest members can a society claim to be founded on law and justice’ (John Paul II, Message on the Occasion of the International Symposium on the Dignity and Rights of the Mentally Disabled Person, 7-9 January 2004, n. 3).”

May what the Holy Father Francis observed during the first days of his papacy—expressing his nearness to the sick and the suffering—be constant light: ‘we must keep the thirst for the absolute alive in the world, not allowing a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one of the most dangerous snares of our time’!”

While I hope for the cooperation of everyone in a choral and compassionate answer to the numerous needs that come to us from our brothers and sisters with autism and their families, I entrust the sufferings, the joys and the hopes of these people to the mediation of Mary, Mother of Christ and ‘Health of the Sick’ who, at the foot of the Cross, taught us to pause beside all the crosses of contemporary Man (cf. “Salvifici Doloris”, n. 31).”

To people with autism, to their families and to all those who are involved in their service, while confirming my nearness and prayer, I send my personal and affectionate best wishes for a serene and joyous Easter with the Risen Lord.”


Vatican City, 1 April 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the numerous faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Good morning and Happy Easter to you all,” he said. “Thank you for coming today, in such large numbers, to share the joy of Easter, the central mystery of our faith. May the power of Christ's resurrection reach every person—especially those who are suffering—and every place that is in need of trust and hope.”

“Christ has fully and finally conquered evil, but it is up to us, to people in every age, to embrace this victory in our lives and in the concrete realities of history and society. … The Baptism that makes us children of God and the Eucharist that unites us to Christ must become our lives. That means they must be reflected in our attitudes, behaviours, actions, and choices. The grace contained in the Easter Sacraments is an enormous source of strength for renewal in personal and family life, as well as for social relations. But everything passes through the human heart: if I allow myself to be reached by the grace of the risen Christ, if I let grace change for the better whatever is not good in me, whatever might do harm to me and to others, then I allow Christ's victory to affirm itself in in my life, to broaden its beneficial action. This is the power of grace! Without grace we can do nothing! Without grace we can do nothing! And with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion we can become an instrument of God's mercy—that beautiful mercy of God.”

“Expressing in our lives the sacrament we have received: that … is our daily work—and, I would also say, our daily joy! The joy of being instruments of Christ's grace, as branches of the vine that is Christ himself, inspired by the sustaining presence of His Spirit! Let us pray together, in the name of the dead and risen Lord and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Paschal mystery might work deeply in us and in our time so that hatred may give way to love, lies to truth, revenge to forgiveness, and sadness to joy.”

After the Reginal Coeli the Pope, in Italian, greeted the pilgrims from the various continents, wishing them a tranquil Monday of the Angel (as Easter Monday is traditionally referred to), “on which the joyful announcement of Easter strongly resounds: Christ is risen! And I close with these words: 'Happy Easter to all and have a good lunch!'”


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Biblical Commission will celebrate its annual plenary session from 8 to 12 April at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City under the presidency of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general of the commission, will directing the assembly's work sessions.

During the course of the meetings, the study on the theme “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible” will be concluded. “For some years,“ reads a communique from that office, “the Commission has decided to concentrate its effort on verifying how the themes of inspiration and truth are manifested in the various books of Sacred Scripture. The aim of the reflection is to offer a positive contribution so that, in a deepened understanding of the concepts of inspiration and truth, the Word of God may be welcomed by all faithful in a way that is ever more suited to this unique gift in which God communicates himself and invites humanity to communion with him.”


Vatican City, 3 April 2013 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that next Sunday, 7 April, at 12:00pm, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, will take possession of the title of St. Saturninus on Via Avigliana 3.
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