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Wednesday, April 24, 2013


atican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience to three Gospel texts that help us to enter into the mystery of one of the truths professed in the Creed: that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. The three texts are: the parable of the ten virgins; the parable of the talents; and the final judgement. They all form part of Jesus' teaching on the end of time in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Before the more than 75,000 persons filling St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father spoke of the “'immediate time' between Jesus' first and final comings, which is precisely the time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins is located within this context.” They are awaiting the Bridegroom but fall asleep because he is late in arriving. Five of them, who are wise, keep oil aside and can light their lamps when the Bridegroom arrives unexpectedly. The other, foolish ones, do not have it and, while they look for it, the nuptial celebrations have already begun and the door to enter into the banquet is closed to them.

The Bridegroom is the Lord and the time of awaiting his arrival is the time that He gives us, with mercy and patience, before his final coming. It is a time of vigilance, a time in which we must keep the lamps of faith, hope, and love lit. [It is a time] to keep our hearts open to the good, to beauty, and to truth; a time to live according to God because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ's return. What is asked of us is to be prepared for the encounter, which means knowing how to read the signs of his presence, to keep our faith alive with prayer and the Sacraments, and to be vigilant so as not to fall asleep, not to forget God. The life of Christians who are sleeping is a sad life, not a happy life. Christians must be happy, [feeling] the joy of Jesus.”

The second parable, of the talents, “makes us reflect on the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return when he will ask us how we have used them. … This tells us that our awaiting the Lord's return is a time of action … time to make the most of God's gifts, nor for ourselves, but for him, for the Church, for others. [It is] the time in which to always seek to make good grow in the world. Particularly in this time of crisis, today, it is important not to be locked up in ourselves, removing our talents, our spiritual and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but to open ourselves, to be compassionate, to be attentive to others.”

In the square today there are many young persons. Is this true? Are there many youth? Where are they? To you, who are at the beginning of life's path, I ask: have you thought of the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how to put them at the service of others? Don't take your talents away! Bet on great ideals, those ideals that enlarge our hearts, those ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. We were not given life so that we might hold it back, jealously, for ourselves, but it was given to us so that we might offer it. Dear young persons, you have great souls! Don't be afraid to dream of great things!”

The Holy Father then spoke of the story of the final judgement that tells of the second coming of the Lord when He will judge all human beings, living and dead. At his right hand will be those who have acted in accordance with God's will, helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned—I said 'foreigner'. I am thinking of all the foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome. What are we doing for them?“ the Pope asked.

In the story, at the Lord's left hand are those who did not assist their neighbour. “This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we have love our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and most needy of them. Of course, we always have to keep in mind that we are judged, we are saved by grace, by an act of God's gratuitous love that always precedes us. Alone we can do nothing. Faith is foremost a gift that we have received. But, to bear fruit, God's grace always requires our openness to him, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of the God who saves. We have been asked to entrust ourselves to him, to make our good lives—made of deeds inspired by faith and love—match the gift of his love.”

Looking to the final judgement must never frighten us,” the pontiff concluded. “Rather, it urges us to live the present better. With mercy and patience, God offers us this time so that we might learn every day to recognize him in the poor and the small, might strive for the good, and might be vigilant in prayer and love. The Lord, at the end of our existence and of history, may then recognize us as good and faithful servants.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Syria—Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch—who were kidnapped by a group of armed men who killed their driver, a deacon, while they were on a humanitarian mission.

The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering. While I recall in my prayers both bishops, that they might return soon to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts and I renew the urgent appeal that I made on Easter, that the bloodshed cease. May the necessary humanitarian assistance be given to the people and may a political solution to the crisis be found as soon as possible.”

Yesterday, 23 April, as well, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a communique saying that the Pope, informed of the kidnapping, “is following the events with deep participation and is ... praying that, with the commitment of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and that real hopes of peace and reconciliation may rise on the horizon.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to presentat the next two events scheduled for the Year of Faith: the Day of Confirmands (27-28 April) and the Day of Confraternities and Popular Piety (3-5 April). Participating in the press conference were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arena, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

Archbishop Fisichella explained that the common denominator of the events, which will take place in Rome with the Holy Father, will be “of highlighting pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter. That is why, the day before, the participants will take part in a symbolic procession from the obelisk in St. Peter's Square to the tomb of the Apostle where they will pray the Creed. Along the way there will be a brief catechesis to recall the significance of the places that we find ourselves at and their historic meaning for the faith.”

The first event will take place this 27-28 April and will be dedicated to all those who have or who will receive receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. “Already more than 70,000 youth, accompanied by their catechists and priests, have signed up. This presence shows the enthusiasm with which they have joined in the initiative and the great turn-out that we should expect.”

For the first time, Pope Francis will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 youth from around the world, symbolically representing the entire Church. “They are youth,” the archbishop said, “ who show the face of the Church there where people are living and suffering, to give all hope and certainty for the future.” But there will not just be youth in attendance since there is no uniformity on the age at which to receive the Sacrament and the ages of the confirmands who are coming stretches from 11 to 55.

The second important event, which over 50,000 persons have already signed up for, will take place from 3 to 5 May and will be dedicated to popular piety. The Confraternities, particularly from the countries where the tradition is strongest, will give witness to the different local traditions that have resulted from a religiosity that has been expressed through the centuries with initiatives and works of art that have lasted to this day. The event's culminating moment will be Mass celebrated by the Pope on Sunday at 10:00am in St. Peter's Square.

It will be “a moment of faith,” the prelate concluded, “that finds, in the simplicity of the expressions of popular piety, its most deep-rooted core in our people who live these signs uninterruptedly as a reminder of the faith of previous generations and as a tradition that should be witnessed to with courage and enthusiasm.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – In the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican yesterday, the feast of St. George, the Holy Father presided at Mass with the cardinals resident in Rome, thanking them for their presence: “Thank you,” he said, “because I feel very well welcomed. I feel good with you and that pleases me.”

In the homily, Francis commented on the first reading of the day's liturgy that narrates the story of the first Christians who escaped persecution in Jerusalem, travelling to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, where they began to spread the Good News, among the Greeks as well. “At that moment when persecution breaks out,” the Pope said, “the Church's missionary activity breaks out.”

But in Jerusalem, they didn't understand how it was possible to preach to non-Jews. “A little nervous, they sent an Apostolic Visit, they sent Barnabas. Perhaps, a bit humorously,” Pope Francis explained, “we can say that this was the theological beginning of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this Apostolic Visit by Barnabas. He observed and he saw that things were going well. The Church thus is more a Mother: a Mother of more children, of many children. She becomes … more and more a Mother: a Mother who gives us faith, a Mother who gives us our identity. But our Christian identity is not an ID card. Christian identity is a belonging to the Church because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church, because finding Jesus outside of the Church is not possible. The great Paul VI said: it is an absurd dichotomy to want to live with Jesus but outside of the Church. And that Mother church who gives us Jesus gives us an identity that is not merely a seal; it is a belonging. Identity means belonging.”

The Pope then spoke of the three ideas that the story brought to his mind: the first was of the beginning of the mission, the second the Church as Mother, and the third the joy of the evangelizer that Barnabas feels when he see the immense crowd listening to the preaching. “Thus the Church advances … among the world's persecutions and the Lord's consolation. … If we want to travel the path or worldliness, negotiating with the world … we will never have the Lord's consolation. And, if we only seek his consolation, it will be a superficial one, … a human consolation. The Church always goes between the Cross and the Resurrection … This is the path. Whoever travels by this path will not be mistaken.”

Let us think today of the Church's missionary activity: in those disciples … who have the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, something almost scandalous at that time. Let us think of the Mother church who grows, grows with new children to whom she fives the identity of faith because one cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. … and let us think of the consolation that Barnabas had, 'the sweet and consoling joy of evangelizing'. And let us ask the Lord … for this apostolic fervour, that urges us to go forward, as brothers and sisters, all of us: forward!. Let us go forward bearing Jesus' name at the heart of the Holy Mother Church.”

After the Eucharistic celebration, the Swiss Guard Musical Band offered the Pope a short concert in the Saint Damasus Courtyard, to wish him a happy saint's day.


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Liro Vendelino Meurer as bishop of Santo Angelo (area 19,293, population 554,000, Catholics 404,000, priests 80, permanent deacons 1, religious 265), Brazil. Bishop Meurer was previously auxiliary of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and titular of Thucca in Numidia. He succeeds Bishop Jose Clemente Weber, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Bishop Moacir Silva as metropolitan archbishop of Ribeirao Preto (area 8,782, population 1,097,000, Catholics 769,000, priests 149, permanent deacons 14, religious 224), Brazil. Archbishop-elect Silva, previously bishop of Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, was born in 1954 in Sao Jose dos Campos, was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2004. He currently serves as a member of the National Bishops' Commission for Ecclesiastic Tribunals of second instance and as vice president of the Regional Bishops' Conference of the state of Sao Paulo.

Yesterday, 23 April, the Holy Father extended the jurisdiction of Bishop John Michael Botean, of the Eparchy of Saint George's in Canton of the Romanians, over the Greek-Catholic Romanians present in the entire territory of Canada.
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