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Thursday, May 2, 2013


Vatican City, 2 May 2013 (VIS) – Shortly before 5:00pm this afternoon, Pope Francis will go to receive Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who is returning to the Vatican after his two month stay at Castel Gandolfo.

Benedict XVI will leave Castel Gandolfo by helicopter around 4:30pm and will arrive some 20 minutes later at the Vatican heliport. From this afternoon on, the Pope emeritus will take up permanent residence at the “Mater Ecclesiae” convent, which has been recently restored. Joining him will be his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, and the four women of the “Memores Domini” lay association who have been part of the Papal Household for years, cleaning and cooking. The monastery, built over 20 years ago at the bequest of Blessed John Paul II, has housed four different cloistered orders over the years: Poor Claires, Discalced Carmelites, Benedictine nuns, and Visitandine nuns.

In these past two months, Pope Francis and the Pope emeritus have spoken several times by telephone, such as on 19 March and 16 April, respectively Benedict XVI's saint's day and his birthday. The two also met on 23 March in the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.


Vatican City, 2 May 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot M.C.C.I., respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, signed the message that, on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh, that dicastery annually sends to the followers of Buddhism.

Vesakh is a major Buddhist holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. According to tradition, the historical Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away during the full moon of the month of May, thus Vesakh is a mobile feast, which this year falls on 24 or 25 May, depending on the country it is celebrated in. On those days, Buddhists visit local temples to offer the monks food and to hear the teachings of the Buddha, taking special care to meditate and to observe the eight precepts of Buddhism.

This year's message is entitled: “Christians and Buddhists: Loving, Defending, and Promoting Human Life”. Following is the letter in its entirety.

On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings and good wishes to all of you, as you celebrate the feast of Vesakh which offers us Christians an occasion to renew our friendly dialogue and close collaboration with the different traditions that you represent.”

Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions. He noted that: 'The Church is […] conscious of the responsibility which all of us have for our world, for the whole of creation, which we must love and protect. There is much that we can do to benefit the poor, the needy, and those who suffer, and to favour justice, promote reconciliation, and build peace' ('Audience with Representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the Different Religions', 20 March 2013). The Message of the World Day of Peace in 2013 entitled 'Blessed are the Peacemakers', notes that: 'The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend, and promote human life in all its dimensions—personal, communitarian, and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life' ('Message for the World Day of Peace' in 2013, n. 4).”

I wish to voice that the Catholic Church has sincere respect for your noble religious tradition. Frequently we note a consonance with values expressed also in your religious books: respect for life, contemplation, silence, simplicity (cf. 'Verbum Domini', no. 119). Our genuine fraternal dialogue needs to foster what we Buddhists and Christians have in common especially a shared profound reverence for life.”

Dear Buddhist friends, your first precept teaches you to abstain from destroying the life of any sentient being and it thus prohibits killing oneself and others. The cornerstone of your ethics lies in loving kindness to all beings. We Christians believe that the core of Jesus’ moral teaching is twofold; love of God and love of neighbour. Jesus says: 'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love'. And again: 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you' ('Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1823).The fifth Christian Commandment, 'You shall not kill' harmonizes so well with your first precept. 'Nostra Aetate' teaches that: 'the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions' (NA 2). I think, therefore, that it is urgent for both Buddhists and Christians on the basis of the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions to create a climate of peace to love, defend, and promote human life.”

As we all know, in spite of these noble teachings on the sanctity of human life, evil in different forms contributes to the dehumanization of the person by mitigating the sense of humanity in individuals and communities. This tragic situation calls upon us, Buddhists and Christians, to join hands to unmask the threats to human life and to awaken the ethical consciousness of our respective followers to generate a spiritual and moral rebirth of individuals and societies in order to be true peacemakers who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions.”

Dear Buddhist friends, let us continue to collaborate with a renewed compassion and fraternity to alleviate the suffering of the human family by fostering the sacredness of human life. It is in this spirit that I wish you once again a peaceful and joyful feast of Vesakh.”


Vatican City, 2 May 2013 (VIS) – On 13 April, the news that Pope Francis had established a group of eight cardinals to advise him on the government of the universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, “Pastor Bonus” was made public. The decision generated great interest and, at the same time, more than a few speculations. Yesterday, 1 May, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, gave an interview on this topic to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, from which ample extracts are given below.

Osservatore Romano: Much speculation has been heard regarding the reform of the Curia: the balance of power, economic “super-ministers”, revolutions, etc...

Archbishop Becciu: "Actually, it is a little strange. The Pope has not yet met with the group of advisers who have been chosen and already advice is raining down. After having spoken with the Holy Father, I can say that, at this moment, it is absolutely premature to put forward any hypothesis about the future structure of the Curia. Pope Francis is listening to everyone but, in the first place, he will want to listen to those whom he has chosen as advisers. Following that, a project of reform of the 'Pastor Bonus' will be outlined, which will obviously have to follow its own process."

OR: Likewise, much has been said about the IOR, the Institute for Religious Works. Some have gone so far as to predict its elimination.

AB: "The Pope was surprised to see words attributed to him that he never said and that misrepresent his thoughts. The only mention about it was during a brief homily at the Santa Marta, made off the cuff, in which he passionately recalled how the essence of the Church consists in a story of love between God and human beings, and how the various human structures, the IOR among them, should be less important. His reference was a mention, motivated by the presence of some of the employees of the IOR at the Mass, in the context of a serious invitation to never lose sight of the essential nature of the Church."

OR: Should we expect that a restructuring of the current organization of dicasteries may not be imminent?

AB: "I don't know how to predict the timing. The Pope, in any case, has asked us all, the heads of dicasteries, to continue in our service, without, however, wanting to proceed for the moment in confirming any positions. The same holds for the members of the Congregations and the Pontifical Councils: the normal cycle of confirmations or nominations, which occur at end of five-year mandates, is for the moment suspended, and everyone continues in their assigned job 'until otherwise provided for' ('donec aliter provideatur'). This indicates the Holy Father's desire to take the time needed for reflection—and for prayer, we must not forget—in order to have the full picture of the situation."

OR: Regarding the group of advisers, some have argued that such a choice might put the Pope's primacy in question...

AB: It is a consultative, not a decision-making, body and I truly do not see how Pope Francis' choice might put the primacy in question. However, it is true that it is a gesture of great importance, which means to send a clear signal regarding the way in which the Holy Father would like to exercise his ministry. We must not forget the first task that has been assigned to the group of eight cardinals: to assist the pontiff in the government of the universal Church. I would not like for curiosity regarding the arrangement and the structures of the Roman curia to overshadow the profound meaning of Pope Francis' gesture.

OR: But isn't the expression “to advise” a little too vague?

AB: On the contrary, advising is an important task that is theologically defined in the Church and that finds expression on many levels. Think, for example, of the bodies participating in dioceses and parishes, or of councils of superiors, provincials, and generals in the Institutes of consecrated life. The function of advising must be interpreted in theological terms: from a worldly perspective we should say that a council without decision-making power is irrelevant but that would mean equating the Church to a business. Instead, theologically, advising has a function of absolute importance: helping the superior in the task of discernment, in understanding what the Spirit asks of the Church in a precise historical moment. Without this reference, for that matter, it wouldn't even be possible to understand the true meaning of the action of government in the Church.


Vatican City, 1 May 2013 (VIS) – The importance of work and contemplating Jesus, following Joseph and Mary's example, were the central themes of the Pope's first catechesis in the month of May, which coincided with the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Before the more than 70,000 persons gathered in St. Peter's Square for the general audience, the Pope explained that Jesus “enters into our history, comes among us, born of Mary by an act of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, his legal father who cares for him and also teaches him his work … the trade of carpentry in his workshop in Nazareth, sharing with him the commitment, the fatigue, the satisfaction, and also the difficulties of every day. This reminds us of the dignity and importance of labour. The Book of Genesis narrates that God created man and woman, entrusting to them the task of filling and subduing the earth, which did not mean exploiting it but cultivating and safeguarding it, caring for it with their very labour.”

Labour is part of God's plan of love. We are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and, in this way, we participate in the act of creation! Labour is a fundamental element for the dignity of a person. … It makes us like God, who laboured and labours, who always acts. He gives us the capacity to maintain ourselves, our family, to contribute to the growth of our own nations. Here,” the pontiff added, “I am thinking of the difficulties that, in various countries, the world of labour and business encounters today. I am think of how many, and not just young persons, are unemployed,often because of an economistic conception of society that seeks selfish profit, outside the parameters of social justice.”

I would like to invite all to solidarity, and encourage those responsible for public affairs to make every effort to give new impetus to employment. This means having care for the dignity of the person. Mostly I would like to say not to lose hope. Even St. Joseph had difficult moments, but he never lost trust and he knew how to overcome them with the certainty that God does not abandon us. “

After that exhortation, the Bishop of Rome referenced another troubling situation, “slave labour”, work that enslaves. “How many persons around the world are victims of this type of slavery in which the person is at the service of labour while it should be labour that offers service to the person so that they might have dignity. I ask our brothers and sisters in the faith and all men and women of good will to make a decisive choice against the trafficking of persons within which 'slave labour' figures.”

The Pope then touched upon the second theme of his catechesis, Jesus, who was Joseph and Mary's shared centre of attention in the silence of their everyday actions. The attitude of both is revealed in how the Virgin, as St. Luke narrates in his Gospel, “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” “In order to listen to the Lord, we need to learn how to contemplate him, to perceive his constant presence in our lives. We need to stop and dialogue with him, give him space with our prayer. … Let us remember the Lord more during our days!”

During this month of May, I would like to recall the important and the beauty of praying the Holy Rosary,” Francis continued, “contemplating the mysteries of Jesus, reflecting, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and St. Joseph, He may be the centre of our thoughts, of our concerns, and of our actions. It would be beautiful if, above all during this month of May, we would recite together in our families, with our friends, and in our parishes, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Praying together is a precious moment for making our family life and our friendship more steadfast! Let us learn to pray more in our families and as a family!”

Let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary,” the Holy Father concluded, “to teach us to be faithful to our everyday commitments, to live our faith in our everyday actions, and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop and contemplate his face.”


Vatican City, 2 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

   - His Excellency Mr. Aleksander Avdeev, the new ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters,

   - Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, titular of Cluentum and president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and

   - His Excellency Mr. Jozef Dravecky, ambassador of the Slovak Republic, on his farewell visit.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


Vatican City, 2 May 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

   - appointed Fr. Raymond Browne as bishop of Kerry (area 5,300, population 149,514, Catholics 143,300, priests 113, religious 215), Ireland. The bishop-elect was born in Athlone, Ireland in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1982. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and judicial roles, most recently as pastor in Ballagh and the Diocese of Elphin's designated contact for the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) as well as for assistance for elderly and ill clergy. He succeeds Bishop William Murphy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

   - gave his assent to the canonical election carried out by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Church of Archimandrite Nicolas Antipa, B.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Bosra e Hauran of the Greek-Melkites (Catholics 27,000, priests 22, religious 10), Syria. The archbishop-elect was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1971. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and academic roles, most recently as professor of Sacred Scripture at the Saint Paul Theological Institute of Harissa, Lebanon and at the Institute of Theological and Pastoral Studies of the archeparchy of Beirut of the Greek-Melkites, Lebanon.
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