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Monday, May 6, 2013


Vatican City, 6 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received His excellency, Mr. Ueli Maurer, president of the Swiss Confederation. President Maurer then went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions—recalling the centuries-old, commendable service of the Pontifical Swiss Guards on the annual swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits—the common desire to further reinforce the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Swiss Confederation was emphasized as well as intensifying the collaboration between the Catholic Church and the State.

Then issues of common interest were covered, such as the safeguarding of human rights, the formation of youth, and the international collaboration in promoting justice and peace.


Vatican City, 6 May 2013 (VIS) – Today, in commemoration of the death of 147 Swiss soldiers, fallen while defending the pontiff during the sack of Rome (1527), the swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits of that Corps will take place. This year, 35 new recruits will take the oath at 5:00pm in the St. Damaso Courtyard before the Holy Father's representative, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State. Cardinals, bishops, members of the Curia, and representatives of diplomatic delegations to the Holy See will participate at the ceremony.

The delegation from the government of the Canton of Zug will be headed by President Beat Villiger and the President of the Swiss Conferderation, Ueli Maurer, will also be present at the ceremony. The oath-swearing day began this morning with the celebration of Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter at 9:30am, followed by the commemoration of the 147 fallen guards in the Square of Roman Protomartyrs.

Pope Francis, who received the 35 recruits and their families this morning, addressed them. “On this day,” he said, “you commemorate the sacrifice of the Swiss Guards who engaged in the vigorous defence of the Pope during the 'Sack of Rome'. Today you are not called to this heroic gesture but to another form of sacrifice, which is also challenging: to put your youthful energies at the service of the Church and the Pope. To do this you must be strong, motivated by love, and sustained by your faith in Christ. … I am certain that the decision to place years of your lives in service of the Pope is not foreign to your faith. Indeed, the deepest motivations that have brought you here to Rome originate in your faith. It is a faith that you have learned in your family, have cultivated in your parishes, and that also shows that attachment of Swiss Catholics to the Church. Remember it well: the faith that God has given you on the day of your Baptism is the most precious treasure you have! And your mission of service to the Pope and the Church also finds its source there.”

During your stay in Rome,” he continued, “you are called upon to bear witness to your faith with joy and a courteous manner. How important this is for so many people who pass through Vatican City! But it is also important for those who work here for the Holy See and for me as well! Your presence is a sign of the strength and the beauty of the Gospel that, in every time, calls the young to follow it. I would also like to invite you to live the time you spend in the 'Eternal City' in a spirit of genuine brotherhood, helping one another to live a good Christian life that corresponds to your faith and your mission in the Church.”

The Holy Father finished by reminding the new recruits that their specific ecclesial experience in the Swiss Guard Corps represents “a privileged opportunity to deepen the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel and to follow him, almost breathing here in Rome the catholicity of the Church. Today, when some of you swear to faithfully carry out your service in the Guard and others renew this oath in their hearts, think that your service is a testimony to Christ who calls you to be authentic men and true Christians, protagonists of your own existence.”


Vatican City, 5 May 2013 (VIS) – “Today, the National Day of Children Victims of Violence, I give a special greeting to the 'Meter' Association. This gives me the opportunity to turn my thoughts to all those who have suffered and who are suffering because of abuse. I want to assure them that they are present in my prayers but I also want to forcefully state that we must all commit ourselves with clarity and courage so that every human person, especially children who are among the most vulnerable, be always defended and protected.” These were the Pope's words before praying the Regina Coeli with the numerous faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, many of whom were with confraternities on pilgrimage to Rome for the Year of Faith.

The Holy Father also noted, in the context of that pilgrimage, that love for the Virgin “is one of the characteristics of popular piety that must be esteemed and well-ordered. That is why I invite those present to reflect on the final chapter of the Vatican II Constitution on the Church, 'Lumen Gentium', that speaks precisely of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church. It says that Mary 'advanced in her pilgrimage of faith'. …. In the Year of Faith I leave you this icon of Mary the pilgrim, who follows Jesus the Son, and precedes all of us in the journey of faith.”

Then, explaining that the Oriental Churches that follow the Julian Calendar are celebrating Easter today, he sent a special greeting to them, joining with all of them to proclaim “the joyful news: Christ is risen! Gathered together around Mary in prayer, we ask God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, who may console and comfort all Christians, especially those who are celebrating Easter through trials and suffering, and guide us on the path of reconciliation and peace.”

He also mentioned yesterday's beatification, in Brazil, of of Francisca de Paula de Jesus, known as “Nha Chica” saying, “her simple life was dedicated to God and charity, in fact, they called her 'mother of the poor'. I join in with the joy of the Church in Brazil for this luminous disciple of the Lord.”

Likewise he affectionately greeted all the confraternities present, “coming from many countries. Thank you for your witness of faith! I also greet the parish groups and families, as well as the grand parade of various military bands and associations coming from Germany.”


Vatican City, 6 May 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, under incessant rain, thousands of persons, members of confraternities from Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Malta, Poland … paraded up Via della Conciliazione to gather in St. Peter's Square for the Mass presided by the Holy Father for the confraternities' pilgrimage to Rome on the Year of Faith.

In his greeting to the Pope, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, said that “here are represented ten centuries of history that few know about because it is made of simple, everyday gestures, etched nevertheless, in people's hearts. Confraternities have been an expression of faith's most genuine fruit: charity toward the poor, the abandoned, the suffering, and the marginalized.”

It is brave of you to come here in this rain,” the Bishop of Rome responded. “May the Lord bless you abundantly! As part of the journey of the Year of Faith, I am happy to celebrate this Eucharist dedicated in a special way to confraternities: a traditional reality in the Church, which in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery.”

Continuing, the Pope recalled that “whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly and, thanks to the Holy Spirit, receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel. When Benedict XVI spoke to you, he used this expression: 'evangelical spirit'. Dear confraternities, the popular piety of which you are an important sign is a treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is 'a place of encounter with Jesus Christ'. … Down the centuries, confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an intense relationship with the Lord. Advance with determination along the path of holiness; do not rest content with a mediocre Christian life, but let your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.”

He then commented on the passage of the day's Liturgy from the Acts of the Apostles that “speaks to us about what is essential. In the early Church there was immediately a need to discern what was essential about being a Christian, about following Christ, and what was not. … Difficulties were overcome: not from without, but from within the Church. And this brings up a second element which I want to remind you of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: 'ecclesial spirit'. Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors. Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. The Latin American Bishops wrote that the popular piety which you reflect is 'a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church'. This is wonderful! ... Love the Church! Let yourselves be guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses, be a true 'lung' of faith and Christian life, a breath of fresh air! In this Square I see a great variety: earlier on it was a variety of umbrellas, and now of colours and signs. This is also the case with the Church: a great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity; the variety leads back to unity, and unity is the encounter with Christ.”

Finally, he touched upon the third characteristic of the confraternities: “missionary spirit”.” You have a specific and important mission,”he explained, “that of keeping alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular piety. When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us. Likewise, when you express profound devotion for the Virgin Mary, you are pointing to the highest realization of the Christian life.”

You express this faith, born of hearing the word of God, in ways that engage the senses, the emotions and the symbols of the different cultures … In doing so you help to transmit it to others, and especially the simple persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls “the little ones”. In effect, 'journeying together towards shrines, and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization'.”

May you also be true evangelizers! May your initiatives be 'bridges', means of bringing others to Christ, so as to journey together with him. And in this spirit may you always be attentive to charity. Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.”

Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, and missionary spirit,” the pontiff repeated. “Three themes! Do not forget them! Let us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy and love. In this way we will make our way towards the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem.”


Vatican City, 4 May 2013 (VIS) – At 6:00pm this afternoon, the Holy Father took possession of the Basilica of St. Mary Major with the traditional kiss of the crucifix. It is the second time, since the beginning of his pontificate, that Francis has gone to pray at the oldest Marian shrine in the West, which houses the image of “Salus Populi Romani" (Protectress of the Roman People). On 14 March, the day after his election, the pontiff went to St. Mary Major to place the ministry he had just received under Mary's protection. This time, the first Saturday of May, he wished to pray the glorious mysteries of the Rosary.

On his arrival, the Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the basilica, who greeted him with the words: “We want to warmly embrace a request that we know well is frequently on the lips of our Pope: 'pray, pray for me'. We will do so, even in the future, because it is a pastoral line that we want to privilege in this basilica—that of seeking to reawaken the faith in the Christian peoples with a double emphasis: with a Marian touch and united with the Pope—frequently echoing the Holy Father's teaching and words … which will urge us toward religious and human margins where there are so many places to fill and accompany”.”

In his homily, the Pope highlighted three aspects of Mary's maternity: she helps us to grow, to face life, and to be free.

With his Passion, Death and Resurrection,” the Bishop of Rome said, “Jesus Christ brings us salvation. He gives us the grace and the joy of being God’s children, of calling him truly BY the name of Father. Mary is a mother and a mother worries above all about the health of her children … What does this mean that the Madonna safeguards our health? I am thinking mainly of three aspects: … she helps us to grow, she helps us to face life, and she helps us to be free.”

Mary Helps Us to Grow
A mother helps her children to grow and wants them to grow well. This is why she teaches them not to give in to laziness—which is something that also arises from a certain well-being—not to not to slip into a life of ease that desires nothing beyond material possessions. A mother takes care that her children grow always more, that they grow strong and capable of taking on responsibility, of committing themselves in their lives, and of holding high ideals. … This is exactly what the Madonna does in us. She helps us to grow humanely and in faith, to be strong and not to yield to the temptation of being superficial persons and Christians, but to live responsibly, always reaching higher.”

Mary Helps Us to Face Life
Then a mother thinks of her children's health, also teaching them to face life's difficulties. You can't teach, can't care for one's health by avoiding problems as if life were a highway without obstacles. A mother helps her children to look realistically at life's problems and to not get lost in them but to tackle them with courage; not to be weak and to know how to overcome them with the healthy balance that a mother “feels” between the limits of safety and the areas of risk. … A life without challenges doesn't exists and a boy or a girl who doesn't know how to face them, putting themselves on the line, is a boy or a girl without a backbone! ... Mary lived many difficult times in her life, from the birth of Jesus ... until Calvary. And like a good mother she is close to us so that we never lose courage in the face of life's adversities, in the face of our own weakness, in the face of our sins. She gives us strength, pointing us to the path of her Son. From the cross, indicating John, Jesus tells Mary: 'Woman, here is your son', and to John: 'Here is your mother!' We are all represented in that disciple.”

Mary Helps Us to Be Free
One last aspect … a good mother also helps to make important decisions with freedom. ... But what does freedom mean? Certainly not doing whatever you want ... Freedom does not mean, so to say, throwing whatever we don't like out the window. No, that isn't freedom! Freedom is given to us so that we might know how to make good choices in life! Like a good mother, Mary teaches us to be, like her, capable of making ... important decisions at this time when, so to speak, the 'philosophy of the temporary' rules. It is so difficult to commit ourselves definitively. And she helps us to make definitive choices with that full freedom with which she answered 'yes' to God’s plan for her life.”

How difficult it is, in our times, to take make definitive decisions! The temporary seduces us. We are victims of a tendency that pushes us towards the ephemeral… Part of it is the fascination of remaining adolescents our entire lives! We must not be afraid of definitive commitments, of commitments that involve and affect our whole lives. In this way life becomes fruitful! And this is freedom: having the courage to make these decisions with greatness.”

Mary's whole existence is a hymn to life, a love song to life ... The 'Salus Populi Romani' is the mother who gives us health in our growth, gives us health to face and overcome problems, gives us health in making us free to make definitive choices. She is the mother who teaches us to be fruitful, to be open to life … to never lose hope, to give life to others—both physical and spiritual life. This is what we ask of you this evening, O Mary, 'Salus Populi Romani', ... give us the health that only you can give, so that we may always be signs and instruments of life.”

After praying the Rosary, Francis went out of the basilica and addressed the many faithful awaiting him in the piazza saying: “Thank you so much for your presence here at the home of the mother of Rome, of our Mother. Long live the Madonna. She is our Mother. Let us entrust ourselves to her so that she might safeguard us like a good mother. I pray for you but I ask that you pray for me because I need it. Three 'Hail Marys' for me. I wish you a good Sunday tomorrow. Until we meet again. Now I give you the blessing—to all of you and all your families.”


Vatican City, 4 May 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received ten prelates from the Piemonte Region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

   - Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin,
with Auxiliary Bishop Guido Fiandino,

   - Bishop Luciano Pacomio of Mondovi,

   - Bishop Piergiorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo,

   - Bishop Alfonso Badini Confalonieri of Susa,

   - Bishop Giacomo Lanzetti of Alba,

   - Bishop Giuseppe Guerrini of Saluzzo,

   - Bishop Giuseppe Cavallotto of Cuneo and of Fossano,

   - Bishop Franco Lovignana of Aosta, and

   - Bishop Guido Gallese of Alessandria.

On Saturday, 4 May, the Holy Father received:

   - Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and

six prelates from the Marche region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

   - Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, prelate of Loreto and pontifical delegate for the Shrine of Loreto,

   - Archbishop Luigi Conti of Fermo,

   - Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche,

   - Archbishop Giovanni Tani of Urbino-Urbania-Sant’Angelo in Vado,

   - Bishop Gervasio Gestori of San Benedetto del Tronto-Ripatransone-Montalto, and

   - Bishop Armando Trasarti of Fano-Fossombrone-Cagli-Pergola.


Vatican City, 4 May 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

   - appointed Fr. Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.J., as bishop of the Diocese of Kokstad (area 17,655, population 1,809,000, Catholics 85,400, priests 21, religious 60), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Umlamli, Eastern Cape, South Africa in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1987. Since ordination the bishop-elect has served in several pastoral and institutional roles, most recently as provincial superior of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in South Africa and, alongside the vicar general, as pastor of Sterkspruit parish in the Diocese of Aliwal.

   - appointed Bishop Mark Joseph Seitz as bishop of the Diocese of El Paso (area 69,090, population 848,00, Catholics 662,000, priests 103, permanent deacons 27, religious 190), Texas, USA. Bishop Seitz, previously auxiliary of Dallas, Texas, and titular of Cozyla, serves as a member of the Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

   - appointed Bishop Fernando Carlos Maletti as bishop of the Diocese of Merlo-Moreno (area 301, population 913,000, Catholics 813,820, priests 58, permanent deacons 30, religious 254), Argentina. On the Argentine Episcopal Conference, Bishop Maletti, previously of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, serves as president of the Commission for Assistance to Regions in Need and as a member of the Commission for Aboriginals.

On Saturday, 4 May, the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires as ordinary for Catholics of Oriental rite resident in Argentina and without their own ordinary.
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