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Friday, June 14, 2013


Vatican City, 14 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis received the Primate of all England and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England, with the same words that Paul VI greeted his predecessor, Michael Ramsey, during his historic visit to the Vatican in 1966: “Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling ... we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are ... to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God’.” He also recalled that, at the ceremony of his taking possession of the Cathedral of Canterbury, the archbishop prayed for the new Bishop of Rome, a gesture that the Pope was deeply grateful for. He added: “Since we began our respective ministries within days of each other, I think we will always have a particular reason to support one another in prayer.”

The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church,” the Pope continued, “is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God. This journey has been brought about both via theological dialogue, through the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and via the growth of cordial relations at every level through shared daily lives in a spirit of profound mutual respect and sincere cooperation. In this regard, I am very pleased to welcome alongside you Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. These firm bonds of friendship have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue that were greater than we could have foreseen at the start of our journey.”

Francis expressed his gratitude to the archbishop for “the sincere efforts that the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led ... Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church.” He stated that the structure “will enable the spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.”

The pontiff then noted that their meeting is an opportunity to recall that “the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance.”

Their praying together “gives a fresh impulse to our daily efforts to grow towards unity, which are concretely expressed in our cooperation in various areas of daily life. Particularly important among these is our witness to the reference to God and the promotion of Christian values in a world that seems at times to call into question some of the foundations of society, such as respect for the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage. … Then there is the effort to achieve greater social justice, to build an economic system that is at the service of man and promotes the common good. Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.”

I know that Your Grace,” the Holy Father asserted, “is especially sensitive to all these questions, in which we share many ideas, and I am also aware of your commitment to foster reconciliation and resolution of conflicts between nations. In this regard, together with Archbishop Nichols [the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, England], you have urged the authorities to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict such as would guarantee the security of the entire population, including the minorities, not least among whom are the ancient local Christian communities. As you yourself have observed, we Christians bring peace and grace as a treasure to be offered to the world, but these gifts can bear fruit only when Christians live and work together in harmony. This makes it easier to contribute to building relations of respect and peaceful coexistence with those who belong to other religious traditions, and with non-believers.”

The unity we so earnestly long for,” concluded the Pope, “is a gift that comes from above and it is rooted in our communion of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. … May the merciful Father hear and grant the prayers that we make to him together.”


Vatican City, 14 June 2013 (VIS) – Dialogue, discernment, and frontier: These were the three words that the Pope suggested to the personnel of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), which is published in Italian from Rome, whom he received in audience this morning.

Your fidelity to the Church still needs you to stand strong against the hypocrisies that result from a closed and sick heart. But your main task isn't to build walls but bridges. It is to establish a dialogue with all persons, even those who don't share the Christian faith but “who cultivate outstanding qualities of the human spirit” and even with “those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways. … Through dialogue it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another.” Pope Francis reiterated that dialogue means “being convinced that the other has something good to say, making room for their point of view, their opinion, their proposals, without falling, of course, into relativism. For dialogue [to exist] it is necessary to lower the defences and open the doors.”

The Holy Father then highlighted spiritual discernment, his second area of focus, to those present, calling it “a Jesuit treasure … that seeks to recognize the Spirit of God's presence in human and cultural reality, the seed already planted by his presence in events, feelings, desires, in the deep tensions of our hearts and in social, cultural, and spiritual contexts.”

Mentioning Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J., as an example, Francis observed that it is necessary to keep open hearts and minds and to avoid the spiritual illness of self-referentiality. Even the Church, when it becomes self-referential, gets sick and old. May our gaze, well fixed upon Christ, always be prophetic and dynamic towards the future. In this way you will always remain young and daring in your reading of events!”

The Holy Father declared that the fracture between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly a tragedy. “You,” he said, “are called to make your contribution to heal this rift, which even passes through each of your and your readers' hearts. This ministry is typical of the Society of Jesus. … Please, be men of the frontier, with that qualification that comes from God. In today's world, which is subject to quick changes and is shaken by questions of great importance for the life of faith, it is urgent to have a courageous commitment to educating a convinced and mature faith that is capable of giving meaning to life and of giving convincing answers to those in search of God. This means sustaining the Church's activity in all the areas of her mission. ... Be strong! I'm sure I can count on you.”


Vatican City, 14 June 2013 (VIS) – The Working Group Meeting between the Holy See and Vietnam met for the fourth time from 13 to 14 June, in the Vatican. The meeting was co-chaired by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States, and by Mr. Bui Thanh Son, Vietnam's vice-minister of Foreign Affairs.

As reported in a press release, the two sides informed each other about their respective situation and reviewed and discussed Vietnam – Holy See relations and other issues related to the Catholic Church in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese side stressed the consistent implementation and continuous improvements in policies by the Party and State of Vietnam related to the respect and assurance of freedom of religion and religious beliefs, as well as continued encouragement of different religions, and the Vietnam Catholic Church in particular, in taking active part in the national construction and socio-economic development process. The Holy See side expressed appreciation and gratitude for the attention given by various levels of Government to the activities of the Vietnam Catholic Church, particularly the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences held in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City in December 2012, as well as the pastoral visits of the non-resident Papal Representative, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See stressed the desire to develop further Vietnam – Holy See relations and underlined the need to have as soon as possible a Papal Representative resident in the country, for the benefit of all concerned.

The two sides believe that Vietnam – Holy See relations have progressed in a spirit of goodwill, constructive exchange and respect for principles in the relationship. In this spirit, and in view of the commitment to develop further mutual relations, the work of the non-resident Papal Representative will be facilitated in order to allow him to carry out his mission even more fruitfully. The two sides agreed to meet for the 5th Round of the Joint Working Group between Vietnam and the Holy See in Hanoi. The time of the meeting will be arranged through diplomatic channels.


Vatican City, 14 June 2013 (VIS) – This weekend, Rome will have a unique soundtrack coming from the roaring pistons of some 35,000 Harly-Davidsons that, since yesterday, have begun to invade the capital for the 110th anniversary celebrations of the American motorcycle maker's founding.

There is also room for faith among the rumbling engines, leather jackets, and elaborate tattoos. Events began early this morning with Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, saying Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for two thousand of the participants. Also, 1,400 bikes with their riders will be blessed by Pope Francis at the Sunday Angelus as the Via della Conciliazione leading up to the square becomes a parade route for the motorcyclists. St. Peter's Square will welcome all the other Harley-Davidson riders and enthusiasts—on foot—who didn't win a ticket for their bike.


Vatican City, 14 June 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

   - appointed Bishop Jan Franciszek Watroba as bishop of Rzeszow (area 6,000, population 611,208, Catholics 598,152, priests 722, religious 451), Poland. Bishop Watroba, previously auxiliary of Częstochowa and titular of Bisica, serves as a member of the Commission for the Clergy and delegate for the Pastoral Care of Women in the Conference of the Polish Episcopate. He succeeds Bishop Kazimierz Gorny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

   - appointed Fr. Paolo Selvadagi as auxiliary of the Diocese of Rome (area 850, population 2,843,918, Catholics 2,333,700, priests 4,871, permanent deacons 116, religious 1,485), Italy, assigning him the Titular See of Salpi. The bishop-elect was born in Rome, Italy, in 1946 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome in 1972. Since ordination he has served in many administrative, pastoral, and academic, as well as parochial and diocesan level roles. Most recently, since 2012, he has been the pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish and a member of the College of Consultors. He was also named a chaplain of His Holiness in 1988 and a prelate of honour of His Holiness in 2009.

   - appointed Fr. Ansgar Puff as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Cologne (area 6,181, population 5,152,000, Catholics 2,080,656, priests 1,014, permanent deacons 312, religious 1,897), Germany, assigning him the Titular See of Gordo. The bishop-elect was born in Monchengladbach, Germany in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1987. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and diocesan level roles, most recently, since 2012, as director of the “Care of Souls – Personnel” department of the archdiocesan curia. He was named chaplain of His Holiness in 2012.
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