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Monday, June 17, 2013


Vatican City, 17 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience His Excellency Mr. Nicolas Maduro Moros, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. President Maduro then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the talks, which were held in a cordial atmosphere, topics focused on included the country's social and political situation after the recent death of President Hugo Chavez Frias, as well as current issues such as poverty and the fight against crime and drug trafficking.

As the talks continued, reference was made to the Catholic Church's historical presence in the country and her decisive contribution to charity, health care, and education, and the need for constant and sincere dialogue between the Episcopal Conference and the State for the development of the entire nation was agreed upon.

Finally, the regional situation was discussed, with particular reference made to the peace process in Colombia.


Vatican City, 17 June 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday a letter from the Holy Father to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron was made public. It was sent in response to the message he had received on 5 June regarding the British presidency of the G8 and the upcoming meeting scheduled to take place at Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland on 17 and 18 June, with the theme of “A G8 Meeting that Goes Back to First Principles”.

In the letter, the Holy Father emphasized that, for the theme “to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international,” makes reference to humanity. “Indeed, such activity must, on the one hand, enable the maximum expression of freedom and creativity, both individual and collective, while on the other hand it must promote and guarantee their responsible exercise in solidarity, with particular attention to the poorest.”

Francis praised the priorities that the British Presidency has set out for the upcoming summit, noting that the fundamental reference to humanity is not lacking, “specifically in the proposal for concerted action by the Group to eliminate definitively the scourge of hunger and to ensure food security. Similarly, a further sign of attention to the human person is the inclusion as one of the central themes on the agenda of the protection of women and children from sexual violence in conflict situations, even though it must be remembered that the indispensable context for the development of all the afore-mentioned political actions is that of international peace. … and this year [the G8] cannot fail to address the situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria,” the Pope noted.

The actions included on the agenda of the British G8 Presidency, which point towards law as the golden thread of development – as well as the consequent commitments to deal with tax avoidance and to ensure transparency and responsibility on the part of governments,” Francis said, “are measures that indicate the deep ethical roots of these problems, since, as my predecessor Benedict XVI made clear, the present global crisis shows that ethics is not something external to the economy, but is an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.”
The Holy Father repeated that the long-term measures “designed to ensure an adequate legal framework for all economic actions, as well as the associated urgent measures to resolve the global economic crisis, must be guided by the ethics of truth”. First and foremost, this entails a respect for the truth of the human person, “who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus. Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity.”

Stressing that “the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs,” the Pope, in his letter, noted that “every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.”

Pope Francis wrote that he wished to share these thoughts with the Prime Minister “with a view to highlighting what is implicit in all political choices, but can sometimes be forgotten: the primary importance of putting humanity, every single man and woman, at the centre of all political and economic activity, both nationally and internationally, because man is the truest and deepest resource for politics and economics, as well as their ultimate end.”


Vatican City, 16 June 2013 (VIS) – At 10:30 this morning in a crowded St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis presided at the Mass for the Day in the Year of Faith dedicated to Evangelium Vitae. Before celebrating the Eucharist, the Bishop of Rome was driven down the Via della Conciliazione in the open popemobile to greet the tens of thousands of persons who had come from all over the world to participate.

Following are ample excerpts from the Pope's homily, which focused on three main points: the Bible reveals the living God to us; Jesus Christ gives life; and the Holy Spirit keeps us in that new life. Following God's path brings life while following idols leads to death.

The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. ... Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. ... The King is forced to face his deeds of death ... He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness... The God of mercy, who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life.”

The Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the One who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth ... thanks to his breath, man has life. … the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions ... on the contrary, they are a great “Yes!”: a yes to God, to Love, to life.”

Today’s Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does he let the woman approach but he even forgives her sins, saying: 'Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little'. Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God ... Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God. ... God, the Living One, is merciful.”

This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: 'The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.' … Who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit … who leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. ... Christians are 'spiritual'. This does not mean that we are people who live 'in the clouds', far removed from real life ... No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit ... And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.”

God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love – a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

Let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say 'Yes' to love and not selfishness. Let us say 'Yes' to life and not death. Let us say 'Yes' to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say 'Yes' to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints; let us say 'Yes' to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One.”


Vatican City, 16 June 2013 (VIS) - “At the end of the Eucharist dedicated to the Gospel of Life,” the Pope said, before praying the Angelus, “I am pleased to recall that yesterday, in Carpi, Italy, Edward Focherini, husband, father of seven, and journalist, was proclaimed Blessed. Captured and imprisoned out of hatred for the Catholic faith, he died in the concentration camp of Hersbruck, Germany, in 1944 at the age of 37. He saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. Along with the Church in Carpi, we give thanks to God for this witness of the Gospel of Life!”

Francis then thanked all those who had come to Rome from various places in Italy and throughout the world, especially, “families and those who work directly for the promotion and protection of life”. He also greeted the 150 members of the “Gravida” Association from Argentina, who were gathered in the city of Pilar, encouraging them to continue with their work.

I greet,” he added, “the many participants in the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally and the members of the Motorcycle Club of the Italian State Police.”

Now, let us turn to the Virgin, entrusting all human life, especially the most fragile, defenceless, and threatened, to her maternal protection,” the pontiff concluded.


Vatican City, 15 June 2013 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received the President of the European Commission, His Excellency Mr. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, who then went on to meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions provided an opportunity for a useful exchange of views on the international situation, paying particular attention to the process of European integration, as well as the continuing economic crisis that has serious consequences on employment, especially for young persons, and a negative impact on family life.

As the talks continued, focus was placed on the positive contribution that the Catholic Church can offer in the current climate for Europe’s material and spiritual well-being.

Finally, special attention was given to the promotion of human rights, especially that of religious freedom, and the protection of Christian minorities around the world.


Vatican City, 15 June 2013 (VIS) – The principle of secularism that governs relations between the French State and the various religious confessions “in itself shouldn't mean hostility to religious reality or the exclusion of religion from the social sphere and the debates that animate it.” Pope Francis made this statement in his address to members of the French Senate and National Assembly who had sought an audience with the Bishop of Rome.

The encounter afforded the pontiff the opportunity to emphasize the relations of trust that generally exist in that nation between those responsible for public life and the Catholic Church. “We can rejoice,” he affirmed, “in the fact that French society rediscovers proposals offered by the Church, among others, that offer a certain vision of persons and their dignity in view of the common good. The Church thus wishes to offer its own specific contribution on the profound questions that engage a more complete vision of persons and their destiny, of society and its destiny. This contribution is not only located within the anthropological or social sphere but also in the political, economic, and cultural spheres.”

The Pope reminded the French politicians that, as elected by a nation towards which the eyes of the world are often turned, they have the duty of contributing in an effective and constant manner to improving the lives of their citizens and of responding to their needs. Even if their task mainly unfolds in the legislative arena, it is necessary to inspire in the laws “a supplement, a spirit, I would say a soul, that doesn't only reflect the methods and ideas of the moment but that confers upon them the indispensable quality that elevates and ennobles the human person.”

Bidding the French parliamentarians farewell, Francis warmly encouraged them “to continue your mission, always looking for the good of the person and promoting fraternity in you beautiful country. May God bless you.”


Vatican City, 15 June 2013 (VIS) – Members of the administrative council of the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation will gather from 18 to 21 June in Arequipa, Peru, for their annual meeting to deliberate on the financing of development projects in support of indigenous, mestizo, and rural African-American communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. From its establishment in 1992, the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation has been entrusted to the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.

The administrative council is composed of the following members: Cardinal Robert Sarah, president ex officio of the Foundation; Archbishop Edmundo Luis Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, Bolivia, and president of the administrative council; Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and vice president; Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio, Colombia; Archbishop Murilo Sebastiao Ramos Krieger, S.C.I., of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil; Archbishop Javier Augusto del Rio Alba of Arequipa, Peru; and Msgr. Segundo Tejado Munoz, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

This is the council's first meeting under the pontificate of Pope Francis, who has spoken with great clarity of “a poor Church for the poor” and who lives his power in humble service, attentive to the outskirts, the villages, and the least ones who are rich only in the charity that comes from above. These will be the reference and the stimulus for the decisions that will be made. The main beneficiaries of “Populorum Progressio”, indigenous and rural communities in particular, are at risk of being the “human periphery” in a continent that is experiencing a phase of significant economic development, but which is characterized by large social inequalities that especially penalize those segments of the population that remain on the margins of such development.

In this context, it is the hope of all the Council members to organize, for next year, their annual meeting in Rome, to have the opportunity to receive direction and guidance on the Foundation's future directly from Pope Francis.

This year, 222 projects were presented by 18 countries including: Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. The projects are characterized by a broadly participatory approach on the part of the local communities that contribute to all the phases of the projects: from its conception to its concrete realization in the event of a project's approval. These initiatives serve to meet the needs in various areas: production (agriculture and farming, craftsmanship, micro-businesses); community infrastructure (potable water, latrines, community halls); education (training, scholastic equipment, publications); health (prevention campaigns, medical equipment for clinics); and construction (educational and health centres).

The main support of “Populorum Progressio”—alongside individual faithful, dioceses, and various institutes—comes through the Italian Episcopal Conference.


Vatican City, 15 June 2013 (VIS) – In a declaration published this morning, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Press Office of the Holy See, made it known that: “The Commission of Cardinals for oversight of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), with the approval of the Holy Father, has appointed 'ad interim' Msgr. Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca as Prelate of the Institute.”

In his capacity as prelate, Msgr. Battista Ricca will act as secretary of the meetings of the Cardinals’ Commission and will attend meetings of the Board of Superintendence in accordance with the Institute’s statutes.”

Msgr. Battista Ricca, who was born in Offlaga in the province of Brescia, Italy, in 1956, is part of the Diplomatic Service, serving in the First Section of the Secretariat of State. He is also Director of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI, the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, and the Casa San Benedetto.”

As can be recalled, he succeeds Archbishop Piero Pioppo, currently Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, who held the post from 2006 to 2010.”

With the appointment of Mr. Ernst von Freyberg as President of the Institute and of Msgr. Battista Ricca as its prelate, the Cardinals’ Commission has filled the two important positions that are provided for in the statutes of the IOR, which had been vacant for some time. Msgr. Battista Ricca’s appointment is effective immediately.”


Vatican City, 17 June 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received:

   - His Excellency Mr. Rowsch N. Shaways, vice prime minister of the Republic of Iraq, and

   - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., bishop emeritus of Hong Kong.

On Saturday, 15 June in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Holy Father received:

   - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and

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


Vatican City, 15 June 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

   - appointed Msgr. Xavier Munyongani as bishop of the Diocese of Gweru (area 29,158, population 2,313,000, Catholics 368,000, priests 54, religious 216), Zimbabwe. The bishop-elect was born in Mutero Mission, Gutu District, Zimbabwe, in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1977. Since ordination he has served in many pastoral, academic, and administrative roles in the Dioceses of Gweru and Masvingo, Zimbabwe, as well as serving in London, England, since 2007, as chaplain of the Zimbabwe Catholic Community.

   - appointed Fr. Alphonse Nguyen Huu Long, P.S.S., as auxiliary of the Diocese of Hung Hoa (area 54,352, population 7,187,000, Catholics 235,000, priests 63, religious 242), Vietnam, assigning him the Titular See of Gummi in Byzacena. The bishop-elect was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1990. Since ordination he has: served as vicar for the parish of Tam Ky (1990-1994); obtained a license in Canon Law from the Institut Catholique of Paris, France; served as pastor for the parishes of Ha Lam (1999-2001) and Tra Kieu (2001-2003); served as spiritual director and professor of Canon Law, Church History, and Catechesis at the Major Seminary of Hue (2003-2011) as well as that institution's rector since 2011.

   - appointed Fr. Pierre Nguyen Van Vien as auxiliary of the Diocese of Vinh (area 30,594, population 6,285,000, Catholics 506,992, priests 197, religious 1,882), Vietnam, assigning him the Titular See of Megalopolis in Proconsulari. The bishop-elect was born in Huong Phuong, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam, in 1965 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Vinh in 1999. Since ordination he has done pastoral service for the Vietnamese community in Sydney, Australia, where he obtained his doctorate in Theology, served as vice rector and professor of Dogmatics at Vinh Thanh's Major Seminary, and, since, 2010, served as general vicar of the Diocese of Vinh.

   - appointed Cardinal Audrys Juozas Backis, archbishop emeritus of Vilnius, Lithuania, as his special envoy to the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Kievan Rus' scheduled to take place in Kiev, Ukraine from 17-18 August 2013.

   - appointed Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the first centenary of the elevation of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Salvador, and the erection of the Dioceses of Santa Ana and San Miguel as well as the closing ceremony of the national Eucharistic Congress in El Salvador scheduled for 11 August 2013.
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