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Thursday, June 20, 2013


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:00 this morning, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic palace, the Holy Father Francis received the participants in the 38th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Pope began by speaking of the particular difficulty of the current worldwide situation caused not only by the economic crisis “but also due to problems associated with security, the great number of continuing conflicts, climate change and the preservation of biological diversity. All these situations demand of FAO a renewed commitment to tackling the many problems of the agricultural sector and of all those living and working in rural areas.”

The Pope noted that there are many possible initiatives and solutions and that they don't only have to do with increasing production seeing that current levels of production are sufficient, in spite of which “millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth ... to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being.”

Francis repeated that the goal of meeting with the participants in the FAO conference was “to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept.” If current situations and living conditions aren't examined in terms of the human person and human dignity, the Pope said, then they run the risk of “risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function.”

The Holy Father declared that the present situation, “while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life.” He, therefore, asked the FAO, its member States, and the entire international community to open their hearts. “There is a need to move beyond indifference and a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs … leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth, or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”

Likewise, the Pope mentioned that dedicating the coming year to the rural family was a very expressive decision that, beyond a mere commemoration, will be an occasion to “reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others.”

Pope Francis noted that “the Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by the FAO.”


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:30 this morning in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received participants in the 86th Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO). This organisation, under the sponsorship of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, is formed from various organizations around the world including: the Catholic Near East Welfare Association; Aid to the Church in Need; Renovabis; and Oeuvre d'Orient, which financially and spiritually assist members of the Church in the East.

Francis gave thanks to God for the “fidelity to Christ, the Gospel, and the Church that the Eastern Catholics have given proof of throughout the centuries, facing every struggle for the Christian name and 'keeping the faith'. … Like my predecessors, I wish to encourage and support you in your exercise of charity, which is the only reason for Jesus' disciples to brag. This charity springs from God's love in Christ. The Cross is its vertex, the luminous sign of God's mercy and love for all, which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. … I ask you to accompany me in the task of uniting faith and charity, which is inherent to the Petrine ministry.”

The Pope encouraged the members of ROACO to continue their labour of carrying out projects that give priority to formation, above all of the youth, without forgetting that such projects “should be a sign of God's profession of love that constitutes the Christian identity.”

The presence of the patriarchs of Alexandria of the Copts and of Babylon of the Chaldeans as well as of the papal representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria, the auxiliary bishop of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Custos of the Holy Land carries me to the holy places of our Redemption but also revives in me a deep ecclesial concern for the plight of our many brothers and sisters who are living a seemingly endless situation of insecurity and violence, which doesn't spare the innocent or the weakest.”

We believers are asked to constantly and confidently pray that the Lord may grant the longed-for peace, together with a concrete solidarity and sharing. I would like to once again, from the bottom of my heart, appeal to the leaders of nations and international organisations, to believers of every religion, and to all men and women of good will to put an end to all the pain, all the violence, and all religious, cultural, and social discrimination. May the conflict that sows death leave space for the encounter and the reconciliation that bring life.”

To all those who are suffering I strongly say: 'Never lose hope! The Church is with you, accompanies you, and supports you!' I ask you to do everything possible to alleviate the serious needs of the affected populations, especially in Syria, the people of beloved Syria, and the ever more numerous refugees and displaced persons. ... I repeat to you: remember in your prayers the Church of Syria … Jesus Christ will watch over it and your charity. I entrust the countless victims to the Lord of Life and implore the Most Holy Mother of God to console all of those in the 'time of great distress'. It is true; what's happening in Syria is a great distress!”


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – For the occasion of Francis' upcoming apostolic trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to preside at the 38th World Youth Day, statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2011, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church. The Pope's journey is scheduled from 22 to 29 July.

Brazil covers a surface area of 8,514,215 square kilometres and has population of 195,041,000 of whom 164,780,000 (84.48%) are Catholic. There are 274 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 10,802 parishes, and 37,827 pastoral centres. Currently there are 453 bishops, 20,701 priests, 33,230 religious, and 2,903 permanent deacons. There are also 1,985 lay members of secular Institutes, 144,910 lay missionaries, and 483,104 catechists. Minor seminarians number 2,671 and major seminarians 8,956.

A total of 1,940,299 students attend 6,882 centres of Catholic education ranging from kindergartens to universities. There are also 3,257 centres for special education. There are 5,340 institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Brazil including: 369 hospitals, 884 clinics, 22 leper colonies, 718 homes for the elderly or disabled, 1,636 orphanages and nurseries, and 1,711 family counselling and other pro-life centres.


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – As part of the Year of Faith, the pontifical representatives, the apostolic nuncios, will meet with the Holy Father this Friday and Saturday, 21-22 June.

Tomorrow, Friday at 10:30am, the Pope will receive the nuncios in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. In the afternoon, from 4:30 to 5:45pm in the pontifical basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Eucharistic adoration will be held and vespers will be celebrated, presided by Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica. Finally, a meditation will be led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, participants will visit the Basilica's scavi. In the evening, at 8:30pm, they will have dinner with the Holy Father in the Oval Patio of the Casina of Pius IV.

On Saturday, 22 June, in the Chapel of the St. Peter's Basilica Choir, Mass will be concelebrated at 9:00am, presided by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State. At 10:45am, Terce will be prayed in the New Synod Hall and the pontifical representatives will have a working meeting with the superiors of the Secretariat of State. After the meeting finishes they will have lunch at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (without the Pope). The Days will conclude with a concert at 5:30pm in the Paul VI Audience Hall.


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday morning, the old Synod Hall was the site of a meeting—organized by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See—of the administrative heads of the various dicasteries and dependent agencies of the Vatican, according to a note issued by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.

The meeting, attended by all the personnel of the Prefecture along with international auditors, is the second of its kind, the first having been held in December of last year for the presentation of the Prefecture's new rules. It will be followed, probably each six months, by other similar reunions.

After reading a short greeting from the Holy Father, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., and an introduction by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture, an interesting agreement was presented, by virtue of which Banco Santander offered its availability to place its contacts and formative resources, drawing upon the wide network of the Bank's relationships with the international academic world, at the Prefecture's disposition.

Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, also spoke, giving his greetings and encouragement. The Prefecture's secretary, Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, and Accountant General, Dr. Stefano Fralleoni spoke, in turn, to explain the historical development of the Prefecture's preparation of the consolidated financial statements and the importance of properly preparing budgets in the governance of the economical administration.

In particular, information was given on the progress made in preparing a consolidated financial statement that isn't limited to the two specific areas of the Curia and the Vatican City Sate, but which also extends to the areas of the pastoral outreach and charitable activities that are overseen by the Holy See.

The financial statements in question will be presented in documented and detailed form at the next meeting of the Council of Cardinals—the so-called “Council of Fifteen”, which will meet, as usual, in the first days of July—to study the Holy See's organizational and economic problems. The meeting was followed by a series of addresses and questions on the part of the participants, among which are to be noted the speeches by the international auditors, whose presence and participation were highly appreciated by all present.


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed Dr. Venerando Marano, previously adjunct judge of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, as a permanent judge of that tribunal.
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