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Monday, June 24, 2013


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the Holy Father received 30 members of the delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations. The Pope recalled that 21 previous meetings have helped to strengthen the mutual understanding and ties of friendship between Jews and Catholics.

This is Pope Francis' first official meeting with a group of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities since his election. The pontiff said that the “Nostra Aetate” Declaration of the Second Vatican Council represents “a key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people” for the Catholic Church.

In that Council text, the Church recognizes that 'the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses, and prophets'. And, with regard to the Jews, the Council recalls the teaching of Saint Paul, who wrote 'the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable' and who also firmly condemned hatred, persecution, and all forms of anti-Semitism. Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!”

The Holy Father noted that “the fundamental principles expressed by the Declaration have marked the path of greater awareness and mutual understanding trodden these last decades by Jews and Catholics, a path which my predecessors have strongly encouraged, both by very significant gestures and by the publication of a series of documents to deepen the thinking about the theological roots of the relations between Jews and Christians.”

Nevertheless, this represents “only the most visible element of a vast movement that takes place on the local level a bit throughout the world, as I know from personal experience. During my ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I had the joy of maintaining relations of sincere friendship with leaders of the Jewish world. We talked often of our respective religious identities, the image of the human person found in the Scriptures, and how to keep an awareness of God alive in a world now secularized in many ways. I met with them on various occasions to discuss the common challenges faced by both Jews and Christians. But above all, as friends, we enjoyed each other’s company, we were mutually enriched through encounter and dialogue, with an attitude of reciprocal welcome, and this helped all of us grow as persons and as believers.”

These friendly relations are, in a way, the basis for the development of a more official dialogue,” the Pope said, encouraging those present to follow their path, “trying, as you do so, to involve younger generations. Humanity needs our joint witness in favour of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God and in favour of the peace that is, above all, God’s gift.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by recalling the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—affirms the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received His Excellency Dr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta, in audience. Prime Minister Muscat 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 cordial talks, the apostolic origins of the Maltese Church were recalled, along with the decisive impression that Christianity has made upon the history and culture of the people of the archipelago. Also remembered were the pastoral visits to Malta made by Blessed Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI, which left profound memories in the life of the Church and on the people.

The need of maintaining Christian values steadfast was reaffirmed and the important role—protected thanks to the many agreements concluded between the Holy See and Malta—carried out by the Catholic Church with her educational and charitable institutions was mentioned, including teaching the Catholic religion in state schools, Catholic schools, and on Church properties. Particular note was made of the Agreement on the civil effects of religious marriages, which will be the object of further discussions between the Parties.

While mentioning the important challenges and critical situations affecting the Mediterranean region and the country’s role in the European Union, special emphasis was given to the deep commitment, on the part of both the Church and the Government of Malta, to dealing with the phenomenon of migration to Europe.


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., released the following communique.

This morning the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Adolfo Perez Esquivel, recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, accompanying Mr. Felix Diaz, leader of the Qom ethnic tribe's “La Primavera” Community, with his wife Mrs. Amanda Asijak, and Fr. Francisco Nazar, vicar for the indigenous populations of the Diocese of Formosa, Argentina.”

Mr. Diaz expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for the audience and for what it means as an expression of interest and support. He related to Pope Francis the difficulties faced by the indigenous peoples of Argentina and Latin America, as well as his concerns for the protection of their rights, especially in regard to their territory and cultural identity.”


Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:15 this morning in the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received members of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul. He thanked them for the charitable activities they undertake and for their collaboration in the smooth operations of the celebrations that take place in the Vatican.

The association came into being at the wish of Paul VI, who in 1970 disbanded various groups of pontifical guards including the Palatine Guard of Honour created by Pius IX in 1850. His intention was to bring together a group of the faithful of Rome who wished to express their unconditional fidelity to the Apostolic See. Former members of the guard were thus invited to join a new group called the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, the statutes of which were approved by Paul VI in 1971.

The Association is divided into three sections: liturgy, culture, and charity, and has a general secretariat. It undertakes various initiatives with the aim of bearing witness to Christian life, the apostolate, and faithfulness to the Apostolic See.

I know,” the Pope commented, “that there is a lot of 'behind the scenes' work. I also know that your service of welcoming [pilgrims and tourists] to St. Peter's Basilica, your service for the liturgical celebrations, your apostolate, also extends to cultural and charitable activities. Above all charity, your concrete attention towards others, towards the poorest, weakest, and most needy is the hallmark of the Christian.”

Serving the Church and one's brothers and sisters without asking anything in return, the pontiff said, “is beautiful. Serving without asking anything in exchange, like Jesus. Jesus served us all and never asked for anything in return. Jesus did things freely and you do things freely. Your reward is precisely this: the joy of serving the Lord and of doing it together!” This service is a great Christian virtue of ”magnanimity, having a large heart, always expanding your hearts with patience; expanding it, loving all and not those insignificant things that do us such harm.”

Finally, the Pope blessed those present and asked them to think of everyone they love: “your family and your friends, so that the Blessing may go out to them. But also think of some of those persons you don't like so well, those who do you evil, those you are a little angry with. Think of them too so that the Blessing might also go out to them.”


Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the Holy Father Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he recalled Jesus' most incisive words: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” He then asked: “but what does it mean 'to lose one's life for Jesus' cause'? This can happen in two ways: by explicitly confessing the faith or implicitly defending truth. The martyrs are the best example of losing one's life for Christ. In two thousand years an immense host of men and women have sacrificed their lives to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. And today, in many parts of the world, there are … so many martyrs who give their lives for Christ, who are brought to death for not denying Jesus Christ. This is our Church.”

Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! But there is also the daily martyrdom, which doesn't result in death but is also a 'losing of one's life' for Christ: doing one's duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving and sacrifice. Think how many fathers and mothers put their faith into practice every day, offering their lives for the good of the family! … How many priests, brothers, and sisters generously carry out their service for the Kingdom of God. How many young people give up their own interests to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly... These too are martyrs! Everyday martyrs, martyrs of everyday life! And there are many people, Christians and non-Christians, who 'lose their own life' for the truth. Christ said 'I am the truth', so those who serve the truth serve Christ.”

The Holy Father recalled how St. John the Baptist devoted himself entirely to God and, in the end, died for the truth. “How many people pay dearly for their commitment to the truth! How many righteous men and women prefer to go against the current so as to not deny the voice of their conscience, the voice of truth! Righteous people, who are unafraid of going against the current! And we must not be afraid!”

Before concluding, the Pope addressed the young persons present, telling them: “Don't be afraid to go against the current, when they want to steal our hope, when they propose rotten values to us, values like food that has gone bad—and when food has gone bad it makes us sick, these values make us sick. We have to go against the current! And you, young people, be the first: Go against the grain and be proud of going against the grain. Go on, be brave and go against the current! And be proud of doing it!”


Vatican City, 23 June 2013 (VIS) – Shortly after praying the Sunday Angelus today, the Holy Father was at the Vatican train station to welcome the 250 children between the ages of 6 and 10 who were participating in the “Children's Train: A Journey through Beauty” initiative. Co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Italian Railway System, the project was dedicated to children who have had problems with social inclusion and psycho-social difficulties. The children, accompanied by their families and teachers, were introduced to visual communication and the language of images through works of art—particularly in the cathedrals of the various cities—and educational workshops.

The seven car train, which started from Milan, made stops in Bologna and Florence before pulling into the Vatican stop shortly before 12:00pm. The children's first strong impression was of the immense cupola of St. Peter's Basilica and emotions were running high in the short time it took for the gates of Vatican territory to be opened and their train to be towed to its destination by a diesel engine. Pope Francis arrived at 12:20pm and greeted them, chatting with them and asking how the trip went amid hugs and kisses. The Vatican train station was filled with the joy of the little ones, seeking the Pope's attention, who treated them like royalty.


Vatican City, 22 June 2013 (VIS) – Shortly after noon today in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father received 5,000 pilgrims from the Diocese of Bresica, Italy, accompanied by their bishop, Luciano Monari. They had travelled to Rome as part of the Year of Faith to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the election of their fellow Brescian, Paul VI, to the pontificate. The Pope focused on three fundamental aspects in Paul VI's witness and teachings: love for Christ, love for Church, and love for humanity.

Paul VI,” said the Pope, “knew how to witness, in difficult years, to the faith in Jesus Christ. … The total love for Christ emerges throughout Montini's life, even in his choice of name as Pope, which he explained with these words: He is the Apostle 'who loved Christ so supremely, that he wished and tried in the highest degree to bring Christ's Gospel to all nations and offered his life out of love of Christ.' [His was] a profound love for Christ, not to possess, but to proclaim him,” the pontiff continued. “These passionate words are great words. Let me tell you something: this address in Manila, and also the one in Nazareth, have been a spiritual strength for me. They have done me good in my life. I go back to this address, again and again, because it it does me good to hear these words of Paul VI today. And do we have the same love for Christ? Is He the centre of our lives? Do our everyday actions witness to him?”

Francis then spoke of his second point, Paul VI's love for the Church. It was “a passionate love, the love of a lifetime, joyful and painful, expressed from his first encyclical, 'Ecclesiam suam'. … He loved the Church and offered himself for her without reservation. … This is the heart of a true Shepherd, a true Christian, a man capable of loving!” Pope Francis then stressed that, for him, “Evangelii Nuntiandi” is the “greatest pastoral document written to date.” “Paul VI had a very clear vision that the Church is a Mother who bears Christ and who leads to Christ.” The Holy Father then addressed the faithful again, asking them: “Are we truly a Church united to Christ, going out and proclaiming to all, even and especially those whom I call the 'existential periphery', or are we wrapped up in ourselves, in our groups, in our little cliques? Do we love the great Church, the Mother Church, the Church that sends us on mission and makes us go out of ourselves?”

The pontiff then turned to his third point, love for humanity. This is also tied to Christ. It is the passion for God that compels us to meet persons, to respect them, recognize them, and serve them.” Francis recalled Paul VI's words at the last session of Vatican Council II: “The religion of the God who became Man has met the religion of man who made himself God. What happened? A combat, a fight, an anathema? This could have happened, but it didn't. The old story of the Samaritan was the paradigm for the Council's spirituality. … All this doctrinal wealth was focused in a single direction: to serve humanity … in its every condition, in its every sickness, in its every need. The Church has almost declared herself humanity's handmaid.”

Pope Francis then added, “this also gives us light today, in this world where humanity is denied, where it's preferred to travel the path of gnosticism—either the 'no flesh' of a God who didn't take flesh, or the 'no God' of Promethean man who can go forward [alone]. At this time we can say the same things as Paul VI: the Church is the handmaid of humanity, the Church believes in Christ who came in the flesh and therefore serves humanity, loves humanity, believes in humanity. This is the inspiration of the great Paul VI.”

Dear friends,” the Pope concluded, “gathering in the name of the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI does us good! His witness nourishes the flame of love for Christ in us.”


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – At 5:30pm Saturday afternoon in the Paul VI Audience Hall, a concert sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization as part of the Year of Faith was given. After Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of that dicastery, greeted those present on behalf of the Holy Father, who couldn't attend because of an “urgent task that cannot be put off but must be dealt with at the present moment”, he read the Pope's words of thanks to the organizers, singers, choir, and orchestra. Then the Italian Symphonic Orchestra of the RAI, conducted by Juraj Valcuha, performed Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 in D minor op.125, accompanied by the Choir of the National Academy of St Cecilia.


Vatican City, 22 June 2013 (VIS) – Made public today was the letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 10 May, in which he appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Czech territory, which will take place in Velehrad, Czech Republic, on 5 July 2013.

The mission that will accompany the cardinal is composed of Msgr. Tomas Holub of the Diocese of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, secretary general of the Czech Bishops' Conference, and Fr. Ladislao Nosek, S.J., vicar of the Parish of St. Stephen in Prague, Czech Republic, and chaplain of several Czech Catholic schools.

Also issued today was a letter, likewise written in Latin and dated 10 May, appointing Cardinal Franc Rode, C.M., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Slovakian territory, which will take place in Nitra, Slovak Republic, on 5 July 2013.

The mission that will accompany the cardinal is composed of Msgr. Vladimir Stahovec of the Diocese of Roznava, Slovakia, currently rector of the Pontifical College of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Rome, Italy, and Don Martin Kramara, of the Diocese of Zilina, Slovakia, chaplain of the Diocese of Rome for the Pastoral Care of Resident Slovakians.

Finally, the letter of the Holy Father, dated 25 May, was also made public, in which he appointed Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest emeritus of the Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls Basilica, as special envoy to the closing celebration of the sixth centenary of the discovery of the statue of Santa Maria della Libera to be held in the shrine of Cercemaggiore, Campobasso, Italy on 2 July of this year.


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

On Saturday, 22 June, the Holy Father received:

   - His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accompanied by an entourage,

   - Her excellency Mrs. Neda Rosandic Saric, former Croatian ambassador to Argentina, and

   - Fr. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, S.J., rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy.


Vatican City, 24 June 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Mario Leon Dorado, O.M.I., as apostolic prefect of Western Sahara. Fr. Leon Dorado is currently administrator of the same Apostolic Prefecture.

On Saturday, 22 June, the Holy Father:

  - appointed Fr. Bernard Taiji Katsuya as bishop of Sapporo (area 83,452, population 5,518,088, Catholics 17,619 , priests 56, religious 308), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Muroran-Hokkaido, Japan in 1955 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sapporo in 1986. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and academic roles, most recently, since 2008, as director of the District of Sapporo and, since 2012, as substitute pastor of Tsukisamu.

  - accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, USA, presented by Bishop John Charles Dunne, upon having reached the age limit.
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