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Monday, July 8, 2013


Vatican City, 6 July 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, for some years now an entry point for many immigrants, a significant number of whom have lost their lives in the surrounding seas.

The pope left Rome's Ciampino military airport at 8 a.m. arriving at the island at 9.15 a.m., where he was greeted by Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento and by the mayor of Lampedusa, Giuseppina Nicolini. He proceeded to Cala Pisana by car, where he boarded a boat in order to arrive at the Port of Lampedusa by water. The Holy Father was accompanied by fishermen in their boats. During the journey he committed a wreath to the sea in memory of those immigrants who have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The Pope's arrival at the port at Punta Favarolo was awaited by a group of around fifty immigrants, many of whom were Muslims, living in the reception shelters in Lampedusa. He greeted them one by one and then departed by car for the nearby “Arena” sports field in the Salinas quarter, where at 10.30 a.m. he celebrated Mass.

The form of the Mass was that “for the forgiveness of sins”, included in the Missal among the masses for particular needs. The Liturgy of the Word consisted of readings on the story of Cain and Abel, the massacre of the innocents, and the Miserere psalm, emphasizing the penitential aspect of the Liturgy. The Holy Father used a crosier and chalice from the parish of Lampedusa made of wood from boats by which immigrants reached the island. Both were the work of an artisan from Lampedusa, who had offered assistance to the immigrants during the emergencies.

Given below are extensive extracts from the Pope's homily:

Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. Since I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realised that it happens too frequently, it has constantly come back to me like a painful thorn in my heart. So, I felt that I had to come here today, to pray and to offer a sign of my closeness, but also to challenge our consciences lest this tragedy be repeated. Please, let it not be repeated!”

The Pope thanked the inhabitants and the authorities of Lampedusa for their solidarity with the immigrants and greeted the Muslims among them who today begin the fast of Ramadan, and added, “The Church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families”.

This morning, in the light of God's Word which has just been proclaimed, I wish to offer some thoughts to challenge people's consciences, to lead them to reflection and a concrete change of heart”.

'Adam, where are you?' This is the first question God poses to man after his sin. Adam lost his bearings, his place in creation because he thought he could be powerful, able to control everything, to be God. Harmony was lost, man errs and this error occurs over and over again also in relationships with others. The 'other' who is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply another person who disturbs our lives and our comfort. God asks a second question, 'Cain, where is your brother?'. The illusion of being powerful, of being as great as God, even of being God Himself, leads to a whole series of errors, a chain of death, even to the spilling of a brother's blood! God's two questions echo even today, as forcefully as ever. How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live … we do not take care of that which God created for all of us, and we are no longer capable even of looking after each other. And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.

'Where is your brother?' His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others, it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they sought a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found only death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God! I recently listened to one of these brothers of ours. Before arriving here, he and the others were at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit the poverty of others, people who live off the misery of others. How much these people have suffered! Some of them never made it here.

'Where is your brother?' Who is responsible for this blood? In Spanish literature there is a work by Lope de Vega which narrates how the inhabitants of the city of Fuente Ovejuna kill their tyrannical governor, and they do so in a way that no-one knows who carried out the execution. And when the king's judge asks, 'Who killed the governor?', they all answer, “Fuente Ovejuna, my lord”. Everybody and nobody! Today too, this question emerges forcefully: who is responsible for the blood of these, our brothers and sisters? Nobody! That is our answer: it isn't me, I don't have anything to do with it; it must be someone else, but certainly not me. Yet God is asking each of us: 'Where is the blood of your brother which cries out to me?'. Today no-one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters; we have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, perhaps we say to ourselves: 'poor soul...!', and then go on our way; it's not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalisation of indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others, it doesn't affect me; it doesn't concern me; it is none of my business. The globalisation of indifference makes us all 'unnamed', responsible yet nameless and faceless.

'Adam, where are you?' 'Where is your brother?' These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: 'Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?' Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – 'suffering with' others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: 'Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more'. Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this.

In this liturgy, a penitential liturgy, we beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies”.


Vatican City, 7 July 2013 (VIS) – The joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer were the reference points in Christian mission proposed by Pope Francis to the young seminarians, novices and all those who participated in Mass celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Basilica. A broad summary of the Holy Father's homily is given below:

You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery … in which foundations are laid for the future. … Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. … What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer.

The first element: the joy of consolation. The prophet Isaiah is addressing a people that has been through a dark period of exile, a very difficult trial. But now the time of consolation has come for Jerusalem; sadness and fear must give way to joy. ... What is the reason for this invitation to joy? Because the Lord is going to pour out over the Holy City and its inhabitants a 'cascade' of consolation, a veritable overflow of consolation, a cascade of maternal tenderness: 'You shall be carried upon her hip and dandled upon her knees'. As when a mother takes her child upon her knee and caresses him or her: so the Lord will do and does with us. This is the cascade of tenderness which gives us much consolation. … Every Christian, and especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others! I have occasionally met consecrated persons who are afraid of the consolations of God, and … the poor things, they were tormented, because they are afraid of this divine tenderness. But do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of the consolations of the Lord. We must find the Lord who consoles us and go to console the people of God. This is the mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!

The second reference point of mission is the Cross of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Galatians, says: 'Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ'. … In his ministry Paul experienced suffering, weakness and defeat, but also joy and consolation. This is the Paschal mystery of Jesus: the mystery of death and resurrection. ... In the hour of darkness, in the hour of trial, the dawn of light and salvation is already present and operative. The Paschal mystery is the beating heart of the Church’s mission! And if we remain within this mystery, we are sheltered both from a worldly and triumphalistic view of mission and from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures. Pastoral fruitfulness, the fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by conforming to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and offering oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – always the Cross that is present with Christ, because at times we are offered the Cross without Christ: this has no purpose! … It is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a 'new creation'.

Finally the third element: prayer. In the Gospel we heard: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, to send out labourers into his harvest'. The labourers for the harvest are not chosen through advertising campaigns or appeals of service and generosity, but they are 'chosen' and 'sent' by God. It is He who chooses, it is He who sends ... it is He who gives the mission. For this, prayer is important. The Church, as Benedict XVI has often reiterated, is not ours, but God’s; and how many times do we, consecrated men and women, think that the Church is ours! We make of it… something that we invent in our minds. But it is not ours!, it is God’s. The field to be cultivated is His. The mission is grace. And if the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength of his action”.

Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. … Listen well: 'evangelization is done on one’s knees'. Always be men and women of prayer! Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook, a priest – is your job being a priest, being a sister? No. It is not a job, but rather something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!

Jesus sends his followers out with no 'purse, no bag, no sandals'. The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed by the number of persons, nor by the prestige of the institution, nor by the quantity of available resources. What counts is being permeated by the love of Christ, allowing oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, without being afraid of joy, she will help you to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord in prayer. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful!”


Vatican City, 8 July 2013 (VIS) – At midday, following the Holy Mass celebrated on the Day for seminarians, novices and those discerning their vocations, in the context of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Bishop of Rome appealed to all those present to pray for the participants in this Day, “that their love for Christ might mature more and more in their lives and that they might become true missionaries of God's Kingdom”, and then went on to comment on this Sunday's gospel, relating it to the call to the vocation.

Jesus is not an isolated missionary”, he said; “he does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples. Today we see that, in addition to the Twelve Apostles, He calls seventy-two others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone, He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with communion and fraternity. For this reason, he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and trains them for the mission”.

Beware, however: the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together – no, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all – it is necessary to go out and proclaim. The peace of Christ is to be brought to everyone, and if some do not welcome it, then you go on. Healing is to be brought to the sick, as God wishes to heal man from all evil. How many missionaries do this! They sow life, health, comfort in the peripheries of the world”.

These seventy-two disciples, whom Jesus sent ahead of him, who are they? Whom do they represent? If the Twelve are the Apostles, and therefore also represent the Bishops, their successors, these may represent seventy-two other ordained ministers – priests and deacons – but in a wider sense we can think of other ministries in the Church, catechists and lay faithful who engage in parish missions, those who work with the sick, with the various forms of discomfort and alienation, but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is at hand. Everyone must become missionaries, everyone can hear Jesus' call and go on to proclaim His kingdom!

The Gospel says that those seventy-two returned from their mission full of joy, because they had experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. … We should not boast as if we were the protagonists: the protagonist is the Lord and His grace. Our joy is only this: in being His disciples, His friends. … Do not be afraid of being joyful! … It is the joy that the Lord gives us when we let Him enter into our lives and invite us to go forth into the peripheries of life and announce the Gospel, with joy and courage!”

After the Angelus, Pope Francis mentioned that two days ago his first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei” (On the Light of Faith) was published. Pope Benedict XVI had started this encyclical for the Year of Faith and to follow the previous encyclicals dedicated to love and hope. “I picked up this fine project and completed it. I offer it with joy to the whole People of God: indeed, today more than ever before, we need to return to the essentials of the Christian faith, to deepen it, and to measure current issues by it. I think that this encyclical, at least in some parts, can also be useful to those who are searching for God and for the meaning of life. I entrust it to the hands of Mary, the perfect icon of faith, that it may bring the fruits the Lord wishes”.

The Holy Father went on to greet the young people of the diocese of Rome who are preparing to go to Rio de Janeiro to participate in World Youth Day. “Dear young people, I too am preparing! Let us walk together towards this great celebration of faith! May Our Lady accompany us”.

Finally, he greeted the Franciscan Sisters and the Rosminian Angeline Sisters, who are holding their General Chapters, and the leaders of the Community of Sant'Egidio who have come to Rome from various countries to attend a training course.


Vatican City, 6 July 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona. The president subsequently 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 course of the colloquial discussions, several topics were covered including the contribution the Catholic Church offers to the population, especially in the fields of education, health and assistance to the needy and vulnerable. The Parties expressed their commitment to fruitful collaboration in supporting the young in the fight against crime and violence.

Finally, the focus turned to important themes such as the full formation of the person and the protection of the family.


Vatican City, 6 July 2013 (VIS) - “A witness of hope” was how Pope Francis defined the late Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who had been the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and for whom the diocesan phase of the beatification process has now come to an end.

This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father greeted the participants in the closing session of this phase and thanked Waldery Hilgeman, postulator of the cause of Cardinal Van Thuan's beatification, emphasizing that “many people can testify to their edification through meeting the Servant of God Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan in various stages of his life”.

The experience shows that his renowned holiness was transmitted through the testimony of the many people who met him and who cherish within their hearts his gentle smile and the greatness of his sensibility. Many encountered him through his writings, simple yet profound, which demonstrate his priestly heart, deeply united with He who called him to be the minister of His mercy and His love. Many people have written to tell of grace received and signs attributed to the intercession of this venerated Brother, son of the east, who has completed his earthly journey in the service of Peter's Successor.

We entrust the furthering of his cause, and all the others currently in process, to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. May Our Lady help us to live ever more the beauty and joy of communion with Christ”, the Pope concluded.


On Saturday 6 July the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Achille Silvestri, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.


On Saturday 6 July the Holy Father appointed Archbishop George Kocherry as apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh. Archbishop Kocherry, titular of Othona, was previously apostolic nuncio to Zimbabwe.

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