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Monday, September 2, 2013


Vatican City, 2 September 2012 (VIS) – On Friday 4 October Pope Francis will visit the city of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. The Pope will depart from the Vatican at 7 a.m. by helicopter and will land around three quarters of an hour later at the sports field of the Seraphic Institute of Assisi, where he will meet with disabled and sick children.

At 8.45 a.m. he will make a private visit to the Shrine of St. Damian to pray, and from there will proceed to the archbishop's residence, where he will meet with the poor assisted by Caritas. After this meeting he will transfer by car to the Superior Basilica of St. Francis where he will be received by the convent friars and will pray in the crypt where the saint is buried.

At 11 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass in Piazza San Francesco. Following the Eucharist he will proceed to the Caritas reception centre near the railway station of Santa Maria degli Angeli where he will have lunch with the poor from the city centre. After lunch he will make a private visit to the Hermitage of the Prisons, where he will pray in St. Francis' cell. At 3.15 p.m. he will meet with clergy, consecrated persons and members of the diocesan pastoral council in the cathedral of St. Rufino. From there he will transfer to the Basilica of St. Clare to venerate the body of the saint and pray in silence before the cross of St. Damian. He will subsequently proceed to the Porziuncola in Santa Maria degli Angeli and at 5.45 p.m. will meet with young people on the terrace in front of the basilica. At 6.30 he will transfer to Rivotorto where he will pray privately in St. Francis' hovel and at 7.15 p.m., after greeting the authorities who received him in the morning, will begin his return trip by helicopter to the Vatican, where he is scheduled to arrive at 8 p.m.


Vatican City, 2 September 2012 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office announced this morning that from 4 to 6 September His Holiness Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, India, will visit Pope Francis. The meeting will form part of the Catholicos' pastoral visit to orthodox faithful in Europe.

The Malankara Orthodox Church is divided into two communities: the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in full communion with the Orthodox Syrian Patriarch of Antioch, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church led by His Holiness Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, (automous orthodox Church). The Orthodox Syrian Church currently has over 2.5 million members in thirty dioceses, with more than 33 bishops and 1,700 priests.

Two important meetings took place between Pope John Paul II and the Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathews I, in Rome in 1983 and in Kottayam in 1986; on the latter occasion the Mixed International Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church was established. In 1990, the common Christological Declaration was signed.

Since 1989 two parallel dialogues have taken place annually in Kerala, southern India; one with each of the two communities. These dialogues relate to questions on three main themes: the history of the Church in India, ecclesiology, and common witness.

The Catholicos Moran Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, as well as meeting with the Holy Father on Thursday 5 September, will visit the tomb of the Apostle Peter and will be received by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.


Vatican City, 1 September 2012 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, will represent the Holy See at the international conference “The Challenges of Arab Christians”, which will take place in Amman, Jordan, on 3 and 4 September.

The conference, promoted by the Hashemite Royal family, was one of the themes discussed during the King of Jordan's visit to the Holy Father on 29 August.


Vatican City, 1 September 2012 (VIS) – Pope Francis has launched a heartfelt appeal for peace in Syria, expressing his pain and concern regarding the conflict and asking the concerned parties and the international community to embark on the path of negotiation, setting aside partisan interests. His plea was made during the Angelus prayer at midday in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of thousands of faithful. We offer below the full text of the Holy Father's homily:

Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.

I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children who will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgement of God and of history upon our actions which is inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.

May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love.

All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.

May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”


Vatican City, 1 September 2013 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned the two new blesseds: priest Vladimir Ghika, born in Istanbul and martyred in Bucharest in 1954, and proclaimed blessed yesterday, and Antonio Franco of Messina, Italy, ordinary prelate of Santa Lucia del Mela who lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who will be beatified tomorrow.

He also referred to the Day for the Protection of the Environment, established by the Italian Episcopal Conference and celebrated today. “This year's theme, 'The family educates and protects creation', is very worthy”.

Through Mary the Lord allows us to feel his tenderness. We join the faithful of Syracuse in celebrating today the sixtieth anniversary of the tears of the Virgin”, added the Holy Father; "and today we leave with the wish to pray for peace, I hope, next Saturday at 7 p.m.”


Vatican City, 1 September 2012 (VIS) – This morning Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI celebrated Holy Mass in the Chapel of the Governorate of Vatican City State, to mark the conclusion of the traditional summer seminar held by the Ratzinger Circle of Alumni, the so-called “Ratzinger Schulerkreis”. The meeting took place in Castel Gandolfo but Benedict XVI did not participate this year. The 38th edition of the Ratzinger Schulerkreis examined the theme “The question of God against the background of secularisation” in the light of the theological work of the thinker Remi Brague, who was awarded last year's Ratzinger Prize for theology.

Holy Mass was attended by around fifty people, and Benedict XVI concelebrated with the cardinals Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria; the archbishops Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household, and Barthelemy Adoukonou, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, auxiliary of Hamburg, Germany.

The Pope-emeritus commented in his homily on today's gospel in which Jesus invites his disciples to take the last place, “a place which seems very good”, he said, “but which proves to be very bad. … Those who in this world and throughout history are perhaps driven ahead and arrive in first place, must be aware of the danger they are in; they must look ever more to the Lord … they must measure up to their responsibility for others, become those who serve, who in reality place themselves at the feet of others, who bless and are in turn blessed”.

The cross, throughout history”, he explained, “is the last place … the Cross is no place, it is bare, nothing … and yet this “extreme humiliation” is “the true exaltation. … Yes, Jesus is at the level of God, because the height of the Cross is the height of God's love, the height of His self-abnegation and His dedication to others. Thus, this is the divine place, and we pray to God that He may enable us to understand this ever more clearly so that we might accept with humility, each in his own way, this mystery of exaltation and humiliation”.


Vatican City, 31 August 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father today accepted the resignation of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the office of Secretary of State in accordance with canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law, requesting that he remain in office until 15 October 2013, to all effects. At the same time he appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin, currently apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, as the new Secretary of State. The archbishop will assume this role on 15 October 2013.

On this occasion the Pope will receive in audience the superiors and officials of the Secretariat of State to publicly thank Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone for his loyal and generous service to the Holy See and to present the new Secretary of State.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin was born in Schiavon, Italy in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He holds a licentiate in Canon Law. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1986 and has worked in the pontifical representations in Nigeria and Mexico, and in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, where he was appointed under-secretary in 2002. In 2009 he was appointed as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela and at the same time elevated to the dignity of archbishop. He received episcopal ordination from Pope Benedict XVI on 12 September of the same year.

Upon learning of his nomination, Archbishop Parolin thanked the Holy Father, expressing his “complete availability” and willingness to collaborate with him, and under his guidance “for the greater glory of God, the good of the Holy Church, and the progress and peace of humanity, that humanity might find reasons to live and to hope”. He extended his thanks to all those who have been part of his life, in the parishes where he has served and the countries in which he has worked, to Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and to the Secretariat of State, which was his “home for many years”, and his colleagues and members of the Roman Curia.

It is with trepidation that I place myself in this new service to the Gospel, to the Church and to Pope Francis, but also with trust and serenity – disposed – as the Holy Father has asked us from the beginning – to walk, to build and to profess”, he writes.

May our Lady, whom I like to invoke under her titles as Our Lady of Monte Berico, Guadalupe and Coromoto, give us the courage to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward."

And, as they say in Venezuela, "¡Que Dios les bendiga!", he concluded.


Vatican City, 31 August 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father today confirmed that the following will continue to hold their respective offices: Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household; Msgr. Peter B. Wells, assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State: and Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States.


Vatican City, 2 September 2013 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Veselin Sukovic, ambassador of Montenegro to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters.

- Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussel, Belgium.

- a delegation from the “World Jewish Congress”.

- Hector Negri, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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

On Saturday, 31 August, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse, he received in a group audience Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of State; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States; Msgr. Peter B. Wells, assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States; and Msgr. Alberto Ortega Martin, official of the Secretariat of State for Relations with States.
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