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Thursday, September 5, 2013


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) - “Through you, I greet a Church that was founded upon the witness, even to martyrdom, that Saint Thomas gave to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostolic fraternity which united the first disciples in their service of the Gospel, today also unites our Churches, notwithstanding the many divisions that have arisen in the sometimes sad course of history, divisions which, thanks be to God, we are endeavouring to overcome in obedience to Lord’s will and desire”.

With these words, Pope Francis received His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India, who fronts a delegation visiting Rome in these days in order to pray before the tomb of St. Peter, part of a longer trip in Europe. The Pope retraced the history of the relations between Catholics and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church over the last thirty years, recalling that from these encounters there “began a concrete path of dialogue with the institution of a mixed commission, which brought to birth the agreement of 1990, on the day of Pentecost, a commission which continues its important work and which has brought us to significant steps on themes such as the common use of buildings of worship and cemeteries, the mutual concession of spiritual and even liturgical resources in specific pastoral situations, and the necessity to identify new forms of collaboration when faced with growing social and religious challenges”.

I wanted to recall some of the steps in these 30 years of the growing closeness between us, because I believe that on the ecumenical path it is important to look with trust to the steps that have been completed, overcoming prejudices and closed attitudes which are part of a kind of 'culture of clashes' and source of division, and giving way to a 'culture of encounter', which educates us in mutual understanding and in working towards unity. Alone however, this is impossible; our weaknesses and poverty slow the progress. For this reason, it is important to intensify our prayer. ... Prayer and commitment in order to let relationships of friendship and co-operation grow at various levels, in the clergy, among the faithful, and among the various churches born from the witness given by St Thomas. May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us and guide us towards reconciliation and harmony, overcoming all causes of division and rivalry which have marked our past”.


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, who will preside over the forthcoming meeting of the G20 group representing the world's largest economies.

In today’s highly interdependent context, a global financial framework with its own just and clear rules is required in order to achieve a more equitable and fraternal world, in which it is possible to overcome hunger, ensure decent employment and housing for all, as well as essential healthcare. Your presidency of the G20 this year has committed itself to consolidating the reform of the international financial organizations and to achieving a consensus on financial standards suited to today’s circumstances. However, the world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places.

From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.

The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the twenty most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the world’s population and ninety per cent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding. The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders”.

The Pope concluded by assuring his prayers for the successful outcome of the G20's work and asked the president to pray for him.


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) The Holy Father Francis sent a message to Fr. Fernando Millan Romeral, Prior General of the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, on the occasion of the celebration of the General Chapter.

Francis offered some words of encouragement and hope to all the members of the Order and suggested three elements that may guide them “in the full realisation” of their vocation: “allegiance to Christ, prayer and mission”.

The Pope said that in a world that often misinterprets Christ and indeed rejects Him, they are invited to draw nearer to and unite more closely with Him. “It is a continuous call to follow Christ and to abide by him. This is of vital importance in our disorientated world, 'for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim'”.

Speaking of prayer, the Pope emphasised that a Carmelite without a contemplative life was like a dead body. “Now more than ever is the moment to rediscover the inner pathway of love through prayer, and to offer to the people of today in the witness of contemplation, as through preaching and mission, not easy solutions, but the wisdom that emerges from meditating “day and night the Law of the Lord”, the Word that always leads to the glorious Cross of Christ. And, united with contemplation, austerity in life, which is not a secondary aspect of your life and your witness”. Likewise the Pontiff mentioned that there is a strong temptation to fall into the trap of spiritual worldliness, and he encouraged them to aspire to a more austere and penitent life, according to the authentic ancient Carmelite tradition.

Yours is the same mission as that of Jesus”, he continued. “Today, the mission poses sometimes arduous challenges, as the evangelical mission is not always welcomed and indeed is at times rejected with violence. We must not forget that, even if we are thrown into murky and uncharted waters, He Who calls us to His mission also gives us the courage and the strength to carry it out”.

Finally, Francis remarked, “The witness of your love and your hope, rooted in profound friendship with living God, is like a 'gentle breeze' that renews and reinvigorates your ecclesial mission in today's world”.


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) – On 13 September, vigil of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope Francis will receive in audience three thousand Dames and Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, on a pilgrimage to Rome on the occasion of the Year of Faith. They will be accompanied by the American Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order, and the pilgrimage will be preceded by an important event, the Consulta, which is convoked every five years.

The Order, of medieval origin and reconstituted by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1847, seeks to promote the spiritual growth of its members and to support the Catholic Church in the Holy land, in its broadest sense (Cyprus, Israel, the Palestinian Territory and Jordan). It has 30,000 members in 35 nations, organised in the form of Lieutenancies and Delegations. Their commitment to the Church is accompanied by the important financial support they provide, essentially destined for the institutions and works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. For example, their donations during the last decade totalled almost 100 million dollars, and were used for the construction and restoration of churches, schools and hospitals, or the support of artisanal and family businesses.

In a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office this morning, the programme of events accompanying the pilgrimage was presented by Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and Professors Agostino Borromeo, governor general of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and Ivan Rebernik, chancellor of the Order.

Cardinal O'Brien, after offering a profile of the Order, recalled that the members are “volunteers who, as such, receive no remuneration for their work but rather, on the contrary, are obliged to give an annual contribution to finance their charitable activities”, and emphasised that during recent years the Order has promoted various initiatives such as granting microcredit to small family businesses and offering study bursaries, aimed at fostering better conditions of life for Christians to encourage them not to leave their land of origin”.

Archbishop Fisichella remarked that the pilgrimage to Rome constitutes an effective witness to faith inasmuch as it is the visible sign of direct commitment to practical peace-building, especially in those lands and among the many poor and innocent who, especially at the present moment, are living in a situation of extraordinary tension and fear due to the violence that looms over them and over the entire world. … Faith does not distance itself from the responsibilities that we are all called upon to assume in relation to the world at large in our times, but on the contrary provokes and induces concrete commitment to constructing a better society”.

Professor Borromeo referred to the 2013 Consulta, which opens on 10 September and lasts three days and will be attended by members of the Grand Magisterium, the Lieutenancies and the Delegations of the 35 countries, representatives of the Secretary of States and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, will focus on the theme of the revision of the Statute. “The current text, in its overall form and in certain specific norms, no longer corresponds to the ecclesiology that has developed following Vatican Council II and to the sensibility of our times. The new draft text aims … to develop more organically the spiritual commitment of the members, to more deeply root the action of the 'peripheral structures' (the Lieutenancies and Delegations) in the life of the local Churches, and to extend the charitable activities of the Order to a broader area of the Middle East than that in which it currently operates”.

The development of the work will lead to a new draft Statute which the Cardinal Grand Master will submit to the Supreme Pontiff for approval”, he concluded.

Finally, Professor Rebernik confirmed that as well as the liturgical celebrations in various churches in the centre of Rome and in the Papal Basilicas scheduled during those days, a conference will be held by the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, and a concert will take place in the papal Basilica of St. John Lateran. The concluding Holy Mass will be celebrated in the papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno Fanizzi of Montevideo, Uruguay.

- Kiko Arguello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way.


Vatican City, 5 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msrg. Laurent Le Boulc'h of the clergy of Saint-Brieuc as bishop of Coutances et Avranches, (area 5,991, population 503,700, Catholics 410,200, priests 192, permanent deacons 39, religious 355), France. The bishop-elect was born in Loudeac, France in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Institut Catholique of Paris, and has served in the following pastoral roles: vicar of the cathedral of Saint-Brieuc, episcopal vicar for the pastoral care of the young, and head of continuing formation, and from 2005, parish priest of Lannion, where he was also head of pastoral care of Catholic schools.
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