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Monday, September 16, 2013


Vatican City, 16 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning, following the usual morning Mass at Santa Marta, the Holy Father proceeded to the Basilica of St. John Lateran to meet with the Clergy of Rome.

In preparation for the meeting and to meet the Pope's request, Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini circulated among the priests of the diocese of Rome a reflection on priestly identity in the light of the Aparecida Document presented by the then Cardinal Bergoglio during the Fifth Conference of Latin American Bishops.

In the paper, the then archbishop of Buenos Aires discussed how in Aparecida one became aware of changing times, “not in the many partial ways that anyone might find in the daily actions one performs, but rather in the meaning that gives unity to all that exists”.

The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.

In the document, Bergoglio presents the mission as a proposal and challenge in the face of these changes, and encourages the pastor to be “an ardent missionary who lives the constant desire to seek out the remote, not content with simple administration”, and reiterates that “a transformation in pastoral action and a consequent transforming pastoral action can only occur when mediated by the interior transformation of the agents of pastoral care and the members of the community they form. … To become once again a Church driven by evangelical momentum and audacity, we must again become faithful and evangelised disciples”.


Vatican City, 15 September 2013 (VIS) – At midday today Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in a St. Peter's Square full of umbrellas owing to the heavy rainfall in the capital this morning. The Pope commented on today's Gospel reading which contained the three parables of mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the story of the prodigal son.

All these three parables”, he said, “speak of the joy of God. God is joyful! The joy of God is the joy of forgiveness. … It is the joy of the shepherd who finds his lost sheep; the joy of the woman who finds her lost coin; the joy of the father who welcomes home his lost son. ... This is all the Gospel, here; this is Christianity! But this is not sentimentalism or bland 'do-goodism'; … on the contrary, mercy is the true force that can save man and the world from the 'cancer' of sin, from moral and spiritual malaise. Only love can fill the gaps, the negative abysses that evil opens up in our hearts and in history. Only love can do this, and this is the joy of God. … Each one of us is that lost sheep, that lost coin; each one of us is the lost son who has squandered his freedom following false idols, mirages of happiness, and has lost everything”.

But God does not forget us, our Father never abandons us. He is a patient father, he always awaits us! He respects our freedom, but always remains faithful. And when we return to Him, He welcomes us as His children, in His house, because He never ceases to wait for us, not even for a moment, with love. And His heart rejoices for every son who returns. It is a celebration, as it is joy. God is joyful when each sinner returns to Him and asks his forgiveness”.

The danger is that we presume we are right, and so judge others”, continued the Pope. “We also judge God, as we think He should punish sinners and condemn them to death, instead of forgiving them. This way we risk remaining outside our Father's house, like the elder brother in the parable, who instead of rejoicing in his brother's return, is angry with his father for welcoming him and celebrating. If there is no mercy in our hearts, if we do not experience the joy of forgiveness, we are not in communion with God, even if we observe all the commandments, because it is love that saves, not the simple observance of rules. It is in love for God and for our neighbour that the commandments are fulfilled”.

If we live according to the law of 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth', we will never escape from the spiral of evil. The devil is cunning; he deludes us that with our human justice we can save ourselves and the world. In reality, only God's justice can save us! It is God's justice that is revealed to us on the Cross: the Cross is God's judgement on us and on the world. But how does God judge us? By giving His life for us! Here is the supreme act of justice that defeats the Prince of this world once and for all; and this supreme act of justice is precisely also the supreme act of mercy. Jesus calls all of us to follow this path: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful'”.

Francis concluded by asking all those present to think of “a person we aren't happy with, someone we are angry with, someone we don't like. Let us think about that person and, in silence, for a moment, let us pray for that person and become merciful towards them”.


Vatican City, 15 September 2013 (VIS) – After today's Angelus the Pope spoke about the beatification in Argentina yesterday of “the gaucho priest” Fr. Brochero, who, “driven by the love of Christ, dedicated himself entirely to his flock, leading them all into God's Kingdom, with immense mercy and zeal. … He stayed alongside the people and encouraged many to perform the spiritual exercises. He travelled kilometres and kilometres through the mountains on his mule, named 'Uglyface' on account of her unfortunate appearance. He even ventured out in the rain, and was courageous. At the end of his life, Blessed Fr. Brochero was blind and a leper, but full of joy, the joy of the Good Shepherd, the joy of the merciful Shepherd”.

I wish to share in the joy of the Church in Argentina for the beatification of this exemplary pastor who, atop his mule, indefatigably travelled the arid paths of his parish, going from door to door seeking the parishioners entrusted to him to lead them to God. We ask Christ, by the intercession of the new Blessed, that there be a proliferation of priests who, like Fr. Brochero, dedicate their lives to evangelisation, on both knees before the Cross, and bearing witness everywhere to God's love and mercy.

Finally, the Pope recalled that today sees the conclusion in Turin of the Italian Catholics' Social Week, on the theme of “Family, hope and future for Italian society” and greeted all the participants, commending them for the commitment of the Church in Italy with and for families, which constitutes “a powerful stimulus for the institutions and for the country as a whole”.


Vatican City, 14 September 2013 (VIS) – The Argentine priest Fr. Jose Gabriel Brochero (1840-1914), “the gaucho priest”, and one of the nation's most popular figures, was beatified today in Cordoba. Brochero, who became known for the assistance he gave to the sick and dying during the cholera epidemic that blighted Cordoba in 1867, was appointed in 1869 as vicar of the department of San Alberto, now Valle Traslasierra. There, travelling from village to village by mule, he took care of the needs of its inhabitants, building churches, chapels and schools, and with the aid of the peasants, opened up paths and passages through the mountains. In his old age he became deaf and blind as a result of the leprosy he contracted through living in close contact with those who were afflicted with the disease.

On the occasion of his beatification, the Holy Father addressed a letter to Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe, president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, ample extracts from which we publish here below:

That Fr. Brochero finally joins the blesseds is a great joy and a blessing for the Argentine people and for devotees of this shepherd who had the smell of his sheep, who became poor among the poor, who always fought to stay close to God and to the people, who did and continues to do so much good, bringing God's loving caress to our suffering people. I imagine the good priest Brochero on his mule … travelling along the barren and desolate roads of the two hundred square kilometres that made up his parish, searching for your great-grandparents, your great-great-grandparents, to ask if they needed anything and to invite them to do the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He knew every corner of the parish. He did not stay in the sacristy combing his sheep”.

Fr. Brochero brought Jesus to each family. He would visit them with an image of the Virgin and a prayer book with the Word of God, the things he needed to celebrate Mass each day. They would invite him around to chat, and Brochero would talk to them in a way that everyone understood, that came from his heart, his faith and the love he had for Jesus”.

This beatification is very important for today's pastoral care. Fr. Brochero embodied the current relevance of the Gospel, he was a pioneer who went out to the geographical and existential peripheries to bring the love and mercy of God to all. He did not stay in the parish office, but instead pressed on, ranging through the parish atop his mule, becoming ill with leprosy, seeking his flock, bringing faith to the street. This is what Jesus wants today: missionary disciples who take faith out onto the streets! Brochero was a normal man, fragile, like each of us, but he knew the love of Jesus … he learned how to leave behind the petty selfishness we all have, overcoming his own weakness, defeating with the help of God the inner forces the devil uses to bind us to comfort. … Brochero listened to the call of God and chose sacrifice for the good of His kingdom, for the common good that the enormous dignity deserved by every person, as a child of God, and was faithful to the very end, continuing to pray and celebrate Mass, even as a blind leper”.

Let us allow Brochero to enter today, mule and all, into the homes of our hearts, inviting us to prayer, to the encounter with Jesus; let him deliver us from our bondage so that we too might go out to seek our brother, to touch the flesh of Christ in those who suffer and who need God's love”.


Vatican City, 14 September 2013 (VIS) – Walk, build and confess. Pope Francis indicated this itinerary – the same one he proposed at the beginning of his ministry – to members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre participating in a pilgrimage to Rome to mark the Year of Faith, during his audience with them on Friday afternoon in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

The pilgrimage, he said, to explain the first term, is a symbol of human and Christian life and “each one of us may be a 'vagrant' or a 'pilgrim'. In our time, we see many people who are 'vagrants', who are deprived of an ideal in life and often incapable of finding meaning in the events of the world. In pilgrimage you give the sign that you do not wish to be vagrants. Your path is a part of history, in a world where boundaries are ever-expanding, many barriers fall and our paths are tied ever more closely to those of others. Be witnesses to deeper meaning, to the light faith brings; know how to preserve the great wealth of values, of past wisdom, while intensely living in the present, committed to today's world and looking to the future, opening horizons of hope through your work in order to give a more human face to society”.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has a history dating back almost a thousand years; yours is one of the most ancient welfare and charitable Orders still active today. … Building with charity, compassion and love”, continued Francis, emphasising that the pilgrimage has a charitable aim, to benefit the inhabitants of the Holy Land, especially those most in need and who “are living through moments of suffering, tension and fear, and also our Christian brothers who suffer greatly. I greet and embrace them with great affection; to all, Christian and otherwise, I assure my daily prayer”.

However, their constructive path stems from “confessing the faith ever more profoundly, and grows from the continual commitment to nurturing your spiritual life, from permanent formation for an ever more genuine and coherent Christian life. This is an important point for each one of you and for the entire Order … the profession of faith and the witness of charity are closely connected and are the strengths and qualifying aspects of your action”.

An ancient bond links you to the Holy Sepulchre, the perennial memorial of Christ crucified who was laid there, and of the Risen Christ who vanquished death. May Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, be truly at the centre of your existence and of every personal and collaborative project. Believe in the redemptive power of the Cross and of the Resurrection, to offer hope and peace. The Land of Jesus is in particular need! Faith does not distance us from the responsibilities we are called to assume, but on the contrary triggers and drives us towards concrete effort to build a better society”.


Vatican City, 16 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

On Saturday, 14 September the Holy Father received in audience:

- Kiril Liubomirov Topalov, ambassador of Bulgaria to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence.

- Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

- Hisashi Hieda, president of the Japan Art Association and the Praemium Imperiale of the Arts, with his wife and entourage.

- William Kloter, major of the Swiss Guard, on his farewell visit.


Vatican City, 16 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Paul Pallath as relator to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Msgr. Pallath was formerly head of the office dealing with procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination, at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

On Saturday, 14 September the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Bafoussam, Cameroon, presented by Bishop Gabriel Simo, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza as bishop of San Carlos (area 3,041, population 979,000, Catholics 867,000, priests 70, religious 88), Philippines. Bishop Alminaza, previously auxiliary of Jaro, was born in San Jose, Philippines in 1959, was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2008.
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