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Thursday, September 19, 2013


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) – At midday, in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the recently appointed bishops who will participate in the congress organised by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

Francis encouraged the bishops, in the words of St. Peter, to “tend the flock of God that is in your charge”, and reminded them that “we are called and made Shepherds not by ourselves, but by the Lord, and not to serve ourselves, but rather to serve the flock entrusted to our care, to serve to the extent of offering our lives, like Christ, the Good Shepherd”.

The Pope asked what it means to “tend”, to have “ habitual and daily care” of the flock.

Three thoughts arise from this”, he explained. First, the importance of welcoming with generosity: “Your heart must be large enough to be able to welcome all the men and women you meet during your days and whom you will seek out as you walk your parishes and your communities”.

Secondly, to accompany the flock: “to walk alongside the faithful and all those who turn to you, sharing joys and hopes, difficulties and suffering, as brothers and friends, but even more so as fathers, who are able to listen, to understand, to help and to orientate”. Francis urged the bishops not to forget the affection they hold for their priests, who are those “closest to the bishop”, who mix with the faithful, who have the “smell of their sheep”, and reminded them to be humble, austere and essential in the service of their flock. “We shepherds are not men with the psychology of princes – ambitious men, who espouse this Church while awaiting another, more beautiful and richer. But this is a scandal! Imagine that a man confesses, saying, 'I am married and I live with my wife, but I continually look at a woman who is more beautiful than her; is this a sin, Father?' The Gospel tells us that this is the sin of adultery. Is there such thing as 'spiritual adultery'? I don't know, think about it yourselves. Do not await another more beautiful, more important, richer Church. Do not fall into the trap of careerism! It is a form of cancer!”

Finally, Francis referred to the importance of staying with the flock: the stability of remaining in the diocese without seeking change or promotion. He urged the bishops as far as possible to avoid being absent from their diocese, and if unavoidable, to do so for the shortest period possible and not on a regular basis. “Espouse your community, be profoundly bonded to it! I beg you, please, to stay among your people. … Avoid the scandal of being 'airport bishops'!” Francis urged the bishops to welcome their people “with affection, with mercy, with fatherly gentleness and firmness, with humility and with discretion; know how to recognise your limits, and have a good dose of humour”.


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francesco received in audience the prime minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevicius, who 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, the parties acknowledged the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Lithuania, and focused in particular on the contribution offered throughout the centuries by the Catholic Church in educational and social fields, as well as her commitment to the support of families and to improving awareness of spiritual values.

In view of the fact that the Republic of Lithuania currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, the discussions turned to various international and European matters of mutual interest. Special mention was made of the need to ensure peace in the Middle East and in particular in Syria, favouring a political solution to the crisis through dialogue and negotiation.


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a telegram, in the name of the Holy Father, to Cardinal Francisco Jose Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico and president of the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate, on the subject of Hurricane Ingrid and the tropical storm Manuel which has claimed 55 lives and left over 8000 people homeless.

His Holiness Pope Francesco, profoundly saddened by news of the dramatic consequences of Hurricane Ingrid and the tropical storm Manuel in this beloved nation, claiming victims, causing injuries and countless damage to property, and leaving many families homeless, raises fervent prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased. He asks God to grant consolation to the suffering and to encourage persons of good will to show fraternal solidarity in helping to rebuild the worst-affected areas and offering assistance to victims in their pain and despair.

The Holy Father also wishes to convey his most heartfelt condolences to the families of the departed and expresses his paternal care and spiritual closeness to the injured and homeless. He entrusts them to the maternal hands of Our Lady of Guadalupe and imparts the comfort of an apostolic blessing as a sign of affection to the beloved Mexican people, present in his heart as pastor of the Universal Church at this painful time”.


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promoting New Evangelisation, presented the “Day for Catechists” which will take place on 28 and 29 September, preceded by the International Congress for Catechists, an initiative forming part of the Year of Faith. Also participating in the press conference were Archbishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas and Msgr. Graham Bell, respectively secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and under-secretary of the same dicastery.

Among the competencies of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, since its inception charged with the promotion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, jurisdiction over all the catechesis has recently been added”, said Archbishop Fisichella. “This is a considerable task, especially if we consider the strong bond, from the time of the Council, between catechesis and evangelisation, the former serving as a kind of qualificatory stage of the latter”.

He announced the launch, in the coming weeks, of a free application for tablets and smartphones, “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, which “will allow users to have to hand both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium, and will enable easy consultation of the texts and biblical references, and a search facility for the terms in question and reference texts, with the possibility of sharing them via Facebook, Twitter, and other sites”.

The first part of this event will be dedicated to the International Council for Catechesis, which will take place on 25 September. The task of this Council will be the study of the most important questions of catechesis to favour a unitary service for the Episcopal Conferences and to enable an exchange of experiences. The Council, instituted by Paul VI in 1973, was renewed on 1 October 2012 and its first task will be to study the state of catechesis in the world during this last decade, and to plan new commitments deriving from its new link to evangelisation”.

This will be followed by the International Congress for Catechesis which will take place in the Paul VI Hall from 26 to 28 September and will focus above all on the first part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the theme of faith. During these days, which will see the participation of a total of 1,600 people, made up of 104 delegations from 50 countries, there will be presentations by speakers from various academic centres. The culminating moment will be Pope Francis catechesis at 5 p.m. on Friday, 27 September.

The third stage in the event, from 28 to 29 September, will be dedicated to pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter, and catechesis united to the moment of the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration. “Fourteen bishops will offer the catechesis in various languages”, explained Archbishop Fisichella. “Owing to the large number of participants, and to reduce difficulties in the city, we have organised the catechesis in the churches around St. Peter's, divided into linguistic groups; the foreign language catecheses will take place in the morning, whereas the Italian groups will be held in the afternoon. Many parishes and centres are arranging to come to Rome autonomously in those days. … The Pope will celebrate the Holy Eucharist on Sunday at 10.30 p.m., which will be followed by the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square”.

The event in its entirety will take as its theme, 'The catechist, witness of faith'. Many, indeed, are called to take on the great responsibility in this phase of the transmission of the faith, and know that the witness of life is the most meaningful element in the credibility of their mission”.


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.


Vatican City, 19 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Pedro Ramiro Lopez, I.V.E., as the ecclesiastical Superior of the Missio sui iuris of Tajikistan (area 143,100, population 7,477,000, Catholics 350, priests 4, religious 12). Fr. Ramiro Lopez was born in San Rafael, Argentina in 1978 and was ordained a priest in 2003. He succeeds Fr. Carlos Avila, of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, whose resignation from the same office was accepted by the Holy Father.
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