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Friday, September 20, 2013


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Porfirio Lobo Sosa, president of the Republic of Honduras, 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 cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between Honduras and the Holy See, and for the gift of a statue of Nuestra Senora de Suyapa, national patron, offered to the Pontiff by the Head of State and displayed in the Vatican Gardens. Emphasis was given to the Church's valuable contribution within the country, especially in the fields of education and healthcare, as well as in charitable works to combat poverty and organised crime.

The discussions then turned to themes of an ethical nature such as the defence of human life and the family, and the importance of continuing efforts in favour of reconciliation and the common good.


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francesco received in audience János Áder, president of Hungary, 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 cordial discussions, in which Hungary’s long Christian tradition was emphasised, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Parties and the fruitful collaboration between the Catholic Church and the State, also upheld by current Agreements.

The discussions then turned to the international situation, especially the persistent consequences in Europe of the international economic crisis, as well as the need to confront related ethical and social matters. In this context, mention was made of the Hungarian government’s commitment in favour of life and the family.

Finally, the Parties considered matters of common interest such as the protection of Creation and the commitment to peace and religious freedom, paying particular attention to the situation in Syria and the problems faced by Christians in the Middle East, and expressing their hope that the path of dialogue and negotiation may be pursued with decision, in order to bring about a rapid end to the conflict.


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – Today the Pope met with members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and Catholic gynaecologists, and spoke of the current paradoxical situation of the medical profession. “On the one hand we see progress in the field of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who passionately and unreservedly dedicate themselves to the search for new cures. On the other hand, however, we also encounter the risk that doctors lose sight of their identity in the service of life”. He referred to the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate to explain that this paradoxical situation is seen also in the fact that, “while new rights are attributed to or indeed almost presumed by the individual, life is not always protected as the primary value and the primordial right of every human being. The ultimate aim of medicine remains the defence and promotion of life”. Faced with this contradictory situation, the Pope renewed the Church's appeal to the conscience of all healthcare professionals and volunteers, especially gynaecologists. “Yours is a singular vocation and mission, which necessitates study, conscience and humanity”, he said.

Again, Francis spoke of the “throwaway culture” that leads to the elimination of human beings, especially those who are physically and socially weakest. “Our response to this mentality is a 'yes' to life, decisive and without hesitation. 'The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are precious, but this one is fundamental – the condition for all the others'”.

Reiterating that in recent times, human life in its entirety has become a priority for the Magisterium of the Church, the Pope emphasised that “goods have a price and can be sold, but people have dignity, they are worth more than goods and have no price”.

Francis asked those present to “bear witness to and disseminate this 'culture of life' … remind all, through actions and words, that in all its phases and at any age, life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science! There is no human life more sacred than another, just as there exists no human life qualitatively more meaningful than another”.


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has granted a lengthy interview, published in the Italian Jesuit magazine “La Civilta Cattolica” and simultaneously in another sixteen magazines linked to the Society of Jesus throughout the world. The interview was the result of three private meetings and more than six hours of discussion between the Pope and the editor of “La Civilta Cattolica”, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, during the month of August at the Santa Marta guesthouse.

In the interview, more than thirty pages long, the Pope talks frankly about himself, his artistic and literary tastes (Dostoyevski and Holderlin, Borges and Cervantes, Caravaggio and Chagall, but also Fellini's “La Strada”, Rossellini, “Babette's Feast”, Mozart, and Wagner's “Tetralogy”), and his experience in the Society of Jesus and as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He defines himself as “a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

Referring to his period as Provincial in the Society of Jesus, he says, “My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative”. However, as archbishop this experience helped him to understand the importance of listening to the viewpoints of others. “I believe that consultation is very important. The consistories, the synods are, for example, important places to make real and active this consultation. We must, however, give them a less rigid form”.

He also talks about how his Jesuit training, and the process of discernment in particular, have enabled him to better face his ministry. “For example, many think that changes and reforms can take place in a short time. I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change. … The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”

For the Pope, the Church nowadays is most in need of “the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up. The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you! … Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent”.

With reference to complex questions such as homosexuality or the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics, he insists on the need to “always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy”.

The Pope added that “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent” and “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. … We have to find a new balance. … The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow”.

Reflecting on the role of women in the Church, he reiterated that “the feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church”.

Another theme considered during the interview was the importance of the Vatican Council II as “a re-reading of the Gospel in light of contemporary culture,” says the Pope. “Vatican II produced a renewal movement that simply comes from the same Gospel. Its fruits are enormous. Just recall the liturgy. The work of liturgical reform has been a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation. Yes, there are hermeneutics of continuity and discontinuity, but one thing is clear: the dynamic of reading the Gospel, actualising its message for today – which was typical of Vatican II – is absolutely irreversible”.

In the final passages of the interview, Francis spoke of the “temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future”, and remarked that “God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today. For this reason, complaining never helps us find God. The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is – these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the Church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defence. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today”.

The full text of the interview can be found the online editions of American Magazine (www.americanmagazine.org) and the UK-based Thinking Faith (www.thinkingfaith.org).


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office, with the participation of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Helen Alvare, professor of law, and Francesco D'Agostino, an Italian jurist, to present the international work-conference on “The Rights of the Family and the Challenges of the Contemporary World”, scheduled to take place from 19 to 21 September.

In his address, Archbishop Paglia described the family as the subject of rights which are strictly related to the rights of the individual; “indeed, the family is a communion of persons, and its self-realisation depends to a significant degree on the correct application of the rights of those who compose this unit. Some of these rights are directly related to the family, such as the right of parents to responsible procreation and the education of their offspring; other rights, instead, relate to the nuclear family only indirectly”.

The archbishop emphasised that the Charter of the Rights of the Family, thirty years after its publication, is unfortunately still a “little-known document”, despite being “a prophetic appeal in favour of the institution of the family, which should be respected and defended from all forms of usurpation”. He added that the Pontifical Council wished to convene an international conference, linked to the Association of Italian Catholic Jurists, to “return to the inspiration for these principles. It is true that we find ourselves in a new cultural context that questions the institution of the family even more radically than in the past. But the validity of the principles gathered and ordered in the Charter stands firm to this day”.


Vatican City, 20 September 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Donald J. Kettler as bishop of Saint Cloud (area 31,730, population 559,865, Catholics 142,042, priests 216, permanent deacons 52, religious 637), U.S.A. Bishop Kettler, previously bishop of Fairbanks, U.S.A., was born in Minneapolis, U.S.A., in 1944, was ordained to the priesthood in 1970, and received episcopal ordination in 2002. He succeeds Bishop John F. Kinney, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, upon having reached the age limit, was accepted by Holy Father.

- appointed Archbishop Roger Lawrence Schwietz, O.M.I., of Anchorage, U.S.A., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Fairbanks (U.S.A.).

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Wewak, Papua New Guinea, presented by Bishop Anthony Joseph Burgess upon having reached the age limit, appointing Archbishop Stephen Joseph Reichert , O.F.M. Cap. of Madang as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Wewak.
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