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Thursday, October 3, 2013


Vatican City, 3 October 2013 (VIS) - “Looking at our current situation, I wonder if we have learnt the lessons of 'Pacem in terris'. I ask myself whether the words 'justice' and 'solidarity' exist only in our dictionary, or if we indeed all work towards making them a reality”, said the Pope, in an address to participants in the meeting promoted by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” to commemorate fifty years since the publication of the encyclical of the future saint John XXIII.

Pace in terris” (“Peace on earth”), as Francis noted, was written in the most critical period of the Cold War, when humanity feared finding itself at the brink of a worldwide atomic conflict due to the protracted confrontation between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. With this encyclical, John XXIII launched a dramatic appeal for peace to world leaders. “It was a cry to mankind, but also a plea to Heaven. The dialogue that opened, with some difficulty, between the two great opposing blocs led them to overcome this phase during the pontificate of the other blessed pope, John Paul II, and to open up space for freedom and dialogue. The seeds of peace sown by blessed John XXIII bore fruit but, despite the fall of walls and barriers, the world continues to hunger for peace and the appeal made in 'Pacem in terris' retains a powerful current relevance”.

John XXIII's encyclical confirms that the foundation for building peace consists in “the divine origin of the human being, of society and authority, which requires individuals, families, the various social groups and States to live in relations based on justice and solidarity. It is therefore the task of all men to build peace, following Jesus Christ's example, and by two routes: the promotion and practice of justice … and by contributing … to full human development, according to the logic of solidarity”.

The consequence of looking to the divine origin of the person, of society and of authority itself is none other than “the value of the person, the dignity of each human being, always to be promoted, respected and protected. And as blessed John XXIII states, these are not only the principal civil and political rights to be guaranteed; every person should also be granted effective access to essential means of subsistence: food, water, shelter, healthcare, education and the possibility of forming and supporting a family. These aims should be an absolute priority for national and international action, and their fulfilment sets the parameters by which such action may be judged. Lasting peace for all depends on this”.

Certainly, the encyclical states objectives and elements that are now form part of our way of thinking”, stated the Pope, “but it remains to be asked: do they correspond to reality? Fifty years on, do they find confirmation in the development of our societies?”.

'Pacem in terris' does not intend to state that it is the Church's task to give concrete directions on themes that, in their complexity, should be left open to free discussion. On political, economic and social matters there is not the dogma to indicate practical solutions, but rather to favour dialogue, listening, patience, respect for others, sincerity and also willingness to revise one's opinion. The basic aim of John XXIII's call for peace in 1962 was to orientate international debate according to these virtues”.

The fundamental principles of the encyclical may be applied to a series of new current situations, including those under analysis in these days by the participants in the meeting organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”: education, the influence of mass media communication, access to the earth's resources, the application of the results of biological research, the arms race, and national and international security measures. “The worldwide economic crisis, which is a serious symptom of the lack of respect for man and for the truth with which decisions have been made by governments and by citizens, provides us with clear evidence. 'Pacem in terris' traces a direct line from the peace that is to be constructed in the heart of mankind to a rethinking of our model of development and action at all levels, in order that our world become a world of peace. I wonder”, concluded Francis, “if we are ready to accept the invitation”.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope spoke about the tragic shipwreck this morning near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The stricken boat was carrying over three hundred immigrants, of whom more than 90 lost their lives and approximately 250 are still missing.

Speaking of peace, speaking of the inhuman worldwide economic crisis, which is a serious symptom of the lack of respect for mankind, I cannot neglect to mention with great suffering the many victims of yet another tragic shipwreck today in the sea of Lampedusa. The word shame springs to mind. Shame! Let us pray together for those who have lost their lives – men, women, children, for their families and for all refugees. Let us unite our strength in order that there be no more tragedies of this type! Only decisive collaboration by all of us can help to prevent this”.


Vatican City, 3 October 2013 (VIS) – The reform of the Curia and the attribution of of more incisive role to the laity were among the principal themes considered yesterday afternoon and this morning in the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, instituted by the Pope to assist him in the governance of the Church, said the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., in a briefing with journalists.

Before commenting on the issues discussed by the cardinals, Fr. Lombardi referred to the words of the Pope at the end of the audience with participants in the meeting held to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of John XXIII's encyclical, “Pacem in terris”, in which he recalled the victims, currently numbered at 90, of the shipwreck this morning near the Italian island of Lampedusa. “In the light of this new tragedy”, he said, “we understand more clearly the value and meaning of the first trip of Francis' pontificate”.

Moving on to the work of the Council of Cardinals, he stated that the Pope was present yesterday in the afternoon session, held between 4 and 7 p.m. “The Holy Father goes to pray at the Chapel at seven o'clock, and that is the end of their collaboration, although the the cardinals may join him together, if they see fit. This morning he was not present as he received in audience the participants in the meeting organised by the Pontifical Council 'Justice and Peace'”.

The cardinals worked principally on the reform of the Curia. “The direction of their work would not indicate an updating of the apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus', with retouches and marginal modifications”, explained Lombardi, “but rather, a new constitution with significant new aspects. It will be necessary to wait a reasonable amount of time following this Council, but the idea is this. The cardinals have made it clear that they do not intend to make cosmetic retouches or minor modifications to 'Pastor bonus'”.

The intention of the cardinals is to emphasise the nature of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local church “in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralised power. The intended direction would be to put this into practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions”.

Another important theme was the nature and functions of the Secretariat of State, which “should be the secretariat of the Pope; the word State should not give rise to doubt. This body serves the Pope in the governance of the universal Church. The meeting of the Council is very useful at the moment, in view of the directions the Pope will give to the new Secretary of State, who will assume his role shortly, on 15 October”.

Again in relation to the Curia, the Council will address the matter of relations between the heads of the dicasteries and the Pope, and co-ordination between the various bodies. “In this context, mention was made of the role of a 'Moderator Curiae' (moderator for the Curia), and the functions of such a figure. The issue was touched upon but no decision has been made as to whether it will form part of the new constitution; however, it is in fact one of the hypotheses suggested by the Council”.

With regard to a possible reorganisation of the administration of temporal goods, the cardinals touched upon this matter but without exploring the theme in depth, since they are awaiting the “reports of the referring commissions on the matter, who will communicate the results of their work [to the Council]”.

The question of the laity merited “significant attention” from Council members, as they had received many suggestions and questions on this subject from their various areas of origin. “When dealing with the reform of the curia and its institutions, the Council also plans to give more specific attention to issues relating to the laity, so that this dimension of the life of the Church is properly and effectively recognised and followed by the governance of the Church. Now there is a Pontifical Council for the Laity, but it is still possible to think of ways of strengthening this aspect”.

This morning, in view of the preparations for the next Synod, debate on the matter was reopened.

Finally, Lombardi said that yesterday no date had been set for the next meeting of the Council, although mention was made of a meeting in spring next year, of an informal nature. “The intention”, he concluded, “is to continue, without waiting for too long. Also, it would be incorrect to assume that nothing happens between one meeting and another; the cardinals and the Pope continue to exchange opinions and messages, even in the absence of a plenary meeting of the Council”.


Vatican City, 3 October 2013 (VIS) – Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, spoke during the general debate of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on 1 October. Archbishop Mamberti expressed his wish that the session of the General Assembly be inspired by the same spirit of universal solidarity that animated the day of prayer for peace convoked by Pope Francis on 7 September, “so that all nations take decisive steps towards the resolution of open conflicts and to heal the wounds of humanity”.

Focusing on the establishment of new and appropriate objectives for 2015, the archbishop commented, with reference to G20, “if we wish to guarantee the future achievement of common objectives for development after 2015, it is urgent to draw up international judicial mechanisms enabling the participation of all States in the conception and implementation of major joint economic decisions”. Similarly, Mamberti referred to the Pope's recent letter to the G20 leaders, who met in St. Petersburg in September, in which he emphasised the responsibility of the international community with regard to Syria, and appealed to leaders to “find ways to overcome the various oppositions and to abandon any vain pretext for a military solution”.

Archbishop Mamberti commented that the tragedy in Syria constituted a challenge and an opportunity for the United Nations to give new vigour to its organs, mechanisms and procedures in a concerted, creative and positive way. “A peaceful and lasting solution to the Syrian conflict would set a significant precedent for this century, paving the way to facing other conflicts that the international community has not yet managed to resolve, would greatly facilitate the inclusion of the principle of 'responsibility to protect' in the United Nations Charter, and from the more general perspective of economic and social development, would be the clearest and most evident manifestation of the wish to embark, with honesty and efficacy, on a path of sustainable development after 2015”.
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