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Monday, October 14, 2013


Vatican City, 14 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. “In our time we often encounter an attitude of indifference towards faith, which is no longer considered relevant to human life”, he said. “It is important that we Christians demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as at the beginning of the Church's path: why live like this? What is the impetus for our actions? These are questions which lead us to the heart of evangelisation, which is the witness of faith and charity”.

Pope Francis remarked that many people have drifted away from the Church, and in this situation “there is a need for Christians who help show God's mercy and tenderness towards every creature”. He went on to emphasise the importance of encounter, of seeking out and going towards “those who have lost their faith and the deeper meaning of life. … The Church”, he emphasised, “is sent to reawaken everywhere this hope, especially where it is suffocated by difficult and at times inhuman existential conditions, where hope cannot breathe. … We need the oxygen of the Gospel, the breath of the Spirit of the Risen Christ, to reignite [hope] in our hearts. The Church is the house where the doors are always open not only to welcome everyone in to breathe love and hope, but also so we can take this love and hope outside”.

The Pope, in this way, explained that “in the Church, this is not left to chance or improvisation”. Commitment is necessary in the diocese and in the parish to catechesis as a moment of evangelisation. He recalled that many times, for instance, he has encountered children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross, and remarked that the work of catechists is a valuable service to new evangelisation, while emphasising that parents should be “the first catechists, the first educators in faith in their own families, by their witness and by their words”.


Vatican City, 13 October 2013 (VIS) – More than one hundred thousand people attended the Holy Mass in St. Peter's Square this morning, celebrated by the Holy Father Francis before the statue of the Virgin of Fatima, on the occasion of the Marian Day. The Pope's homily focused on three points: God surprises us, He asks our fidelity, and He is our strength. It is Mary who helps us to say “yes” to God every day.

We offer here below a broad synthesis of the homily.

In the Psalm we recite, 'Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things'. Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator. Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: God surprises us, God asks us to be faithful, and God is our strength.

First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is striking. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not … demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the water of the river … in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised and perplexed. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple? He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed. ... God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.

This was also the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realising that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth: not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: … God always surprises us, he overturns our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!

Today let us all ask ourselves: Do I fear what God might ask of me, or what he does ask of me? Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own security, in my plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I respond to him?

In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: Remember Jesus Christ: if we persevere with him, we will also reign with him. This is the second thing: to remember Christ always and to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he asks us to be faithful in following him. Think of all the times we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but then, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have taken on. Often it is easy enough to say 'yes', but then we fail to repeat this 'yes' each and every day.

Mary said her 'yes' to God: a 'yes' which upset her simple life in Nazareth, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt 'yes' at moments of both joy and sorrow, culminating in the 'yes' she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son on the cross.

Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? The culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday actions. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength.

The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. … They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice. Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. To know how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.

Let us look to Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: 'My soul magnifies the Lord' – the Magnificat, a canticle of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he has done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift; if we were able to understand that everything is a gift from God, how much happiness there would be in our hearts! He is our strength. Saying 'thank you' is so easy, and yet so hard! How often do we say 'thank you' to one another in our families? It is one of the key words of co-existence. How often do we say 'please', 'I'm sorry', 'thank you', to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? Often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to go to the Lord to ask for help, but to give thanks to Him … 'Ah, it didn't occur to me...'.

As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength”.

At the culmination of the ceremony the Pope consecrated the world to the Virgin of Fatima. “Teach us your love, especially for the minor and the poor, the marginalised and the suffering, for sinners and for those who have gone astray”.


Vatican City, 13 October 2013 (VIS) - We publish below the full text of Pope Francis' video message, broadcast at the beginning of the beatification ceremony for 522 twentieth-century Spanish martyrs, which took place in Tarragona, Spain.

I would like to express my heartfelt participation in the celebration taking place in Tarragona in which a great number of pastors, consecrated persons and lay faithful are being proclaimed Blessed martyrs.

Who are the martyrs? They are Christians won over by Christ, disciples who have understood fully the path to that “love to the extreme limit” that led Jesus to the Cross. There is no such thing as love in consignments or in portions. Total love: and when one loves truly, one loves to the very end. On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but He entrusted Himself entirely to the Father, and He forgave. He barely uttered a word, but He gave His life. Christ precedes and awaits us in love; the martyrs imitated Him in loving to the very end.

The Holy Fathers say, 'Imitate the martyrs!' It is always necessary to die a little in order to come out of ourselves, to leave behind our selfishness, our comfort, our laziness, our sadness, and to open ourselves to God, and to others, especially those most in need.

We implore the intercession of the martyrs in order to be true Christians, Christians not only in words but in deeds; so as not to be mediocre Christians, Christians painted with a superficial gloss of Christianity but without substance; the martyrs were not glossed and painted Christians, they were were Christians to the very end. Let us ask their help to stay firm in faith, in spite of difficulties, and let us too nurture hope and be architects of brotherhood and solidarity.

And I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless them and the Holy Virgin protect them”.


Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – At 5 p.m. this afternoon, in St. Peter's Square, the Marian Day was celebrated as part of the Year of Faith. The event began an hour before, with the procession around the square of the original statue of the Virgin of Fatima, which had been transported by air from Portugal and which Pope Francis had welcomed at the entrance of the Basilica. More than one hundred thousand people attended the event.

Following the address by the president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the statue of the Virgin was enthroned and, after the Marian prayer, in the form of the Via Matris, the Holy Father gave his catechesis in which he explained that Mary is the path that leads us to Jesus. “Mary is a woman of faith, a true believer”; he said. “But we can ask: What was Mary’s faith like?”

Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin”, he continued. “What does that mean? The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council used a phrase of Saint Irenaeus, who states that 'the knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith'”.

When we do not listen to God and do not follow his will, “we do concrete things that demonstrate our lack of trust in him – for that is what sin is – and a kind of knot is created deep within us. These knots take away our peace and serenity. … But we know one thing: nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by his grace. And Mary, whose 'yes' opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy. … All the knots of our heart, every knot of our conscience, can be undone”.

Mary’s faith “gave human flesh to Jesus. As the Council says: 'Through her faith and obedience, she gave birth on earth to the very Son of the Father, without knowing man but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit'. ... Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said 'yes' to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her 'yes'.

But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his Word. … Believing in Jesus means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst. It means giving him our hands, to caress the little ones and the poor; our feet, to go forth and meet our brothers and sisters; our arms, to hold up the weak and to work in the Lord’s vineyard, our minds, to think and act in the light of the Gospel; and especially to offer our hearts to love and to make choices in accordance with God’s will”.

The third element is “Mary’s faith as a journey. The Council says that Mary 'advanced in her pilgrimage of faith'. In this way she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us. … Her entire life was to follow her Son: He – Jesus – is the way, He is the path! To press forward in faith, to advance in the spiritual pilgrimage which is faith, is nothing other than to follow Jesus; to listen to Him and be guided by His words; to see how He acts and to follow in His footsteps; to have His same sentiments. And what are these sentiments of Jesus? Humility, mercy, closeness to others, but also a firm rejection of hypocrisy, duplicity and idolatry. The way of Jesus is the way of a love which is faithful to the end, even unto sacrificing one’s life; it is the way of the cross”.

For Him, the journey of faith “passes through the cross. Mary understood this from the beginning. … Mary was always with Jesus, she followed Jesus in the midst of the crowds and she heard all the gossip and the hatefulness of those who opposed the Lord. And she carried this cross! Mary’s faith encountered misunderstanding and contempt. When Jesus’ 'hour' came, the hour of his passion, Mary’s faith was a little flame burning in the night, a little light flickering in the darkness. Through the night of Holy Saturday, Mary kept watch. Her flame, small but bright, remained burning until the dawn of the resurrection. And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Faith always brings us to joy, and Mary is the Mother of joy! May she teach us to take the path of joy, to experience this joy!”

The Holy Father concluded, “This evening, Mother, we thank you for our faith, the faith of a strong and humble woman; we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith”.


Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – Following the Marian ceremony in St. Peter's Square, the effigy of the Virgin of Fatima was transported by helicopter to the Roman Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love.

At 7.30 p.m., various Marian sanctuaries throughout the world connected with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love to pray the Rosary and to participate in the prayer vigil “With Mary beyond the Night”, which concluded at dawn with the traditional pilgrimage to the shrine.

Pope Francis sent a video message, broadcast before the prayer of the Rosary, the full text of which is given below.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet all the pilgrims present in this Shrine of Divine Love, and all those who join us from the Marian shrines of Lourdes, Nazareth, Lujan, Vailankanni, Guadalupe, Akita, Nairobi, Benneux, Częstochowa and Marian Valley.

This evening I am united to all of you in praying the Holy Rosary and in Eucharistic adoration under the gaze of the Virgin Mary.

Mary’s gaze! How important this is! How many things can we say with a look! Affection, encouragement, compassion, love, but also disapproval, envy, pride and even hatred. Often a look says more than words; it says what words do not or dare not say.

At whom is the Virgin Mary looking? She is looking at each and every one of us. And how does she look at us? She looks at us as a Mother, with tenderness, mercy and love. That was how she gazed at her Son Jesus at all the moments of his life – joyful, luminous, sorrowful, glorious – as we contemplate in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, simply and lovingly.

When we are weary, downcast, beset with cares, let us look to Mary, let us feel her gaze, which speaks to our heart and says: 'Courage, my child, I am here to help you!'. Our Lady knows us well, she is a Mother, she is familiar with our joys and difficulties, our hopes and disappointments. When we feel the burden of our failings and our sins, let us look to Mary, who speaks to our hearts, saying: 'Arise, go to my Son Jesus; in him you will find acceptance, mercy and new strength for the journey'.

Mary’s gaze is not directed towards us alone. At the foot of the Cross, when Jesus entrusted to her the Apostle John, and with him all of us, in the words: 'Woman, here is your son', the gaze of Mary was fixed on Jesus. Mary says to us what she said at the wedding feast of Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you'. Mary points to Jesus, she asks us to bear witness to Jesus, she constantly guides us to her Son Jesus, because in Him alone do we find salvation. He alone can change the water of our loneliness, difficulties and sin into the wine of encounter, joy and forgiveness. He alone.

'Blessed is she who believed!' Mary is blessed for her faith in God, for her faith, because her heart’s gaze was always fixed on God, the Son of God Whom she bore in her womb and Whom she contemplated upon the Cross. In the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mary says to us: 'Look at my Son Jesus, keep your gaze fixed on Him, listen to Him, speak with Him. He is gazing at you with love. Do not be afraid! He will teach you to follow Him and to bear witness to Him in all that you do, whether great and small, in your family life, at work, at times of celebration. He will teach you to go out of yourself and to look upon others with love, as He did. He loved you and loves you, not with words but with deeds'.

O Mary, let us feel your maternal gaze. Guide us to your Son. May we not be Christians 'on display', but Christians ready to 'get our hands dirty' in building, with your Son Jesus, his Kingdom of love, joy and peace”.


Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the study seminar “God entrusts humanity to women”, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Blessed John Paul II's apostolic letter, “Mulieris dignitatem”, dated 15 August 1988. The seminar was attended by experts and representatives of ecclesial movements, from twenty-five countries and from diverse professional fields.

The Holy Father remarked that “'Mulieris dignitatem' is an historical document, the first of the pontifical Magisterium entirely dedicated to the theme of women”, and with reference to the title of the seminar, he observed that in his opinion the key to understanding John Paul II's phrase is maternity.

Many things can change and have changed in cultural and social evolution, but there remains the fact that it is the woman who conceives, carries and gives birth to the sons and daughters of men. And this is not simply a biological fact, but also gives rise to a wealth of implications both for the woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for the way in which she positions herself with regard to human life and life in general. In calling the woman to the role of maternity, God has in an entirely special way entrusted the human being to her.

However, two dangers are always present, two extreme opposites which mortify the woman and her vocation. The first is to reduce maternity to a social role, to a task which, while noble, in practice marginalises women, along with all their potential, and does recognise their full value in building communities. This occurs in both the civil and ecclesial contexts. And as a reaction to this there is another, of a nature opposed to the first: that of the promotion of a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the spaces subtracted from the male, abandons the female, along with her valuable characteristics. And here I would like to emphasise that women have a particular sensibility for 'matters of God', especially in helping us to understand mercy, tenderness and the love that God has for us.

'Mulieris dignitatem', concluded Pope Francis, “is located in this context, and offers profound, organic reflection, with a solid anthropological basis illuminated by the Revelation. From here we must undertake anew the task of deepening and promotion that I have already expressed on a number of occasions. Also in the Church, it is important to ask: what type of presence do women have? Could it be accorded greater worth? It is an issue of great importance to me, and for this reason I wished to meet with you and bless you and your work. Thank you, and let us continue in this work together! May Mary Most Holy, great woman, Mother of Jesus and of all the children of God, accompany us”.


Vatican City, 14 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, which will be celebrated this year in Berlin, from 26 to 28 November. The initiative, promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture in collaboration with the archdiocese of Berlin and the German Bishops' Conference, aims to relaunch dialogue between believers and non-believers in relation to the most important issues of the contemporary world.

The speakers in the conference were: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops' Conference; Fr. Hans Langendorfer, S.J., secretary general of the German Bishops' Conference; Joachim Hake, director of the Catholic Academy of the Archdiocese of Berlin, and Fr. Laurent Mazas, executive director of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”.

The encounter will address issues such as the depth of ethical humanism, the greatness of faith in God, the freedom of art and beauty, respect and creation, aspects and models of man, the grace and dignity of human nature and worship.

With the title “If there is no God, everything is permitted”, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” will be inaugurated in the Red City Hall of Berlin, and will be followed by a discussion on the theme “Look at man: God's creation endowed with creativity, or his own creator?” at the Charite University of Medicine; finally, the theme of respect, blasphemy and artistic liberty will be considered at the Berlin Deutsches Theater.

There exist many experiences of freedom with and without God in Berlin, and they are as varied as the inhabitants of this city”, said Archbishop Zollitsch. “The paths of their lives and their freedom intertwine continually, like the processions in the Bode Museum. The Courtyard of the Gentiles wishes to show the richness and the depth of Catholic faith, and to express esteem for the positions held by non-believers, but also to see in faith the traces of unbelief”.


Vatican City, 12 October 2013 (VIS) – The Prefecture of the Papal Household communicates that for the canonisation of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday 27 April 2014, participation is open to all those able to find space in St. Peter's Square, Piazza Pio XII and Via della Conciliazione, without any need for tickets.

As on other occasions, the faithful are warned against ticket touts or requests for money by agencies or tour operators in order to obtain tickets.

Attendees are also reminded that the tickets to participate in audiences or celebrations presided by the Holy Father are entirely free.


Vatican City, 14 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organisation for Immigration (IOM), with his wife and entourage.

- Cardinal Raffaele Farina, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church.

- Archbishop Leo Boccardi, apostolic nuncio to Iran.

- Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi, military ordinary emeritus for Italy.

- Bishop Fernando Panico of Crato, Brazil.

On Saturday, 12 October the Holy Father received in audience:

- Carlos Avila Molina, ambassador of Honduras to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence.

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.


Vatican City, 14 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vatso, Italy, respectively as relator general and special secretary of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 19 November 2014.

On Saturday 12 October, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Angel Jose Macin as bishop of Reconquista (area 35,000, population 276,000, Catholics 243,000, priests 46, permanent deacons 1, religious 65), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Malabrigo, Argentina in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of Argentina and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome. He is a member of the Argentine Society of Theology. He has served in a number of academic and pastoral roles, including professor of science of religion at the San Benito Institute of Victoria, ordinary professor and director of studies at the interdiocesan seminary “La Encarnacion” in Resistencia, parish vicar of “Santa Ana”, Florencia, professor of New Testament at the diocesan seminary San Nicolas, Buenos Aires, parish priest of “Nuestra Senora del Huerto”, Malabrigo, assessor of social pastoral care and professor of sacred scripture at the Institute “Juan Pablo II” in Reconquista, and diocesan administrator of Reconquista.

- appointed Msgr. Ilson de Jesus Montanari, official of the Congregation for Bishops, as secretary of the same dicastery, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. Archbishop-elect Montanari was born in Sertaozinho, Brazil in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Gregorian Pontifical University, and has served in a number of pastoral, academic and administrative roles, including parish priest of the parish “Sao Joao Batista” in Sertaozinho, professor of theology at the Study Centre of the archdiocese of Ribeirao Preto and the archdiocesan seminary of Uberaba, chancellor and co-ordinator of pastoral activity for Ribeirao Preto, member of the presbyteral college and the College of Consultors of Ribeirao Preto, and official of the Congregation of Bishops. In 2011 he was named chaplain of His Holiness.

- appointed Msgr. Diego Giovanni Ravelli, official of the Apostolic Almoner, as Office Chief of the Apostolic Almoner.
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