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Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – Mary as a model of the Church “in the order of faith, charity and the perfect union with Christ”, according to the definition offered by the Vatican Council II, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, attended by over ninety thousand people.

Mary is a model of faith, not only as a Jewish girl who awaited the redemption of her people with all her heart, but also for the “yes” she proclaims at the Annunciation, when God reveals his plan to her. “From that moment Mary's faith receives a new light: it is focused on Jesus. … Mary's faith is the fulfilment of the faith of Israel, and in this sense it is the model of the faith of the Church, which has Christ, incarnation of God's infinite love, as her centre”.

The mother of Christ lives this faith “in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and worries of every mother: … it was precisely this normal existence of the Virgin that provided the terrain for the development of the singular relationship and profound dialogue between her and God, between her and her Son. Mary's 'yes', already perfect from the beginning, grew up until the time of the Cross. There, her maternity broadened to embrace every one of us, to lead us to her Son. Mary always lived immersed in the mystery of God made man, as His first and perfect disciple, contemplating everything in her heart in the light of the Holy Spirit, to understand and put into practice all of God's will”.

To explain the second aspect, Mary as a model of charity, the Pope used the Gospel story of her visit to Elizabeth. “Visiting her, the Virgin Mary did not take merely material assistance to her; she took this too, but she brought Jesus to her, Who already lived inside her womb. Bringing Jesus into her house meant bringing joy, the fullest joy … that comes from Jesus and from the Holy Spirit, and is expressed in freely given charity, in sharing, helping, and understanding. … Mary also wants to bring to us, to all, the great gift of Jesus; and with Him, she brings us His love, His peace, His joy. Thus is the Church: she is like Mary, she is not a shop, she is not a humanitarian organisation, she is not an NGO, but rather she is sent to bring Christ and His Gospel to all; she does not bring herself, she brings Jesus. And the Church must be like Mary when she went to visit Elizabeth. She must bring Jesus. If the Church did not bring Jesus, she would be a lifeless Church. She must bring the strength of Jesus, of Jesus' love”.

Mary is also a model of union with Christ. “The life of the holy Virgin”, concluded the Pope, “was the life of a woman of her people: she prayed, she worked, she went to the synagogue... but every action was carried out in perfect union with Jesus. This union reached its culmination on Calvary: there, Mary united with her Son in His martyrdom of the heart and in the offering of His life to the Father for the salvation of humanity. Our Lady made her Son's suffering her own, and accepted with Him the will of the Father, in that obedience that bears fruit, that leads to true victory over evil and death”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – Before today's General Audience the Holy Father received the participants in the National Congress of Italian Prison Chaplains. Pope Francis took this opportunity to extend a greeting to all detainees. “Tell them that I pray for them, I pray to the Lord and to the Virgin that they may positively overcome this difficult period in their lives, and that they are not discouraged, that they do not close themselves up, because the Lord is near them, He does not stay outside their cells, but instead He is inside with them. He too is still a prisoner, even today; He is a prisoner of our selfishness, our systems, of many injustices, because it is easy to punish the weakest while the big fish swim freely in the waters. No cell is so isolated that it may exclude the Lord”.

The Pope told of the friendship he maintained with a detainee in Buenos Aires, and said the the chaplains that their demanding and very important ministry “makes visible the presence of the Lord in prison, in the cell. You are a sign of Christ's closeness to those brothers in need of hope. Recently you spoke of a justice of reconciliation, but also of hope, of open doors, of horizons. This is not a utopia, it can be achieved. It is not easy, because our weaknesses are everywhere, and the devil too is everywhere, but it is always necessary to try”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., has communicated that on 14 November Pope Francis will make an official visit to the Quirinale Palace in response to the visit to the Vatican made by Giorgio Napoletano, president of the Italian Republic, on 8 June 2013.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – A communique was issued today by the Holy See Press Office, published in full below.

The Holy Father has been continually informed in detail and objectively on the situation regarding the diocese of Limburg. In the diocese, a situation has arisen in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst cannot, at the present moment, continue to exercise his episcopal ministry.

Following Cardinal Lajolo's 'fraternal visit' in September, the German Bishops' Conference, in accordance with an agreement between the bishop and the Chapter of Limburg Cathedral, has constituted a Commission to carry out a detailed examination of the matter of the building of the bishop's residence. Pending the results of this examination and of an analysis of responsibility for the matter, the Holy See considers it appropriate to authorise for Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst a period of stay outside the diocese.

By decision of the Holy See, Stadtdekan Wolfgang Rosch is today appointed as vicar general, an appointment that had previously been announced by the diocese of Limburg as taking effect from 1 January 2014. Vicar General Rosch will administer the diocese of Limburg during the absence of the diocesan bishop, within the sphere of competence associated with this office”.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) – 72 million dollars assigned to Catholic humanitarian organisations to alleviate the crisis in Syria and the surrounding regions; 55 entities working in the field; urgent aid given to 20 Syrian cities and 32 Catholic institutions involved so far, and indispensable aid for the refugees present in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Cyprus and Egypt. These are the data recorded on 9 October, as a result of the mapping of aid distributed in Syria, carried out following the meeting for the co-ordination of Catholic charitable associations present in the Syrian situation, convened by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” from 4 to 5 June 2013.

The Catholic Church and the local churches in the zone have been involved since the beginning of the crisis, in 2011, in the constant work of providing humanitarian aid to the population struck by the civil war in Syria. Pope Francis has paid particular attention to the evolution of the crisis and the aid work offered by charitable agencies, whom he received in audience during a meeting organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. “Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief”, said the Pope on that occasion, “is the most direct way of contributing to the pacification and edification of a society open to all its components”.

Until now, the difficulty of obtaining information regarding the needs of the population affected and the development of the political and social population has led to the sometimes sporadic nature of the aid given, and to a multiplicity of forms of support to to the institutions present in the field. Therefore, the meeting in June provided an opportunity to reunite the agencies active in the context of the crisis and to decide upon the establishment of an office for co-ordinating information on the humanitarian aid allocated by the Catholic Church, with the aim of avoiding the dispersal of efforts and ensuring a homogeneous approach. Management activity was entrusted to Caritas Middle East-North Africa, based in Beirut; it will have the task of appraising and monitoring the extent of the aid gathered, and of sharing necessary information with all the institutions involved, including those not present at the “Cor Unum” meeting.

This tool will allow the Church to obtain a complete picture of humanitarian aid efforts, with the intention of providing a detailed analysis of the needs in the field; to transfer to Caritas Syria the information necessary on charitable works in aid of the Syrian population; to highlight the profile of the Catholic Church among those involved in the humanitarian sector in Syria, and to share information within the network of Catholic organisations involved, both inside and outside Syrian territory.


Vatican City, 23 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Paulo Roberto Beloto of Formosa as bishop of Franca (area 6,721, population 835,000, Catholics 659,000, priests 76, permanent deacons 17, religious 70), Brazil. Bishop Beloto was born in Adamantina, Brazil in 1957, was ordained a priest in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2006.

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