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Friday, October 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who subsequently met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, mention was made of the Catholic Church's positive contribution in favour of the human, social and cultural development of the country, particularly in the fields of education and welfare, as well as the collaboration of the state in improving the quality of life for the population.

At the end of the visit, in the Sala dei Trattati of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the secretary for Relations with States exchanged the instruments for the ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea on relations between the Catholic Church and the State, signed in the city of Mongomo on 13 October 2012.

The Agreement, which seals the existing good bilateral relations, recognises the legal personality of the Church and her Institutions. It also relates to canonical marriage, places of worship, educational institutions, and spiritual assistance to Catholic faithful in hospitals and in prisons. By solemn act the Agreement, composed of nineteen articles and an Additional Protocol, came into effect on today's date in accordance with article 18.1.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - “The family is a community of life with its own consistency. It is not the sum of the persons by whom it is constituted, but rather a 'community of persons'”, said Pope Francis, quoting Blessed John Paul II's encyclical “Familiaris consortio”, in an address to participants in the twenty-first plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family taking place in Rome during these days, whom he received in audience this morning.

The family, continued the Pontiff, is “the place where we learn to love, the natural centre of human life”. … Each one of us builds his or her own personality within the family. … It is there that we learn the art of dialogue and interpersonal communication”. For this reason “the community-family … asks to be recognised as such, even more nowadays, when the protection of individual rights prevails”.

The family is based on marriage. Through an act of free and faithful love, Christian couples give witness that marriage, as a sacrament, is the foundation upon which they base their family and strengthens the conjugal union and mutual self-giving. … Conjugal and familiar love also clearly demonstrate the vocation of the person to love in a unique and everlasting way, and show that the trials, sacrifices and crises in the lives of couples, as in the family as a whole, represent stages of growth in goodness, truth and beauty. … It is an experience of faith in God and of reciprocal trust, profound freedom, and holiness, because holiness presupposes self-giving with trust and sacrifice every day throughout life!”.

The Holy Father continued by placing special emphasis on two phases of family life, childhood and old age, commenting that, “Children and the elderly represent the two poles of life and are also the most vulnerable and often the most forgotten group. A society that abandons its children or marginalises its elderly members not only carries out an act of injustice but also sanctions the failure of that society. Taking care of the young and the elderly is the choice of civilisation”.

Pope Francis expressed his approval of the new icon of the family, created by the Pontifical Council, which depicts the scene of the Presentation of Jesus at the temple with Mary and Joseph who bring the Child, as required by the law, and the two elderly figures of Simeon and Anna who, moved by the Spirit, welcome him as the Saviour. The title of the icon is 'His mercy extends from generation to generation'”.

The 'Good News' of the family”, he concluded, “is a very important part of evangelisation, that Christians can communicate to everyone through the witness of their lives; and they already do so – this is evident in secularised societies. … We therefore propose to all, with respect and courage, the beauty of marriage and the family, illuminated by the Gospel! And for this reason we draw close, with attention and affection, to families in difficulty, to those who are compelled to leave their homeland, who are divided, who do not have homes or work, or who suffer for many reasons; to couples in crisis or those who have separated. We wish to be close to all of them”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica Pope Francis consecrated two new bishops: Bishop Giampiero Gloder, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and Bishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio to Ghana. The Holy Father read the ritual homily, in accordance with the Roman Pontifical for episcopal ordinations, adding some personal reflections.

It is Christ who, in the bishop's ministry, continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and to sanctify believers, through the sacraments of the faith”, he said. “Indeed, 'episcopate' is the name of a service, not an honour. It is the bishop's responsibility to serve rather than to dominate, according to the commandment of the Master: 'the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves'”.

He then invited the new bishops to “proclaim the Word in every occasion, opportune or otherwise. … And through prayer and the offer of sacrifice for your people, you will draw from the fullness of Christ's holiness the many and varied riches of divine grace. Through prayer. Remember that first conflict in the Church of Jerusalem, when the bishops had so much work in looking after widows and orphans, and decided to appoint deacons. Why? To pray and preach the Word. A bishop who does not pray is a bishop who arrives only half way along the path. And if he does not pray to the Lord, he falls prey to worldliness”.

The bishop must accompany service and prayer with love. “Love, with the love of a father and of a brother, all those whom God entrusts to you. Above all, love the priests and deacons. They are your collaborators, the nearest of the near for you. Never make a priest wait: he asks for an audience? Answer immediately! Be close to them. But also love the poor, the defenceless and those who need welcome and help. Encourage the faithful to co-operate in the apostolic task and listen to them willingly”.

Finally, Francis encouraged them to pay close attention to “those who have strayed from the fold of Christ, because they too have been entrusted to you by the Lord. Pray for them. Remember that in the Catholic Church, brought together by the bond of charity, you are united with the College of bishops and must bring with you the care of all the Churches, generously assisting those most in need of help”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., today made the following declaration on the state of health of Archbishop Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:

As is known, he recently underwent a surgical procedure, which took place in Padua in the department of hepatobiliary surgery in the university hospital. The procedure was successful and today Archbishop Parolin will be discharged.

He will remain in Veneto during the coming days to allow a suitable period of rest and recovery, and in order to be able to assume the grave responsibilities of his new role, once fully recovered.

Archbishop Parolin, with whom I have spoken directly, wishes to express his gratitude firstly to the Pope, for his understanding, attention and closeness, and also to all those who have been close to him in this period, or have prayed for him. He hopes to take on soon the new responsibilities the Pope has entrusted to him”.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India.

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, and family members.

- Archbishop Giampiero Gloder, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and family members.


Vatican City, 25 October 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archiepiscopal exarchate of Donetsk – Kharkiv, Ukraine, presented by Bishop Wasyl Ihor Medwit, OSBM, in accordance with canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
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