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Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) – “The Church at the Service of Sick Elderly People: Care for People with Neurodegenerative Pathologies” is the theme of the 28th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (Health Care Pastoral) scheduled to take place in the Vatican's New Synod Hall from 21 to 23 November. In a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office this morning, the initiative was presented by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the dicastery, accompanied by by Msgr. Jean-Marie Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery, along with Dr. Gabriella Salvini Porro, president of the Alzheimer Federation, Italy, and Dr. Gabriele Carbone, head of the Dementia Centre – Alzheimer Unit, Italian Hospital Group, Guidonia, Italy.

The four cardinal points” of the conference are “in-depth study, dialogue and exchange of experiences, reflection and prayer, with the aim of improving health care as far as possible, in the form of pastoral service to the sick and suffering”, explained Archbishop Zimowski. The work of the conference “will be inaugurated with a Holy Mass at the Chair of St. Peter, and will culminate on Saturday 23 November in an encounter of reflection and prayer prior to the audience with Pope Francis. ... There will be almost 700 participants, including researchers, doctors, ecclesial and health-care workers, professionals and volunteers, all engaged in the care of elderly people, and they come from over 57 countries, in all five continents”.

This year's theme was chosen, bearing in mind its current and future importance, the needs to which it gives rise in terms of pastoral care, and the importance, as Pope Francis has reaffirmed on numerous occasions, of promoting a more inclusive society, in which even the weakest sectors of the population may be fully integrated, respected and valued”. The archbishop went on to explain that nowadays the various forms of senile dementia – of which Alzheimer's is the most widespread, diagnosed in over fifty percent of recorded cases – is on the increase, affecting 35 million people worldwide at a rate of 7,700,000 new cases each year. “According to these estimates”, he continued, “by 2030 the number of cases could exceed 65 million. The impact of such pathologies is enormous: on the person directly affected, but also on the family, the community and, more extensively, at a social and national level. Therefore in many states, institutional efforts are decisive, but as the work of this Conference will demonstrate, an indispensable contribution is to be made by those close to the patient, as well as parishes, communities, ad hoc religious and lay structures, non-governmental associations and entities: all of which not infrequently 'make all the difference' in the care of elderly sick people”.

However, there is still much to be done. As the last International Day of Older Persons highlighted, those who are no longer young risk neglect, even on the part of the ecclesial community. … There are many opportunities for helping the elderly to spend their free time intelligently, and many proposals for helping them to be useful. But evangelisation is another thing entirely. Evangelising old age means discovering its innate and original possibilities, its true meanings, its intrinsic values … It is, first and foremost, a question of meanings, not of things or activities. Through solidarity between the young and the elderly, it can be seen how the Church is effectively the family of all generations. … When life becomes frail, in old age, it never loses its value and its dignity: everyone is wanted and loved by God, everyone is important and necessary”.

The Conference will consider the following themes: “The epidemiology and health-care policy of neurodegenerative illnesses: the silent epidemic of the third millennium”; “Research and treatment: current and future utility”; “The elderly person with neurodegenerative illnesses”; “Neurodegenerative illnesses and places of care: between the hospital and the local area”; “Preventive actions and potential advantages of technological progress”; “The theological and pastoral perspective” and “The action of the Church”.


Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, gave an address at today's inaugural session of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID). The centre is an independent organisation based in Vienna and founded by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, to which the Holy See adheres in the role of Founding Observer.

The Conference, which ends today, is intended to raise awareness among younger generations to enable them to have an objective, honest and accurate image of one another. From this perspective, three related themes will be considered over the next three years. In 2013, the theme “The Image of the Other” focuses on education, with the presence in Vienna of a number of education ministers from all over the world; next year's forum will be dedicated to means of communication and finally, in 2015, the Internet will be the focus of attention.

The cardinal, in his English-language presentation, underlines that “interreligious dialogue teaches us to be careful not to present the religion of the other in a bad light in schools, universities, the mass media and, in particular, in religious discourse; not to demean the religious convictions of others, especially when they are not present; and to consider diversity – ethical, cultural, vision of the world – as a richness, not as a threat”.

He continued, “What is at the centre of our concern is the human person, man and woman. The human person is the object of the attention of political and religious leaders. Each one of us is a citizen and a believer. All of us belong to the same human family. It means that we share the same dignity, we are confronted by the same problems, we enjoy the same rights and we are called to accomplish the same duties”.

He concluded by repeating that one of the tasks of the KAICIID must be the promotion of “'the intelligence of the heart', which inspires us to respect what God is accomplishing in every human being and at the same time to respect the mystery that every human person represents. What we have to avoid absolutely is that religions engender fear, attitudes of exclusion of or superiority in people”. The Centre may therefore “become a place where we can … better know each other and share all our abilities in order to make this world more secure and enlightened, with all its inhabitants living in a spirit of respect and friendship”.


Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. today, in the Basilica of San Silvestro at the catacombs of Priscilla, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology will present the results of the work carried out there during the last five years. The speakers at the presentation will be Fr. Ciro Benedettini C.P., vice director of the Holy See Press Office; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology (PCAS); Msgr. Giovanni Carrù, secretary of the same Commission, Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent; Giorgia Abeltino, head of public policy at Google; and Barbara Mazzei and Raffaella Giuliani, both members of PCAS.

During the last five years, archaeological excavation works have been carried out, along with the conservational restoration of the paintings inside the catacombs and the renovation and reorganisation of one of the most evocative spaces, the basilica in which Pope Silvestro was buried. Of particular note is the restoration of the cubiculum of Lazzarus, in the subterranean cemetery close to the papal basilica, which was the last in a long series of conservational procedures carried out in the cemetery of Priscilla.

The basilica of San Silvestro is composed of two spaces, one dedicated to worship and the other used in the past as a deposit for ancient sculptural material unearthed during the excavations. These include over 700 fragments of sarcophagi, meticulously restored, from the necropolises which during the late imperial age extended along this part of the Via Salaria Nova. The result is an important body of late-ancient funerary sculptural works, arranged and presented to the public as a museum exhibit.

This valuable example of sculptural heritage may be viewed on-line at the site mupris.net; the complex of the catacombs of Priscilla may now also be admired in the program Google Maps, in the dedicated section “Views Priscilla”.


Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Michael F. Olson as bishop of Fort Worth (area 62,007, population 3,287,000, Catholics 710,000, priests 129, permanent deacons 109, religious 151), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Park Ridge, U.S.A. in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Alphonsianum Academy, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including lecturer at the St. Louis University Medical School, formator at the St. Mary seminary, professor at St. Thomas University, Houston, priest in the parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Fort Worth, and vicar general of Fort Worth. He is currently diocesan consultor and rector of the Holy Trinity seminary in Irving.

- appointed Bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno, (area 1,371, population 326,758, Catholics 320,223, priests 146, permanent deacons 16, religious 238), Italy. Bishop Crociata was born in Castelvetrano, Italy in 1953, was ordained to the priesthood in 1979, and received episcopal ordination in 2007.

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