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Monday, November 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, president of the Republic of Paraguay, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the colloquial discussions, which emphasized the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and Paraguay, the Parties considered themes of common interest relevant to the situation of the Country and the Region, such as the fight against poverty and corruption, the promotion of the full development of the human person and respect for human rights. The role and contribution of the Church in society was also discussed, along with the collaboration of Paraguay with the Holy See at international level.


Vatican City, 25 November 2013 (VIS) – “St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that each person will love his neighbour as he loves himself, and will therefore enjoy his neighbour's goods as if they were his own. Thus, the joy of one will increase inasmuch as the joy of others increases”. With these words, this morning Pope Francis received three thousand Greek Catholic pilgrims from Ukraine and Belarus, in Rome to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the translation of the relics of St. Josaphat to the Vatican Basilica. In the morning Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, celebrated the Divine Liturgy along with the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

At midday, the Holy Father went to the Basilica to greet the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, and said that “the best way to commemorate St. Josaphat is to love each other and to love and serve the unity of the Church. We are supported in this by the courageous witness of the many more recent martyrs, who constitute a great richness and great comfort for your Church”. Francis expressed his hope that “the intense communion that you wish to deepen every day within the Catholic Church may help you also to build bridges of fraternity with other Churches and ecclesial communities in Ukraine and in other countries where your communities are present”.


Vatican City, 24 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in audience the Year of Faith volunteers in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. “In this time of grace”, he said, “we have been able to rediscover the essential nature of the Christian path, in which faith, along with charity, occupies the primary position”.

Indeed, faith is fundamental to Christian experience”, he continued, “as it motivates the decisions and acts of our daily life. It is the boundless source of all our actions, within the family, at work, in the parish, with our friends, and in various social contexts. And this firm, genuine faith is seen especially in moments of difficulty or trial; Christians then allow God to take them in His arms and to hold them close, sure of entrusting themselves to a love as strong as an indestructible rock. In situations of suffering, if we abandon ourselves humbly to God, we are able to give good witness”.

Pope Francis explained to those present that “there is a need for Christian communities, committed to a courageous apostolate, who reach people in their own environments, even those which are most difficult”. Finally, he mentioned that “there are many people in need of a human gesture, of a smile, a true word, and of testimony through which they are able to perceive the presence of Jesus Christ”, and encouraged the volunteers to continue their work so that “no one lacks this sign of love and tenderness, born of faith”.


Vatican City, 24 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning, solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Holy Father Francis presided the Mass in St. Peter's Square on the occasion of the closing of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. The cardinals, patriarchs and major archbishops of the Oriental Catholic Churches, the archbishops and bishops concelebrated with the Holy Father.

The relics of the apostle Peter were displayed alongside the altar, contained in a bronze casket bearing the inscription “Ex ossibus quae in Arcibasilicae Vaticane Hypogeo inventa Beati Petri Apostoli esse putantur” (“Remains found in the Hypogeum of the Vatican Basilica and believed to be of the Blessed Apostle Peter”).

Before the Mass a collection was made in aid of the people of the Philippines, recently afflicted by the typhoon Haiyan. At the end of the celebration, the Holy Father consigned his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” to thirty-six representatives of the People of God, from eighteen countries: a bishop, a priest and a deacon elected from among the youngest to have been ordained; consecrated persons, various representatives for each Year of Faith event, newly confirmed young people, a seminarian and a novice, a family, catechists, one blind person (who received from the Pope a copy of the document in CR-ROM format, to be able to listen to it), young people, representatives of confraternities, movements, two artists, and two representatives from the world of media and communications.

We publish below the full text of Pope Francis' homily, pronounced following the proclamation of the Gospel:

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude for this gift which he has given us. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.

I offer a cordial and fraternal greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price.

With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.

The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ is at the centre, Christ is the centre. Christ is the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of his people and Christ is the centre of history.

The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning: Jesus Christ, the Lord. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled. He is the Lord of creation, he is the Lord of reconciliation.

This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. And so our thoughts will be Christian thoughts, thoughts of Christ. Our works will be Christian works, works of Christ; and our words will be Christian words, words of Christ. But when this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.

Besides being the centre of creation and the centre of reconciliation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. Today, he is here in our midst. He is here right now in his word, and he will be here on the altar, alive and present amid us, his people. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord. In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.

Christ, the descendant of King David, is really the 'brother' around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one, one people, united with him and sharing a single journey, a single destiny. Only in him, in him as the centre, do we receive our identity as a people.

Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.

Whereas all the others treat Jesus with disdain – 'If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!' – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified Jesus and begs him: 'Remember me, when you come into your kingdom'. Jesus promises him: 'Today you will be with me in paradise', in his kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Today we can all think of our own history, our own journey. Each of us has his or her own history: we think of our mistakes, our sins, our good times and our bleak times. We would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely and quietly: 'Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom! Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can remember me because you are at the centre, you are truly in your kingdom!' How beautiful this is! Let us all do this today, each one of us in his or her own heart, again and again. 'Remember me, Lord, you who are at the centre, you who are in your kingdom'.

Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom! Let us go forward together on this road!”.


Vatican City, 24 November 2013 (VIS) – Following the closing Mass of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before concluding this celebration”, he said, “I would like to greet all the pilgrims, families, parish groups, associations and movements who have come here from many countries. I greet the participants in the National Congress of Mercy and the Ukrainian community, which commemorates the eightieth anniversary of the Holodomor, the great famine provoked by the Soviet regime, which claimed millions of victims”.

On this day we also give thanks to the missionaries who, throughout the centuries, have proclaimed the Gospel and sown the seed of faith in many parts of the world, and among them Blessed Junipero Serra, the Spanish Franciscan missionary, the third centenary of whose birth we celebrate today.

I do not want to finish without sparing a thought for all those who have worked to bring about this Year of Faith. Msgr. Rino Fisichella, who has guided this path: I give heartfelt thanks to him and all those who have collaborated with him. Many thanks!”

After the Marian prayer, Pope Francis again thanked all those present at the concelebration and, as is his custom, wished them a good Sunday and a good lunch.


Vatican City, 25 November 2013 (VIS) – The rite of admission to the catechumenate took place this afternoon in the Vatican Basilica, convoked in the context of the Year of Faith and presided by Pope Francis. More than five hundred catechumens participated in the rite, from 47 countries and all five continents, accompanied by their catechists. At 4 p.m., shortly before the arrival of the Holy Father, several adults who were preparing to receive the Sacrament of Christian initiation spoke to those present about their experience, alongside a couple of catechists. The liturgy began at 4.30 p.m. with the rites of introduction which took places at the entry to the basilica. The Pope then welcomed a representative of the candidates with their godparents, invited them to enter the Church.

During the liturgy of the Word, before the presentation of the book of the Gospel to the catechumens, the Pope pronounced a homily for those present, mentioning that they came “from many different countries, from different cultural traditions and experiences. However”, he observed, “this evening we feel that we have many things in common. One above all: the wish for God. … How important it is to keep this wish alive! … If it lacks the thirst for the living God, faith risks becoming a habit, it risks being extinguished, like a flame that is not revived. It risks becoming 'rancid', without meaning”.

Pope Francis cited the passage in the Gospel in which John the Baptist indicates to the disciples that Jesus is the Lamb of God. “Two of them follow the Master and then in turn become 'mediators' who enable others to encounter the Lord, to know him and to follow him. There are three moments in this narrative that recall the experience of the catechumenate”.

First of all, there is listening. The two disciples listen to the testimony of the Baptist. You too, dear catechumens, have listened to those who have spoken to you about Jesus, and have proposed to you to follow him. … In the tumult of the many voices that resound around and inside us, you have listened and welcomed the voice that indicated Jesus to you as the only one who can give full meaning to our lives”.

In second place”, he continued, “there is encounter. The two disciples encounter the Master and stay with him. After meeting him, they are immediately aware of something new in their hearts: the need to transmit their joy to others, in order that they too may encounter him. … This scene … reminds us that God has not created us to remain alone, closed up in ourselves, but rather to be able encounter Him and to open ourselves to the encounter with others. God, first of all, comes toward each of us, and this is marvellous. … In the Bible, God always appears as the one who takes the initiative in the encounter with humanity: it is God Who seeks man, and usually he seeks him precisely when man is embarking on the bitter and tragic experience of betraying God and breaking away from him. God does not waste time in seeking him out: he looks for him immediately. … He never tires of awaiting us. .. And when the encounter takes place, it is never a hasty one, because God wishes to remain with us a long time, to support us and to console us. … God is quick to seek us out, but is not hasty to leave us! … Just as we long for Him and yearn for Him, He too wishes to be with us, because we belong to Him … we are His creatures”.

The final part of the passage refers to walking. The two disciples walk towards Jesus and then take a part of the path with Him”, explained the Holy Father. “Faith is a path we walk with Jesus … and it is a path that lasts all our lives. At the end the definitive encounter will take place. Certainly, in some moments along the path we will feel tired and confused. However, faith gives us the certainty of the constant presence of Jesus in all situations, even the most painful and difficult to understand”.

Dear catechumens”, the Pontiff concluded, “today you begin the path of the catechumenate. I hope that you will follow it with joy, certain of the support of all the Church, which looks to you with great trust. May Mary, the perfect disciple, accompany you! I invite you to keep alive the enthusiasm of the first moment that opened your eyes to the light of faith”.


Vatican City, 23 November 2013 (VIS) – Elderly persons have always been active in the life of the Church, which must set an example to society of how they are always important, indeed “indispensable” said Pope Francis, who this morning received in audience the participants in the 28th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (Health Care Pastoral). The meeting took place from 21 to 23 November in the New Synod Hall and examined the theme “The Church at the service of sick elderly people: care for people with neurodegenerative pathologies”.

The elderly “carry with them the memory and the wisdom of life, which they transmit to others, and participate fully in the Church's mission. Let us remember that human life always maintains its value in the eyes of God, far beyond any discriminatory view”, emphasised Pope Francis. He went on to mention how the increase in life expectancy throughout the twentieth century has also led a growing number of people to be affected by neurodegenerative pathologies, which are frequently accompanied by a deterioration in cognitive capacities. These pathologies have an impact on social and health care both in terms of research and in assistance in social and healthcare structures, as well as within the family, which is in need of help and adequate services to care for the elderly.

The Holy Father reiterated the importance of a form of healthcare which “alongside the traditional biomedical model, is enriched by allowing space for dignity and freedom, far from the reclusion and silence that too often surrounds those in the healthcare environment” and, from this perspective, he spoke also of the importance of the religious and spiritual aspect, insisting on the need “to put into practice a particular pastoral approach to accompany the religious life of elderly people with serious degenerative pathologies, with different forms and content, so as not to interrupt the dialogue and relationship of their minds and hearts with God”.

Dear friends”, he concluded, addressing the elderly present, “you are not only the recipients of the evangelical message, but also, by virtue of your Baptism, its proclaimers in the fullest sense”.


Vatican City, 23 November 2013 (VIS) – The language of sport is “universal, and overcomes borders, barriers of language, race, religion and ideology” and is capable of “uniting people, favouring dialogue and openness”, Pope Francis said to delegates from the European Olympic Committees, whom he received in audience this morning in the Sala Clementina, on the occasion of their assembly.

Indeed, the practice of sport stimulates one to healthily overcome oneself and one's own selfishness and to train oneself in the spirit of sacrifice and ... promotes loyalty in interpersonal relationships, friendship, and respect for rules”, continued the Holy Father, encouraging the institutions and organisations of this sector to offer, especially to the younger generations, “approaches to sport for training in peace, in sharing and the co-existence of peoples”.

Sporting activity typically unites rather than divides. Even the five interlinked rings, the symbol and flag of the Olympic Games, represent precisely the spirit of brotherhood that should characterise the Olympic events and sports competitions in general”, he observed, adding that “When sport is regarded solely within economic parameters, or in terms of the achievement of victory at any cost, there is the risk of reducing athletes to mere merchandise through whom profit may be obtained. The athletes themselves enter into a mechanism that overwhelms them, causing them to lose sight of the true meaning of their activity. … Sport is harmony, but if the unrestrained pursuit of profit and success prevails, this harmony is lost”.

As Olympic managers, you are called upon promote the educational aspect of sport”, concluded the Pope. “We are all aware of the great need to train sportsmen and women who are driven by probity, moral rigour and a lively sense of responsibility”.


Vatican City, 23 November 2013 (VIS) – In a letter made public today, written in Latin and dated 19 November, the Holy Father nominated Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, deacon of St. Julian of the Flemings, as his special envoy at the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the Council of Trent, to be held in the cathedral of Trento, Italy on 1 December 2013. The cardinal special envoy will be accompanied by a mission composed of the following members: Msgr. Lodovico Maule, deacon of the metropolitan chapter of Trento, and Msgr. Umberto Giacometti, honorary canon of the same chapter.

Also today was published the letter in which the Pope appointed Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, as his special envoy to the closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the institution of the ecclesiastical province of Managua, Nicaragua, to be held on 2 December. The letter was written in Latin and dated 12 November. The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Rev. Julio Cesar Arana Gonzalez, priest of the parish of St. Judas Tadeo en Managua and judicial vicar of the archdiocese, and Rev. Alfonso Alvarado Lugo, rector of the national shrine of Jesus del Rescaate en Rivas and vicar penitentiary of the diocese.


Vatican City, 25 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in audience Joseph Tebah-Klah, ambassador of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, on his farewell visit.

This afternoon, he is scheduled to receive Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, and entourage.

On Saturday 23 November the Holy Father received in audience:

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


Vatican City, 25 November 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Eger, Hungary, presented by Archbishop Istvan Katona, upon having reached the age limit.

On Saturday, 23 November, the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Medardo de Jesus Henao del Rio, M.X.Y., as apostolic vicar of Mitu (area 54,000, population 40,000, Catholics 37,000, priests 5, religious 16), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Liborina, Colombia in 1967 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1999. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota, and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including missionary, chancellor and co-ordinator of education in the apostolic vicariate of Mitu; and deputy master of novices. He is currently master of novices.
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