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Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) – The Pope is now concluding his catechesis on the Creed, pronounced during the Year of Faith which came to an end last Sunday. Today's focus, which will also be the theme of next Wednesday's general audience, was the resurrection of the flesh, our death and resurrection in Christ; today he analysed the first element, our death in Christ, and will turn to the aspect of our resurrection next week.

The Pope first thanked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square – over 50,000 participants – praising them for braving the cold weather that has affected the Italian capital in these days, and complementing them on their “resistance” before beginning the catechesis.

There is a wrong way of looking at death”, he said. “Death affects all of us, and challenges us profoundly, especially when it touches someone close to us, or when it strikes the very young or defenceless in a way that appears 'scandalous' to us. I am always struck by the question, 'why do children suffer? Why do children die?'. If it is understood as the end of everything, death … terrifies us; it is transformed into a threat that … stops us in our tracks. This happens when we consider our life as a period of time closed between two poles, birth and death; when we do not believe in a horizon that goes beyond that of our present life; when we live as if God did not exist. This concept of death is typical of atheist thought, which interprets existence as a matter of appearing in the world by chance and walking a path towards nothingness. But there also exists a form of practical atheism, which involves living only for one's own interests and for earthly goods. If we allow ourselves to be ensnared by this erroneous view of death, we have no choice other than that of evading death, denying it, or of trivialising it so that it no longer frightens us.

But man's heart - the desire we all have for the infinite, our nostalgia for eternity – rebels against this false solution. And so what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our lives, when we have lost someone dear to us … we realise that, even in the drama of loss, there rises from the heart the conviction that it cannot all be over. … There is a powerful instinct within us that tells us that our life does not end with death”.

This thirst for life finds its true and reliable answer in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus not only gives us the certainty of life beyond death, but it also casts light on the mystery of the death of every one of us. If we live united with Jesus, faithful to Him, we will be capable of facing even the passage of death with hope and serenity”.

From this perspective, “we understand Jesus' invitation to always be ready and watchful in the knowledge that life in this world is given to us also in preparation for the other life, that with the celestial Father. And for this there is a sure way: preparing oneself well for death, staying close to Jesus in prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the practice of charity. Remember that He is present in the weakest and neediest among us. He himself identified with them, in the famous parable of the final judgement, when he says 'Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'. Therefore a sure way is to recover the meaning of Christian charity and fraternal sharing, curing the bodily and spiritual wounds of our neighbour”.

Those who live with mercy”, he concluded, “do not fear death, because they face it directly in the wounds of their brothers, and overcome it with Jesus Christ's love”.


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the catechesis at today's general audience, the Holy Father greeted Ukrainian pilgrims, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and the bishops and faithful of the Greek-Catholic Church, in Rome to venerate the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul at the end of the Year of Faith, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the translation of the relics of St. Josaphat to the Vatican Basilica. For this reason, the reading preceding the catechesis was given in Ukrainian.

The example of St. Josaphat, who gave his life for the Lord Jesus and for the unity of the Church, represents for all of us an invitation to commit ourselves every day to communion with our brothers”, said Pope Francis. “May the Lord bless you all, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St. Josaphat”.


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) – Before this Wednesday's general audience, the Pope met with a group of girls suffering from Rett syndrome, accompanied by family members. Rett syndrome is a rare disorder, almost exclusively affecting female children, which seriously compromises neurological development and causes delays in language acquisition and motor co-ordination. The loss of capacity is, in general, persistent and progressive.

The Holy Father greeted and caressed all the children, prayed to the Virgin Mary with them and their families, and blessed all those present.


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the “Healthcare Mission for Syrian Child Refugees in Lebanon” promoted by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital and Caritas Lebanon. The speakers in the conference were: Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”; Giuseppe Profiti, president of Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital; Fr. Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon; and May El Hachem, director of the department of dermatology at Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital.

Helping the Syrian population, regardless of ethnic origin or religious belief, is the most direct way of contributing to peace-building and the edification of a society open to all its different members”: Cardinal Sarah explained that Pope Francis' words inspired this project, in the hope that “these tragedies may never be repeated”.

We believe that the best gift we can give in order to help the children who suffer as a result of the Syrian war is that of enabling them to smile again and to be able to continue to live, accompanying them in a growth that must be not only material, but also and above all spiritual and human”. According to data from the United Nations refugee agency, there are more than two million Syrian refugees in the countries in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean area, of whom there are 700 thousand in Lebanon alone, 515 thousand in Jordan, and 460 thousand in Turkey. Of all of the above, around 52% are children and minors below the age of seventeen.

To supervise co-operative activity and aid distribution, an information and communications office was established in Beirut last June, which brings together all the Catholic charitable agencies in an area of great historical and spiritual significance for Christianity. “This structure, which will continue to be central also in the phase – hopefully near – in which the conflict is brought to an end, is the result of collaboration of charitable organisations, which in the name of the mission of the universal Church have decided to share their competences and their work of witness”, explained Cardinal Sarah. He also commented that “This is the language that the Church, all together, wishes to and must speak … to all those who are in need in in poverty, not only material but also spiritual”.

The “Mission” will begin in early December, and will have an initial duration of three months. During this time, and with the funds available, it will be able to give necessary medical assistance to three to four million children.


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) - Below is the calendar of liturgical celebrations due to be presided over by the Holy Father from the end of November to January 2013.

Saturday 30 November: celebration of first Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent, with students from the universities of Rome at 5.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica.

Sunday 1 December, first Sunday of Advent: pastoral visit to the Roman parish of “San Cirillo Alessandrino”; Mass at 6 p.m.

Sunday 8 December, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Homage to Mary Immaculate, at 4 p.m. at Piazza di Spagna.

Tuesday 24 December, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord: Midnight Mass at 21.30 p.m. in the Papal Chapel of the Vatican Basilica.

Wednesday 25 December, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord: “Urbi et Orbi” blessing at 12 p.m. from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.

Tuesday 31 December: celebration of the first Vespers and Te Deum for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, thanksgiving for the past year, 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica.

Wednesday 1 January, Solemnity of Mary Mother of God: and 47th World Day of Peace, Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

Monday 6 January, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord: Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

Sunday 12 January, First Sunday after the Epiphany, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord: Mass and baptism of newborns in the Sistine Chapel at 9.45 a.m.


Vatican City, 27 November 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Benjamin Marc Balthason Ramaroson, C.M., of Farafangana, Madagascar, as archbishop of Antsiranana (area 37,924, population 1,431,000, Catholics 590,796, priests 65, religious 181), Madagascar. He succeeds Archbishop Michel Melo, whose resignation, upon having reached the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

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