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Friday, December 6, 2013


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) - “To hear, distinguish, and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood, and set forth to greater advantage.” This is one of the tasks of the theologian, Pope Francis asserted today, quoting from the Pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et spes”, on receiving members of the International Theological Commission and its president, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, at the close of their plenary assembly.

Theologians, therefore, are 'pioneers' in the Church's dialogue with cultures; a dialogue that is both critical and benevolent, which must encourage the welcome of the Word of God by a part of persons 'from every nation, race, people, and tongue'”, the Holy Father stated, continuing the issues that the Commission had dealt with in their assembly, with its theme of “The Relationship between Monotheism and Violence”.

Your reflection,” he said, “bears witness that God's revelation truly constitutes Good News for all humanity. God is not a threat for humankind. Faith in the one and thrice holy God is not and can never be a source of violence or intolerance. On the contrary, its highly rational character confers a universal dimension upon it, capable of uniting persons of good will. On the other hand, the definitive Revelation of God in Jesus Christ by now renders every recourse to violence 'in the name of God', impossible. It is precisely by His refusal of violence, by His having conquered evil with good with the blood of His Cross, that Jesus has reconciled humans with God and with themselves.”

It is this very concept of peace that has been the focus of your reflection on the Church's social doctrine, which has the goal of translating God's love for the human person, made manifest in Christ Jesus, into a concrete reality of societal life. … The Church is held to living first of all within herself that social message that it bears to the world. Fraternal relations between believers, authority as service, sharing with the poor: all of these traits, which have characterized ecclesial life from its origin, can and must constitute a living and attractive model for the diverse human communities, from the family to civil society.”

This witness,” the Bishop of Rome emphasized, “pertain to the People of God, a People of prophets, in its entirety. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the members of the Church possess a 'sense of faith'. This is a kind of 'spiritual instinct' that makes us 'sentire cum Ecclesia' [think with the mind of the Church] and to discern that which is in conformity with the apostolic faith and is in the spirit of the Gospel. Of course, the 'sensus fidelium' [sense of the faithful] cannot be confused with the sociological reality of a majority opinion. It is, therefore, important—and one of your tasks—to develop criteria that allow the authentic expressions of the 'sensus fidelium' to be discerned. … This attention is of greatest importance for theologians. Pope Benedict XVI often pointed out that the theologian must remain attentive to the faith lived by the humble and the small, to whom it pleased the Father to reveal that which He had hidden from the learned and the wise.”

Your mission, therefore, is both fascinating and risky. It is fascinating because research in and teaching of theology can become a true path to holiness, as attested by many Fathers and Doctors of the Church. But it is also risky because it bears temptations with it: hardness of heart, pride, even ambition,” the Pope observed, recalling a letter from St. Francis of Assisi to St. Anthony of Padua regarding this danger. It warns: “I am glad that you are teaching the brothers sacred Theology provided that, in the study, you do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion.”

At the conclusion of the audience the Holy Father entrusted the theologians to the Immaculate Virgin so that they might “grow in this spirit of prayer and devotion and thus, with a profound sense of humility, be true servants of the Church”.


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, on the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela yesterday.

In the text, the Pope extended his condolences to the Mandela family, members of government, and all South Africans. Pope Francis recalled “the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation, and truth.”

I pray,” the message continues, “that the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments,” the telegram concludes, “I invoke upon all the people of South Africa the divine gifts of peace and prosperity.”


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel the Holy Father attended the first Advent sermon, which was preached by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., and had the theme “Toward the Lord's Nativity in the Company of St. Francis of Assisi”.

Pope Francis' recent pilgrimage to Assisi and the theme of the next World Day of Peace (“Fraternity, the Foundation, and the Pathway to Peace”) offer the opportunity to reflect on what the poor have to say to the Church today.

In particular, the homily focused on the themes of:
1. Francis of Assisi and Church reform by way of holiness
2. Francis of Assisi's holiness, the evangelical path to fraternity and peace, and
3. With St. Francis before the mystery of the Incarnation: the poverty of Christ and of Francis.


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the 20th gathering of the Council of Ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) that concluded today in Kiev, Ukraine. That country currently holds the Organization's chairmanship.

The archbishop spoke about the various areas of action that OSCE participated in during the past year, referring with appreciation to how the Organization's political-military dimension has successfully updated its document on the non-proliferation of weapons. In spite of this result, the Holy See expresses its concern for the lack of progress in the actualization of the Vienna Document, which “is essential for ensuring a greater transparency as regards the activities and military outfitting of the participant States, and which is a prerequisite for the region's stability and security.”

As concerns the economic-environmental dimension, the prelate encouraged the Organization to “a greater political will and a greater commitment, similar to that seen in the other dimensions”. He reasserted the Holy See's interest in safeguarding creation and its appreciation for the emphasis that the Ukrainian chairmanship has given the Organization's activities related to energy conservation and the sources of renewable energy.

Another topic touched upon was that of migration. “According to the Holy See,” the archbishop said, “migrants' rights must be of primary consideration. Even at times of financial crisis, migrants must not be considered merely in terms of their economic role as a temporary work force or as permanent residents. Their dignity as humans must have precedence over any other consideration.” In this context he also condemned “the persistent problem of human trafficking. It is a hateful crime that must be fought with all legal means available.”

In the sphere of the Organization's “human” dimension and of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, Archbishop Mamberti affirmed that it was disturbing to observe that, seventeen centuries after the Edict of Milan established religious toleration within the Roman Empire, “in the OSCE region that are ever more numerous acts against Christians motivated by prejudice. When we speak of the denial of religious freedom and of intolerance, particularly against Christians, we immediately think of certain countries outside of the OSCE region or in its vicinity. We must not forget that there are episodes of intolerance and marginalization against religion and believers even in traditionally democratic societies where, fortunately, there is not violent persecution.”


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments,

- Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J.,

- Mr. Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,

- Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, titular of Serta, Apostolic Nuncio to the Ivory Coast, and

-Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, titular of Thelepte, Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan.


Vatican City, 6 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Monfort Stima as Bishop of Mangochi (area 11,385, population 1,483,000, Catholics 523,000, priests 84, religious 197), Malawi. Bishop Stima, previously auxiliary of Blantyre, Malawi, succeeds Bishop Alessandro Pagani S.M.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Mangochi, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Fr. Rutile Felipe Pozos Lorenzini as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Puebla (area 20,932, population 4,780,000, Catholics 4,447,000, priests 548, permanent deacons 2, religious 928), Mexico. Bishop-elect Pozos Lorenzi was born in 1967 in Rancho San Diego, Mexico and was ordained to the priesthood in 1993. He has served as pastor of some parishes in the city of Puebla, as a diocesan assistant of Family Catechesis and coordinator of Family Pastoral Care, as a professor at the Major Seminary, and as chaplain of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sisters. He has served as rector of Puebla's Palafox Major Seminary since 2008 and is also president of the diocesan commission for Ministries.

- appointed Fr. Tomas Lopez Duran as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Puebla, Mexico. Bishop-elect Lopez Duran was born in 1961 in Atoyatempan, Mexico, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. He has served as assessor of discipline and professor of Canon Law at Puebla's Palafox Major Seminary. He is an instructor judge of the Ecclesiastical Tribune and works in various parishes. Since 2010 he has held the office of Judicial Vicar of the First Instance in the archdiocese's 5th Ecclesiastical Tribune.
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