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Monday, December 9, 2013


Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Republic of the Congo, Denis Sassou N'Guesso, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State.

During the cordial discussions, the Parties focused on the positive contribution made by the Catholic Church in Congolese society, in particular in the fields of welfare and education. Mention was made of the good existing relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Congo, and various themes of common interest were considered, renewing intentions to strengthen further bilateral collaboration.

Finally, the focus turned to several questions of interest to Central Africa, including various situations of a humanitarian nature, with particular attention to assistance for refugees, as well as the problem of security in the Region, also in relation to the growth of tensions due to fundamentalism.


Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – “Let us pray with trust that in the Holy Land and in all the Middle East peace may always arise again from the all too frequent and often dramatic interruptions. Let let enmity and divisions cease for ever”. This was the Pope's appeal during the morning Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse, concelebrated with the Partriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrik, as a public demonstration of the ecclesiastical communion sought by the Patriarch and conceded by Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis cited the prophet Isaiah, who “reawakened in our hearts the wait for the glorious return of the Lord”, commenting that “the encouragement to those with 'fearful hearts' we feel to be addressed to those in the beloved land of Egypt, who experience insecurity and violence, at times because of their Christian faith. 'Be strong; do not fear!' These are the words of consolation that find confirmation in fraternal solidarity. I am grateful to God for this encounter, which gives me a way of reinforcing your – and our – hope, which is one and the same”.

The Gospel presents Christ, Who vanquishes the paralysis of humanity … the paralyses of the conscience are contagious. With the complicity of the moments of poverty of history, and our own sin, they can expand and enter into social structures and communities to the extent of blocking entire populations. But Christ's command can turn the situation around: 'Rise, be on your way!”.

Let us pray for the rapid reinstatement of peace agreements, often paralysed by opposed and obscure interests. Let there finally be real guarantees of religious freedom for all, along with the right of Christians to live serenely where they are born, in the homeland they have loved as citizens for two thousand years, to contribute as always to the good of all. May the Lord Jesus, who experienced flight with the Holy Family and was received in your generous land, watch over Egyptians on their travels throughout the world in search of dignity and security”.

And may we proceed, in search of the Lord, in search of new roads, new ways to reach the Lord. And should it be necessary to open up a hole in the roof so that we all might be closer to the Lord, let our imagination, creative in charity, lead us to this: to find and make new roads for encounter, roads of brotherhood, roads of peace”.

On his part, the Patriarch Sidrak emphasised that “in this delicate historical moment”, the Church in Egypt “needs to be supported by the paternal embrace” of the Holy Father. “In the time that we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of the Word”, he observed, “we cannot but recall the historical bond between my land and this mystery, from the moment in which the first place to welcome the Holy Family in flight from Herod's persecutions was none other than Egypt. This corner of land between the desert and the Nile has known, and still knows, the painful drama experienced by many people who wish to be listened to and received. Our Church is there, ready to welcome whoever knocks on the door, and to offer hospitality to whoever seeks help, to care for the needy and the abandoned, and to give witness to the Gospel”.

May the light of the Holy Nativity be the star that reveals the road of love, of unity, of reconciliation and of peace, gifts my land greatly needs. We ask your blessing, Holy Father, and await you in Egypt”.


Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – This Sunday, 8 December, was the first time that Pope Francis has paid the traditional homage to Mary Immaculate in Rome's Piazza di Spagna. During his journey by jeep from the Vatican to the centre of Rome, the Holy Father was warmly received by Roman faithful and greeted the thousands of people gathered in the streets near the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, opposite the statue of the Virgin, to which the Pope offers a floral wreath on the day of the Immaculate Conception.

As is traditional, the Pope stopped briefly in front of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity where he received the tribute from the Via Condotti Storeowners Association, and proceeded on foot to the Square, where he embraced several children and patients in wheelchairs, and shook hands with many people. After greeting Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the city of Rome, and Ignazio Marino, mayor of the capital, he recited the following prayer, composed specially for the occasion:

Virgin most holy and immaculate,
to you, the honour of our people,
and the loving protector of our city,
do we turn with loving trust.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you there is no sin.

Awaken in all of us a renewed desire for holiness:
May the splendour of truth shine forth in our words,
the song of charity resound in our works,
purity and chastity abide in our hearts and bodies,
and the full beauty of the Gospel be evident in our lives.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you the Word of God became flesh.

Help us always to heed the Lord’s voice:
May we never be indifferent to the cry of the poor,
or untouched by the sufferings of the sick and those in need;
may we be sensitive to the loneliness of the elderly and the vulnerability of children,
and always love and cherish the life of every human being.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you is the fullness of joy born of life with God.

Help us never to forget the meaning of our earthly journey:
May the kindly light of faith illumine our days,
the comforting power of hope direct our steps,
the contagious warmth of love stir our hearts;
and may our gaze be fixed on God, in whom true joy is found.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
Hear our prayer, graciously hear our plea:
May the beauty of God’s merciful love in Jesus abide in our hearts,
and may this divine beauty save us, our city and the entire world.


After the act of veneration, the Pope went on to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where, as announced during the Angelus, he prayed before the image of Mary “Salus populi romani”, for all and especially for the inhabitants of the capital.


Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – On the day of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, and asked all to join him in invoking Mary, repeating “Full of grace”, as God saw her in His loving plan: “beautiful and full of grace”.

Our mother is beautiful!” he continued. “Mary guides us as we journey towards the Nativity, because she teaches us how to experience the time of Advent, awaiting the Lord … Who will come to us all together in the feast, but also to each one of us, in our hearts”.

He went on to comment on the reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, which presents Mary, a girl from Galilee, a small village at the outskirts of the Roman Empire and remote even within Israel. However, although she was “a young girl from a faraway village”, “the gaze of the Lord” rested upon her, “and He chose her as the mother of His Son. In the light of her maternity, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in the communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the mother of He Who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculate Conception is inscribed in God's design; it is the fruit of God's love, which saves the world”.

And the Virgin never strayed from that love; all her life, all her being is a 'yes' to that love, and a 'yes' to God. But it certainly was not easy for her! When the Angel describes her as the 'favoured one', she is 'greatly troubled' since, in her humility, she considers herself as nothing before God”, but she “listens, obeys within herself, and answers, 'I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word'”.

The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in God's heart, is not alien to us”, emphasised the Bishop of Rome. “It is not that she is there and we are here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God turns His loving gaze upon every man and every woman. With both name and surname. His loving gaze falls upon every one of us. The apostle Paul affirms that God 'chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight'. We too have always been chosen by God to lead a holy life, free of sin”.

On this feast day”, concluded Pope Francis, “contemplating our Immaculate and beautiful Mother, we also recognise our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God”.

Following the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted the Church in North America, which today celebrates the foundation of her first parish, Notre-Dame de Quebec, 350 years ago. “We give thanks for her journey so far, especially for the saints and martyrs who have made those lands fruitful. I give my heartfelt blessing to all the faithful who celebrate this jubilee”.


Vatican City, 7 December 2013 (VIS) – A message from Pope Francis, dated 6 December, for the 22nd World Day of the Sick 2014 was published on Friday. The Day will take place on 11 February 2014, liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Maria of Lourdes, and will take the theme “Faith and Charity: we too must give our lives for the brethren”.

The Pope mentions that the Church sees in the sick “the special presence of the suffering Christ”, and added that God has reduced and transformed sickness and suffering. “Reduced”, he writes, “because it no longer has the last word, which is instead new life in all its fullness; transformed because in union with Christ, the negative can become positive”. Jesus is the way, and with His Spirit we can follow Him. Just as the Father gave His Son for love, and the Son gave Himself for that same love, we too can love others as God has loved us, giving our lives for our brethren”.

Francis went on to mention that by Baptism and Confirmation, we are called to conform to Christ, the Good Samaritan to all those who suffer. “When we come close, with tenderness, to those in need of care, we bring the hope and the smile of God amid the contradictions of the world”. He explained that to grow in tenderness and respectful, gentle charity, the best Christian model is Mary. “She knows how to undertake this path and for this reason she is the Mother of all the sick and suffering. We are able to turn to her with trust and filial devotion, sure that she will assist and support us, and will never abandon us. She is the mother of the Risen Christ” he concluded; “she stays next to our crosses and accompanies us on the true path towards resurrection and full life”.


Vatican City, 7 December 2013 (VIS) - “To proclaim Christ in the digital era is a special field for the work of the young”, since for them the internet is in a certain sense their natural home. It is a widespread, complex reality in continual evolution, and its development continues to pose the ever-valid question of the relationship between faith and culture.”

Pope Francis commented that the theme, chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in its plenary assembly – “Proclaiming Christ in the digital era” – was “a very current question” which however recalled the first centuries of Christianity in which “the Church wished to measure up to the extraordinary legacy of Greek culture”.

Faced with philosophies of great depth and an educational method of exceptional value, but infused with pagan elements, the Fathers did not shy away from comparison, nor did they compromise with any ideas contrary to their faith. Instead, they were able to recognise and assimilate the most elevated concepts, transforming them from within in the light of the Word of God. They implemented St. Paul's call to 'test everything, hold on to the good'. Also, among the opportunities and dangers of the internet, it is necessary to test everything, aware that we certainly find false currencies, dangerous illusions and traps to be avoided. But, guided by the Holy Spirit, we will also discover valuable opportunities to lead mankind towards the luminous face of the Lord”.

Among the possibilities offered by digital communication, the most important “regards the proclamation of the Gospel. It is certainly not enough to acquire technological skills, although these are important. It is above all about meeting real women and men, often harmed or lost, to offer them real reasons for hope. Proclamation requires authentic and direct human relations to flow into a personal encounter with the Lord. Therefore the internet is not enough, technology is not sufficient. This, however, does not mean that the presence of the Church on the web is useless; on the contrary, it is indispensable to be present, always in an evangelical style, in what has become for many people, especially the young, a sort of life environment, to reawaken the insuppressible questions the heart asks about the meaning of existence, and to indicate the way to He Who is the answer, the divine Mercy made flesh, the Lord Jesus”.

Francis concluded by commenting that the Church forever walks a path “in the search of new ways to proclaim the Gospel. The contribution and the witness of lay faithful is shown every day to be indispensable”.


Vatican City, 7 December 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received in audience a delegation from the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, presided by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, and whose aim is to “promote human dignity on the basis of the fundamental truth that man is created in the image and likeness of God”.

Therefore, the Pope observed, “it is an originary dignity for every man and woman, and as such cannot be suppressed … by any power or ideology. Unfortunately, in our age, so rich in many victories and hopes, there is no lack of powers and forces that produce a throwaway culture, and this tends to become a common mentality. The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings – the unborn, the poorest, the elderly and infirm, the seriously disabled – who risk being discarded, expelled by a mechanism that has to be efficient at all costs. This false model of mankind and of society brings about a form of atheism that in practice denies the Word of God”.

Instead, if we allow ourselves to be questioned by this Word, if we allow it to appeal to our personal and social conscience, if we enable it to call into discussion our ways of thinking and acting, the criteria, priorities and choices, then things can change. The strength of this Word sets limits upon anyone who seeks to impose their hegemony, ignoring the rights and dignity of others. At the same time, it gives hope and consolation to those who are unable to defend themselves, to those who do not have the intellectual or practical means of affirming the value of their suffering, their rights, their own lives”.

The Social Doctrine of the Church, with its full vision of man as a personal and social being, is your 'compass'”, the Pope emphasised, addressing the members of Dignitas Humanae, since it constitutes “a particularly significant result of the long path walked by the People of God in modern and contemporary history: it is the defence of religious freedom, of life in all its phases, of the right to work and to decent work, of the family, of education”.

Initiatives such as yours, which seek to help people, communities and institutions to rediscover the ethical and social importance of the principle of human dignity, the root of liberty and justice, are to be welcomed. With this aim, it is necessary to undertake work of sensitisation and formation, in order that the lay faithful, in any condition, and especially those who are engaged in the field of politics, may know how to think in accordance with the Gospel and the social Doctrine of the Church, and to act coherently, engaging in dialogue and collaboration with those who share, with sincerity and intellectual honesty, if not faith, at least a similar vision of humanity and society, and its ethical consequences. There are many non-Christians and non-believers who are convinced that the human person should always be an end and never merely a means”, concluded the Pope.


Vatican City, 8 December 2013 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received in private audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


- Venerable Servant of God Giovannina Franchi, Italian foundress of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother of Como (1807-1872).


- Servants of God Mario Vergara, Italian, professed priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and Isidoro Ngei Ko Lat, Burmese, layperson and catechist killed in hatred of the faith in Shadaw, Myanmar, in 1950.


- Servant of God Maurice Garrigou, French priest and founder of the Institute of Our Lady of Compassion (1766-1852).

- Servant of God Clemens Fuhl (born Vinzenz Fuhl), German, professed priest of the Agostinian Order (1874-1935).

- Servant of God Marcell of the Virgin of Carmel (born Marcell Boldizsar Marton), Hungarian professed priest of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites (1887-1966).

- Servant of God Romano Bottegal, Italian professed priest of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), (1921-1978).

- Servant of God Rosalie Cadron-Jette, Canadian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Misericorde (1794-1864).

- Servant of God Maria Rosa Teresa Gay Tibau, Spanish foundress of the Religious of St. Joseph of Girona (1813-1884).

- Servant of God Maria Oliva of the Mystical Body (born Maria Oliva Bonaldo), Italian foundress of the Daughters of the Church (1893-1976).

- Servant of God Orsola Mezzini, professed religious of the Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf-Mute (1853-1919).

- Servant of God Maria Scolastica of Divine Providence (born Orsola Maria Rivata), Italian professed religious of the Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master (1897-1987).

- Servant of God Raffaele Cordero Molina, Puerto Rican layperson (1790-1868).


Vatican City, 9 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

- Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

- Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio in Bolivia.

On Saturday, 7 December the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.


Vatican City, 9 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Pr. Simon Kaipuram, C.M., as bishop of Balasore (area 25,118, population 8,974,200, Catholics 23,643, priests 53, religious 174), India. The bishop-elect was born in Thannermukkom, India, 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He holds a doctorate from the Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome, and has served in the following pastoral roles: parish vicar in Aligonda and Mohana, in the diocese of Berhampur, formator and professor at the Aquinas College, Gopalpur, rector of the Vidya Sadan Theology House, Pune, formator, professor and dean of studies at the Aquinas College, and formator at the Vincenzian minor seminary of Baripada, Balasore. He is currently rector and professor at the Aquinas College, diocesan consultor and provincial assistant, and visiting professor in various Indian seminaries and theological institutes. He succeeds Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil, C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, upon having reached the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Brno, Czech Republic, presented by Bishop Petr Esterka, upon having reached the age limit.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Lowicz, Poland, presented by Bishop Jozef Zawitkowski, upon having reached the age limit.

On Sunday, 8 December the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” as his Special Envoy to the official ceremony in memory of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the late former president of the Republic of South Africa, to be held in Johannesburg on Tuesday 10 December, 2013.

On Saturday, 7 December the Holy Father:

- appointed Rev. Georges Bizimana of the clergy of Ngozi, Burundi, as coadjutor bishop of Bubanza (area 2,700, population 772,000, Catholics 444,154, priests 40, permanent deacons 6, religious 50), Burundi. The bishop-elect was born in Buraniro, Burundi in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome, and has served in the following pastoral roles: formator at the minor seminary of Mureke, parish vicar in Gasenyi, parish priest of Mubuga, chancellor of the diocesan and vocational animator, and professor and subsequently rector at the “Jean Paul II” major theological seminary of Gitega.

- appointed Msgr. Rudolf Pierskala as auxiliary bishop of Opole (area , population , Catholics , priests , permanent deacons , religious ), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Poland in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including lecturer in liturgy in the Pastoral Institute of the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland; director of the residence for priests emeritus in Opole, lecturer in the faculty of theology in the University of Opole, pro-deacon in the faculty of theology and member of the Senate of the University of Opole, and member of the presbyteral Council. He is currently chancellor of the Curia, episcopal vicar for divine worship and the discipline of sacraments, member of the pastoral Council and the diocesan cCouncil for the continuing formation of priests, and adjunct professor in the University of Opole. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness in 2006.

- appointed Osvaldo Gianoli as director of the Pontifical Villas at Castelgandolfo.

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