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Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – The Pope dedicated his final catechesis on the Creed to its last article: “I believe in life everlasting”, focusing in particular on the final judgement.

When we think of Christ's return and of His final judgement, which will show, up to the very last consequences, the good that each person will have done or omitted to do during his or her earthly life, we realise that we find ourselves before a mystery that overwhelms us, that we cannot even imagine. A mystery that almost instinctively arouses in us a sense of fear, and perhaps even trepidation. However, if we reflect closely on this fact, it cannot but enlarge the heart of a Christian, and constitutes a great reason for consolation and trust”.

Pope Francis explained that “in this respect, the witness of the first Christian communities is very interesting, since their celebrations and prayers were generally accompanied by the exclamation 'Maranatha', an acclamation made up of two Aramaic words which may be understood either as an entreaty: 'Come, Lord!', or as a certainty nurtured by faith: 'Yes, the Lord is coming, the Lord is near'. It is the exclamation in which all of Christian revelation culminates, at the end of the marvellous contemplation offered in the Apocalypse of St. John … in which the Church, bride in the name of all humanity, turns to Christ, her spouse, in the hope of receiving His embrace, full of life and love. If we think of the judgement in this way, all fear and hesitation makes way for expectation and profound joy. It will be the moment in which we will be judged as finally ready to be clothed in the glory of Christ”.

A second reason for trust is offered to us by “the realisation that, at the moment of judgement, we are not left alone. … How good it is to know that, in that situation, we can count on Christ, our advocate before the father, and upon the intercession and benevolence of many of our brothers and sisters who have preceded us on the path of faith ... and who continue to to love us in an indescribable way! The saints already live in the presence of God, in the splendour of His glory, praying for us, for those who still live on earth”.

A third element is offered to us by the Gospel of St. John, when he states that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”. “This means, then, that the judgement is already in process, throughout our existence. This judgement is pronounced in every instant in our lives, as reflected in our acceptance in faith of salvation, present and through the work of Christ, or in our incredulity and our consequent self-centredness. Salvation means opening oneself to Jesus. If we are sinners, the Lord forgives us, but we must open ourselves to Jesus' love, which is greater than all things; and opening up means repenting”.

The Lord Jesus gave Himself, and continues to give Himself for us”, concluded the Holy Father, “to fill us with the grace and the mercy of the Father. We can become in a certain sense our own judges, condemning ourselves to exclusion from communion with God and with our brethren. … therefore, let us never tire of keeping watch over our thoughts and attitudes, so that we might have right now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of the face of God, which in eternal life we will contemplate in all its fullness”.


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – After today's catechesis, the Pope mentioned that yesterday Caritas launched a worldwide campaign against hunger and food wastage, with the motto: “One human family, food for all”. “The scandal that millions of people suffer from hunger should not paralyse us”, he said, “but rather should press us to act – all of us: individuals, families, communities, institutions, governments – to eradicate this injustice. The Gospel of Jesus shows us the way: trust in the providence of the Father and share our daily bread without wasting it. I encourage Caritas in their efforts, and invite all to join in this 'wave' of solidarity”.


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all America and therefore, in his greetings in Spanish during today's general audience, the Pope addressed all brothers and sisters from the Continent, considering the Virgin of Tepeyac.

When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.

When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.

That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe”, concluded the Pope, “and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness. I pray for all of you, dear brothers and sisters, and I ask you to pray for me! May the joy of the Gospel always abide in your hearts. May the Lord bless you, and may Our Lady be ever at your side.


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., has commented on the nomination of Pope Francis as “person of the year” by Time magazine.

This fact is unsurprising, considering the resonance and very widespread attention given to the election of Pope Francis and the beginning of his pontificate. It is a positive sign that one of the most prestigious acknowledgements in the field of the international press has been attributed to one who proclaims spiritual, religious and moral values in the world, and who speaks effectively in favour of peace and greater justice.

With regard to the Pope, for his part, he does not seek fame and success, since he carries out his service for the proclamation of the Gospel and the love of God for all. If this attracts men and women and gives them hope, the Pope is content. If this nomination as “Person of the Year” means that many have understood this message, at least implicitly, he will certainly be glad”.


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) – The Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis reopens to the public next year, following excavation works which have lasted two years and which have made it possible to unite the two sectors of the burial ground, previously separated. The necropolis, which extends from the north-easterly part of the Vatican hill, covers an area of one thousand square metres containing tombs, mosaics, mouldings and frescoes, which date from the first century before Christ to the fourth century of our era.

The extension of the areas of the necropolis that may be visited by the public is the result of excavation works carried out by the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities of the Vatican Museums, generously funded by the Canada Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts, an international community of benefactors which has for three decades “adopted” and given economic support to projects for the conservation, restoration and appreciation of the treasures of the Vatican Museums.

During the works, the central area of the Necropolis was investigated and an ancient path excavated, uniting the two previously divided sectors, and bringing to light a zone intended for cremations (ustrino), which is rarely conserved in a complex of this type. It is characterised by two superimposed layers of baked clay and earth deposits, with fragments of charcoal and burnt pine cones, used to light the pyre. The grave goods accompanying the deceased are conserved in two recently installed display cabinets, while a third illustrates the most recent excavations, using a stratographic archaeological method, showing a synthetic panorama of the sections excavations carried out since 1956, the year in which the necropolis was discovered.

The tombs belong mostly to freemen or common people, such as Alcimus, slave of Nero and scene painter for the theatre of Pompey, or Tiberius Claudius Optatus, an imperial bookkeeper. The necropolis, as explained by Giandomenico Spinola, director of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities of the Vatican Museums, was “multi-ethnic”, in that people of Asiatic and Palestinian origin were also buried there, as is revealed by the inscriptions on the tombstones.

Thanks to the new display itinerary, including walkways and a multimedia installation, visitors accompanied by a guide may admire small mausoleums, sarcophagi, statues and bas-reliefs. The director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Antonio Paolucci, explained that “The aim is to create an excavation laboratory, open to the public. A place where people are able to view the area and the works while they are being carried out”.


Vatican City, 11 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Stephen Robson as bishop of Dunkeld (area 8,495, population 408,300, Catholics 43,800, priests 46, religious 42), Scotland. Bishop Robson, previously auxiliary of the archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, was born in Carlisle, England in 1951 and received episcopal ordination in 2012.
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