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Friday, December 13, 2013


Vatican City, 13 December 2013 (VIS) – “An 'international' fir tree” was how the Holy Father defined the Christmas tree which will adorn St. Peter's Square during the festive season. Originating from close to the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, it will be lit this afternoon.

The large fir tree and other smaller trees destined for other locations within Vatican City were donated by the community of Waldmunchen, Germany, located just eighteen kilometres from the border with the Czech Republic. In his address to members of the community whom he received in audience today, Pope Francis spoke about the “spiritual closeness and friendship that unites all of Germany, and particularly Bavaria, with the Holy See, following the Christian tradition that has rendered fruitful the culture, literature and art of this nation, and of Europe as a whole”.

The tree will be admired by many Romans, pilgrims and tourists who attend St. Peter's Square during the period of Advent, in which “there resounds in every place the joyful proclamation of the angel to the shepherds of Bethlehem … who were surrounded by a great light. Even today, Jesus continues to dissipate the shadows of error and sin, to bring to humanity the joy of the brilliant divine light, of which the Christmas tree is a sign and a memory. May we let ourselves be surrounded by the light of truth, so that the joy of the gospel may fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”.

The Holy Father wished a happy Christmas to the representatives of the community of Waldmunchen, as well as their families and compatriots, and asked them to pray for him.


Vatican City, 13 December 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, met with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, greeting again the ambassadors he has already met during his service in the Secretariat of State, and introducing himself to those he had not yet met.

After thanking the Diplomatic Corps for their congratulations upon his nomination as secretary of State, and extending his Christmas and New Year greetings, the archbishop gave an address in French, extensive extracts of which are published below:

In a time in which many parts of the world are faced with numerous forms of violence and the persistence of social inequality, I would like to renew before you the guarantee of my willingness to collaborate in the search for peace and respect for the dignity of every human being”.

We must show that peace is possible, that it is not a utopia … but rather a real asset that comes from God, and which we are able to contribute to building through personal and joint commitment. … For this, it is necessary to work together for the establishment of a true culture of peace, courageously responding to the challenges that imperil the authentic co-existence of people and populations. To do this, we answer to one of the deepest aspirations of man, the aspiration to well-being. Is the mission of diplomats not that of working for a better world, for the establishment or strengthening of ever-more fraternal relations?”

As Pope Francis has expressed many times, the human being - every man and every woman living in our world - is created to experience joy and seeks … true joy. Certainly, in the many circumstances encountered along the way, that joy is often obscured. It is not always apparent. However, it is present in the good that is done every day, in the beauty of nature, of people, of events … It is also found in progress towards peace and towards mutual understanding between peoples, fragile and limited though this may seem. It is the joy of encounter and exchange, of dialogue and reconciliation”.

This is the humanity that we seek to build together! A humanity that it a true family, a humanity in which dialogue prevails over war for the resolution of disagreements, a humanity in which the strength of the powerful compensates for the frailty of the weak, and where the force of the weak compensates for the fragility of the powerful”.

We know that many of today's men and women are in need, along their path, of encounter with profoundly human and brotherly people able to give them hope for the future. Pope Francis wants Christians to be these people, and hopes that the Church will proclaim, witness and bring joy, as he repeated in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which can ideally be read in conjunction with the letter that he addressed to his faithful as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, at the opening of the Year of Faith. From the beginning, it speaks of a Church whose doors are open, a symbol of light, friendship, joy, freedom and trust. To conclude the Year of Faith, in a letter addressed to the universal Church, Pope Francis repeated his wish for a Church that is less concerned with strengthening her confines, instead seeking encounter and communicating the joy of the Gospel”.

For Christians, this joy is fundamental to the person of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate a few days from now. May joy and peace help your people to grow and advance towards a better future!”.


Vatican City, 13 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and entourage.

- Bishop David Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Canada, vice president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, with Bishop Lionel Gendron of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, vice president, and Msgr. Patrick Powers, secretary general.

- Ettore Bernabei, honorary president of “Lux Vide”.


Vatican City, 13 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, apostolic nuncio in Nigeria, as permanent observer at the Economic Community of the Western African States (ECOWAS / CEDEAO).

- appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Gonzalez Gonzalez as bishop of Campeche (area 55,858, population 802,000, Catholics 647,000, priests 108, permanent deacons 3, religious 217), Mexico. Bishop Gonzalez Gonzalez, previously auxiliary of Guadalajara, Mexico, was born in Yahualica, Mexico in 1966, was ordained to the priesthood in 1995, and received episcopal ordination in 2008.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, presented by Bishop Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam, upon having reached the age limit.

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