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Monday, December 16, 2013


Vatican City, 16 December 2013 (VIS) – On the third Sunday of Advent, or "Gaudete Sunday" – joyful because it is soon before the Nativity, and therefore the Lord is near – the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in a rainy St. Peter's Square, reaffirming that the Gospel is “a proclamation of joy for all people” and that “the Church "is not a haven for sad people. The Church is the house of joy! And those who are sad find true joy in her”.

But the joy of the Gospel, however, is not just any joy”, continued the Pope. “It is motivated by the knowledge that we are wanted and loved by God … God is He Who comes to save us, and Who especially comes to the aid of a fearful heart. His coming among us strengthens us; it makes us stand firm, it gives us courage, it makes the desert and the steppe rejoice and bloom; our lives become arid without the water of God's Word and His Spirit of love. No matter how great our limitations and our disorientation, we are not permitted to be weak and uncertain in the face of difficulties and our own weaknesses. Instead, we are invited to strengthen our hands, to stand firm, to be courageous and not to fear, for our God always shows the greatness of His mercy. He gives us the strength to carry on. … He is a God Who loves us very much, Who loves us and is therefore among us, to help us to grow stronger and to move on. Courage, on we go!”

Pope Francis added that, thanks to His help, “we can always start afresh”, even when we are sure it is impossible. “Wrong!” he exclaimed. “You can start again, because he awaits you, He is close to you, He loves you, and He is merciful. … We are able to open our eyes again, overcome sadness and tears and sing a new song. And this true joy stands up to the test, even of suffering, because it is not a superficial joy; on the contrary, it permeates the very depths of the person who entrusts himself to God".

Christian joy, like hope, “has its foundation in the faithfulness of God, in the certainty that He always keeps His promises. … Those who have met Jesus along the way have experienced a serenity and joy that nothing and nobody can deprive them of. Our joy is Jesus Christ, His faithful and inexhaustible love! Therefore, when a Christian becomes sad it means that he or she has turned away from Jesus. But then we must not leave him alone, we must pray for him, and let him feel the warmth of the community".

The Virgin Mary, the Pope concluded, "helps us to hasten our steps toward Bethlehem to meet the Child Who is born for us, for the salvation and happiness of all humanity. … May she help us to live the joy of the gospel in the home, at work, in the parish and in any environment. An intimate joy, born of wonder and tenderness. The same joy of a mother who looks at her newborn baby, aware that she has received a gift from God, a miracle for which she can only give thanks".

Following the Angelus, the Pope greeted the children of Rome who brought their figurines of the newborn Baby Jesus to St. Peter's Square to be blessed by the Pontiff, as is customary on the third Sunday of Advent.

Shortly after, the Holy Father transferred to the Hall of the Blessings to greet the members of the Community of Villa Nazareth – the centre founded by Cardinal Domenico Tardini, to enable young people from families with insufficient resources to undertake university studies – where he participated in the traditional Nativity Mass.

The Pope greeted all those present and gave special thanks to the president of the Foundation, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, who celebrated his 90th birthday on 23 October. “Thank you to the Cardinal who has done so much good, through his strong and fruitful thought, for the dignity of the human person … and for enabling everyone to find the talents the Lord has given them, in order that they may put them to use in life”, said the Holy Father. And thanks to all of you for your work. … And I ask you for your prayers, as I need them”.


Vatican City, 15 December 2013 (VIS) – Two thousand envelopes will be distributed to the needy, in the locations where aid is offered by the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, by volunteers who provide evening assistance or by Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness. It is the Pope's Christmas gift to the poorest and most marginalised of the capital.

The envelopes, which will be delivered by Archbishop Krajewski, are franked with Vatican stamps, so that it may be used, simply by adding an address, and contains the Pope's signed Christmas greetings card, telephone cards and day tickets for the Metro, the city's underground rail service.

The directorate of ATAC (Municipal Agency for Transport in Rome) has offered 4000 day tickets for the Metro, the Vatican Post has offered the stamps, and the envelopes were donated by the Vatican Typography.


Vatican City, 14 December 2013 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis visited the Santa Marta Dispensary, which has for ninety years provided medical assistance and other forms of help to children and families in need, of all beliefs and nationalities. The location of the institution, established in 1922 by Pope Pio XI, has changed on a number of occasions throughout history and it is now based in the San Carlo Palace, very close to the Santa Marta guesthouse, the Pope's residence.

The Pope then proceeded to the Paul VI Hall where he was awaited by 800 people, including volunteers and families assisted by the Dispensary. Shortly after his arrival, a group of nine children prepared a portrait of Francis, with the greeting “Auguri”, best wishes. The Holy Father will celebrate his 77th birthday in three days' time and so another group of children at Santa Marta, each dressed in a white shirt with a large letter printed on it in yellow, lined up to form the phrase “Auguri Papa Francesco” (“Best wishes, Pope Francis”), and sang “Happy Birthday” to him while a cake, baked in the Dispensary and complete with candles, was brought into the hall. The Pope, surprised, rose onto his feet, blew out the candles, and received the gift of a pullover.

Thank you for this visit!” he said. “Thank you for your love, for the joy of these children, the gifts, the cake … which was beautiful! Afterwards I will tell you whether it was good or not! Many thanks, and may the Lord bless you”.

There are currently 270 families assisted by the Santa Marta Dispensary, to which 22 doctors offer their service, and which throughout 2013 treated more than 3,500 people. The centre also receives the support of 25 volunteers and the collaboration of the paediatric hospital Bambin Gesù and other hospitals in Rome, such as the Vatican Pharmacy and the Vatican Health Care Fund. It is also assisted by the Saints Peter and Paul Association, the “Opera Pia Pro Infantia” Roman Society and the Food Bank. In 2008, following a Chirograph of Pope Benedict XVI, it took on the form of an Autonomous Foundation and its activity became formally an expression of the charity of the Pope and the Holy See. By statute the Foundation, the management of which is entrusted to the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, is presided by the Almoner of His Holiness, currently Archbishop Konrad Krajewski.


Vatican City, 14 December 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, 13 December, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, attended at a conference held in Rome abnd organised by the Religious Freedom Project of Georgetown University and the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, at which he gave a presentation on the links between religious freedom and Christianity, within the scope of a Conference organised by Georgetown University of Washington on the theme “Christians and religious freedom: historical and contemporary perspectives”.

The Archbishop affirmed that “the concept of human rights itself originated in a Christian context” and offered as an example St. Thomas More, “who at the price of his own life bore witness to the fact that Christians, in the light of reason and by virtue of their freedom of conscience, are called to reject every form of oppression”.

The link between Christianity and freedom is thus original and profound”, he continued. “It has its roots in the teaching of Christ himself and Saint Paul appears as one of its most strenuous and brilliant defenders. Freedom is intrinsic to Christianity, for it was, as Paul says, for freedom that Christ set us free”. While the Apostle referred to interior freedom, this “naturally also has consequences for society”.

This year marks the one-thousand-seven-hundredth anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which crowned the expansion throughout society of that interior freedom of which Saint Paul spoke. At the same time, from an historical and cultural standpoint, the Edict represented the beginning of a process which has marked European history and that of the entire world, leading in the course of the centuries to the definition of human rights and the recognition of religious freedom as 'the first of human rights'”.

Constantine saw that the growth of the Empire depended on the ability of each individual to profess freely his or her religious beliefs. … It suffices to consider the great patrimony of the world’s art, not only that of Christian inspiration, in order to appreciate the inherent goodness of this relationship. … At this point, however, there is a need to avoid possible misunderstanding, since the word 'freedom' can be interpreted in many ways. Freedom cannot be reduced to mere caprice, or understood in a purely negative sense as the absence of constraint”, continued Archbishop Mamberti. “Consequently, the proper exercise of religious freedom cannot prescind from the interplay of reason and faith. … This also provides a bulwark against both relativism and against those forms of religious fundamentalism which, like relativism, see in religious freedom a threat to their own ideological dominance”.

The Archbishop concluded by commenting that when the Second Vatican Council set forth the principle of religious freedom, “it was not proposing a new teaching. Rather, it was restating a common human experience: namely, that 'all human beings … endowed with reason and free will, and therefore bearing personal responsibility, are impelled by their nature… to seek the truth … It is in the truth, seen not so much as an absolute which we already possess, but as the potential object of rational and relational knowledge, that we encounter the potential for a sound exercise of freedom. And it is precisely in this connection that we discover the authentic dignity of the human person”.


Vatican City, 14 December 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will visit St. Petersburg and Moscow in the Russian Federation from 14 to 19 December, to meet with various representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

The cardinal will be received by the Patriarch Kirill II of Moscow and all Russia, and will also encounter the Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, who was received in audience by Pope Francis on 12 November. In the Moscow Theological Academy the cardinal will speak at a conference on the progress made in dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, and will visit the monastery of Lavre Alexander Venski, which will celebrate its third centenary this year.

During his visit to the Russian Federation, upon invitation by Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, ordinary of the Catholic archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, Cardinal Koch will preside at the jubilee commemoration of the Basilica of St. Catherine of Alexandria in St. Petersburg and will speak with Catholic clergy within the framework of pastoral encounters dedicated to Vatican Council II and ecumenical dialogue.


Vatican City, 16 December 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Francesco Kyung-surk Kim, the new ambassador of Korea to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters.

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

- Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski, apostolic nuncio to the Republic of Congo and Gabon.

On Saturday, 14 December, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Christiane Feral-Schuhl, president of the “Barreau de Paris”, France.


Vatican City, 16 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- confirmed Cardinal Marc Ouellet as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- appointed the following as members of the same dicastery:

Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico; Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.; Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia; Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Archbishop Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops; Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, Great Britain; Archbishop Paolo Rabitti, emeritus of Ferrara-Comacchio, Italy; Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy; Bishop Felix Genn of Munster, Germany;

- confirmed the following as members of the same dicastery:

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, Cardinal Jose Octavio Ruiz Arenas, and Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.

- confirmed the Consultors of the same dicastery.

- appointed Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara, M.E.P., as bishop of Port-Berge (area 23,367, population 699,000, Catholics 19,320, priests 15, religious 44), Madagascar. Bishop Puthiyakulangara, currently co-adjutor of the same diocese, was born in Endoor, India in 1953, was ordained a priest in 1982, and received episcopal ordination in 2009. He succeeds Bishop Armand Toasy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

On Saturday, 14 December the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Rene Osvaldo Rebolledo Salinas as archbishop of La Serena (area 30,447, population 565,000, Catholics 464,000, priests 67, permanent deacons 66, religious 161), Chile. Bishop Rebolledo Salinas, previously bishop of Osorno, Chile, was born in Cunco, Chile in 1958, was ordained to the priesthood in 1984, and received episcopal ordination in 2004. He succeeds Archbishop Manuel Gerardo Donoso Donoso, SS.CC., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Msgr. Stanislaw Salaterski and Msgr. Jan Piotrowski as auxiliaries of the diocese of Tarnow (area 7,566, population 1,125,200, Catholics 1,118,200, priests 1433, religious 1190), Poland.

Bishop-elect Salaterski was born in Lipnica Murowana, Poland in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1981. He holds a doctorate in history of the Church from the Catholic University of Lublin, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including parish vicar at the cathedral of Tarnow and in the parish of San Casimiro in Nowy Sacz; lecturer in ecclesiastical history at the Catholic University of Lublin, diocesan director for the pastoral of the young, episcopal vicar for the young, eccesiastical assistant of the Association of Catholic Educators, diocesan head of pastoral for artisans, and lecturer in history of the Church in the Pontifical Academy of Theology, Tarnow. He is currently priest of the Cathedral, as well as member of the diocesan historical Commission, the presbyteral Council, and the college of Consultors, and dean of the Tarnow-Poludnie deanery. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness in 2008.

Bishop-elect Piotrowski was born in Szczurowa, Poland in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He holds a doctorate in missiology from the Academy of Catholic Theology, Warsaw, and has served in a number of pastoral and missionary roles, including parish viar at Przeclaw and in the parish of the Holy Spirit in Mielec; missionary in Congo-Brazzaville; missionary in Peru, and national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works. Since 2009 he has been priest of the parish of St. Margaret at Nowy Sacz. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness in 2004.

- appointed Fr. Michele Petruzzelli, O.S.B., as ordinary abbot of the territorial abbey of Santissima Trinita di Cava de' Tirreni (area 10, population 8,000, Catholics 8,000, priests 9, permanent deacons 1, religious 13), Italy. The abbot-elect was born in Bari, Italy in 1961, and ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a licentiate in monastic theology from the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm and has served in a number of roles within within the monastery of Noci, including penitentiary, guest master and cellarer. He is currently master of novices and claustral prior.
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