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Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Vatican City, 17 December 2013 (VIS) – Today Pope Francis celebrates his 77th birthday, and congratulations have arrived in the Vatican from all over the world. However, also in his city of birth, Buenos Aires, citizens are celebrating the birthday of their former archbishop: the parishioners of the diaconate of Boca-Barrajas, one of the most popular and troubled areas of the city, will spend the day in Plaza Constitucion where a “missionary tent” has been erected to welcome the “invisible” inhabitants of the capital. The area hosts a large railway station and the principal bus terminal, where the “street people” of the city gather - migrants, the unemployed, the homeless, prostitutes – and where every year the then Archbishop Bergoglio used to celebrate Mass for the victims of human trafficking.

In Italy, the Constitutional Court sent a telegram to the Pope, through the secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, congratulating him for his “profound and intense pastoral work in the defence of the dignity of the human person and for peace in the world”. The Episcopal Conference sent him a message referring to his “tireless apostolic ministry which offers words of life and mercy, opening up paths and spreading hope”. Today, or later, on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis will receive a special gift: a visit from a delegation from the football team San Lorenzo de Buenos Aires, which the Pope supports, and who will bring with them the Cup of the “Inicial” Championship, which they won last Sunday. In the Roman parish of San Lorenzo in Piscibus, the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre – very close to the Vatican – various groups of young people will offer twenty-four hours of Eucharistic adoration in homage to Pope Francis, in shifts throughout the day and the night, joined by the Catholic Knights Templar.

The birthday celebrations will not end today. On Friday, 20 December, the Roman Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs will offer a concert in honour of the Pope, with the participation of numerous Italian and foreign artists who, as well as performing musical pieces, will also read significant passages from the Pope's work. The repertory will include the “Misa Criolla”, by the Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez, one of the Pope's favourite works, which will be performed by the Basilica's Schola Cantorum choir using popular Argentine instruments, and with the participation of the Chilean soprano Macarena Valenzuela.

This morning, Pope Francis requested that Mass be celebrated in the Santa Marta chapel with the staff of the guesthouse, in order to celebrate in a “family” environment. Today's Gospel, rich in the names of Jesus' ancestors, offered the Pope the opportunity to mention the names of several of the staff present during his homily. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, representing the College of Cardinals, concelebrated with the Pope, who also received congratulations from Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin on behalf of all his collaborators at the Secretariat of State.

The Almoner of His Holiness, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, when offering his congratulations to the Pope, was accompanied by four homeless people from the area near the Vatican. The Holy Father invited them all to dine with him in the Domus Santa Maria refectory.

All those who wish to congratulate the Pope by Internet are invited to do so at:



Vatican City, 17 December 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter to Fr. Jose Narlaly, minister general of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of the Captives, to commemorate the eighth centenary of the death of its founder St. Juan de Mata, and the fourth centenary of the passing of St. Juan Bautista de la Concepcion, reformer of the order. In his letter, Pope Francis joins with the Order in giving thanks to the Triune God for saints' outstanding contribution to the Church and conveys a “simple message of encouragement and spiritual closeness, and the hope that they will serve as an impulse to and company in enthusiastic and determined progress on the spiritual path they have traced, for the glory of the thrice Holy and the good of those who face various trials”.

The Pope recalled the exemplary lives of the two saints who, upon hearing the call of God, dedicated themselves fully to the most needy. “We are all called to to experience the joy that springs from the encounter with Jesus, to conquer our selfishness”, he said, “to reach out of our 'comfort zone' towards all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel”.

The Trinitarians are clear - and from this we should all learn – about the fact that in the Church, responsibility and authority should be lived as service. Therefore, our action must be removed from any desire for wealth or personal promotion, and must seek to put all the talents we receive from God to the service of the common good, to be able to manage them, like good administrators, for the purpose for which they have been granted; that is, to alleviate the suffering of the most disadvantaged. This is Christ's will, and for this reason the houses of your Family always keep their doors open, offering a brotherly welcome”.

The Pope encouraged the Order to continue to imitate Christ and, with the strength of His Spirit, to offer themselves with humility in the service of the poor and the imprisoned. “Today there are many … do not seek, therefore, for your works and apostolic initiatives, any basis other than 'the root of charity' and 'the will of Christ', which my predecessor, Innocent III, considered to be the essential pivots of this new way of life, approved by his apostolic authority”.


Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, for the death this morning of his predecessor Cardinal Ricardo Maria Carles Gordo at the age of 87.

The Holy Father offers his prayers for the eternal repose of the late cardinal “who exercised his episcopal ministry with apostolic diligence, first as bishop of Tortosa and then in the beloved archdiocese of Barcelona, pursuing the task of evangelisation with wisdom and generosity, and tirelessly encouraging many pastoral initiatives, demonstrating great closeness to priests, to consecrated life and to seminarians, to whom he dedicated special attention”.

Pope Francis mentioned the “great service offered to the Church” by the departed cardinal, and conveyed his most heartfelt condolences to his relatives, to all those who knew him personally and to the faithful of the archdiocese.


Vatican City, 17 December 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Rev. John Francis Doerfler as bishop of Marquette (area 42,152, population 321,000, Catholics 68,200, priests 90, permanent deacons 44, religious 51), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Appleton, U.S.A. in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America, Washington, U.S.A., and a licentiate and doctorate in moral theology from the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, Washington. He has held a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish vicar of the “St. John Nepomucene Parish” at Little Chute and at “St. Francis Xavier Cathedral”; and vice chancellor, defender of the bond and judge of the tribunal; administrator of the cathedral and parishes of “Holy Trinity” at Casco/Slovan and “St. John”, Green Bay and rector of the “Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help” at Robinsonsville. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of Green Bay, member of the college of consultors and the presbyteral council of Green Bay, and adjunct professor at the Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corner.
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