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Friday, January 17, 2014


Vatican City, 17 January 2014 (VIS) - Today the Pope received in audience an ecumenical delegation from the Lutheran Church of Finland during their annual pilgrimage to Rome. They have been celebrating the feast of Saint Henry of Uppsala, patron saint of Finland, in this manner for 25 years now.

The Holy Father addressed them, saying: “The Apostle asks the members of the community of Corinth, marked by divisions, 'Is Christ divided?' This question has been chosen as the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity, which begins tomorrow. Today it is addressed to us. Faced with voices that no longer recognize the full and visible unity of the church as an achievable goal, we are invited to not give up our ecumenical efforts, faithful to what the Lord Jesus himself asked of the Father: 'That they may all be one'.”

At the present moment, the ecumenical path and relations among Christian are undergoing significant changes due primarily to the fact that we must profess our faith in the context of societies and cultures where reference to God, and everything that recalls the transcendent dimension of life, is always less present. We notice it especially in Europe, but not only here.”

It is precisely for this reason that it is necessary for our witness to concentrate upon the centre of our faith, upon the announcement of God's love that is made manifest in Christ, his Son. Here we find the room to grow in communion and in unity among, promoting spiritual ecumenism, which is born directly from the commandment of love that Jesus left his disciples. The Second Vatican Council also made reference to this dimension: 'This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, "spiritual ecumenism”.' Ecumenism is, in fact, a spiritual process, which is carried out in faithful obedience to the Father, in fulfilment of Christ's will, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Francis bid the delegation from Finland farewell, inviting them all to “call tirelessly upon the help of the grace of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, bearer of reconciliation and communion, who leads us into full truth.”


Vatican City, 17 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received employees from the Vatican's “Floreria” services. Their main task is preparing the adornments for audiences and ceremonies in St. Peter's Basilica and Square, the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Apostolic Palace, and the other papal basilicas. They are also in charge of furnishing and maintaining the Vatican apartments for the Pope and other bishops and prelates of the Curia. Its services include three workshops: one for the restoration and repair of textiles, one for woodworking, and one for gilding.

In these past months,” the Holy Father commented, “I have realized the importance of your work … which requires dedication, sacrifice of spirit, and much patience. I am thinking, for example, of the task of placing, each week, the thousands of chairs needed for the pilgrims who attend the general audiences as well as the work you carry out in the workshops. I wholeheartedly thank you for the care, the professionalism, and the willingness with which you carry out your work. I encourage you to persevere in the faithfulness to your tasks and to keep up amongst yourselves the atmosphere of serenity, mutual trust, and goodwill. This way of life and work will return to the benefit of the Vatican's entire working community.”

In conclusion, the Bishop of Rome bid the workers farewell, invoking upon them and their family members the blessing of St. Joseph the Worker.


Vatican City, 17 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, 17 January, marks the liturgical commemoration of St. Anthony Abbot, patron and protector of animals. Just as in years past for this feastday, St. Peter's square will be filled with animals. The Italian Association of Livestock Farmers (AIA) has organized a series of events in honour of their patron saint.

The day began at 10:30 with Mass in the Vatican Basilica presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. At noon there was a procession of horses and riders along Via della Conciliazione in which the military band of the IVth Regiment of mounted police will take part. After the procession, around 12:30, the guests of honourcows, goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, etc., and their owners―were blessed.

The members of AIA also invited all residents with pets to join in the celebration and, if they wished, to make use of the free veterinary visit offered to their four-legged friends.

Throughout the day, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, there was an exhibition of animals in the Pio XII Square directly in front of the Bernini colonnade around St. Peter's Square, an entire farm in the city, showcasing Italian livestock production.


Vatican City, 17 January 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru.

- Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Archbishop Aldo Giordano, apostolic nuncio to Venezuela and titular of Tamada, with members of his family.

- Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, with a delegation from Milan's EXPO 2015.
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