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Monday, January 20, 2014


Vatican City, 20 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, for the first time in his pontificate, Pope Francis received in audience the workers and agents of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican. It is an entity within the Italian police force, responsible for the protection of the pontiff during his visits within Italian territory and vigilance in St. Peter's Square, in agreement with the authorities of the Holy See.

The Holy Father thanked them for their work, especially in St. Peter's Square. “We are all aware of the need to guarantee the protection of the special characteristics of this unique place, ensuring its nature as a sacred and universal space. This requires a discreet but attentive vigilance. Indeed, in St. Peter's Square people are serene, one moves calmly and is able to appreciate a feeling of peace”.

He also referred to the work carried out by officers during events attended by large numbers of faithful, who come from all over the world to see the Pope or to pray before the tomb of St. Peter or those of his successors, “especially those of John XXIII and John Paul II”. It is a task that requires “technical and professional preparation, along with careful vigilance, politeness and dedication. Pilgrims and tourists, as well as those who work in the various offices of the Holy See, know that they are able to count on your cordial assistance”.

The Bishop of Rome did not neglect to thank them for their efficient activity during the days preceding the Conclave following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, and he took the opportunity provided by today's meeting to renew his sincere thanks, and those of his collaborators, to those who “offered their contribution to ensuring that everything took place with order and calm”.

Finally, he expressed his wish that their service at the Vatican be for each member of the Inspectorate “an opportunity for growth in faith. Faith is the most valuable treasure that your families have entrusted to you, and that you are called upon to transmit to your children. It is important to rediscover the message of the Gospel and to welcome it in the depths of your own conscience and in the reality of everyday life, witnessing God's love with courage in every environment, including the workplace”.


Vatican City, 20 January 2014 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. on Sunday the Holy Father visited the Roman parish of “Sacro Cuore di Gesù a Castro Pretorio”. Upon arrival he greeted the faithful of the parish and children baptised during the last few months, accompanied by their parents, recently married couples and young families.

The Pope encountered some aspects of the life of the area, meeting with the poor and homeless who live close to Termini Station and a group of refugees whom he encouraged to feel at home.

He confessed five penitents and at 6 p.m. celebrated the Eucharist in the basilica. The Pope's homily drew on the passage of the Gospel in which John baptises Jesus, saying “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”.

“Jesus is called the Lamb: He is the Lamb Who takes upon Himself the sin of the world. One might think, how can a little lamb, so weak, take on so many sins, so much malice? With love. With his meekness. Jesus never ceased to be a lamb: meek, good, full of love, close to the little ones, close to the poor. … But he had the strength to bear the weight of all our sins, all of them. 'But, Father, you don't know my life: I have one that... I wouldn't be able to carry that weight, even with a truck'. So often, when we look into our conscience, we find some sins that are very great! But He takes them on. He came to us for this reason – to forgive, to make peace in the world, but first of all in our hearts. Perhaps some of us have sorrow in our hearts, perhaps we have darkness in our hearts, perhaps we feel a little sad for the guilt we bear... He came to relieve us of all this - He gives us peace, and He forgives all”.

“We often place our trust in a doctor, and this is good, because doctors are there to cure us. We trust in people: brothers and sisters who are able to help us. It is good to have this human trust between us. But we forget our trust in the Lord: and this is the key to success in life. Trust in the Lord – let us entrust ourselves to the Lord!”. He concluded, “this is a gamble we must take: to entrust ourselves to Him. And He never disappoints. Never, never! Listen carefully, boys and girls, those of you who are starting out in life now: Jesus never disappoints”.

Pope Francis concluded his visit by meeting with the Salesian community in charge of the parish, Fr. Valerio Baresi S.D.B., and the Missionary Sisters of the Risen Christ. Finally, before returning to the Vatican, the Holy Father paused to speak with the young people of the parish.


Vatican City, 19 January 2014 (VIS) – At midday Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, before the Marian prayer, he commented on today's Gospel reading in which St. John the Evangelist narrates the encounter between Jesus and the Baptist by the River Jordan. The Baptist sees Jesus move through the crowd and recognises Him as God's envoy, exclaiming, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”.

“The verb translated as 'take away' literally means 'relieve', 'take upon oneself'”, explained the Pontiff. “Jesus came into the world with a precise mission: to free it from the bondage of sin, taking upon himself the guilt of humanity. How? Through love. There is no other way of defeating evil and sin other than through love, which leads to giving one's own life for others. In John the Baptist's account, Jesus has the features of the Servant of the Lord, who 'has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows' unto death on the Cross”.

In the Jordan the Baptist encounters a man “who lines up with the sinners to be baptised, even though he has no need. A man who God has send to the world as a sacrificial lamb. In the New Testament, the word 'lamb' is recurrent, used always with reference to Jesus. This image of the lamb appears surprising; indeed, an animal that is certainly not characterised by strength or robustness takes upon its shoulders such an oppressive burden. The great weight of evil is removed and taken away by a weak and fragile creature, a symbol of obedience, docility and defenceless love, to the point of self-sacrifice. The lamb does not dominate, but instead it is docile; it is peaceful, not aggressive; it does not show its claws or bare its teeth when faced with attackers, but instead suffers and submits. And this is how Jesus is: like a lamb”.

“What does it mean for the Church, for us today, to be disciples of Jesus, lamb of God?” asked Pope Francis. “It is a good task! As Christians we must replace malice with innocence, force with love, pride with humility, and prestige with service. Being disciples of the Lamb means living not like a besieged citadel, but rather as city set on a mountain, open, welcoming and supportive. It does not mean adopting a closed attitude, but rather proposing the Gospel to all, showing by the witness of our lives that following Jesus makes us freer and more joyful”.


Vatican City, 19 January 2014 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope commented that today is World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a theme he explored in his message “Migrants and Refugees: towards a better world”, published a month ago.

“I offer a special greeting to the different ethnic communities gathered here”, he said, “in particular the Catholic communities in Rome. … You are close to the heart of the Church, because the Church is a people journeying towards the Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ has brought among us. Do not lose hope for a better world! I hope that you may live in peace in your host countries, while safeguarding the values of your cultures of origin”.

Pope Francis also thanked those who work with migrants, “welcoming them and accompanying them in difficult moments, to defend them from those that the Blessed Scalabrini defined as 'brokers of human flesh', who seek to make slaves of migrants. I especially wish to thank the Congregation of Missionaries of St. Charles, the Scalabrinian fathers and sisters who do great good to the Church and become migrants with the migrants”.

“In this moment let us think of the many migrants and refugees, and of their suffering, their life, so often without work, without documents, and with great pain; and let us pray together for the migrants and refugees who experience more serious and difficult situations”, concluded the Pope, inviting those present to pray the Hail Mary.


Vatican City, 18 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, on the ninetieth anniversary of the beginning of radio transmissions and sixty years after the first television broadcasts by the RAI (the Italian state broadcasting company), its representatives were received in audience by the Pope who gave an address on the value and needs of the public information service.

The Holy Father commented that the collaboration between the Holy See and the RAI has made it possible for Italians to have access over the years first to the words, then also images of the Pope and events in the life of the Church, through the work of two Vatican entities, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre. He mentioned a number of events, including Vatican Council II, the election of the pontiffs, the Jubilee 2000 and the funeral of Blessed John Paul II. He also recalled a number of productions of a religious nature by the RAI during the 1960s and 1970s, such as the film “Francis” by Liliana Cavani (1966) and “The Acts of the Apostles” by Roberto Rossellini (1969), who collaborated with the future cardinal archbishop of Milan, then Fr. Carlo Maria Martini S.J.

The RAI, he said, “has been a witness to processes of change in Italian society in its rapid transformations, and has contributed in a special way to the process of linguistic and cultural unification in Italy. … But recalling a past rich in conquests requires of us a renewed sense of responsibility for today and for tomorrow. I remind you all that your profession is not only informative but also formative; it is a public service, that is, a service for the common good. A service to truth, a service to goodness, and a service to beauty. All the professions that form the RAI … belong to an organisation that offers culture and entertainment, information and shows, reaching a significant part of the Italian people at any time of the day. It is a responsibility from which those who offer a public service may not abdicate”.

Finally, the ethical quality of communication “is the result, in the final analysis, of consciences that are always attentive, never superficial, and always respectful towards others, both those who are the object of the information, and those who are intended to receive the messages. Everyone, in his own role and with his own responsibility, must be mindful to maintain high ethical standards in communication, and to avoid those things that can cause so much damage: disinformation, defamation, and calumny”.

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the professionals in the field of communications to place themselves “at the service of the human, cultural and civil growth of society”.


Vatican City, 18 January 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., confirmed that yesterday, Friday 17 January, the final meeting was held of of the International Investigative Commission on Medjugorje, instituted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The Commission has completed its work and, as anticipated, the results of the study will be submitted to the competent jurisdiction of the aforementioned Congregation.


Vatican City, 18 January 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has been nominated by Pope Francis as his special envoy to Panama for the closing ceremony of the jubilee year convoked for the fifth centenary of the erection of the first diocese (Santa Maria la Antigua) on dry land in the American continent, to be held from 14 to 15 February 2014.


Vatican City, 20 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

- Bishop Alain de Raemy, auxiliary of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Switzerland.

On Saturday, 18 January, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Cardinal Karl Lehmann, bishop of Mainz, Federal Republic of Germany.


Vatican City, 20 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Barcelona, Venezuela, presented by Bishop Cesar Ramon Ortega Herrera, upon having reached the age limit.

On Saturday, 18 January, the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Martin Krebs, apostolic nuncio in New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, and Vanuatu, and apostolic delegate to the Pacific Ocean, as apostolic nuncio to Tonga.

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