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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – During this Wednesday's general audience Pope Francis, continuing his catechesis on the sacraments, focused on Confirmation, a sacrament which must be understood as “continuing from Baptism, to which it is indissolubly linked”.

“These two sacraments, along with the Eucharist, constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation – in which we are brought into Christ who died and rose again, and become new creatures and members of the Church. This is because originally these three Sacraments were celebrated together, at the end of the catechumenal path, normally on Holy Saturday. This concluded the process of formation and gradual insertion into the Christian community, that could even take several years. It is a step by step process, first reaching Baptism, then Confirmation, and finally the Eucharist”.

“In confirmation, we are anointed with oil. And indeed, through the oil known as the 'holy Chrism' we are conformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to Christ, who is the only true 'anointed one' the Messiah, the Saint of God. The term 'confirmation' reminds us that this Sacrament involves growth from baptismal grace; it unites us more firmly with Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it accords to us the special strength of the Holy Spirit in order to spread and to defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and never to be ashamed of His Cross”.

“For this reason it is important that all our children receive this Sacrament”, he added. “We are all concerned about baptising them, but perhaps less so with regard to confirmation, and therefore they remain at a halfway point, and do not receive the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength to go forward in Christian life”. Therefore, “it is important to provide a good preparation for Confirmation, aiming to lead them towards personal adhesion to faith in Christ and to reawaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church”.

“Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men, but rather the work of God, Who takes care of our lives in order to mould us in the image of His Son, to make us able to love like Him. He infuses us with the Holy Spirit, whose action pervades the whole person and all of life, as is shown by the Seven Gifts that Tradition, in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, has always made clear: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord”, said the Bishop of Rome, announcing that these gifts will be the subject of his next catechesis, after the Sacraments. “When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow it to act, Christ Himself is made present in us and takes form in our lives; through us, it will be He Who prays, forgives, brings hope and consolation, serves our brothers, is close to the needy and the abandoned, Who creates communion and sows peace”.

The Pope brought his catechesis to and end by urging those present to remember that they have received Confirmation, firstly “to thank the Lord for this gift, and then to ask Him for His help in living as true Christians, to always journey with joy according to the Holy Spirit that has been granted to us”. As he was concluding, it began to rain heavily and Pope Francis exclaimed, “It seems that on these last few Wednesdays, during the audience, we have been blessed from heaven! However, since you are brave, let us go ahead and continue...”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – Following today's general audience, the Pope greeted the faithful present, offering some special words to the “Carta di Roma” and “Casa Alessia” associations, which both work to help the needy and refugees, and encouraged them to continue in their challenging work. He also greeted the families of workers from Castelfiorentino, Italy, recently made redundant following the closure of Shelbox due to the current economic crisis. “While I express my closeness to you, I hope also that the competent authorities will make every effort to ensure that work, which is the source of dignity, is a central concern for all”.

Finally, he greeted the National Council of Anti-Usury Foundations. “I hope that these institutions may intensify their commitment alongside the victims of usury, a dramatic social ill. When a family has nothing to eat, because it has to make payments to usurers, this is not Christian, it is not human! This dramatic scourge in our society harms the inviolable dignity of the human person”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in the Great Hall of the St. Pius X Palace the Pontifical Academies celebrated their 18th Public Session, the theme of which was “Occulata Fides. Reading Truth with the eyes of Christ”. The work of the Session was introduced by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council for Co-ordination between the Pontifical Academies.

During the session, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, read a message from Pope Francis to the participants, recalling that this year's theme is drawn from a phrase of St. Thomas Aquinas, cited in the encyclical Lumen Fidei and which the Pontifical Academies debate in this document and the recent Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”.

“In both documents, I invite reflection on the 'enlightening' dimension of faith and on the connection between faith and truth, to be investigated not only with the mind's eye, but also that of the heart, that is, from the perspective of love”, writes the Pope. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings light. The comprehension of faith is that which is born when we receive God's great love which transforms us within and gives us new eyes through which we see reality. … This has important consequences both in terms of how believers act, and for the way theologians work. 'Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. … Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all”.

“This vision – of a journeying missionary Church – is that which is developed in the Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today's world. The 'dream of a … missionary impulse capable of transforming everything' relates to the entire Church and every part of her. The Pontifical Academies are also called to this transformation, so that the contribution of this ecclesiastical Body is not lacking. This is not a matter of external operations, of a 'facade', however. It is, rather, also for you, a question of concentrating increasingly on the the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary'”.

The Holy Father concluded his message by announcing that this year's Pontifical Academies Prize, dedicated this year to theological research, will be awarded to two young scholars for their contribution to the promotion of a new Christian humanism: Rev. Professor Alessandro Clemenzia, for his work “In the Trinity as Church. In dialogue with Heribert Muhlen”, and Professor Maria Silvia Vaccarezza for the work “The reasons of the contingent. Practical wisdom from Aristotle to St. Thomas Aquinas”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – On 27 January, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malta, the third additional protocol to the agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta of 3 February 1993 on the recognition of civil effects to canonical marriages and the decisions of the Authorities and ecclesiastical tribunals on the same marriages.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, apostolic nuncio to Malta, as Plenipotentiary, and for the Republic of Malta by George W. Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta.

The Third Additional Protocol, which consists of four articles, amends the aforementioned Agreement of 1993.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Edmilson Amador Caetano, O. Cist. of Barretos, Brazil, as bishop of Guarulhos (area 341, population 1,357,000, Catholics 879,000, priests 50, religious 105), Brazil.

- appointed Msgr. Estevam Santos Silva Filho as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia (area 3,859, population 3,862,000, Catholics 2,730,000, priests 289, religious 756), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil in 1968, and was ordained a priest in 1995. He studied philosophy at the Instituto Filosofico Nossa Senhora das Vitorias and theology at the Instituto Coracao Eucaristico de Jesus in Belo Horizonte, and specialised in communications at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including priest in various parishes in the archdiocese of Vitoria da Conquista, and was spiritual director of the preparatory seminary at Itapetinga, the major seminary of philosophy in Vitoria da Conquista, and the major seminary of theology in Ilheus. He also serves as a member of the Council of Formators, the College of Consultors, and the Presbyteral Council, and as ecclesiastical assessor for archdiocesan pastoral of communication and in the youth sector. He is currently priest of the parish “Nossa Senhora das Candeias”, archdiocesan bursar and formator in the seminary of philosophy in Vitoria da Conquista.

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