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Monday, February 3, 2014


Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, Pope Francis received the Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the Parties focused on a number of aspects of the social and economic life of the country, as well as the valuable contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of Samoan society and, in particular, in the field of human promotion. This was followed by a fruitful exchange of opinions regarding the international situation, with particular reference to regional co-operation and environmental matters affecting several Pacific countries.


Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' universal prayer intention for February is: “That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people”.

His intention for evangelization is: “That priests, religious, and lay people may work together with generosity for evangelization”.


Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, on the 18th Day of Consecrated Life, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of people gathered below, despite heavy rain, in St. Peter's Square.

The Bishop of Rome, after thanking the many faithful and pilgrims for their presence, commented on today's Gospel reading, in which St. Luke narrates the presentation of Jesus in the Temple; an episode which is also “an icon of the giving of their lives by those who, through a gift of God, take on the typical traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient”.

“The offering of oneself to God relates to every Christian, because we are all consecrated to Him through baptism … making a generous gift of our life, in the family, at work, in the service the Church, in works of mercy. Nevertheless, this consecration is lived in a particular way by the religious, monks, consecrated lay people, who with the profession of vows, fully and exclusively belong to God. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally consigned to their brethren, to bring the light of Christ there where the darkness is densest and to spread His hope in the hearts of the disheartened".

After emphasising that consecrated persons are a sign of God in the various contexts of life and “leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society”. The Pope repeated the need for these presences, “which fortify and renew commitment to the spread of the Gospel, of Christian education, of charity towards the neediest, of contemplative prayer; commitment to human formation, the spiritual formation of the young, of families; commitment for justice and peace in the human family. Let us imagine a moment what would happen if there were no nuns in hospitals, no nuns in missions, no nuns in schools. Imagine a church without nuns! It is unimaginable. They are … the yeast that carries forward the people of God. These women, who consecrate their lives to God, who bring forward the message of Jesus, are great”.

The Church and the world need “this witness of love and of God's mercy. Consecrated and religious persons offer witness that God is good and merciful. … We must pray that many young people answer 'yes!' to the Lord who calls to them to consecrate themselves fully to Him, in the disinterested service of their brothers, who consecrate their lives to serving God and their brothers”.


Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope greeted, amongst others, the participants in the Day for Life, celebrated today in Italy with the theme “Generating the Future”. He extended his greetings and his encouragement to “the associations, movements and cultural centres who participate in the defence and promotion of life. I join with the Italian bishops today in repeating that 'every child is the face of the Lord Who loves life, a gift for the family and for society”. Everyone, in his own role and environment, is called to love and serve life, to welcome it, to respect and promote it, especially when it is fragile and in need of attention and care, from the womb until its natural end on this earth”.

The Bishop of Rome also mentioned the inhabitants of Rome and the region of Tuscany, who are suffering the consequences of the intense rainfall of recent days which has caused flooding and inundations. “Our solidarity and our prayers are with these brothers of ours. Dear brothers and sisters, I am very close to you”.


Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – On the 18th World Day for Consecrated Life, on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. For the first time in his pontificate, the Bishop of Rome began the rite with the blessing of the candles used in the procession before the Eucharistic celebration and in his homily he emphasised the importance of the encounter between observance and prophecy, the young and the elderly, within consecrated life.

“The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is … the encounter between Jesus and His people … represented by the elderly Simeon and Anna. … It was also an encounter within the history of a population, an encounter between the young and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph, with their newborn son; and the elderly were Simeon and Anna”.

The Pope remarked that in the Gospel of St. Luke, “one intuits, almost perceives that Jesus' parents have the joy of observing the precepts of God, the joy of walking according to the law of the Lord! They are two newly-weds, they have just had their baby, and they are motivated by the desire to do what is prescribed. This is not an external fact ... It is a strong, profound desire, full of joy”.

St. Luke affirms that Simeon was “a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that Anna was 'a prophetess'”. He comments that they are both “full of life, because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit”. And “at the centre of this encounter there is Jesus. It is He Who sets everything in motion, who attracts them to the Temple, which is the house of the Father.

It is an “encounter between the young who are full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord, and the old, full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observation and prophecy. … In the light of this scene in the Gospel, let us regard the consecrated life as an encounter with Christ: it is He Who comes to us; brought to us by Mary and Joseph, and we are led towards Him by the Holy Spirit. But He is in the centre. … He moves everything along, He attracts us to the Temple, to the Church, where we are able to encounter Him, recognise Him”.

Jesus comes towards us in the Church through the foundational charism of an Institute: it is good to think of our vocation in this way. Our encounter with Christ has taken shape within the Church through the charism of one of its witnesses. … And also in consecrated life, we live the encounter between the young and the elderly, between observance and prophecy. Let us not see these as two opposing realities! Let us rather allow the Holy Spirit to animate both of them, and a sign of this is joy: the joy of journeying within a rule of life; the joy of being led by the Spirit, never unyielding, never closed, always open to voice of God that speaks, that opens, that leads us and invites us to go towards the horizon”.

“It is good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young; and is good for the young to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not so as to preserve it in a museum, but to bring it forward in addressing the challenges of life, to carry it forward for the good of the various religious orders and of the entire Church”, concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 1 February 2014 (VIS) – Today Pope Francis received in audience eight thousand members of the Neocatechumenal Way, the Catholic formation itinerary initiated by the Spanish laypeople Francisco Jose Gomez Arguello (better known as Kiko Arguello) and Carmen Hernandez who, along with the Italian priest Mario Pezzi, form the “International Responsible Team of the Way”.

“The Church is grateful for your generosity!” said the Pope. “I thank you for everything you do in the Church and in the world. And in the name of the Church, our Mother, I would like to make some simple recommendations to you. The first is to take the greatest care to construct and conserve communion within the particular Churches in which you carry out your work. The Way has its own charisma, its own dynamics, a gift which, like all the gifts of the Spirit, has a profound ecclesial dimension; this means listening to life of the Churches to which your leaders send you, to recognising the value of their richness, suffering for their weaknesses when necessary, and walking together as a single flock, under the guidance of the pastors of the local Churches. Communion is essential: at times it can be better to set aside some of the details that your itinerary requires in order to guarantee unity between the brothers that form the single ecclesial community, of which you must always consider yourselves to be a part”.

Pope Francis' second recommendation was, “wherever you go, it will do you good to think that the Spirit of God always arrives before us. The Lord always precedes us! Even in the most distant places, even in the most diverse cultures, God sows everywhere the seeds of his Word. From this, there arises the need for special attention to the cultural context in which you, as families, go to carry out your work; it is an environment often very different to that from which you come. Many of you take great pains to learn the local language, at times difficult, and these efforts are commendable. Even more important will be your effort to 'learn' the cultures you encounter, to recognise the need for the Gospel that is present everywhere, but also that action that the Holy Spirit has accomplished in the life and history of every people”.

Finally, the Holy Father urged them all to “care, with love, for each other, especially the weakest. The Neocatechumenal Way, as an intinerary for the discovery of one's own Baptism, is a demanding path, along which a brother or sister may encounter unexpected difficulties. In these cases, the exercise of patience and mercy by the community is a sign of mature faith. The freedom of each person must not be forced, and it is necessary to respect the eventual decision of those who decide to seek, outside the Way, other forms of Christian life that may help them to grow in their response to the call of the Lord”.

The Holy Father concluded, “I encourage you to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere, even in the least Christianised environments, especially in the existential peripheries. Evangelise with love, take God's love to all. Tell those you encounter on the streets of your mission that God loves man just as he is, even with his limits, with his errors, with his sins. Be messengers and witnesses to the infinite goodness and inexhaustible mercy of the Father”.


Vatican City, 1 February 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness, celebrated mass in memory of Modesta Valenti, an elderly woman without a fixed abode, who died in 1983 when, after taking ill in Rome's Termini Station, she was refused transit by ambulance because she was “dirty”.

Every year, on this date, the Sant'Egidio Community, along with volunteers and associations who assist the homeless, celebrate Mass in the name of all the poor and homeless who have lost their lives due to inadequate living conditions and as a result of their abandonment. The memory of their names represents a form of consolation for each one and the promise that they will never be forgotten.

The liturgical celebration was attended by the poor and their friends; there were five hundred guests at the lunch held after the celebration. This memorial has been extended to many parishes in Rome and other cities in Italy and throughout the world, wherever the Sant'Egidio Community is close to those who live on the streets.


Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Twenty prelates of the Polish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

- Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warszawa, with his auxiliary Bishop Tadeusz Pikus;

- Bishop Piotr Libera of Plock;

- Archbishop-bishop Henryk Hoser S.A.C. of Warszawa-Praga, with his auxiliary Bishop Marek Solarczyk;

- Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, with his auxiliaries Bishop Jan Szkodon, Bishop Jan Zajac, Bishop Grzegorz Rys, Bishop Damian Andrzej Muskus, O.F.M., Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek;

- Bishop Roman Pindel of Bielsko-Zywiec, and his auxiliary Bishop Piotr Greger;

- Bishop Kazimierz Ryczan of Kielce, with his auxiliaries Bishop Marian Florczyk and Bishop Kazimierz Gurda;

- Bishop Andrzej Jez of Tarnow, with his auxiliary Bishop Wieslaw Lechowicz and former auxiliary Bishop Wladislaw Bobowski;

- Bishop Jozef Guzdek, military ordinary of Poland.

On the morning of Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- eighteen prelates of the Polish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno accompanied by his auxiliaries, Bishop Wojciech Polak, Bishop Krzysztof Jakub Wetkowski, and Archbishop emeritus Henryk Jozef Muszynski;

- Bishop Wieslaw Alojzy Mering of Wloclawek, with his auxiliary Stanislaw Gebicki;

- Bishop Jan Tyrawa of Bydgoszcz;

- Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan with his auxiliaries Bishop Zdislaw Fortuniak, Bishop Grzegorz Balcerek, and Bishop Damian Bryl;

- Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz;

- Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski of Lodz, accompanied by his auxiliaries, Bishop Adam Lepa and Bishop Ireneusz Josef Pekalski;

- Bishop Andrzej Franciszek Dziuba of Lowicz;

- Archbishop Jan Martyniak of Przemysl-Warszawa of Byzantine-Ukrainian rite; and

- Bishop Wlodzimierz Roman Juszczak of Wroclaw-Gdansk.

In the afternoon of Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Bishop Jose Rodriguez Carbahlo O.F.M., secretary of the same Congregation.


Vatican City, 3 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B., emeritus of Guwahati, as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the diocese of Jowai (area 17,551, population 7,236,000, Catholics 78,526, priests 145, religious 678), India.

Yesterday, 2 February, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Vincent Mduduzi Zungo, O.F.M., as bishop of Port Elizabeth (area 71,828, population 2,952,000, Catholics 1110,000, priests 56, religious 138), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Mbongolwane, South Africa in 1966. He took his perpetual vows in 1994. He studied philosophy and theology at the “St. John Vianney” major seminary in Pretoria, and holds a doctorate in moral theology from the Catholic University of Strasbourg, France. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar in the mission of Hardenberg, master of novices and guardian of the convent of Besters, professor in the “St. John Vianney” major seminary, provincial vicar and assistant to the master of postulants, and provincial of the Franciscans in South Africa. Since 2009 he has served as definitor general for Africa and for the Middle East in Rome.

On Saturday, 1 February the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of New York, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Josu Iriondo, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Rev. Alex Joseph Vadakumthala as bishop of Kannur (area 4,988, population 2,772,000, Catholics 50,768, priests 122, religious 692), India. The bishop-elect was born in Maradu-Panangad, India in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish assistant in the cathedral of Verapoly, priest of St. Philomenas' Church, Koonammavu; official at the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); secretary general of the Health Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI); lecturer at St. Joseph's Pontifical seminary, Alwaye, India, director of the Cochin Arts Communications of Verapoly, director of the Society of Medical Education in North India project, Ranchi; and president of the Canon Law Society of India. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Verapoly.

- appointed Msgr. Luis Fernando Ramos Perez as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile (area 9,132, population 5,958,000, Catholics 4,135,000, priests 969, permanent deacons 318, religious 3037), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago, Chile in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He studied engineering at the University of Chile. He studied philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Santiago and holds a doctorate in theology, specialising in sacred Scriptures, from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including prefect of philosophy in the major seminary of Santiago, vicar of the parishes of “Cristo Emaus” and “Santo Toribo de Mogrovejo”, official of the Congregation for Bishops, and archdiocesan episcopal vicar for education. He is currently rector of the major seminary of Santiago and episcopal vicar for the clergy.

- appointed Rev. Galo Fernandez Villasecca as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile, Chile. He was born in Santiago, Chile in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in the following pastoral roles: vicar of the parish of “Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes” in Santiago; priest of the parish of “Cristo Redentor” in Penalolen, priest of the parish of “Santa Clara”, and episcopal vicar of “Vicaria de la Esperanza Joven”, He is currently episcopal vicar of the western zone of the archdiocese.
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