Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – We publish below the full text of the message the Holy Father has sent to the young people preparing for the 29th World Youth Day 2014, which will take as its theme: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

“Dear Young Friends,

How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day. It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples. May we perceive this call as the most important thing in our lives and share this gift with others, those near and far, even to the distant geographical and existential peripheries of our world.

The next stop on our intercontinental youth pilgrimage will be in Krakow in 2016. As a way of accompanying our journey together, for the next three years I would like to reflect with you on the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. This year we will begin by reflecting on the first Beatitude: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. For 2015 I suggest: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'. Then, in 2016, our theme will be: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'.

1. The revolutionary power of the Beatitudes

It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, preached on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There was a very large crowd, so Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples. That is why it is known as 'the Sermon on the Mount'. In the Bible, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.

In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, persecutions, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.

The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, 'losers'. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.

Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path. Simon Peter had the courage to reply: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life'. If you too are able to say 'yes' to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.

2. The courage to be happy

What does it mean to be 'blessed' (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and 'thinking small' when it come to the meaning of life. Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati once said, 'To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live' (Letter to I. Bonini, 27 February 1925). In his homily on the day of Piergiorgio Frassati’s beatification (20 May 1990), John Paul II called him 'a man of the Beatitudes' (AAS 82 [1990], 1518).

If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts, you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the 'low cost' offers and approaches all around you. When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions, and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who 'has everything', but is weary and weak.

Saint John, writing to young people, told them: 'You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one'. oung people who choose Christ are strong: they are fed by his word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with other things! Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit...

The first Beatitude, our theme for the next World Youth Day, says that the poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. At a time when so many people are suffering as a result of the financial crisis, it might seem strange to link poverty and happiness. How can we consider poverty a blessing?

First of all, let us try to understand what it means to be 'poor in spirit'. When the Son of God became man, he chose the path of poverty and self-emptying. As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Philippians: 'Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness'. Jesus is God who strips himself of his glory. Here we see God’s choice to be poor: he was rich and yet he became poor in order to enrich us through his poverty. His is the mystery we contemplate in the crib when we see the Son of God lying in a manger, and later on the cross, where his self-emptying reaches its culmination.

The Greek adjective ptochos (poor) does not have a purely material meaning. It means 'a beggar', and it should be seen as linked to the Jewish notion of the anawim, 'God’s poor'. It suggests lowliness, a sense of one’s limitations and existential poverty. The anawim trust in the Lord, and they know that they can count on him.

As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus clearly saw, by his incarnation Jesus came among us as a poor beggar, asking for our love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that 'man is a beggar before God' and that prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst and our own thirst.

Saint Francis of Assisi understood perfectly the secret of the Beatitude of the poor in spirit. Indeed, when Jesus spoke to him through the leper and from the crucifix, Francis recognized both God’s grandeur and his own lowliness. In his prayer, the Poor Man of Assisi would spend hours asking the Lord: 'Who are you?' 'Who am I?' He renounced an affluent and carefree life in order to marry 'Lady Poverty', to imitate Jesus and to follow the Gospel to the letter. Francis lived in imitation of Christ in his poverty and in love for the poor – for him the two were inextricably linked – like two sides of one coin.

You might ask me, then: What can we do, specifically, to make poverty in spirit a way of life, a real part of our own lives? I will reply by saying three things.

First of all, try to be free with regard to material things. The Lord calls us to a Gospel lifestyle marked by sobriety, by a refusal to yield to the culture of consumerism. This means being concerned with the essentials and learning to do without all those unneeded extras which hem us in. Let us learn to be detached from possessiveness and from the idolatry of money and lavish spending. Let us put Jesus first. He can free us from the kinds of idol-worship which enslave us. Put your trust in God, dear young friends! He knows and loves us, and he never forgets us. Just as he provides for the lilies of the field, so he will make sure that we lack nothing. If we are to come through the financial crisis, we must be also ready to change our lifestyle and avoid so much wastefulness. Just as we need the courage to be happy, we also need the courage to live simply.

Second, if we are to live by this Beatitude, all of us need to experience a conversion in the way we see the poor. We have to care for them and be sensitive to their spiritual and material needs. To you young people I especially entrust the task of restoring solidarity to the heart of human culture. Faced with old and new forms of poverty – unemployment, migration and addictions of various kinds – we have the duty to be alert and thoughtful, avoiding the temptation to remain indifferent. We have to remember all those who feel unloved, who have no hope for the future and who have given up on life out of discouragement, disappointment or fear. We have to learn to be on the side of the poor, and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor! Let us go out to meet them, look into their eyes and listen to them. The poor provide us with a concrete opportunity to encounter Christ himself, and to touch his suffering flesh.

However – and this is my third point – the poor are not just people to whom we can give something. They have much to offer us and to teach us. How much we have to learn from the wisdom of the poor! Think about it: several hundred years ago a saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived on the streets of Rome from the alms he received, became a spiritual guide to all sorts of people, including nobles and prelates. In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people’s value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person, a person lacking material possessions, always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector, Jesus holds the tax-collector up as a model because of his humility and his acknowledgement that he is a sinner. The widow who gave her last two coins to the temple treasury is an example of the generosity of all those who have next to nothing and yet give away everything they have.
4. … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The central theme of the Gospel is the kingdom of God. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person; he is Immanuel, God-with-us. And it is in the human heart that the kingdom, God’s sovereignty, takes root and grows. The kingdom is at once both gift and promise. It has already been given to us in Jesus, but it has yet to be realised in its fullness. That is why we pray to the Father each day: 'Thy kingdom come'.

There is a close connection between poverty and evangelisation, between the theme of the last World Youth Day – 'Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations!' – and the theme for this year: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'. The Lord wants a poor Church which evangelises the poor. When Jesus sent the Twelve out on mission, he said to them: 'Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the labourers deserve their food'. Evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God. The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold onto. Evangelisation in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy.

We have seen, then, that the Beatitude of the poor in spirit shapes our relationship with God, with material goods and with the poor. With the example and words of Jesus before us, we realize how much we need to be converted, so that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more! The saints can best help us to understand the profound meaning of the Beatitudes. So the canonization of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, will be an event marked by immense joy. He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.

This month of April marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee Cross of the Redemption to the young. That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents. The Pope’s words on that Easter Sunday in 1984 remain memorable: 'My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found'.

Dear friends, the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, poor in spirit, is also the song of everyone who lives by the Beatitudes. The joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God, like the heart of Our Lady, whom all generations call 'blessed'. May Mary, Mother of the poor and Star of the new evangelisation help us to live the Gospel, to embody the Beatitudes in our lives, and to have the courage always to be happy.”


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Laity has issued a press release to explain the content and objectives of the Holy Father's message for the 29th World Youth Day.

“This is the first annual Message from Pope Francis to the youth of the world. It follows the tradition begun by Blessed John Paul II and continued by Benedict XVI on the occasion of each World Youth Day (WYD). Pope Francis is resuming the conversation he began with young people at the very successful WYD that took place in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. He presents the themes for the next three WYDs in order to set in motion the three-year path of spiritual preparation leading to the international celebration in Krakow in July 2016.
The themes for the next three WYDs are taken from the Beatitudes. The Holy Father considers this passage from Matthew’s Gospel to be a central point of reference in a Christian’s life. It should be part of everyone’s life plan.

In this Message, the Holy Father reminds young people that Jesus himself showed the way by embodying the Beatitudes in his life. It is a real challenge for young people today to live according to the Beatitudes by following Jesus. It means going against the tide and being witnesses of revolutionary innovation. As you cannot be a real Christian and “think small” about life, the Pope urges young people to resist 'low cost' offers of happiness and to have the courage to be truly happy, a gift that only God can give.

Pope Francis explains to young people what it means to be 'poor in spirit', thus entering into the heart of the theme for the next World Youth Day. Jesus himself chose the way of dispossession and poverty. The Pope addressed a pressing invitation to young people to imitate Jesus, and he pointed to the example of Saint Francis of Assisi. Young Christians are therefore called to conversion, to embrace an evangelical lifestyle, one of moderation in which we seek the essential and act in solidarity with the poor. The Pope explains that the poor are both the 'suffering flesh' of Christ that we are all called to personally touch, and they are also true masters of life, often with much to offer on the human and spiritual plane.

The Pope emphasises the close connection between the theme for the Rio WYD – 'Go and make disciples of all nations!' – and the Beatitude about the poor in spirit. Pope Francis explains, 'evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God'. It is often the most simple of hearts that express true joy, and evangelisation depends on this joy.

The Holy Father reminds young people that thirty years have passed since the Cross of the Jubilee of the Redemption was entrusted to young people. The anniversary is on 22 April. 'That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents'. Pope Francis tells young people that after John Paul II’s canonisation, 'an event marked by immense joy', he will be 'the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported'”.


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – In the wake of yesterday's fire in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Barracas, in which nine firefighters were killed and several people injured, the Holy Father sent a telegram to the metropolitan archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Aurelio Poli. The Pope writes that he is “deeply saddened” by the tragic accident, communicates his closeness to all those affected, and is “united with all those who have suffered or been killed in this unfortunate event”.

“In these sad circumstances, in praying for the eternal repose of those public servants who died in the course of duty, I ask God to grant His comfort and strength to all those affected by the tragedy, and to inspire feelings of brotherly solidarity to help them face this hardship as best they can. I also wish to offer a word of hope to those families who mourn their loved ones, and also to those who await the full recovery of the injured”.

Pope Francis concludes by invoking the protection of Our Lady of Lujan, and imparts “the comfort of my apostolic blessing to the dear people of Buenos Aires, ever present in my heart”.


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer for the Holy See at the United Nations in Geneva, commented on the concluding observations of the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child, which were very critical regarding the issue of the abuse of minors by members of the clergy and the actions taken by the Vatican and the Holy See on the matter, and urges revision of the Church's teaching on certain themes such as contraception and abortion.

“My first impression: we need to wait, read attentively and analyse in detail what the members of this Commission have written”, commented the nuncio. “But my first reaction is of surprise, because of the negative aspects of the document they have produced and that it looks almost as if it were already prepared before the meeting of the Committee with the delegation of the Holy See, which had given in detail precise responses on various points, which have not been reported in this conclusive document or at least have not seemed to be taken into serious consideration. In fact, the document does not seem to be updated, taking into account what, over the last few years, has been done by the Holy See, with the measures taken directly from the authority of Vatican City State and then in various countries by the individual Episcopal Conferences. It therefore lacks a correct and updated perspective, which in reality has seen a series of changes for the protection of children that, it seems to me, are difficult to find, at the same level of commitment, in other institutions or even in other States. This is simply a question of facts, of evidence, which cannot be distorted!”.

With regard to the Holy See's reaction to the document, the archbishop affirmed that “the Holy See will respond, because it is a member, a State that is part of the Convention: it has ratified it and intends to observe it in the spirit and letter of this Convention, without added ideologies or impositions that lie outside of the Convention itself. For instance: in its Preamble, the Convention on the Protection of Children talks about the defence of life and the protection of children before and after birth; whereas the recommendation made to the Holy See is that of changing its position on the question of abortion! Of course, when a child is killed it no longer has rights! Hence this seems to me to be a real contradiction of the fundamental objective of the Convention, which is the protection of children. This Committee has not done a good service to the United Nations, seeking to introduce and request the Holy See to change its non-negotiable teaching! So, it is somewhat sad to see that the Committee has not grasped in depth the nature and functions of the Holy See that, however, has expressed clearly to the Committee its decision to carry forward the Convention's requests on the rights of the child, but defining precisely and protecting first of all those fundamental values that give real and effective protection to the child”.

The observer for the Holy See also commented on the fact that the United Nations had said at one time that the Vatican had responded better than other countries to the protection of minors, and with regard to the change of opinion expressed in the document published yesterday, he said, “the introduction to the final report recognised the clarity of the answers that were given; there was no attempt to avoid any request made by the Committee, on the basis of the evidence available, and where there was no immediate information, we had promised to provide it in the future, according to the directives of the Holy See, as all countries do. So it seemed to be a constructive dialogue and I think it should remain as such. Therefore, given the impression received through direct dialogue by the delegation of the Holy See with the Committee and the text of the conclusions and recommendations, it is tempting to say that probably that text had already been written, and does not reflect the input and clarity, other than by some hasty addition, to that which had already been offered. So we must, with serenity and on the basis of the evidence - because we have nothing to hide! - bring forth the explanation of the position of the Holy See, respond to the questions that remain, so that the fundamental objective that is to be pursued - the protection of children - can be achieved. We are talking about 40 million cases of child abuse in the world: unfortunately some of these cases - even though in small proportions in comparison to all those that are happening in the world - affect people in the Church. And the Church has responded and reacted and continues to do so! We must insist on this policy of transparency, of no tolerance of abuse, because even one single case of child abuse is one case too many!”


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Siedlce, Poland.

- Wafaa Ashraf Moharram Bassim, the new ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See, presenting her credential letters.

- Archbishop Franco Coppola, apostolic nuncio to Burundi.

- Nineteen prelates from the Polish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Adam Szal and Stanislaw Jamrozek;

- Bishop Jan Franciszek Watroba of Rzeszow;

- Bishop Marian Rojek of Zamosc-Lubaczow;

- Archbishop Stanislaw Budzik of Lublin, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Mieczislaw Cislo, Bishop Artur Grzegorz Mizinski, and Bishop Jozef Wrobel;

- Bishop Krzysztof Nitkiewicz of Sandomierz, with his former auxiliary, Bishop Edward Marian Frankowski;

- Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Siedlce with his auxiliary, Bishop Piotr Sawczuk;

- Archbishop Edward Ozorowski of Bialystok, with his auxiliary, Bishop Henryk Ciereszco;

- Bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz of Drohiczyn;

- Bishop Janusz Boguslaw Stepnowski of Lomza, with his auxiliary, Bishop Tadeusz Bronakowski and Bishop emeritus Stanislaw Stefanek.


Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Rev. Ham Lim Moon as auxiliary of the diocese of San Martin (area 102, population 761,000, Catholics 525,000, priests 79, permanent deacons 29, religious 179), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Suwon, South Korea in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a licentiate in theology and a licentiate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in the following pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires: vicar in the parish “Reina de los Apostoles” and chaplain of the “Dr. Teodoro Alvarez” hospital; priest of the parish “Maria Madre de la Iglesia”, member of the presbyteral commission and dean of the “Flores” deanery. He is responsible for courses in ongoing formation for the clergy of Buenos Aires and has accompanied the Korean community in Argentina. Since 2003 he has served as priest in the parish of “SS. Cosme y Damian” in Buenos Aires.

- confirmed Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko as president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and Bishop Josef Clemens as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

- appointed the following members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria; Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy; Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya; Cardinal Reinhardt Marx, archbishop of Munich and Friesling, Federal Republic of Germany; Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands; Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines; Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Philadelphia, U.S.A.; Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Dr. Yago De La Cierva, Spain, lecturer in Crisis Management and Communication at the Faculty of Social Institutional Communication of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome; Dr. Irene Egle Laumenskaite, lecturer at the Centre for Religious Studies and Research at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania; Dr. Fabrice Hadjadj, director of the Institut Europeen d'Etudes Anthropologiques Philanthropos in Fribourg, Switzerland; Dr. Jocelyn Khoueiry, foundress of the Associations “La Libanaise-Femme du 31 mai” and “Oui a la vie”, Lebanon; Dr. Franco Miano, national president of Italian Catholic Action; Dr. Genevieve Amelie Mathilde Sanze, Central African Republic, representative for Africa of the International Secretariat of Economy of Communion.

- appointed the following consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa of Belem do Para, Brazil; Archbishop Filippo Santoro of Taranto, Italy; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden; Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus Toulon, France; Bishop Christoph Hegge, auxiliary of Munster, Germany; Fr. Arturo Cattaneo, professor in the faculty of canon law of St. Pius X of Venice, Italy; Fr. Fra Hans Stapel, O.F.M., founder and president of the International Association of the Faithful Family of Hope, Brazil; Alejandra Keen von Wuthenau, superior general of the Marian Fraternity of Reconciliation, Peru; Dr. Laurent Landete, moderator of the Community of the Emmanuel, France; Mimmo Muolo, journalist from the daily newspaper “Avvenire”, Italy; Marguerite A. Peeters, Belgium/U.S.A., director of the Institute for the Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics; Silvia Recchi, Italian professor of canon law at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaounde, Cameroon; Maite Uribe Bilbao, El Salvador, director general of the Theresian Institute.

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service