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Thursday, February 13, 2014


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience a group of bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Bulgaria on their “ad limina” visit, during which he handed them the text of an address in which he praised the vitality of the Catholic faith in the country, as demonstrated by a series of initiatives and activities in recent years. These include the Jubilee Year of 2010 convoked by the Apostolic Exarchate for Catholics of Byzantine-Slavic rite to celebrate the 150th anniversary of union with the Apostolic See of Rome; the scientific-commemorative convention on the work of Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, apostolic visitor and delegate in Bulgaria during the years 1925 – 1934; the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Passionist Blessed Evgenij Bossilkov and, during the recent Year of Faith, the National Meeting of Catholics of Bulgaria, the National Day for Young People and a study conference on Vatican Council II.

These initiatives confirm that the Catholic communities belonging both to the Latin Church and the Greek-Catholic Church, while a minority in Bulgaria, bear witness “both to natural moral values, and to Christ's Gospel, in a society marked by the many spiritual voids left behind by the former atheist regime and the uncritical acceptance of cultural models in which the suggestions of a certain practical materialism prevail”.

In the text, the Pope encourages the bishops to follow this path with courage and to inspire “that missionary transformation that the Church is called upon to bring about in the entire world”. He writes, “We are all missionary disciples, sent by the Lord to evangelise with joy and spirit, also recognising the valuable treasure of popular piety. This renewed missionary effort also has a social dimension, which takes as a point of reference the social doctrine of the Church and whose priorities are the social inclusion of the poor and commitment to the common good and social peace. It is therefore important for civil institutions to recognise the role of the Holy See as a spiritual and moral authority within the international community and to positively acknowledge the presence of the Catholic Church in conjunction with the Bulgarian nation and the contribution she offers in the service of the common good and the progress of the country”.

Pope Francis mentions the courageous witness to Christ and the Church on the part of Bulgarian faithful during dramatic periods in history and the path they have undertaken in the last two decades since regaining their freedom, and he encourages them to trust in the providential action of the Lord. He also urges the prelates to prioritise the formation of priests and the young, and since Catholics in Bulgaria live in close contact with the communities of the Orthodox Church, to continue in their efforts “to promote an increasingly intense and brotherly dialogue” with this Church, in order to “open the hearts and minds of all to give rise to an ever more concrete hope to arrive at the united celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice”.

Finally, referring to the upcoming canonisation on 27 April of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, to be attended by delegations from various Bulgarian dioceses and exarchates, the Holy Father states: “It is an eloquent sign of the effect the witness of the first Slavic Pope has had on the soul and the life of the Bulgarian Catholic community … and also a sign of the living memory left of Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli during the years in which he worked in Bulgaria as apostolic delegate .. and his affection for the Bulgarian people, which in the midst of the vicissitudes of history has kept alive the flame of faith in Christ”.


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – “I am very grateful to you for the distinguished contribution you have made to dialogue and fraternity between Jews and Catholics, and I encourage you to continue on this path”, said Pope Francis to the fifty-five members of the American Jewish Committee delegation, whom he received this morning in the Consistory Hall, also recalling the good relations the organisation maintained with his predecessors, as well as with the Holy See and the many representatives of the Catholic world.

“Next year we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council, 'Nostra Aetate', which today constitutes for the Church the sure point of reference for relations with our 'elder brothers'”, he continued. “From this document, our reflection on the spiritual patrimony which unites us and which is the foundation of our dialogue has developed with renewed vigour. This foundation is theological, and not simply an expression of our desire for reciprocal respect and esteem. Therefore, it is important that our dialogue be always profoundly marked by the awareness of our relationship with God”.

“In addition to dialogue, it is also important to find ways in which Jews and Christians can cooperate in constructing a more just and fraternal world. In this regard, I call to mind in a particular way our common efforts to serve the poor, the marginalized and those who suffer. Our commitment to this service is anchored in the protection of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners as shown in Sacred Scripture. It is a God given duty, one which reflects His holy will and His justice; it is a true religious obligation”.

Finally, in order that common efforts may not be fruitless, “it is important that we dedicate ourselves to transmitting to new generations the heritage of our mutual knowledge, esteem and friendship which, thanks to the commitment of associations like yours, has grown over these years. It is my hope therefore that the study of relations with Judaism may continue to flourish in seminaries and in centres of formation for lay Catholics, as I am similarly hopeful that a desire for an understanding of Christianity may grow among young Rabbis and the Jewish community”.

“Dear friends”, concluded the Holy Father, “in a few months I will have the joy of visiting Jerusalem, where – as the Psalm says – we are all born and where all peoples will one day meet. Accompany me with your prayers, so that this pilgrimage may bring forth the fruits of communion, hope and peace. Shalom!”


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – “Catholic education is one of the most important challenges for the Church, currently committed to new evangelisation in an historical and cultural context that is undergoing constant transformation”, remarked the Holy Father in his address to participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions), whom he received in audience in the Sala Clementina this morning.

The agenda of the plenary session, the Pope commented, includes themes of primary importance such as the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution “Sapientia Christiana”, the consolidation of the identity of Catholic universities, and the preparations for the events which will fall in 2015: the fiftieth anniversary of the Conciliar Declaration “Gravissimum educationis” and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”.

Pope Francis proposed three aspects for consideration by the participants: the value of dialogue in education, the qualified preparation of formators and the responsibility of educational institutions to express the living presence of the Gospel in the fields of education, science and culture.

Referring to the first of these points, he said, “Effectively, Catholic schools and universities are attended by many students who are not Christian or do not believe. Catholic educational institutions offer to all an approach to education that has as its aim the full development of the person, which responds to the right of every person to access to knowledge. However, they are also called upon to offer, with full respect for the freedom of each person and using the methods appropriate to the scholastic environment, the Christian belief, that is, to present Jesus Christ as the meaning of life, the cosmos and history. Jesus began to proclaim the good news of the 'Galilee of the people', a crossroads of people, diverse in terms of race, culture and religion. This context resembles today's world, in certain respects. The profound changes that have led to the ever wider diffusion of multicultural societies require those who work in the school or university sector to be involved in educational itineraries involving comparison and dialogue, with a courageous and innovative fidelity that enables Catholic identity to encounter the various 'souls' of multicultural society”.

With regard to the second aspect, the Pope remarked that during his meeting with the Superior Generals, he had emphasised that education in our times “is guided by a changing generation, and that, therefore, every educator – and the Church as a whole is an educating mother – is required to change, in the sense of knowing how to communicate with the young”.

In relation to the responsibility of educational institutions to “express the living presence of the Gospel in the field of education, science and culture”, Pope Francis reiterated the need for Catholic academic institutions to avoid “isolating themselves in the world”, and instead to “know how to enter, with courage, into the Areopagus of contemporary cultures and to initiate dialogue, aware of the gift they are able to offer to all”.


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the Symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium. Gratitude and commitment for a great ecclesial movement”, organised by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The congress, organised in collaboration with the Pontifical Lateran University and scheduled to take place from 18 to 20 February, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963.

The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Msgr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, under-secretary of the same Congregation, and Philippe Chenaux, professor of modern and contemporary history of the Church at the Pontifical Lateran University and director of the “Vatican Council II” Centre for Study and Research.

In addition, a text prepared by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was read by Msgr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, and a text by Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, S.D.B., rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, was read by Professor Philippe Chenaux.

Cardinal Canizares commented that the Council was “an invitation to the Church to be herself, as God wished her to be and created her, and to act in a manner coherent with her vocation and with the mission that God Himself has given her. … With this beginning, which focuses on the theme of the Liturgy, the emphasis is unequivocally placed on the primacy of God in the Church; God first of all. … When God is not in first place, everything else loses its way”.

The Vatican Council II Fathers demonstrated this priority first by approving the Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, clarifying that “worship comes first; God comes first. Therefore, beginning with the theme of the Liturgy, the Council explicitly turned attention to God's primacy and at the same time indicated it as a sure point of orientation for the path to be followed in the future”.

With regard to “gratitude” and “commitment”, the prelate added, “We must, indeed, thank God for this first fruit of the Council … not only for the Constitution itself, but also for the renewing dynamism of the Church that it has given rise to, and continues to provide. At the same time, urgent commitment on our part to the continuation and deepening of the liturgical renewal hoped for by the Vatican Council II is now called for. It is true that much has been done, but there remains much still to do”.

The Symposium will include a component dedicated to theological and pastoral reflection, and will offer important opportunities for celebrations and time for prayer; ample space will also be dedicated to the beauty of art in the service of liturgy, represented by concerts and exhibitions. The participants will meet with the Holy Father on Wednesday 19 February during the general audience.


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Three prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Bulgaria on their “ad limina” visit:

- Bishop Petko Jordanov Christov of Nicopoli;

- Bishop Gheorghi Ivanov Jovcek of Sofia and Plovdiv;

- Bishop Christo Proykov, apostolic esarch of Sofia for Catholics of Byzantine-Slavic rite resident in Bulgaria.

Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all'Jonio, secretary general “ad interim” of the Italian Episcopal Conference.


Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- confirmed the erection of the archiepiscopal esarchate of Krym of the Ukrainians, Ukraine by the Synod of the Greek Catholic Church, with territory from the current archiepiscopal esarchate of Odessa-Krym;

- confirmed the transfer of Bishop Vasyl Ivasyuk from the office of archiepiscopal esarch of Odessa-Krym to the eparchy of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi of the Ukrainians.

- given his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of the Greek Catholic Church of Pr. Mykhaylo Bubniy, C.SS.R., as first bishop of the archiepiscopal eparchy of Krym, Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Khlivchany, Ukraine in 1970, took his religious vows in 1996 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. He has served in pastoral roles in Novoiavorivsk, Kokhavino and Lviv, and is currently superior of the Community of Redemptorist Fathers in Ivano-Frankivsk and priest in the parish of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” in the same city.
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