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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Vatican City, 26 February 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Sacraments by speaking today about the anointing of the sick, “which allows us to touch with our hands God's compassion for mankind”. He explained that in the past it was referred to as “extreme unction” as it was intended as spiritual consolation when death was imminent. “Speaking of the anointing of the sick helps us to broaden our view of the experience of illness and suffering, in the horizon of God's mercy”.

The parable of the Good Samaritan clearly expresses the mystery that is celebrated by this Sacrament. “The Samaritan consoles the man who suffers at the side of the road, tending to his wounds with oil and wine. The oil recalls that which is blessed by the Bishop every year, in the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, precisely for the anointing of the sick. The wine, instead, is a sign of Christ's love and grace, which flow from His gift of His life for us. The Pope explained that the sick person is finally entrusted to “the Church, the Christian community”, to whom “every day the Lord Jesus entrusts those who are afflicted, in body and spirit, so that we may continue to lavish upon them, without measure, all His love and His salvation”.

“This mandate is confirmed explicitly and precisely in the Epistle of St. James, in which he says, 'Is any among you sick? Let him call upon the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord'”, continued the Holy Father. “It is therefore a practice that was already in evidence at the time of the Apostles. Indeed, Jesus had taught his disciples to have His same predilection for the sick and the suffering, and transmitted to them the capacity and the task of continuing to give consolation and peace in His name … through the special grace of this Sacrament. However, this must not lead us to search obsessively for miracles or allow us the presumption of always being able to be healed; it gives us the assurance of Jesus' closeness to the sick and the elderly – as all those above the age of 65 are able to receive this Sacrament – as it is Jesus Himself Who comes towards them”.

“But when someone is sick and we say, 'Let's call the priest to come', it makes us think that it may bring bad luck, or perhaps the patient will be afraid”, he continued, speaking off the cuff. “There is perhaps the idea that when one is sick and the priest arrives, he will be followed by the undertaker. But this is not true! The priest comes to help the sick or the elderly, which is why the visit is so important. It is necessary to call the priest to the home of the sick and to say: 'come, anoint him, bless him'. It is Jesus Himself Who arrives to console the sick, to give him strength, to give him hope, to help him; also to forgive his sins. And this is beautiful! And we must not think of this as a taboo, because it is always good to know that in moments of pain or sickness we are not alone; the priest and those who are present during the anointing of the sick represent, indeed, the entire Christian community who, as a single body, gathers around those who suffer and their relatives, encouraging their faith and hope, and supporting them with prayer and brotherly warmth. But the greatest comfort derives from the fact that it is the Lord Jesus Himself who is made present in the Sacrament; He takes us by the hand and reminds us that we now belong to Him and that nothing – not even sickness or death – can ever separate us from Him”.

“Are we afraid of the habit of calling the priest to give this Sacrament to the sick – I don't mean in the case of influenza that lasts three or four days, but rather a serious illness – and to the elderly, so that they can find the strength from Jesus to go on?” asked the Pope, and concluded by urging those present: “Let's do this”.


Vatican City, 26 February 2014 (VIS) – Following today's catechesis the Pope commented on the events of recent days in Venezuela, and made an appeal for the cessation of violence and hostilities. He expressed his hope that “that the entire Venezuelan population, beginning with political and institutional leaders, will take steps to ensure national reconciliation, through mutual forgiveness and sincere dialogue, respecting truth and justice, and able to face real issues for the common good”.

The Holy Father gave the assurance of his prayers, in particular for those who have lost their lives in the clashes, and their families, and invited the faithful to raise prayers to God for the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto so that the country might once more find peace and harmony.


Vatican City, 26 February 2014 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages, the Pope mentioned that in two days' time the World Rare Diseases Day will be celebrated, and he addressed the participants in the congress that is to take place on the day. “I hope that patients and their families will be adequately supported on their difficult journey, at both a medical and a legislative level”.

Pope Francis greeted, among others, participants in the SIGNIS World Congress, the directors of the Polish radio who are meeting in Rome during these days for their spiritual exercises, pilgrims from Iraq and Lebanon, and the Legionaries of Christ who have completed their General Chapter.

Before concluding, he commented that tomorrow is the liturgical memory of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, “whose example helps you, dear young people, to be enthusiastic disciples of Jesus, who inspires you, dear sick people, to offer your suffering in union with those of Christ; and stimulates you, dear newly-weds, to make the Gospel the fundamental rule of your married life”.


Vatican City, 26 February 2014 (VIS) – The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops met on 24 and 25 February to discuss the results of the enquiry opened in November 2013 with the distribution of a questionnaire on themes relating to the family to episcopal conferences around the world. There has been a very high percentage of responses, and observations from individuals and groups from all over the world have been added.

On the afternoon of 24 February the Council was presided over by the Holy Father Francis, who also emphasised in this way the importance he attributes to both the Synod structure as an expression of episcopal collegiality and the theme that will be considered by the upcoming Extraordinary Assembly of 2014 and the Ordinary Assembly of 2015.

The draft synthesis of the answers received was unanimously appreciated. It enables the voice of the Church to be heard in all her components and in a variety of contexts and situations, both with regard to the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel of the family with renewed zeal, and in relation to the challenges and difficulties connected with family life and the crises it may face.

The observations made during the discussion will be considered in the drafting of the Instrumentum laboris from which the work of the Synod will proceed. The unitary character of the two stages expected for synodal reflection on the family, so that at the end of the Ordinary Synod proposals will be presented to the Holy Father, on the basis of which he will prepare his Apostolic Exhortation.

The Ordinary Council was attended by the relator general, Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and the special secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto.

During the meeting the Holy Father blessed the new wing of the seat of the Secretariat General along with the Chapel and new offices.


Vatican City, 26 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Jose Carlos de Souza Campos as bishop of Divinopolis (area 8,824, population 780,000, Catholics 668,000, priests 101, religious 117), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Itauna, Brazil in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1993. He holds a licentiate in fundamental theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and has held a number of pastoral roles, including priest of the parishes of “Senhor Bom Jesus” in Pedra do Indaia, “Nossa Senhora Aparecida” in Divinopolis, “Nossa Senhora de Fatima” in Itauna and “Sant'Ana” in Itauna; professor of philosophy in the “Sao Jose” diocesan seminary, administrator of the “Sao Judas Tadeu” parish in Divinopolis, and vicar general of the diocese of Divinopolis. He has also served as representative of priests, and member of the council of formators, the presbyteral council and the college of consultors, and professor of religious anthropology and fundamental theology in various study centres. He is currently administrator of the diocese of Divinopolis and priest of the Cathedral.

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