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Friday, February 28, 2014


Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in audience the Commission for Latin America, which today concluded its plenary session. Pope Francis emphasised that the Commission has dedicated its work during these days to the millions of young people in Latin America and the Caribbean “who live in conditions of 'educational emergency' and for whom it is necessary to pose the fundamental question of the 'traditio' of faith and how the Church wishes to imitate Jesus in His approach to the young”.

“It is worth following the example Jesus Christ gives us”, he repeated, “an example of commitment, of service, of selfless love, of the struggle for justice and truth. The Holy Mother Church is convinced that the best teacher for the young is Jesus Christ. She wishes to instil in them these same sentiments, showing them how beautiful it is to live as He did, banishing selfishness and allowing oneself to be drawn by the beauty of goodness. He who truly knows Jesus does not stay on the couch, but rather takes on His style of life, becoming a missionary disciple of His Gospel, bearing enthusiastic witness to faith, and sparing no sacrifice”.

The Pope recalled Jesus' encounter with the rich youth, and emphasised three aspects. First, welcome: Jesus' first gesture, and also ours, it precedes every form of instruction or apostolic mission. “Be close to the young in every area of life: in school, family, work. … Many young people experience serious problems. They face difficulties in school, unemployment, loneliness, the bitterness of disunited families. These are difficult moments, in which they experience frustration and helplessness; they become vulnerable to drug abuse, sex without love, violence ... we must not abandon the young, or leave them at the roadside; they have a great need to feel valued in their dignity, surrounded by affection, and understood”.

Secondly, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of frank and cordial dialogue, just as Jesus listened to the youth's worries and helped to clear them up. “Jesus listened, without condemning; he was without prejudice, he did not speak about the usual things. In the same way, the young want to feel at home in Church. Not only must the Church open her doors to them; she must actively seek them”.

Finally, the Pontiff underlined the invitation that Jesus makes to the youth to follow him, and emphasised the need for the young to hear this invitation. They must hear that Christ is not a character in a novel, but a living person, who wants to share their irrepressible desire for life, commitment, and dedication. If we content ourselves with offering them mere human comfort, we let them down. It is important to offer them the best we have: Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and with Him, a new horizon, which enables them to face life with coherence, honesty and high-mindedness. They see the evils of the world and do not keep quiet, they place their finger on the wound and ask for a better world, admitting no substitutes. They want to be in control of their present and builders of a future in which there is no place for lies, corruption and the lack of solidarity. … The Church in Latin America must not squander the treasure of youth”.

Before concluding, the Pope urged the Commission to face this challenge with resolve. “The young are waiting for us. We must not let them down”.


Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office communicates that yesterday afternoon the Pope received in the Domus Sanctae Marthae an important Argentine interreligious group made up of 45 persons: fifteen Jews, fifteen Muslims and fifteen Catholics.

The group has recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, following a pilgrimage of several days, ahead of the Holy Father's visit. The group passed through the three countries he will visit – Jordan , Israel, and Palestine – meeting with political and religious leaders and visiting the holy sites of the three religions. Many members of the group, which includes several rabbis, imams and priests, knew the former Cardinal Bergoglio as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and had collaborated with him in joint initiatives, often of a social or charitable nature for persons or social groups in difficult situations, or in the field of interreligious dialogue.

Their friendship and spiritual closeness to the Pope were among the reasons for this initiative; the pilgrimage, therefore, concluded in Rome, with their meeting with the Holy Father. They expressed their best wishes for his ministry of peace and dialogue and for his forthcoming pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The meeting, which lasted around an hour, took place in a cordial atmosphere and was attended by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.


Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – The Pope's universal prayer intention for March is “that all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women”.

His prayer intention for evangelisation is “that many young people may accept the Lord's invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel”.


Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Thirteen prelates of the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Fidel Herraez Vegas, Bishop Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez, and Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino;

- Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Alcala de Henares;

- Bishop Joaquin Maria Lopez de Andujar y Canova del Castillo of Getafe, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jose Rico Paves;

- Bishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia;

- Bishop Vicente Juan Segura of Ibiza;

- Bishop Javier Salines Vinals of Mallorca;

- Bishop Salvador Gimenez Valls of Menorca; and

- Bishop Jesus Murgui Soriano of Orihuela-Alicante; and Bishop Casimiro Lopez Llorente of Segorbe-Castellon de la Plana.

- Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnelo of Salta, Argentina.


Vatican City, 28 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the metropolitan archdiocese of Koln, Germany, presented by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, upon having reached the age limit.
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