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Friday, March 7, 2014


Vatican City, 7 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father met with Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary general of the World Council for Churches, accompanied by a delegation. The Pope remarked that this encounter “marks an important chapter in the long and fruitful relationship between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches”, and acknowledged “the service it performs in the cause of unity between believers in Christ”.

“Since its creation, the World Council of Churches has offered a great contribution to forming the sensibility of all Christians with regard to the fact that our divisions represent a major obstacle to our witness to the Gospel in the world. These divisions must not be accepted with resignation, as if they were simply an inevitable component of the historic experience of the Church. If Christians ignore the Lord's call to unity, they risk ignoring the Lord Himself and the salvation He offers through His Body, the Church: 'there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name … by which we must be saved.'”

“The way to full and visible communion is a path which still proves today to be arduous and uphill. The Spirit, however, urges us not to be afraid, to go ahead with trust, and not to content ourselves with the progress that we have been able to experience in these decades. Prayer is fundamental on this path. Only in a spirit of humble and persistent prayer can we attain the necessary farsightedness, discernment and motivations for offering our service to the human family, in all its weakness and with all its needs, both spiritual and material”.


Vatican City, 7 March 2014 (VIS) – On 9 March, the first Sunday of Lent, the Pope and the Roman Curia will begin their spiritual exercises. The meditations will be led by Fr. Angelo De Donatis, parish of San Marco Evangelista in Campidoglio.

This year's spiritual exercises will be based on the theme “the purification of the heart” and will take place in the Pauline residence, “Casa del Divin Maestro” in Ariccia, a few kilometres outside Rome.

The retreat will continue until 14 March and during this period all pontifical audiences will be suspended, including the general audience of Wednesday 12 March.


Vatican City, 7 March 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has addressed a letter to all bishops worldwide in view of the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday. The letter is also signed by Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J., secretary of the same dicastery.

“Every day, Christians in various regions of the Middle East ask themselves whether to stay there or to emigrate: they live in conditions of insecurity or suffer violence, at times for the mere fact of professing their, and our, faith”, he says. “Every day there are brothers and sisters who resist, choosing to remain there where God fulfilled in Christ His plan for universal reconciliation. From that land there departed those who, upon Christ's Word, brought the Gospel to the four corners of the world. It is there that the Church always rediscovers, with her roots, the 'great hope' that bears Jesus' name, but the current situation is truly delicate: it is enough to think of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the evolution that Egypt is undergoing, and the tragedy in Syria”.

Cardinal Sandri continues, “On Good Friday we wish to raise to the Crucified the cry for peace for Jerusalem so that the world, starting from the land of Jesus, might become the City of Peace”.

A document prepared by the Custodian of the Holy Land details the works carried out as a result of the 2012-2013 collection.

In addition to providing scholarships to students from different dioceses, the collection has enabled restoration work to be carried out in various places, including the Mensa Christi Church, the Cafarnao archaeological site and the Shrine of Nain. Funds have also been distributed to support parishes, families, schools, universities and cultural works, through the Custodian of the Holy Land, such as the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum in Jerusalem, and the Franciscan Media Centre.


Vatican City, 7 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio in Panama.

- Archbishop Jean-Abdo Arbach B.C. of Homs of the Greek Melkites, Syria.

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

- Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, with his auxiliary, Bishop Sebastia Taltavull Anglada;

- Bishop Agustin Cortes Soriano of Sant Feliu de Llobregat;

- Bishop Josep Angel Saiz Meneses of Terrassa, with his auxiliary, Bishop Salvador Christian Coll;

- Archbishop Jaume Pujol Balcells of Tarragona;

- Bishop Francesc Pardo Artigas of Gerona;

- Bishop Joan Piris Frigola of Lleida;

- Bishop Xavier Novell Goma of Solsona;

- Bishop Enrique Benavent Vidal of Tortosa;

- Archbishop Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, bishop of Urgell;

- Bishop Roman Casanova Casanova of Vic.


Vatican City, 7 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel, auxiliary of the diocese of Santiago de Chile, Chile, as bishop of Melipilla (area 6,217, population 523,700, Catholics 418,700, priests 66, permanent deacons 65, religious 138), Chile. He succeeds Bishop Enrique Troncoso Troncoso, whose resignation upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
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