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Monday, March 17, 2014


Vatican City, 17 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the prelates of the Episcopal Conference of East Timor on their “ad limina Apostolorum” visit, and delivered to them the text of the address he had prepared. In the text, the Pope considers some of the concerns the prelates had referred to him: the contribution of the bishops as the critical conscience of the nation; the Church in mission, motivated by mercy; and conveying the good news of salvation in local languages.

“The Church asks of society just one thing: the freedom to proclaim the Gospel in full, also when it goes against current values. … Dear brothers, do not be afraid to make this contribution to the Church for the good of all society. But if there is no mercy nowadays, there is little chance of entering into the world of the 'wounded' who are in need of understanding, forgiveness and love. This is why I never tire of calling all the Church to a 'revolution of tenderness'”.

The Holy Father encourages them, “without diminishing the value of the evangelical ideal, to control, with mercy and patience, the potential for growth in the steps taken day by day … and to meet this challenge through the solid formation of priests, religious and lay faithful”. The Pope adds that “this does not require a specialised form of evangelisation”, and that it is necessary to make each Christian an agent of evangelisation since “once a person truly experiences God's saving love, it does not take long for that person to rise and proclaim the Gospel, and they do not require great lessons or instruction. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he encounters God's love in Jesus Christ. … In all baptised persons, it is the Spirit that leads them to evangelise”. In addition, Pope Francis emphasises that “challenge” does not imply a threat.

The Pontiff refers to the triple position the bishop must assume in relation to the faithful: he must be at the head of his flock, in order to show the way; in the centre, to maintain unity and neutralise any stampedes; and behind, to ensure that no-one is left behind or strays. “In any case, be men who are able to support, with love and patience, the steps of God alongside his people, and bring to bear all that may keep them united, taking care of possible dangers but above all enabling hope to grow: may you have sun and light in your hearts!”.


Vatican City, 16 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued an informative note from the director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. regarding the private audience of the Holy Father with the president of the Argentine Republic the full text of which is published below:

In the late morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Domus Sanctae Marthae the president of the Argentine Republic, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, accompanied by a large delegation.

The visit had the aim of presenting to the Holy Father the greetings, wishes and affection of the Argentine people to commemorate the anniversary of the first year of his pontificate.

The Pope awaited and received the president and the delegation at the door of the Domus Sanctae Marthae around 1.10 p.m. The meeting took place in the Hall on the ground floor, first with the entire delegation, then with the president alone. Then, at around 1.30 p.m., the Pope and the president lunched privately.


Vatican City, 17 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the “Global Freedom Network”, an agreement between the representatives of the great world religions to eradicate modern forms of slavery and human trafficking, in collaboration with the Walk Free Foundation. The speakers at the conference were: Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences, on behalf of the Holy Father; Mahmoud Azab, on behalf of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt; Rev. Sir John Moxon, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, and Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation.

The objective of the agreement is to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking across the world by 2020”; it is a revolutionary and unprecedented agreement among representatives of major faiths. The joint statement made by the signatories underscores the “searing personal destructiveness of modern slavery and human trafficking” and calls for “urgent action by all other Christian Churches and global faiths”.

According to the Joint Statement, “Modern slavery and human trafficking are crimes against humanity. The physical, economic and sexual exploitation of men, women and children condemns 30 million people to dehumanisation and degradation. Every day we let this tragic situation continue is a grievous assault on our common humanity and a shameful affront to the consciences of all peoples. Any indifference to those suffering exploitation must cease. We call to action all people of faith and their leaders, all governments and people of goodwill, to join the movement against modern slavery and human trafficking and support the Global Freedom Network”.


Vatican City, 16 March 2014 (VIS) – At midday today the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. On this, the second Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis reflected upon the Transfiguration of Christ and urged the faithful this week to “listen to Jesus” and to read a passage from the Gospel every day.

“We, as Jesus' disciples, are called upon to be people who listen to His voice and take His words seriously. To listen to Jesus, we need to be near to Him, to follow Him, as did the crowds in the Gospel who ran after him through the streets of Palestine. … But we also listen to Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel. Let me ask you a question: do you read a passage from the Gospel every day? Yes, no, yes, no, so-so. But it is important. It is a good idea to have a small Gospel, a pocket-sized Gospel that you can carry around with you, and to read a short passage from it at any time of the day. At any time in the day I take the Gospel out of my pocket and read a little something, a short passage. There we find Jesus, Who speaks to us, in the Gospel! Think about this. It is not difficult, and it is not even necessary to have all four of them: we can carry just one of the Gospels, a little copy, with us at all times. Let us always keep the Gospel with us, because it is the Word of Jesus, so that we can listen to Him at all times.

The Pope commented that, in order to share the Word of the Lord, we must learn to “ascend” in prayer and “descend” with fraternal charity, and he emphasised that this is a mission that involves the entire Church, all baptised persons. “In this episode of the Transfiguration, I would like to comment on two significant elements that can be summarised in two words – ascent and descent”, he said. “We need to take time out to climb the mountain in silent space, to find ourselves and to better hear the voice of the Lord. We do this in prayer. But we cannot remain there! The encounter with God in prayer inspires us to go back down the mountain, onto the plain, where we meet many brothers and sisters who are weighed down by fatigue, injustice, ignorance and poverty, both material and spiritual. We must bring to these brothers of ours who are in difficulty the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the grace we have received. And this is curious. When we hear the Word of Jesus, when we listen to the Word of Jesus and commit it to our hearts, that Word grows. And do you know how we make it grow? By giving it to others! The Word of Christ grows in us when we proclaim it, when we give it to others. And this is Christian life”.

Finally, the Bishop of Rome asked all those present to turn to the Mother of God and our Mother, invoking her guidance in our Lenten journey.


Vatican City, 16 March 2014 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father called for prayers for the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysian airliner, and for their families and loved ones. Pope Francis also addressed the members of the Pope John XXIII Community, founded by the Italian priest Oreste Benzi, and mentioned the Via Crucis organised by this community for women who are victims of trafficking, to take place next Friday evening in the streets of the centre of Rome.


Vatican City, 16 March 2014 (VIS) – “The Christian's first task is to listen to the Word of God, to listen to Jesus, because He speaks to us, and He saves us with His Word. And He makes our faith stronger and more robust, with his Word”. Pope Francis addressed these words to the faithful who awaited him at 4 p.m. today in the parish of Santa Maria dell'Orazione in Setteville di Guidonia, to the north of the Italian capital. The Pope met with various groups within the parish, in particular the sick and disabled, children and young catechumens preparing to receive their first Communion, Confirmation and Post Confirmation, Neocatechumenal Communities and families with children baptised during recent months. Before beginning the celebration, Pope Francis confessed several penitents.

The Pope's homily focused on the grace of “listening to and watching Jesus”. “Do we keep a copy of the Gospel at home? And each day, do we listen to Jesus in the Gospel, do we read a short passage from the Gospel? Are we afraid of this, or are we unaccustomed to it? Listening to the Word of Jesus to nourish us – this means that the Word of Jesus is the strongest sustenance for the soul: it nourishes our soul and our faith. I recommend that every day you set aside a few minutes to read a good passage from the Gospel and to see what happens there. Hear the voice of Jesus, and that Word of Jesus will enter into our hearts every day and make us stronger in our faith”.

“We are invited to listen to Jesus, and Jesus manifests himself, and in His Transfiguration He invites us to look upon him. And looking at Him purifies our eyes and prepares us for eternal life, for the vision of Heaven. Perhaps our eyes have sickened as they have seen so many things that are not of Jesus, or that are indeed against Jesus: worldly things, things that are not good for the light of the soul. And so this light gradually goes out, and without knowing it we end up in inner darkness, in spiritual darkness, in the darkness that excludes faith; darkness as we are not used to looking at or imagining those things proper to Jesus”.


Vatican City, 15 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father will visit the parish of San Gregorio VII in Rome on Friday 21 March to meet with the participants in a meeting organised by the “Libera” Foundation, presided by Don Luigi Ciotti. The meeting is dedicated to relatives of the victims of the mafia and will be held on the eve of the 19th “Day of memory and commitment”, in remembrance of the victims of the mafia, to be held in Latina on 22 March.


Vatican City, 17 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc.

- Archbishop Nicola Girasole, apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles.

- Three prelates of the Episcopal Conference of East Timor, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Bishop Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau;

- Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili;

- Bishop Norberto do Amaral of Maliana.

On Saturday 15 March, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Orlando Antonini, apostolic nuncio in Serbia;

- Michael Anthony Perry, O.F.M., minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, with members of the General Definitory;

- Fr. Saverio Cannistra, O.C.D., prepositor general of the Descalced Carmelites.


Vatican City, 15 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Sincelejo, Colombia, presented by Bishop Nel Hedye Beltran Santamaria, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Bishop Romulo T. de la Cruz of Kidapawan as metropolitan archbishop of Zamboanga (area 1,683, population 764,000, Catholics 597,865, priests 76, religious 105), Philippines.

- appointed Rev. Jose Manuel Garita Herrera as bishop of Ciudad Quesada (area 9,838, population 297615, Catholics 223,257, priests 42, religious 35), Costa Rica. The bishop-elect was born in Heredia, Costa Rica in 1965 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral, administrative and academic roles in the archdiocese of San Jose de Costa Rica, including vicar of the parish of “Nuestra Senora del Carmen”; auditor, defender of the bond and judicial vicar of the ecclesiastical tribunal; professor of sacred scriptures at the Autonomous University of Central America; archdiocesan vice-chancellor and chancellor, archdiocesan bursar and head of personnel of the Curia, professor of canon law at the Catholic University, the Theological Institute of Central America and in the national major seminary, rector of the “Santuario Nacional Templo Votivo al Sagrado Corazon de Jesus”, vicar forane, formator and spiritual director. He is currently rector of the national major seminary “Nuestra Senora de los Angeles”.

- appointed Fr. Robert Byrne as bishop of Birmingham (area 9,936, population 5,455,000, Catholics 286,700, priests 354, permanent deacons 81, religious 700), England. The bishop-elect was born in Urmston, England in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He completed his studies as King's College, University of London, and the Birmingham Oratory. He founded a new Oratory in the parish of St. Aloysius, Oxford in 1993. He has served as provost of the Oratory, chaplain of the prisons of Oxford and Bullingdon, and governor of the Oratory School. He is currently president of the Permanent Deputation of the International Confederation of the Oratory and secretary of the Department for Dialogue and Unity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

- appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as his special envoy to the consecration of the recently restored shrine to St. Augustine d'Ippona at Annaba, Algeria, to take place on 2 May 2014, the centenary of its elevation to a Basilica.
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