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Monday, March 24, 2014


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – Gratitude for the great work of evangelisation that is taking place in Guinea, despite a lack of material resources, and invitations to unity, reconciliation and dialogue with members of other religions were the key points of the Pope's address to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Guinea, whom he received in audience this morning, at the end of their “ad limina” visit.

“Christ's disciples form a living body that manifests the joy of the Gospel by the enthusiasm of faith, although the conditions under which the Good News is proclaimed are often difficult”, the Pope writes. “From a purely human point of view the means of evangelisation may seem ridiculous. Far from being discouraged, you must remember that this is the work of Jesus Himself, beyond all that we are able to discover and understand. However, for the Gospel to profoundly touch and convert hearts, we must remember that only if we are united in love can we give witness to the truth of the Gospel. … Discord between Christians is the greatest obstacle to evangelisation. It favours the development of groups that exploit poverty and credulity to propose easy but illusory problems to the problems faced by the people. In a world afflicted by many ethnic, political and religious conflicts, communities must be 'authentically fraternal and reconciled' for their witness to be 'luminous and attractive'. God will give us the grace, if we know how to receive it, to render unity greater than conflict”.

Pope Francis goes on to remark that, for the proclamation of the Gospel to be fruitful, all existence must be coherent with what is proclaimed. He thanks the bishops for having instituted centres for the formation of laypersons and catechists for this purpose, and he urged them to support families in which Christian marriage must be lived without ambiguity, given that polygamy is very widespread within the country. He also suggests that they encourage the young to “bear witness to their faith, by committing themselves within society, thereby demonstrating their attachment to their country. In collaboration with the different actors in social life, they must always be artisans of peace and reconciliation in the fight against the extreme poverty that Guinea faces. In this respect, despite difficulties, I encourage you to deepen your relationships with your Muslim compatriots, mutually learning to accept different ways of being, thinking and expressing oneself”.

The Pope turns his attention also to the religious who in Guinea “express the love of Christ in works of aid for the population, both in healthcare and in education and instruction … accomplishing a true act of evangelisation, and giving authentic testimony of God's tenderness towards all mankind, especially the poorest and weakest; a witness that touches hearts and firmly entrenches faith”. Despite a lack of resources, Francis urges the prelates always to support them, “both spiritually and materially so that they may courageously persevere in their work of evangelisation and social promotion”.

The final paragraphs of the Pope's address are dedicated to priests, who are however still few in number in Guinea. The Holy Father congratulates them for the recent opening of the “Benedict XVI” major seminary which offers hope for the future and emphasises that the example of priests who live their vocation with joy is essential for ensuring that the new priests “learn to live truly the requirements of ecclesiastical celibacy, and the proper relationship with material goods, rejecting worldliness and careerism – for the priesthood is not a means of social mobility – as well as a real engagement with the poorest”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Pope Francis received the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, whose president is Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski. “It is true that in suffering no-one is ever alone”, he said, “as God in his merciful love for mankind and for the world also embraces the most inhuman situations, in which the image of the Creator present in every person appears to be obscured or disfigured. Thus was Jesus, in his Passion. … And here, in the Passion of Jesus, there is the greatest school for whoever wishes to dedicate him to the service of his sick and suffering brethren”.

Pope Francis recalled, on the Feast of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which will be celebrated tomorrow, how Mary welcomes life on behalf of us all. “Mary offers her very existence, she made herself entirely available for God's will, becoming the locus of his presence, the place in which the Son of God resides”.

He continued, “The experience of fraternal sharing with those who suffer opens us to the true beauty of human life, which includes its fragility. In the protection and promotion of life, in whatever state and condition it may be found, we can recognise the dignity and the value of each single human being, from conception to natural death”. The Pope concluded by encouraging those present always to keep in mind “the flesh of Christ in the poor, in those who suffer, in children, including those who are unwanted, in people with physical or mental handicaps, and in the elderly”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – The Orthodox Bishop Agathanghelos, director general of the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Greek Church, accompanied by a group of collaborators, was received in audience by Pope Francis this morning. The Apostoliki Diakonia is the body in charge of the promotion of pastoral, cultural and editorial activities in Greece on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church.

As a result of the improved relations with the Greek Orthodox Church, following John Paul II's visit to Athens in 2001, it has been possible to carry out various collaborative projects of a cultural nature involving the Holy See and the Apostoliki Diakonia of the Church of Greece.

During their stay in Rome, from 21 to 26 March, the Greek delegation will visit the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls to venerate the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. They will also meet with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, and the directors of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Visits are also scheduled to the Catacombs of St. Callisto, the Abbey of the Three Fountains, and the Sant'Egidio Community.


Vatican City, 23 March 2014 (VIS) – On the third Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims present. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff commented on the Gospel passage in which the Samaritan woman goes to collect water from the well and encounters in Jesus the water of mercy; she finds what she had sought, and returned to the judged and rejected to announce to them that she had encountered the one who had changed her life. “We too have many questions to pose, but we do not find the courage to put them to Jesus! Lent is the ideal time to look within ourselves, to let our truest spiritual needs emerge, and to ask the help of the Lord in prayer. The example of the Samaritan woman invites us to express ourselves thus: 'Jesus, give me the water so I may thirst no more'”.

“The result of this encounter at the well was that the woman was transformed. … For every encounter with Jesus changes our lives, always. It is a step ahead, a step closer to God. And so every encounter with Jesus changes our lives, always. … In this Gospel reading we also find the impetus to 'leave our amphora', our water jar, the symbol of all that is seemingly important, but which loses its value before 'God's love'. We all have one, or more than one! … What is your inner amphora, what weighs upon you, what distances you from God?” he asked the faithful. “Let us set it aside a little and hear in our hearts Christ's voice, offering us a different water, a water that brings us closer to the Lord”.

The Pope continued, “We are called to rediscover the importance and the meaning of our Christian life, beginning with our Baptism and, like the Samaritan woman, to bear witness to our brethren of the joy of the encounter with Jesus; bear witness to the joy of this encounter. Each encounter with Jesus changes our life, and each encounter with Jesus also fills us with joy, that joy that comes from within. Let us tell how many marvellous things the Lord is able to do within our hearts, once we find the courage to let go of our amphora”.


Vatican City, 23 March 2014 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father Francis mentioned that Monday 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, and he asked for prayers for all those who suffer from this disease. The Pope also encouraged all those present to celebrate “24 hours for the Lord”, a prayer initiative which will be held on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March. It will be a moment of penance that will begin with a celebration in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday afternoon, and various churches in the centre of Rome will stay open during the night for prayer and confession. “It will be a festival of forgiveness”, he said, “that will also take place in many dioceses and parishes throughout the world”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences for the death of His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka Iwas, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on 21 March, at the age of 80. “The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding spiritual leaders, courageous and wise in leading people through very difficult times”, he writes. “Following his election as patriarch in 1980, His Holiness was an engaged witness of the successive violent conflicts that have brought untold death and suffering to the Middle East, especially Iraq and most recently Syria. His Holiness was a man of dialogue and peace with regard to the followers of all religious traditions”.

Pope Francis also mentions in the telegram the Patriarch's role as an observer at the Vatican Council II and gives thanks for his “extraordinary contribution to strengthening communion between Syrian Orthodox Christians and the Catholic faithful”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of the talks, emphasis was laid on the cordial relations between the Holy See and Nigeria, and appreciation was expressed for the positive contribution offered by the Church to the welfare of the entire country, especially in the areas of education and health care, as well as in promoting dialogue between the various components of society. Particular attention was given in the meeting to the protection of the dignity of the human person and his or her fundamental rights, beginning with religious freedom. In this context the joint condemnation of every form of violence was renewed and hope was expressed for a rapid return to peaceful coexistence in the whole Country.

Finally, an exchange of views took place regarding several issues of regional interest, with particular reference to the situations of crisis and conflict in central and sub-Saharan Africa.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the members of the “Corallo” Association, a network of local Catholic-inspired broadcasters from all regions of Italy. The Pope gave an off-the-cuff address to those present, in which he defined the virtues, mission and sins of the communication media.

“Your work should be carried out along these three routes: the path of truth, the path of goodness, and the path of beauty. But truth, goodness and beauty are consistent – they come from within, they are human. And, on the path of truth, along these three routes, we can find mistakes and even traps. 'I think, I look for the truth …': be careful not to become an intellectual without intelligence. 'I go in search of goodness': be careful not to be an ethicist without goodness. 'I like beauty': yes, but be careful not to do what is frequently done: do not look for cosmetics to create an artificial beauty that does not exist”.

The Pope went on to refer to the “harmonious unity” of the work of broadcasters, commenting that, although there are large and small media entities, “in the Church there is neither large nor small: everyone has his or her function and help for others, the hand cannot exist without the head, and so on. We are all members, and also your media, whether they be large or small, are members, harmonised in their vocation of service to the Church. No-one should consider themselves to be too small in relation to another that is too large. Everyone is important in this harmony, for the Church is harmony in diversity. … It is important to seek unity, and not to subscribe to the logic that the large fish swallows the smaller fish”.

Pope Francis then went on to speak about clericalism, which he defined as “one of the ills of the Church. But it is a sin of complicity, as priests are subject to the temptation to clericalise the laity, while many laypersons ask on their knees to be clericalised, because it is convenient. … So this is a sin committed by two hands. We must resist this temptation. The layperson must be a layperson, baptised and with the strength that comes from baptism. A servant, but with a lay vocation, and this cannot be sold, bargained for, and one is not complicit with the other, because it is a question of identity. … Is the deacon or the priest more important than the layperson? No! … The function of the layperson cannot be exercised by the priest, and the Holy Spirit is free: sometimes it inspires a priest to do something, and at other times it inspires a layperson. This is something that is discussed in the pastoral Council, which is very important. A parish that does not have a pastoral Council and a Council for economic affairs is not a good parish: it lacks life”.

Finally, the Holy Father commented that the media embody many virtues, but also many sins. With regard to the latter, the three most significant are those which “take the road of lies: … disinformation, slander and defamation. The last two are serious, but not as dangerous as the first. Slander is a mortal sin, but it is possible to clarify the situation and become aware that it is slander. Defamation is a mortal sin, but it is possible to say: this is an injustice, because this person did something at that time but has now repented and changed their life. But disinformation means telling half-truths, the part that is most convenient to me, and not saying the other half. Therefore, those who watch the television or listen to the radio are not able to arrive at a perfect judgement, because they do not have all the elements necessary to do so, and the media do not give them. Please, shun these three sins”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as announced on 5 December 2013, and has invited the following people to be members: Catherine Bonnet, France; Marie Collins, Ireland; Sheila Hollins, United Kingdom; Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., United States; Claudio Papale, Italy; Hanna Suchocka, Poland; Humberto Miguel Yanez S.J., Argentina; and Hans Zollner, S.J., Germany.

Their principal task will be to prepare the Commission's statutes, which will define its competence and functions. The Commission will subsequently be joined by other members, nominated from various geographical areas of the world.

Marie Collins, who suffered sexual abuse as a child and brought the priest responsible to justice in 1997, is the co-founder of the Marie Collins Foundation, an NGO providing help and legal assistance to victims of abuse and their families. Sheila Hollins is emeritus professor of Psychiatry and former president of the British Medical Assocation. Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap. is archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., and is well-known for his efforts for the protection of childhood and is a member of the Apostolic Visitation of dioceses and seminaries in Ireland in 2010. Claudio Papale is a lawyer and professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. Hanna Suchocka, former prime minister of Poland (1992-1993), is a professor at the University of Poznan, specialising in constitutional law, and the author of various texts on human rights. The Jesuit Fr. Manuel Yanez is professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian and Urbaniana Universities. Fr. Hans Zollner,S.J., psychotherapist and psychologist, is the academic vice-rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, director of the Institute of Psychology, and chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute's “Centre for Child Protection”.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., commented that by the institution of this Commission, Pope Francis has made it clear that the Church considers the protection of minors as a priority issue. “In the certainty that the Church must play a crucial role in this field, and looking to the future without forgetting the past, the Commission will adopt a multiple approach to promoting the protection of minors, which will include education for the prevention of the exploitation of children, legal procedures relating to offences against minors, civil and canonical duties and responsibilities, and the development of 'best practices' as defined and developed in society as a whole”.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today announced that, following the motu proprio: Fidelis dispensator et prudens, which established the Secretariat for the Economy presided over by Cardinal George Pell, and following the institution of the Council for the Economy and the appointment of Cardinal Reinhard Marx as Cardinal coordinator of this organ, the Holy Father has nominated Msgr. Brian Ferme as Prelate Secretary of the Council for the Economy.

The Prelate Secretary has the task of assisting the Cardinal Coordinator in the fulfilment of the functions of the Council for the Economy, whose competences are associated with the guidance and supervision of the administrative and financial activities of the economic entities of the Holy See.

Msgr. Brian Ferme was born in 1955, and is a priest in the diocese of Portsmouth, England. He completed his philosophical, theological and canonical studies in Melbourne, Oxford and Rome. He is the author of numerous scientific publications and articles. He has served as professor of canon law at the Gregorian Pontifical University and subsequently at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he became dean of the faculty of canon law in 2000. In 2003, in Washington, he became dean of the faculty of canon law at the Catholic University of America, after which he transferred to Venice as head of the St. Pius X faculty of canon law. He collaborates with various dicasteries of the Roman Curia; in particular, he is a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – A letter was published today, written in Latin and dated 26 February, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as his special envoy to the celebration commemorating the 650th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral of Krakow, Poland, which will take place on 28 March.

The Cardinal will be accompanied by a mission composed of Msgr. Jacek Urban, canon of the metropolitan Chapter, and Msgr. Jan Machniak, canon of the Chapter of the Collegiate Church of St. Florian.


Vatican City, 22 March 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday Pope Francis visited the Roman Church of San Gregorio VII, where he met with more than 700 families of the victims of the mafia, representing approximately 15,000 persons who have lost loved ones as a result of mafia violence. Since 1996 the first day of spring, 21 March, has been dedicated to the memory of the victims of mafia groups and every year the “Libera” association organises a demonstration in a different town. This year it took place in Latina, where today the 19th Day of Memory and Commitment is to be held on the theme “Roots of memory, fruit of commitment”.

The prayer vigil in the Church of San Gregorio began with an address by the priest Don Luigi Ciotti, founder of “Libera”, after which the names of the 900 victims of the mafia were read aloud. Following the reading of the Gospel and the Beatitudes, the Pope addressed the following words to those present:

“I wish to share with you a hope, and it is this: that the sense of responsibility might gradually prevail over corruption, in every part of the world. … And this must begin from within, from consciences, and from there it is necessary to heal, to restore to health forms of behaviour, relations, choices, the social fabric, so that justice gains space, spreads, takes root, and supplants iniquity.

“I know that you feel this hope strongly, and I want to share it with you, to tell you that I will be close to you also tonight and tomorrow, in Latina – even if I cannot be there in person, I will be with you on this journey, which requires tenacity and perseverance.

“In particular, I wish to express my solidarity with those who have lost a loved one, as a victim of mafia violence. Thank you for your witness, because you are not closed, you are open, you have come forward to tell your story of pain and hope. This is so important, especially for the young. I would like to pray with you, and I do so from the heart, for all victims of the mafia. Even just a few days ago, near Taranto, a crime was committed in which even a child was not spared. But at the same time let us pray together, to ask for the strength to go on, not to be discouraged, but instead to continue to fight against corruption.

Pope Francis continued, speaking off the cuff, “I feel that I cannot finish without saying a word to those who are absent today, to the absent protagonists: to the men and women of the mafia. Please, change your lives, convert, stop what you are doing, stop doing harm. And we pray for you. Convert, I ask you this on my knees; it is for your own good. This life you are living now will not bring you pleasure, it will not bring you joy, it will not bring you happiness. Power, the money you have now from your many dirty dealings, from your many mafia crimes, is blood money, it is power that is stained with blood, and you will not be able to take it with you to the next life. Repent, there is still time, so as not to end up in hell. This is what awaits you if you continue on this path. You have a father and a mother: think of them. Cry a little, and repent”.


Vatican City, 24 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

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

- Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly of Conakry;

- Bishop Emmanuel Felemou of Kankan;

- Bishop Raphael Balla Guilavogui of N'Zerekore.

On Saturday, 22 March, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Nguyen Sinh Hung, president of the parliament of Vietnam.


Vatican City, 22 March (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City , Vietnam, presented by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Paul Bui Van Doc, coadjutor of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Rev. Juan Armando Perez Talamantes and Rev. Alfonso Gerardo Miranda Guardiola as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Monterrey (area 17,886, population 7,387,000, Catholics 5,910,000, priests 595, permanent deacons 44, religious 1228), Mexico.

Bishop-elect Perez Talamantes was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1970, and was ordained a priest in 1997. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in the following pastoral roles: vicar, spiritual director, coordinator of discipline and prefect of studies in the major seminary of Monterrey, and priest of the parishes of “Sagrada Familia” and “San Francisco de Asis” in Apocada. He is currently episcopal vicar for the Zone X and director of the Benedict XVI Institute for the formation of laypersons in ordinary pastoral care.

Bishop-elect Miranda Guardiola was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Pontifical University of Mexico. He has held the following pastoral roles: prefect of discipline and studies in the minor seminary, lecturer in the major seminary, deputy priest in the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, assessor for groups of divorced persons and rector of the temple of “St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe”. He is currently secretary chancellor of the Curia and director of the ecclesiastical archive and department of history of the archdiocese of Monterrey. He is the author of nine books.

- appointed Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, apostolic nuncio in Lituania, as apostolic nuncio in Estonia and Latvia.

- appointed Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot as apostolic nuncio in Sri Lanka. Archbishop Nguyen Van Tot was previously apostolic nuncio in Costa Rica.
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