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Thursday, March 27, 2014


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning Barack H. Obama, president of the United States of America, was received in audience by Pope Francis, after which he met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meeting, views were exchanged on some current international themes and hope was expressed that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, the Parties discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the Parties stated their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – The dialogue between God's lament and man's justifications was the theme selected by the Holy Father in the homily he pronounced at this morning's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, attended by Italian ministers and members of parliament. Pope Francis spoke about the infidelity of the People of God, a generation that does not accept His messages, and in their place, seek justifications for their sins. “It was a very great task to drive idolatry from the hearts of his people, to make them docile to His Word. But they followed this route for a little while, before turning back”.

“From being sinners, they went on to become corrupt”, he continued. “It is very hard for a corrupt person to turn back. The sinner, yes, because the Lord is merciful and awaits us all. But the corrupt are fixed on their affairs, and these people were corrupt. They therefore sought to justify themselves, because Jesus, with his simplicity, but with his strength in God, made trouble for them. And, step by step, they ended up convincing themselves that they had to kill Jesus, and one of them said, 'It is better for a man to die for the people'”.

“These people had taken the wrong path. They resisted the salvation of the Lord's love, and drifted from faith, from a theology of faith to a theology of duty: 'You must do this, this and this …'”. Describing them as hypocrites, Jesus said, “'They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them'. They rejected the Lord's love and this rejection set them on a path that was not the dialectic of freedom offered by the Lord, but that of the logic of necessity, where there is no room for the Lord. … They have become 'behavioural': men of good manners, but with bad habits. Jesus called them 'whitewashed sepulchres'. This is the Lord's pain, God's pain, God's lament”.

Pope Francis mentioned that during Lent “we would do well to think about the invitation from the Lord to love, and to ask ourselves, all of us: am I on this path? Or do I risk justifying myself and taking another path? A road with many junctions that does not, however, lead to any promise. … And we pray that the Lord gives us the grace to always follow the path of salvation, to open ourselves to the salvation that comes only from God, through faith, not that which is proposed to us by these 'professionals of duty' who had lost the faith and who led their people with this pastoral theology of duty”.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today the programme of the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land was published. The trip, which will take place from 24 to 26 May, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.15 a.m. and is schedule to arrive in Amman, Jordan at 1.15 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at Queen Alia International Airport, he will proceed to the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman, where he will be received by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, and will speak before the authorities of the kingdom of Jordan. At 4.00 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at the International Stadium in Amman, and later in the same afternoon he will meet with refugees and young disabled people in the Latin Church.

On Sunday, 25 May, the Pope will leave Jordan by helicopter at 8.15 a.m., destined for Bethlehem. In the presidential palace, after a courtesy visit to the president of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, he will address the Palestinian authorities. At 11 a.m. he will celebrate Mass and pray the Angelus in Manger Square in Bethlehem. The Holy Father will lunch with a number of Palestinian families in the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova and at 3 p.m. he will make a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity. He will then greet the children in the refugee camps of Deheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin and, at 3.45 p.m., will leave the State of Palestine to travel by helicopter to the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, where his arrival is scheduled for 4.30 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony he will proceed, again by helicopter, to Jerusalem, where at 6.15 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem, for the signing of a joint declaration. At 7 p.m. in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre an ecumenical meeting will take place, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, after which Pope Francis will dine with the patriarchs, bishops and the papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

On Monday, 26 May at 8.15 a.m. the Holy Father will visit the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques, and will give an address. He will subsequently visit the Western Wall, after which he will lay a wreath at Mount Herzl. At 10 a.m. he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, where he will speak, and at 10.45., he will make a courtesy visit to the two Chief Rabbis at the Heichal Shlomo Centre, next to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. At 11.45 he will proceed to the presidential palace where he will be received by the president of the State of Israel, Simon Peres. At 1 p.m., in the Notre Dame Centre, he will hold a private audience with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. At 3.30 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1, near the Viri Galileai Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. At 4 p.m., in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, he will address priests, men and women religious and seminarians. At 5.20 p.m. he will celebrate Mass with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and the Papal suite in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. At 7.30 p.m. he will transfer by helicopter from the Mount Scopus heliport to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where he will bid farewell to the State of Israel. The papal aeroplane will depart at 8.15 p.m. for Rome's Ciampino airport, where it is scheduled to land at approximately 11 p.m.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – On Tuesday, 1 April, in Vatican Radio's Sala Marconi, there will be a presentation of “The Voice of the Popes”, Vatican Radio's digital archive which brings together the voices of the popes who have succeeded to the see of St. Peter since 1931, the year in which the pontifical broadcasting entity was founded, from Pius XI to Francis. The institutional tasks of Vatican Radio are to consult, preserve and manage the papal audio archive ensuring that, in the case of use by third parties, the pastoral character of the material is conserved and intellectual property rights are protected.

The digitisation of the archive, which will take place in conjunction with the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on 27 April, will guarantee the conservation of the audio material, whose integrity may be endangered by wear and tear of archive supports, and will allow the archiving of audio material and text (metadata) in a far more efficient and rational way. The new digital support will also ensure easier use of content by information workers and scholars.

“The Vatican Radio technical directorate has completed the digitisation of the pontifical audio archive, reproducing the content of the 8000 tapes and original supports documenting the activities of popes, from Pius XI up to Francis, including Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who will soon be canonised”.

Speakers at the press conference for the presentation of “The Voices of the Popes”, moderated by Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director general of Vatican Radio, were: Cardinal Giovan Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Vatican specialist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, and Guido Gusso, Pope John XXIII's valet and Dean of the Hall of the Papal Antechamber under Pope John Paul II. The digitisation of the archive was undertaken with the contribution of the Banca Intesa Russia and with the support of Confartigianato Persone.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jean de Dieu Raoelison;

- Bishop Philippe Ranaivomanana of Antsirabe;

- Bishop Jean Claude Randrianarisoa of Miarinarivo;

- Bishop Gustavo Bombin Espino O.SS.T. of Tsiroanomandidy;

- Bishop Rosario Saro Vella S.D.B. of Ambanja;

- Bishop Roger Victor Solo Rakotondrajao of Mahajanga;

- Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara M.E.P., coadjutor of Port-Berge;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabemahafaly of Fianarantsoa;

- Bishop Fidelis Rakotonarivo S.J. of Ambositra;

- Bishop Benjamin Marc Balthason Ramaroson C.M. of Farafangana.

- Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano dell'Jonio, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
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