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Friday, May 9, 2014


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, and the leading executive officers of the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations and specialised organisations, gathered in Rome for the biannual meeting for strategic coordination of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board.

In his address, the Pontiff thanked the those who are primarily responsible for the international system, “for the great efforts being made to ensure world peace, respect for human dignity, the protection of persons, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and harmonious economic and social development”. He also congratulated them on the results of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in terms of education and the decrease in extreme poverty, adding however, that “it must be kept in mind that the world’s peoples deserve and expect even greater results” since “an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens”.

Therefore, future sustainable development goals must be “formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labour for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the 'economy of exclusion', the 'throwaway culture' and the 'culture of death' which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted”.

The Holy Father explained that the spirit that should be “at the beginning and end of all political and economic activity” may be found in “the encounter between Jesus Christ and the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, as a result of which Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. … Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others”.

“The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others”, he continued. “Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. Consequently, I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors, that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society”.

“Consequently”, the Holy Father concluded, “while encouraging you in your continuing efforts to coordinate the activity of the international agencies, which represents a service to all humanity, I urge you to work together in promoting a true, worldwide ethical mobilisation which, beyond all differences of religious or political convictions, will spread and put into practice a shared ideal of fraternity and solidarity, especially with regard to the poorest and those most excluded”.


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – Missionary action is the paradigm for all works of the Church, said the Holy Father this morning, in his address to the participants in the meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which is being held in Rome this week.

The Pope mentioned that with his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” he intended to encourage the faithful to begin a new, evangelical era. “Evangelisation in this time of great social transformations, necessitates a missionary, outreach Church, capable of discernment in order to measure up to different cultures and visions of man. For a world in transformation, there is a need for a Church that is renewed and transformed by contemplation and personal contact with Christ, by the power of the Spirit. … It is He Who gives us the strength to undertake the missionary path and the joy of proclamation, so that the light of Christ may illuminate those who still do not know Him or have denied Him. This takes the courage to go forth to 'reach all the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel'. We cannot be held back by our weaknesses or our sins, nor by the many obstacles to the witness and proclamation of the Gospel”.

He went on to affirm that the Church, “missionary by nature, has as her fundamental prerogative the service of charity to all”; and that “fraternity and solidarity are natural to her life and her mission in and for the world”. Evangelisation “must reach out to all, beginning with the least among us, the poor, those whose backs are bent by the weight and weariness of life. In so doing the Church continues the mission of Christ Himself”.

The Church is “the population of the beatitudes, the house of the poor, of the afflicted, of the excluded and the persecuted, of those who hunger and thirst for justice”, he continued, emphasising that the representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies are called upon to work so that ecclesial communities may know how to “welcome the poor with preferential love, keeping the doors of the Church open so that all may enter and find refuge”.

The Pontifical Mission Societies are “the special tool that focuses on and takes special care of the 'missio ad gentes', and the Pope urges the members to “promote missionary co-responsibility”, as there is a great need for priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who, “seized by Christ's love, are set ablaze with passion for the Kingdom of God and willing to set out on the path of evangelisation”.


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – “Your visit provides an opportunity for us to reflect together on the life of the Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea and to discuss the joys and challenges which you face daily”, writes the Pope in his text addressed to the prelates of the Bishops' Conference of the two countries, at the end of their “ad limina” visit. “Though you are from different countries and belong to different rites, each with its own particular richness, your mission in service of Christ and his Church is the same: to proclaim the Gospel and to build up the faithful in holiness, unity and charity. When that mission is exercised in collaboration and mutual support, the Church, united in the Spirit, breathes with the two lungs of East and West and burns with love for Christ”.

Pope Francis comments that in our times, “we require again this missionary spirit to announce the saving message of new life in Christ to all of society, not only to those who do not know him, but also to the faithful, so they may hear once more the freshness of the Gospel and be encouraged to find ever new and creative ways to live and celebrate their faith”.

He encourages the prelates to be “good and generous fathers to your priests, present to them and attentive to their human and spiritual needs, and their ongoing formation in the priesthood”. He continued, “If they are to be holy and effective heralds of the Gospel, it is essential that they themselves be constantly evangelised anew. This should first take place in the seminary through integral human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation.”
He also mentions the support of the “many men and women religious who, for many generations, have generously cooperated in building up your local communities, reflecting the merciful face of Christ and assisting your Churches in living out the Gospel”. The Holy Father asks the bishops to “encourage and support their continued efforts to serve the spiritual and material needs of the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea today”.

The Holy Father emphasises that “the work of evangelisation is not reserved to the clergy or religious, but is the competence of all the Christian faithful”, and it is therefore “important to continue to identify and prepare qualified lay leaders to assist in forming the faithful and thus make present 'the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze'”.

“Many years of conflict and continuing tensions, in addition to widespread poverty and drought conditions, have brought great suffering to the people” he continues, thanking the bishops for the “generous social programmes which, inspired by the Gospel, you provide in collaboration with various religious, charitable and governmental agencies, aimed at alleviating this suffering”. He mentions, in particular, “the many children you serve who experience hunger and who have been orphaned because of violence and poverty” and “the young people who like so many of their friends and family would otherwise flee their homeland in search of greater opportunities, and risk losing their lives during dangerous journeys”, as well as “the many elderly who could so easily be forgotten in the midst of such hardships”.

“Your efforts on their behalf, which give such a powerful witness to the love of God in your midst, are an extraordinary grace for the people. In your loving concern for the poor and downtrodden, may you continue to seek new opportunities to cooperate with civil authorities in advancing the common good”, he concludes.


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, in a statement to journalists, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., declared that the kidnapping in Nigeria of a large number of schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists is yet another of the “horrible forms of violence long typical of this group”.

He continued, “The denial of any respect for the lives and dignity of the human person, even the most innocent, vulnerable and defenceless, calls for the strongest condemnation and elicits the most heartfelt compassion for the victims, as well as horror at the physical and spiritual suffering and the incredible humiliation inflicted upon them. We add our voice to the many appeals for their liberation and their restoration to a normal condition of life. We hope and pray that Nigeria, thanks to the commitment of all those who are able to help, may find a way to end a situation of conflict and hateful terrorism which is a source of incalculable suffering”.


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, accompanied by the secretary of the same dicastery, Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, will travel to Amman, Jordan on 12 May to participate in a seminar on religion and violence at the Petra University of Amman, intended to promote interreligious dialogue. The Cardinal will speak during the section dedicated to religion. On 13 and 14 May the Holy See delegation will take part in the third conference organised by the Pontifical Council in collaboration with the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies, “Meeting Current Challenges Through Education”. The work will begin with discourses from His Royal Highness the Prince El Hassan Bin Talal and Cardinal Tauran, and will conclude with a joint declaration.


Vatican City, 9 May 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Eight prelates of the Bishops' Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrea on their “ad limina” visit:

Bishop Angelo Moreschi, S.D.B., apostolic vicar of Gambella;

Bishop Woldetensae Ghebreghiorghis, O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Harar;

Bishop Woldeghiorghis Matheos, apostolic vicar of Hosanna;

Bishop Markos Gebremedhin, C.M., apostolic vicar of Jimma-Bonga;

Bishop Abraham Desta, apostolic vicar of Meki;

Bishop Varghese Thottamkara, C.M., apostolic vicar of Nekemte;

Bishop Tsegaye Keneni Derera, apostolic vicar of Soddo;

Fr. Angelo Antonini, O.F.M. Cap., apostolic prefect of Robe.

- Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, president of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador, and entourage.
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