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Thursday, May 15, 2014


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received the credential letters of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See: Pierre Yves Fux, Switzerland; Rudolf P. von Balimoos, Liberia; Nega Tsegaye Tessema, Ethiopia; Nasreldin Ahmed Wali Abdeltif, Sudan; Margaret Ann Louise Jobson, Jamaica; Claudinah Ntini Ramosepele, South Africa; and Mysore Kapanalah Lokesh, India.

The Holy Father focused his address to the diplomats on the challenges posed to peace by the arms trade and forced migration.

“Peace: this word summarises all the assets to which every person and all human societies aspire”, he said. “Also the effort with which we seek to promote diplomatic relations has, in the final analysis, the sole aim of allowing peace to grow in the human family, in development and justice. It is a target that is never fully reached, and that must be continually sought after by every generation, facing the challenges presented in every age”.

“Everyone talks about peace”, he observed; “everyone claims to want it, but unfortunately the proliferation of weapons of every type leads in the opposite direction. The arms trade has the effect of complicating and distancing us from a solution to conflicts, all the more so since it takes place to a great extent outside the boundaries of the law. Therefore I consider that, while we are gathered in this Apostolic See, which by nature is invested in a special service to the cause of peace, we can unite our voices in expressing hope that the international community may make new, concerted and courageous efforts against the proliferation of weapons and to promote their reduction”.

The Holy Father mentioned that another challenge to peace, which “unfortunately takes on, in certain regions and in certain moments, the nature of a full-blown human tragedy”, is that of forced migration. He commented that it is a very complex phenomenon, and recognised that important efforts are being made by international organisations, States, and social bodies, as well as religious communities and volunteer groups, to respond “in a civil and organised way to the most critical aspects, emergencies, and situations of greatest need”. However, also in this case, “we are aware that we cannot limit ourselves to reacting to emergencies. This phenomenon has fully manifested its epochal character. The moment has arrived to face it with a serious and responsible political outlook, involving all levels: global, continental, macro-regional, in relations between nations, and finally at national and local levels”.

In relation to this problem we see examples of a contrary nature: on the one hand, “marvellous cases of humanity, of welcome, of encounter: people and families who have succeeded in leaving behind these inhuman situations and have rediscovered dignity, freedom and security. Unfortunately, on the other hand there are stories that make us weep for shame: human beings, our brothers and sisters, children of God who, inspired by the wish to live and work in peace, face harrowing journeys and are subjected to blackmail, torture and harassment of every kind, and at times end up dying in the desert or at the bottom of the sea”.

The phenomenon of forced migration is “closely linked to conflicts and wars, and therefore also to the problem of the proliferation of weapons. … They are the wounds of a world that is our world, in which God has placed us to live today, and He calls us to be responsible for our brothers and sisters, so that the violation of no human being be violated. It would be an absurd contradiction to speak about peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time promote and permit the arms trade. We could also consider it to be in a certain sense cynical to proclaim human rights and at the same time ignore or fail to take account of the men and women who, forced to leave their homeland, die in the attempt or are not welcomed by international solidarity”.

The Pope concluded, “The Holy See today declares to you and to the governments of your respective countries its firm resolve to continue to collaborate to take steps forward in these areas and along all the roads that lead to justice and peace, on the basis of universally recognised human rights”.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience the governor general of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions the Parties focused on a number of aspects of the social and economic life of the country, as well as the valuable contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of New Zealand society. There was also an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to regional cooperation in various development programmes and participation in peace missions in different parts of the world.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram to the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Socrates P. Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, on the occasion of the “Asian Conference on the Family”, which is being held from 13 to 16 May on the theme “Families of Asia: Lights of Hope”.

“Recalling that the 'family is the fundamental cell of society where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one other'”, he continues, “His Holiness calls upon all the lay faithful gathered to deepen their experience of faith and communion, under the guidance of the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, so as to be a leaven of Christ's love in the midst of humanity”.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' visit to the Sanctuary and Roman parish of “Divino Amore”, planned for Sunday 18 May, has been cancelled to lighten the burden of the Pope’s activities in view of preparations for his imminent apostolic journey in the Holy Land. The visit to the sanctuary will be rescheduled at a later date.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (Amman, Jordan) and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue concluded their Third Colloquium in the Jordanian capital. Held under the joint patronage of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal and His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Vatican dicastery, the theme chosen this year was “Meeting current challenges through education”.

At the end of the meeting which, as mentioned by the participants, took place on the eve of Pope Francis' visit to the Holy Land, considered a source of hope for all the populations in this region – a communique was issued, beginning with a strong condemnation of “all forms of violence, and most recently the kidnapping of the Nigerian school girls”, calling for “their immediate release, so that they can return to their families and their schools”. They also advocated peaceful resolutions to all ongoing conflicts.

The participants stated that the discussion, which took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and friendship, allowed them to agree on the following points:

- the fundamental institutions for the education of children and youth are the family and the school;

- the importance of proper religious education, in particular for the transmission of religious and moral values;

- the necessary consideration of the dignity of the human person, especially in educational institutions;

- there is widespread disregard for the international provisions aimed at guaranteeing the effective respect of fundamental human rights, in particular religious freedom;

- the most urgent challenges to meet include the peaceful resolution of current conflicts, the eradication of poverty and the promotion of the spiritual and moral dimension of life;

- the conviction that religion is not the cause of conflicts, but rather inhumanity and ignorance; consequently integral education is essential;

- many recalled that religions, properly understood and practised, are not causes of division and conflicts but rather a necessary factor for reconciliation and peace.

As believers, we hope that human wisdom would always meet the wisdom of God.

Finally, as the future of humanity is in the hands of the young generations, we propose the following Cultural Decalogue for everyone involved in education:

1) Never renounce intellectual curiosity;

2) Have intellectual courage instead of intellectual cowardice;

3) Be humble and not intellectually arrogant;

4) Practice intellectual empathy instead of closed mindedness;

5) Observe intellectual integrity;

6) Keep your intellectual autonomy;

7) Persevere in the face of surrounding superficiality;

8) Trust reason;

9) Be fair-minded and not intellectually unfair;

10) Consider pluralism as richness, not a threat.

Finally, they declared their intention to will continue our fruitful dialogue through future colloquia and other initiatives.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation on Monday 19 May. The dicastery was instituted with the name “Secretariat for non-Christians” on 19 May 1964 by Pope Paul VI, with the Apostolic Letter “Progrediente Concilio”, with the aim of paying attention to those who were without the Christian religion and to whom the words of the Lord would seem to refer: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also”.

The Pontifical Council will hold a conference in the afternoon on the theme “50 years of service in interreligious dialogue”; the speakers will be Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the dicastery, Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary, and Fr. Damian Howard, S.J., of Heythrop College, London. The document “Dialogue in Truth and Charity: Pastoral Orientations for Interreligious Dialogue”, which will be published and distributed to those present, offers guidelines for pastors and faithful, based on the concrete indications and experiences of the local churches, to continue along the path of interreligious dialogue.


Vatican City, 15 May 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Eighteen prelates of the Mexican Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Carlos Briseno Arch, O.A.R., Bishop Florencio Armando Colin Cruz, Bishop Jesus Antonio Lerma Nolasco, Bishop Andres Vargas Pena, Bishop Adolfo Miguel Castano Fonseca, Bishop Crispin Ojeda Marquez, and Bishop Jorge Estrada Solorzano;

Bishop Juan Odilon Martinez Garcia of Atlacomulco;

Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos of Toluca;

Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Monterrey, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jorge Alberto Cavazos Arizpe;

Bishop Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez of Ciudad Victoria;

Bishop Ramon Calderon Batres of Linares;

Bishop Ruy Rendon Leal of Matamoros;

Bishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega of Nuevo Laredo;

Bishop Alondo Gerardo Garza Trevino of Piedras Negras;

Bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, O.P.


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

- appointed Fr. Gabriel Angel Villa Vahos as bishop of Ocana (area 18,000, population 627,000, Catholics 427,000, priests 72, permanent deacons 4, religious 66), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Sopetran, Colombia in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including: priest of the parish of “Nuestra Senora de la Merced” in Yarumal, rector of the “Santo Tomas de Aquino” diocesan major seminary, director of the department for ministers of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, vice rector of the “Fundacion Universitaria Catolica del Norte”, and diocesan administrator of Santa Rosa de Osos. He is currently director of the the department for vocations and ministers of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM). He succeeds Bishop Jorge Enrique Lozano Zafra, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, upon reaching the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Enrique Diaz Diaz as coadjutor bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas (area 36,821, population 1,734,000, Catholics 1,325,000, priests 105, permanent deacons 320, religious 252), Mexico. Bishop Diaz Diaz was previously auxiliary of the same diocese.

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