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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Vatican City, 26 May 2014 (VIS) – At 11.45 a.m., after a five-kilometre journey by car, the Holy Father arrived at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Centre where he received in audience the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. An hour and a half later, the Pontiff was scheduled to lunch with the papal entourage, but instead he changed his plans and decided to eat in the refectory of the Convent of San Salvador with the Franciscans. At 2.15 p.m., after blessing the Tabernacle of the chapel in the centre built by the Legionaries of Christ in Galilee, he left the centre for the small Greek Orthodox “Viri – Galilaei” church on the Mount of Olives. From there he paid a brief private visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, after which they both blessed a group of faithful gathered outside the church. The Pope departed for the Gethsemane church, located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives and entrusted to the Custodian of the Holy Land. Upon entry, he venerated the rock upon which Jesus prayed before his arrest, situated at the foot of the altar. He then entered, where he was awaited by priests, consecrated persons and seminarians.

“At the hour which God had appointed to save humanity from its enslavement to sin, Jesus came here, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the Mount of Olives”, said the Pope. “We now find ourselves in this holy place, a place sanctified by the prayer of Jesus, by his agony, by his sweating of blood, and above all by his 'yes' to the loving will of the Father. We dread in some sense to approach what Jesus went through at that hour; we tread softly as we enter that inner space where the destiny of the world was decided. In that hour, Jesus felt the need to pray and to have with him his disciples, his friends, those who had followed him and shared most closely in his mission. But here, at Gethsemane, following him became difficult and uncertain; they were overcome by doubt, weariness and fright. As the events of Jesus’ passion rapidly unfolded, the disciples would adopt different attitudes before the Master: attitudes of closeness, distance, hesitation.

“Here, in this place, each of us – bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians – might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord? Am I among those who, when Jesus asks them to keep watch with him, fall asleep instead, and rather than praying, seek to escape, refusing to face reality? Or do I see myself in those who fled out of fear, who abandoned the Master at the most tragic hour in his earthly life? Is there perhaps duplicity in me, like that of the one who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, who was once called Jesus’ 'friend', and yet ended up by betraying him? Do I see myself in those who drew back and denied him, like Peter? Shortly before, he had promised Jesus that he would follow him even unto death; but then, put to the test and assailed by fear, he swore he did not know him. Am I like those who began planning to go about their lives without him, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, foolish and slow of heart to believe the words of the prophets?

“Or, thanks be to God, do I find myself among those who remained faithful to the end, like the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John?” he continued. “On Golgotha, when everything seemed bleak and all hope seemed pointless, only love proved stronger than death. The love of the Mother and the beloved disciple made them stay at the foot of the Cross, sharing in the pain of Jesus, to the very end. Do I recognise myself in those who imitated their Master to the point of martyrdom, testifying that he was everything to them, the incomparable strength sustaining their mission and the ultimate horizon of their lives? Jesus’ friendship with us, his faithfulness and his mercy, are a priceless gift which encourages us to follow him trustingly, notwithstanding our failures, our mistakes, also our betrayals.”

Pope Francis emphasised that “the Lord’s goodness does not dispense us from the need for vigilance before the Tempter, before sin, before the evil and the betrayal which can enter even into the religious and priestly life. We are all exposed to sin, to evil, to betrayal. We are fully conscious of the disproportion between the grandeur of God’s call and of own littleness, between the sublimity of the mission and the reality of our human weakness. Yet the Lord in his great goodness and his infinite mercy always takes us by the hand lest we drown in the sea of our fears and anxieties. He is ever at our side, he never abandons us. And so, let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but with courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission”.

He reminded those present that they were called to follow the Lord with joy in this holy land. “It is a gift and also a responsibility. Your presence here is extremely important”, and added that the whole Church was grateful for their work and sustains them with her prayers. He also offered his greetings to all Christians in Jerusalem: “I would like to assure them that I remember them affectionately and that I pray for them, being well aware of the difficulties they experience in this city. I urge them to be courageous witnesses of the passion of the Lord but also of his resurrection, with joy and hope”. He concluded, “let us imitate the Virgin Mary and Saint John, and stand by all those crosses where Jesus continues to be crucified. This is how the Lord calls us to follow him: this is the path, there is no other! 'Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also'”.


Vatican City, 26 May 2014 (VIS) – The Cenacle or “Upper Room”, the first location of the nascent Church and the place in which the priesthood, the Eucharist and the Reconciliation were instituted, was the last stage of the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Francis celebrated Mass there yesterday afternoon, in which the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and the clergy in the Pope's entourage concelebrated. Due to limited space, the ceremony was not open to the public.

Christian tradition regarding the authenticity of the Upper Room is ancient and dates back to the third century. In the fourth century the new church next to the Upper Room, the “Holy Zion”, was built. Destroyed by the Persians in 614, it was restored and then destroyed again by Muslims. It was in ruins, with the exception of the chapel two floors from the Upper Room, when the Crusaders arrived in the Holy Land; they built a basilica with three naves. In 1187, Jerusalem came under the rule of Saladin, who permitted access to pilgrims and the celebration of the Eucharist by priests. By the time the Franciscans arrived in the Holy Land in 1335, the Basilica had been almost entirely destroyed, and so the Friars rebuilt it and, in addition, established a convent. From then on the Superior of the Custodians of the Holy Land assumed the title of “Guardian of Mount Zion”. In 1524, the Muslims appropriated the rooms below the Cenacle, claiming that they were the “Tomb of the prophet David”. Subsequently, an Ottoman decree expelled the Franciscans from the Upper Room; they were also forced to abandon the adjacent monastery, and the Cenacle was converted into a mosque to which Christians were denied access. The building including the Upper Room is currently the property of the Israeli State (since 1948), but remains under the jurisdiction of the Waqf (Custodian of Islamic holy places) of Jordan, exclusively for use for religious purposes. The supreme head of the Waqf is the Jordan monarch, King Abdullah II.

“It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist”, said the Pope in his homily. “I greet you with fraternal joy and I wish to express my affection to the Oriental Catholic Patriarchs who have taken part in my pilgrimage during these days. I want to thank them for their significant presence, particularly dear to me and I assure them of a special place in my heart and in my prayers. Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples, here the Church was born, and she was born to go forth. From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart. In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with his power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth. To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget. The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning”.

He continued, “The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet. Washing one another’s feet signifies welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another. It means serving the poor, the sick and the outcast, those whom I find difficult, those who annoy me. The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice. In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering to God our lives, our work, our joys and our sorrows… offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice. The Upper Room also reminds us of friendship. 'No longer do I call you servants – Jesus said to the Twelve – but I have called you friends'. The Lord makes us his friends, he reveals God’s will to us and he gives us his very self. This is the most beautiful part of being a Christian and, especially, of being a priest: becoming a friend of the Lord Jesus, and discovering in our hearts that he is our friend. The Upper Room reminds us of the Teacher’s farewell and his promise to return to his friends: 'When I go… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also'. Jesus does not leave us, nor does he ever abandon us; he precedes us to the house of the Father, where he desires to bring us as well”.

“The Upper Room, however, also reminds us of pettiness, of curiosity – 'Who is the traitor?' – and of betrayal. We ourselves, and not just others, can reawaken those attitudes whenever we look at our brother or sister with contempt, whenever we judge them, whenever by our sins we betray Jesus. The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves. How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room! How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent. All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit”.

“Lastly, the Upper Room reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, our holy Mother the hierarchical Church established by the risen Jesus; a family that has a Mother, the Virgin Mary. Christian families belong to this great family, and in it they find the light and strength to press on and be renewed, amid the challenges and difficulties of life. All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the one Father in heaven”.

“These horizons are opened up by the Upper Room, the horizons of the Risen Lord and his Church”, concluded the Holy Father. “From here the Church goes forth, impelled by the life-giving breath of the Spirit. Gathered in prayer with the Mother of Jesus, the Church lives in constant expectation of a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth!”.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope transferred to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport for his return flight to Rome, departing at 7.15 p.m. and arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 11 p.m.


Vatican City, 27 May 2014 (VIS) – “I want to say, with great humility, that terrorism is bad! It is bad in its origins and it is bad in its results. It is bad because it is born of hate, and it is bad in its results because it does not construct, it destroys! May all people understand that the path of terrorism does not help. The way of terrorism is fundamentally criminal. I pray for all these victims and for all victims of terrorism in the world. Please, no more terrorism! It is a dead-end street”.

These were the words spoken by Pope Francis yesterday, before the tomb commemorating the victims of terrorism in Israel.


Vatican City, 27 May 2014 (VIS) – At the end of his trip, during the flight from Tel Aviv to Rome, Pope Francis spoke for over 40 minutes with the journalists who accompanied him on the flight, answering their questions on various issues linked not only to his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but also in relation to the abuse of minors, remarried divorcees, his upcoming trips, priestly celibacy, and so on. Below is a summary of some of the Pope's answers.

The Holy Land and the prayer meeting in the Vatican with Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas.

The most authentic gestures are those that we don't think about, those that come to us, aren't they? I thought about suggesting it during the trip, but there were many logistical problems, because each one has to consider the territory, and it's not easy. So I thought about a meeting, and at the end, I came up with this invitation. It will be an encounter to pray, not for the purposes of mediation. We will pray with the two presidents; prayer is important, it helps. Afterwards, each person will return home. There would be a rabbi, a Muslim, and myself.

Abuse of minors

At the moment there are three bishops under investigations: one has already been found guilty and we are now considering the penalty to be imposed. There are no privileges. … A priest who does this betrays the Body of the Lord, because this priest must lead this child, this boy, this girl, to sanctity, and this boy or girl trusts in him; and instead of leading them to sanctity he abuses them. This is very serious. It is like, by way of comparison, holding a black Mass. You are supposed to lead them to sanctity and instead you lead them to a problem that will last their entire lives. In a few days' time there will be a Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae with some survivors of abuse, and then a meeting with them. … But we must move forward on this issue, with zero tolerance!

Contradiction between the poor and austere Church and the financial scandals within

The Gospel tells us that Lord Jesus once said to His disciples that it is inevitable that there will be scandals, because we are human and we are sinners. And there will be scandals. The key is trying to avoid that there are more of them! Economic administration calls for honesty and transparency. The two Commissions, the one which has studied the IOR and the Commission that has studied the Vatican as whole, have reached their conclusions, and now the ministry, the Secretariat for the economy directed by Cardinal Pell, will carry out the reforms that the two Commissions have advised. … For instance, in the IOR I think that around 1,600 accounts have been closed, belonging to people who were not entitled to hold an account at the IOR. The IOR exists to help the Church, and accounts can be held by bishops, Vatican employees, and their widows or widowers, to draw their pensions. … But other private individuals are not entitled to accounts. It is not open to all.

European elections

There is a key word: unemployment. This is a serious matter. It is serious because I look at it this way, simplifying somewhat. We are in a global economic system which places money at its centre, not the human person. A true economic system should revolve around men and women, the human person. This economic system we have today places money at the centre and to maintain its equilibrium, it has to carry out various “waste” measures. Children are discarded, as the low birth rates in Europe show, and the elderly are abandoned.

Stable and lasting peace in Jerusalem

The Catholic Church has established its position from a religious point of view: it will be the city of peace for the three religions. The concrete measures for peace must come from negotiations. I agree that from the negotiations perhaps it will emerge that it will be the capital of one State or another, it would be madness on my part. But these are hypotheses, and I do not consider myself competent to say that we should do one thing or another. I believe that it is necessary to negotiate with honesty, fraternity and great trust in the path of negotiation. It takes courage to do this, and I pray that these two leaders, these two governments will have the courage to take this path. It is the only route to peace.

Priestly celibacy

The Catholic Church has married priests – Greek Catholics, Coptic Catholics, those of oriental rites. Celibacy is not a question of dogma, but rather a rule of life that I greatly appreciate, as I believe it is a gift for the Church. But, since it is not a dogma of faith, the door is always open.

Relations with the Orthodox Churches

Patriarch Bartholomew and I spoke about the unity we create as we walk together. Unity cannot be created in a congress on theology. He confirmed that Athenagoras said to Paul VI: “We go ahead together, calmly, and put all the theologians together on an island where they can discuss among themselves, and we walk ahead in life!”. There are many things we can do to help each other. For instance, with the Churches. In Rome, as in many cities, many Orthodox go to Catholic churches. Another thing we mentioned, that may be considered in the pan-orthodox Council, is the date of Easter, because it is somewhat ridiculous to say, “When is your Christ resurrected? Mine was resurrected last week”. Yes, the date of Easter is a sign of unity. … We also spoke a lot on the problems of ecology, and the need to work together on this issue.

Forthcoming trips and the problems faced by Christians in Asia

With regard to Asia, two trips are planned: the one to South Korea, for the meeting of young Asians, and then, next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and then on to the Philippines, to the area affected by the typhoon. The problem of the lack of freedom of worship affects not only certain Asian countries, but also other countries in the world. Religious freedom is something that not all countries have. Some have a certain level of control … others adopt measures that lead to a real persecution of believers. There are martyrs! There are martyrs in our times, Christian martyrs, both Catholic and non-Catholic. There are places where it is forbidden to wear a crucifix or to possess a Bible; where it is forbidden to teach the catechism to children.

Abdication from the pontificate in the case of failing strength and the issue of Popes emeritus

I will do what the Lord tells me to do: pray, and seek God's will. But I think that Benedict XVI is not a unique case. It happened because he no longer had the strength and in an honest way – he is a man of faith, and humble – he took this decision. Seventy years ago bishops emeritus barely existed, whereas now there are many. What will happen to Popes emeritus? I think that we must look to him as an institution. He has opened a door, the door of Popes emeritus. Will there be others? Only God knows. But this door is open, and I think that a bishop of Rome, a Pope who feels that his strength is declining – because we live much longer now – must ask himself the same questions that Pope Benedict faced.

Beatification of Pius XII

The cause for Pius XII is open. However, there has been no miracle, and if there are no miracles it is not yet possible to go ahead.

Synod on the family and remarried divorcees

The Synod in October will be on the family and the problems it faces; its riches and its current situation. I do not like the fact that many people, even within the Church, have said that it will be the Synod about remarried divorcees, as if it could simply be reduced to a case study: can they receive communion or not? The issue is much broader. Today, as we all know, the family is in crisis, and it is a global crisis. Young people no longer want to get married, or prefer simply to live together; marriage is in crisis, and therefore the family is too. The problem of family pastoral care is very broad. Pope Benedict said something about the family three times: it is necessary to study the faith with which a person approaches marriage and clarify that divorcees are not excommunicated, and very often they are treated as if they are.

Reform of the Roman Curia

The council of eight cardinals is studying the constitution “Pastor bonus” and the Roman Curia. It has consulted many people and with the Curia and is still studying certain issues, such as bringing together various dicasteries to streamline organisation. One of the key points is the economy, and it is therefore necessary to work in collaboration with the secretary of State. … The obstacles are those one encounters in any process of this type. Planning the approach, the work of persuasion is very important. There are some people who do not see this clearly, but any reform involves these things. But I am content, in truth.


Vatican City, 27 May 2014 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations over which the Holy Father will preside from September to November:


Sunday, 8: Pentecost. At 10 a.m., Holy Mass in the Papal Chapel of the Vatican Basilica.

Thursday, 12: At 10 a.m. in the Consistory Hall, Consistory for various causes of canonisation.

Thursday, 19: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. At 7 p.m., St. John Lateran, Holy Mass in the Papal Chapel. Procession to St. Mary Major and Eucharistic blessing.

Saturday 21: Pastoral visit to Cassano all'Jonio.

Sunday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. At 9.30 a.m., in the Papal Chapel: Holy Mass and imposition of the pallium on the new metropolitan archbishops.


Saturday, 5: Pastoral visit to Campobasso and Isernia.


Wednesday, 13. Apostolic trip to the Republic of Korea for the Sixth Asian Youth Day.


Vatican City, 27 May 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Lodz, Poland, presented by Bishop Adam Lepa, upon reaching the age limit.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Washington, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Francisco Gonzalez Valer, S.F., upon reaching the age limit.

- gave his assent to the election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church of Fr. Yosafat Moshchych as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk of the Ukrainians, Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Stariy Rozdil, Ukraine in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1999. He holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsianum Academy, Rome, and has served as Superior General of the missionary congregation of St. Andrew the Apostle. He is currently “sincellus” for laical aggregations in the archieparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk of the Ukrainians, Ukraine.
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