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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father arrived punctually in St. Peter's Square this Wednesday morning, and began his general audience by touring the square in the popemobile to greet the 35,000 faithful and pilgrims who awaited him, kissing children and blessing religious objects. He then went on to speak about his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from which he returned on Monday. “It was a great gift for the Church”, he commented, “and I give thanks to God. He led me to that blessed Land, that has seen the historical presence of Jesus and where events fundamental to Judaism, Christianity and Islam took place”.

He explained that “the main aim of this pilgrimage was to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the historic encounter between Pope Pope VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras. It was the first time that a Successor of Peter visited the Holy Land: Paul VI thus inaugurated, during Vatican Council II, the tradition of papal trips outside Italy during the contemporary era. This prophetic gesture on the part of the bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople constituted a milestone in the arduous but promising path towards unity among all Christians, which has taken important steps since then. Therefore, my encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew, beloved brother in Christ, was the culmination of the visit. We prayed together at the Holy Sepulchre, along with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Nourhan, as well as archbishops and bishops from various Churches and Communities, civil authorities and many faithful”.

“In that place, where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounds, we all felt the bitterness and suffering of the divisions that continue to exist between Christ's disciples, and this has really done great harm, harm to the heart. We are still divided; in that place, where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounds, where Jesus gives us life, we are still divided. But above all, in that celebration so rich in mutual brotherhood, esteem and affection, we strongly heard the voice of the Risen Good Shepherd who wishes to bring together all His sheep in one flock; we felt the desire to heal the wounds that are still open and to follow with tenacity the path to full communion”.

“Once more, like my predecessors, I ask forgiveness for what we have done to promote that division, and I pray that the Holy Spirit may help us to heal the wounds we have inflicted on other brethren. We are all brothers in Christ, and with the Patriarch Bartholomew we are friends, brothers; we have shared the desire to walk together, to do what we are able to do today: to pray together, to work together for God's flock, to seek peace and protect creation, the many things that we have in common. We must move forward like brothers”.

Pope Francis went on to speak about a second aim of the pilgrimage: that of encouraging, in the region, the path to peace, “which is both a gift from God and a commitment for humankind”. He continued, “I always did this as a pilgrim, in the name of God and of humankind, carrying in my heart a great compassion for the sons of that Land, who have lived in conditions of war for too long and have the right to finally experience days of peace! For this reason I exhorted the Christian faithful to let themselves be anointed by the Holy Spirit, with an open and docile heart, to increasingly able to make gestures of humility, fraternity and reconciliation. The Spirit enables us to assume these attitudes in our daily life, with people of different cultures and religions, and to thereby become peacemakers”. He added, “peace is crafted day by day, and with an open heart to allow God's gift to enter”.

The Pontiff commended the efforts made by the Jordanian authorities and people to welcome the many refugees from war zones: “a humanitarian effort that deserves and needs the constant support of the international community. I was impressed by the generosity of the Jordanian people. May the Lord bless this welcoming people”. He also commented that in other places during his pilgrimage he had “encouraged the authorities involved to continue in their efforts to alleviate the tensions in the Middle East, especially in war-torn Syria, and to continue their search for an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. “For this reason”, he added, “I invited the president of Israel and the president of Palestine, men of peace and artisans of peace, to join me in the Vatican to pray together for peace”.

He commented that the trip had also offered “the opportunity to confirm the faith of the Christian communities, who suffer greatly, and to express the gratitude of all the Church for the presence of Christians in that area and throughout the Middle East. These brothers of ours are courageous witnesses of hope and charity, 'salt and light' in the Land. Through their life of faith and prayer, and with their greatly appreciated educational and welfare assistance, they work for reconciliation and forgiveness, contributing to the common good of society”.

“With this pilgrimage”, he concluded, “I wished be the bearer of a word of hope, but I also received this in return! I received it from the brothers and sisters who hope 'against all hope', amid the suffering of those who have fled their own countries on account of conflicts; of those who, throughout the world, are derided and discriminated against for their faith in Christ. Let us stay close to them! Let us pray for them, and for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East. May the prayer of all the Church also support the path to full unity between Christians, so that the world may believe in God's love that in Jesus Christ came to live among us”.

Pope Francis concluded by inviting the faithful to pray a Hail Mary for world peace.


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages following today's catechesis, the Holy Father invited all those present to pray for peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, and gave thanks to those who accompanied with prayer his recent apostolic pilgrimage. He addressed special greetings to the English and Welsh pilgrims, members of the Catholic Police Association, as well as the members of the International Catholic Commission for Migration who are holding their plenary session in these days, and expressed his hope that this “concerted commitment may contribute to assisting many of our brethren in need”. He also thanked the Arab-speaking pilgrims, above all those from Jordan and the Holy Land, for the affectionate and generous welcome received during his trip and assured them that he will hold them forever in his heart and in his prayers, invoking “abundant goodness, continuing prosperity and lasting peace”.


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the director general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for its 103rd Session, to take place in Geneva from 28 May to 12 June 2014, on the theme “Building a future with decent work”. During these fifteen days, the workers, representatives of business and governments of the 185 Member States of the ILO will discuss migration, employment policy strategies, ways out of informality and the strengthening of the convention on forced labour.

“This Conference has been convened at a crucial moment of social and economic history, one which presents challenges for the entire world”, writes the Pope. “Unemployment is tragically expanding the frontiers of poverty. This is particularly disheartening for unemployed young people who can all too easily become demoralised, losing their sense of worth, feeling alienated from society”.

“Another grave and related issue confronting our world is that of mass migration: the sheer numbers of men and women forced to seek work away from their homelands is a cause for concern. Despite their hopes for a better future, they frequently encounter mistrust and exclusion, to say nothing of experiencing tragedies and disasters. Having made such sacrifices, these men and women often fail to find dignified work and fall victim to a certain 'globalisation of indifference'. Their situation exposes them to further dangers such as the horror of human trafficking, forced labour and enslavement. It is unacceptable that, in our world, slave labour has become common coin. This cannot continue! Human trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the whole of humanity. It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to the worldwide community”.

The Holy Father states that it is “time to reinforce existing forms of cooperation and to establish new avenues for expanding solidarity. This calls for: a renewed insistence on the dignity of every person; a more determined implementation of international labour standards; planning for a focused development on the human person as its central actor and primary beneficiary; a re-evaluation of the responsibilities of international corporations in the countries where they operate, including the areas of profit and investment management; and a concerted effort to encourage governments to facilitate the movement of migrants for the benefit of all, thus eliminating human trafficking and perilous travel conditions. Effective cooperation in these areas will be greatly assisted by defining future sustainable development goals”.

He concluded by remarking that the social teaching of the Church “supports the initiatives of the ILO which aim to promote the dignity of the human person and the nobility of human labour. I encourage you in your efforts to face the challenges of today’s world in fidelity to these lofty goals. At the same time, I invoke God’s blessing on all that you do to defend and advance the dignity of work for the common good of our human family”.


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) –On Friday 30 May the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” will hold a meeting between Catholic charitable organisations working in the context of the crisis in Syria. The meeting, which receives the support of 25 organisations, will be divided into two phases. In the morning, following the introduction from Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of “Cor Unum”, there will be discourses from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin; Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria; and Bishop Antoine Audo, president of Caritas Syria, after which they will present the activities carried out in the information office in Beirut, established last year to collect and distribute data on the work of Catholic bodies. In the afternoon they will focus on concrete aspects of the collaboration between the various actors in Syria and in neighbouring countries.

The aim of the meeting is to evaluate the work carried out so far by Catholic charitable organisations in the context of the crisis, highlighting the critical themes that have emerged and identifying future priorities.

Syria is at the centre of attention of the international community owing to the prolonged and grave humanitarian crisis resulting from the war. The Holy See, along with its diplomatic activity through the network of nunciatures, relations with local Churches and the work of Catholic charitable agencies, actively participates in aid and humanitarian assistance programmes. According to available data, the crisis has so far claimed around 160,000 victims, has driven more than two million refugees across its borders, mostly into countries in the Middle East and Mediterranean area, and has displaced more than 6 million within the country.


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Plamen Oresharski, prime minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, and entourage.

- Msgr. Francesco Follo, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Jose Luiz Majella Delgado of Jatai as archbishop of Pouso Alegre (area 12,281, population 817,000, Catholics 739,000, priests 59, permanent deacons 1, religious 200), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Ricardo Pedro Chaves Pinto Filho, O. Praem., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, upon reaching the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, Poland, and Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Germany.


Vatican City, 28 May 2014 (VIS) – We inform our readers that no VIS bulletin will be transmitted tomorrow, Thursday 29 May, on the Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension, a feast day in the Vatican. Service will resume on Friday, 30 May.
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