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Monday, June 2, 2014


Vatican City, 2 June 2014 (VIS) – “The Church in your country has stood fast with her people both before and after independence, now also in the years of overwhelming suffering as millions have left the country in frustration and desperation, as many lives have been lost, so many tears shed”, writes Pope Francis in the address he handed to the prelates of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference this morning, at the end of their “ad limina” visit.

The Holy Father writes about the growth of the Church in the country, comparing it to a young, strong tree, full of life and bearing fruit, and mentions that “generations of Zimbabweans – including many political leaders – have been educated in Church schools. He then goes on to praise the prelates for the exercise of their prophetic ministry, in which they have given voice to all the struggling people of their country, especially to the downtrodden and refugees. He refers to their 2007 Pastoral Letter, “God Hears the Cry of the Oppressed”, which describes “the origins of the spiritual and moral crisis, stretching from colonial times through the present moment”, and how the “structures of sin” embedded in the social order “are ultimately rooted in personal sin, requiring of all a profound personal conversion”.

“Christians find themselves on all sides of the conflict in Zimbabwe, and so I urge you to guide everyone with great tenderness towards unity and healing”, he continues. “This is a people both black and white, some richer but most exceedingly poorer, of numerous tribes; the followers of Christ belong to all political parties, some in positions of authority, many not. But together as the one pilgrim People of God, they need conversion and healing, in order to become ever more fully 'one Body, one Spirit in Christ'. Through preaching and works of the apostolate, may your local Churches demonstrate that 'reconciliation is not an isolated act but a lengthy process by which all parties are re-established in love – a love that heals through the working of God’s word'”.

“While Zimbabweans’ faithfulness is already a balm on some of these national wounds, I know that many people have reached their human limit, and do not know where to turn. In the midst of all this, I ask you to encourage the faithful never to lose sight of the ways in which God is hearing their supplications and answering their prayers, for, as you have written, he cannot fail to hear the cry of the poor. In this Easter season, as the Church throughout the world celebrates the victory of Christ over the power of sin and death, the Gospel of the resurrection which you are entrusted to proclaim must be clearly preached and lived in Zimbabwe. Let us never forget the lesson of the resurrection: 'on razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads”. Pope Francis concluded by quoting from his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history”.


Vatican City, 2 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Anthony Anandarayar of Ponticherry and Cuddalore, India, for the death last night in Rome of Cardinal Simon D. Lourdusamy, aged 90, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and archbishop emeritus of Bangalore, India. In his text, the Pope expresses his gratitude for the cardinal's “priestly life spent in spreading the Gospel first in India and subsequently in service to the Universal Church” and commends his noble soul to the Lord.

Cardinal Lourdusamy's funeral will be held on 5 June at 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Vatican Basilica, and will be presided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. At the end of the Eucharist, Pope Francis will administer the rites of “Ultima Commendatio” and “Valedictio”.


Vatican City, 2 June 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon fifty-two thousand people gathered for the National Convocation of “Renewal in the Spirit”, from 55 countries, applauded Pope Francis' entry into the Olympic Stadium in Rome where he joined in with the chorus in Spanish of “Vive Jesus, el Senor”, a hymn that the bishop of Rome said he enjoyed greatly when he celebrated Mass in the cathedral of Buenos Aires with members of this movement. Two bodies for the coordination of Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world: ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services) and CFCCCF (Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships).

The Pope answered the questions posed to him by priests, young people, families, the sick and the elderly, asking the first among them to remain close to Christ and to his faithful, and warning the second not to keep their youth “locked away in a safe” but rather to “bet on great things”. He reminded families of their roles as a domestic church, and commented that the sick imitate Jesus in the difficult moments of life, and that the elderly are the wisdom and memory of the Church. Finally, he prayed that God might grant to all the “holy intoxication of the Spirit, that enables us to speak many languages, the languages of charity, always close to those brothers and sisters who need us. Teach us not to fight between ourselves over a little more power, … teach us to increasingly love the Church that is our 'team', and to keep our hearts open to receive the Holy Spirit”.

In his address, he affirmed that Renewal in the Spirit is “a great force in the service of the proclamation of the Gospel in the joy of the Holy Spirit. … In the early times, it was said that you always carried a Bible with you, a New Testament. … If not, return to this first love, always carry the Word of God with you, in your pocket, in your bag!”

He urged them never to lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us, warning them of the danger of “excessive organisation”. “Yes, you need organisation, but do not lose the grace of letting God be God!”. He also warned them of the danger of becoming “controllers” of God's grace, administrators of race who decide who may receive the prayer of effusion or baptism in the Spirit, and who instead may not. “If any of you do this, I beg you, do not do this any more. You are dispensers of God's grace, not controllers!”, he underlined.

“Evangelisation, spiritual ecumenism, attention to the poor and needy and welcome to the marginalised, and all on the basis of adoration; the foundation for renewal is adoring God”: thus Pope Francis defined the path of Renewal in the Spirit, to explain the future direction he hoped they would take.

“First of all”, he said, “conversion to the love of Jesus, that changes life and makes a Christian a witness to God's love. I hope that you will share with all in the Church the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I expect from you an evangelisation with the Word of God that proclaims that Jesus lives and loves all humankind. May you give witness of spiritual ecumenism with all those brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as the Lord and Saviour. May you remain united in the love that the Lord Jesus asks of all for all mankind, and in prayer to the Holy Spirit to reach this unity, necessary for evangelisation in the name of Jesus. Be close to the poor and needy to touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Seek unity in Renewal because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. Where does division come from? The devil! Division comes from the devil. Flee from internal struggles, please!”.

In conclusion, Francis called upon them to “Go forth onto the streets and evangelise, proclaim the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born to go forth, that morning of Pentecost. … Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, with that same freedom. And please, do not cage the Holy Spirit! With freedom!”.


Vatican City, 1 June 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square and, before the Marian prayer, he mentioned that today in Italy and in other countries we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ, which takes place forty days after the Resurrection. On that day, Jesus returns to His Father and commands the disciples to proclaim His message of salvation to the world.

“Jesus leaves and goes up to Heaven”, he explains; “He returns to the Father Who sent Him to the world. He had finished his work and returned to His Father. But this is not a separation, because he remains with us always, in a new form. With His ascension, the Risen Lord lifts the gaze of the Apostles – and also ours – to the heights of Heaven to show us that our path leads us to the Father. However, Jesus remains present and at work in the vicissitudes of human history with the power and gifts of His Spirit; this accompanies each one of us, even though we do not see Him with our eyes. He accompanies us and guides us, He gives us His hand and lifts us up when we fall. The resurrected Jesus is close to those Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against; He is close to every man and woman who suffers.

“And Jesus, when He returns to Heaven, takes a gift to His Father: his wounds. His body is beautiful, without the wounds of flagellation, but the wounds are still present. And when He returns to the Father, He says: Look, this is the price of the forgiveness you give. And when the Father looks upon Christ's wounds, He always forgives. Not because we are good: no. Looking at Jesus' wounds, the Father becomes more merciful”.

“But Jesus is also present through the Church, which He sent to continue His mission. Jesus' last word to His disciples is the order to go forth: 'Therefore go and make disciples of all nations'. It is a precise mandate – it is not optional! The Christian community is a community that is on the move, that goes out. More than this: the Church was born outgoing. And you will ask me, but what about cloistered communities? Yes, it applies to them too, as they always reach out through prayer, with their hearts open to the world, to God's horizons. And the elderly, the sick? They too are in prayer and union with Jesus' wounds”.

Following the Regina Coeli, the Pope said, “It is with a heavy heart that I pray for the victims of the continuing tension in some areas of Ukraine, and also in the Republic of Central Africa. I renew my urgent appeals to all the parties involved to overcome their misunderstandings and to seek patiently dialogue and pacification. May Mary Queen of Peace help all of us by her maternal intercession”.

He went on to mention that today is World Social Communications Day, the theme of which this year is communication in the service of the culture of encounter: “Social communication media may promote a sense of unity within the human family, solidarity and commitment to a dignified life for all. Let us pray that communication, in every form it takes, may be effectively at the service of encounter between people, communities, families, nations; an encounter based on respect and mutual listening”.

Finally, he mentioned the beatification on Saturday afternoon in Collevalenza, Italy, of Mother Maria Esperanza of Jesus (Maria Josefa Alhama Valera), foundress of the Congregations of the Handmaids and the Sons of Merciful Love, and expressed his hope that “her witness may help the Church to proclaim everywhere, with concrete daily gestures, the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father towards every person”.


Vatican City, 1 June 2014 (VIS) – The ceremony concluding the Marian month took place yesterday at 8 p.m. in the Vatican Gardens. The faithful prayer the rosary in procession from the church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians to the grotto of the Virgin of Lourdes. At 9 p.m., Pope Francis arrived at the grotto and, before imparting his apostolic blessing, addressed the following words to those present:

“Today, at the end of the month of May, we celebrate the feast day that commemorates her visit to St. Elizabeth. The Gospel tells us that, after the angel's annunciation, she went in haste, she went immediately to serve. This is the virgin of readiness … Our Lady of Prompt Succour. She immediately comes to our assistance when we pray, when we ask for help and protection. In many moments in life, when we need her help and her protection, let us remember that she does not make us wait: she is the Virgin of Prompt Succour and immediately comes to our aid”.


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received in audience the five hundred children from Naples and Rome participating in the “Il Treno dei Bambini” (“The Children's Train”) initiative organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, within the ambit of the “Courtyard of the Gentiles for Children”, which completes its second edition this year.

The children presented the Pope with bracelets made by hand with coloured rubber bands, which he immediately put on, and a plant in a vase with earth from the Neapolitan catacombs of St. Gennaro. Francis enjoyed their adaptation of the famous song, “O Sole mio”, as “O Papa mio”, sung by a choir of children and, after listening to them, he chatted with the participants, and told them that the plant they had given to him was a plant of light.

The pontiff, recalling that the catacombs were dark, said, “You have brought me earth that comes from the darkness … so that it turns into light. … Light is always more important than darkness. … We must go in search of light. Always, inside ourselves. Because light gives us joy and hope. … And thanks to the light it is possible to do what you said when you gave me the plant: ensure that the fruits help us to make a better world. Can we make a better world? Yes! And how do we do this? With hate? No, with love, all together as brothers and sisters, fighting alongside each other for love. And for this, let me tell you something: when the Apostle John, who was a great friend of Jesus, wanted to say who God is, do you know what he said? He said, 'God is love'. … And we go towards the light to find God's love. But God's love is inside us. … Even in moments of darkness, he never abandons us”.

All the Pope's words were interspersed with answers from the children. At the end, Francis said that he was very happy to have spent time with them, and said he would pray to the Lord to make them into boys and girls, men and women who would go forward with love. “When God's love goes ahead, everything goes well”. Finally, he asked the children to sing another song together.


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Pope delivered a message to the participants in the meeting with Catholic charitable associations who work in the context of the crisis in Syria, organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.

“We meet again to evaluate the work carried out so far and to renew our will to follow this path”, he writes. “But we must accept with great sorrow that the Syrian crisis has not been resolved, but instead continues, and there is the risk of growing accustomed to it: of forgetting the victims claimed on a daily basis, the unspeakable suffering, the thousands of refugees, which include the elderly and children, who suffer and at times die of hunger and of diseases causes by the conditions of war. This indifference is harmful! Once again we must repeat the name of this illness that does so much damage in today's world: the globalisation of indifference”.

He continues, “The action of peace and the work of humanitarian aid carried out by Catholic charitable entities in this context constitute a faithful expression of God's love for his children, who find themselves in conditions of oppression and anguish. God hears their cry, He knows their suffering, and He wishes to free them; and you lend your hands and your abilities to Him. … This meeting offers a useful opportunity to identify suitable forms of stable collaboration, in dialogue between the various actors, in order to improve the organisation of our efforts to support the local Churches and all the victims of the war, without distinction on ethnic, religious or social grounds”.

Pope Francis launches a further appeal to the consciences of the parties to the conflict, to world institutions and public opinion, and affirms: “We are all aware that the future of humanity is built with peace and not by war: war destroys, kills, and impoverishes peoples and countries. I ask that all parties, with a view to the common good, immediately consent to humanitarian aid and to silence their weapons as soon as possible, making efforts to negotiate and to make their first priority the well-being of Syria, of all her inhabitants, including the many who have had to seek refuge elsewhere and who have the right to return to their homeland as soon as possible. I think in particular of the dear Christian communities, the face of a Church who suffers and hopes. Their survival in the Middle East is of profound concern to the universal Church: Christianity must be able to continue to live there, where its origins lie”.


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father conferred episcopal ordination to Msgr. Fabio Fabene, under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

During the Eucharistic celebration, he pronounced the ritual homily from the Roman Pontifical for the ordination of bishops, making various off-the-cuff additions. “You have been chosen by the flock: may vanity, pride and arrogance never come to you. And you have been constituted by men: may your attitude always be one of service, like Jesus. … I advise you to keep before you the words of Paul that we have heard: Keep watch over yourselves and keep watch over God's flock. This watchfulness means keeping vigil, being attentive, to defend yourself from many sins and many worldly attitudes, and to defend the people of God from the wolves that Paul said would come. … And overseeing the people also means praying, praying for the people, as Moses did: with raised hands, that prayer of intercession, that courageous prayer, face-to-face with the Lord, for the people”.

The Pope also reminded the new bishop to pay great attention to those who do not belong to Christ's single flock, as they too have been entrusted to him by the Lord. “And pray for them”, he added.

Finally, he emphasised that, by virtue of his mission, the prelate must be show concern for all the Churches, generously assisting those most in need. He concluded, “I think that this will be easy for you, considering the task that has been entrusted to you in the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops”.


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J, has issued the following declaration:

“The release of the two Italian missionary priests from Vicenza, Gianantonio Allegri and Giampaolo Martha, and of the Canadian nun Gilberte Bussière, who had been kidnapped in Cameroon at the beginning of April, is news that fills us with joy. The Holy Father, who had followed the dramatic story from the outset, was promptly informed. We thank God that this incident has come to a successful conclusion. At the same time we continue to pray and to make efforts so that every form of violence, hatred, and conflict in the various regions of Africa and in other parts of the world might be overcome; and we renew the memory of, and the commitment to, the many other innocent people in different conditions and of different ages, who – as we know well – are victims of unacceptable abductions in different places of conflict”.


Vatican City, 31 May 2014 (VIS) – His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, will visit Rome to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis. His Holiness Aram I was elected Catholicos of Cilicia of Antelias in 1995.

The Armenian Church consists of two catholicates and two patriarchates, and around six million faithful. The two catholicates of Etchmiadzin and Antelias are in full communion, but they are independent from an administrative point of view. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople refer to Etchmiadzin for spiritual questions.

Following Vatican Council II, new relations have developed between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Church. Representatives of the two Catholicates of Etchmiadzin and Antelias are members of the Mixed International Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

His Holiness Aram I visited the Church of Rome and met with Pope John Paul II from 23 to 26 January 1997. More recently, the Catholicos Aram I visited Pope Benedict XVI in November 2008, and on that occasion they presided over an ecumenical prayer together.

On Thursday 5 June the Catholicos will meet Pope Francis and they will pray together. They will visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and various other dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Finally, they will visit the tomb of St. Peter and pray before the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator, which is located on the north courtyard of the Vatican Basilica.


Vatican City, 2 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy father received in audience:

- Mehriban Aliyeva, president of the “Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan.

- Eight prelates of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their “ad limina” visit:

Archbishop Alexander Thomas Kaliyanil, S.V.D., of Bulawayo;

Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani of Gweru;

Bishop Joseph Albert Serrano Anton, I.E.M.E., of Hwange;

Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera of Masvingo;

Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu of Harare;

Bishop Dieter Bernd Scholz , S.J., of Chinhoyi;

Bishop Angel Floro Martinez, I.E.M.E., of Gokwe;

Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of Mutare.

On Saturday, 31 June, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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

Archbishop Valentin Sanchez Espinosa of Puebla de los Angeles, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Eugenio Andres Lira Rugarcia, Bishop Rutilo Felipe Pozos Lorenzini, and Bishop Tomas Lopez Duran;

Bishop Teodoro Enrique Pino Miranda of Huajuapan de Leon;

Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez of Tehuacan;

Archbishop Jesus Carlos Cabrero Romero of San Luis Potosi;

Bishop Roberto Octavio Balmori Cinta, M.J., of Ciudad Valles;

Bishop Sigifredo Noriega Barcelo of Zacatecas;

Archbishop Domingo Diaz Martinez of Tulancingo;

Bishop Gerardo de Jesus Rojas Lopez of Tabasco;

Bishop Georges M. Saad Abi Younes, O.L.M., of Nuestra Senora de los Martires del Libano en Mexico of the Maronites.


Vatican City, 2 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Paramaribo, Suriname, presented by Bishop Wilhelmus de Bekker, upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Fr. Antonius te Dorshorst, O.M.I., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et at nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the same diocese.

- appointed Fr. Tadeusz Kusy, O.F.M. as coadjutor of the diocese of Kaga-Bandoro (area 95,000, population 251,000, Catholics 91,691, priests 20, religious 20), Central African Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Cieszyn, Poland in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1974. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Institute of Science and Theology of Religions, Paris, France, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including: master of novices in Mbujimayi and Lukafu, Democratic Republic of Congo, and priest of the parishes of Obo and Rafai, Central African Republic. He is currently master of postulants and head of formation in the archdiocese of Bangui, head of the diocesan commission for consecrated life, and member of the council of consultors.
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