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Thursday, June 5, 2014


Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – “On our journey towards full communion, we share the same hopes and a similar sense of responsibility as we strive to be faithful to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ”. With these words, Pope Francis greeted His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, during their meeting in the Vatican this morning.

As the Pope observed, His Holiness Aram I's commitment to the cause of Christian unity is well known to all. The Catholicos has played an important role in the World Council of Churches and in the Middle East Council of Churches, which support Christian communities in the Middle East, and has made a significant contribution to the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Francis also remarked that Aram I represents “a part of the Christian world that is irrevocably marked by a history of trials and sufferings courageously accepted for the love of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church has had to become a pilgrim people; it has experienced in a singular way what it means to journey towards the Kingdom of God. The history of emigration, persecutions and the martyrdom experienced by so many of the faithful has inflicted deep wounds on the hearts of all Armenians. We must see and venerate these as wounds inflicted on the very body of Christ, and for this very reason a cause for unfailing hope and trust in the provident mercy of the Father”.

“Trust and hope. How much these are needed! They are needed by our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, especially those living in areas racked by conflict and violence. But we too need them, as Christians who are spared such sufferings yet so often risk losing our way in the desert of indifference and forgetfulness of God, or living in conflict with our brothers and sisters, or succumbing in our interior struggle against sin. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to learn humbly to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other to be better Christians, better followers of Jesus. So let us advance together in charity, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, offering Himself to God as a pleasing sacrifice”.

“In these days before Pentecost … in faith, let us invoke the Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, that he may renew the face of the earth, be a source of healing for our wounded world, and reconcile the hearts of all men and women with God the Creator. May He, the Paraclete, inspire our journey towards unity. May He teach us to strengthen the fraternal bonds which even now unite us in the one baptism and in the one faith”, concluded Francis.

After the meeting, the Catholicos and the Pope prayed together in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel.


Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – “New civil, cultural and social approaches, and a new pastoral strategy for the Church” against “modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery” are necessary to face the situation of gypsies throughout the world, said Pope Francis during this morning's audience with the participants in the meeting “The Church and gypsies: proclaiming the Gospel in the peripheries”, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

The theme of the meeting, said Francis, involves “the memory of a relationship, that between the ecclesiastical community and the gypsy population, the history of a journey to get to know each other, to encounter one another; and then the challenge for today, a challenge that regards both ordinary pastoral care and new evangelisation”.

He commented that often gypsies find themselves on the margins of society, “and at times are looked upon with hostility and suspicion; they are rarely involved in the political, economic and social dynamics of the country”. He continued, “We know that it is a complex reality, but certainly the gypsy population is also required to contribute to the common good, and this is possible with adequate itineraries of co-responsibility, the observance of duties and the promotion of the rights of every person”.

He observed that among the causes of misery among various sectors of the population there are factors such as “a lack of educational structures for cultural and professional formation, the difficulty of access to healthcare, discrimination in the employment market and a lack of decent accommodation”. He added that while these social ills affect everyone, “the weakest groups are those who most easily become victims of new forms of slavery. Indeed, the least protected are those who fall into the trap of abuse, forced begging and other forms of abuse. Gypsies are among the most vulnerable, especially those who are receive no help in relation to integration or the promotion of the person in the various dimensions of civil life”.

The care of the Church is relevant here: “Indeed, the Gospel is the proclamation of joy for all and especially for the weakest and most marginalised. We are called upon to ensure our closeness and solidarity to these people, following the example of Jesus Christ, who demonstrated His Father's predilection for them”. However, alongside this united action in favour of the gypsy population, there needs to be “commitment on the part of local and national institutions and the support of the international community, to identify projects and action for improving quality of life”.

The Holy Father concluded by urging the Pontifical Council to continue in its task and not to be discouraged, added, “May gypsies find in you brothers and sisters who love them with the same love that Christ had for the marginalised. Be, for them, the welcoming and joyful face of the Church”.


Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – At 11.30 this morning, at the major altar of St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presided at the funeral mass for Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who died on Monday in Rome at the age of 90.

In his homily, the dean of the College of Cardinals described Cardinal Lourdusamy as “a zealous priest who worked for more than ten years in his beloved diocese of Pondicherry and then, for almost a decade, was pastor of the archdiocese of Bangalore. He then generously accepted Pope Paul VI's call to Rome, to serve in the missionary Congregation of Propaganda Fide. Here, for twenty years, he dedicated his energies to the great cause of the evangelisation of peoples, until finally, submitting to the trials of illness, he continued to serve the Church in prayer and suffering, with an attitude of great serenity”.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father administered the rites of “Uitima Commendatio” and “Valedictio”.


Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has received in audience:

- Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, apostolic nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan; permanent observer of the Holy See for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

- Doug Coe of the National Prayer Breakfast, U.S.A., and entourage.


Vatican City, 5 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- approved the appointment by the Cardinal Secretary of State of Tommaso Di Ruzza as vice-director “ad interim” of the Financial Information Authority (AIF). Dr. Di Ruzza was previously study assistant at the AIF.

- appointed, for a further five-year period, the following members of the managing board of the Financial Information Authority: Maria Bianca Farina, managing director of Poste Vita and Poste Assicura, Italy; Marc Odendall, administrator of various foundations and financial advisor for the philanthropic sector, Switzerland; Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, president of the Council of Consultors of the president of the Republic of Singapore, Singapore; Juan C. Zarate, senior advisor at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and lecturer in law at Harvard University, U.S.A.

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