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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Vatican City, 17 June 2014 (VIS) – At 7 p.m. yesterday in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father met with the representatives of the diocese of Rome, gathered to participate in the Diocesan Pastoral Congress on the theme “A people who raise children. Community and family in the major stages of Christian initiation”. During his address, Pope Francis spoke on the issue of the “society of orphans”: of parents who do not spend enough time playing with their children because of their long working hours, and because of their fatigue when they arrive home that leads the young to be deprived of time spent freely with their parents. He emphasised that nowadays we need this sense of gratuity within the family, in parishes, in society as a whole, and that the Lord is revealed to us in gratuity, or rather as Grace: “But if we do not have a sense of gratuity within the family, at school, in the parish, it will be very difficult to understand what the grace of God is: that grace that cannot be bought or sold, that is a gift from God, and is indeed God Himself”. He also commented on other social aspects that contribute to the “orphanhood” of the young: “a technological society that multiplies to infinity the opportunities for pleasure, distraction and curiosity, but is not able to lead man to true joy”, and added that only by encountering Jesus can be encounter true joy and understand that we do not lead our lives in vain, as a task has been conferred to each one of us”.

The Holy Father went on to describe the Church as a mother who knows how to raise her children. “The great challenge faced by the Church is that of being a mother”, he said, “not a well-organised NGO full of pastoral plans. … The Church needs to rediscover her maternity. She must be a mother; maternity is the grace that we must now ask of the Holy Spirit in order to go ahead in our pastoral and missionary conversion. However, the Church grows not by proselytism but by maternal attraction, through tenderness, through the testimony of her many children”. The Pope remarked that the Mother Church has aged somewhat, to the risk of becoming “Grandmother Church”, and that she must therefore be rejuvenated, “but not by taking her to a cosmetic surgeon, no! The Church becomes younger when she is able to generate more sons; the more children she has, the younger she becomes”.

The Pontiff added that this means recovering the memory of the Church. In a world in which there exists little sense of history and fear of time, a world in which the present reigns supreme, in which language is increasingly abbreviated and everything becomes rapid, making us slaves to our situation, we must recover the memory of God's patience. “God is not hasty during our history of salvation, and has accompanied us throughout history”. The Pope therefore urged the priests and clergy present not to close the doors of their churches, but rather to welcome all with an open heart, as a family, asking the Lord to make them able to participate in their difficulties and in the problems that children and the young frequently encounter in their lives.

“People hope to find Jesus' gaze in us, often without realising it; they seek a serene and joyful gaze that enters the heart. But the whole parish must transform into a welcoming place, not only the priests and catechists”. The Pope encouraged those present to ask themselves whether their parishes were truly welcoming, whether their celebrations were scheduled to favour the participation of the young, if they spoke the language of youth and if their communities kept their doors open.

Before concluding, the Pope acknowledged that the work carried out by priests is not easy. “It is easier to be a bishop”, he affirmed, “because we can always maintain a distance and hide ourselves behind the title of 'Your excellency', and defend ourselves in this way. But being a priest, when the parishioners knock on the door, when they talk to you about their problems … it is not easy”. He commented that the Church in Italy is strong because of her priests, and urged them not to forget the memory of evangelisation and always to stay close to the faithful. “We want a Church of faith, who believes that the Lord is able to make her a mother, to give her many children; our Holy Mother Church”.


Vatican City, 17 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the members of the High Council for the Italian Magistrature, to whom he expressed his esteem for their work which “aims at the good functioning of a sector that is vital for social coexistence”. He also apologised for not having received them yesterday as scheduled, explaining that “in the mid-morning I felt unwell and had a fever, so I had to cancel all my appointments. I am sorry for this”.

The ethical aspect of the work of magistrates was the first point in his brief address, and highlighted that as in all countries, there are legal norms intended to protect their freedom and independence to carry out their important and delicate task with all the necessary guarantees … responding adequately to the role that society has conferred upon them and maintaining an irrefutable impartiality”.

The independence of the magistrate and his aim, justice, “require a careful and punctual application of the law”, he continued. “The certainty of the law and the balance of the various powers in a democratic society are summarised in the principle of legality, over which the magistrate presides. The judge is responsible for decisions that affect not only the rights and property of citizens, but which have consequences for their very existence”.

The Pope listed some of the intellectual, psychological and moral qualities that all representatives of the magistrature must possess, and which offer a guarantee of reliability, giving special emphasis to prudence, which “is not a virtue because it means staying put: 'I'm careful, I don't move', no! It is a virtue of governance, a virtue for moving ahead”, a virtue that enables one “to weigh with serenity the reason of law and fact that must be at the base of any judgement. One is more prudent when one has a heightened inner equilibrium, and is able to control the impulses of one's own character, one's own personal views, one's own ideological standpoints”.

“Italian society expects much of the magistrature”, he remarked, “especially in the current context characterised by the progressive erosion of our heritage of values and the evolution of democratic structures”. He urged the magistrates not to let down the legitimate expectations of the people, and always to make efforts to be “an example of moral integrity for all of society”.

Finally, he recalled some illustrious magistrates, such as Vittorio Bachelet, who led the High Council of the Magistrature through times of great difficulty, and who fell victim to terrorism during the “years of lead”, the period of social and political unrest in Italy between the 1960s and 1980s, and Rosario Livatino, killed by the Mafia, whose cause for beatification has been opened. “They offered exemplary witness to the style typical of the faithful lay Christian: loyal to institutions, open to dialogue, and firm and courageous in their defence of justice and the dignity of the human person”.


Vatican City, 17 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present two events organised by the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI”: the 2014 Ratzinger Prize, which will be awarded on 22 November, and the congress to be held in the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin in Colombia (23-24 October 2014).

The speakers at the conference were Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Scientific Committee of the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI”, Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, president of the Foundation, and German Cardona Gutierrez, Colombia's ambassador to the Holy See. Cardinal Ruini announced the names of the prizewinners: the French Professor Anne-Marie Pelletier and Professor Waldemar Chrostowski. Professor Pelletier is the first woman ever to win the Prize, and is a scholar of hermeneutics and biblical exegesis who has also focused on the issue of women in Christianity; Professor Chrostowski, the first ever Polish prizewinner, is a priest, biblicist and expert on Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

Anne-Marie Pelletier, born in 1946, taught general linguistics and comparative literature at the University of Paris X, then Marne-la-Vallee, as well as theology of marriage at the Catholic Institute of Paris. She has for some years taught sacred scriptures and biblical hermeneutics at the Notre Dame faculty of the seminary of Paris. Since 2013 she has held the role of professor of biblical teaching at the European Institute of Science of Religions (IESR). Her research extends to Judaism and Christianity at the College des Bernardins, and the monastic world. She has published widely: notable works in the field of hermeneutics and biblical exegesis are “Lectures du Cantique des Cantiques. De l'enigme du sens aux figures du lecteur”, “Lectures bibliques. Aux sources de la culture occidentale”, “D'age en age les Ecritures. La Bible et l'hermeneutique contemporaine”, and “Le livre d'Isaie, l'histoire au prisme de la prophetie”. With regard to the question of women in Christianity, she has written two books: “Le christianisme et les femmes. Vingt siecles d'histoire”, and “Le signe de la femme”.

“Pelletier is therefore a most distinguished figure in contemporary French Catholicism”, commented Cardinal Ruini, “who unites deserved scientific prestige and a great and versatile cultural liveliness with an authentic dedication to causes of the highest importance for Christian witness in society”.

Msgr. Waldemar Chrostowski was born in 1951 in Chrostowo, Poland. He holds a doctorate in theology and in 2013 received the title of university professor from the President of Poland. He is the general editor of the journal “Collectanea Theologica” and is the president of the Association of Polish Biblicists. His scientific and didactic production is extensive and includes his dissertation “Prophets before history. The interpretation of the story of Israel in Ezekiel 16, 20 and 23 and their reinterpretation in the Bible of the Seventies”, the two volumes of “The Garden of Eden – known testimony of the Assyrian diaspora” and “Assyrian diaspora of the Israelites”, “God, Bible, Messiah”, and “The Church, Jews, Poland”. He teaches in the faculty of theology of the Warsaw Academy, now Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, and in various other universities and seminaries.

“Msgr. Chrostowski is engaged in Catholic-Jewish and Polish-Jewish dialogue and has for some time been a member of the commission of the Polish episcopate for dialogue with Judaism. He unites scientific rigour with passion for the Word of God, service to the Church and engagement in interreligious dialogue”, concluded Cardinal Ruini.

Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti went on to present the convention “Respect for life, path for peace”, which will take place from 23 to 24 October in the Bolivarian University of Medellin, Colombia. The congress is the fourth since the institution in 2010 of the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI” and, like the previous ones, will count on the participation of the universities in the host country, along with the local Church and representatives of civil society and politics. Since the first encounter, organinsed in Bygdoszcz, Poland, 275 universities have taken part, involving 1600 teachers and students who have carried out projects of reflection and research related to the theme.

“The appointment in Medellin this October … once more emphasises that universities – the young people and people who study, think and seek there – can and wish to take an active and committed role in the construction of a fully human future, aware that our times, marked by globalisation, with its positive and negative aspects, as well as bloody conflicts and threats of war, necessitate renewed and concerted commitment to seeking the common good, and the development of the whole of humanity and the whole human person”.
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