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Friday, June 20, 2014


Vatican City, 20 June 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, on the Solemnity of Corpus Domini, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the square of St. John Lateran, the cathedral basilica of Rome. He commented in his homily that human beings not only suffer from physical hunger, but hunger also for life, love and eternity, for the manna that God gave to the people of Israel in the desert and which the Eucharist symbolises.

Referring to Moses' phrase: “The Lord your God … fed you with manna which you did not know”, Francis spoke about the history of the chosen people, whom God led out of Egypt and their condition of slaves to guide them to the promised land. However, once established there, the Israelites enjoyed prosperity and were in danger of forgetting their past of famine and despair. Moses urged them to return to the essentials, to the experience of total reliance on God, when their survival was entirely entrusted to His hands”.

“As well as physical hunger, man also suffers from another form of hunger that cannot be sated with ordinary food. It is a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Manna is the sign … that prefigured the food that satisfies this profound hunger present in man. Jesus gives us this nourishment – or rather, He Himself is the living bread that gives life to the world. His Body is the true food in the form of bread; His Blood is the true sustenance in the form of wine. It is not a simple form of nourishment to sate our bodies, like manna; the Body of Christ is the bread of the last times, able to give life, eternal life, because the substance of this bread is Love”.

The Eucharist communicates “God's love for us: a love so great that it nourishes itself; it is a gratuitous love, always available to every person who hungers or who is in need of regeneration. To live the experience of faith means allowing oneself to be nourished by the Lord and to build our existence not on material goods, but on a reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, His Word and His Body”.

“If we look around ourselves”, continued the bishop of Rome, “we realise that many forms of sustenance are offered to us, that do not come from the Lord and seemingly offer more satisfaction. Some sate themselves with money, others with success and vanity, others with power and pride. But the food that truly nourishes and sates us is only that which comes from the Lord! The food that the Lord offers us is different from the others, and it may perhaps be less appetising than other delicacies the world offers us. We dream of other meals, like the Hebrews in the desert, who missed the meat and onions they ate in Egypt, but forgot that they ate those meals at the table of their slavery. In that moment of temptation, they retained the memories of that food, but it was a diseased memory, a selective memory”.

“The Father says to us: 'I have fed you with manna which you did not know'. Let us restore our memory and learn to recognise the false victuals that delude and corrupt, because they are the fruit of selfishness, self-sufficiency and sin: poisoned foods. Soon, in the procession, we will follow Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist. The Host is our manna, through which the Lord gives Himself to us. And we turn to Him with trust: Jesus, defend us from the temptations of the worldly food that enslaves us; purify our memory, so that we may not be imprisoned by selfish and worldly selectivity, but become instead the living memory of Your presence throughout the history of Your people, a memory that becomes a 'memorial' of your gesture of redeeming love”.

Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father led the procession along Via Merulana up to the basilica of St. Mary Major, where he imparted his solemn blessing with the Most Holy Sacrament.


Vatican City, 20 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received in audience the participants in the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference, which took place in Rome from 17 to 19 June. He thanked them for their work “in combating this most serious and complex problem of our time”, expressing his hope that they will accomplish their goals: a more effective coordination of anti-narcotics policies, better sharing of relevant information and the development of an operative strategy aimed at fighting the drug trade.

In his address, the Holy Father commented that “the scourge of drug use continues to spread inexorably, fed by a deplorable commerce which transcends national and continental borders. As a result, the lives of more and more young people and adolescents are in danger. Faced with this reality, I can only manifest my grief and concern”.

“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible”, he continued: “the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem. Attempts, however limited, to legalise so-called 'recreational drugs', are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects. Substitute drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon. Here I would reaffirm what I have stated on another occasion: No to every type of drug use. It is as simple as that. No to any kind of drug use. But to say this 'no', one has to say 'yes' to life, 'yes' to love, 'yes' to others, 'yes' to education, 'yes' to greater job opportunities. If we say 'yes' to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction”.

“The Church, faithful to Jesus’ command to go out to all those places where people suffer, thirst, hunger and are imprisoned, does not abandon those who have fallen into the trap of drug addiction, but goes out to meet them with creative love. She takes them by the hand, thanks to the efforts of countless workers and volunteers, and helps them to rediscover their dignity and to revive those inner strengths, those personal talents, which drug use had buried but can never obliterate, since every man and woman is created in the image and likeness of God”.

“The example of all those young people who are striving to overcome drug dependency and to rebuild their lives can serve as a powerful incentive for all of us to look with confidence to the future”, Francis concluded, encouraging the members of the Conference to carry on their work with constantly renewed hope.


Vatican City, 20 June 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received the participants in the International Congress organised by the Department of Law of the Maria SS. Assunta University of Rome (LUMSA) and the School of Law of the St. John's University on the theme: “religious freedom according the international law and the global conflict of values”, held in Rome on 20 and 21 June. Francis remarked that the theme of religious freedom has recently become the subject of intense debate between governments and the various religious confessions, and added that the Catholic Church, in this field, has a long history of supporting religious freedom, culminating in the Vatican Council II Declaration “Dignitatis humanae”.

“Every human is a 'seeker' of truth on his origins and destiny. In his mind and in his 'heart', questions and thoughts arise that cannot be repressed or stifled, since they emerge from the depths of the person and are a part of the intimate essence of the person. They are religious questions, and religious freedom is necessary for them to manifest themselves fully”. Francis emphasised that “reason recognises that religious freedom is a fundamental right of man, reflecting his highest dignity, that of seeking the truth and adhering to it, and recognising it as an indispensable condition for realising all his potential. Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found”. The Pope described this situation as the “great challenge of the globalised world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences”.

“Legal systems, at both national and international level, are therefore required to recognise, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is a right intrinsically inherent in human nature, in man's dignity as a free being, and is also an indicator of a healthy democracy and one of the main sources of the legitimacy of the State”. He added, “religious freedom … favours the development of relationships of mutual respect between the different Confessions and their healthy collaboration with the State and political society, without confusion of roles and without antagonism”.

He underlined that it is incomprehensible and troubling that people continue to suffer discrimination, restriction of their rights and even persecution for professing their faith. “Nowadays, persecution of Christians is stronger than it was in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs than in that time. This is happening 1700 years after the edict of Constantine, which granted Christians the freedom to publicly profess their faith”. Pope Francis concluded by expressing his hope that the Congress would demonstrate in depth and with scientific rigour the reasons that oblige legal systems to respect and defend religious freedom.


Vatican City, 20 June 2014 (VIS) – Next Friday, 27 June, on the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the 90th Catholic University Day, the Holy Father will visit the Roman “Agostino Gemelli” Hospital, celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the faculty of medicine and surgery of the Catholic University.

He will arrive at 3.30 p.m. and, after visiting the hospital facilities, will celebrate Mass in the square outside the faculty. He will be the fifth pontiff to visit the Roman Athenaeum, thus maintaining a close friendship of fifty years' standing.


Vatican City, 20 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Fra' Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and entourage.

- Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, apostolic nuncio in Guatemala.

- Archbishop Savino Bernardo M. Cassaro Bertollo, emeritus of Puerto Montt, Chile.


Vatican City, 19 June 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Baltimore, U.S.A., as bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts (area 7,306, population 871,000, Catholics 248,800, priests 181, permanent deacons 85, religious 362), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
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