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Friday, July 25, 2014


Vatican City, 25 July 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis to Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria, in response to yesterday's tragic accident involving an Air Algerie aircraft above Mali, which claimed many lives. “His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of those who have lost loved ones”, he writes. “He wishes to convey his condolences and to assure them of his profound sympathy, and prays that the Lord may receive the souls of the departed and bring consolation and hope to all those affected by the disaster”.


Vatican City, 25 July 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Holy Father Francis received in audience Ms. Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese Christian woman imprisoned and condemned to death for apostasy, and subsequently freed with the intervention of the international community.

Meriam was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and their two small children, Martin (aged one and a half) and Maya, born in prison two months ago. The family was accompanied by the Italian deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lapo Pistelli, who completed negotiations in Sudan yesterday and accompanied Meriam and her family to Italy, where they are preparing to move to the United States.

The meeting lasted for slightly less than half an hour and took place in a serene and affectionate atmosphere. The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness of constancy in faith. Meriam gave thanks for the great comfort and support she received from the prayer of the Pope and many other believers and persons of good will. The Pope’s secretary, Msgr. Yohannis Gaid, acted as interpreter. The Pope then greeted the Italian staff accompanying Meriam and her family in their stay in Italy.

With this gesture, the Pope wished to demonstrate his closeness, attention and prayer for all those who suffer for their faith and, in particular, for Christians who suffer persecution or curtailment of their religious freedom.


Vatican City, 25 July 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva, spoke at the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council dedicated to the question of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem, which took place on 23 July.

“As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering. Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralysed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonising others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future lies in recognising our common humanity”.

The archbishop mentioned that in his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end. “The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgement by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognised borders”.

“The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve. The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive at a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. 'Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole', adds Pope Francis, 'and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices'. It becomes a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust”.

“The media should report in a fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters”.


Vatican City, 25 July 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Florentino Galang Lavarias of Iba, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of San Fernando (area 2,180, population 3,561,000, Catholics 3,324,000, priests 176, religious 155), Philippines. He succeeds Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Severo C. Caermare as bishop of Dipolog (area 7,205, population 977,000, Catholics 787,000, priests 68, permanent deacons 1, religious 58), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Poblacion, Philippines in 1969 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He holds a master's degree in theology and pastoral ministry from the St. John Vianney theological seminary of Cagayan de Oro City, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including administrator of the parishes of “Our Mother of Perpetual Help” and “San Isidore” in Zamboanga del Norte; formator, rector, professor and liturgist at the Cor Jesu Seminary of Dipolog City; and formator, professor, dean and rector of the St. Mary's Theologate of Ozamis City. He is currently administrator of the “St. Anthony of Padua” parish in Gulayon, Dipolog City, and rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Dipolog City. He succeeds Bishop Jose R. Manguiran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Celestino Aos Braco, O.F.M. Cap., as bishop of Copiapo (area 75,176, population 272,000, Catholics 207,000, priests 23, permanent deacons 35, religious 76), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Artaiz, Spain in 1945, gave his perpetual vows in 1967 ad was ordained a priest in 1968. He holds a licentiate in psychology from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in Chile, including superior of the community of Los Angeles, Santa Maria de Los Angeles; priest of the parish of “San Miguel” in Vina del Mar; superior of the community of Recreo, and episcopal vicar for consecrated life of the diocese of Valparaiso. He is currently vicar of the parish of “San Francisco de Asis” in Los Angeles. He has also served as provincial bursar for the order in Chile, promoter of justice at the ecclesiastical tribunal of Valparaiso, and judge at the tribunal of the archdiocese of Concepcion.
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