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Monday, September 8, 2014


Vatican City, 8 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Holy Father to Archbishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, Burundi, for the killing of three Italian Xaverian Missionary sisters yesterday, Sunday 7 September, in their convent in Kamenge, north of the capital Bujumbura.

Cardinal Parolin writes, “His Holiness Pope Francis has learned with great sadness of the murder of three nuns, Sister Bernadetta Bogiann, Sister Lucia Pulici and Sister Olga Raschietti, who were in the pastoral service of the parish of Saint Guido Maria Conforti in Bujumbura. The Holy Father begs the Lord to welcome into his kingdom of peace and light these three faithful and devout nuns. In these tragic circumstances, he expresses his closeness to their religious community, to the families of the victims, and the entire diocesan community. He imparts the comfort of a heartfelt and affectionate apostolic blessing to all those affected by their sudden loss. I join the Holy Father in offering my condolences and wish to assure those close to the departed Sisters of my fervent prayers”.

The Secretary of State also sent another telegram to Sister Ines Frizza, superior general of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, in which he expresses his sadness for the tragic death of the missionaries and “assures his heartfelt participation in the profound suffering of the Congregation for the loss of such dedicated sisters”. The Holy Father, “in the hope that the blood they have shed may become the seed of hope to build true fraternity between peoples, raises fervent prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and for their generous witness of the Gospel. To their families, the entire Institute and those who mourn their loss, he imparts the comfort of his apostolic blessing”, the Cardinal concludes.


Vatican City, 8 September 2014 (VIS) – This Sunday the Holy Father sent a video message to all the representatives of the Christian Churches, ecclesial communities and all heads of world religions who will meet in the Belgian city of Antwerp from 7 to 9 September for the International Meeting for Peace organised by the Sant'Egidio Community. This year's theme, “Peace is the Future”, commemorates the dramatic outbreak of the First World War one hundred years ago, and evokes a future in which mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation will help banish the sinister phantom of armed conflict.

“In these days, in which many people throughout the world need help to find the way to peace, this anniversary teaches us that war is never a satisfactory means of redressing injustice or reaching balanced solutions to social and political discord. In the final analysis every war, as Pope Benedict XV stated in 1917, is a 'useless massacre'. War drags populations into a spiral of violence that is then shown to be difficult to control; it demolishes what generations have worked to build and paves the way for injustice and even worse conflicts”.

Pope Francis stressed that “we cannot remain passive” when faced with “the innumerable conflicts and wars, declared and undeclared, that nowadays afflict the human family and ruin the lives of the youngest and of the elderly, poisoning long-standing relationships of co-existence between different ethnic groups and religions”. He remarked that with the power of prayer “our various religious traditions are able, in the the spirit of Assisi, to offer a contribution to peace. … I hope that these days of prayer and dialogue will serve to remind us that the search for peace and understanding through prayer can create lasting bonds of unity and prevail over the passions of war. War is never necessary, nor is it inevitable. There is always an alternative: the path of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth”.

“The moment has arrived for the heads of all religions to cooperate effectively in the task of healing wounds, of resolving conflicts and seeking peace. Peace is the sure sign of commitment to God's cause”. The Pontiff concluded by encouraging all those present to be “builders of peace” and to convert communities into “schools of respect and dialogue with those of other ethnic or religious groups, places in which we learn to overcome tensions, promote equitable and peaceful relations among peoples and social groups, and build a better future for the generations to come”.


Vatican City, 7 September 2014 (VIS) – Fraternal correction, as it is presented by St. Matthew in this Sunday's Gospel reading, was the theme of the Pope's reflection during today's Angelus, at midday. “Jesus teaches us that if my Christian brother wrongs me or offends me, I must be charitable towards him and, first of all, speak to him personally, explaining that what he has said or done is not good. And what if my brother does not listen to me? Jesus suggests a way of intervening gradually: first, to speak to him again with another two or three people, so that he is more aware of the mistake he has made. If, in spite of this, he does not accept this exhortation, it is necessary to tell the community, and if he does not even listen to the community, then we have to let him know of the fracture and detachment that he himself has caused, by failing in communion with his brothers and sisters in the faith”.

“The steps in this itinerary show the strength that the Lord asks of the community to support those who err, so that they are not lost. Above all it is necessary to avoid the clamour of news and gossip in the community. The attitude must be that of gentleness, prudence, humility and care in relation to those who have erred, avoiding words that may harm or kill our brother. Because even words can kill! When I gossip or when I unjustly criticise, when I curse a brother with my tongue, this means destroying the reputation of the other person. … At the same time, this discretion in speaking to him alone has the aim of not pointlessly mortifying the sinner. … In view of this need, we can understand the following series of interventions, which include the involvement of other witnesses and finally even the community. The aim is to help the person to understand what they have done, and to be aware that they have thereby offended not just one person, but everyone. But it also helps us to rid ourselves of anger and resentment … that bitterness of the heart that leads to anger and resentment leads us to insult and offend. It is very unpleasant to see insults and aggression from a Christian. … To insult is not Christian”.

“In reality”, he continued, “before the Lord we are all sinners and all in need of forgiveness. All of us. Indeed, Jesus told us not to judge. Fraternal correction is an aspect of the love and the communion that should reign in the Christian community; it is a mutual service that we can and must render to each other … and it is possible and effective only if each person recognises himself as a sinner and in need of the Lord's forgiveness. The same awareness that enables me to recognise the errors of the other, first of all reminds me that I myself have made, and make mistakes, many times”.

“Therefore, at the beginning of Mass, we are invited each time to acknowledge ourselves as sinners before the Lord, expressing with words and gestures the sincere repentance of the heart”, he concluded. “And Jesus Himself invites all of us, saints and sinners, to his table, bringing us together at the various crossroads in in the different situations of our lives. And among the conditions that unite all the participants in the Eucharistic celebration, two are fundamental: we are all sinners, and God offers His mercy to us all”.


Vatican City, 7 September 2014 (VIS) – After today's Angelus prayer, the Pope launched an appeal for peace in Ukraine. “In recent days, significant steps have been taken to reach a truce in the regions affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, even though today we have received news that gives little cause for comfort”, he said.

“However”, he added, “I hope that this may bring relief to the population and contribute to efforts towards lasting peace. Let us pray that, in the logic of encounter, the dialogue that has begun may continue and bear the hoped-for fruit. Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us”.

He also joined the bishops of Lesotho in making a plea for peace in their country. “I condemn every act of violence and pray to the Lord that the peace may be re-established in the Kingdom of Lesotho, in justice and fraternity”.

Pope Francis also recalled that this Sunday a convoy of thirty Italian Red Cross volunteers leaves for Iraq, headed for the area of Dohuk near Erbil, where there are tens of thousands of displaced Iraqis. “I express my heartfelt appreciation for this generous and valid work, and impart my blessing to all of them and all those who seek to offer concrete assistance to our persecuted and oppressed brothers. May the Lord bless you”.

Finally, he commented that on Monday will be the liturgical feast of the Nativity of Mary. “It means it would be her birthday. And what do we do when our it is our mother's birthday? We greet her and offer her our best wishes. Tomorrow remember, in the early morning, to greet the Virgin from your heart, and say to her, 'Best wishes!'. And say a Hail Mary from your heart, as a son or a daughter”.


Vatican City, 6 September 2014 (VIS) – On 8 September, the festivity of the Nativity of Mary, Cubans also celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the patroness of the island. To commemorate the occasion, the Pope has written a letter to the metropolitan archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibanez, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (C.O.O.C.), extensive extracts from which are published below:

“Every time I read the Sacred Scripture, in the passages that speak about Our Lady, three verbs come to my attention. I would like to pause and look at these, with the intention of inviting the pastors and faithful of Cuba to put them into practice.

“The first is to rejoice. It was the first word that the Angel Gabriel addressed to the Virgin: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. The life of those who have discovered Jesus is full of an inner joy so great that nothing and no-one can take it away. Christ gives his people the necessary strength not to be sad or overwhelmed, thinking that their problems have no solution. Supported by this truth, the Christian has no doubt that what is done with love engenders a serene joy, the sister of the hope that breaks down the barrier of fear and opens the doors to a promising future. … How good it would be if all Cubans, especially the young, could say: “I am a man of charity”; I live truly to love, and not to be trapped in the vicious circle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. What joy there is in loving authentically, in our daily actions, and not with plentiful but empty words that amount to nothing”.

“The second verb is to rise. St. Luke says that, with Jesus in her womb, Mary rose and promptly went to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who in her old age was about to become a mother. She fulfilled God's will, making herself available to anyone in need. She did not think of herself, but instead overcame setbacks and gave herself to others. Victory belongs to those who rise again and again, without giving up. If we imitate Mary, we cannot do so while sitting down, merely complaining, or even at times passing the buck to others rather than facing our own responsibilities. … Mary was always with her people, especially the least among them. She knew loneliness, poverty and exile, and learned how to create fraternity and to make her home any place where goodness grew. We implore her to give us a poor soul without pride, a pure heart that sees God in the faces of the disadvantaged, and unwavering patience that does not give up when faced with the difficulties of life”.

“The third verb is to persevere. Mary, who had experienced God's goodness, proclaimed the greatness He had worked in her. … For this reason, she stood by her Son, when everyone else had abandoned Him; she prayed without fail alongside the apostles and other disciples, lest they lose their mind. ...We too are called upon to continued in the love of God and to continue loving our neighbours. In this world, in which eternal values are discarded and everything is subject to change, in which a throwaway mentality triumphs, and in which there is fear of lifelong commitments, the Virgin encourages us to be men and women constantly engaged in good work, who maintain their word, who are always faithful”.

“Be joyful and share this with those around you. Lift your heart and do not succumb to adversity, stay on the path of good, tirelessly helping those who are oppressed by sorrows and troubles. These are the important lessons Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre teaches us, and which are useful to us now and in the future”.


Vatican City, 6 September 2014 (VIS) – Today Pope Francis received the prelates of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit. At the end of the audience the Pope expressed his encouragement and confidence in the bishops, whose visit to Rome underlined the spirit of communion with the Apostolic See, and handed them his written discourse, in which he writes that “for the Gospel to profoundly touch and convert hearts, we must remember that only our unity and love make it possible to bear witness authentically and effectively”. “You must keep unity and diversity closely linked in order to accommodate the human and spiritual wealth of your dioceses, that is expressed in many ways”.

Pope Francis mentioned the good collaboration between the Church, the State and society in Cameroon, as shown recently by the signing of a framework agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Cameroon, and invited the prelates to put this agreement in practice, “so that legal recognition of many ecclesial institutions will enable them to exercise greater influence, to the benefit not only of the Church but also of the whole of society in Cameroon”. In this context, he also referred to the considerable commitment on the part of the local churches in social work, especially in the fields of education, health and charity, that is recognised and appreciated by the civil authorities and must be the fulcrum of “a fruitful collaboration between the State and the Church, with full respect for her freedom. Commitment to social work is an integral part of evangelisation, as there is an intimate link between evangelisation and human development, which must be expressed and developed in all evangelising work”.

The action of evangelisation will be more effective when the Gospel “is truly lived by those who have received and profess it. This is how we find the way of drawing to Christ those who do not yet know Him, demonstrating the power of His love that is able to transform and illuminate human life”. Given the significant presence of Muslims in some dioceses, the Pope encouraged the bishops to “develop a dialogue of life with them, in the spirit of mutual trust”, which is now “essential to maintain a climate of peaceful co-existence and to discourage the development of the violence that Christians are victims of in certain regions of the African continent”.

He continues, “Families, equally, must continue to be the focus of your particular care, especially today as they experience grave hardships – poverty, the displacement of peoples, lack of security, the temptation to return to ancestral practices incompatible with the Christian faith, or even new lifestyles promised by a secularised world”.

It is also essential that the clergy “offer witness to a life inhabited by the Lord, coherent with the demands and the principles of the Gospel”, he writes, inviting the prelates to be fathers attentive to their priests, so that they are helped to avoid the temptations of power, honours and money. “In relation to this latter point, the negative example that may be given by poor management of goods, personal enrichment or wastefulness will be particularly scandalous in a region where many people lack basic necessities”. Similarly, “the unity of the clergy is an indispensable element in the witness to the risen Christ … and which depends upon unity among bishops, who are often faced with the same challenges and called upon to offer common and joint solutions, as well as the unity of the 'presbyterium' that the Lord calls on us to build every day, setting aside all forms of prejudice, especially on the basis of ethnicity”.

The Pontiff finally offers encouragement to consecrated persons, whose life is “always a prophetic witness and model in matters of reconciliation, justice and peace” and concludes by urging the prelates of Cameroon not to fear difficulties and to continue to proclaim the Good News with a renewed missionary spirit “to all those who still await it or are most in need”.


Vatican City, 6 September 2014 (VIS) – According to a communique issued by the Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, Sunday 28 September will be dedicated to prayer for the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place from 5 to 19 October on the theme “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”.

The particular Churches, parish communities, Institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements are invited to pray during Eucharistic celebrations and other liturgical occasions in the days preceding and during the work of the Synod.

In Rome, there will be prayers every day in the Chapel of Salus Populii Romani in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. The faithful, especially families, may include this intention in their personal prayers, and are recommended to pray the Rosary for the work of the Synod.

The Secretariat of the Synod will shortly publish a leaflet in various languages with the prayer of the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis and with other suggested intentions for the prayers of the faithful.


Vatican City, 6 September 2014 (VIS) – A letter was published today, written in Latin and dated 25 July 2014, by which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, Cuba, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the parish of Notre Dame-de-Quebec, Canada, the “mother Church of North America”, scheduled to take place on 15 September.

The members of the mission accompanying the Cardinal will be Msgr. Denis Belanger, parish priest of Notre Dame-de-Quebec and rector of the Basilica-Cathedral of the same name, and Rev. Pierre Gingras, parish priest of St. John the Baptist and St. Dominic in Quebec City.


Vatican City, 8 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Annette Schavan, new ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See, presenting her letters of credence.

- Cardinal Gottfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussel, Belgium.

- Rev. Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, superior general of the priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians).

- Professor Matteo Truffelli, national president of Italian Catholic Action.

- Kenan Gursoy, ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday, 6 September, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Tamar Grdzelidze, new ambassador of Georgia to the Holy See, presenting her letters of credence.


Vatican City, 8 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, presented by Cardinal Sean Baptist Brady, upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Archbishop Eamon Martin, formerly coadjutor of the same diocese.
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