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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dialogue, religious freedom and rejection of extremism and violence at the centre of the Pope's meeting with the president of Tunisia

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, president of the Tunisian Republic, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, various themes of common interest were reviewed, such as the promotion of peace, interreligious dialogue and human rights, with particular reference to the defence of freedom of conscience and religious freedom, as well as the refusal of every form of extremism or violence. The Parties noted the commitment of the Catholic Church in social issues and the fields of health and education, in the service of all Tunisian citizens, especially the poorest and most in need.

Finally, various questions of an international and regional nature were examined, paying special attention to the situation in the Mediterranean Basin.

Pope Francis to visit the European Parliament

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the communique issued this morning in Strasbourg by the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, that Pope Francis has accepted the invitation to visit the European Parliament and to address its members during a solemn session. The visit will take place on 25 November.

The Pope's message to the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a message on behalf of the Holy Father to the participants in the meeting of the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network in Brasilia, Brazil, which concludes tomorrow. The message is addressed to Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno S.J., of Huancayo, Colombia, president of the Department of Justice and Solidarity of the CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council).

The Pope, referring to his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”, remarks that the participants in the meeting respond to the crucial challenge of “living together, of mingling, of meeting, of taking each other's hands, of supporting each other, of participating in this chaotic and high tide so that it may be transformed into a true experience of fraternity, a cavalcade of solidarity, a holy pilgrimage. In this way, the great potential of communication translates into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity”.

Francis expresses his joy at seeing the results of his appeal for the creation of an innovative network dedicated specifically to ecological matters related to the Amazon and his hopes for the outcome of the initiative. He also takes the opportunity to remind those present that the network must be rich in humanity – a network not of threads, but of people. “It is not enough to circulate on digital 'paths'”, he writes. “It is necessary for this connection to be accompanied by true encounter: we cannot live alone, closed up in ourselves; we need to love and be loved, and we need tenderness. Only in this way can Christian witness, thanks to this network, reach the existential peripheries of humanity, facilitating the work of Christian leaven and bringing progress to the living cultures of Amazonia and their values”.

Satisfactory meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – The Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group held its fifth meeting in Hanoi from 10 to 11 September, co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, deputy minister for foreign affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and Msgr. Antoine Camilleri of the Holy See Secretariat for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.

According to a press release published at the end of the meeting, the Holy See delegation “appreciated the support given by the competent authorities at all levels to the Catholic Church in Vietnam for the accomplishment of her mission. It also took note of the development in the religious policies of Vietnam, reflected in the 2013 Amended Constitution. The Vietnamese State has facilitated working visits to Vietnam by the non-resident special envoy of the Holy See to Vietnam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See delegation reaffirmed that it attached great importance to the development of relations with Vietnam in particular and Asia in general, as evidenced by the recent and upcoming papal trips to the continent. The Holy See reaffirmed its commitment towards the goal of establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and, together with the Catholic Church in the country, wishes to make more active contributions to the country’s development where the Catholic Church is strong, for example in health care, education, charity and humanitarian works. The Vietnamese side reiterated the consistent policy of the State and Party in respecting freedom of religion and belief of all people and supporting the Catholic Church in Vietnam to actively participate in national social and economic development”.

“Both Parties emphasised again the underlying principles of 'living the Gospel within the Nation' and that 'being a good Catholic means being a good citizen'. The Holy See delegation stressed that Pope Francis had followed with interest recent developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, and encouraged the Catholic Community in Vietnam to continue contributing towards the country’s major goals. Both Parties noted with satisfaction the positive developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, as shown by increased exchanges and contacts at all levels, meetings of the Joint Working Group and working visits of the non-resident special envoy in Vietnam. They agreed on maintaining dialogue and contacts while creating favourable conditions for his mission, as he helps the Catholic Church in Vietnam to implement papal teaching”.

“The meeting took place in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere. The Parties agreed to convene the 6th meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican, at a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels”.

“On this occasion, the Holy See delegation paid a courtesy visit to the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Pham Binh Minh, and met with the deputy minister of of the interior and Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Pham Dung. The delegation also took the opportunity to visit some Catholic institutions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”.

Cardinal Sandri: educate so as not to fall prey to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, addressed the Permanent Council of the United States Episcopal Conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 9 September. The prelate declared that after his trips to Syria in January 2011 and Iraq in December 2012, he “never would have imagined that we would find ourselves in the present situation”. He added, “Still in the twenty-first century, as if history has taught nothing, we must witness barbarities and atrocities which strike above all the weakest: the elderly, women and children. Along with my preoccupations for the thousands of refugees … I have ever in mind the bishops and priests still in the hands of kidnappers in Syria, and I cannot forget the journalists so brutally killed”.

Cardinal Sandri remarked that, “On the one hand, the action of the Holy Spirit continues to make the Church fertile in every part of the world, manifesting its characteristic maternity. Yet, on the other hand, it must be recognised that the Churches, which gave rise in great part to the diffusion of the Gospel in the Apostolic era, are now shaken at their foundations and threatened in their very existence”. He also referred to the difficulties experienced by the Church in Jerusalem, reiterating his conviction that “a durable peace in the Holy Land would contribute significantly to the stability of the whole Middle East”, also highlighting “the drama of the Church in Antioch”. He emphasised, “If these Churches, the historic mothers of the evangelising mission, are struck at their foundations, we, as their children, cannot be silent. … God chose that part of the world as 'the cradle of a universal plan of salvation in love'”, adding that “for nearly two thousand years these Christians have kept alive the flame of the first Pentecost in those lands”.

Cardinal Sandri repeated the words of Pope Francis to the members of the Oriental Congregation at the end of their Plenary Session last November: “Every Catholic owes a debt of thanks to the Churches that live in that region. From these Churches we may learn, among other things, the effort of the daily exercise of the spirit of ecumenism and of interreligious dialogue. The geographical, historical and cultural context in which they have lived for centuries has indeed made them natural interlocutors with numerous other Christian confessions and with other religions”.

He thanked the American Episcopal Conference for the “constant and generous attention” shown to the Oriental Churches, especially in relation to efforts to raise the awareness of the political authorities. He also thanked the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) for the work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, as well as Aid to the Church in Need and Catholic Relief Services, and highlighted the “great hospitality the United States has given over the decades to all of the Eastern Churches in the diaspora”.

He mentioned the situation “of extreme urgency” in Iraq, and remarked that “in dialogue both clarity and fraternal respect are needed. … We have the responsibility of educating our faithful lest they yield to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions. We must recall that it has taken Catholic theological and biblical reflection centuries to arrive at its present capacity for interpreting our sacred texts without undue fear of violating the depositum fidei”.

He concluded by encouraging those present to follow with attention the interventions of the Holy See in its various modes and the representatives of the Holy See in various international organisations, and to support the role of the United Nations, an “effective forum through which to prevent the repetition of violence and injustice”.


Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Santo Gangemi, apostolic nuncio in Guinea and Mali

- Twenty-four prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Congo, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu;

- Bishop Melchisedech Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni;

.- Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma;

- Bishop Placide Lubamba Ndjibu, M. Afr., of Kasongo;

- Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, M. Afr., of Kindu;

- Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira;

- Archbishop Marcel Madila Basanguka of Kananga

- Bishop Valentin Masengo Nkinda of Kabinda;

- Bishop Pierre-Celestin Tshitoko Mamba of Luebo;

- Bishop Felicien Mwanama Galumbulula of Luiza;

- Bishop Bernard-Emmanuel Kasanda Mulenga of Mbujimayi;

- Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba of Mweka;

- Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe;

- Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Edouard Kisonga Ndinga, S.S.S., and Bishop Timothee Bodika Mansiyai, P.S.S.;

- Bishop Cyprien Mbuka, C.I.C.M., of Boma;

- Bishop Jose Moko Ekanga, P.S.S., of Idiofa;

- Bishop Philippe Nkiere Kena, C.I.C.M., of Inongo;

- Bishop Jean Gaspard Mudiso Mund’la, S.V.D., of Kenge;

- Bishop Edouard Mununu Kasiala of Kikwit;

- Bishop Fidele Nsielele Zi Mputu of Kisantu;

- Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi of Matadi; and

- Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka.

- Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio in Argentina.
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