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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pope Francis' general audience: Albania, example of resurgence of the Church

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis devoted today's general audience to recounting last Sunday's trip to Albania. The Holy Father confirmed that it was important to encourage this population on the path to the peaceful co-existence of the different religious components of society. “Indeed, the various religious expressions have in common a path of life and the will to do good to one's neighbour, without denying or diminishing their respective identities”.

Francis recalled his meeting with priests, consecrated persons, seminarians and lay movements, as well as a number of elderly people who had experienced, “in their own flesh, terrible persecutions”. “It is precisely from the intimate union with Jesus, from the relationship of love with Him, that these martyrs, like all martyrs, found the strength to face the painful events that led them to martyrdom … and it is the strength the Church finds in Christ's love. A strength that supports us in moments of difficulty and inspires our apostolic action today, to offer goodness and forgiveness to all, and thereby bearing witness to God's mercy”.

The Pontiff also mentioned the forty priests executed during the communist dictatorship, for whom the cause for beatification is under way. “They take their place among the hundreds of Christians – and Muslims – assassinated, tortured, incarcerated and deported simply because they believed in God. These were dark years, during which religious freedom was razed to the ground and it was forbidden to believe in God; thousands of churches and mosques were destroyed, transformed into warehouses and cinemas for the propagation of Marxist ideology, religious books were burnt, and parents were forbidden from giving their children the religious names of their ancestors. … Their blood was not shed in vain; it was the seed that will bear the fruit of peace and fraternal collaboration. Today Albania offers an example not only of the rebirth of the Church, but also of peaceful co-existence between religions”.

The Pope concluded by thanking the Lord for the trip, “which enabled me to meet a courageous and strong population that has not given way to suffering”. He encouraged the brothers and sisters of Albania to “be brave and good, to build the present and the future of their country and of Europe … and may the Virgin continue to guide the path of this population of martyrs”.

The Pope calls for prayer for African countries in Ebola epidemic

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages, as usual. Before the greetings in Italian, he launched an appeal for the countries in Africa that suffer as a result of the Ebola epidemic. Pope Francis assured his closeness to the many people affected by this virus and invited the faithful to pray for them and for those who have tragically lost their lives. “I hope that there will be no shortage of necessary help from the international community to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters”.

Pope Francis to the bishops of Ghana: the importance of the healthcare apostolate

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – The tragedy of the Ebola outbreak and the healthcare apostolate, the need for testimony of integrity in the face of corruption, and ecumenical cooperation were the main themes of the written discourse the Holy Father handed to the bishops of the Ghana Bishops' Conference yesterday afternoon, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit.

In the document, the Pope comments that “The 2009 Synod on Africa noted as a principal concern the need for the Church's pastors to 'inspire in Christ's disciples in Africa the will to become effectively committed to living out the Gospel in their daily lives and in society … and to obery Christ who calls constantly for metanoia, for conversion'”.

In this regard, he notes that “The work of conversion and evangelisation is not easy, but it bears precious fruit for the Church and the world. Out of the spiritual vitality of all the faithful come the Church's numerous charitable, medical and educational endeavours, and her works of justice and equality. The varied services, carried out in God's name, especially for the poor and weak, are the responsibility of the entire local Church, under the prayerful oversight of the bishop. I think in a particular way about the importance of the Church's healthcare apostolate, not only in Ghana, but throughout western Africa, which is suffering at this time from the outbreak of Ebola. I pray for the repose of the souls of all who have died in this epidemic, among whom are priests, men and women religious and healthcare workers who contracted this terrible disease while caring for those suffering. May God strengthen all healthcare workers there and bring an end to this tragedy”.

He continues, “The Church in Ghana is justly respected for the contribution she makes to the integral development of individuals and the entire nation. At the same time, she often finds herself lacking in the material resources necessary to fulfil her mission in the world. In this regard, I would offer you two thoughts. First, it is imperative that whatever temporal means the Church has at her disposal continue to be administered with honesty and responsibility, in order to provide good witness, especially where corruption has hindered the just advancement of society. … Second, material poverty can be an occasion to draw greater attention to the spiritual needs of the human person, thus leading to a deeper reliance on the Lord, from whom all good things come. While your communities rightly make many efforts to alleviate extremes of poverty, so too the Church is called, in imitation of Christ, to work with humility and honesty, using the goods at her disposal to open minds and hearts to the riches of mercy and grace flowing from the heart of Christ”.

Finally, the Pope advises the bishops, “Be close to other Christian leaders and the heads of other religious communities. Ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, when carried out with respect and an open heart, contribute to the social harmony of your country, and enable growth in understanding of the dignity of each person and a greater experience of our common humanity. Thankfully, Ghana has been spared many of the tribal, ethnic and religious divisions that have afflicted too many other parts of Africa, a continent whose promise, in part due to these divisions, has yet to be fulfilled. I pray that you will be ever greater promoters of unity and leaders in the service of dialogue. May you be firm in upholding the Church's teaching and discipline, and unyielding in your charity. And may your generosity in offering Christ be matched only by your humble and patient openness to others”.

Vatican City State legal authorities order house arrest for ex-nuncio Jozef Wesolowski

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave the following declaration yesterday afternoon:

“Today the promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Court of First Instance summoned the ex-nuncio Jozef Wesolowski, in relation to whom a criminal investigation has been initiated. The former prelate – previously convicted in the first instance by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced to lay status following a canonical penal administrative trial – has been informed of the indictment of the proceedings against him for serious acts of abuse against minors carried out in the Dominican Republic. The seriousness of the allegations has prompted the investigating office to impose restrictive measures that, in view of the state of health of the accused, attested to by medical documentation, consists of house arrest with its related limitations, in a location within Vatican City State.

“The initiative taken by the Vatican legal authorities is consistent with the wish expressed by the Pope that such a serious and delicate case be addressed without delay, with the just and necessary rigour, with the full assumption of responsibility on the part of the institutions governed by the Holy See”.

The Holy See: committed to working against climate change

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke at the Climate Summit held in New York, U.S.A. yesterday afternoon. Faced with the great risks and socio-economic costs of inertia in relation to this problem, he remarked, “prudence must prevail, which requires thoughtful deliberations based on an accurate analysis of the impact our actions will have on the future. This requires a great political and economic commitment on the part of the international community, to which the Holy See wishes to make its own contribution, being aware that 'the gift of knowledge helps us not to fall into attitudes of excess or error'”.

The cardinal went on to emphasise the responsibility of States “to protect the world climate by means of mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as by sharing technologies and 'know-how'. But above all they have a shared responsibility to protect our planet and the human family, ensuring present and future generations have the possibility of living in a safe and worthy environment”. He also mentioned the efforts made by Vatican City State to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels through diversification and energy efficiency projects, but added that “talking about emission reductions is useless if we are not ready to change our lifestyle and the current dominant models of consumption and production”. The Holy See, he concluded, “commits itself to this end, so that in this work the international community may be guided by the ethical imperative to act, inspired by the principles of solidarity and the promotion of the common good, in the knowledge that 'the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies'”.


Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, 23 September, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Great Britain.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 24 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Fernando Bascope Muller, S.D.B., auxiliary of the diocese of El Alto, as military ordinary for Bolivia (priests 36, permanent deacons 4, religious 28).

- Bishop Oscar Omar Aparicio Cespedes, as metropolitan archbishop of Cochabamba (area 32,306, population 1,732,000, Catholics 1,593,000, priests 316, permanent deacons 32, religious 1,267), Bolivia, transferring him from the office of military ordinary of Bolivia.

- Bishop Jose Ronaldo Ribeiro of Janauba, Brazil, as bishop of Formosa (area 47,604, population 346,760, Catholics 257,000, priests 35, religious 47), Brazil.

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