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Monday, September 29, 2014

Audience with the president of Malta: commitment of Church and state in the phenomenon of migration

Vatican City, 29 September 2014 (VIS) – Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, who subsequently met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions focused on the good relations between the Holy See and Malta and highlighted the significant contribution made by the Catholic Church in the fields of education and welfare, especially in favour of the poor. The conversation then turned to various themes of mutual interest, with special reference to the role of Christian values in the edification of Maltese society and the strengthening of the institution of the family.

Finally, the Parties discussed Malta’s contribution within the European Union, along with a number of questions of an international nature, such as the situations of conflict in the Mediterranean region, expressing hope for a prompt solution via dialogue, as well as the phenomenon of migration towards Europe, which involves commitment on the part of the Church and the Government.

To the members of the United Bible Societies: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”

Vatican City, 29 September 2014 (VIS) – “Yours is the fruit of a patient, careful, fraternal, competent and, above all, faithful work. If you do not believe, you do not understand; if you do not believe, you cannot stand firm”, said the Holy Father to the members of the United Bible Societies, whom he received this morning in the Consistory Hall for the presentation of the Italian language Bible, “Parola del Signore – La Bibbia Interconfessionale in lingua corrente” (“The Word of the Lord – The Interconfessional Bible in current language”). “I hope that this text, which is presented with the blessing of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, will encourage all Italian-speaking Christians to meditate on, life, bear witness to and celebrate God's message”.

“I would very much like all Christians to be able to learn 'the sublime science of Jesus Christ' through frequent reading of the Word of God, as the sacred text offers nourishment for the soul and is the pure and perennial source of the spiritual life of us all”, he added. “We must make every effort so that each believer may read God’s Word, because as Saint Jerome says, 'ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ'”. The Pope offered his heartfelt thanks to those present for their valuable work, encouraging them to “continue on the journey you have undertaken, so as to allow for the better and deeper comprehension of the Word of the living God”.

The young and the elderly: without balance between generations, the freedom of society becomes authoritarianism

Vatican City, 28 September 2014 (VIS) – Today in St. Peter's Square a meeting was held to celebrate old age, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, entitled “The blessing of long life”. The meeting, which brought together thousands of elderly and grandparents accompanied by their relatives from all over the world, began at 8.30 a.m. with a “tour of old age through five Biblical episodes”. An hour later, the Holy Father arrived in the Square to join the elderly, with whom he had spoken before Mass at 10.30 a.m. The Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was personally invited by Pope Francis and participated in the meeting.

The Pope explained that the first reading “echoes in various ways the Fourth Commandment: 'Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you'. A people has no future without such an encounter between generations, without children being able to accept with gratitude the witness of life from the hands of their parents. And part of this gratitude for those who gave you life is also gratitude for our heavenly Father. There are times when generations of young people, for complex historical and cultural reasons, feel a deeper need to be independent from their parents, 'breaking free', as it were, from the legacy of the older generation. It is a kind of adolescent rebellion. But unless the encounter, the meeting of generations, is re-established, unless a new and fruitful intergenerational equilibrium is restored, what results is a serious impoverishment for all, and the freedom which prevails in society is actually a false freedom, which almost always becomes a form of authoritarianism”.

Francis emphasised that “Jesus did not abolish the law of the family and the passing of generations, but brought it to fulfilment. The Lord formed a new family, in which bonds of kinship are less important than our relationship with him and our doing the will of God the Father. Yet the love of Jesus and the Father completes and fulfils our love of parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents; it renews family relationships with the lymph of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit”. He remarked that Mary, when she visited her relatives Elizabeth and Zechariah, “was able to listen to those elderly and amazed parents; she treasured their wisdom, and it proved precious for her in her journey as a woman, as a wife and as a mother”, and added, “the Virgin Mary likewise shows us the way: the way of encounter between the young and the elderly. The future of a people necessarily supposes this encounter: the young give the strength which enable a people to move forward, while the elderly consolidate this strength by their memory and their traditional wisdom”.

Francis praises the example of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and asks for prayers for the upcoming Synod

Vatican City, 28 September 2014 (VIS) – At the end of today's Holy Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the faithful present in St. Peter's Square, after greeting elderly pilgrims from various countries, the participants in the congress-pilgrimage “Singing faith”, organised to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the choir of the diocese of Roma, and after mentioning the beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, celebrated in Madrid, Spain on Saturday. “May his exemplary Christian and priestly witness awaken in many people the wish to join with Jesus and the Gospel”. Pope Francis went on to remind those present that the Assembly of the Synod on the Family begins next Sunday, and encouraged all the faithful to pray for this important event, that he entrusts to the intercession of Mary “Salus Populi Romani”.

The Pope presides at liturgy commemorating the 200th anniversary of the reconstitution of the Society of Jesus

Vatican City, 28 September 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, in the Basilica of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the Pope presided at a liturgy of thanksgiving to mark the 200th anniversary of the reconstitution of the Society of Jesus in the universal Church, sanctioned by Pope Pius VII with the Bull “Sollicitudo Omnium ecclesiarum” of 7 August 1814. During the liturgy, which included the Vespers prayer and the Te Deum, following the Gospel reading and before the renewal of vows by some of the Jesuits present, the Holy Father gave a homily, extensive extracts of which are published below:

“The Society under the name of Jesus has lived difficult times of persecution. During the leadership of Fr. Lorenzo Ricci, 'enemies of the Church succeeded in obtaining the suppression of the Society' by my predecessor Clement XIV. Today, remembering its restoration, we are called to recover our memory, calling to mind the benefits received and the particular gifts. Today, I want to do that here with you.

“In times of trial and tribulation, dust clouds of doubt and suffering are always raised and it is not easy to move forward, to continue the journey. Many temptations come, especially in difficult times and in crises: to stop to discuss ideas, to allow oneself to be carried away by the desolation, to focus on the fact of being persecuted, and not to see the other. Reading the letters of Fr. Ricci, one thing struck me: his ability to avoid being harnessed by these temptations and to propose to the Jesuits, in a time of trouble, a vision of the things that rooted them even more in the spirituality of the Society”.

“The Society … lived the conflict to the end, without minimising it. It lived humiliation along with the humiliated Christ; it obeyed. You never save yourself from conflict with cunning and with strategies of resistance. In the confusion and humiliation, the Society preferred to live the discernment of God's will, without seeking a way out of the conflict in a seemingly quiet manner. It is never apparent tranquillity that satisfies our hearts, but true peace that is a gift from God. One should never seek the easy 'compromise'. ... Only discernment saves us from real uprooting, from true 'suppression' of the heart, which is selfishness, worldliness, the loss of our horizon. Our hope, is Jesus; it is only Jesus. Thus Fr. Ricci and the Society during the suppression privileged history rather than a grey 'little tale', knowing that love judges history and that hope – even in darkness – is greater than our expectations. … We can review briefly this process of discernment and service. When in 1759, the decrees of Pombal destroyed the Portuguese provinces of the Society, Fr. Ricci lived the conflict, not complaining and letting himself fall into desolation, but inviting prayers to ask for the good spirit, the true supernatural spirit of vocation, the perfect docility to God's grace. When in 1761, the storm advanced in France … he asked that all trust be placed in God. ... In 1760, after the expulsion of the Spanish Jesuits, he continued to call for prayer. And finally, on February 21, 1773, just six months before the signing of the Brief Dominus ac Redemptor, with the utter lack of human help, he sees the hand of God's mercy, which invites those, who submit to the test, not to confide in anyone but God. … The important thing for Fr. Ricci that the Society, until the last, is true to the spirit of its vocation, which is for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.

“The Society, even faced with its own demise, remained true to the purpose for which it was founded. To this, Ricci concludes with an exhortation to keep alive the spirit of charity, unity, obedience, patience, evangelical simplicity, true friendship with God. Everything else is worldliness.

“Let us remember our history: the Society 'was given the grace not only to believe in the Lord, but also to suffer for His sake'. We do well to remember this. The ship of the Society has been tossed around by the waves and there is nothing surprising in this. Even the boat of Peter can be tossed about today. The night and the powers of darkness are always near. It is tiring to row. The Jesuits must be 'brave and expert rowers': row then! Row, be strong, even with the headwind! We row in the service of the Church. We row together! But while we row - we all row, even the Pope rows in the barque of Peter - we must pray a lot. … The Lord, even if we are men of little faith, will save us”.

“The Society, restored by my predecessor Pius VII, was made up of men, who were brave and humble in their witness of hope, love and apostolic creativity, that of the Spirit. Pius VII … gave permission to the Jesuits, who still existed here and there, thanks to a Lutheran monarch and an Orthodox monarch, 'to remain united in one body'. … The Society resumed its apostolic activity of preaching and teaching, spiritual ministries, scientific research and social action, the missions and care for the poor, the suffering and the marginalised. Today, the Society also deals with the tragic problem of refugees and displaced persons with intelligence and industriousness; and it strives with discernment to integrate service to faith and the promotion of justice in conformity with the Gospel. I confirm today what Paul VI told us at our 32nd General Congregation and which I heard with my own ears: "Wherever in the Church, even in the most difficult and extreme situations, in the crossroads of ideologies, in the social trenches, where there has been and there is confrontation between the deepest desires of man and the perennial message of the Gospel, there you have been and there are Jesuits.

“In 1814, at the time of the restoration, the Jesuits were a small flock, a 'small Society', which however knew how to invest, following the trials of the cross, in the great mission of bringing the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This is how we must feel today therefore: outbound, in mission. The Jesuit identity is that of a man who loves God and loves and serves his brothers, showing by example not only that in which he believes, but also that in which he hopes, and who is the One in whom he has put his trust”.

The Pope's message for the beatification of the Opus Dei prelate Alvaro del Portillo: in the simplicity of everyday life we can find the way to holiness

Vatican City, 27 September 2014 (VIS) – The bishop Alvaro del Portillo (1914-1994), first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer at the helm of Opus Dei, was beatified in Madrid, Spain this morning. The Holy Father sent a message to Bishop Javier Echevarria, current Prelate of Opus Dei, which was read during the ceremony, presided by Cardinal Angelo Amato,S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The message was signed 26 June, the feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

“I like to recall the short prayer that the Servant of God repeated frequently, especially in personal celebrations and anniversaries: 'Thank you, I’m sorry, help me more!' These are words that bring us closer to the reality of his interior life and his dealing with the Lord, and which can also help us to give a new impulse to our own Christian life”, writes the Pope.

“Firstly, thank you. It is the immediate and spontaneous reaction of the soul before God's goodness. … And God always precedes us. Alvaro del Portillo was aware of the many gifts God had given him, and he thanked God for that manifestation of his fatherly love. But he did not stop there. His gratitude for the Lord’s love awakened in his heart the wish to follow him with greater selflessness and generosity, and to live a humble life of service to others. Particularly evident was his love for the Church, bride of Christ, whom he served with a heart stripped of worldly interests, free of discord, always welcoming to all, and always seeking the positive in others, what unites and what builds”.

Secondly, there is the phrase “I’m sorry”. Francis explains in his letter that Don Alvaro “often admitted that he saw himself before God with empty hands, unable to respond to so much generosity. However, the admission of human poverty is not the fruit of despair … but instead means opening oneself to His mercy, His love … that does not humiliate, nor does it sink into the abyss of despair; rather, it lives us from our prostration and enables us to walk with more determination and joy. The Servant of God Alvaro knew the need we have of divine mercy, and he dedicated much of his personal energy to encourage persons to approach the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of joy.”

Finally, “help me more. Yes, the Lord never abandons us. … His grace never fails us, and with His help we can proclaim His name to all the world. Beating in the heart of the new Blessed was the desire to take the Good News to all hearts. He went to many countries encouraging evangelisation projects, without being hindered by difficulties, moved by his love for God and for his brothers. … The first condition for proclaiming Christ is to love them, as Christ loved them before us. From there, the Lord awaits us. We cannot keep our faith to ourselves; it is a gift that we have received in order to be able to give it and share it with others”.

“Blessed Alvaro del Portillo sends us a very clear message; he tells us to trust in the Lord, who is our brother, our friend who never disappoints us and who is always at our side,” concludes the Holy Father. “He encourages us not to be afraid to go against the current or to suffer for proclaiming the Gospel. In addition, he teaches us that in the simplicity and ordinariness of our life we can find a sure path of holiness”.

Francis: the encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist is a source of hope for the world

Vatican City, 27 September 2014 (VIS) – “The Eucharist occupies the central position in the Church because it is what makes the Church. As Vatican Council II affirms, it is the 'sacrament of piety, sign of unity, bond of charity'”, said the Pope this morning, as he received in audience the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Councils.

The theme of the next congress, “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, “perfectly reflects the bond between the Eucharist, the mission and Christian hope”, continued the Pontiff. “Today there is a lack of hope in the world, and therefore humanity needs to hear the message of our hope in Jesus Christ. The Church proclaims this message with renewed ardour, using new methods and new expressions. With the spirit of 'new evangelisation', the Church brings this message to all and, in particular, those who despite being baptised, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to Christian life”.

“The encounter between Jesus in the Eucharist will be a source of hope for the world if, transformed by the power of the Holy See in the image on He Whom we meet, we accept the mission of transforming the world, giving the fullness of life that we ourselves have received and experienced, bringing hope, forgiveness, healing and love to those who are in need, especially the poor, the dispossessed and the oppressed, sharing life and aspirations and walking alongside them in search of an authentic human life in Jesus Christ”, concluded Pope Francis, invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, to take place in Cebu, Philippines in January 2015.

Communicating the family: a privileged place of encounter with the gift of love

Vatican City, 29 September 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Social Communications published a note today explaining the theme of World Communications Day 2015: “Communicating the family: a privileged place of encounter with the gift of love”. The theme follows in continuity with the previous year’s message, and dovetails with the central theme of the next two Synods on the family.

It is important to recall that World Communications Day, the only World Day established by Vatican Council II, is celebrated in many countries, upon the recommendation of bishops throughout the world, on the Sunday preceding Pentecost, and that the Holy Father's Message for the event is traditionally published on the feast day of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists (24 January).

“The daily news show us the difficulties facing the family today”, according to the note. “Often cultural changes do not help us appreciate how much the family is a good for society.

“The relationships between the members of the family community are inspired and guided by the law of 'free giving'. By respecting and fostering personal dignity in each and every one as the only basis for value, this free giving takes the form of heartfelt acceptance, encounter and dialogue, disinterested availability, generous service and deep solidarity.

“Today, how can we tell people who are perhaps wounded and disillusioned that love between a man and a woman is a good thing? How can we help children know that they are a most precious gift? How can we warm the hearts of people, especially those who are wounded and disappointed, and help them rediscover the beauty of love? How can we show that the family is the privileged place where we experience the beauty of life, the joy and the gift of love, the consolation of forgiveness offered and received, and the encounter with the other?

“Today the Church must learn again how to show that the family is a great gift, something good and beautiful. The Church is called to show more vividly that the gift of love, which the bride and groom offer each other, draws all people to God. It is an exciting task because it moves people to look at the true reality of the human person, and it opens the doors to the future, to life”.


Vatican City, 29 September 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Marcelo Julio Martin, ex-honorary consul of the Helvetic Confederation in Rosario, Argentina, and family;

- Stephan Weil, prime minister of Lower Saxony, and entourage.

On Saturday, 27 September, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio in Mexico;

- Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio in the Philippines;

- Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, apostolic nuncio in Tanzania.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 27 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Salvatore Angerami as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Naples (area 274, population 1,744,000, Catholics 1,715,000, priests 1,053, permanent deacons 292, religious 3,413), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Naples, Italy in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 1997. He studied engineering at the University “Federico II” of Naples and exercised the profession of engineer for some years before undertaking theological and philosophical studies at the archiepiscopal seminary of Naples. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest of San Gennaro al Vomero, archiepiscopal delegate for buildings of worship, ordinary confessor and spiritual father of the preparatory community of the archiepiscopal major seminary, member of the diocesan council for economic affairs, and member of the Commission of Religious Art. He is currently rector of the archiepiscopal seminary of Naples.
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