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Monday, November 10, 2014

Pope Francis receives the president of Ghana

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience John Dramani Mahama, president of the Republic of Ghana, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the Parties noted the good relations between the Holy See and Ghana and underlined the positive contribution offered by the Catholic Church in the social, educational and healthcare spheres, as well as in relation to the promotion of dialogue between different members of society. Furthermore, mention was made of the promotion of the good of the family.

Finally, attention turned to various current issues of an international nature, and in particular the serious humanitarian crisis caused by the recent epidemic of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The Pope receives the bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau: focus on the quality rather than the quality of priests

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – The prelates of the Conference of Bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau were received in audience by the Holy Father this morning, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse that he handed to them at the end of the visit, the Pope writes that the bishops' visit to the See of Peter is “an opportunity to strengthen the communion the particular Churches maintain with the Church of Rome and with her bishop. However, it is also an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of love between you … and to experience collegiality. This represents a great challenge for an episcopal conference that groups together the bishops of four countries – Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – that are different in terms of language, geography, culture and history, but which nonetheless feel the need to be united and to support each other in their ministry”.

“Among the challenges you face, there is that of rooting faith more deeply in hearts so that it is put into practice in life. This is particularly true in areas experiencing first evangelisation, but it also applies where the Gospel has been announced a long time ago, as faith is a gift that must always be strengthened and which is under threat in many ways nowadays, owing to other religious proposals that prove easier and more attractive from a moral point of view, and as a result of the phenomenon of the secularisation that affects African societies”.

Therefore, “it is useful for laypeople to receive a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation, and continual support so that they are able to become witnesses of Christ in all areas of their lives, and to imbue society with the principles of the Gospel, avoiding the marginalisation of faith in public life. The pastoral care of families, as shown in the recent Synod of Bishops, must receive special attention since the family … is the place where the foundations of faith are laid, where the basic principles of community life are learned, and frequently where the priestly and religious vocations are nurtured – vocations your Churches need”.

“Priestly formation is decisive for the future”, writes Francis. “Your countries experience very different situations, but the primacy of quality above quantity is always important. I invite you to be close to your priests, especially those who are young, to ensure that after their ordination they continue their formation, persevere in their life of prayer, and are able to count on a spiritual guide, so that they are able to meet the challenges presented to them: for some, this means a certain isolation, for others, material poverty and the lack of resources, or worldly attractions. Contact with other religions is an important issue in many of your dioceses where there is an Islamic majority, in terms of mutual relations between different communities. I believe that it is important for the clergy to receive a formation to establish a constructive dialogue with Muslims, a dialogue that is increasingly necessary for peaceful coexistence. If we all, believers in God, wish to contribute to reconciliation, justice and peace, we need to work together to prevent all forms of discrimination, intolerance and religious fundamentalism”.

“More generally, it seems to me that it is important not to hesitate in occupying all the space that is yours in civil society. I know that you work tirelessly, in particular in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, for peace and reconciliation, and for this I rejoice. I urge you to maintain good relations with the political authorities in order to promote the official acknowledgement of Church structures, which will be of great help in facilitating evangelisation. Some of you, such as the bishops of Cape Verde, already benefit from the existence of a framework agreement between the State and the Holy See. Even where the Church is in a minority, or is completely at the margins of civil life, she is appreciated and recognised for her important contribution in the fields of human development, healthcare and education. I thank you for what you achieve in your dioceses, often due to the efforts of many religious congregations and laypeople”.

“Dear brothers”, the Pontiff concludes, “some of your Churches are small and fragile, but they are courageous and generous in the proclamation of faith and you are witnesses to their dynamism. I offer thanks to God for the wonders He performs through you, and likewise I thank again those who participate in our common task of evangelisation”.

The Pope deeply saddened by the traffic accident in Cartagena

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Bishop Jose Manuel Lorca Planes of Cartagena, Spain, upon hearing of the news of a serious road accident in the city of Cieza that has claimed many victims, including the young priest of Bullas, Rev. Fr. Miguel Conesa Andujar. Pope Francis, deeply saddened, raises fervent prayers to God for the eternal repose of the souls of the departed, for the full recovery of the injured, and for the consolation of those who have lost their loved ones.

“I urge the sons and daughters of these noble lands to find in faith the encouragement and the strength of spirit to overcome these painful circumstances, and impart to them the comfort of my apostolic blessing, as a sign of hope in the risen Christ”, he writes.

Angelus: by virtue of Baptism we are part of God's edifice

Vatican City, 9 November 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, explaining that today's liturgy recalls the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome, traditionally defined as the “mother of all the churches in the city and in the world”.

“The term 'mother' refers not only to the sacred building of the Basilica, but also to the work of the Holy Spirit, made manifest in this building and fruitful through the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, in all the communities in unity with the Church over whom He presides”, he explained. “Every time we celebrate the dedication of a church, an essential truth is recalled to us: the material temple made of bricks is a sign of the living Church at work in history, that 'spiritual temple' … of which Christ Himself is 'a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight'”.

In the Gospel of today's liturgy, Jesus speaks about the “temple”, revealing a surprising truth: the temple of God is not merely the edifice built of bricks, but it is His body, made up of living stones. “By virtue of Baptism, every Christian forms part of God's edifice, or rather, becomes the God's Church. The spiritual edifice, the Church that is the community of men and women sanctified by Christ's blood and the Spirit of the Risen Lord, asks each one of us to be consistent with the gift of faith and to take the path of Christian witness. … The Church, at the origin of her life and her mission in the world, was none other than a community constituted to confess faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God and Redeemer of humanity, a faith that works through charity. … Today, too, the Church is required to take her place in the world as a community that, rooted in Christ through Baptism, professes faith in Him with humility and courage, bearing witness to it through charity. In the same way, institutional elements, structures and pastoral entities must be ordered in accordance with this essential objective”.

“Today's celebration invites us to reflect on the communion of all the Churches, of this Christian community, and by analogy, it stimulates us to make efforts to enable humanity to overcome the barriers of enmity and indifference, to build bridges of understanding and dialogue, to make the entire world into a family of peoples, reconciled among themselves, fraternal and in solidarity”.

“We need bridges, not walls”, says Pope Francis on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Vatican City, 9 November 2014 (VIS) – After praying the Angelus, the Pope commented that 25 years ago today, on 8 November 1989, saw the fall of the Berlin Wall “which had long divided the city in two and was a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and the entire world. It took place suddenly, but it had been made possible by the long and tireless efforts of many people who fought, prayed and suffered for it; some of them even sacrificed their lives”. Among these people, St. John Paul II played a central role. Let us pray that, with the Lord's help and the collaboration of all persons of good will, a culture of encounter may become ever more widespread, able to bring down all the walls that continue to divide the world; and that innocent people will never more be persecuted and even killed for their beliefs and their religion. Where there is a wall, there is a closed heart. We need bridges, not walls!”

He added that today Italy holds a day of thanksgiving, the theme of which this year is “Feed the planet, energy for life”, and the Holy Father joined with the bishops in expressing his hope that renewed efforts might ensure “that no-one lacks the daily sustenance that God gives to all”. He added, “I assure my closeness to the world of agriculture, and urge you to cultivate the land in a sustainable and fair way. In this context, the Diocese of Rome is holding a day for the protection of the creation, the aim of which is to promote lifestyles based on respect for the environment, reaffirming the alliance between human beings, guardians of creation, and the Creator”.

The seminary, training in fraternity, prayer and mission

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – In the evening of Saturday 8 November Pope Francis sent a message to the 750 French seminarians gathered at the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France from 8 to 10 November, for the autumn Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of France. In the text, the Pope urges them to remember the three key words in their lives as seminarians: fraternity, prayer and mission.

In relation to fraternity, he emphasises that “the priestly mission cannot in any case be individual, and certainly not individualistic”; instead, together they should “bear witness to the love with which we recognise Jesus' disciples”. With regard to prayer, he remarks that “everything that you learn comes to life in prayer”, and recalls that Jesus Himself retired in silence and solitude to immerse himself in the mystery of His Father. “May your prayer be an appeal to the Spirit, Who builds the Church, leads the disciples and infuses with pastoral charity. … At the foundation of your formation there is the Word of God, that enters you, nourishes you, and enlightens you”, he writes, urging the seminarians to dedicate long periods each day to prayer, since “it is in prayer that you encounter the loving presence of the Lord and allow yourselves to be transformed by Him”.

Finally, in reference to mission, the Pope comments that it is “inseparable from prayer, as prayer opens you to the Spirit, and the Spirit guides you in mission”, and encourages them to prioritise, in their encounters with others, the most marginalised. He also urges them to entrust themselves to Mary and to allow themselves to be guided by her: “Mary accompanied Jesus in His mission. She was present at the Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and she maternally accompanied the first steps of the Church”.

Witness the Salesian charism of encounter, says Francis to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians

Vatican City, 8 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father received in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the theme of which is “With the young today: being a house that evangelises”. This theme, remarked Francis, fits well in today's social and ecclesial context, characterised by many forms of spiritual and material misery. “Indeed, today many suffer not only from poverty but also from a lack of love or relationships”. In this context, he added, “you are able to perceive above all the fragility of the young people to whom you dedicate yourselves with admirable commitment, in the style of Don Bosco and following in the footsteps of Mother Mazzarello”.

In the general chapter, various basic directions emerged for the life of each religious person and every community. First, there is “the commitment to being guided by the prospect of outreach, of setting out for the many geographically and existentially peripheral zones, with preferential attention to the poor and the different forms of exclusion. Then, there is the awareness of the need to put into effect appropriate itineraries of change and pastoral conversion, thus transforming your houses into places of evangelisation, where above all the young are involved in the same mission”.

“I can only encourage you to pursue with enthusiasm in this line of action that the Holy Spirit is suggesting to you. Open your hearts to welcome the … grace of God; broaden your outlook to recognise the truest needs and the urgency of a society and a generation in flux. Everywhere be prophetic witnesses and an educative presence, through an unconditional welcome to the young, facing intercultural challenges and identifying approaches to make your apostolic interventions effective in a context – that of youth – permeated by the virtual world and by new technologies, especially those of a digital nature”.

In order to do this, “it is necessary always to place Christ at the centre of your existence: it is necessary to allow yourselves to be formed by the Word of God, that enlightens, orientates and supports; it is necessary to nurture the missionary spirit with assiduous prayer”. At the same time, he added, the Daughters are called upon to “bear witness to an ideal of sisterly communion between you, with sentiments of mutual acceptance”, that must be accompanied by attentive formation, including timely studies of the human sciences that may help them in their mission. “Indeed, you are called upon to be able to listen with openness and understanding to those who turn to you for moral and human support, in order to inculturate the message of the Gospel. In this respect, the missio ad gentes offers you a vast field in which to give yourselves with love”.

Finally, the Pope urged the Daughters, who during the Chapter have also reflected extensively on their daily apostolic life, that places them in contract with the joys, expectations and sufferings of the people, to be “missionaries of joy, bearing witness to the values of your Salesian identity, especially in the category of encounter, a fundamental aspect of your charism. It is an ever fresh and vital source from which to draw the love that revitalises passion for God and for the young. May the inevitable difficulties you encounter along the way never dampen the enthusiasm of your apostolic action. May the example of St. John Bosco and St. Domenica Mazzarello encourage you to contribute even more enthusiastically to new evangelisation with your activities in the fields of education and school, catechesis and the formation of young people in the apostolate”.

The Pope to the Adult Scouts Movement: respecting nature and eliminating wastefulness

Vatican City, 8 November 2014 (VIS) – “Make way in the family, in creation, and in the city”, exhorted the Pope this morning as he received in audience seven thousand members of the adult Italian scouts, gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the foundation of this branch of the movement.

With regard to the first path to take, within the family, Francis remarked that this community of life and love is where every person learns how to relate to others and to the world and, “thanks to the foundations acquired in the family, is able to project him- or herself in society, and to frequent other formative environments, such as school, the parish or associations, in a positive way. Thus, in this integration of the bases assimilated in the family and 'external' experiences, we learn to find our way in the world. … For a movement such as yours, based on continuing education and on the choice to educate, it is important to reaffirm that education in the family constitutes a priority decision. … Dialogue between spouses, along with mutual listening and comparison, are elements essential for a family to be serene and fruitful”.

Turning to the second point, opening up a path in creation, the Holy Father reiterated that in our time “we cannot ignore the ecological question, which is vital for the survival of mankind, nor can we reduce it to a merely political issue: indeed, it has a moral dimension that affects all of us, and so no-one may choose to ignore it. As Christ's disciples, we have a further reason to unite with people of good will for the protection and defence of nature and the environment. Indeed, creation is a gift entrusted to us from the hands of the Creator. … This doctrine of our faith offers us an even stronger impetus towards a responsible and respectful relationship with creation: in inanimate nature, in plants and in animals we recognise the imprint of the Creator, and in our peers we see His likeness. Living in close contact with nature … does not only imply respect for it, but also commitment to contributing in a concrete way towards eliminating the wastefulness of a society that tends increasingly to discard goods that are still usable and could be donated to those in need”.

Finally, to lead the way in cities, it is important to bring the joy of Gospel values to the streets and quarters and to make a contribution to the common good, in a just and open dialogue on different social and cultural themes. “In a complex and multicultural society, we are able to offer witness, with simplicity and humility, to Jesus' love for every person, also experimenting with new paths of evangelisation, faithful to Christ and faithful to humanity. People often live in wearisome situations in cities, and at times risk becoming disorientated and losing the capacity to see the horizon, to feel God's presence. The true compass to offer to these brothers and sisters is a heart close by, a heart that is 'oriented', as it were, towards God”.

Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – On Friday, 7 November, the Holy Father Francis received in a private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he authorised the Congregation to promulgate decrees on the heroic virtues of the following Servants of God:

- Francisco Maximiano Valdes Subercaseaux, Chilean bishop of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (1908-1982);

- Ildebrando Gregori (ne Alfredo Antonio), Italian abbot general of the Sylvestrine Congregation of the Benedictine Order and founder of the Congregation of the Reparatrix Sisters of the Holy Face (1894-1985);

- Raimondo Calcagno, Italian priest of the Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri (1888-1964);

- John Sullivan, Irish professed priest of the Society of Jesus (1861-1933);

- Pelagio Sauter, German professed priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (1878-1961);

- Jeanne Mance, French laywoman and foundress of the Hotel-Dieu in Montreal (1606-1673);

- Marthe Robin, French laywoman and foundress of the Association Foyers de Charite (1902-1981);

- Silvio Dissegna, Italian child of the diocese of Turin (1967-1979).


Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- John Dramani Mahama, president of the Republic of Ghana, with his wife and entourage;

- Thirteen prelates of the Conference of Bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal;

- Bishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Kaolack, Senegal;

- Bishop Jean-Pierre Bassene of Kolda, Senegal;

- Bishop Ernest Sambou of Saint-Louis du Senegal, Senegal;

- Bishop Jean-Noel Diouf of Tambacounda, Senegal;

- Bishop Andre Gueye of Thies, Senegal;

- Bishop Paul Abel Mamba of Ziguinchor, Senegal;

- Bishop Ildo Augusto dos Santos Lopes Fortes of Mindelo, Cape Verde;

- Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Cape Verde;

- Bishop Martin Albert Happe of Nouakchott, Mauritania;

- Bishop Carlos Pedro Zilli of Bafata, Guinea-Bissau;

- Bishop Jose Camnate na Bissign of Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jose Lampra Ca.

- Malu Dreyer, minister-president of the Land Rhineland-Palatinate, with her husband and entourage.

On Saturday, 8 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

On the afternoon of Friday, 7 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints;

- Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, coadjutor of Merida-Badajoz, Spain.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of San Carlos de Venezuela, Venezuela, presented by Bishop Tomas Jesus Zarraga Colmenares, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed the following members of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA): Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.; Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia; Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

On Saturday, 8 November, the Holy Father appointed:

- Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, U.S.A., as patron of the Order of Malta. Cardinal Burke is currently prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

- Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, France, as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Mamberti is currently secretary for Relations with States;

- Rev. Chad Zielinski as bishop of Fairbanks (area 1,061,508, population 164,355, Catholics 13,939, priests 20, permanent deacons 25, religious 17), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 1986 and subsequently obtained a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master of divinity from the Sacred Heart major seminary in Detroit. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest of St. Philip Neri, Empire and of St. Rita and St. Joseph, Maple City. He is currently Air Force chaplain at the military based of Eielson, Fairbanks.
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