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Monday, November 17, 2014

International interreligious colloquium on complementarity, foundation of marriage and the family

Vatican City, 17 November 2014 (VIS) – “Complementarity is a valuable word, with multiple meanings. It may refer to different situations in which one element completes another or compensates for a lack. However, complementarity is much more than this”, said the Pope this morning to the participants in the international interreligious colloquium on complementarity between man and woman, organised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in collaboration with the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Interreligious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity.

He continued, “This complementarity is the foundation of marriage and the family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our gifts and those of others, and where we begin to learn the art of living together. For most of us, the family constitutes the principal environment in which we begin to 'breathe' values and ideals, as well as to realise our potential for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families may be the locus of tensions: between selfishness and altruism, reason and passion, between immediate desires and long-term aims.

The Pontiff spoke about the crisis that currently affects marriage and the family, and recalled that in the throwaway culture in which we live, increasing numbers of people reject the public commitment of marriage. “This revolution in habits and morality has often flown the flag of freedom, but in reality it has led to spiritual and material devastation for countless human beings, especially the most vulnerable. Evidence is mounting that the decline of the culture of marriage is associated with an increase in poverty and a series of other social ills that disproportionately affect women, children and the elderly”. Similarly, he explained that the crisis in the family has given rise to a crisis in human ecology, “as social environments, like natural environments, need to be protected”, and he emphasised the need to promote a “new human ecology”.

It is important, he added, to promote the fundamental pillars that support a nation: its immaterial goods. “The family remains the foundation of coexistence and the guarantee against social fracture. Children have the right to grow up in a family, with a father and a mother, able to create an environment suitable for their development and their emotional maturation. … The young represent the future: it is important that they are not left to be swept up by this damaging mentality of the temporary, and that they are revolutionary for their courage to seek a strong and lasting love”.

The Holy Father concluded by expressing his hope that this colloquium may be “a source of inspiration for all those who seek to support and strengthen the union between man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful asset for people, families, communities and society”, and confirmed his intention to attend the next World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., in September 2015.

To the bishops of Zambia: evangelise cultures to inculturate the Gospel

Vatican City, 17 November 2014 (VIS) – The fruits of the labour of missionaries, attention to the family, guidance of the young, care for AIDS sufferers and the need to collaborate with political leaders for the common good are the central points of the written discourse that Pope Francis handed to the bishops of the Zambia Episcopal Conference whom he received in audience this morning at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit.

The Pope recalls the “rich deposit of faith” brought to Zambia by missionary religious, remarking that “despite the sometimes painful meeting of ancient ways with the new hope that Christ the Lord brings to all cultures, the word of faith took deep root”. The “plentiful spiritual harvest is evident in the many Catholic-run clinics, hospitals and schools, and parishes throughout Zambia, a wide diversity of lay ministries, and substantial numbers of vocations to the priesthood in a society that has been transformed by Christian values.

The great challenges that pastors face in this moment relate in particular to the family, since, as the prelates affirmed in their meeting with the Pontiff, “many, especially the poor in their struggle for survival, are led astray by empty promises in false teachings that seem to offer quick relief in times of desperation”. Therefore, Francis urges the bishops, alongside their priests, to form solid Christian families through catechesis, who “will know, understand and love the truths of the faith more deeply”, and “affirm Catholic couples in their desire for fidelity in their conjugal life and in their yearning to provide a stable spiritual home for their children”. He also urged them to be close to the young “as they seek to establish and articulate their identity in a disorienting age”. He adds, “Help them to find their purpose in the challenge and joy of co-creation with God that is the vocation to married life … or in the vocations to the priesthood or religious life, which the Church has been given for the salvation of souls”.

“In a special way, invite those who have grown lukewarm and feel lost to return to the full practice of the faith. As pastors of the flock, do not forget to seek out the weakest members of Zambian society, among whom are the materially poor and those afflicted with AIDS; for the great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith; they need God and we must not fail to offer them His friendship, His blessing, His word, the celebration of the Sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith”.

“Never tire of being kind and firm fathers to your priests, helping them resist materialism and the standards of the world, while recognising their just needs. Continue also to promote the treasure of religious life in your dioceses. … In this challenging time after the death of President Sata, I invite you to continue working with your political leaders for the common good, deepening your prophetic witness in defence of the poor in order to uplift the lives of the weak”, concludes Francis, reminding the prelates that “the Church’s mission to evangelise never ends: 'it is imperative to evangelise cultures in order to inculturate the Gospel... Each culture and social group needs purification and growth'”.

Angelus: Jesus does not ask us to conserve talents in a safe

Vatican City, 16 November 2014 (VIS) – At midday, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father commented on this Sunday's Gospel reading, the parable of the talents in which a man, before departing on a trip, entrusts to three servants his wealth in talents, coins of great value, asking that they make the fortune fruitful. The first two servants doubled the wealth, but the third, for fear of losing his portion, hid it in a hole. Upon his return, the master asks for the accounts and, while he rewards the first two, punishes the third.

Francis explains that the master in the parable is Jesus, we are the servants, and the talents are the patrimony that the Lord entrusts to us. “The patrimony of His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, his forgiveness … in summary, many things, his most precious goods. Not just to guard them, but to make them grow. While in common usage the term 'talent' refers to a marked individual quality, such as talent in music, in sport, and so on, in the parable the talents represent the gifts of the Lord. … The hole that the 'wicked and lazy' servant digs in the ground indicates the fear of risk that obstructs creativity and the fruitfulness of love. … Jesus does not ask us to preserve his grace in a safe … but instead wants us to put it to the good of others. All the gifts that we have received are to be given to others, and in this way they grow. … And as for us, what have we done with them? Who have we 'infected' with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbour? … Any environment, even the most distant and impracticable, may become a place where the talents may bear fruit. There are no situations or places that are precluded from Christian presence and witness. The testimony that Jesus asks of us is not closed, it is open, and it depends on us”.

The parable of the talents “urges us not to hide our faith and our belonging to Christ, not to bury the Word of the Gospel, but to make it circulate in our life … as a power that disrupts and renews. The same is true of forgiveness, that the Lord gives us especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; let us not keep it closed up in ourselves, but instead let it break down the walls that our selfishness has built up, and take the first step in reactivating paralysed relationships, resuming dialogue where there is no longer communication”. Pope Francis encouraged those present to re-read the parable in the Gospel of St. Matthew to reflect on how we use or hide the talents we receive.

“Also, the Lord does not give everyone the same things, or in the same way: he knows us personally and entrusts what it right for us, but there is one thing that is the same in everyone: the same, immense trust. God trusts us, God has hope in us. Let us not disappoint Him! Let us not be deceived by fear, but rather reciprocate trust with trust”.

Immigrants and citizens: do not yield to the temptation of confrontation

Vatican City, 16 November 2014 (VIS) – After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about the tensions that have emerged during recent days between residents and immigrants in various areas of Rome.

“These are events that have occurred in various European cities, especially in outlying areas where other hardships are experienced. I invite all institutions, at all levels, to consider as a priority what now constitutes a social emergency and which, if not faced as soon as possible and in an appropriate manner, risks degenerating further. The Christian community makes concrete efforts to ensure that encounter takes the place of confrontation. Citizens and immigrants, with representatives of institutions, can meet, even in a room in the parish, and speak together about the situation. The important thing is not to yield to the temptation of confrontation, rejecting every form of violence. It is possible to engage in dialogue, to listen, to plan together and, in this way, overcome suspicion and prejudice, and to build a safer, more peaceful and inclusive co-existence”.

He also remarked that today is World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims. “Let us remember in prayer those who have lost their lives in these circumstances”. He concluded, “I hope for constant efforts in the prevention of road accidents, as well as prudence and respect for traffic laws by drivers”.

Francis receives Catholic doctors: no life is qualitatively more significant than another

Vatican City, 15 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience six thousand doctors, members of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors, on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of its foundation. In his address, he commented that “the conquests of science and medicine can contribute to the improvement of human life, provided that they do not drift away from the ethical root of such disciplines”.

“Attention to human life, especially when it is most in difficulty, in the case of the sick, the elderly, and children, profoundly involves the mission of the Church. She is also called upon to participate in the debate on human life, presenting her outlook based on the Gospel. In many contexts, quality of life is linked predominantly to economic conditions, 'well-being', beauty and the pleasure of life in a physical sense, forgetting other deeper dimensions – relational, spiritual and religious – of existence. In reality, in the light of faith and good reason, human life is always sacred and always 'of quality'. There does not exist a human life that is more sacred than another, just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another, simply on the basis of greater means, rights, and economic and social opportunities”, emphasised the Holy Father.

Therefore, he continued, the work of Catholic doctors must offer witness “by word and by deed that human life is always sacred, valid and inviolable, and as such must be loved, defended and cared for”. The profession of medicine, “enriched with the spirit of faith, is a further reason to collaborate with those – even of different religious beliefs or thought – who recognise the dignity of human beings as a criterion for their activity. Indeed, while the Hippocratic oath commits you to serving life, the Gospel leads you further – to love it always and anyway, especially when in need of particular care and attention”.

“Prevalent thought offers a 'false compassion': that which sees abortion as being in favour of women, procuring euthanasia as an act of dignity, and the 'production' of a child – considered as a right instead of being welcomed as a gift – as a scientific conquest, as well as using human lives as 'guinea pigs', presumably to save others. Instead, compassion based on the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that of the Good Samaritan, who 'sees', who 'has compassion', who approaches and offers concrete help”. The Pontiff concluded, “Your mission as doctors puts you in daily contact with many forms of suffering: I encourage you to take these on as 'good Samaritans', taking special care of the elderly, the sick and the disabled. Faithfulness to the Gospel of life and the response to it as a gift from God will at times require courageous, counter-current decisions that, in particular circumstances, may lead to conscientious objection, and to the many social consequences that such fidelity leads to. We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But it is a bad form of experimentation. … Playing with life … is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, Who created all things as they are”.

The Holy See at the United Nations: defending the civil population from remnants of war

Vatican City, 15 November 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva spoke on 10 November at the 8 th Conference of the States Party to Protocol V of the Convention on prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects (CCW). Protocol V stipulates the obligations and the best practices to defend the civil population against the dangers of explosive remnants of war and abandoned ordinances.

“For the sake of credibility and to keep the door open for negotiating and adopting other instruments in the future, it is incumbent upon all States parties to take seriously the implementation of this instrument in its preventative dimension as well as in its remedial dimension”, said Archbishop Tomasi in his English-language address. “The many conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, North Africa and Europe remind us of our responsibilities regarding explosive remnants of war and abandoned ordinances. Apart from the safety of civilians, we are witnessing national and regional destabilisation because of the lack of safety and security of stocks, that the international community is unable or not sufficiently prepared to prevent. … It is true that the primary responsibility lies with the affected State. But international cooperation is also an obligation. Almost all current conflicts involve national, regional and international actors, state actors and non-state actors. It must also be borne in mind that the majority of countries in conflict are developing countries which do not always have sufficient means to overcome the consequences of armed conflict on their soil”.

“The success of the partnership between States, international organisations and non-governmental organisations in several areas of disarmament is well established. CCW, including Protocol V, has always opened its door to the participation of civil society and its organisations. We all profit from the professionalism and expertise of these organisations. We believe they should continue to have a place and a voice in this sphere, and a role to play in international cooperation in the prevention and remedy of damages caused by explosive remnants of war”.

“Wars and armed conflicts are always a failure of politics and of humanity”, he concluded. “International humanitarian law should keep this essential human dimension to make coexistence possible nationally and internationally. When the international community fails to preserve peace, it should not accept a second failure. Protocol V is a modest attempt to prevent innocent people from becoming victims once the conflict is over. Compliance is not only a legal obligation. It is in the first place a moral duty towards the people and a political duty to restore peace”.

Cardinal Gracias, Pope's special envoy at the 500th anniversary of the evangelisation of Myanmar

Vatican City, 15 November 2014 (VIS) – In a letter made public today, written in Latin and dated 16 October, the Holy Father nominated Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, as his special envoy at the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of Myanmar, scheduled to take place in Yangon from 21-23 November 2014.

The pontifical mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Rev. Fr. Mariano Soe Naing, S.D.B., professor in the Theological Institute of the St. Joseph Major Seminary, Yangon, and Rev. Fr. Peter Sein Hlaing, O.O., lecturer at the same Institute.


Vatican City, 17 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has received in audience:

- Archbishop Ivan Jurkovie, apostolic nuncio in Russia and Uzbekistan;

- Mehmet Pagaci, new ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters;

- Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon, Korea;

- Maestro Daniel Baremboim and entourage;

- Eleven prelates of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, on their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama, apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis"of Mpika;

- Bishop Patrick Chisanga, O.F.M. Conv., of Mansa;

- Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu of Lusaka;

- Bishop George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu of Chipata, with his auxiliary, Bishop Benjamin Phiri;

- Bishop Clement Mulenga, S.D.B., of Kabwe;

- Bishop Raymond Mpezele of Livingstone;

- Bishop Evans Chinyama Chinyemba, O.M.I., of Mongu;

- Bishop Moses Hamungole of Monse;

- Bishop Alick Banda of Ndola;

- Bishop Charles Joseph Sampa Kasonde of Solwezi.

On Saturday, 15 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;

- Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Canada, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, with the deputy president, Bishop David Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, and the deputy secretary, Bede Hubbard.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 17 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Rev. Fr. Cristobal Ascencio Garcia as bishop of Apatzingan (area 13,102, population 404,000, Catholics 373,000, priests 59, religious 126), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in El Josefino de Allende, Mexico in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1985. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of San Juan de los Lagos, including parish priest of the “Espiritu Santu” parish; prefect and subsequently rector of the major seminary, and judge in the ecclesiastical tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal. He is currently parish priest of the “San Francisco de Asis” parish in Tepatitlan di Morelos. He succeeds Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez, M.S.F., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Juan Carlos Ares as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires (area 203, population 2,944,000, Catholics 2,696,000, priests 782, permanent deacons 10, religious 1,951), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has served as parish priest of the “San Rafael” parish, chaplain of Scouts in Argentina for the Episcopal Vicariate Devoto, deputy director of the Schools Department of the archiepiscopate of Buenos Aires, and parish priest of “San Ramon Nonato”. He is currently parish priest of “Nuestra Senora de Balvanera”.

- appointed Rev. Martin Fassi as auxiliary of the diocese of San Isidro (area 1,379, population 1,178,000, Catholics 1,120,000, priests 138, permanent deacons 38, religious 203), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in San Isidro, Argentina in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He studied philosophy and theology in the San Agustin major seminary, San Isidro, and has served as formator of the regional seminary “Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion” in Resistencia, missionary in the diocese of Olguin, Cuba, and parish priest in the “Purisima Concepcion” parish of Pacheco. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of San Isidro.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, presented by Bishop Miguel Romano Gomez, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

On Saturday, 15 November, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Stephen Tjephe as bishop of the diocese of Loikaw (area 11,670, population 346,000, Catholics 74,868, priests 93, religious 235), Myanmar. Msgr. Tjephe is currently auxiliary of Liokaw and apostolic administrator “sede vacante ed ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the same diocese.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Francisco Javier Pistilli Scorzara, J. Sch., as bishop of Encarnacion (area 16,525, population 611,000, Catholics 502,000, priests 52, permanent deacons 1, religious 110), Paraguay. The bishop-elect was born in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1965, gave his religious vows in 1988 and was ordained a priest in 1997. He completed his studies at the theologate of the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers in Munster, Germany, and has served as parish vicar in the Nuestra Senora del Rosario parish in Luque, Asuncion; and master of novices in Tuparanda, San Lorenzo. He is currently regional superior of the Secular Institute of Schonstatt Fathers for Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Nigeria. He succeeds Bishop Ignacio Gogorza Izaguirre, S.C.I. Of Beth, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Encarnacion, Paraguay, presented by Bishop Claudio Silvero Acosta, S.C.I. Beth, upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Heinz Wilhem Steckling, O.M.I., as bishop of Ciudad del Este (area 29,562, population 795,000, Catholics 783,200, priests 111, permanent deacons 1, religious 198), Paraguay. The bishop-elect was born in Werl, Germany in 1947 and was ordained a priest in 1974. He holds a diploma in theology from the University of Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. He has served in as provincial of the vice provincia of Pilcomayo e Nord Argentina of the Oblate Missionaries and superior general of his congregation and is currently rector of the major seminary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Asuncion, Paraguay, and consultor for the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., as under secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Fr. Lorusso is currently consultor of the same dicastery, rector of the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, and lecturer in Law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome.
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