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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Audience with the President of Mozambique: Church's fundamental contribution to development

Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Mozambique were highlighted. In this context, reference was made to the fundamental contribution of the Catholic Church to the development of the country through her educational and healthcare institutions, and her important role in the promotion of peace and national reconciliation.

Finally, attention turned to various regional challenges, such as disarmament and the struggle against poverty and social inequality.

Francis receives the volunteers of the FOCSIV

Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – The image of a Church at work in the service of those in difficulty is promoted by the Federation of Christian Organisations for International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV), which seeks to combine the accumulated experience of its members with the dimension of voluntary service to the poor in the style of the good Samaritan and according to Gospel values. Starting from their Christian identity, they are “volunteers in the world”, offering many development projects to offer concrete responses to the “scandals” of hunger and war. Pope Francis emphasised these characteristics in his address to two thousand members of the federation in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall this morning.

“Your work alongside men and women in difficulty is a living announcement of the tenderness of Christ, Who walks alongside humanity in all times”, affirmed the Pope. “There is a great need to bear witness to the value of gratuity: the poor must not become an opportunity for profit! The face of poverty is changing nowadays, and there are those among the poor who are developing different expectations: they aspire to be protagonists, they are organised, and above all they practise that solidarity that exists between those who suffer, between those who are left behind. You are called upon to perceive these signs of the times and to become an instrument of service to assist in enabling leadership among the poor. Solidarity with the poor means thinking in terms of community, of the priority of the life of all above the appropriation of goods by the few. It also means combating the structural causes of poverty: inequality, unemployment and homelessness, and the denial of social and working rights. Solidarity is a way of making history with the poor, avoiding supposedly altruistic works that reduce others to passivity”.

Among the main causes of poverty, Francis did not neglect to mention the existence of an economic system that exploits natural resources. “I think in particular of deforestation, but also of environmental disasters and the loss of biodiversity. It is necessary to reaffirm that creation is not property from which we can derive pleasure and dispose of as we please, and much less the property of just a few. Creation is a marvellous gift that God has given us for us to take care of and use for the benefit of all, with respect. I therefore encourage you to continue in your commitment to ensuring that creation remains the patrimony of all, to be handed on in all its beauty to future generations”.

Many of the countries where the FOCSIV works are at war, and the Pope emphasised that working for the development of the people also means cooperating in building peace, “seeking with tenacious perseverance to disarm minds, to draw closer to people, to build bridges between cultures and religions. Faith will help you to do this even in the most difficult countries, where the spiral of violence no longer seems to leave space for reason. A sign of peace and hope is your activity in refugee camps, where you encounter desperate people, faces marked by abuse, children who hunger for food, freedom and a future. How many people in the world flee from the horrors of war! How many people are persecuted for their faith, forced to abandon their homes, their places of worship, their homelands, their loved ones! How many broken lives! How much suffering, how much destruction! Faced with all of this, a disciple of Christ cannot step or turn away, but instead seeks to take care of this suffering humanity with evangelical closeness and acceptance”.

The Pope reiterated his concerns for migrants and refugees, who “seek to flee from hard living conditions and dangers of every type”, and insisted on the need for collaboration between “institutions, NGOs and ecclesial communities, to promote itineraries of harmonious co-existence between different peoples and cultures. “Migratory movements require adequate forms of reception that do not leave migrants at the mercy of the sea and bands of unscrupulous traffickers. At the same time, there is a need for active collaboration between States to regulate and effectively manage such phenomena”.

Finally, Francis thanked the volunteers of the Federation who, for more than forty years, have shown themselves to be “true witnesses of charity, workers of peace, builders of justice and solidarity”, and, encouraging them to continue in their progress, he invited them to find time each day for a personal encounter with God in prayer. “It will be your strength in moments of greatest difficulty, disappointment, solitude and incomprehension”.

St. Peter's Square prepares for Christmas

Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – The 25 and a half metre-tall white fir tree that will decorate St. Peter's Square this Christmas arrived in the Vatican this morning. From Passo dell'Abbate, in the Italian province of Fabrizia, Calabria, its peculiar characteristic is its double or “twin” trunk: two trunks joined together as one.

The ceremony of the lighting of the tree will take place on 19 December at 4.30 p.m. and will coincide this year with the illumination and unveiling of the nativity scene. Entitled “Il Presepe in Opera” (“The Nativity Scene in Opera”) and composed of around 25 life-size terracotta statues, it is a gift from the “Verona for the Arena” Foundation and will be inspired by the operatic works for which the city is famed, with the intention of promoting Italian opera throughout the world. This also provides the basis for the title of the display, which is a play on the double meaning of the word “opera” in Italian: it is “at work”, in the sense that its message is universal and active, and also based on the material used to stage the operatic work “The Elixir of Love” by Gaetano Donizetti.


Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop emeritus of Turin;

- Archbishop Michael W. Banach, apostolic nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands;

- Archbishop Giovanni d'Aniello, apostolic nuncio in Brazil;

- Juan Pablo Cafiero, ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See, on his farewell visit.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Patrick Michael O'Regan as bishop of Sale (area 44,441, population 405,000, Catholics 120,340, priests 39, permanent deacons 5, religious 34), Australia. The bishop-elect was born in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He holds a licentiate in liturgy and sacramental theology from the Institut Catholique, Paris, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy parish priest in Lithgow, Cowra and Orange, vice dean of the Cathedral of Bathurst, parish priest in Wellington and Layney, diocesan administrator and chancellor of the diocese of Bathurst. He is currently dean of the Cathedral and vicar general of the same diocese.

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