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Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pope reminds the Theological Commission of the importance of listening to the People of God

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received the members of the International Theological Commission (CIT), whose president is Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Commission was established shortly after Vatican Council II following the request by the Synod of Bishops in order to enable the Holy See to make more direct use of the reflection of theologians from various parts of the world. The mission of the Commission is therefore that of “examining doctrinal questions of major importance”, especially those that present new aspects and, in this way, of offering assistance to the Magisterium of the Church.

This mission, as Francis remarked, presupposes not only intellectual competences but also spiritual dispositions; among the latter, the Pope focused in particular on listening. He cited the passage from Ezekiel: “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you”, emphasising that “the theologian is, above all, a believer who listens to the living Word of God and welcomes it into his heart and mind … but he must also humbly listen to what the Spirit tells the Church through the different manifestations of faith lived by the People of God”.

Indeed, this activity is mentioned in the recent document of the Commission on “The sensus fide in the life of the Church”. The Pope continued, “Along with the Christian people, the theologian opens his eyes and ears to the signs of the times. He or she is required to “hear, distinguish and interpret the many voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set forth to greater advantage”.

In this light, the Pope expressed his satisfaction at the increasingly diverse composition of the Commission, in particular the presence of women, “a presence that is an invitation to reflect on the role that women can and should occupy in the field of theology”, and the contribution that they bring to “the intelligence of faith”.

Another aspect of the Commission is its international character, which reflects “the Catholicity of the Church”. Therefore, “the diversity of points of view must enrich Catholicity without prejudice to unity”, since “the unity of Catholic theologians derives from their common reference to a single faith in Christ and is nurtured by the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit”. “Starting from this foundation in a healthy pluralism, various theological approaches, developed in different cultural contexts and using different methods, cannot ignore each other, but must enrich and correct each other in theological dialogue”.

The Holy Father commented that “the Virgin is a teacher of authentic theology” since, as a “privileged witness to the great events of salvation history”, she “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart”. “Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with all the resources of her female wisdom, she never ceased to further enter into 'all the truth'. Mary is therefore the icon of the Church who, anxiously awaiting her Lord, progresses day after day in the intelligence of faith, thanks to the patient work of theologians, male and female”.

The family, special home of solidarity

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – “The future of humanity depends upon the family, and it is therefore necessary to allow it to play its role”, writes the Pope in his message to the participants in the Festival of the Family, taking place in Riva del Garda, Italy, on the theme “The Life and Work Ecosystem”. “But”, he adds, “it is not enough to reiterate the importance of the family and to affirm its rights: it is necessary to consider how the tasks of the family and of society can be structured in real terms, especially with regard to the relationship between professional life and family life”.

The family has its own mission, in the service of its members, its development, and life; it has rights and therefore needs support and guarantees to be able to exercise them. On the other hand, the family also has a duty to society; it must offer its collaboration in the service of the community. It is a privileged environment for the harmonious practice of solidarity and subsidiarity, or rather a synergy between public and private, enterprise and families. Precisely on account of the effort and responsibility required to raise and educate children, families need appropriate assistance from public agencies and companies, in the context of mutual collaboration. The worrying demographic trend requires an extraordinary and courageous strategy, on the part of all interested parties, in favour of families. This may also give rise to an economic recovery for the country. In this regard, the crisis of unemployment, especially amongst the young, must be addressed and resolved”.

The Pope goes on to speak about policy in relation to families, the social and legal status of the family in general, the assistance that should be offered to those who are materially or morally disadvantaged, and the attention that should be given to female work. “We must ensure that women are not, for economic reasons, compelled to undertake too heavy a burden or accept excessive working hours, which are then added to all their responsibilities in housekeeping and raising children. But above all, it is necessary to recognise that women's work, at all levels of family life, also constitutes an unparalleled contribution to the family and the future of society”.

Pope's message to the Santa Marta Group in London against human trafficking

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – The Pope has sent a message to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and president of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales on the occasion of the Second Conference of the Santa Marta Group, taking place in London, United Kingdom, on 5 and 6 December.

The Santa Marta Group – whose name derives from the Holy Father's residence, where the members stayed during their first conference held in the Vatican last April – is composed of High Commissioners of international police forces and bishops from around the world who, along with members of civil society, are working together to prevent and eradicate human trafficking, and to help victims. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, London, and Cardinal Nichols are the co-presidents of the group.

Francis expressed his deep gratitude to all present for their resolve in combating this evil and for your commitment to carry on the work begun at the conference held in the Vatican in April of this year. “Your labours to promote ongoing dialogue on the legal remedies to human trafficking and on the essential care of those who suffer this enslavement are especially important because of the hidden nature of this crime. We must never forget, nor may we ignore, the suffering of so many men, women and children whose human dignity is violated through this exploitation”.

He went on to thank the Home Secretary of the British government, the Metropolitan Commissioner of Police, and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for organising the event and the delegates “who demonstrate anew their commitment by their participation in this initiative. In assuring you that the Church remains steadfast in her pledge to combat human trafficking and to care for victims of this scourge, I offer the promise of my prayers that Almighty God may bless and guide your efforts”.

Peace, central theme of the Advent sermons in the Redemptoris Mater chapel

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Redemptoris Mater chapel the Holy Father attended the first sermon of Advent, pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., preacher of the Papal Household. The theme was “Peace on earth to humanity, loved by the Lord”, based on the Gospel of St. Luke.

Peace, as Fr. Cantalamessa explained to L'Osservatore Romano, was selected as the theme in part due to its tragic current relevance and also to restore to the word the richness of its meaning as it is used in the Bible.

Today's sermon was dedicated to peace as a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ, for as the Preacher of the Papal Household remarked, “the Word of God teaches us that the primary and most important form of peace , is vertical – that is, between God and humanity”.

The sermon of 12 December will focus on peace as a task that requires work, with reference to the phrase from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers”. The third meditation will be on peace as a fruit of the Spirit, or rather the inner peace of the soul.

Fr. Lombardi's response to questions on Cardinal George Pell's article in “Catholic Herald”

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., today issued the following declaration in response to requests for clarification regarding an article by Cardinal George Pell published in the Catholic Herald.

“It should be observed that Cardinal Pell has not referred to illegal, illicit or poorly administered funds, but rather funds that do not appear on the official balance sheets of the Holy See or of Vatican City State, and which have become known to the Secretariat for the Economy during the current process of examination and revision of Vatican administration, to acquire a more comprehensive knowledge of the latter in view of the planned rationalisation. It is indeed a sign and result of constructive cooperation between the various Vatican institutions.

“Moreover, it was known and had been previously explained, also publicly by the Prefecture of Economic Affairs, that the consolidated balance sheets of the Holy See and Vatican City State, presented every year to the College of Cardinals, do not in any way encompass the totality of the numerous administrations under Vatican auspices, but only the main institutions of the Roman Curia and the State”.


Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations at Specialised Institutions in Geneva and at the World Trade Organisation; Holy See Representative at the International Organisation for Migration;

- Salvatore Martinez, president of Renewal in the Holy Spirit in Italy;

- Kiko Arguello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 5 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Joseph Obanyi Sagwe as bishop of Kakamega (area 3,517, population 2,744,000, Catholics 696,138, priests 92, religious 410), Kenya. The bishop-elect was born in Kebiro, Kenya in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He studied at the Pontifical Lateran University and has served as parish vicar and diocesan coordinator for pastoral ministry in the diocese of Kisii, Kenya. He is currently parish priest of the Cathedral and vicar general of the same diocese.

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