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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jews and Christians believe that God is revealed to man through His Word

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international congress promoted by the International Council of Christians and Jews, held in Rome from 28 June to 1 July on the theme “The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate: the past, present and future of relations between Jews and Christians”.

The Pope expressed his pleasure that this year's meeting is taking place in Rome, the city where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried – “for all Christians, both Apostles are an important point of reference: they are like 'pillars' of the Church” – and the home of the most ancient Jewish community in Western Europe, whose origins can be traced to the time of the Maccabees. “Christians and Jews therefore have lived together in Rome for almost two thousand years, even though their relations in the course of history have not been without difficulty”.

The development of authentic fraternal dialogue has been made possible since Vatican Council II, following the promulgation of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, “a document which represents a definitive 'yes' to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable 'no' to anti-Semitism”. He continued, “In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we are able to see the rich fruits which it has brought about and to gratefully appraise Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In this way, we can express our thanks to God for all the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding these past fifty years, as his Holy Spirit has accompanied our efforts in dialogue. Our fragmented humanity, mistrust and pride have been overcome thanks to the Spirit of Almighty God, in such a way that trust and fraternity between us have continued to grow. We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters. Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history. And he, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, always blesses our commitment to dialogue”.

“Christians, all Christians, have Jewish roots”, emphasised the Pope. “Because of this, since its inception, the International Council of Christians and Jews has welcomed the various Christian confessions. Each of them, in its own way, has drawn near to Judaism, which in its time, has been distinguished by diverse trends and sensibilities. The Christian confessions find their unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life, and Jews to the teaching of the Torah. This pattern of theological reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity arises precisely from Nostra Aetate, and upon this solid basis can be developed yet further”.

Pope Francis greets Benedict XVI before the Pope emeritus' two-week stay in Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – At around 10 a.m. this morning, Pope Francis visited Benedict XVI in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae ex-convent to greet him and to wish him a good stay in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope emeritus transferred this morning and will remain for two-weeks (he is expected to return on 14 July). The meeting lasted for around half an hour.

The Holy See Press Office announced that the Wednesday General Audiences will be suspended for the month of July and will resume in August in the Paul VI Hall. All other audiences will be suspended, with the exception of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal meeting in St. Peter's Square on 3 July. The morning Mass with groups of faithful in the Sanctae Marthae chapel will be suspended during the months of July and August, to resume at the beginning of September.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for July

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for July is: “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society”.

Programme of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today the programme was published for Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations on the occasion of his participation in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from 19 to 28 September.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 19 September and is expected to arrive at 4.05 p.m. in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. On Sunday 20 September he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic in the Palace of the Revolution. Later he will celebrate Vespers in the Cathedral with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, and will subsequently greet the young in the Fr. Felix Varela Cultural Centre.

On Monday 21 September, in the morning, he will transfer to Holguin where he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion and will bless the city from the Loma de la Cruz. He will then depart by air for Santiago, where he will meet with the bishops in St. Basil's Major Seminary. The day will conclude with the prayer to Our Lady of Charity with the bishops and the papal entourage in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago.

Tuesday 22 September will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago. The Pope will then meet families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion in Santiago and, after blessing the city, will depart by air for Washington D.C., U.S.A., where he will be received at the Andrews Air Force Base.

On Wednesday 23 September, there will be a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Pope will pronounce a discourse and pay a courtesy visit to the president of the United States. At 11 a.m., the Pope will meet with the bishops of the United States in St. Matthew's Cathedral. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass for the canonisation of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra.

On Thursday 24 September Pope Francis will visit and address the United States Congress. He will subsequently visit the charity centre of the St. Patrick's parish where he will meet a group of homeless people. In the afternoon he will transfer by air to New York, where at 6.45 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with priests and men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Friday 25 September will begin with an address by the Holy Father at the seat of the United Nations in New York and, at 11.30 a.m., he will participate in an interreligious meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial site. He will then visit the “Our Lady, Queen of Angels” school and meet with families of immigrants in Harlem. The day will conclude with Holy Mass in Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday 26 September, the Pope will travel by air to Philadelphia, where at 10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass with the bishops, clergy and men and women religious in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. In the afternoon he will participate in a meeting for religious freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in the Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

Sunday 27 September will begin with a meeting with the bishops invited to the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, after which the Pope will visit the detainees in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia. He will go on to celebrate the concluding Holy Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In the late afternoon, before the farewell ceremony, he will greet the organising committee, the volunteers and benefactors at the international airport of Philadelphia, from where he will depart on his return flight to Rome. The aircraft carrying the Holy Father is scheduled to land on Monday 28 September at 10 a.m.

The Pope to the new metropolitan archbishops

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father blessed the pallia destined for the archbishops appointed during the year. At Francis' behest, the pallium – the band of white wool adorned with black crosses symbolising the sheep placed on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd and worn by the Pope and the archbishops as a sign of communion – was not imposed by the bishop of Rome, but instead sent privately in order to be imposed at a later date by the apostolic nuncio in the country of origin, as a sign of synodality.

Following the blessing of the pallia, placed prior to the service below the altar of the Confession of the apostle Peter, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic celebration with the new metropolitan archbishops. As is customary on the solemnity of the patron saints of Rome, the Holy Mass was attended by a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, led by the metropolitan of Pergamo, Ioannis (Zizioulas), accompanied by the metropolitan of Silyvria, Maximo and Fr. Heikki Huttunen of the Orthodox Church of Finland.

In his homily, the full text of which is reproduced below, the Holy Father spoke about the courage of the apostles when the first Christian community was beset by persecution, and recalled that in our days too we are witnessing “atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible” persecutions, often “under the silent gaze of all”, and exhorted the metropolitan archbishops to “teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing, and offer witness by living”.

“The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison'.

“However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.

A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: 'Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church'. And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.

The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.

“The first reading continues: 'Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side … And the chains fell off his hands'.

Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel? An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation? Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, 'You are not alone'.

How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the 'maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognising Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door'.

No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children. Jesus asked himself: 'And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?'. In prayer, believers express their faith and their trust, and God reveals his closeness, also by giving us the angels, his messengers.

A call to faith: in the second reading Saint Paul writes to Timothy: 'But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully … So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom'. God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: 'The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want'.

How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: 'To him be glory for ever and ever'.

Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.

In the name of Christ, believers have raised the dead; they have healed the sick; they have loved their persecutors; they have shown how there is no power capable of defeating the one who has the power of faith!

A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God.

Paul writes in a moving way to Timothy: 'My son, I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing'.

A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'.

Dear Archbishops who today receive the Pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission. The Pallium is 'a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other Bishops of the world'.

Today, by these Pallia, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness. The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!

The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross. No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!

The Church wants you to be men of witness. St. Francis used to tell his brothers: 'Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!'. There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle! Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world. And this follows the example of Peter and Paul and so many other witnesses along the course of the Church’s history, witnesses who, yet belonging to different Christian confessions, have contributed to demonstrating and bringing growth to the one Body of Christ. I am pleased to emphasise this, and am always pleased to do so, in the presence of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by my beloved brother Bartholomew I.

This is not so straightforward: because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others.

Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!”

Angelus: the legacy of Sts Peter and Paul is a source of pride for Rome

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – At midday, after celebrating Holy Mass with the new metropolitan archbishops in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

“The solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated, as you know, by the universal Church, but it is lived with particular joy by the Church of Rome, as her foundations lie in their witness, sealed with blood. Rome nurtures a special affection and acknowledgement for these men of God, who came from a faraway and to announce, at the expense of their lives, the Gospel of Christ to Whom they were totally dedicated. The glorious legacy of these two apostles is a reason for spiritual pride for Rome and, at the same time, is a reminder to live Christian virtues and in particular faith and charity: faith in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, that Peter professed first and Paul announced to the people; and charity, which this Church is called upon to serve with a universal outlook”.

“In the Angelus prayer”, he explained, “we associate the memory of Saints Peter and Paul with that of Mary, the living image of the Church, Christ's spouse, whom the two Apostles made fruitful with their blood”. Peter personally knew Mary and, conversing with her, especially in the days preceding Pentecost, he was able to deepen his knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Paul, in announcing the fulfilment of the salvific plan 'in the fullness of time', does not neglect to mention the 'woman' to whom the Son of God was born in time. In the evangelisation of the two apostles here in Rome there are also the roots of the Romans' deep, centuries-long devotion to the Holy Virgin, invoked in particular as Salus Populi Romani. Mary, Peter and Paul: they are our travelling companions in our search for God, they are our guides on the path of faith and holiness; they drive us towards Jesus, to do all that He asks of us. Let us invoke their help, so that our heart may always be open to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit and encounter with our brothers”.

Francis asked all those present to pray in a special way for Rome, for its spiritual and material well-being, and that divine grace might support the Roman people to live Christian faith fully. After the Marian prayer he reminded those present of his upcoming apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July, and again asked the faithful to accompany him in prayer to Our Lady during the trip.

Angelus: faith is touching Jesus and receiving the grace that saves us

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – The resurrection of Christ that acts throughout history as the source of renewal and hope was the theme of the Pope's reflection during this Sunday's Angelus, in which which he commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, the awakening after death of the daughter of one of the heads of the synagogue, and the healing of the bleeding woman.

In the first passage, Jesus is called by the father of the dead child, says “Do not fear, only believe” and, entering the house, he orders her to rise. The child awakens and begins to walk. “Here we see Jesus' absolute power over physical death, that for Him is like a slumber from which one can reawaken”.

In the second reading, Jesus heals a woman who has suffered bleeding for two years, an illness that in the cultural context of the time would have rendered her “impure” and obliged her to avoid all human contact, “as if she were condemned to a civil death”, the Pope explained. “This anonymous woman, in the midst of the crowd following Jesus, says to herself, 'If I touch even his garments, I will be made well'. And so it was: the need to be freed drives her to boldness and her faith 'seizes', as it were, the cure. Those who believe touch Jesus and draw from Him the Grace that saves. It saves our spiritual life and it saves us from many problems”.

“These two episodes – healing and resurrection – have a sole centre: faith. The message is clear, and can be summarised in a question: do we believe that Jesus can heal us and reawaken us from death? All the Gospel is written in the light of this faith: Jesus is resurrected, he conquers death, and by this, his victory, we too will rise again. … Christ's Resurrection acts in history as a source of renewal and hope. Whoever is desperate and tired, unto death, if he trusts in Jesus and His love, may begin to live again. Also starting out on a new life, changing one's life, is a way of rising again, of resuscitating. Faith is a force of life that gives fullness to our humanity; and he or she who believes in Christ must recognise this so that it may promote life in every situation, and enable everyone, especially the weakest, to experience God's love that liberates and saves”.

“Let us ask the Lord, by the intercession of Our Lady, for the gift of strong and courageous faith, that drives us to spread hope and life among our brethren”, concluded the bishop of Rome.

The Pope's telegrams for the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent telegrams on behalf of the Holy Father to the representatives of the Holy See in France, Tunisia and Kuwait following the terrorist attacks on 26 June in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, Sousse and Kuwait City.

The Pope writes to the apostolic nuncio in France that he participates in prayer in the suffering of the family of the victim of the attack in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, and with the wounded and their relatives. He repeats his condemnation of “violence that gives rise to so much suffering”, invokes the Lord's gift of peace, and blesses the afflicted families and all the French people.

In his telegram to the apostolic nuncio in Tunisia, Francis expresses his heartfelt condolences to the Tunisian people and in particular to the families of the deceased following the attack in Sousse. Again condemning violence, he asks God to welcome the souls of the departed in His light, and blesses the injured, their loved ones and all Tunisian citizens.

In his third telegram, the Holy Father declares his sadness at the tragic loss of life and injuries caused by the attack on a mosque in Kuwait City, and offers his prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn. Deploring these acts of barbarism, he reaffirms his spiritual closeness to all the families affected and to the Kuwaiti people, encouraging them not to lose heart in the face of evil, and invokes upon the nation the consoling and healing love of the Almighty.

The Pope institutes the Secretariat for Communication

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the apostolic letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by which the Holy Father has instituted the Secretariat for Communication:

“The current communications context, characterised by the presence and development of digital media, and by factors of convergence and interactivity, requires a re-evaluation of the information system of the Holy See and commitment to reorganisation that, taking into consideration what has developed historically within the communication structures of the Apostolic See, proceeds decisively towards integration and unified management.

For these reasons, I consider that all those bodies that have until now been occupied in different ways with communication be brought together in a new dicastery of the Roman Curia, which will be entitled Secretariat for Communication. In this way the communication system of the Holy See will be able to respond better to the needs of the Church's mission.

Therefore, after having examined reports and studies, received the feasibility study and heard the unanimous opinion of the Council of Cardinals, I hereby institute the Secretariat for Communication and establish the following.

Art. 1
The following bodies will merge into the dicastery, as presented by the Commission for Vatican Media instituted on 30 April 2015, at the established times: Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service; Vatican Radio; Vatican Television Centre; L'Osservatore Romano; Vatican Typography; Photographic Service; Vatican Publishing House.

Art. 2
These bodies, from the date of publication of the present Motu Proprio, will continue to carry out their activities, in accordance, however, with indications given by the Secretariat for Communication.

Art. 3
The new dicastery, in agreement with the Secretariat of State, will take on the institutional web site of the Holy See: www.vatican.va and the Twitter service of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex

Art. 4
The Secretariat for Communication will begin its functions on 29 June 2015, and will be based provisionally in Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia 3, 00120 Vatican City.

I order that all that I have set forth in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio is to be fully observed, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, albeit deserving of special mention, and I hereby decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and subsequently in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on 27 June of the year 2015, third of my Pontificate”.

The Holy Father, following the Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, “The current communications context” of 27 June 2015, by which he instituted the Secretariat for Communication, appointed:

- Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre, as prefect of the Secretariat for Communication;

- Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, as secretary;

- Paolo Nusiner, director general of Avvenire, Nuova Editoriale Italiana, as director general; and

- Giacomo Ghisani, head of the Office for International Relations and Legal Affairs of Vatican Radio and member of the managing board of the Vatican Television Centre, as deputy director general.

Francis receives a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is present in Rome for the customary visit on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome, bearing witness to the profound relationship between the two Churches foreshadowed by the bond uniting their respective patrons, the apostles Peter and Andrew, “brothers in blood and faith, united in apostolic service and martyrdom”, as Pope Francis affirmed.

A Holy See delegation reciprocates every year with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey on 30 November, St. Andrew's Day, and the Holy Father recalled the warm welcome he received on this occasion last year from Patriarch Bartholomew and the clergy and faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ecumenical prayer on the vigil of the feast, and then the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, offered us the possibility of together praising the Lord and asking him with one voice for that day to draw nearer when full, visible communion between Orthodox and Catholics may be re-established”, he said.

“Attaining that goal, towards which we have set out together in trust, represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God”, he added. “I hope, therefore, that opportunities may increase for meeting each other, for exchange and cooperation among Catholic and Orthodox faithful, in such a way that as we deepen our knowledge and esteem for one another, we may be able to overcome any prejudice and misunderstanding that may remain as a result of our long separation. It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist”. In this regard, Francis reiterated his support for the valuable work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, emphasising that the problems that may arise during the course of theological dialogue must not lead to discouragement or resignation. “The careful examination of how in the Church the principle of synodality and the service of the one who presides are articulated, will make a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches”.

The Pope gave the assurance of his prayers and those of many Catholics for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, and asked in turn for prayers for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church dedicated to the family, to be held in the Vatican this coming October, “at which we are looking forward also to the participation of a fraternal delegate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.

Pope's video message on the eve of his trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a video message, transmitted simultaneously in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, for his upcoming apostolic trip to the three Latin American countries from 5 to 12 July. The following is the full text of the message:

“The trip is almost upon us. With this greeting I would like to express my closeness, my cordiality, and my good will. My desire is to be with you, to share your concerns, to show my affection and nearness and also to celebrate with you.

I would like to be a witness to this joy of the Gospel and to bring the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to his children who are most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, those who are victims of this culture of waste. The Father's love, so merciful, enables us without measure to discover the face of His Son Jesus in every brother and every sister of ours, in our neighbour. It is necessary only to be near, to make ourselves neighbours. As Jesus said to that young doctor of the law when he asked Him, who is my neighbour? Do as the good Samaritan did, go and do the same, do not walk on by.

On this trip I will visit three sister nations in these lands of the American continent. The faith we all share is a source of fraternity and solidarity: it builds peoples, forms a family of families, fosters harmony and encourages the desire for and commitment to peace.

In these days before our meeting, I thank God for you, and ask you to be steadfast in your faith that carries the flame of love and charity, and to hold fast to the hope that never disappoints. I ask you to join your prayers with mine, so that the announcement of the Gospel reaches the most remote peripheries, and that the values of the Kingdom of God may continue to be a leaven for the earth in our days too.

May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of America, protect you, and may the Lord bless you. Thank you, we will see each other soon, and please, do not forget to pray for me”.

Cardinal Vlk, Pope's special envoy to the commemoration of Jan Hus

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 9 April 2015, the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague, Czech Republic, as his special envoy to the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, to be held in Prague on 5 and 6 July 2015.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of: Rev. Michael Nimeeek, episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry, and Miroslav Simaeek, archdeacon of the parish of Usti. nadLabem and canon of the Chapter of the St. Stephen's Cathedral, at Litomerice.

The Catholic Church in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – As previously announced, the Pope will make an apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July. The following are some statistics regarding the presence of the Catholic Church in the three countries:

Ecuador has a surface area of 283,561 square kilometres and 15,775,000 inhabitants of whom 13,978,000 are Catholics (87.4%). The Church consists of 25 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 1,250 parishes and 4.369 pastoral centres, with 52 bishops, 2,198 priests, 973 seminarians, 5,261 men and women religious and 49,489 catechists. The Church runs 1,469 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 173 hospitals and clinics, 56 rest homes and 167 orphanages or nurseries, 32 family support centres and 626 other social structures.

Bolivia has a surface area of 1,098,581 square kilometres and 11,280,000 inhabitants of whom 9,301,000 are Catholics (82.5%). The Church consists of 18 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 600 parishes and 210 pastoral centres, with 38 bishops, 1,208 priests, 599 seminarians, 2,869 men and women religious, and 17,768 catechists. The Church runs 1,791 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 183 hospitals and clinics, 48 rest homes and 186 orphanages and nurseries, 49 family support centres and 293 other social structures.

Paraguay has a surface area of 406,752 square kilometres and 6,783,000 inhabitants of whom 6,318,000 are Catholics (93.2%). The Church consists of 15 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 372 parishes and 1,451 pastoral centres, with 23 bishops, 804 priests, 684 seminarians, 180 men and women religious, and 53,738 catechists. The Church runs 684 schools and teaching institutes at all levels and 38 hospitals and clinics, 14 rest homes and 26 orphanages and nurseries, 56 family support centres, and 46 other social structures.


Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Jean-Claude Michel, ambassador of the Principality of Monaco, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday 27 June the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, U.S.A.

In the afternoon of Thursday 25 June the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, accompanied by the secretary of the same dicastery, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo;

- Archbishop Eduardo Eliseo Martin of Rosario, Argentina;

- Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta of Oran, Argentina.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg, presented by Bishop Pierre Farine, upon reaching the age limit.

On Saturday 27 June, the Holy Father appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada; Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Eritrea; and Archbishop Fulop Kocsis of Hajdugorog for Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Hungary.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Pope to the International Catholic Conference of Guiding: the education of women is vitally important

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) - “Education is the indispensable means for enabling girls to grow into active and responsible women, proud and happy in the faith in Christ they live in their everyday life. In this way they will participate in the construction of a world imbued with the Gospel”, said Pope Francis to delegates from the International Catholic Conference of Guiding (ICCG), whom he received in audience this morning, gathered in Rome on the fiftieth anniversary of the institution's foundation to analyse the theme: “Living as guides the joy of the Gospel”.

The ICCG unites national associations of Catholic guides and national interconfessional guiding organisations. Its aim is to help member associations to transform guiding into a genuine tool for education in faith and to make its pedagogical richness, formative activities and experience in interconfessional collaboration more widely known.

The Holy Father emphasised the excellence of the theme chosen for the meeting and the programme it has given rise to: “proclaiming to others, through the witness of our own life, that encountering Jesus frees us and heals us … opens us to other and drives us to announce him, especially to the poorest and most distant, the lonely and abandoned”.

He invited the delegates to be faithful to the principles of their movement and to establish a sincere dialogue with guides of different cultures and religions, with respect for the beliefs of each one, and serenely affirming their Catholic faith and identity. Pope Francis then went on to speak about his recent Encyclical “Laudato si'”, in which he states that education in ecology is essential to transform habits and ways of thinking so as to overcome the troubling challenges that face humanity in relation to the environment. “I think that the guiding movement, which in its educational method accords an important role to contact with nature, is particularly well-disposed to this”, he said. “I hope that guides will continue to be alert to the presence and the goodness of the Creator in the beauty of the world that surrounds them. This contemplative attitude will lead them to live in harmony with themselves, with others and with God. It is a new way of life, more coherent with the Gospel, that they will be able to transmit to others around them”.

Finally, the Pope reiterated the need to ensure that the importance of women is recognised, so that they take their rightful place both in the Church and in society. “Here too, the role of educational associations such as yours, that address young girls, is absolutely essential for the future, and your teaching must be clear on these issues. We are in a world where we see the spread of ideologies contrary to nature and God's design for the family and marriage. It is therefore a question not only of educating girls in the beauty and greatness of their vocation as women, in a just relationship recognising the difference between man and woman, but also to take on important responsibilities in the Church and in society. In some countries where women are still in a position of inferiority, or even exploited and mistreated, you certainly have a significant role to play in promotion and education. I ask you not to forget, in your pedagogic approach, the necessary and explicit openness to the possibility of a life consecrated to the Lord, an area in which the guiding movement has historically been fruitful”.

The Holy See and the State of Palestine sign a general Agreement

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, Friday 26 June, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Comprehensive Agreement was signed between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The accord follows on the Basic Agreement which was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on 15 February 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past years.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, signed on behalf of the Holy See and Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs, signed for the State of Palestine.

The following took part in the solemn act:
For the Holy See: Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio; His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins; Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States; Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., under-secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Mgr. Alberto Ortega, official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Mgr. Paolo Borgia, official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Fr. Oscar Marzo, O.F.M., member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

For the State of Palestine: Ramzi Khoury, advisor to the president and deputy head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Vera Baboun, mayor of Bethlehem; Moussa Abu Hadeed, mayor of Ramallah; Ammar Hijazi, deputy assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Azem Bishara, legal advisor of the PLO; Ammar Nisnas, counsellor of the diplomatic representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.

The Agreement is comprised of a preamble and 32 articles distributed in 8 chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region. It will come into effect when both Parties have notified each other in writing that the relevant constitutional or internal requirements have been met.

Agreement between the State of Palestine and the Holy See: look to the future without forgetting the past

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – The following is a summary of the content of the Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, based on the text provided by L'Osservatore Romano.

The Agreement has a specific nature that takes into account the legal and political situations that surround the conflict, and the rules that have gradually built up over the centuries. The Preamble, which refers to current international law, frames a series of key points: the self-determination of the Palestinian people; the objective of the two-state solution; the meaning, not only symbolic, of Jerusalem, in terms of its holy character for Jews, Christians and Muslims and its universal religious and cultural value as heritage for all humanity; and the Holy See's interests in the Holy Land. The two Parties, considering their mutual daily relations, indicate in the negotiated agreement a way of working, together and separately, not only in defining the condition of the Catholic Church in Palestine but also for the good of people and institutions. The Agreement is therefore an instrument for use in the process of attaining that “just and lasting” peace that may be the result only of an agreement between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. The idea that the future of the Holy Land rests in the hands of the actors present there is supported by the Holy See's wish to exercise her “educational, spiritual and moral mission”, but – with reference to and amplifying the formula of Article 24 of the Lateran Pact, the Holy See “shall take no part in any temporal rivalries between other States, nor in any international congresses called to settle such matters, save and except in the event of such parties making a mutual appeal to the pacific mission of the Holy See”.

Chapter 2 of the Agreement relates to the theme of freedom of worship and conscience, exploring its various dimensions and content, ranging from the civil effects of canonical marriage, the “customary facilities” for the different rites, respect for feast days and the right of Christians who work in public offices to be able comply with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, religious assistance for the armed forces and prisoners, and the right of parents to impart a “religious and moral” education to their children. The explicit acknowledgement of authentic conscientious objection as a practice consistent with the right of freedom of thought, belief and religion is notable for its current relevance.

The signing of the Agreement urges the Parties to look to the future without forgetting history and those events that, on political and legal levels, have outlined the condition, social fabric and normative order of Palestine, and within this, the action of the Church, as may be seen in the following chapters:

Chapter 3, recognising the legal personality and right to self-organisation of the Church, protects its internal order, the freedom to confer ecclesiastical office, and the exemption of clergy from obligatory personal service such as military service, etc. Confirmation is given of the competence, as stipulated by Palestinian law, of ecclesiastical tribunals to exercise civil jurisdiction. The issue, further clarified in chapter 4, also relates to matters such as marriage, filiation and adoption, following the personal status of Christians in the Holy Land.

Chapter 5, starting from the regime of the “Status Quo”, lists the nature and typology of the Holy Places. The concept of holiness – from which that of religious rights derives – is posited as the source of the obligation of the civil authorities to respect for the Holy Places the exclusive authority and canonical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, except in the case of joint actions to the contrary. The issue is linked to freedom of worship and the necessary guarantees for pilgrimages and structures offering hospitality to pilgrims.

Chapter 6 guarantees the Church's right to work in educational, social, charitable and communications sectors, and regulates the relationship with the Palestinian legal system. This is accompanied by general regulations on the freedom to receive funds and the discretion appropriate to ecclesiastical institutions with regard to their function and personnel.

Chapter 7 is dedicated entirely to Church property and the special fiscal regime applicable to them, inspired by functional criteria of non-liability, issues which due to their direct link to the local situation and legislation will be the object of further negotiations and agreements.

The participation of the Palestinian Catholic community in the lengthy negotiations, which began in a systematic fashion in 2010, gave the Agreement an added value. The local Church has been shown to be an effective agent, providing a valuable contribution not only towards the consolidation of the ecclesial reality, but also to the image of Palestine and the Holy Land as a whole.

Metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – Forty-six metropolitan archbishops have been nominated by the Holy Father to receive the pallium this year, imposed every 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica:

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne, Germany

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Valencia, Spain

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Archbishop Eduardo Eliseo Martin of Rosario, Argentina

Archbishop Florentino Galang Lavarias of San Fernando, Philippines

Archbishop Anthony Pappusamy of Madurai, India

Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens, Greece

Archbishop Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan

Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland

Archbishop Anthony Colin Fisher, O.P., of Sydney, Australia

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, U.S.A.

Archbishop Oscar Omar Aparicio Cespedes of Cochabamba, Bolivia

Archbishop Jose Antonio Fernandez Hurtado of Durango, Mexico

Archbishop Stane Zore, O.F.M., of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Archbishop Djalwana Laurent Lompo of Niamey, Niger

Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi of Foggia-Bovino, Italy

Archbishop Richard Daniel Alarcon Urrutia of Cuzco, Peru

Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaounde, Cameroon

Archbishop Edmundo Ponciano Valenzuela Mellid, S.D.B., of Asuncion, Paraguay

Archbishop Beatus Kinyaiya, O.F.M. Cap., of Dodoma, Tanzania

Archbishop Max Leroy Mesidor of Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Archbishop Kieran O'Reilley, S.M.A., of Cashel, Ireland

Archbishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Luanda, Angola

Archbishop Martin Musonde Kivuva of Mombasa, Kenya

Archbishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora of Zaragoza, Spain

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal

Archbishop Jose Antonio Peruzzo of Curitiba, Brazil

Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, M.C.C.J., of Asmara, Eritrea

Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, Germany

Archbishop Juan Nsue Edjang Maye of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

Archbishop Yustinus Harjosusanto, M.S.F., of Samarinda, Indonesia

Archbishop Freddy Antonio de Jesus Breton Martinez of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna of Malta, Malta

Archbishop David Macaire, O.P., of Fort-de-France, Martinique, France

Archbishop Alojzij Cvikl. S.J., of Maribor, Slovenia

Archbishop Fulop Kocsis of Hajdudorog for Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Hungary

Archbishop John Charles Wester of Santa Fe, U.S.A.

Archbishop Denis Grondin of Rimouski, Canada

Archbishop Francescantonio Nole, O.F.M. Conv., of Cosenza-Bisignano, Italy

Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta of Merida-Badajoz, Spain

Archbishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega of Yucatan, Mexico

Archbishop-elect Erio Castellucci of Modena-Nonantola, Italy

Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, Germany

Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas, S.J., of Kaunas, Lithuania

Archbishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Gandhinagar, India.


Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Peter Sutherland, president of the “International Catholic Migration Commission”;

- Georgios Papadopoulos, ambassador of Greece to the Holy See, on his farewell visit;

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Francisco Antonio Nieto Sua of San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia, as bishop of Engativa (area 133, population 2,000,000, Catholics 1,533,932, priests 116, permanent deacons 34, religious 407), Colombia.

- Msgr. Juan Carlos Cardenas Toro as auxiliary of Cali (area 2,504, population 2,854,000, Catholics 2,425,000, priests 392, permanent deacons 17, religious 899), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Cartago, Colombia in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1997. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Cartago, including parish vicar, professor and spiritual director of the minor seminary, parish priest, rector of the “Divino Ecce Homo” Shrine in Ricaurte, formator, bursar and spiritual director of the major seminary, and diocesan delegate for social communications. He has also served as sub director for the national secretariat for social pastoral ministry and coordinator of the pastoral centre for social evangelisation of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia. He is currently adjunct secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia.


Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – We inform our readers that no Vatican Information Service Bulletin will be transmitted on Monday 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, and a holiday in the Vatican. Service will resume on Tuesday 30 June.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Pope receives B'nai B'rith International and recalls the work of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II to promote friendship between Jews and Christians

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from B'nai B'rith International (“Children of the Covenant”), a Jewish non-governmental organisation of a philanthropic nature founded in 1843, which opposes anti-Semitism in all its forms and promotes human rights, was received in audience by Pope Francis this morning. B'nai B'rith established contacts with the Holy See following the promulgation of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate which, as the Holy Father mentioned, “constituted a milestone on the path of mutual knowledge and esteem between Jews and Catholics, based on the great spiritual patrimony that, thanks be to God, we share in common”.

During the last fifty years of regular dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism, great steps have been taken in fostering mutual trust and appreciation. “Respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity unite us for the development of society and for securing a future rich in hope for generations to come. In a particular way, we are called to pray and work together for peace. Unfortunately, there are many countries and regions of the world that live in situations of conflict – I think in particular of the Holy Land and the Middle East – and that require a courageous commitment to peace, which is not only to be longed for, but sought after and built up patiently and tenaciously by everyone, especially believers”.

Francis recalled with profound gratitude all those who have worked to promote friendship between Jews and Catholics, and mentioned St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II in particular. “The first saved many Jews during the Second World War, he met with them numerous times, and greatly desired a conciliar document on this theme. Regarding St. John Paul II, his various historical gestures remain very much alive in our memories, such as his visit to Auschwitz and to the Great Synagogue of Rome. With the help of God, I wish to walk in their footsteps, encouraged too by the many beautiful encounters and friendships I enjoyed in Buenos Aires”, the Pope concluded.

To future Papal representatives: be custodians of truth, not state functionaries

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) - “The mission you will one day be called to carry out will take you all over the world. In Europe, which needs to be reawakened; in Africa, which thirsts for reconciliation; in Latin America, which hungers for nourishment and inwardness; in North America, intent on rediscovering the roots of an identity that does not define itself in terms of exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity for transformation in diaspora and by dialogue with the immensity of ancestral cultures”. With these words, Pope Francis received in audience the students who are about to complete their studies in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Holy See institution charged with the formation of the diplomats who will work in the nunciatures and the Secretary of State.

In his address, the Holy Father highlighted various aspects of the path ahead of them, starting with their mission. “You are preparing to represent the Holy See in the Community of Nations and in the local Churches you are destined for. The Holy See is the see of the bishop of Rome, of the Church that presides in charity, that is based not on vain pride but rather on the daily courage of the condescension or abasement of her Master. The true authority of the Church of Rome is Christ's charity. This is the sole force that renders her universal and credible for man and for the world: this is the heart of her truth, that does not erect walls of division and exclusion, but instead forms bridges to build up communion and to recall the unity of humanity; this is her secret strength, that feeds her tenacious hope, invincible despite momentary defeats. It is not possible to represent someone without reflecting their features, without evoking their face. Jesus said, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father'. You are not called to be the high functionaries of a State ... welcome in worldly salons, but rather the guardians of a truth that supports those who offer it, and not the opposite. It is important that you do not let yourselves be depleted by continual transfers; instead, it is necessary to cultivate deep roots, to protect the memory of why you embarked on this path, and not to be hollowed out by cynicism nor to lose sight of the face of He Who is at the origin of your journey”.

Likewise, he reiterated that the Academy specifically aims to prepare future diplomats to consider the realities they will encounter and to love them, even with their limitations. “You prepare, indeed, to become 'bridges', pacifying and facing with prayer and in spiritual battle the tendency to regard oneself as above others, the assumed superiority of view that impedes access to the substance of reality, the claim of already knowing enough. To do this it is necessary not to transpose into the field in which you work your own patterns of understanding, your own cultural parameters, your own ecclesial background”.

“The service to which you have been called requires you to protect the freedom of the Holy See, which so as not to betray her mission before God and for the true good of mankind cannot be imprisoned by the logic of cartels, taken hostage by the accounting division of factions, accept the division among consuls, submit to political powers and to be colonised by the current dominant streams of thought or the illusory hegemony of the mainstream. You are called to seek, in the Churches and in the populations among whom you live, and whom you serve, the good that must be encouraged. To best fulfil this mission it is necessary to set aside the attitude of the judge and to don the robes of the pedagogue, of one who is able to release the potential for good that God does not fail to sow in the Churches”.

“I exhort you not to expect to find the terrain ready, but rather to have the courage to plough it with your hands, without tractors or other more effective means which we will never have at our disposal – to prepare it for sowing, awaiting the harvest with God's patience; a harvest of which you may not be the beneficiary. Do not fish in aquaria or farms, but instead have the courage to leave behind the safe margins of what is already known and to cast your nets and rods in less obvious seas”.

Telegram for the death of the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to the Patriarchal Synod of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, Beirut, for the sudden death of the Patriarch, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, at the age of 75.

The Pope expresses his heartfelt condolences to the faithful of the Patriarchate and recalls his close collaboration with the Patriarch, one of the most prominent consequences of which is the recent declaration of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church.

“I entrust to the merciful Father the soul of this devoted pastor who, as a priest dedicated himself tirelessly to the service of the communities for whom he was responsible, and later, as bishop, carried out his ministry with faith and zeal, first in Alexandria and then as Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I join in prayer with all those who are affected by his sudden passing and convey my apostolic blessing, in particular to the bishops of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, the family of the deceased and all those who are to attend his funeral”.

Presentation of the Eighth World Meeting of Families

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., from 22 to 27 September this year, on the theme “Love is our mission. The family fully alive”. The speakers were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia with his auxiliary, Bishop John J. McIntyre, and Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a couple from the same archdiocese, now married for fifty years.

Archbishop Paglia emphasised that the Meeting is a valuable opportunity to place the family at the centre of the Church and of civil society. “It is a duty”, he said, explaining that the meeting is about and for families, who are its protagonists and main recipients. “The family builds the Church and sustains society. … During the days of the conference, we will present the results of some international research that has scientifically studied this positive influence. The family constantly asks for help and support in the entire ecclesial community – and in the next few days I will write to all the monasteries of the world to ask them to accompany these very important days with their prayers – and from civil society as a whole, which cannot remain indifferent to such beauty and goodness that is so effective and so viable”.

The prelate went on to highlight the global nature of the event, and the hope that it will be seen and reported on worldwide. “The family is the heritage of all humanity, at every latitude, in every culture; it is blessed by all religions. That is why we wanted a significant presence of other Christian denominations and of major world religious traditions. … We are working so that delegations from around the globe and especially from the world's poorest local Churches will be present. Philadelphia will be a great worldwide celebration of families: in the spectacle, we will be able to get a glimpse, we will have to show the beauty and the possibility of all humanity becoming a single family of peoples. It is the dream of peace; it is God's dream”.

This universality will be enshrined in the final gesture of the meeting: the archbishop revealed that at the end of Mass on Sunday, 27 September, Pope Francis will give the Gospel of Luke, “the Good News of God's mercy, which is Jesus, to families from big cities on the five continents: Kinshasa, Africa; Havana, America; Hanoi, Asia; Sydney, Australia; and Marseilles, Europe. This is a symbolic gesture that will announce the sending of a million copies of this book to the five cities involved. We want the Gospel of Mercy to be announced in the great cities of the world so that they may build bonds of love between them, in the Church and in society”.

The archbishop of Philadelphia gave some data on the Meeting, which more than a million people are expected to attend, and from which representatives of more than a hundred nations have registered. So far 6,100 volunteers have offered assistance of various types and the event organisers intend to make more than 5,000 buses available. More than 1,600 people have signed up to the “Host a Family” programme.

For more information on the events linked to the meeting, see http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/


Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Fra' Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and entourage;

- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;

- Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho, Peru, president of the Episcopal Conference of Peru, with:

- Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, vice president;

- Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, vice president; and

- Msgr. Fortunato Pablo Urcey, prelate of Chota, general secretary.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Autlan, Mexico, presented by Bishop Gonzalo Galvan Castillo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Bishop Uriah Ashley of Penonome, Panama, as auxiliary of Panama (area 13,275, population 1,769,000, Catholics 1,675,000, priests 149, permanent deacons 56, religious 377), Panama.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

General audience: the wounds of the family

Vatican City, 24 June 2015 (VIS) – Following his recent catechesis on external threats to the family, such as poverty and illness, during today's general audience the Pope spoke about those wounds that are produced as a result of family cohabitation.

In all families there are moments of discord, but when harmful words, acts and indifference are ignored, they can be aggravated and transformed into arrogance, hostility and contempt, which can become deep lacerations, dividing husband and wife and inducing them to seek understanding, support and consolation elsewhere. “But often, these forms of support do not think of the good of the family. … And frequently the effects of separation have an impact on the children”.

“But do we still know what a wound to the soul is? Do we feel the weight of the mountain that crushes the soul of a child, in families in which the members treat each other badly and harm each other, to the point of breaking the bonds of conjugal trust?” asked the Pope. … When adults lose their head … when the father and mother harm each other, the soul of the child suffers greatly, feeling a sense of desperation. And they are wounds that leave a lifelong mark”.

“In the family, everything is interconnected: when its soul is wounded at some point, the infection spreads throughout. … Husband and wife are one flesh”, emphasised the Pope, “But their creatures are flesh of their flesh. If we think of the severity with which Jesus warns adults not to offend the little ones, we can also better understand his word on the grave responsibility of safeguarding the conjugal bond that is at the origin of the human family. When a man and a woman become one flesh, all the wounds and neglect of the father and mother are brought to bear on the living flesh of the children”.

The Holy Father also spoke about those cases in which separation is inevitable or indeed morally necessary “to remove the weaker spouse, or young children, from the wounds caused by arrogance and violence, debasement and exploitation, estrangement and indifference”.

However, he said, there is no lack of those who, thanks to God, “supported by faith and love for their children, bear witness to their faithfulness in a bond in which they have believed, however impossible it may seem to revive it. Not all separated people have this vocation, though. Not all recognise, in their solitude, the Lord's call to them. We find many families in irregular situations around us. And this poses many questions: how can we help them? How can we accompany them? How can we accompany them so the children do not become hostages to their father or mother?”.

The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking the Lord for “great faith, to look upon reality through the eyes of God; and great charity, to be near to people with a merciful heart”.

The Pope receives the participants in the meeting for dialogue between Buddhists and Catholics

Vatican City, 24 June 2015 (VIS) – Before today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope received in the room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall the participants in the Meeting for Dialogue between Buddhists and Catholics of the United States on the theme “Suffering, liberation and fraternity”, organised by the Focolare Movement and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and inaugurated yesterday at Castel Gandolfo by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the dicastery.

The meeting, which ends on 27 June, has involved the participation of around fifty delegates from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, representing Catholics and Buddhist communities of different traditions. The Holy Father thanked them for their visit to the Vatican, “a visit that is close to my heart as it is a visit of fraternity, dialogue and friendship. These are things that do great good, that are healthy. In this historical moment, so scarred by wars and hatred, these small gestures are seeds of peace and fraternity. I thank you, and may the Lord bless you”.

Pope's Message for the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches

Vatican City, 24 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a message to the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. The text was read by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, during a commemorative congress held at the Centro Pro Unione in Rome.

Francis writes that this occasion offers “a moment to thank the Lord for all that the ecumenical movement has achieved since its beginning over one hundred years ago, inspired by a longing for the unity which Christ intended for his body, the Church, and by an emerging sense of sorrow for the scandal of division between Christians”.

Since its inauguration in 1965, the Joint Working Group has been active “not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid”. He added that the Joint Working Group “should not be an inward-looking forum”, but instead should increasingly become “a 'think tank', open to all the opportunities and challenges facing the Churches today in their mission of accompanying suffering humanity on the path to the Kingdom, by imbuing society and culture with Gospel truths and values”.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, continued the Pope, “I noted that realities are more important than ideas. The Joint Working Group must be oriented to addressing the real concerns of the Churches throughout the world. In this way, it will be better suited to proposing collaborative steps that not only draw the Churches closer together, but also ensure that they offer an effective diakonia suited to the people's needs”.

In fulfilling this task, “the Joint Working Group distinguishes itself by its own character and aims. The nine reports produced thus far bear witness to the growing understanding and appreciation of the bonds of brotherhood and reconciliation which, in the context of the changing landscape of Christianity in the modern world, sustain Christians in their common witness and evangelising mission. We must recognise, though, that in spite of the many ecumenical achievements of the past half century, Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions. Disagreements on various subjects – in particular anthropological, ethical and social issues, as well as issues related to the understanding of the nature and conditions of the unity we seek – demand further sustained efforts. Our dialogue must continue”.

The Pope concluded his message by encouraging the Group to further its discussion on crucial ecumenical issues and to promote ways for Christians to testify together to the real, though imperfect, communion shared by all the baptised. “May we always trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to assist and guide our journey, often in new and sometimes unexpected ways”, exclaimed Francis.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 24 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Rafael Biernaski, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Curitiba, Brazil, as bishop of Blumenau (area 3,835, population 671,282, Catholics 460,056, priests 67, permanent deacons 53, religious 79), Brazil.

- Bishop Joao Santos Cardoso of Sao Raimundo Nonato, Brazil, as bishop of Bom Jesus da Lapa (area 56,300, population 403,000, Catholics 321,000, priests 33, religious 52), Brazil.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Presentation of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod: “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world”

Vatican City, 23 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Instrumentum Laboris of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world” (4-25 October 2015). The speakers were: Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops; Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, general rapporteur of the 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy, special secretary of the 14th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The Instrumentum Laboris, explained Cardinal Baldisseri, is divided into three parts following the structure of the Relatio Synodi, demonstrating the close link between the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, dedicated to “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”, and the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly. The first part, entitled “Listening to the challenges of the family”, relates most directly to last year's Synod, while the second, “Discernment of the family vocation”, and third, “The mission of the family today”, introduce the theme of the next one.

The cardinal highlighted certain novelties in the first part, which refer principally to the anthropological-cultural, socio-economic and ecological contexts, “now happily enlightened by the new Encyclical letter Laudato si'”. The challenges, he explained, are “poverty and social exclusion, old age, widowhood, bereavement in the family, disability, migration, the role of women, emotional life and education in sexuality, and bioethics”.

In the second part, “Discernment of the family vocation”, the Relatio Synodi is enriched with an extension of the themes regarding natural marriage and sacramental fullness, indissolubility as a gift and a duty, family life, union and fruitfulness, the missionary dimension, faith, prayer, catechesis, the intimate bond between Church and family, the young and fear of marriage, and mercy.

The third part, devoted to “The mission of the family today”, begins with a broad-ranging reflection on the family and evangelisation, and explores in depth a number of other issues such as the family as subject of pastoral ministry, nuptial liturgy, renewed language and missionary openness.

The general secretary of the Synod of Bishops noted that it makes reference to “the family and ecclesial accompaniment, the streamlining of procedures for causes for annulment, the integration of faithful in irregular situations, the eventual introduction of a penitential route, the pastoral problems regarding mixed marriages and disparities of worship, as well as questions related to responsible procreation, reduction of births, adoption and fostering, respect for life from conception to natural end, and education of future generations.

“The reference to the economic hardship experienced by many families, who run the risk of being subject to usury, is very relevant”, he added, “as is the socio-political commitment of Christians in favour of the family, also in the international context. In this regard, it would be useful to re-propose the Charter for the Rights of the Family, linked to the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man”.

Cardinal Baldisseri illustrated the work of the Secretariat of the Synod Council between one assembly and another, which began in November 2014 with the presentation of the “Lineamenta”, composed of the Relatio Synodi and a series of 46 questions relating to the reception and deepening of this Synod document. The “Lineamenta” was sent to the synods of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, to the Episcopal Conferences, to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and others, with an invitation to respond by 15 April 2015. The Secretariat General received 99 answers from the competent bodies, along with 359 observations sent freely from dioceses, parishes, ecclesial associations, grass-roots groups of faithful, civil movements and organisations, etc. The inter-synodal period has thus been shown to be “a valuable opportunity for listening to what the Spirit says to the Church in the plurality of her components”.

Finally, with regard to the methodology of the upcoming General Assembly, it was mentioned that it is Ordinary and not Extraordinary like the previous one and, in accordance with the suggestions of the members of the Synod, “it will continue with the project of the development of the Synod taking a dynamic approach more suited to our times”.

The Synod fathers reiterated the need to avoid a “long series of individual interventions, as has happened in previous Synod assemblies, to ensure that they are better distributed in the time available and not presented one after another. The importance of the Circuli Minores was noted, as was the need to maintain the principle of thematic order. Thus, the three weeks of the Synod will be divided in correspondence with the three parts of the Instrumentum Laboris. The first week will be devoted to the first part of the document, the second to the discernment of the family vocation, and the third to the mission of the family today. “At the end of the third week, time will be set aside for the preparation of the final text of the document, which will be presented to the Assembly for the final modifications, to be inserted into the text before its final approval. The method will ensure the opportunity to intervene on the part of all those entitled to do so, including at the end of the day, and will enable more time to be assigned to the Circuli Minores. It is expected that a final document will be produced and consigned to the Holy Father”.

With regard to information during the Synod Assembly, the cardinal mentioned the Holy Father's affirmation that “the Synod is a space in which the Holy Spirit can act, not parliament. The Synod Fathers are invited to express themselves with parrhesia. They will be free to communicate with the media at their discretion and with responsibility”.

Annual meeting of the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation

Vatican City, 23 June 2015 (VIS) The management board of the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation for Latin America will hold its annual council meeting from 22 to 25 June in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to discuss the funding of projects in favour of indigenous mestizo, Afro-American and rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean during the year 2015. Over one hundred projects were presented this year.

Since its institution by St. John Paul II in 1992, the Foundation was entrusted to the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and the members of its management board are the archbishops Edmundo Luis Flavio Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, Bolivia, president; Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil, Ecuador, deputy president; Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, cardinal archbishop of Santo Domingo; Oscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio, Colombia; Murilo Sebastiao Ramos Krieger of Sao Salvador de Bahia, Brazil; Javier Augusto Del Rio Alba of Arequipa, Peru; and Msgr. Segundo Tajado Munoz, under secretary of “Cor Unum”.

The meeting provided an opportunity to study the most effective methods of implementing the Foundation's mandate, especially in favour of Indios, peasant farmers and Afro-American communities. Indeed, the Encyclical “Laudato si'”, while aimed at encouraging a more responsible attitude to the defence of creation, also proposes a model for the full development of the person, within the framework of human ecology, or rather in rapport with the surrounding environment. The Foundation works in this way and evaluates projects that are, in particular, able to link human development with the natural environment of the territories in which they are to be realised.

So far more than four thousand projects have been implemented by the Foundation, with a total of more than 35 million dollars assigned to them. They typically promote the participation of local communities and involve different sectors: agriculture and livestock farming, craft and micro-businesses, infrastructure for drinking water, education and school equipment, health, and construction, among others.

The Italian Episcopal Conference is among the major contributors to the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation.

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