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Monday, January 12, 2015

The Pope addresses the Diplomatic Corps: peace must guide the destiny of peoples

Vatican City, 12 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father addressed members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the exchange of greetings that traditionally takes place at the beginning of the new year. Francis thanked the dean of the ambassadors, Jean-Claude Michel of Monaco, for the efforts made by the Corps in fostering, in a spirit of mutual collaboration, the relations between the states and international organisations they represent and the Holy See, and added that during the past year “these relations were consolidated by an increase in the presence of ambassadors resident in Rome and by the signing of new bilateral Accords, both general, like the one concluded last January with Cameroon, and specific, like those signed with Malta and Serbia”.

During his address to the diplomats, Pope Francis examined the international situation from the dual perspective of hope and peace and the aspect of rejection, both personal and social, “leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death”. The Pope mentioned a number of dramatic events, such as the massacre of over one hundred children in Pakistan, the confrontation in Ukraine, the continuing tension in the Middle East, the recent attacks in Paris, the violence against the population in Nigeria, and the civil conflicts in Libya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; he also emphasised the fact that wars often involve the widespread incidence of the horrendous crime of rape of women and girls. He also made reference to those afflicted by the Ebola virus, the problems faced by immigrants and refugees, and the lack of assistance for families. The Holy Father remarked that the overview should not however be dominated by pessimism, and he cited positive elements such as the resurgence of Albania, the results of ecumenical dialogue in Turkey, the expectations for Jordan and Lebanon, the decision of the U.S.A. and Cuba to break their mutual silence, the transformations in Burkina Faso, the efforts towards achieving stable peace in Colombia and Venezuela and the decision of the U.S.A. to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. He concluded by expressing his hope for the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the drafting of a new Climate Change Agreement over the coming year.

“I thank you for your presence at this traditional meeting, which allows me at the beginning of each new year to offer to you, your families, and the peoples you represent, my cordial greetings and best wishes. I am especially grateful to your Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the kind words which he addressed to me in the name of all, and I thank each of you for your constant dedication and efforts to foster, in a spirit of mutual cooperation, relations between the countries and international organisations which you represent and the Holy See. In the course of the past year too, these relations were consolidated by an increase in the presence of ambassadors resident in Rome and by the signing of new bilateral Accords, both general, like that concluded last January with Cameroon, and specific, like those signed with Malta and Serbia.

“Today I wish to repeat a word quite dear to us: peace! It comes to us from the angelic hosts who proclaimed it on Christmas night as a precious gift of God, while at the same time as a personal and social responsibility which calls for our commitment and concern. But together with peace, the image of the Christmas creche speaks to us another tragic reality: that of rejection. In some iconographic representations, both in the West and in the East – I think for example of the splendid Nativity icon of Andrej Rublev – the Child Jesus is shown not lying in a manger, but in a tomb. The image, which is meant to connect the two principal Christian feasts of Christmas and Easter, shows that the joyful acceptance of this new birth is inseparable from the entire drama of Jesus’ life, his humiliation and rejection, even to death on the cross.

“The Christmas stories themselves show us the hardened heart of a humanity which finds it difficult to accept the Child. From the very start, he is cast aside, left out in the cold, forced to be born in a stable since there was no room in the inn. If this is how the Son of God was treated, how much more so is it the case with so many of our brothers and sisters! Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will. This is the mindset which fosters that 'throwaway culture' which spares nothing and no one: nature, human beings, even God himself. It gives rise to a humanity filled with pain and constantly torn by tensions and conflicts of every sort.

“Emblematic of this, in the Gospel infancy narratives, is King Herod. Feeling his authority threatened by the Child Jesus, he orders all the children of Bethlehem to be killed. We think immediately of Pakistan, where a month ago, more than a hundred children were slaughtered with unspeakable brutality. To their families I wish to renew my personal condolences and the assurance of my continued prayers for the many innocents who lost their lives.

“The personal dimension of rejection is inevitably accompanied by a social dimension, a culture of rejection which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death. We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago. Other people 'are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects'. Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion. These are dangers which I pointed out in my recent Message for the World Day of Peace, which dealt with the issue of today’s multiple forms of enslavement. All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognising and doing good, of pursuing peace.

“It saddens us to see the tragic consequences of this mentality of rejection and this 'culture of enslavement' in the never-ending spread of conflicts. Like a true world war fought piecemeal, they affect, albeit in different forms and degrees of intensity, a number of areas in our world, beginning with nearby Ukraine, which has become a dramatic theatre of combat. It is my hope that through dialogue the efforts presently being made to end the hostilities will be consolidated, and that the parties involved will embark as quickly as possible, in a renewed spirit of respect for international law, upon the path of mutual trust and fraternal reconciliation, with the aim of bringing an end to the present crisis.

“My thoughts turn above all to the Middle East, beginning with the beloved land of Jesus which I had the joy of visiting last May, and for whose peace we constantly pray. We did this with extraordinary intensity, together with the then president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, inspired by a confident hope that negotiations between the two parties will once more resume, for the sake of ending violence and reaching a solution which can enable Palestinians and Israelis alike to live at last in peace within clearly established and internationally recognised borders, thus implementing the 'two state solution'.

“The Middle East is tragically embroiled in other conflicts which have lasted far too long, with chilling repercussions, due also to the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq. This phenomenon is a consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God. Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext. In the face of such unjust aggression, which also strikes Christians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region – the Yezidis for example – a unanimous response is needed, one which, within the framework of international law, can end the spread of acts of violence, restore harmony and heal the deep wounds which the ongoing conflicts have caused. Here, in your presence, I appeal to the entire international community, as I do to the respective governments involved, to take concrete steps to bring about peace and to protect all those who are victims of war and persecution, driven from their homes and their homeland. In a letter written shortly before Christmas, I sought to express my personal closeness and the promise of my prayers to all the Christian communities of the Middle East. Theirs is a precious testimony of faith and courage, for they play a fundamental role as artisans of peace, reconciliation and development in the civil societies of which they are a part. A Middle East without Christians would be a marred and mutilated Middle East! In urging the international community not to remain indifferent in the face of this situation, I express my hope that religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such acts of violence.

“Sadly, comparable acts of brutality, which not infrequently reap victims from among the poor and the most vulnerable, are found in other parts of the world as well. I think in particular of Nigeria where acts of violence continue to strike indiscriminately and there is a constant increase in the tragic phenomenon of kidnappings, often of young girls carried off to be made objects of trafficking. This is an abominable trade which must not continue! It is a scourge which needs to be eradicated, since it strikes all of us, from individual families to the entire international community.

“I also look with concern to the many civil conflicts taking place in other parts of Africa, beginning with Libya, ravaged by a drawn-out internecine war which has caused unspeakable suffering among its people, with grave repercussions for the delicate balances in the region. I think of the dramatic situation in the Central African Republic, in which, sad to say, the good will inspiring the efforts of those seeking to build a future of peace, security and prosperity, has encountered resistance and selfish partisan interests. These risk frustrating the hopes of a people which has endured so much and which now longs to shape its future in freedom. Of particular concern, too, is the situation in South Sudan and in some areas of Sudan, the Horn of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where civilian casualties are on the rise and thousands of persons, including many women and children, are being forced to flee and to endure conditions of extreme distress. I voice my hope for a common commitment on the part of individual governments and the international community to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defence of the transcendent dignity of the person.

“Nor can we overlook the fact that wars involve another horrendous crime, the crime of rape. This is a most grave offence against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit, resulting in a trauma hard to erase and with effects on society as well. Sadly, even apart from situations of war, all too many women even today are victims of violence.

“Every conflict and war is emblematic of the throwaway culture, since people’s lives are deliberately crushed by those in power. Yet that culture is also fuelled by more subtle and insidious forms of rejection. I think in the first place of the way the sick are treated; often they are cast aside and marginalised like the lepers in the Gospel. Among the lepers of our own day we can count the victims of the new and terrible outbreak of Ebola which, especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, has already taken over six thousand lives. Today I wish publicly to praise and thank those healthcare workers who, alongside men and women religious and volunteers, are caring in every way possible for the sick and their families, especially orphaned children. At the same time I renew my appeal to the entire international community to provide adequate humanitarian assistance to patients and to make concerted efforts to combat the disease.

“Together with lives thrown away because of war and disease, there are those of numerous refugees and displaced persons. Once again, the reality can be appreciated by reflecting on the childhood of Jesus, which sheds light on another form of the throwaway culture which harms relationships and causes the breakdown of society. Indeed, because of Herod’s brutality, the Holy Family was forced to flee to Egypt, and was only able to return several years later. One consequence of the situations of conflict just described is the flight of thousands of persons from their homeland. At times they leave not so much in search of a better future, but any future at all, since remaining at home can mean certain death. How many persons lose their lives during these cruel journeys, the victims of unscrupulous and greedy thugs? I raised this issue during my recent visit to the European Parliament, where I insisted that 'we cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery'. Then too there is the alarming fact that many immigrants, especially in the Americas, are unaccompanied children, all the more at risk and in need of greater care, attention and protection.

“Often coming without documents to strange lands whose language they do not speak, migrants find it difficult to be accepted and to find work. In addition to the uncertainties of their flight, they have to face the drama of rejection. A change of attitude is needed on our part, moving from indifference and fear to genuine acceptance of others. This of course calls for 'enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of… citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants'. I thank all those who, even at the cost of their lives, are working to assist refugees and immigrants, and I urge states and international organisations to make every effort to resolve these grave humanitarian problems and to provide the immigrants’ countries of origin with forms of aid which can help promote their social and political development and settle their internal conflicts, which are the chief cause of this phenomenon. 'We need to take action against the causes and not only the effects'. This will also enable immigrants to return at some point to their own country and to contribute to its growth and development.

“Together with immigrants, displaced people and refugees, there are many other 'hidden exiles' living in our homes and in our families. I think especially of the elderly, the handicapped and young people. The elderly encounter rejection when they are considered a 'burdensome presence', while the young are thrown away when they are denied concrete prospects of employment to build their future. Indeed, there is no poverty worse than that which takes away work and the dignity of work, or which turns work into a form of enslavement. This is what I sought to stress during my recent meeting with popular movements working to finding adequate solutions to some of today’s problems, including the scourge of rising unemployment among the young, illegal labour, and the dramatic situation of so many workers, especially children, who are exploited out of greed. All this is contrary to human dignity and the fruit of a mentality which is centred on money, benefits and economic profit, to the detriment of our fellow man.

“Then too, the family itself is not infrequently considered disposable, thanks to the spread of an individualistic and self-centred culture which severs human bonds and leads to a dramatic fall in birth rates, as well as legislation which benefits various forms of cohabitation rather than adequately supporting the family for the welfare of society as a whole.

“Among the causes of these realities is a model of globalisation which levels out differences and even discards cultures, cutting them off from those factors which shape each people’s identity and constitute a legacy essential to their sound social development. In a drab, anonymous world, it is easy to understand the difficulties and the discouragement felt by many people who have literally lost the sense of being alive. This tragic situation is aggravated by the continuing economic crisis, which fosters pessimism and social conflict. I have been able to see its effects here in Rome, where I meet many people in trying situations, and in the various journeys I have made in Italy.

“To the beloved Italian nation, then, I would like to express my hope that in the continuing climate of social, political and economic uncertainty the Italian people will not yield to apathy or dissension, but will rediscover those values of shared concern and solidarity which are at the basis of their culture and civic life, and are a reason for confidence both now and in the future, especially for the young.

“Speaking of the young, I wish to mention my journey to Korea, where last August I met thousands of young people assembled for the Sixth Asian Youth Day. There I spoke of the need to treasure our young, 'seeking to pass on the legacy of the past and to apply it to the challenges of the present'. This demands that we reflect on 'how well we are transmitting our values to the next generation and on the kind of world and society we are preparing to hand on to them'.

“This evening I will have the joy of setting off once more for Asia, to visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines as a sign of my interest and pastoral concern for the people of that vast continent. To them and to their governments I wish to voice yet again the desire of the Holy See to offer its own contribution of service to the common good, to harmony and social concord. In particular, I express my hope for a resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas, sister countries which speak the same language.

“Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, at the beginning of a new year, though, we do not wish our outlook to be dominated by pessimism, or the defects and deficiencies of the present time. We also want to thank God for the gifts and blessings he has bestowed upon us, for the occasions of dialogue and encounter which he has granted us, and for the fruits of peace which he has enabled us to savour.

“I experienced an eloquent sign that the culture of encounter is possible during my visit to Albania, a nation full of young people who represent hope for the future. Despite the painful events of its recent history, the country is marked by the 'peaceful coexistence and collaboration that exists among followers of different religions', in an atmosphere of respect and mutual trust between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims. This is an important sign that sincere faith in God makes one open to others, generates dialogue and works for the good, whereas violence is always the product of a falsification of religion, its use as a pretext for ideological schemes whose only goal is power over others. Similarly, in my recent journey to Turkey, a historic bridge between East and West, I was able to see the fruits of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, as well as efforts made to assist refugees from other countries of the Middle East. I also encountered this spirit of openness in Jordan, which I visited at the beginning of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and in the testimonies which come from Lebanon, a country which I pray will overcome its current political problems.

“One example close to my heart of how dialogue can build bridges comes from the recent decision of the United States of America and Cuba to end a lack of communication which has endured for more than half a century, and to initiate a rapprochement for the benefit of their respective citizens. Here I think too of the people of Burkina Faso, who are experiencing a period of significant political and institutional change, with the hope that a renewed spirit of cooperation will contribute to the growth of a more just and fraternal society. I also note with pleasure that last March an agreement was signed to end long years of tension in the Philippines. I wish to encourage the efforts made to ensure a stable peace in Colombia, as well as the initiatives taken to restore political and social harmony in Venezuela. At the same time, I express my hope that a definitive agreement may soon be reached between Iran and the 5+1 Group regarding the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and my appreciation of the efforts already made in this regard. I note with satisfaction the intention of the United States to close the Guantanamo detention facilities, while acknowledging the generous willingness of several countries to receive the detainees. I heartily thank those countries. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation and encouragement to those countries actively engaged in promoting human development, political stability and civil coexistence between their citizens.

“Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, on 6 August 1945, humanity witnessed one of the most horrendous catastrophes in its history. For the first time, in a new and unprecedented way, the world experienced the full potential of man’s destructive power. From the ashes of that immense tragedy which was the Second World War, there arose among the nations a new will for dialogue and encounter which inspired the United Nations Organisation, whose seventieth anniversary we will celebrate this year. In his visit to the UN headquarters fifty years ago, my predecessor, Pope Paul VI, noted that 'the blood of millions, countless unheard-of sufferings, useless massacres and frightening ruins have sanctioned the agreement that unites you with an oath that ought to change the future of the world: never again war, never again war! It is peace, peace, that has to guide the destiny of the nations of all mankind'.

“This is likewise my own hope-filled prayer for this new year, which, for that matter, will see the continuation of two significant processes: the drawing up of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, with the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals, and the drafting of a new Climate Change Agreement. The latter is urgently needed. The indispensable presupposition of all these is peace, which, even more than an end to all wars, is the fruit of heartfelt conversion. With these sentiments, I once more offer to each of you, to your families and your peoples, my prayerful good wishes that this new year of 2015 will be one of hope and peace”.

The Pope baptises thirty-three infants in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican City, 11 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Sistine Chapel the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic celebration during which he baptised thirty-three children of Vatican employees. In his homily, citing the first reading, the Pope remarked that the Lord is concerned for his children, like a parent, and therefore ensures they receive substantial nourishment. “God, like a good father or a good mother, wishes to give good things to his children. And what is this nourishment that God gives us? It is His Word”.

The Word “enables us to grow and to be fruitful in life, like the rain and the snow are good for the earth and make it fecund. Therefore you, parents and godparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, will help these children to grow well if you give them the Word of God, te Gospel of Jesus. And also offer this to them by example! Every day, get used to reading a passage from the Gospel, a short one, and always carry a copy of the Gospel in your pocket, in your bag, so you can read it. And this will be an example for your children – seeing their father, mother, godparents, grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles all reading the Word of God”.

“You, mothers, give you children milk – and even now, if they cry with hunger, feel free to feed them. Let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of milk and pray for those mothers – there are many, unfortunately – who are not able to give their children food to eat. Let us pray and try to help these mothers. So, what the milk does for the body, the Word of God does for the spirit: the Word of God enables faith to grow. As we heard in the words of the apostle John: 'Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God”. Your children are baptised in this faith. Today it is your faith, dear parents and godparents. It is the faith of the Church, in which these little ones will receive Baptism. But tomorrow, but the grace of God, it will be their faith, their personal 'yes' to Jesus Christ, who gives us the love of the Father”.

He continued, “Baptism brings us within the body of the Church, as part of God's holy people. And in this body, in this journeying people, faith is transmitted from generation to generation: it is the faith of the Church. It is the faith of Mary, our mother, the faith of St. Joseph, of St. Peter, of St. Andrew, of St. John, of the apostles and the martyrs, that has arrived with us through Baptism: a chain that transmits faith”.

“The candle of faith is passed from one hand to another”, explained the Pope, alluding to the Paschal candle that is lit during Baptismal rites and which represents Christ, resurrected and living in our midst. You, families, take from Him this light of faith to transmit to your children. You take this light from the Church, the body of Christ, the people of God that journeys through every time and every place. Teach your children that it is not possible to be Christian outside the Church, and it is not possible to follow Christ outside the Church, as the Church is our mother, and lets us grow in the love of Jesus Christ”.

Francis then turned to the final aspect to emerge from today's biblical readings: that in Baptism we are consecrated in the Holy Spirit. “The word 'Christian' means consecrated like Jesus, in the same Spirit in which Jesus was immersed in all his earthly existence. He is the 'Christ', the anointed, the consecrated, and the baptised are Christians, that is, consecrated, anointed. And therefore, dear parents and godparents, if you want your children to become true Christians, help them to grow 'immersed' in the Holy Spirit, that is, in the warmth of God's love, in the light of His Word”.

Angelus: deafness to the voice of the Holy Spirit leads to muteness in evangelisation

Vatican City, 11 January 2015 (VIS) – The feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes the season of the Nativity and the Pope, during the Angelus at midday today, commenting on the passage in the Gospel of St. Mark – when the heavens open at the moment at which John the Baptist baptises Jesus in the Jordan – affirmed that this event marks the end of “the time of the closed heavens, which indicated the separation of God and man as a consequence of sin”.

Sin “alienates us from God and ruptures the bond between earth and heaven, causing misery and failure in our lives. The open heavens indicate that God has given His grace so that the earth may bear His fruit. Thus the world transforms into God's dwelling amid humanity, and each one of us has the opportunity to meet the Son of God, experiencing all of His love and infinite mercy. We find Him truly present in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We are able to recognise Him in the face of our brothers, especially the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and refugees; they are the living flesh of the suffering Christ and the visible image of the invisible God”.

With the Baptism of Jesus, not only did the heavens open, but also “God speaks, making his voice resound anew: 'You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased'. … And then the Holy Spirit descends, in the form of a dove: this enables Christ, the consecrated of the Lord, to inaugurate His mission, which is our salvation”. The Holy Father remarked that the Holy Spirit is forgotten in our prayers: “We need to ask for His help, His strength, His inspiration. The Holy Spirit, that fully inspired the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit that today guides Christian existence, the existence of a man and a woman who say they wish to be Christians. Placing under the action of the Holy Spirit our life as Christians and the mission that we have all received by virtue of our Baptism means rediscovering the apostolic courage necessary to overcome easy worldly comforts. … A Christian or a community that is deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit, Who urges us to take the Gospel to the outermost limits of the world and of society, also becomes a mute Christian or community, unable to speak or to evangelise”.

“Remember to pray often that the Holy Spirit might help us and give us strength and inspiration, leading us forward”, concluded Pope Francis who, following the Angelus prayer, asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, especially those from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to pray for him during his apostolic trip to these two countries, to commence tomorrow.

Rebuilding the country means rebuilding the person: the Pope at the conference on Haiti

Vatican City, 10 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the conference “The communion of the Church: memory and hope for Haiti five years after the earthquake”, organised by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in collaboration with the bishops of Haiti. He began by thanking those who “in numerous ways came to the aid of the Haitian people following that tragedy which left in its wake so much death, destruction and desperation”. He emphasised that, “through the help given to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, we have shown that the Church is a great body, one in which the various members care for one another. It is in this communion, prompted by the Holy Spirit, that our charitable service finds its deepest motivation”.

“How much has been done toward rebuilding the country in these five years! Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that much remains to be done. All that has been done, and all that, with God’s help, will yet be done, rests on three solid pillars: the human person, ecclesial communion, and the local Church”, added the Pope, who went on to further explain these three pillars.

Firstly, “the person is at the centre of the Church’s activity. We have just celebrated Christmas, and it is precisely the Incarnation which tells us how important man is to God, who wished to assume our human nature. Our first concern must thus be that of helping everyone, each man and woman, to live fully as persons. There can be no true rebuilding of a country without also rebuilding each person in his or her totality. This means ensuring that the material needs of every person in Haiti be met, and that they be able to be free, to assume their responsibilities and to further their own spiritual and religious lives. The human person has a transcendent dimension, and the Church first of all cannot neglect this dimension, which finds its fulfilment in the encounter with God. Consequently, in this phase of reconstruction, humanitarian and pastoral activities are not in competition with one another, but rather are complementary: each needs the other, and together they help Haitians to be mature persons and Christians capable of devoting themselves to the good of their brothers and sisters”.

With regard to the second fundamental aspect, ecclesial communion, the Holy Father remarked that Haiti has seen “effective cooperation between many ecclesial institutions – dioceses, religious institutes, charitable organisations” alongside many laypersons, all of whom have carried out important charitable works. “This variety of agencies, and thus of ways of offering assistance and development, is a positive factor, since it is a sign of the vitality of the Church and of the generosity of so many. … But charity is even yet more authentic and more incisive when it is lived in communion. Communion shows that charity is not merely about helping others, but is a dimension that permeates the whole of life and breaks down all those barriers of individualism which prevent us from encountering one another. Charity is the inner life of the Church and is manifested in ecclesial communion. Communion between bishops and with bishops, who are the first ones responsible for the service of charity. Communion among the various charisms and charitable institutions, since none of us works for or by themselves, but rather in the name of Christ who has shown us the way of service. It would be a contradiction to live charity apart from one another! I invite you therefore to strengthen every possible means of working together. Ecclesial communion is reflected as well in collaboration with the civil authorities and international organisations, so that all may strive for authentic progress for the Haitian people, in the spirit of the common good”.

Finally, Pope Francis underlined the importance of the local Church, “because it is here that the Christian experience is made tangible. The Church in Haiti must become always more alive and fruitful, to witness to Christ and to make its contribution to the development of the nation”. In this regard, he encouraged the bishops of Haiti, all the priests and those engaged in pastoral work on the island to “inspire in the faithful renewed efforts in Christian formation and in joyful and fruitful evangelisation. The witness of evangelical charity is effective when it is sustained by a personal relationship with Jesus in prayer, in listening to the word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. This is the true 'strength' of the local Church”.

The Pope concluded by reiterating his heartfelt gratitude, and urging those present to continue along their path, assuring them of his prayers and his blessing.

Meeting of the presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences

Vatican City, 10 January 2015 (VIS) – The presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences and the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will meet from 13 to 15 January in Esztergom, Hungary.

By the Instruction of 23 February 1967, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on behalf of Blessed Pope Paul VI, had asked the Episcopal Conferences to institute an internal Doctrinal Commission, as a advisory organ for the same Episcopal Conferences and for the individual bishops in their concern for matters of doctrine of the faith.

To strengthen collaboration between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Doctrinal Commissions, in 1982 it was decided to periodically gather together the presidents of the aforementioned Commissions at a continental level. One of the original characteristics of these meetings was the fact that the superiors of the Congregation travel to the various continents, thus underlining the importance of local and regional issues and their responsibility in facing doctrinal questions. The first of these meetings, during the prefecture of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, took place in Latin America, in Bogota, (1984); it was followed by meetings in Kinshasa, Africa (1987); Vienna, Europa (1989); Hong Kong, Asia (1993); Guadalajara, Latin America (1996); and San Francisco, North America (1999). During the prefecture of Cardinal William Levada another encounter took place in Dar es Salaam (2009).

Now, Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and president of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE), has accepted the request made by Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a new meeting with the presidents of the European Doctrinal Commissions in Esztergom. Such an encounter demonstrates the will on the part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to support the local episcopates – as Pope Francis emphasises – in their commitment to the promotion and protection of the doctrine of the faith, taking into consideration the specific challenges to be faced in Europe today.

Note on security in the Vatican

Vatican City, 12 January 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave the following declaration to journalists today:

“Contrary to the claims made by some organs of the media, the Holy See has not been informed of specific risks by the security services of other Countries.

The Holy See maintains its usual, appropriate contacts with the security services, and in view of the current situation advises a reasonable level of attention and prudence, but concrete and specific risks have not been indicated.

There is therefore no reason to arouse concerns that may needlessly affect both those who live and work in the Vatican and the many pilgrims and tourists who visit on a daily basis”.


Vatican City, 10 January 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 12 January 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Fernand J. Cheri, O.F.M., as auxiliary of the archdiocese of New Orleans (area 10,898, population 1,238,228, Catholics 520,056, priests 352, permanent deacons 211, religious 664), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in New Orleans in 1952, was ordained a priest in 1978 and gave his solemn vows in 1996. He holds a master's degree in theology from Xavier University, New Orleans, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including administrator of the “St. Joseph the Worker” parish; parish priest of the “St. Francis de Sales” parish, New Orleans; administrator of the “St. Theresa of the Child Jesus” parish, New Orleans; chaplain and teacher at the “Hales Franciscan High School”, Chicago; parish priest of the “St. Vincent de Paul” parish, Nashville; teacher at the Althoff Catholic High School, Belleville; director of the O.F.M. Office of Friar Life, vocation minister of the O.F.M. Vocation Office and deputy director of the university chaplaincy of Xavier University, New Orleans. He is currently director of campus ministry at Quincy University, Quincy.

- Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, nunciature counsellor at the Holy See Permanent Mission at the United Nations, New York, as Holy See Permanent Representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), and as Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and at the United Nations in Vienna.

On Saturday, 10 January, the Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, military ordinary for Chile, as bishop of Osorno (area 9,236, population 241,000, Catholics 125,000, priests 204, permanent deacons 23, religious 97), Chile.

- Msgr. Nicolo Anselmi as auxiliary of the metropolitan archdiocese of Genoa (area 966, population 812,246, Catholics 690,409, priests 553, permanent deacons 31, religious 1,402), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Genoa, Italy in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology from the theological faculty of Genoa and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish vicar of the “Santi Pietro e Bernardo alla Foce” parish in Genoa, head of the youth pastoral service for the archdiocese of Genoa, regional head of youth pastoral care for the Liguria Episcopal Conference, administrator of the parish of “San Giovanni Bosco della Rimessa”, lecturer at the major seminary of Genoa and head of the national youth pastoral service. He is currently episcopal vicar for university, youth and sport pastoral ministry; director of the office for youth pastoral ministry; provost of the parish-basilica of Santa Maria delle Vigne; member of the presbyteral council and member of the college of consultors. In 2012 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.

- Bishop Guglielmo Borghetti of Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello, Italy, as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Albenga-Imperia (area 979, population 170,010, Catholics 157,000, priests 181, permanent deacons 22, religious 388), Italy.

- Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent as apostolic nuncio in Haiti. Archbishop Nugent was formerly apostolic nuncio in Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, and apostolic delegate in the Cormoros Islands, with the function of apostolic delegate in La Reunion, France.

In Memoriam

Vatican City, 12 January 2015 (VIS) – The following prelates died in recent months:

- Bishop Sofron Stefan Wasyl Mudry, O.S.B.M., emeritus of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, on 31 October 2014 at the age of 90.

- Bishop Alberto Johannes Först, O. Carm. emeritus of Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, on 1 November 2014 at the age of 87.

- Archbishop James Mwewa Spaita, emeritus of Kasama, Zambia, on 4 November 2014 at the age of 80.

- Archbishop Juan Antonio Flores Santana, emeritus of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, on 9 November 2014 at the age of 87.

- Bishop Caetano Antonio Lima dos Santos, O.F.M. Cap., emeritus of Ilheus, Bahia, Brazil, on 11 November 2014 at the age of 98.

- Bishop Henri Marie Raoul Brincard, C.R.S.A, of Le Puy-en-Velay, France, on 14 November 2014 at the age of 74.

- Bishop Javier Azagra Labiano, emeritus of Cartagena, Spain, on 16 November 2014 at the age of 91.

- Bishop Jeremiah Joseph Coffey, emeritus of Sale, Australia, on 19 November 2014 at the age of 81.

- Bishop Leonard James Olivier, S.V.D, auxiliary emeritus of Washington, U.S.A., on 19 November 2014 at the age of 91.

- Bishop Sebelio Peralta Alvarez, of San Lorenzo, Paraguay, on 19 November 2014 at the age of 75.

-Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers (for Health Care Pastoral), on 22 November 2014 at the age of 98.

- Bishop Joseph Francis Maguire, emeritus of Springfield, U.S.A., on 23 November 2014 at the age of 95.

- Archbishop Joseph Thomas Dimino, military ordinary emeritus of the U.S.A., on 25 November 2014 at the age of 91.

- Bishop Alfredo Ernest Novak, C.SS.R. emeritus of Paranagua, Brazil, on 3 December 2014, at the age of 84.

- Bishop Patrick Edward O’Connor, emeritus of Tokelau, New Zealand, on 3 December 2014, at the age of 82.

- Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, on 9 December 2014 at the age of 91.

- Bishop Georges Lagrange, emeritus of Gap, France, on 11 December 2014 at the age of 85.

- Bishop Anthony Edward Pevec, auxiliary emeritus of Cleveland, U.S.A., on 14 December 2014 at the age of 89.

- Bishop Stephen Hector Youssef Doueihi, emeritus of St. Maron of Brooklyn (Maronites), U.S.A., on 17 December 2014 at the age of 87.

- Bishop Claude Henri Edouard Frikart, C.I.M., auxiliary emeritus of Paris, France, on 18 December 2014, at the age of 92.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, S.J. secretary emeritus of la Congregation for Catholic Education, on 26 December 2014, at the age of 86.

- Bishop Gery-Jacques-Charles Leuliet, emeritus of Amiens, France, on 1 January 2015, at the age of 104.

- Archbishop Paulinus Costa, emeritus of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 3 January 2015 at the age of 78.

- Bishop Natalino Pescarolo, emeritus of Cuneo, Italy, on 4 January 2015 at the age of 85.

- Bishop Bernard Joseph McLaughlin, auxiliary emeritus of Buffalo, U.S.A., on 5 January 2015, at the age of 102.

- Bishop Joseph Djida, O.M.I., of Ngaoundere, Cameroon, on 6 January 2015 at the age of 69.
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