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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Extraordinary Consistory opens in a spirit of collaboration

Vatican City, 12 February 2015 (VIS) – At 9 a.m. this morning, in the Vatican's Synod Hall, the Extraordinary Consistory of the College of Cardinals began, attended by the Holy Father and by those who will be created cardinals in next Saturday's consistory. The works will take place over two days, today and tomorrow, with sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Following the Terce prayer and greetings from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father Francis gave a brief address to those present. “Welcome to this communion, expressed in collegiality”, he began, thanking the Comission of the nine cardinals and its coordinator, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga and the secretary, Bishop Marcello Semeraro who presented a summary of the work carried out during these months in drafting the new Apostolic Constitution on the reform of the Curia. This summary, noted Pope Francis, “has been prepared on the basis of many suggestions, also on the part of the heads and officers of the dicasteries, alongside experts on the subject”.

“The aim is always that of promoting greater harmony in the work of the various dicasteries and offices, in order to achieve more effective collaboration in that absolute transparency that edifies authentic synodality and collegiality”, he continued, commenting that “reform is not an end in itself, but a way of giving strong Christian witness; to promote more effective evangelisation; to promote a fruitful ecumenical spirit; and to encourage a more constructive dialogue with all”.

“Reform, strongly advocated by the majority of cardinals in the context of the general congregations before the Conclave, must continue to enhance the identity of the Roman Curia itself, that is, that of assisting Peter's Successor in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the good and in the service of the universal Church and the particular Churches, in order to strengthen unity of faith and the communion of the people of God, and to promote the mission of the Church in the world”, continued the Pontiff.

“Certainly, reaching this objective is not easy: it requires time, determination and, above all, the collaboration of all. But to achieve this we must first of all trust in the Holy Spirit, Who is the true guide of the Church, imploring in prayer the gift of authentic discernment”, he concluded. “With this spirit of collaboration our meeting begins; it will be fruitful thanks to the contribution that each one of us is able to express with parrhesia, fidelity to the Magisterium and the awareness that all this contributes to the supreme law, that is, the 'salus animarum'. Thank you”.

Reform of the Curia, at the centre of the Extraordinary Consistory

Vatican City, 12 February 2015 (VIS) – A total of 165 cardinals participated in this morning's first session of the Extraordinary Consistory with the Holy Father. Twenty-five were unable to attend due to illness or other serious problems, according to a report from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., following the morning meeting.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga explained that the meeting of the Council of Cardinals (the so-called “C9”) which came to an end yesterday afternoon, focused primarily but not exclusively on the reform of the Curia; other themes addressed were the regulation of the Synod, the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, and relations with the economic entities of the Holy See (COSEA and IOR).

Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the C9, presented the main lines of reform of the Roman Curia, in the light of the meeting of heads of the dicasteries that took place in November 2014. The issues to be considered are the functions of the Roman Curia, its relationship with other entities such as the episcopal conferences, the criteria for rationalisation and simplification that must guide it in its tasks, the Secretariat of State, the coordination of the dicasteries of the Curia, the relationship between religious and laypersons and the procedures that must govern the preparation of the new constitution.

Reference was also made to the institution of two congregations. The first would encompass those organisms that until now have been concerned with the laity, the family and life. The second would deal with matters linked to charity, justice and peace. The collaboration of the Pontifical Councils and Academies dedicated to these themes could be strengthened.

Twelve prelates intervened during the morning session, observed Fr. Lombardi: mainly cardinals who have a profound knowledge of the workings of the Curia, although there have been contributions from a diverse range of contexts. It has been observed that reform is twofold, theological and juridical, and many of its assumptions relate to canon law and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well as relationships with the episcopates. It was also noted that the Pope is assisted not only by the Curia, but also by the College of Cardinals and the Synod of Bishops. In this regard, the themes of synodality and collegiality were discussed, and preference was expressed for the latter denomination rather than the former.

The issue of the ongoing training of staff of the Roman Curia was not overlooked, and consideration was given to the possibility of a rotation of duties to counteract routine. In this sector, both favourable and contrary opinions were expressed by the cardinals, who emphasised that some fields require a high level of specialisation and that for this reason, change would be inadvisable.

Children: a gift from God that opens up the future

Vatican City, 12 February 2015 (VIS) – The Pope held this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his catechesis, the Holy Father continued his reflections on the family, referring on this occasion to children as a gift from God to their parents and to society as a whole. “There is a close link between the hope of a people and harmony between the generations”, he said. “The joy of children makes their parents' hearts leap and opens up the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a matter of reproductive biology, or one of the many ways of producing them, much less their parents' possession. Children are a gift. They are a gift. Each one is unique and unrepeatable, and at the same time unmistakably linked to his or her roots. Indeed, to be a son or a daughter according to God's plan, means carrying in oneself the memory and hope of a love that has become tangible by kindling the life of another human being, original and new. And for parents each child is him- or herself, different, unique”.

Francis emphasised the gratuitous dimension of the love that we receive as sons and daughters: “children are loved before they are born. I often encounter expectant mothers in the square who ask me to bless their unborn babies. These children are loved before they come into the world. This is gratuitousness, this is love; they are loved before they are born, like the love of God, Who always loves us first. They are loved before having done anything to deserve it, before being able to speak or to think, even before being able to come into the world. To be sons and daughters is the fundamental condition for knowing God's love, which is the ultimate source of this authentic miracle. In the soul of every child, although vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is the basis of his or her personal dignity, a dignity that nothing and no-one can destroy”.

The Pope remarked that the good relations between generations can be learned from the Heavenly Father Who “does not take steps backwards in His love for us – never! He always moves forward, and if He cannot go ahead He waits for us, but He never goes backwards; He wants all his children to be courageous and take their steps ahead. Sons and daughters, on their part, must not be afraid of the commitment to building a new world: it is right for them to want it to be better than the one they have received! But this must be done without arrogance, without presumption”.

He mentioned the fourth commandment, to honour one's father and mother, and explained that “a society of children who do not honour their parents is a society without honour. It is a society destined to become full of barren and greedy young people”. He added that a society in which the adult generations “do not love to be surrounded by children, considering them above all as a worry, a burden, a risk, is a depressed society” and that while the conception of children must be responsible, having many children should not automatically be considered an irresponsible decision, and choosing not to have children is “a selfish decision”. “Life is rejuvenated and acquires energy by multiplying; it is enriched, not impoverished. … In the multiplication of generation there is the mystery of the enrichment of the life of all, that comes from God Himself. We must rediscover this, challenging prejudice; and live it, in faith and in perfect joy”. He concluded by addressing the mothers and fathers who raise their children to be blessed as he passes through the square: “it is a gesture that is almost divine. Thank you for doing it!”.

Francis prays for the victims of the Lampedusa tragedy

Vatican City, 11 February 2015 (VIS) – “I follow with concern the news from Lampedusa, where there have been deaths among immigrants due to the cold during the Mediterranean crossing. I offer the assurance of my prayers for the victims and again encourage solidarity so that those affected do not lack the necessary aid”, said the Holy Father following the catechesis of today's general audience.

The Pope also invited prayer for the upcoming Consistory, so that “the Holy Spirit might assist in the work of the College of Cardinals and enlighten the new Cardinals and their service to the Church”.

Eighth session of the Council of Cardinals

Vatican City, 11 February 2015 (VIS) – The Eighth Session of the Council of Cardinals took place from 9 to 11 February, with meetings both in the morning and the afternoon.

All members of the Council were present, and the Pope participated in all the meetings apart from on Wednesday morning, as usual, due to the General Audience.

The first meeting on Monday morning was dedicated to the preparation of the Report on the work carried out by the Council and on the theme of reform of the Curia, which will be presented on Thursday 12 at the Consistory of the College of Cardinals. The Secretary of the Council, Bishop Semeraro, gave a presentation.

The Monday afternoon meeting was dedicated to a meeting with Cardinal Ravasi regarding the Pontifical Council for Culture within the framework of reform of the Curia.

The Tuesday morning meeting was instead dedicated mostly to a presentation by Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Commission for Vatican Media, of the Commission’s Interim Report, with the main results and proposals for the reorganisation of Vatican media. The Council expressed its appreciation for the work carried out by the Commission and confirmed its principle orientations.

In the afternoon, questions regarding the Secretariat and Council for the Economy were again taken into consideration, in view of the finalisation of the Statutes of these new entities.

The first part of the meeting on Wednesday morning was again devoted to the preparation of the following day’s Consistory, especially the contribution to be offered by the Coordinator of the Council, Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, while during the second part an update was offered on the organisation and activities of the Secretariat for the Economy.

In the final meeting, on Wednesday morning, the topics covered in the morning will be examined again with the Holy Father, and it is expected that a report will be given by Cardinal O’Malley on the recent plenary session of the new Commission for the Protection of Minors.


Vatican City, 12 February 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Shahindokht Molaverdi, deputy president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Other Pontifical Acts

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

- Fr. Luc Crey, C.J.M., as bishop of Puy-en-Velay (area 5,000, population 231,877, Catholics 181,700, priests 147, permanent deacons 10, religious 459), France. The bishop-elect was born in Lille, France in 1958, gave his perpetual vows in 1988 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a doctorate in biology and a licentiate in theology, and has served in a number of roles in the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists), as rector of the interdiocesan seminary of Orleans, president of the Conference of Major Superiors in France, and pontifical commissioner for the province of France and Switzerland of the Societe des Filles du Coeur de Marie. He is currently procurator general of the Congregation of Eudists in Rome.

- Fr. Francois Gnonhossou, S.M.A., as bishop of Dassa-Zoume (area 13,931, population 717,772, Catholics 217,401, priests 85, religious 65), Benin. The bishop-elect was born in Dassa-Zoume, Benin in 1961, gave his religious vows in 1996, and was ordained a priest in 1997. He holds a licentiate in civil law and a bachelor's degree in theology, he has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest in Guffanti, Nigeria; chaplain of the Apprentis d'Auteil in Paris; vice-superior and subsequently superior of the S.M.A. district in formation Africa, assistant in various parishes in the diocese of Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada; parish vicar of St. Sylvain, Montreal, Canada, and bursar of the local community. He is currently general counsel of the Society of African Missions in Rome.

- Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, nunciature counsellor, as Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.), International Fund for Agricultural Development (I.F.A.D.), and World Food Programme (W.F.P.).

On Wednesday, 11 February, the Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Juan Nsue Edjang Maye of Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea, as archbishop of Malabo (area 2,034, population 312,000, Catholics 283,000, priests 37, religious 106), Equatorial Guinea. He succeeds Archbishop Ildefonso Obama Obono whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, upon reaching the age limit, was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Fr. Ernest Ngboko Ngombe, C.I.C.M., as bishop of Lisala (area 67,674, population 1,683,000, Catholics 897,000, priests 66, religious 124), Democratic Republic of Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Kanya Mbonda, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1964, gave his perpetual vows in 1987, and was ordained a priest in 1996. He studied philosophy and theology in Yaounde, Cameroon, and theology at the Catholic Theological Union (C.T.S.), U.S.A. He has served as a missionary and parish priest in Dakar, Senegal; superior of the autonomous C.I.C.M. district of Senegal for three consecutive mandates; rector of the theological seminary of Cameroon and coordinator of the C.I.C.M. for the Region Africa. He is currently vicar general of his Congregation in Rome.

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