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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Pope encourages the bishops of Korea and the Catholic community of Mongolia, a “pledge of the fullness of God's Kingdom”

Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Pope received the bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he prepared for the prelates, extensive extracts of which are published below, the Holy Father refers to his visit to the country last year during which he experienced first hand the goodness of the Korean people who shared their joys and sorrows with him, and affirmed that the trip remains “a lasting encouragement” to him in his ministry to the Universal Church.

“In the course of my visit, we had the opportunity to reflect on the life of the Church in Korea and, in particular, on our episcopal ministry in the service of the People of God and of society”, he writes. “I wish to continue that reflection with you today,by highlighting three aspects of my visit: memory, youth and the mission of confirming our brothers and sisters in the faith. I would like also to share these thoughts with the Churchin Mongolia. Though a small community in a vast territory, it is like the mustard seed which is the pledge of the fullness of God’s Kingdom. May these reflections encourage the continuing growth of that seed, and nourish the rich soil of the Mongolian people’s faith”.

“For me, one of the most beautiful moments of my visit to Korea was the beatification ofthe martyrs Paul Yun Ji-chung and companions. … Even before their faith found full expression in the sacramental life of the Church, these first Korean Christians not only fostered their personal relationship with Jesus, but brought him to others, regardless of class or social standing, and dwelt in a community of faith and charity like the first disciples of the Lord. … Their love of God and neighbour was fulfilled in the ultimate act of freely laying down their lives, thereby watering with their own blood the seedbed of the Church. That first community has left you and all of the Church a beautiful witness of Christian living: 'their integrity in the search for truth, their fidelity to the highest principles of the religion which they chose to embrace, and their testimony of charity and solidarity with all'. Their example is a school which can form us into evermore faithful Christian witnesses by calling us to encounter, to charity and to sacrifice. The lessons which they taught are particularly applicable in our times when, despite the many advancements being made in technology and communication, individuals are increasingly becoming isolated and communities weakened. How important it is, then, that you work together with the priests, religious men and women, and lay leaders of your dioceses, to ensure that parishes, schools and centres of the apostolate are authentic places of encounter: encounter with the Lord who teaches us how to love and who opens our eyes to the dignity of every person, and encounter with one another, especially the poor, the elderly, the forgotten in our midst”.

“My thoughts now turn to your young people who greatly desire to carry forward the legacy of your ancestors. … Just as the witness of the first Christians calls us to care for one another, so our youth challenge us to hear one another. … When we speak with young people, they challenge us to share the truth of Jesus Christ clearly and in a way that they can understand. They also test the authenticity of our own faith and fidelity. Though it is Christ we preach and not ourselves, we are called to be an example to the People of God in order to draw people to him. … As you reflect on the life of your dioceses, as you formulate and revise your pastoral plans, I urge you to keep before you the young whom you serve. See them as partners in 'building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalised'. Be close to them. … This closeness will not only strengthen the institutions and communities of the Church, but will also help you to understand the difficulties they and their families are experiencing in their daily lives in society. In this way, the Gospel will penetrate ever more deeply the life of the Catholic community as well as that of society as a whole”.

“As you prepare to return to your local Churches, as well as encouraging you in your ministry and confirming you in your mission, I ask you, above all, to be servants, just as Christ came to serve, and not to be served. Ours is a life of service, freely given, for each soul entrusted to our care, without exception. … In this spirit of service, may you be solicitous for one another. By your collaboration and fraternal support, you will strengthen the Church in Korea and Mongolia and become ever more effective in proclaiming Christ.

Every penitent who approaches the confessional is sacred ground to be cultivated with care and attention

Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – “The Sacraments, as we know, are God's demonstration of closeness and tenderness towards humanity; they are the concrete way God created to move be closer to us, to embrace us, without shame for our limits”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience in the Paul VI Hall the participants in the annual Course on the Inner Forum organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. “Without doubt”, he continued, “among the Sacraments, it is that of Reconciliation that best shows the merciful face of God. We must never forget, either as penitents or as confessors: there is no sin that God cannot forgive! None! Only what is hidden from divine mercy cannot be forgiven, like those that hide themselves from the sun cannot be illuminated or warmed.

Following the theme of reconciliation, Francis emphasised three demands. The first is to live the Sacrament as a way of educating in mercy. The Pope described Confession “not as a form of torture but rather as a liberating encounter, full of humanity, through which we can educate in a mercy that does not exclude, but rather includes the just commitment to make amends, as far as possible, for the sin committed”. The second is that of “allowing oneself to be educated in what we are celebrating, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation”, as “it is possible to learn much from conversion and the repentance of our brothers. They lead us to examine our own consciences”. He then outlined the third requirement, that of keeping one's gaze towards heaven and the supernatural. He urged those present to remember that they are all ministers of reconciliation “purely by the grace of God, gratuitously and out of love, or rather, out of mercy. We are ministers of mercy thanks to God's mercy, and we must never lose this view to the supernatural that makes us truly humble, weloming and merciful towards every brother and sister who wishes to confess. … Every faithful penitent who approaches the confessional is 'sacred ground' to be cultivated with dedication, care and pastoral attention”.

The Pope concluded by encouraging those present to “make the most of this Lenten period for personal conversion and to dedicate yourselves generously to confessions, so that the People of God can be purified as they reach Easter, which represents the final victory of Divine Mercy over all the evil in the world”.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran to visit Cote d'Ivoire

Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue today announced that Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the dicastery, will visit Cote d'Ivoire from 13 to 17 March 2015, accompanied by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary and Msgr. Lucio Sembrano, official.

The aim of the visit is primarily to participate in the celebrations to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the evangelisation of the Great North in the diocese of Korhogo.

The delegation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will meet with the academic community of the Catholic University of Western Africa (UCAO) in Abidjan Cocody.

In Yamoussoukro, Cardinal Tauran will meet with members of the Episcopal Conference of Cote d'Ivoire and will preside at Mass concelebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.

The visit will offer the opportunity to promote and encourage interreligious dialogue in Cote d'Ivoire, in a context of respect and friendship, in accordance with the teaching of Pope Francis. With this objective, various meetings are scheduled with leaders of other religious traditions, especially of Islam and traditional African religions, first in Korhogo, and subsequently in Yamoussoukro and Abidjan.

On 17 March, Cardinal Tauran will pay a private visit to the president of the Republic, Alessane Ouattara.

The Holy See reaffirms its opposition to the death penalty

Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva gave an address at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council on 4 March, regarding the issue of the death penalty.

Speaking in English, the nuncio said, “The Delegation of the Holy See … joins an increasing number of States in supporting the fifth U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Public opinion in support of the various provisions aimed at abolishing the death penalty, or suspending its application, is growing. This provides a strong momentum which this delegation hopes will encourage States still applying the death penalty to move in the direction of its abolition”.

The archbishop explained that twenty years ago, during the papacy of St. John Paul II, the position of the Holy See was “framed within the proper ethical context of defending the inviolable dignity of the human person and the role of the legitimate authority to defend in a just manner the common good of society”. He continued, “Considering the practical circumstances found in most States, as a result of steady improvements in the organisation of the penal system, it appears evident nowadays that means other than the death penalty are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons. For that reason, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity with the dignity of the human person”.

Benedict XVI affirmed in 2011 that “the political and legislative initiatives promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order are moving in the right direction. Pope Francis has further emphasised that the legislative and judicial practice of the State authority must always be guided by the primacy of human life and the dignity of the human person”, noting also “the possibility of judicial error and the use made by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes … as a means of suppressing political dissidence or of persecuting religious and cultural minorities”.

“Respect for the dignity of every human person and the common good are the two pillars on which the position of the Holy See has developed. These principles converge with a similar development in international human rights law and jurisprudence. Moreover, we should take into account that no clear positive effect of deterrence results from the application of the death penalty and that the irreversibility of this punishment does not allow for eventual corrections in the case of wrongful convictions”.

Therefore, the Holy See “contends that bloodless means of defending the common good and upholding justice are possible, and calls on States to adapt their penal system to demonstrate their adhesion to a more humane form of punishment. As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so”.

In conclusion, the Holy See delegation “fully supports the efforts to abolish the use of the death penalty. In order to arrive at this desired goal, these steps need to be taken: sustaining the social reforms that would enable society to implement the abolition of the death penalty and improving prison conditions, to ensure respect for the human dignity of people deprived of their freedom”.


Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Girolamo Prigione, apostolic nuncio;

- Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio in Panama;

- Fourteen prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon of Suwon, with his auxiliary, Bishop Linus Lee Seong-hyo;

- Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijeongbu, with Bishop emeritus Joseph Lee Han-taek;

- Bishop Jacobus Kim Ji-Seok of Wonju;

- Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu;

- Bishop John Chrisostom Kwon Hyeok-ju of Andong;

- Bishop Paul Hwang Chul-soo of Busan, with his auxiliary, Bishop Joseph Son Sam-seok;

- Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun of Cheongnju;

- Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok of Masan, with Bishop emeritus Michael Pak Jeon-il;

- Bishop Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, military ordinary; and

- Bishop Wenceslao S. Padilla, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Other Pontifical Acts

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

- appointed Rev. Fr. John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv., as bishop of Lexington (area 42,520, population 1,601,000, Catholics 47,900, priests 64, permanent deacons 71, religious 89), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Amherst, Ohio, U.S.A. in 1966, gave his solemn vows in 1992, and was ordained a priest in 1995. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest, administrator and parish priest of the “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” parish in El Paso, Texas; vicar general of the diocese of El Paso; administrator of the “Our Lady of the Valley” parish; and chancellor of the diocese of El Paso. He is currently provincial vicar of the “Our Lady of Consolation” Franciscan Conventual Province and rector of the Basilica and national shrine of “Our Lady of Consolation”, Carey, Ohio.

- appointed Bishop Thomas Anthony Daly, auxiliary of San Jose in California, U.S.A., as bishop of Spokane (area 63,325, population 325,161, Catholics 107,271, priests 146, permanent deacons 43, religious 230), U.S.A.

- given his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of Rev. Fr. Teodor (Taras) Martynyuk, M.S.U., as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Ternopil'-Zboriv (area 8,346, population 636,000, Catholics 385,000, priests 320, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Yaremche, Ukraine in 1974, gave his solemn vows in 1997 and was ordained a priest in 2000. He holds a doctorate in Oriental canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute. During his pastoral ministry he has served in various roles in the Lavra of Univ and the monastery of St. Michael in Lviv, and as a lecturer in Oriental canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome. He is currently Igumen of the Lavra of the Dormition in Univ, Ukraine.


Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – We wish to inform our readers that tomorrow, 13 March, the second anniversary of the election to the papacy of the Holy Father Francis, the Vatican Information Service bulletin will not be transmitted. The service will resume on Monday, 16 March.
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