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Monday, March 16, 2015

Fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino

Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Captains Regent of the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, Gianfranco Terenzi and Guerrino Zanotti, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, deep satisfaction was expressed regarding the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino, and the active collaboration in the social field between public institutions and the Church was underlined.

Finally, mention was made of the fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino at a bilateral level and in the context of the international community.

To the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina: social pastoral ministry to involve the people in reconstruction and growth

Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – The prelates of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina were received in audience this morning by the Pope, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he handed to them at the end of the visit the Holy Father, who will shortly visit Sarajevo, emphasised “the charity, the care and the closeness of the Church of Rome” with “the heirs of many martyrs and confessors, who during the troubled centuries-long history of the country have kept the faith alive”.

“Migration is justly one of the social issues close to your heart”, he writes. “It evokes the difficulty of return for many of your co-citizens, the scarcity of sources of work, the instability of families, the emotional and social laceration of entire communities, the practical precariousness of many parishes, and the still fresh memories of conflict, both at a personal and community level, in which wounded hearts are still painful. I am well aware that, in your hearts as Pastors, this gives rise to bitterness and concern. The Pope and the Church are with you in prayer and in active support for your programmes to assist those who live in your territories, without any form of discrimination. I therefore encourage you to spare no energies in supporting the weak, helping – in all ways possible – those who have a legitimate and honest desire to remain in the land of their birth, bring succour to the spiritual hunger of those who believe in the indelible values, born of the Gospel, that throughout the centuries have nurtured the life of your communities”.

“The society in which you live has a multicultural and multi-ethnic dimension. And you have been entrusted the task of being fathers to all, in spite of material limits and the crisis within which you work. May your heart always be large enough to accommodate all, just as the heart of Christ is able to receive in itself – with divine love – every human being. Every Christian community knows that it is called upon to open itself up and to irradiate the light of the Gospel; it cannot stay closed within its traditions, noble though they may be. It must come out of its 'enclosure', firm in faith, supported by prayer and encouraged by pastors, to live and announce the new life of which it is a depository, that of Christ, Saviour of all men. From this perspective, I encourage the initiatives that can extend the presence of the Church beyond liturgical parameters, assuming with imagination every other action that may affect society, bringing with it the fresh spirit of the Gospel. … Seek to promote a solid social pastoral ministry in relation to the faithful, especially the young, to ensure that consciences are formed, willing to remain in their own territories as agents and key actors in the reconstruction and the growth of your country, from which they cannot expect only to receive. In this educational and pastoral work, the social doctrine of the Church is of valid assistance. It is also a way of overcoming the residue of old materialism that still persists in the mentality and behaviour of some sectors of the society in which you live”.

The Pope remarks that the ministry of the prelates of Bosnia and Herzegovina assumes various dimensions – pastoral, ecumenical and interreligious – and underlines the intense work that they carry out in these sectors, an expression of their paternity towards the people entrusted to them. “I encourage you and remind you that, while with respect for all, this does not absolve you of the need to give open and frank testimony of your belonging to Christ. The priests, men and women religious and lay faithful, who live in close contact with citizens of different religious traditions, are able to offer you valid advice regarding your mixed communities. I consider an approach of this type to be wise as it may bear the seeds and fruits of pacification, understanding and collaboration”.

With reference to the relationship between clergy and men and women religious, Francis comments, “I know through direct experience the complexity of these relations, as well as the difficulties in harmonising their respective charisms. But the most important fact is that in both dimensions … a single mission is pursued: to serve the Kingdom of Christ. … In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, we must show that all charisms and ministries are destined to the glory of God and the salvation of all men, taking care to ensure that these are effectively orientated towards the edification of the Kingdom of God and not contaminated by partial aims; that they are carried out in a regime of human and fraternal communion, bearing each other's burdens with a spirit of service”.

The Pontiff concludes with “a personal word between bishops, as is appropriate in full charity”. “I am aware that historical events make Bosnia and Herzegovina different in many areas. And yet you are a single body: you are Catholic bishops in communion with the Successor of Peter, in a frontier location. One word alone emerges spontaneously from my heart: you are in communion. Although at times imperfect, such communion is to be pursued vigorously at all levels, setting individual peculiarities aside. It is necessary to act on the basis of your belonging to the same Apostolic College; other considerations are of secondary importance and are to be analysed in the light of the catholicity of your faith and your ministry”.

Angelus: God loves us – the summary of all theology

Vatican City, 15 March 2015 (VIS) At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, as usual, commented on day's Gospel reading, which this Sunday was Jesus' words to Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son”. “God loves us!” exclaimed the Pope. “He loves us truly, and he loves us so much! This is the simplest expression that summarises the whole of the Gospel, all faith, all theology: God loves, us, with freely given and boundless love”.

“At the origin of the world there is only the Father's free and gratuitous love”, affirmed Pope Francis, cited the words of St. Irenaeus who, in his work “Adversus haereses”, wrote: “In the beginning God formed Adam, not because He was in need of humans, but so He might have someone to receive His benefits”. And after the fall, He did not abandon man to the power of death, but instead rescued him with His mercy. “As in creation”, explained Francis, “also the subsequent stages in the history of salvation emphasise the gratuity of God's love: the Lord chooses His people not because they were deserving, but because it was the smallest among all the peoples. And, in the fullness of time, although men have broken the covenant many times, instead of abandoning them God makes a new bond with them, in the blood of Jesus – the bond of the new and everlasting covenant – a bond that nothing can ever break”.

The Cross of Christ is “the supreme proof of God's love for us: Jesus has loved us 'unto the end', meaning not up to the final moment of his earthly life, but until the extreme limit of love. If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of His Son He has given us the proof of all proofs: He has come to suffer and die for us. And this love that is so great is God's mercy, because He loves us, He forgives us. With his mercy, God forgives all and God always forgives”.

“May Mary, Mother of Mercy, place in our hearts the certainty that we are loved by God. May She be close to us in the moments of difficulty and give us the sentiments of Her Son, so that our Lenten itinerary may be an experience of forgiveness, of welcome and of charity”.

Appeal for an end to the persecution of Christians

Vatican City, 15 March 2015 (VIS) - “It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the terrorist attacks on two churches in the city of Lahore, Pakistan today, which have caused many deaths and casualties. They are Christian churches. Christians are persecuted. Our brothers shed blood solely because they are Christians. While I assure my prayers for the victims and for their families, I ask the Lord, I implore the Lord, the source of all good, to grant the gift of peace and harmony to the country. May this persecution of Christians, that the world seeks to conceal, come to an end, and may there be peace”, said the Holy Father following today's Angelus prayer.

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the population of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean, devastated by a cyclone. “I pray for the deceased, for the injured, and for those who have lost their homes”, he said, “and I give thanks to those who have taken rapid action to bring aid and assistance.

To the UCIIM: go to the peripheries of schools as witnesses of life and hope

Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) - “Teaching is a beautiful job, as it allows you to see the growth day by day of the people entrusted to your care. It is a little like being parents, at least spiritually. It is a great responsibility”, said the Pope this morning to the members of the Catholic Union of Teachers (UCIIM), whom he received in audience in the Paul VI Hall. He added, “Teaching is a serious commitment, that only a mature and balanced person can undertake. A commitment of this type may inculcate apprehension, but remember that no teacher is ever alone; his or her work is shared with other colleagues and with all the educational community to which they belong”.

“As Jesus taught us, all the Law and the Prophets can be summarised in two commandments: love the Lord God and love your neighbour. We can ask ourselves: who is a teacher's neighbour? The neighbours are your students! It is with them that a teacher passes the day. They seek guidance, orientation, an answer – and first of all, good questions!”, he continued. “Among the tasks of the UCIIM is that of enlightening and promoting the correct idea of school, often obscured by discussions and reductive positions. The school is certainly make up of valid and qualified instruction, but also of human relations, that from our side are relationships of welcome and benevolence, due to all indiscriminately. Indeed, the duty of a good teacher, and far more so for a good Christian, is to love with greater intensity the most difficult, weakest, most disadvantaged students”.

Francis mentioned that if a professional association of Christian teachers wishes to bear witness to its inspiration, it is required to engage with the peripheries of school, “that cannot be abandoned to marginalisation, ignorance, and the underworld”, and he encouraged them to follow the example of many great teachers who exist in the Christian community to encourage from within the school that, independently of whether or not it is administered by the state, is in need of credible teachers and witnesses of mature and complete humanity. “Teaching is not just a job”, he concluded. “It is a relationship in which each teacher must feel that he is fully involved as as person, to give meaning to the task of educating his pupils. … I encourage you to renew your passion for mankind in the process of formation, and to be witnesses of life and hope”.

“Follow Me” Association: engage with earthly reality to serve the good of man

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience members of the “Seguimi” (“Follow Me”) lay community, on the 50th anniversary of its foundation. “The gesture, symbolic and intensely spiritual, of the first members to depart from the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, demonstrate this wish, that you have expressed in the statutory form of your programme of life: 'Jesus Christ lives at the centre of Seguimi'. This is beautiful. … I encourage you to live according to this programme every day, with commitment; that is, to be decentred from yourselves and to place your vital centre in the living Person of Jesus. Yours is a form of evangelical life that is practised in a context of laicism and liberty. A programme of Christian life for laypeople, with clear and demanding objectives, an original way of incarnating the Gospel, an effective way of walking the world”.

Francis encouraged them to “conserve and develop this fraternal communion and exchange of gifts, aimed at the human and Christian growth of all, along with creativity, optimism, joy and the courage to go – when appropriate – against the grain. Be vigilant in your spiritual path and help each other to practice spiritual charity, which means defending yourselves against individualistic selfishness in order to be true witnesses to the Gospel”.

“As laypeople, you are immersed in the world and are occupied within earthly situations to serve the good of man. You are required to permeate with Christian values the environments in which you work with your witness and word, meeting people in their concrete situations, so that they have full dignity and are reached by Christ's salvation”. The Pope concluded by urging them to be “laypeople on the front line”, to “feel like an active part of the Church's mission, to live your secularity dedicating yourself to the situations typical of the earthly city: the family, the professions, social life in its various expressions. In this way you are able, as a leaven, to bring the spirit of the Gospel into the folds of history with your witness of faith, hope and charity”.

To be able to confess our sins is a gift from God

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) - “The Sacrament of Reconciliation enables us to draw near to the Father trustfully, to have the certainty of his forgiveness. He is truly 'rich in mercy' and he extends it abundantly to those who turn to him with a sincere heart”, said the Pope in his homily during the penitential celebration in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday afternoon. “The transformation of the heart that leads us to confess our sins is a gift from God … it is 'His work'” he continued. “As we leave the confessional, we were his strength that restores life and rekindles the enthusiasm of faith. After confession we are reborn”.

“Jesus' call impels us all not to stop at the surface of things, especially when facing a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity each person is capable of. No-one must be excluded from God's mercy. Everyone knows that the way to reach it, and the Church, is the house that welcomes all and refuses no-one. Its doors are always wide open, so that those who are touched by grace may find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, the greater the love must be that the Church expresses towards those who convert”.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought of how the Church may make more evident her mission as witness to mercy. It is a path that begins with a spiritual conversion; and we must take this path. Therefore, I have decided to convoke an extraordinary Jubilee, which will be centred upon God's mercy. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy. Let us live this in the light of the Word of the Lord: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful'. And this is especially for confessors! Have mercy!”.

“I am convinced that all the Church, which is in great need of receiving mercy, as we are sinners, may find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called upon to give consolation to every man and every woman in our time. Let us not forget that God forgives everything, and God always forgives. Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness. Let us hereafter entrust this Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and keep watch over our path; our path of repentance, our path with an open heart, a year long, to receive God's indulgence, to receive God's mercy”.

To the Korean community: be a Church of martyrs

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – On the afternoon of Thursday, 12 March, the Pope celebrated Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the Korean community of Rome, accompanied by prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, in Rome on their “ad Limina” visit and whom Pope Francis had received in audience in the morning. In his homily, the Pope spoke about the laity, who carried forth the Church for two centuries, encouraging them to be as courageous as the first faithful; he urged all those present to be aware of this responsibility.

He went on to mention Korea's martyrs, and emphasised that the seedbed of the Church has been watered with their blood and thus given life. “Do not give up. Be on your guard against 'religious wellbeing'”, he said. “If you do not go ahead with the strength of faith, with the zeal and love of Jesus Christ, if you become soft – 'rosewater Christians', weak – your faith will diminish”. The Pope also highlighted the importance of being sons of martyrs, adding that “apostolic zeal is not negotiable. … You are a Church of martyrs, and this is a promise for all Asia. Keep going, and do not give up. No spiritual worldliness, nothing. No easy Catholicism, without zeal. No religious wellbeing. Love for Jesus Christ, love for Jesus Christ's Cross, and love for your history”.


Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments;

- Frère Alois, prior of Taizé

- Delegation of the Latin American Network on the Social Doctrine of the Church;

- Six prelates of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Sarajevo, with his auxiliary, Bishop Pero Sudar;

- Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka, with his auxiliary, Bishop Marko Senren;

- Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, apostolic administrator of Trebinje and Mrkan;

- Bishop Tomo Vuksic, military ordinary.

On Saturday, 14 March, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- Archbishop Orlando Antonini, apostolic nuncio in Serbia.

From the Oriental Churches

Vatican City, 16 March 2015 (VIS) – The Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Patriarchal Church, in its extraordinary session of 10 to 14 March 2015:

- accepted the resignation of Bishop Elias Sleiman from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Lattaquie upon reaching the age limit, and elected him as president of the Patriarchal Tribunal.

- elected Bishop Joseph Mouawad, patriarchal vicar of Ehden-Zgorta, Syria, as bishop of Zahle (Catholics 50,000, priests 34, religious 42), Lebanon.

- elected, with pontifical assent, the Rev. Corepiscopa Antoine Chbeir as bishop of Lattaquie of the Maronites (Catholics 35,000, priests 27, religious 50), Syria. The bishop-elect was born in Ghosta, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome and has served as parish priest and diocesan chancellor. He is currently chancellor of the patriarchal vicariate of Jounieh, Lebanon, and succeeds Bishop Elias Sleiman.

Other Pontifical Acts

On Saturday, 14 March, the Holy Father:

- appointed Rev. Fr. Alojzij Cvikl, S.J., as metropolitan archbishop of Maribor (area 45,520, population 1,601,000, Catholics 47,900, priests 46, permanent deacons 71, religious 89), Slovenia. The bishop-elect was born in Celje, Slovenia in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He studied philosophy and theology at the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana and at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and holds a licentiate in pedagogy and social sciences from the “Lumen Vitae” Institute in Brussels, Belgium. He has served in a number of roles, including: deputy priest and parish priest in the parish of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in Ljubljana – Dravlje, rector of the Internate at the St. Stanislaw Archiepiscopal Institute in Ljubljana-Sentvid and teacher of religion at the Classical Lyceum of the same Institute, provincial of the Jesuits in Slovenia, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Slovenia, and rector of the Pontifical Russian College (Russicum), Rome. He is currently bursar of the Archdiocese of Maribor.

- appointed the following consultors of the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: Msgr. Lluis Clavell, ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas; Giuseppe Bonfrate, lecturer in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Maurizio Gronchi, ordinary professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome; Michele Giulio Masciarelli, lecturer in dogmatic theology at the Marianum Faculty, Rome, and fundamental theology at the Theological Institue of Abruzzo and Molise, Chieti; Peter Paul Saldanha, lecturer in ecclesiology at the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome; Dario Vitali, lecturer in ecclesiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Aimable Musoni, S.D.B., lecturer in systematic theology, ecclesiology and ecumenism at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome; Fr. François Xavier Dumortier, S.J., Magnificent Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Fr. Georges Ruyssen, S.J., lecturer in canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome; Fr. Sabatino Majorano, C.SS.R., lecturer in systematic moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy, Rome; Fr. Manuel Jesus Arroba Conde, C.M.F., dean of the Institutum Utriusque Iuris at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome; Fr. Jose Granados, D.C.J.M., vice president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family Studies, lecturer at the Pontifical Gregorian Institute.

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