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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Triduum: peak of the liturgical year and of Christian life

Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience to the Easter Triduum, the culmination of the liturgical year, “and of our life as Christians”, which begins tomorrow, Holy Thursday, with the celebration of the Last Supper, in which Jesus offers His Body and Blood to the Father, in the Bread and Wine, and instructs us to perpetuate this offering in His memory.

“The Gospel of this ceremony, recalling the washing of the feet, expresses the same meaning of the Eucharist from another perspective”, said the Holy Father to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. “Jesus, like a servant, washes the feet of Simon Peter ad the other eleven disciples. With this prophetic gesture he expresses the meaning of His life and His passion, as service to God and to His brothers. … This also happens in our Baptism, when the grace of God cleanses us of sin and we are clothed in Christ. This happens every time we commemorate the Lord in the Eucharist: we make communion with Christ the Servant to obey His commandment, that of loving each other as He has loved us. If we partake in holy Communion without being sincerely willing to wash each other's feet, we do not recognise the Body of the Lord”.

In the liturgy of Good Friday we consider the mystery of the death of Christ and we worship the Cross. “In the final moments of life, before delivering his spirit to the Father, Christ said, 'It is finished'. … This means that the work of salvation is complete, that all the Scriptures find their fulfilment in the love of Christ, the sacrificial lamb. Jesus, by His sacrifice, transformed the greatest wickedness into the greatest love”.

The Pontiff commented that throughout the centuries men and women have, by the witness of their existence, “reflected a ray of this perfect, full, uncontaminated love”, offering the example of a heroic witness of our times, the Italian priest and missionary in Turkey Andrea Santoro, who shortly before being murdered in the church of Trebisonda on 5 February 2006, wrote: “I am here to live among these people and to let Jesus do so, lending Him my flesh. … We become capable of salvation only by offering our own flesh. The evil of the world must be borne and pain shared, absorbed in one's own flesh unto the end, as Jesus did”. “This example, and many others, sustain us in offering our own life as a gift of love to our brethren, in imitation of Jesus”, exclaimed the Pope.

On Holy Saturday, “the Church contemplates Christ's 'repose' in the tomb after the victorious battle of the Cross. On Holy Saturday the Church once again identifies with Mary: all our faith is encompassed in her, the first and perfect disciple, the first and perfect believer. In the darkness that enshrouds Creation, she alone keeps the flame of faith alight, hoping against all hope in Jesus' Resurrection”.

On the great Easter Vigil, “we celebrate the Risen Christ as the centre and end of the cosmos and of history; we stay awake to await His return, when Easter will manifest itself fully. At times, the darkness of night seems to penetrate the soul; at times we think, 'there is no longer anything to be done', and the heart no longer finds the strength to love. … But it is precisely in that darkness that Christ lights the flame of God's love: a gleam that breaks through the darkness, presage of a new beginning. The stone of suffering is overturned, making space for hope. This is the great mystery of Easter! On this holy night the Church gives to us the light of the Resurrection, so that we no longer have inside us the regret of saying 'by now...', but rather the hope of one who opens up to a present full of the future: Christ has defeated death, and we are with Him. Our life does not end at the tombstone!”.

“During these days of the Holy Triduum, let us limit ourselves to commemorating the Lord's passion, but let us instead enter into the mystery, making His feelings and His attitudes our own, as the Apostle Paul tells us: 'Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus'. Then ours will be a happy Easter”.

Ten years since the death of St. John Paul II

Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – In his greetings following today's catechesis, the Pope recalled that tomorrow will be the tenth anniversary of the death of St. John Paul II. “We remember him as a great witness to Christ in His suffering, death and resurrection, and invoke his intercession for us, for the family, for the Church, so that the light of resurrection may shine over all the shadows of our life and fill us with joy and peace”.

Tax agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic

Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning, in the Secretariat of State, an agreement on fiscal matters was signed by the Holy See and the Italian Republic. It was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, and for the Italian Republic by Pier Carlo Padoan, minister of Economics and Finance, with full powers.

The reforms introduced in 2010 and the creation by the Holy See of institutions with specific experience in economics and finance now enable full administrative cooperation, also with regard to fiscal matters. Within the framework of the special importance of bilateral relations, Italy is the first country with which the Holy See has signed an agreement governing the exchange of information.

In accordance with the current process of establishing transparency in the field of financial relations at a global level, the Convention transposes the most up to date international standard in terms of the exchange of information (article 26 of the OSCE Model) to regulate cooperation between the competent authorities of the two contracting Parties. The exchange of information relates to the fiscal year starting 1 January 2009.

The Convention, from the date on which it enters into force, will enable full compliance, with simplified procedures, with the tax obligations relating to financial assets held by institutions engaging in financial activities in the Holy See by various physical and legal persons resident in Italy. The same persons will be able to have access to a procedure for the regularisation of these activities, with the same effects as established by Law 186/2014.

The Convention will also implement the provisions of the Lateran Treaty regarding tax exemption for property belonging to the Holy See, indicated in the same Treaty.

Finally, the Convention incorporates the Exchange of notes between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Secretariat of State in July 2007, which provides for the notification of tax acts to the Holy See authorities via diplomatic channels.


Vatican City, 1 April 2015 (VIS) – During the Holy Week festivities, from Thursday 2 to Tuesday 7 April, the Vatican Information Service bulletin will not be transmitted. Readers can find the texts of the Easter Triduum and Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord in the Holy See Press Office Bulletin. Service will resume on Wednesday 8 April.
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