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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Francis receives the president of the Slovak Republic, 25 years after the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Holy See

Vatican City, 9 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, who subsequently met with Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States, in the Secretariat of State.

During the cordial discussions, which took place shortly before the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the then Czech and Slovak Federative Republic on 19 April 1990 following St. John Paul II’s visit to the country, satisfaction was expressed for the good bilateral relations sealed by the Agreements in force and by the fruitful dialogue between the Church and the civil authorities.

The Parties then turned their attention to the current International context, with particular attention to the challenges affecting certain areas of the world, especially the Middle East, and the importance of the protection of the dignity of the human person.

The Holy Father addresses the Patriarchal Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church

Vatican City, 9 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience twenty bishops of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church, who will attend next Sunday's Holy Mass to be celebrated for faithful of Armenian rite in St. Peter's Basilica, during which St. Gregory of Narek will be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

In the discourse he addressed to the bishops, the Holy Father remarked that on Sunday they will “raise a prayer of Christian intercession for the sons and daughters of your beloved people, who were made victims a hundred years ago”, and invoked Divine Mercy “so that it might help all, in the love for truth and justice, to heal every wound and to expedite concrete gestures of reconciliation and peace between the nations that still have not managed to reach a reasonable consensus on the interpretation of these sad events”.

Francis greeted all the clergy and lay faithful of the Armenian Catholic Church, many of whom have accompanied the bishops to Rome in these days, as well as “those who live in the countries of the diaspora, such as the United States, Latin America, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, up to the Motherland”. He added, “I think with particular sadness of those areas, such as that of Aleppo, that a hundred years ago were a safe haven for the few survivors. In such regions the stability of Christians, not only Armenians, has latterly been placed in danger”.

“Your people, whom tradition recognises as the first to convert to Christianity in 301, has a two thousand-year history and preserves an admirable patrimony of spirituality and culture, united with a capacity for recovery amid the many persecutions and trials to which it has been subjected. I invite you always to cultivate a sentiment of acknowledgement of the Lord, for having been capable of maintaining fidelity to Him even during the most difficult periods. It is important, furthermore, to ask of God the gift of wisdom of the heart: the commemoration of the victims of a hundred years ago indeed places us before the darkness of the mysterium iniquitatis”.

“As the Gospel tells us, from the depths of the human heart there may emerge the darkest powers, capable of planning the systematic annihilation of one's brother, of considering him an enemy, an adversary, or even without the same human dignity”, he observed. “But for believers the issue of the evil committed by man also introduces the mystery of participation in the redemptive Passion: a number of sons and daughters of the Armenian nation were capable of pronouncing Christ's name to the point of shedding their blood or of death by starvation during the interminable exodus they were forced to undertake”.

“The painful pages in the history of your people continue, in a certain sense, the Passion of Christ, but in each one of these there is also the germ of the Resurrection. There is no lack of commitment among you, Pastors, to the education of the lay faithful to enable them to interpret reality with new eyes, in order to be able to say every day: my people consists not only of those who suffer for Christ, but above all of those who are risen in Him. Therefore it is important to remember the past, in order to draw from it the new lymph needed to nurture the present with the glorious announcement of the Gospel and with the witness of charity. I encourage you to support the path of continuing formation of priests and consecrated persons. They are your first collaborators; the communion between them and you will be strengthened by the exemplary fraternity they may observe in the Synod and with the Patriarch”.

The Pope expressed his gratitude to those who made efforts to alleviate the sufferings of their ancestors, making special reference to Pope Benedict XV “who intervened before the Sultan Mehmet V to bring an end to the massacre of the Armenians”, and who was “a great friend of the Christian Orient: he established the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and in 1920 he inscribed St. Ephrem the Syrian among the Doctors of the Universal Church”. Francis continued, “I am pleased that our meeting takes place on the eve of the same gesture I will have the pleasure of performing on Sunday regarding the great figure of St. Gregory of Narek”.

“To his intercession, I entrust in particular the ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Armenian Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, aware of the fact that the 'ecumenism of blood' has already been achieved through the martyrdom and persecution that took place one hundred years ago”, he concluded. “I now invoke the Lord's blessing upon you and your faithful, and I ask you not to forget to pray for me”.

Presentation of the Holy See pavilion in the 56th Venice Biennale

Vatican City, 9 April 2015 (VIS) - “In the beginning … the Word became Flesh” is the name of the Holy See's pavilion at the upcoming 56th Venice Biennale of Art (9 May to 22 November 2015), which was presented this morning by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and commissioner of the Pavilion, along with Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale and Micol Forte, curator of the Vatican Museums Collection of Contemporary Art and of the pavilion.

During the press conference, held in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Ravasi explained that, continuing from the theme of the Holy See's first contribution to the 2013 Venice Biennale, the 2015 pavilion will see to re-establish the dialogue between art and faith and the need to examine, especially at an international level, the relationship between the Church and contemporary art. “Continuing from the first edition, the Holy See pavilion of the 56th Venice Biennale will develop the theme of the 'Beginning', with an itinerary leading from the Old to the New Testament, making 'logos' and 'flesh' the terms of a relationship constantly in progress”.

“The reference to Genesis, understood as Creation, De-Creation, Re-Creation, in 2013 constituted the object of a reflection that is now further developed in the Prologue of the Gospel of John. In this latter, two essential poles are highlighted: the transcendent Word that is 'in the Beginning', and at the same time, reveals the dialogical and communicational nature of the God of Jesus Christ; and the Word that becomes 'flesh', body, bringing the presence of God into the essence of humanity, especially where it appears to be wounded and suffering. The 'vertical-transcendent' dimension and the 'horizontal-immanent' dimension of flesh thus constitute in this sense the axes of research. It is necessary to refer to these axes – and their intersection – to understand the individual works and the dialogue that is interwoven between them within the exhibition space.

Micol Forti presented the works and artists represented in the Pavilion, remarking that the “indissoluble bond between 'logos' and 'flesh' produces a dialectic dynamism … that inspires, in artists as well as in the public, reflection on the binomial that is at the root of humanity. The three artists, all young, of differing provenance, experience, ethical and aesthetic vision, have been required to flesh out the idea evoked in the Prologue of the Gospel of John”. They include the Colombian Monika Bravo who, Forti explained, “has developed a narrative, deconstructed and recomposed on six screens and the same number of transparent panels, positioned on strongly coloured walls. In each composition, Nature, the Word (written and spoken) and artistic abstraction are presented as active elements of heuristic vision, open to a margin of experimental indeterminacy in the development of a new perceptive space and sensory fullness”.

The Macedonian Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva has designed a “monumental, architectural installation, whose 'fabric', almost a sort of skin or mantle, welcomes the visitor in a dimension that is simultaneously physical and symbolic. [The work is] made of organic waste material, in a journey from 'ready-made' to 're-made'”. Forti continued, “Flesh transforms into history in the reality offered without falsification” by the photographer Mario Macilau, from Mozambique. The series of nine black and white photographs taken in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, depicts the street children who at a young age are compelled to face life in terms of survival. “It is not a photo-reportage, but rather a poetic work that reverses the connections between now and before, near and far, the visible and what cannot be seen”.


Vatican City, 9 April 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secreteriat for the Economy;

- Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia - Citta della Pieve, Italy;

- Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio in Australia;

- Msgr. Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”.
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