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Monday, May 4, 2015

To the bishops of the Congo: build fraternity rooted in forgiveness and solidarity

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – The bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Congo were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. The Holy Father handed them a written discourse in which he emphasises the vitality of the Catholic Church in this country, which has led to the creation of three new dioceses, and the work of pastors in the work of evangelisation, as well as the Church's contribution in the education and healthcare sectors and her role in national reconciliation following the grave crisis of the 1990s.

Francis praises the work of the Episcopal Conference with regard to the mission of the laity in the Church and society, and mentioned the importance of forming and accompanying laypeople to offer Christian witness in socio-political sectors, which constitute a specific sector for the apostolate. “Family pastoral ministry is an integral part of this accompaniment. The reluctance of the faithful to embark on Christian marriage reveals the need for profound evangelisation, which involves not only the inculturation of faith, but also the evangelisation of local traditions and culture”.

In these sectors, as in many others, priests are the bishops' first collaborators and as a result, their living conditions and sanctification must be central to their concerns. “The immense pastoral needs of the local Church require rigorous discernment, so that the People of God are able to count on zealous pastors who edify the faithful through their testimony of life, especially in relation to celibacy and the spirit of evangelical poverty”. The Pope also remarks that in some dioceses there are great difficulties due to the lack of available financial and material resources.

“I am aware of the magnitude of the problems and the worries related to this situation in the heart of a pastor. Therefore, I encourage you to resolutely engage your dioceses in embarking on the path of autonomy, a gradual takeover of control and solidarity between the particular Churches in your country, following a tradition that dates back to the first Christian communities. In this respect, you must be careful to ensure that economic aid to your particular Churches in support of your specific mission does not limit your freedom as pastors or obstruct the freedom of the Church, which must have a free hand to proclaim the Gospel in a credible way. … With regard to mutual aid and solidarity between local Churches, this must also be reflected in the promotion of the missionary spirit first within Africa”, affirmed Francis, quoting Paul VI in his 1969 discourse in Kampala: “By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves”.

In-depth evangelisation is another great challenge for the bishops, and one which requires “special attention to the concrete conditions of life for the populations; that is, ultimately, to the development of the human person. Again here the commitment of the Catholic Church in the Congo is important: in the fields of education, healthcare, and aid to the various categories of people in need, including refugees from neighbouring countries, your diocese contribute in a significant way. As pastors, continue to ensure that your social ministry is increasingly carried out in the spirit of the Gospel and perceived as a work of evangelisation, and not as the action of a non-governmental organisation”.

The Pope concludes by noting that in certain sectors of society, the wounds caused by the grave crisis that affected the Congo at the end of the 1990s have left deep scars that have not yet fully healed. “In this respect, in particular, the Church, strong in the Gospel of Jesus, has received the mission of building new fraternity anchored in forgiveness and solidarity. You, pastors, continue to be models and prophets in this sense!”.

Catholics and Lutherans are brothers in faith, not adversaries

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received in audience the Lutheran archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, Antje Jackelen, who led a delegation to the Vatican from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church. Francis greeted them cordially and commented that last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the Vatican Council II decree on ecumenism, “Unitatis Redintegratio”, which continues to be the key point of reference for the ecumenical efforts of the Catholic Church. “This document is an invitation to all Catholics to undertake the path of unity to overcome division between Christians, which is “not only openly opposed to the will of Christ, but is also a scandal to the world and damages the holiest of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature”.

The decree “expresses a profound respect and appreciation for those brothers and sisters separated from us, to whom in daily coexistence we at times risk giving little consideration. In reality, they are not perceived as adversaries or as competitors, but instead acknowledged for what they are: brothers and sisters in faith. Catholics and Lutherans must seek and promote unity in dioceses, in parishes, in communities throughout the world”, the Pope emphasised, mentioning the recent document “From conflict to communion. The Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017”, published by the Lutheran-Catholic Commission for Unity. “We sincerely hope that this initiative may encourage, with God's help and collaboration between Him and among us, the achievement of further steps on the path of unity”.

The call to unity also implies “a pressing exhortation to joint commitment at the charitable level, in favour of all those who suffer in the world as a result of poverty and violence, and have a special need for our mercy; the witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in particular drives us to grow in fraternal communion. The question of the dignity of human life, always to be respected, is of urgent relevance, as are issues regarding the family, marriage and sexuality, that may not be set aside or ignored for fear of jeopardising the ecumenical consensus already received. It would be a pity if new confessional differences were to be consolidated with regard to these important questions”.

Francis concluded his address by giving thanks first to the Swedish Lutheran Church, “for the welcome given to so many South American migrants in the times of the dictatorships, a fraternal welcome that has enabled families to grow”, and secondly, to Jackelen, “for the delicacy that you, dear sister, have had in appointing my dear friend, the pastor Anders Root: I have shared with him the chair in spiritual theology and he has helped me greatly in spiritual life”.

The Holy Father thanks the Pontifical Swiss Guard for their hard work

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - “'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends'. In the history of the Church, many men and women have heeded the call of this great love. The Swiss Guards who fought during the Sack of Rome and who gave their lives in defence of the Pope responded to this call. And answering this call with devotion means following Christ”, said the Holy Father as he received in audience the new recruits to the Pontifical Swiss Guard who will take their oath of loyalty tomorrow, 6 May.

“In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who in his youth was a soldier, spoke of the 'call of the Christ the King', who wishes to build His Kingdom and choose his collaborators. The Lord wishes to build His Kingdom with the collaboration of men. He needs decisive and courageous people. … At the same time, Ignatius compares the world to two military camps, one with the standard of Christ, the other under the flag of Satan. There are only these two camps. For the Christian the choice is clear: he follows Christ's standard”.

“Christ is the true King. He Himself goes ahead and His friends follow Him. One of Christ's soldiers participates in the life of His Lord. This is also the call that is addressed to you: to take on the concerns of Christ, to be His companions. In this way you learn, day by day, to 'feel' with Christ and with the Church. A Swiss Guard is a person who truly seeks to follow the Lord Jesus and who loves the Church in a special way; he is a Christian with genuine faith”, emphasised the Pontiff. “You too, like every Christian, must live all this through the Sacraments of the Church: with diligent participation in Mass and frequent Confession. You can live this by reading the Gospel every day. What I say to all, I repeat to you: keep a pocket-sized Gospel close to hand, so you can read it whenever you have a free moment. Your personal prayer, especially the Rosary, will also help you, during your guards of honour. And it will help you in your service to the poor, the sick, to those in need of a good word”.

The Pope remarked that when the Swiss Guards meet people and pilgrims they transmit to them, with their “kindness and competence”, this “great love” that comes from their friendship with Christ. Indeed”, he exclaimed, “you are a banner for the Holy See! I thank you and encourage you in your work”.

“I know that your service is demanding. When there is extra work to be done, we are always able to count on the Swiss Guard. I thank you with affection and express my great appreciation for all that you do for the Church and for me, as the Successor of Peter”, he concluded.

Pope's message for the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning, with the commemoration in the Senate, there began the events with which all Italy will celebrate the birth of Dante Alighieri (Florence 1265 – Ravenna 1321), the author of “The Divine Comedy”. The Pope participated with a message to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also present at the ceremony presided over by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, and attended by the minister for Culture Dario Franceschini and the actor Roberto Benigni, who read Canto XXXIII of Paradise.

“With this message, I wish to join the chorus of those who consider Dante Alighieri to be an artist of the highest universal value, who still has much to say and to offer, through his immortal works, to those who wish to follow the route of true knowledge, of the authentic discovery of the self, of the world, of the profound and transcendent meaning of existence”, writes the Pope.

He notes that many of his predecessors celebrated the anniversaries of Dante with documents of great importance, in which the figure of Dante Alighieri is presented precisely for his continuing relevance and his greatness, not only artistic but also theological and cultural. He cites, among these, Benedict XV who dedicated his encyclical “In praeclara summorum” (1921) to Dante on the sixth centenary of his death, affirming and highlighting “the intimate union of Dante with the See of Peter”. Blessed Paul VI dedicated the Apostolic Letter “Altissimi cantus”, at the closure of Vatican Council II, to Dante, affirming that “Dante is ours! Ours, as in of Catholic faith”. St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI also often referred to the works of the great poet and mentioned him on numerous occasions. Pope Francis added that in his first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei”, he drew upon the “immense patrimony of images, symbols and values that constitute Dante's work”.

On the eve of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father expresses his hope that during this year the figure of Dante and his work will also accompany us on this personal and community path. “Indeed”, he remarks, “the Comedy may be read as a great itinerary, or rather as a true pilgrimage, both personal and interior, and communal, ecclesial, social and historical. It represents the paradigm of every authentic journey in which humanity is called upon to leave what Dante defines as 'the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious' to attain a new condition, marked by harmony, peace and happiness. And this is the horizon of every true humanism”.

“Dante is, therefore, a prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, of liberation, of the profound transformation of every man and woman, of all humanity. He continues to invite us to rediscover the lost or obscured meaning of our human path and to hope to see again the shining horizon on which there shines in all its fullness the dignity of the human person. Honouring Dante Alighieri, as Paul VI has already invited us to do, we are able to enrich ourselves with his experience in order to cross the many dark forests still scattered on our earth and to happily complete our pilgrimage in history, to reach the destination dreamed of and wished for by every man: 'the love that moves the sun in heaven and all the stars'”.

Visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis visited another parish in his diocese – Santa Maria Regina Pacis at the Ostia Lido. Before celebrating Mass, the bishop of Rome visited the community of the Little Sisters of Jesus, of Charles de Foucauld, also known as the “Luna Park Fraternity” since they live in caravans, and met with the elderly, the sick, and young scouts from the parish, as well as parents who have baptised their children this year.

The Pope greeted the elderly, emphasising that they possess the wisdom of life, experience, pain and patience, as well as the memory of the people and the family. He remarked that the sick “resemble Jesus: they suffer like Jesus and bear the cross like Jesus”, and praised the parish community for lovingly caring for the sick and the elderly, since “when they are not cared for by the community, that community does not function; it lacks something”.

To the scouts, he commented that “in the art of climbing, the important thing is not that you do not fall, but rather that you do not stay on the ground”. He continued, “We all fall, we all make mistakes, even sins, all of us. But what is witness? It is getting up again with God's grace. … This is what the world needs from you, the witness of going ever onwards; although weak, we must go ahead”. He also encouraged the young to transmit their faith with joy and, in difficult moments when joy is obscured, to “overcome those moments with dignity, in the hope that the Holy Spirit gives us strength … and consolation … until our joy returns”.

Finally, he reminded the parents of recently baptised children that baptism is not an isolated event, and invited them to walk with their children along the new path of faith, staying close to the parish community.

In the Pope's homily, in which he commented on the Gospel reading of the vine and the branches, he insisted on the importance of remaining united with Christ, which also means “wanting to be forgiven by Him, but also to be 'pruned', so as to bear more fruit”. He added, “abiding with Jesus means doing the same as He did: doing good, helping others, praying to the Father, healing the sick, helping the poor, having the joy of the Holy Spirit”.

“There are also other branches, to which Jesus does not refer here, but He does so elsewhere; those that present themselves as Jesus' disciples, but do the opposite of what a disciple does, and these branches are hypocrites. Perhaps they go to Mass every Sunday, perhaps they show themselves to be saintly and pious, but then they live as if they were pagans. And Jesus, in the Gospel, calls them hypocrites. Jesus is good, he invites us to abide in Him. He gives us strength, and so if we slide into sinfulness – and we are all sinners – He forgives us, because He is merciful. But He wants two things – that we abide in Him and that we are not hypocrites. And this is how Christian lives go onwards”.

Regina Coeli: true Christians who do good for society

Vatican City, 3 May 2015 (VIS) – The union of Jesus with those who follow Him, explained through the image of the vine and the branches that Christ presents to the disciples at the Last Supper, was the central theme considered by the Pope during this Sunday's Regina Coeli.

“We can all be joined to Jesus in a new way. If, on the contrary, one loses this union with Him, he becomes sterile, indeed harmful to the community. And to express this reality, Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches, and says: 'As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches'”. … Through Him – like the sap in a tree – the love of God Himself, the Holy Spirit, passes to the branches; through this parable Jesus enables us to understand the importance of remaining united with Him. The branches are not self-sufficient, but depend totally on the vine, the source of their life”.

“The same is true for us as Christians. Grafted to Christ through Baptism, we have received from Him the freely-given gift of new life; we can stay in vital communion with Christ”. However, the Pontiff emphasised, “it is necessary to stay faithful to Baptism, and to grow in friendship with the Lord through prayer, the prayer of every day, through listening and obedience to His Word – read the Gospel – and participation in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation”, as “if one is intimately joined to Jesus, he or she receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which – as St. Paul tells us – are 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. As a consequence, a Christian brings great good to his neighbour and to society. Indeed, from these characteristics, it is possible to recognise who is a true Christian, just as we can recognise a tree from its fruits. The fruits of this deep union with Jesus are wonderful. … We receive a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes our own; we can think like Him, act like Him, see the world and other things through Jesus' eyes. As a consequence, we are able to love our brothers, beginning with the poorest and the suffering … and thus bring into the world the fruits of goodness, charity and peace. … Let us trust in the intercession of Our Lady, so that we too may be living branches in the Church and give coherent witness of our faith, consistency between life and thought, life and faith – aware that we all, according to our specific vocations, participate in the sole salvific mission of Christ”.

Following the Regina Coeli the Pope mentioned that yesterday in Turin the Italian Luigi Bordino was proclaimed blessed. A consecrated layman of the Priestly Society of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, the new blessed “devoted his life to the sick and those who suffer, and dedicated himself tirelessly to the poorest, curing and cleansing their wounds”.

The Pope presides at the Mass and day of reflection dedicated to Friar Junipero Serra

Vatican City, 2 May 2015 (VIS) – Today the Pontifical North American College holds a day of reflection dedicated to “Friar Junipero Serra, apostle of California, witness of holiness”, with the aim of spreading knowledge of the life, mission and witness of holiness of this blessed who will be canonised in Washington on 23 September during the Holy Father's apostolic journey to the United States. The day, organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical North American College, with the sponsorship of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, culminated with the celebration of a Holy Mass at the college at midday, at which Pope Francis officiated.

In his homily, the Pope emphasised three aspects of the life of the future saint: his missionary impulse, his Marian devotion and his witness of holiness.

“First of all, he was a tireless missionary”, the Pontiff affirmed. “What made Friar Junipero leave his home and country, his family, university chair and Franciscan community in Mallorca to go to the ends of the earth? Certainly, it was the desire to proclaim the Gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty. Like Paul and Barnabas, like the disciples in Antioch and in all of Judea. … These missionary disciples who have encountered Jesus, the Son of God, who have come to know him through his merciful Father, moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit, went out to all the geographical, social and existential peripheries, to bear witness to charity. They challenge us! Sometimes we stop and thoughtfully examine their strengths and, above all, their weaknesses and their shortcomings. But I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy. Friar Junipero’s witness calls upon us to get involved, personally, in the mission to the whole continent, which finds its roots in Evangelii Gaudium”.

Secondly, “Friar Junipero entrusted his missionary activity to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We know that before leaving for California, he wanted to consecrate his life to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to ask her for the grace to open the hearts of the colonizers and indigenous peoples, for the mission he was about to begin. … Since then, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become, in fact, the Patroness of the whole American continent. You cannot separate her from the hearts of the American people. She represents our shared roots in this land. Indeed, today's mission to the continent is entrusted to her, the first, holy missionary disciple, a constant presence and companion, our source of comfort and hope. For she always hears and protects her American children”.

Thirdly, the Pope invited those present to contemplate the witness of holiness given by Friar Junipero, “one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country. In this way may all Americans rediscover their own dignity, and unite themselves ever more closely to Christ and his Church”. He went on to cite the example of many American saints, who have distinguished themselves through their various charisms: contemplatives like Rose of Lima, Mariana of Quito and Teresita de los Andes; pastors who bear the scent of Christ and of his sheep, such as Toribio de Mogrovejo, Francois de Laval, and Rafael Guizar Valencia; humble workers in the vineyard of the Lord, like Juan Diego and Kateri Tekakwitha; servants of the suffering and the marginalised, like Peter Claver, Martin de Porres, Damian of Molokai, Alberto Hurtado and Rose Philippine Duchesne; founders of communities consecrated to the service of God and of the poorest, like Frances Cabrini, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Katharine Drexel; tireless missionaries, such as Friar Francisco Solano, José de Anchieta, Alonso de Barzana, Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa and Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero; martyrs like Roque Gonzalez, Miguel Pro and Oscar Arnulfo Romero, and so many other saints and martyrs, whom I do not mention here, but who pray before the Lord for their brothers and sisters who are still pilgrims in those lands. There ha been so much holiness in America, so much holiness sown”.

“May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!” exclaimed the Holy Father. “Confident in Jesus’ promise, which we heard today in the Gospel, we ask God for this special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We ask the Risen Jesus, Lord of all ages, that the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God. We pray too that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor, through the witness of Christians of various confessions and communities, together with believers of other religious traditions, and people of upright conscience and good will. Lord Jesus, we are merely your missionary disciples, your humble co-workers so that your Kingdom may come!”

“With this heartfelt prayer”, he concluded, “I ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, Friar Junipero and all the American saints to lead me and guide me during my approaching apostolic journeys to South America and North America. I ask all of you to keep this intention in your prayers, and to continue to pray for me”.

Francis to the faithful of Molise and Abruzzo: job creation cannot be postponed

Vatican City, 2 May 2015 (VIS) – More than seven thousand faithful of the diocese of Isernia-Venafro, which the Pope visited in July last year, were received in audience in the Vatican by the Holy Father this morning. Francis thanked them for the warmth and joy with which they welcomed him, without neglecting to mention the serious difficulties that continue to afflict the area, which he spoke about during his visit.

The Pontiff mentioned first of all the chronic unemployment that especially affects the youngest generations, who increasingly leave the area for other countries, and he also underlined that lack of adequate services to respond to the effective needs of the population. “Faced with this worrying scenario, a general mobilisation is necessary, to unite the strengths of the population, the institutions, private entities and various civil bodies”, he affirmed. “It is not possible to defer the concrete steps that need to be taken to favour the creation of new jobs, thus offering the young the possibility of realising their potential through honest work”.

The diocese is celebrating, on the other hand, a jubilee year dedicated to Pope Celestine V, originally from the region, which offers the opportunity for a new missionary impulse in order to go “beyond a static religious reality” and to “return to Christ, to the Gospel; to be reconciled with God and neighbour. And thus there is reborn the desire to bring His love to all, especially those who are alone, marginalised, humiliated by suffering and by social injustice; to the many who, tired of human words, feel a profound nostalgia for God”. The jubilee year will also provide a preparatory stage for the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the parishes, where “ecclesial communion finds its most immediate and visible expression”, is called upon to be the “privileged place for listening to and announcing the Gospel; a house of prayer around the Eucharist; a true school of communion, where the ardour of charity prevails over the temptation to a superficial and arid religiosity”.

“When difficulties seem to obscure the prospects for a better future, when we experience failure and emptiness around us, it is the moment of Christian hope, based in the Risen Lord and accompanied by charitable strength towards those most in need. This is how your diocesan path, already admirably orientated to this way of charity, can involve more people and more social and institutional bodies in assisting those who are homeless or jobless, as well as those who are affected by forms of poverty both old and new, not only in order to take care of their urgent needs but also to build alongside them a more welcoming society, more respectful of diversity, more just and fraternal. … Problems can be overcome with solidarity. I encourage you, therefore, to be witnesses of solidarity in your cities and towns, at work, at school, in your families, and in the places where you meet”.

Finally, Francis commended all those present to Our Lady and the saints of Molise and Abruzzo, so they might be “supported by these powerful intercessors”, in order to look “without fear and with hope to your future and that of your land”.

Globalising solidarity: the Pope's message for the inauguration of the Milan Universal Exposition

Vatican City, 1 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father spoke at the inauguration of the Universal Exposition of Milan (1 May – 31 October 2015), on the theme “Feeding the planet, energy for life” via a video message transmitted life, in which he emphasises the importance of the event for giving a voice to the poor, globalising solidarity and defending the environment.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to unite my voice to those of you gathered here for this inauguration. It is the voice of the bishop of Rome, who speaks on behalf of the pilgrim People of God throughout the whole world; it is the voice of the many poor who form part of this people and with dignity seek to earn bread through their labours. I would like to be the spokesman for all these brothers and sisters of ours, Christians and also non-Christians, whom God loves as His sons and for whom he gave his life, breaking the brad that is the flesh of His Son made man. He teaches us to ask God the Father: 'Give us this day our daily bread'. EXPO is an opportune occasion to globalise solidarity”.

Recalling the importance of the theme of the EXPO, Francis emphasises that an issue so important and so essential cannot remain merely as a theme for the event, but must instead be accompanied by “an awareness of the faces of the millions of people who are hungry today, who will not eat today in a way worthy of a human being. I would like every person who comes to visit the EXPO of Milan, from today onwards, passing through those wonderful pavilions, to be able to perceive the presence of those faces. A hidden presence, but which ought in reality to be the true protagonist of the event; the faces of the men and women who are hungry, who become ill or even die as a result of inadequate or harmful diet”.

The “paradox of abundance” an expression used by St. John Paul II in his address to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) during the first Conference on Nutrition in 1992 “still persists, in spite of the efforts made and some good results. Even EXPO, in some respects, forms part of this paradox of abundance, if it conforms to the throwaway culture of waste, and does not contribute to an equitable and sustainable model of development. Therefore, let us ensure that EXPO provides the opportunity for a change of mentality, so that we stop thinking that our daily actions – at every level of responsibility – do not have an impact on the life of those, near and far, who suffer from hunger”.

The Pope comments also on the other 'faces' who play an important role in the Universal Exposition – those of the many workers and researchers in the food and agriculture sector. “May the Lord grant wisdom and courage to every one of them, as their responsibility is great”, he says, expressing his hope that all those who work in this field be “involved in a great project for solidarity: that of feeding the planet with respect for every man and woman who inhabit it, and with respect for the natural environment”. It is, he adds, “the great challenge that God presents to humanity in the twenty-first century: to finally stop abusing the garden God has entrusted to us, so that all may eat its fruits”.

“However, everything begins here: from a perception of those faces”, he concludes, “especially the most anonymous, the most hidden, that thanks to EXPO have earned bread to take home. May no-one be deprived of this dignity! And may no bread be the fruit of work unworthy of mankind! The Lord … is the true 'energy for life': the love to share bread, 'our daily bread', in peace and fraternity. And may no man or woman lack bread and the dignity of work”.

To the Cursillos in Christianity: take your charism to the existential peripheries

Vatican City, 1 May 2015 (VIS) – The participants in the third “Ultreya Europea” organised by the Cursillos in Christianity were received in audience by Pope Francis yesterday afternoon. Citing the theme of the encounter, “Ultreya” (“ever onward”, the ancient greeting of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela), he invited them always to continue and to go forward, inspired by the missionary but not proselytising spirit of their founders, the Spanish Eduardo Bonnin Aguilo and the then-bishop of Mallorca, Juan Hervas y Benet. As the Pope remarked, they and other young laypeople, perceived the need to reach out to their peers, glimpsing the desire for truth and love present in their hearts.

“Those pioneers … went towards the people, involving them with warmth and accompanying them on their path of faith with respect and love. This is important: friendliness and company. … I would like to say to your movement: you have not engaged in proselytism! And this is a virtue. The Church grows not by proselytism but by witness, as Pope Benedict said. And it is true. … Today you too wish to announce the Good News of God's love, making yourself close to others … so that they can have a personal experience of Christ's infinite love that frees and transforms life”.

During the meeting, which had a spontaneous nature, the Pope answered some questions from the participants in the Ultreya, suggesting to them how to make their charism fruitful, and beginnning by explaining that to help others grow in faith, first of all it is necessary to experience first-hand God's goodness and tenderness to then communicate it with benevolence and mercy. “This is the amicable witness of dialogue between friends.

“The method of evangelisation of the Cursillos is born precisely of this ardent wish for friendship with God, Who is the source of our friendship with our brothers”, he continued. “From the beginning it was understood that only within a relationship of authentic friendship was it possible to prepare and accompany people on their path, a path that begins with conversion, passes through the discovery of the beauty of a life lived in the grace of God, finally reaching the joy of becoming apostles in daily life. And in this way, since then, thousands of people throughout the world have been helped to grow in the life of faith. In today's context of anonymity and isolation typical of our cities, the dimension of family welcome, on a human scale, that you offer in your group meetings is of great importance”.

It is also important that these small group meetings are accompanied by “moments that favour openness to a larger social and ecclesial dimension, also involving those who come into contact with your charism but do not habitually participate in the group. … Effectively, the Church is an 'open-hearted mother' who invites us at times to 'slow down' and 'stop rushing to remain with someone who has faltered along the way'”.

Francis concluded by renewing his invitation to “go ever onwards”, faithful to their charism, and to “keep alive the zeal and the flame of the Spirit that always drives Christ's disciples to reach those who are distant, without proselytism, to leave their comfort zone and to have the courage to reach out to those peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel. … Every charism is called upon to grown as it carries the Holy Spirit inside, and the Holy Spirit makes it grow. Every charism must take account of different cultures, with different ways of thinking and different values … letting itself be guided by the Spirit”.

Four cardinals to take possession of titles and diaconates

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – According to a note released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the following cardinals will take possession of their titles or diaconates in the coming days:

Cardinal Luis Hector Villalba, archbishop emeritus of Tucuman, Argentina, will take possession of the title of San Girolamo a Corviale in Via dei Buonvisi 3, Rome, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 9 May.

Cardinal Arlindo Gomes Furtado, bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde, will take possession of the title of San Timoteo in Via Apelle 1, Rome, at 10 a.m. on Sunday 10 May.

Cardinal Julio Duarte Langa, bishop emeritus of Xai-Xai, Mozambique, will take possession of the title of San Gabriele dell'Addolorata in Via Ponzio Cominio 93-95, Rome, at 11 a.m. on Sunday 10 May.

Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will take possession of the diaconate of Santo Spirito in Sassia, in Via dei Penitenzieri 12, Rome, at 6 p.m. on Sunday 10 May.


Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S.A.;

- Dr. Antje Jackelen, archbishop of Uppsala, of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden, and entourage;

- Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of the Republic of the Congo, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Anatole Milandou of Brazzaville;

- Bishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou of Dolisie;

- Bishop Urbain Ngassongo of Gamboma;

- Bishop Jean Gardin, C.S.Sp., of Impfondo;

- Bishop Louis Portella Mbuyu of Kinkala;

- Bishop Daniel Mizonzo of Nkayi, with Bishop emeritus Bernard Nsayi;

- Bishop Yves-Marie Monot, C.S.Sp., of Ouesso, with Bishop emeritus Herve Itoua;

- Bishop Victor Abagna Mossa of Owando; and

- Bishop Miguel Angel Olaverri Arroniz, S.D.B., of Pointe-Noire.

On Saturday, 2 May, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Denis Groudin, auxiliary of Quebec, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of Rimouski (area 20,225, population 147,352, Catholics 143,960, priests 85, permanent deacons 16, religious 517), Canada.

On Saturday, 2 May the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague, Czech Republic, as his special envoy to the celebrations for the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, to take place in the city of Prague on 5 and 6 July 2015.

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