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Friday, May 15, 2015

Francis receives the president of Romania on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Holy See

Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, 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, which took place on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Romania on 15 May 1990, the parties focused on bilateral relations characterised by fruitful collaboration, as well as the relations between the State authorities and the local Catholic communities, and the healthy co-existence of minorities.

Attention then turned to issues regarding various regions in the world.

To the bishops of the Central African Republic: justice, truth and honesty in institutional transition

Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – The role of the Church in the process of national reconciliation, Christian formation and the deepening of faith at all levels, and the defence of the family as the primary locus for learning forgiveness and faith were the central themes of the discourse Pope Francis handed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. “I would like you to convey to all your people the assurance of my closeness”, writes the Holy Father. “I know of the suffering that they have experienced and continue to experience, as well as the countless testimonies of faith and fidelity Christians have rendered to the risen Christ on numerous occasions. I am particularly aware of all that your communities have done to for victims of violence and for refugees”.

“Your task is difficult, but it touches the very mystery of Jesus Christ, who died and rose again. It is when evil and death seem to triumph that the hope of renewal in Christ emerges. It is when hatred and violence are unleashed that we are called upon – and find the strength through the power of the Cross and the grace of Baptism – to respond with forgiveness and love. If, sadly, this has not always been the case in the recent events that you have experienced, it is a sign that the Gospel has not yet deeply penetrated the heart of the People of God, to the point of changing their reflexes and their behaviour. Your churches are the result of recent evangelisation, and your primary mission is to continue the work recently begun. You must not be discouraged by the storm you are passing through, but on the contrary must find, in faith and hope, a source of renewed enthusiasm and dynamism”.

Christian formation and the deepening of faith at all levels must be the bishops' priorities, “so that the Gospel permeates the life of the baptised, for the good not only of the Christian communities, but also the whole of Central African society. ... You, brothers in the episcopate, must play an indispensable prophetic role during the current institutional transition, recalling and reflecting the witness of the fundamental values of justice, truth and honesty, which are the foundation of any renewal, promoting dialogue and peaceful coexistence between members of different societies and ethnicities, thus encouraging reconciliation and social cohesion, which is the key to the future. … You are called upon to form the conscience of the faithful, and indeed that of all the people, as your voice is heard and respected by all. It is in this way that you should take your rightful place in current developments, avoiding direct involvement in political quarrels. However, by forming and encouraging the laity so they are steadfast in their faith and solidly trained in the social doctrine of the Church, able to engage in political debate and to take responsibility – their role – you are able to gradually transform society according to the Gospel and to prepare a happy future for your people”.

The Pope also emphasises the formation of seminarians and priests, and thanks them for their witness even in the most difficult situations, and he recalls the importance of consecrated persons who live close to afflicted populations and whose devotion is praiseworthy.

Finally, he spoke about families, “who are the first victims of violence and who are too often destabilised or destroyed as a result of the departure of a member, bereavement, poverty, discord and separations. I wish to express to them my closeness and my affection. … Families are not only the privileged location for the announcement of faith, the practice of Christian virtues and the cradle of many priestly and religious vocations, but they are also 'the best setting for learning and applying the culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation', which your country needs. It is essential that the family be protected and defended 'so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony'. I can therefore only encourage you to accord to the pastoral care of marriage the attention that it deserves, and not to be discouraged by resistance due to cultural traditions, human weakness or the new forms of ideological colonisation that are spreading everywhere”.

Coaches, be an example of integrity

Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the international study seminar on the theme “Coaches: Educating People”, organised by the dicastery's Church and Sport section.

“We all, in life, need educators: mature, wise and balanced people who help us to grow in the family, in study, in work, in faith”, writes the Holy Father. “The presence of a good coach-educator is shown to be providential especially during the years of adolescence and early youth, when the personality is developing and in search of role models to refer to and identify with. ...In this delicate phase of life, a coach bears a great responsibility: he often has the privilege of spending many hours each week with the young and of having a great influence on them in terms of their behaviour and personality. … How important it is, then, that a coach be an example of integrity, coherence, good judgement, impartiality, and also joy, patience, and the capacity for appreciation and benevolence towards all, and especially the most disadvantaged!”.

“And how important it is for him to offer an example of faith!”, he adds. “Faith always helps us to raise our gaze towards God, and not to treat any of our activities as absolute, including sport … as well as to maintain the just distance and wisdom to put into perspective both our defeats and our victories. Faith gives us this outlook of goodness towards others which helps us overcome the temptation of excessive rivalry and aggression, which enables us to understand the dignity of each person, including those who are less gifted or privileged. The coach, in this respect, may make a very valuable contribution to creating a climate of solidarity and inclusion in relation to marginalised young people or those at risk socially, finding suitable ways and methods to involve them in sport and in the experience of socialisation. A coach with human and spiritual balance will also know how to preserve the authentic values of sport and its fundamental nature as a game and social activity, ensuring that it does not become distorted under the pressure of many interests, especially those of an economic nature, which are increasingly evident nowadays”.

Canonisation of Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas and Maryam Baouardy: a sign of hope for the men and women of the Middle East

Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Fr. Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media in Amman, Jordan, presented the figure of the Palestinian blesseds Sister Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, founder of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, and the descalzed Carmelite Maryam Baouardy (Mary of Jesus Crucified). Along with another two women religious, the French Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve and the Italian Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception Brando, they will be canonised by Pope Francis this coming Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

The solemn celebration will be attended by cardinals and bishops resident in Rome and from various parts of the world, including a delegation of 2124 people from the Palestine territories and Jordan headed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal. The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will also be present, along with numerous prelates from Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Cyprus.

“Patriarch Fouad Twal affirmed that 'the declaration of the sainthood of the two nuns from Palestine is a spiritual event of prime importance for the citizens of the Holy Land, amid the difficulties we are experiencing, as the two saints enlighten our path'”, said Fr. Badir. “As the Holy Land, wrecked by violence and dissent, has for some time had a tarnished image, our two saints emerge to restore its sanctity, reminding us that sanctity is possible even in the most difficult circumstances. The canonisation of the two girls from the East during these dark times is an invitation from His Holiness Pope Francis to pray, knowing that only prayer can miraculously help save our faith in the midst of these times of trial. Now we have two new saints who represent a model of perfection for Christians, as well as for Muslims and Jews alike. They are both named Mary, and this name is widespread and commonly used among all three traditions. It is a sign of our modern time which suggests that we can talk about the three religions without any discrimination”.

“This grand event”, added Fr. Badir, “is a message of solidarity and encouragement to the Christians of the Holy Land, especially for those in all other Middle East countries, to those who have been forcibly displaced and deported from their home countries, and to all those who suffer persecution, and whose persecutors sometimes think that by killing they are offering a sacrifice to God, as Jesus Himself warned”.

The new saint Mary of Jesus Crucified was “subjected to acts of extremism and an attempt on her life, seeking to force her to change her religion. She now intercedes for those who are being killed because of their religion and their religious affiliation. Her life and intercession are a cry urging respect for religious and ethnic differences as well as acknowledging human beings as creatures who are made in the image and likeness of God”. St. Marie-Alphonsine “succeeded in gaining the support of the religious authorities to set up the first Arab religious congregation, and placing the Arab world on the map in the fields of education and religious teaching”.

“Furthermore, the rosary schools associated with this Arab religious congregation have a prominent and influential presence in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, the Gulf states and Rome. We realise that during the late 19th and early 20th century this religious congregation contributed to increasing the Arab role in culture, social awareness, spiritual guidance and education of generations of men and women. Illiteracy has been eliminated in many parts of the Middle East as a direct result of the active contribution of nuns and religious congregations to literacy education”.

He concluded, “The two saintly nuns, whose canonisation coincides with the Church celebrations of the year of consecrated life and the blessed Marian Month of May, pray that the Lord would bring peace and calmness to our hearts and minds, and that we will return to worshipping the Almighty. … We view the consecration of the founder of the Rosary Sisters as an invitation to intensify the daily Rosary prayers in Churches, houses, and parish groups to bring peace, love and mutual respect among all the peoples of the Middle East”.


Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

- Daniel Ramada Piendibene, ambassador of Uruguay to the Holy See, on his farewell visit;

- nine prelates of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga, C.S.Sp., of Bangui;

- Bishop Peter Marzinkowski, C.S.Sp., of Alindao, with his coadjutor, Bishop Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa;

- Bishop Edouard Mathos of Bambari;

- Bishop Dennis Kofi Agbenyadzi, S.M.A., of Berberati;

- Bishop Nestor-Desire Nongo-aziagbia, S.M.A., of Bossangoa;

- Bishop Armando Umberto Gianni, O.F.M. Cap., of Bouar;

- Bishop Albert Vanbuel, S.D.B., of Kaga-Bandoro; and

- Bishop Guerrino Perin, M.C.C.I., of Mbaiki.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 15 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Francescantonio Nole, O.F.M. Conv., of Tursi-Lagonegro, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Cosenza-Bisignano (area 2,537, population 384,000, Catholics 382,000, priests 230, permanent deacons 40, religious 377), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Salvatore Nunnari, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Domenico Pompili as bishop of Rieti (area 1,818, population 99,046, Catholics 93,003, priests 96, deacons 15, religious 227), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Rome, Italy in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate and doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles in the diocese of Anagni-Alatri, including parish priest, special secretary to the bishop, director of the diocesan office for social communications and episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry. He is currently director of the national office for social communications of the Italian Episcopal Conference, under-secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, secretary of the Communication and Culture Foundation, and lecturer in moral theology at the Pontifical Theological Leonian Institute of Anagni.

Yesterday, Thursday 14 May, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Patrick McKinney as bishop of Nottingham (area 13,000, population 4,535,000, Catholics 155,000, priests 163, permanent deacons 39, religious 92), England. The bishop-elect was born in Birmingham, England in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1978. He holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Birmingham, including parish assistant, teacher of fundamental theology and subsequently rector of the Seminary of St. Mary's, parish priest, episcopal vicar for the northern sector of Birmingham, and vicar forane of the deanery of Dudley. He was named Prelate of Honour of His Holiness in 1990.
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