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Friday, June 5, 2015

The Pope receives the president of Chile: further intensify existing good relations

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, 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, mention was made of the existing good bilateral relations between the Parties, in the hope that they may be further strengthened within the framework of the provisions of international law. Issues of common interest such as the protection of human life, education and social peace were then addressed. In this context, emphasis was placed on the role and the positive contribution of Catholic institutions in Chilean society, especially in relation to human promotion, education and assistance to those most in need.

This was followed by an overview of the situation in Latin America, with particular reference to various challenges affecting the continent.

To the Dehonians: be present in the new areopagus of evangelisation

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Consistory Hall the Pope received in audience 120 participants in the General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians), based on the theme “Merciful, in community, with the poor”. Francis took the opportunity to express his best wishes to the new Superior General, Fr. Heiner Wilmer, and to greet all the Dehonians who work “often in difficult conditions in various parts of the world”.

“Religious life is indicated as a fully evangelical life, in which the beatitudes are fully realised”, remarked the Pope. “Therefore, as consecrated persons, you are required to be merciful. This means, first and foremost, living in profound communion with God in prayer, in meditation on the Sacred Scripture, in the celebration of the Eucharist, so that all our life may be a path of growth in God's mercy. To the extent to which we make ourselves aware of the freely-given love of the Lord and welcome it in ourselves, our tenderness, understanding and goodness towards the people around us will also grow”.

Religious life is also “the cohabitation of believers who feel they are loved by God and who seek to love Him. … In the experience of God's mercy and His love you will also find the point of the harmonisation of your communities. This necessitates the commitment to increasingly savour the mercy that your brethren show to you and to offer them the wealth of your mercy”, said the bishop of Rome to the Dehonians, recalling in this regard the example of their founder, Fr. Leon Dehon (1843-1925).

“Mercy is the word that summarises the Gospel; we might say that it is the 'face' of Christ, that face that He showed when he went towards everyone, when he healed the sick, when he shared a table with the sinners, and especially when, nailed to the cross, he forgave: there we find the face of divine mercy. And the Lord calls upon us to be 'channels' of this love firstly towards the least among us, the poorest, who are privileged in His eyes. Let yourselves be continually challenged by the situations of fragility and poverty with which you come into contact, and endeavour to offer in the appropriate ways the witness of charity that the Spirit infuses in your hearts”. The Holy Father concluded, “Mercy will allow you to open up promptly to current needs and to be industriously present in the new areopagus of evangelisation, prioritising – even if this may involve sacrifices – openness towards those situations of extreme need, symptomatic of the maladies of today's society”.

Pontifical Missionary Societies: opening up to geographic and human boundaries

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – Missionary activity is the paradigm of all the work of the Church, said Pope Francis to the participants in the general assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Societies (PMS), and reiterated that the announcement of the Gospel is “the first and constant concern of the Church, her essential task, her greatest challenge, and the source of her renewal. … Without the restlessness and anxiety of evangelisation it is not possible to develop a credible and effective pastoral ministry uniting proclamation and human promotion”.

Therefore, the members of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and the national directors of the PMS have the difficult task of opening up to “the broad and universal horizons of humanity, its geographical and above all human boundaries”, accompanying the life of the young Churches throughout the world and encouraging the People of God to fully live the universal mission. “You know the wonders that the Holy Spirit works for humanity through these Churches, often with scarce resources and even through the difficulties and persecutions they suffer for their faith and their witness to the Word of God and in defence of humanity. In those human peripheries the Church is required to go into the streets, towards the many brothers and sisters of ours who live without the strength, light and consolation of Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to welcome them, without horizons of meaning and of life”.

The Pope emphasised that the PMS, on account of their characteristic charism, are attentive and sensitive to the needs of mission territories and, in particular, the poorest human groups. “They are instruments of communion between Churches, promoting and implementing the sharing of people and economic resources. They are committed to supporting seminarians, presbyters and women religious of the young Churches in mission territories in the Pontifical Colleges. Faced with such a beautiful and important task, faith and love of Christ have the capacity to lead us everywhere to announce the Gospel of love, fraternity and justice. This is achieved through prayer, evangelical courage and the witness of the beatitudes”.

However, he warned, “be careful not to give in to the temptation to become a non-governmental organisation, an office for the distribution of ordinary and extraordinary aid. Money helps but can also become the ruin of the Mission. Functionalism, when it is placed in the centre or occupies a major space, as if it were the most important issue, will lead you to ruin, as the first way to die is to take the 'sources' for granted – that is, He Who inspires the Mission. Please, with all your plans and programmes, do not cut Jesus Christ out of missionary work, which is His work. A Church that is reduced to pursuing efficiency of the party apparatus at all costs is already dead, even though the structures and programmes in favour of the clergy and 'self-employed' laity could last for centuries”.

“True evangelisation is not possible without the sanctifying energy of the Holy Spirit, the only one able to renew, revive and give impetus to the Church in her bold outreach to evangelise all peoples”, concluded the Pope.

Condolences for victims of explosion in a service station in Accra, Ghana

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu of Konongo-Mampong, president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, for the many victims of the explosion and subsequent fire in a petrol station in Accra.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic incident at a petrol station in Accra in which so many people died or were seriously injured, the Holy Father sends heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and injured, to the authorities and to the entire nation. His Holiness commends the souls of the departed to Almighty God and willingly invokes the divine gifts of consolation and strength upon those who mourn and upon all who have been affected by this tragedy”.

Solemnity of Corpus Christi: the Eucharist is not a reward for the good

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass before thousands of people at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The Eucharist the procession began, led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, along the Via Merulana to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where the Pope imparted his solemn blessing with the Holy Sacrament.

In his homily, the Pope recalled that during the Last Supper, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood in the bread and wine, to leave us the memorial of His sacrifice of infinite love, and by means of this 'viaticum', full of grace, the disciples have everything that is necessary for their path through history, to extend the kingdom of God to all. As the responsory of today's liturgy shows, “See in this bread the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup the blood which flowed from His side. Take His body, then, and eat it; take His blood and drink it, and you will become His members. The body of Christ is the bond which unites you to Him: eat it, or you will have no part in Him. The blood is the price He paid for your redemption: drink it, lest you despair of your sinfulness”.

Francis explained the meaning today of being torn from Him and of despairing, as cowards. “We are torn from Him when we are not obedient to the Word of the Lord, when we do not live brotherhood between us, when we race to occupy the first places, … when we find the courage to witness to charity, when we are unable to offer hope. The Eucharist allows us to be not torn from Him, for it is the bond of communion, is the fulfilment of the Covenant … that we might remain united. … The Christ present in our midst, in the signs of bread and wine, requires that the power of love exceed every laceration, and at the same time that it become communion with the poor, support for the weak, fraternal attention to those who are struggling to carry the weight of everyday life and are in danger of losing faith”.

To be cowardly, to despair of our sinfulness, he said, “means to let ourselves be affected by the idolatries of our time: appearance, consumption, the self at the centre of everything; but also being competitive, arrogance as the winning attitude, the idea that one never need admit to a mistake or to find oneself in need. All this demeans us, makes us mediocre, lukewarm, insipid Christians, pagans”.

“Jesus shed his blood as a ransom and as a lavacrum – a cleansing agent, that we might be purified of all sins”, he continued, “that we might be preserved from the risk of corruption. … The Blood of Christ will … give us back our dignity. ... We will be His eyes that go in search of Zacchaeus and of the Magdalene; we will be His hand who helps the sick in body and spirit; we will be His heart that loves those in need of reconciliation and understanding. … In this way we understand that the Eucharist is not a reward for the good, but rather strength for the weak, for sinners. It is forgiveness, the viaticum that helps us on our way”.

“Today, the feast of Corpus Christi, we have the joy not only of celebrating this mystery, but also of praising Him and singing in the streets of our city”, he continued. “May the procession we will make at the end of the Mass, express our gratitude for all the journey that God has allowed us to make through the desert of our poverty, to take us out of slavery, by nourishing us with His love through the Sacrament of his Body and the Blood. Soon, as we walk the streets, let us perceive ourselves in communion with our many brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus. Let us feel that we are united with them, let us sing with them, praise with them, worship with them. And we venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives for their fidelity to Christ. May their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world”.

Pope Francis' new encyclical to be published on 18 June

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office Bulletin today reports that Pope Francis' new encyclical will be published on Thursday 18 June. Further information on its presentation will shortly be made available in the Bulletin.


Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Michelle Bachelet Jeria, president of the Republic of Chile, and entourage;

- Archbishop Leon Kalenga Badikebele, apostolic nuncio in El Salvador and in Belize;

- Claudio Descalzi, chief executive officer of ENI SpA., with his family.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, presented by Bishop Manfred Melzer, in accordance with canons 401 para. 2 and 411 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Fr. Oscar Munera Ochoa as apostolic vicar of Tierradentro (area 2,087, population 68,000, Catholics 64,000, priests 15, religious 17), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in San Pedro de los Milagros, Colombia in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in philosophy and religious sciences at the Catholic University of Oriente, Colombia and a diploma in “Missione ad gentes y etnias” from the Pontifical Xavierian University, Bogota, Colombia. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Osos, including parish vicar, spiritual director and subsequently rector of the Apostolic School in Liborina, diocesan delegate for youth and vocational pastoral ministry, director of the department of youth in the Episcopal Conference of Colombia; episcopal vicar for the western sector of the diocese; vicar for pastoral ministry and bursar, and director of the department for missions of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia. He is currently parish priest of the “Senor de los Milagros de San Pedro” parish.

- appointed Libero Milone as auditor general of the Holy See and Vatican City State.

On Thursday 4 June, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao, auxiliary of Xuan Loc, Vietnam, as coadjutor of the same diocese.


Vatican City, 5 June 2015 (VIS) – A special edition of the Vatican Information Service bulletin will be transmitted tomorrow, Saturday 6 June, on the occasion of Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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