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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

General audience: the family, the closest hospital

Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – Illness, a common experience in the life of families from childhood until advanced age, was the theme of the Pope's catechesis during this week's Wednesday general audience. “The family has always been the 'closest hospital'. And still, today, in many parts of the world, the hospital is a privilege enjoyed by few, and is often far away. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents provide care and help heal the sick”.

In the Gospel there are many encounters between Jesus and the sick, and his commitment to caring for them. Christ “presents himself publicly as one who fights against sickness and who has come to cure man of every ill: ills of the spirit and of the body”. The Pope remarked that the scene in the Gospel of Mark – “that evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons” – is “truly moving. … If I think of today's great cities, I ask myself, where are the doors before which we can bring the sick, hoping they will be healed. Jesus never withdrew from their care, He never passed them by, He never turned away. And when a father or a mother, or even simply friends brought an invalid before Him, for Him to touch and heal, He wasted no time; healing came before the law, even sacred laws such as rest on the Sabbath”.

Jesus sent His disciples to fulfil the same task and He gave them the power to heal. “We must keep in mind what He said to the disciples in the episode of the man born blind. The disciples – with the blind man before them – debated about who had sinned, him or his parents, to provoke his blindness. The Lord said clearly: neither him nor his parents; 'but that the works of God might be displayed in him'. And He healed him. Here is the glory of God! Here is the task of the Church! To help the sick, not to get lost in talk. To help, console, alleviate, always to be near: this is her task”.

“The Church invites us to continual prayer for our dear ones who are sick, and prayer for them must never be lacking. Rather, we must pray more, both personally and as a community. … Faced with sickness, difficulties can also arise in the family as a result of human weakness. But in general illness strengthens family bonds. And I think of how important it is to educate children, starting from infancy, on the importance of solidarity in times of sickness. An education that shelters them from sensitivity to human sickness hardens the heart and anaesthetises the young to the suffering of others, rendering them incapable of facing up to suffering and living the experience of limits”.

“The weakness and suffering of our most loved ones … can be … a school of life … and especially when illness is accompanied by prayer and the fraternal, affectionate closeness of families. The Christian community is well aware that the family, during the trials of sickness, must not be left alone. … This Christian closeness of family to family, is a true treasure for a parish: a treasure of wisdom, that helps families in difficult moments and enables them to understand the Kingdom of God more clearly than through words”.

The tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals comes to an end

Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing this morning on the work of the tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals, which began on Monday and concluded this morning in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Holy Father attended all the sessions, both morning and afternoon, on Monday and Tuesday; however as usual he did not participate in this morning's session due to the Wednesday general audience.

Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya was unable to attend the meeting.

The first day was dedicated largely to the examination of the draft Preamble of the new Constitution, which will be further elaborated.

With regard to financial and economic reform, Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, presented a report with updated information on the financial reforms. He mentioned the appointment of the new Auditor General, the approval of the new Statute for Pension Funds and the completion of the list of bodies subject to the control and supervision of the Council for the Economy, in accordance with its Statutes. He also referred to three new initiatives of the Council for the Economy, constituting three working groups: one for the analysis of income and investments; one for human resources management, and a third for the study of the existing IT systems, their compatibility and their efficiency. He concluded by reporting on the progress of the various current activities of the Secretariat for the Economy.

In the afternoon session of 8 June 2015, the Council of Cardinals received a report from Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, OFM Cap. with a proposal for the Holy Father regarding allegations of the abuse of office by a bishop connected to the abuse of minors, originally prepared by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Cardinal O'Malley’s report also included a proposal regarding allegations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy.

For each proposal, the report indicated the general terms which define it, issues relating to procedure and to the competent Tribunal, as well as the advantages of the proposal compared with other possible solutions. The text concludes with a list of five specific proposals made to the Holy Father, which are listed below. It is proposed that:

1. because the competence to receive and investigate complaints of the episcopal abuse of office belongs to the Congregations for Bishops, Evangelisation of Peoples, or Oriental Churches, there is the duty to report all complaints to the appropriate Congregation;

2. the Holy Father mandate the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors;

3. the Holy Father authorise the establishment of a new Judicial Section in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and appointment of stable personnel to undertake service in the Tribunal. The implementation of this decision would follow consultation with the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

4. the Holy Father appoint a secretary to assist the prefect with the Tribunal. The secretary will be responsible for the new Judicial Section and the personnel of the section will also be available to the prefect for penal processes regarding the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy. This appointment will also follow the consultation with the prefect of the Congregation;

5. the Holy Father establish a five-year period for further development of these proposals and for completing a formal evaluation of their effectiveness;

The Council of Cardinals agreed unanimously on these proposals and resolved that they be submitted to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who approved the proposals and authorised the provision of sufficient resources for this purpose.

In the morning of 9 June the Council of Cardinals heard a report given by Msgr. Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre and president of the Commission for Vatican communications instituted by the Holy Father Francis on 23 April 2015 (made public on 30 April), and expressed its unanimous approval of the feasibility study conducted by the same Commission.

Starting from the analyses and reports of McKinsey and the previous commissions (COSEA and the Vatican Media Commission chaired by Lord Chris Patten), the current Commission presented a plan for reform to be implemented over a four-year period, ensuring the protection of staff and a gradual integration of institutions. These are the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Centre, the Osservatore Romano, the Photographic Service, the Vatican Publishing House, the Vatican Typography and the Internet Office.

The Council of Cardinals expressed a positive judgement to the Holy Father, also in relation to the expected time span. The constitution of the dicastery will be drafted, and the necessary appointments made during the coming months to enable the process to be initiated. The Commission is currently continuing its work, which has yet to be completed.

On Wednesday morning, the Council heard a communique from Fr. Michael Czerny of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” regarding the Holy Father's new encyclical and the preparation for its publication. Fr. Czerny explained that, at the Pope's behest, emails will be sent, introduced by a letter from Cardinal Turkson, to inform ordinaries throughout the world of the upcoming publication of the encyclical and to provide suggestions and assistance on the teaching and previous interventions by the Pope on the theme of the environment. It is hoped that this will allow individual bishops and episcopates to prepare for the new document and to accompany it with appropriate explanations and comments, so as to ensure that the publication of the encyclical is experienced as an important event in the life of the universal Church and in communion with the Holy Father.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for 14 to 16 September.

The Holy See and the United States sign agreement against tax evasion

Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth F. Hackett, signed an historic agreement between the Holy See (acting also in the name of and on behalf of Vatican City State) and the United States of America to improve international tax compliance and the exchange of tax information in view of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

This agreement – which is the first formal intergovernmental agreement between the Holy See and the United States – underscores the commitment of both parties to promote and ensure ethical behaviour in the financial and economic fields. In particular, this agreement will prevent tax evasion and facilitate the compliance of fiscal duties by those U.S. citizens who conduct financial activities in Vatican City State.

Ensuring the payment of taxes and preventing tax evasion are of crucial economic importance for every community since adequate tax revenues and public spending are indispensable for governments to become instruments of development and solidarity, to encourage employment growth, to sustain business and charitable activities, and to provide systems of social insurance and assistance designed to protect the weakest members of society.

In a context of economic globalisation, it is therefore essential to strengthen the exchange of information with the view to prevent tax evasion. The present agreement is thus based on the most up-to-date global standards to curtail offshore tax evasion through the automatic exchange of tax information.

The Holy See at the 39th Conference of the FAO: sustainable human development

Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, head of the Holy See delegation at the 39th session of the Conference of the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation), being held in Rome from 6 to 13 June, spoke this morning at the seventh plenary session dedicated to the theme “Breaking the cycle of rural poverty and hunger by strengthening rural resilience: social protection and sustainable agricultural development". Tomorrow in the Vatican the Holy Father will receive in audience the 450 attendees of the Conference.

“The member States and various intergovernmental institutions who work in the sector of development and cooperation keep a close eye on the FAO and its activities, as does civil society in its different and valuable forms of organisation. The work that this organisation is called upon to undertake, in the present and in the near future, in the various regions of the world, must be focused on this reality”, affirmed the prelate. “This requires extra effort: in facing the problems of the rural world and the needs of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition it is also necessary to consider the condition of agricultural workers and their earnings, but without forgetting that the agricultural worker is not solely an economic subject. He or she is a person capable of participating in decision-making regarding production, conservation and distribution of the fruits of the land”.

“Therefore, more than sustainable development, it would be far more incisive and coherent to speak about sustainable human development, or rather a development that places at the centre the human person, with his or her real capacities, limitations, peculiarities and needs, both individually and as a family. If the economic parameters do not take all this into account, the resulting damage is clear and irreparable, for greater progress can never be equivalent to less humanity. An ethical and human vision of development requires us instead to share resources, strategies and financing, but above all reminds us of the urgency and importance of solidarity as well as determination to put an end, once and for all, to the underdevelopment of the rural world. The Organisation may then continue to be the competent 'centre' for the gathering, study and dissemination of information on agriculture, production methods and regulations, as its Constitution stipulates and as is justly expected of it at all levels”.

“The Holy See delegation wishes here to reaffirm the willingness of the Catholic Church, in her structures and organisational forms, to contribute to this effort”, concluded Msgr. Chica Arellano.


Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Piergiorgio Bertoldi, apostolic nuncio in Burkina Faso and Niger, with family members.

This afternoon, he is scheduled to receive in audience Vladimir V. Putin, president of the Russian Federation, and entourage.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 10 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted:

- the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Amargosa, Brazil, presented by Bishop Joao Nilton dos Santos Souza, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Bishop Teodoro Mendes Tavares, C.S.Sp., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Belem do Para, Brazil, as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Ponta de Pedras (area 2,082, population 2,253,045, Catholics 1,857,243, priests 199, permanent deacons 82, religious 545), Brazil.
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