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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jews and Christians believe that God is revealed to man through His Word

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international congress promoted by the International Council of Christians and Jews, held in Rome from 28 June to 1 July on the theme “The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate: the past, present and future of relations between Jews and Christians”.

The Pope expressed his pleasure that this year's meeting is taking place in Rome, the city where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried – “for all Christians, both Apostles are an important point of reference: they are like 'pillars' of the Church” – and the home of the most ancient Jewish community in Western Europe, whose origins can be traced to the time of the Maccabees. “Christians and Jews therefore have lived together in Rome for almost two thousand years, even though their relations in the course of history have not been without difficulty”.

The development of authentic fraternal dialogue has been made possible since Vatican Council II, following the promulgation of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, “a document which represents a definitive 'yes' to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable 'no' to anti-Semitism”. He continued, “In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we are able to see the rich fruits which it has brought about and to gratefully appraise Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In this way, we can express our thanks to God for all the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding these past fifty years, as his Holy Spirit has accompanied our efforts in dialogue. Our fragmented humanity, mistrust and pride have been overcome thanks to the Spirit of Almighty God, in such a way that trust and fraternity between us have continued to grow. We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters. Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history. And he, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, always blesses our commitment to dialogue”.

“Christians, all Christians, have Jewish roots”, emphasised the Pope. “Because of this, since its inception, the International Council of Christians and Jews has welcomed the various Christian confessions. Each of them, in its own way, has drawn near to Judaism, which in its time, has been distinguished by diverse trends and sensibilities. The Christian confessions find their unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life, and Jews to the teaching of the Torah. This pattern of theological reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity arises precisely from Nostra Aetate, and upon this solid basis can be developed yet further”.

Pope Francis greets Benedict XVI before the Pope emeritus' two-week stay in Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – At around 10 a.m. this morning, Pope Francis visited Benedict XVI in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae ex-convent to greet him and to wish him a good stay in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope emeritus transferred this morning and will remain for two-weeks (he is expected to return on 14 July). The meeting lasted for around half an hour.

The Holy See Press Office announced that the Wednesday General Audiences will be suspended for the month of July and will resume in August in the Paul VI Hall. All other audiences will be suspended, with the exception of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal meeting in St. Peter's Square on 3 July. The morning Mass with groups of faithful in the Sanctae Marthae chapel will be suspended during the months of July and August, to resume at the beginning of September.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for July

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for July is: “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society”.

Programme of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today the programme was published for Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations on the occasion of his participation in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from 19 to 28 September.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 19 September and is expected to arrive at 4.05 p.m. in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. On Sunday 20 September he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic in the Palace of the Revolution. Later he will celebrate Vespers in the Cathedral with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, and will subsequently greet the young in the Fr. Felix Varela Cultural Centre.

On Monday 21 September, in the morning, he will transfer to Holguin where he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion and will bless the city from the Loma de la Cruz. He will then depart by air for Santiago, where he will meet with the bishops in St. Basil's Major Seminary. The day will conclude with the prayer to Our Lady of Charity with the bishops and the papal entourage in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago.

Tuesday 22 September will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago. The Pope will then meet families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion in Santiago and, after blessing the city, will depart by air for Washington D.C., U.S.A., where he will be received at the Andrews Air Force Base.

On Wednesday 23 September, there will be a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Pope will pronounce a discourse and pay a courtesy visit to the president of the United States. At 11 a.m., the Pope will meet with the bishops of the United States in St. Matthew's Cathedral. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass for the canonisation of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra.

On Thursday 24 September Pope Francis will visit and address the United States Congress. He will subsequently visit the charity centre of the St. Patrick's parish where he will meet a group of homeless people. In the afternoon he will transfer by air to New York, where at 6.45 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with priests and men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Friday 25 September will begin with an address by the Holy Father at the seat of the United Nations in New York and, at 11.30 a.m., he will participate in an interreligious meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial site. He will then visit the “Our Lady, Queen of Angels” school and meet with families of immigrants in Harlem. The day will conclude with Holy Mass in Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday 26 September, the Pope will travel by air to Philadelphia, where at 10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass with the bishops, clergy and men and women religious in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. In the afternoon he will participate in a meeting for religious freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in the Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

Sunday 27 September will begin with a meeting with the bishops invited to the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, after which the Pope will visit the detainees in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia. He will go on to celebrate the concluding Holy Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In the late afternoon, before the farewell ceremony, he will greet the organising committee, the volunteers and benefactors at the international airport of Philadelphia, from where he will depart on his return flight to Rome. The aircraft carrying the Holy Father is scheduled to land on Monday 28 September at 10 a.m.

The Pope to the new metropolitan archbishops

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father blessed the pallia destined for the archbishops appointed during the year. At Francis' behest, the pallium – the band of white wool adorned with black crosses symbolising the sheep placed on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd and worn by the Pope and the archbishops as a sign of communion – was not imposed by the bishop of Rome, but instead sent privately in order to be imposed at a later date by the apostolic nuncio in the country of origin, as a sign of synodality.

Following the blessing of the pallia, placed prior to the service below the altar of the Confession of the apostle Peter, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic celebration with the new metropolitan archbishops. As is customary on the solemnity of the patron saints of Rome, the Holy Mass was attended by a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, led by the metropolitan of Pergamo, Ioannis (Zizioulas), accompanied by the metropolitan of Silyvria, Maximo and Fr. Heikki Huttunen of the Orthodox Church of Finland.

In his homily, the full text of which is reproduced below, the Holy Father spoke about the courage of the apostles when the first Christian community was beset by persecution, and recalled that in our days too we are witnessing “atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible” persecutions, often “under the silent gaze of all”, and exhorted the metropolitan archbishops to “teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing, and offer witness by living”.

“The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison'.

“However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.

A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: 'Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church'. And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.

The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.

“The first reading continues: 'Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side … And the chains fell off his hands'.

Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel? An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation? Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, 'You are not alone'.

How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the 'maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognising Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door'.

No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children. Jesus asked himself: 'And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?'. In prayer, believers express their faith and their trust, and God reveals his closeness, also by giving us the angels, his messengers.

A call to faith: in the second reading Saint Paul writes to Timothy: 'But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully … So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom'. God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: 'The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want'.

How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: 'To him be glory for ever and ever'.

Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.

In the name of Christ, believers have raised the dead; they have healed the sick; they have loved their persecutors; they have shown how there is no power capable of defeating the one who has the power of faith!

A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God.

Paul writes in a moving way to Timothy: 'My son, I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing'.

A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'.

Dear Archbishops who today receive the Pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission. The Pallium is 'a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other Bishops of the world'.

Today, by these Pallia, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness. The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!

The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross. No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!

The Church wants you to be men of witness. St. Francis used to tell his brothers: 'Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!'. There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle! Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world. And this follows the example of Peter and Paul and so many other witnesses along the course of the Church’s history, witnesses who, yet belonging to different Christian confessions, have contributed to demonstrating and bringing growth to the one Body of Christ. I am pleased to emphasise this, and am always pleased to do so, in the presence of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by my beloved brother Bartholomew I.

This is not so straightforward: because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others.

Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!”

Angelus: the legacy of Sts Peter and Paul is a source of pride for Rome

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – At midday, after celebrating Holy Mass with the new metropolitan archbishops in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

“The solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated, as you know, by the universal Church, but it is lived with particular joy by the Church of Rome, as her foundations lie in their witness, sealed with blood. Rome nurtures a special affection and acknowledgement for these men of God, who came from a faraway and to announce, at the expense of their lives, the Gospel of Christ to Whom they were totally dedicated. The glorious legacy of these two apostles is a reason for spiritual pride for Rome and, at the same time, is a reminder to live Christian virtues and in particular faith and charity: faith in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, that Peter professed first and Paul announced to the people; and charity, which this Church is called upon to serve with a universal outlook”.

“In the Angelus prayer”, he explained, “we associate the memory of Saints Peter and Paul with that of Mary, the living image of the Church, Christ's spouse, whom the two Apostles made fruitful with their blood”. Peter personally knew Mary and, conversing with her, especially in the days preceding Pentecost, he was able to deepen his knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Paul, in announcing the fulfilment of the salvific plan 'in the fullness of time', does not neglect to mention the 'woman' to whom the Son of God was born in time. In the evangelisation of the two apostles here in Rome there are also the roots of the Romans' deep, centuries-long devotion to the Holy Virgin, invoked in particular as Salus Populi Romani. Mary, Peter and Paul: they are our travelling companions in our search for God, they are our guides on the path of faith and holiness; they drive us towards Jesus, to do all that He asks of us. Let us invoke their help, so that our heart may always be open to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit and encounter with our brothers”.

Francis asked all those present to pray in a special way for Rome, for its spiritual and material well-being, and that divine grace might support the Roman people to live Christian faith fully. After the Marian prayer he reminded those present of his upcoming apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July, and again asked the faithful to accompany him in prayer to Our Lady during the trip.

Angelus: faith is touching Jesus and receiving the grace that saves us

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – The resurrection of Christ that acts throughout history as the source of renewal and hope was the theme of the Pope's reflection during this Sunday's Angelus, in which which he commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, the awakening after death of the daughter of one of the heads of the synagogue, and the healing of the bleeding woman.

In the first passage, Jesus is called by the father of the dead child, says “Do not fear, only believe” and, entering the house, he orders her to rise. The child awakens and begins to walk. “Here we see Jesus' absolute power over physical death, that for Him is like a slumber from which one can reawaken”.

In the second reading, Jesus heals a woman who has suffered bleeding for two years, an illness that in the cultural context of the time would have rendered her “impure” and obliged her to avoid all human contact, “as if she were condemned to a civil death”, the Pope explained. “This anonymous woman, in the midst of the crowd following Jesus, says to herself, 'If I touch even his garments, I will be made well'. And so it was: the need to be freed drives her to boldness and her faith 'seizes', as it were, the cure. Those who believe touch Jesus and draw from Him the Grace that saves. It saves our spiritual life and it saves us from many problems”.

“These two episodes – healing and resurrection – have a sole centre: faith. The message is clear, and can be summarised in a question: do we believe that Jesus can heal us and reawaken us from death? All the Gospel is written in the light of this faith: Jesus is resurrected, he conquers death, and by this, his victory, we too will rise again. … Christ's Resurrection acts in history as a source of renewal and hope. Whoever is desperate and tired, unto death, if he trusts in Jesus and His love, may begin to live again. Also starting out on a new life, changing one's life, is a way of rising again, of resuscitating. Faith is a force of life that gives fullness to our humanity; and he or she who believes in Christ must recognise this so that it may promote life in every situation, and enable everyone, especially the weakest, to experience God's love that liberates and saves”.

“Let us ask the Lord, by the intercession of Our Lady, for the gift of strong and courageous faith, that drives us to spread hope and life among our brethren”, concluded the bishop of Rome.

The Pope's telegrams for the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent telegrams on behalf of the Holy Father to the representatives of the Holy See in France, Tunisia and Kuwait following the terrorist attacks on 26 June in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, Sousse and Kuwait City.

The Pope writes to the apostolic nuncio in France that he participates in prayer in the suffering of the family of the victim of the attack in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, and with the wounded and their relatives. He repeats his condemnation of “violence that gives rise to so much suffering”, invokes the Lord's gift of peace, and blesses the afflicted families and all the French people.

In his telegram to the apostolic nuncio in Tunisia, Francis expresses his heartfelt condolences to the Tunisian people and in particular to the families of the deceased following the attack in Sousse. Again condemning violence, he asks God to welcome the souls of the departed in His light, and blesses the injured, their loved ones and all Tunisian citizens.

In his third telegram, the Holy Father declares his sadness at the tragic loss of life and injuries caused by the attack on a mosque in Kuwait City, and offers his prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn. Deploring these acts of barbarism, he reaffirms his spiritual closeness to all the families affected and to the Kuwaiti people, encouraging them not to lose heart in the face of evil, and invokes upon the nation the consoling and healing love of the Almighty.

The Pope institutes the Secretariat for Communication

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the apostolic letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by which the Holy Father has instituted the Secretariat for Communication:

“The current communications context, characterised by the presence and development of digital media, and by factors of convergence and interactivity, requires a re-evaluation of the information system of the Holy See and commitment to reorganisation that, taking into consideration what has developed historically within the communication structures of the Apostolic See, proceeds decisively towards integration and unified management.

For these reasons, I consider that all those bodies that have until now been occupied in different ways with communication be brought together in a new dicastery of the Roman Curia, which will be entitled Secretariat for Communication. In this way the communication system of the Holy See will be able to respond better to the needs of the Church's mission.

Therefore, after having examined reports and studies, received the feasibility study and heard the unanimous opinion of the Council of Cardinals, I hereby institute the Secretariat for Communication and establish the following.

Art. 1
The following bodies will merge into the dicastery, as presented by the Commission for Vatican Media instituted on 30 April 2015, at the established times: Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service; Vatican Radio; Vatican Television Centre; L'Osservatore Romano; Vatican Typography; Photographic Service; Vatican Publishing House.

Art. 2
These bodies, from the date of publication of the present Motu Proprio, will continue to carry out their activities, in accordance, however, with indications given by the Secretariat for Communication.

Art. 3
The new dicastery, in agreement with the Secretariat of State, will take on the institutional web site of the Holy See: www.vatican.va and the Twitter service of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex

Art. 4
The Secretariat for Communication will begin its functions on 29 June 2015, and will be based provisionally in Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia 3, 00120 Vatican City.

I order that all that I have set forth in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio is to be fully observed, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, albeit deserving of special mention, and I hereby decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and subsequently in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on 27 June of the year 2015, third of my Pontificate”.

The Holy Father, following the Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, “The current communications context” of 27 June 2015, by which he instituted the Secretariat for Communication, appointed:

- Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre, as prefect of the Secretariat for Communication;

- Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, as secretary;

- Paolo Nusiner, director general of Avvenire, Nuova Editoriale Italiana, as director general; and

- Giacomo Ghisani, head of the Office for International Relations and Legal Affairs of Vatican Radio and member of the managing board of the Vatican Television Centre, as deputy director general.

Francis receives a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is present in Rome for the customary visit on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome, bearing witness to the profound relationship between the two Churches foreshadowed by the bond uniting their respective patrons, the apostles Peter and Andrew, “brothers in blood and faith, united in apostolic service and martyrdom”, as Pope Francis affirmed.

A Holy See delegation reciprocates every year with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey on 30 November, St. Andrew's Day, and the Holy Father recalled the warm welcome he received on this occasion last year from Patriarch Bartholomew and the clergy and faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ecumenical prayer on the vigil of the feast, and then the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, offered us the possibility of together praising the Lord and asking him with one voice for that day to draw nearer when full, visible communion between Orthodox and Catholics may be re-established”, he said.

“Attaining that goal, towards which we have set out together in trust, represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God”, he added. “I hope, therefore, that opportunities may increase for meeting each other, for exchange and cooperation among Catholic and Orthodox faithful, in such a way that as we deepen our knowledge and esteem for one another, we may be able to overcome any prejudice and misunderstanding that may remain as a result of our long separation. It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist”. In this regard, Francis reiterated his support for the valuable work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, emphasising that the problems that may arise during the course of theological dialogue must not lead to discouragement or resignation. “The careful examination of how in the Church the principle of synodality and the service of the one who presides are articulated, will make a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches”.

The Pope gave the assurance of his prayers and those of many Catholics for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, and asked in turn for prayers for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church dedicated to the family, to be held in the Vatican this coming October, “at which we are looking forward also to the participation of a fraternal delegate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.

Pope's video message on the eve of his trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a video message, transmitted simultaneously in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, for his upcoming apostolic trip to the three Latin American countries from 5 to 12 July. The following is the full text of the message:

“The trip is almost upon us. With this greeting I would like to express my closeness, my cordiality, and my good will. My desire is to be with you, to share your concerns, to show my affection and nearness and also to celebrate with you.

I would like to be a witness to this joy of the Gospel and to bring the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to his children who are most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, those who are victims of this culture of waste. The Father's love, so merciful, enables us without measure to discover the face of His Son Jesus in every brother and every sister of ours, in our neighbour. It is necessary only to be near, to make ourselves neighbours. As Jesus said to that young doctor of the law when he asked Him, who is my neighbour? Do as the good Samaritan did, go and do the same, do not walk on by.

On this trip I will visit three sister nations in these lands of the American continent. The faith we all share is a source of fraternity and solidarity: it builds peoples, forms a family of families, fosters harmony and encourages the desire for and commitment to peace.

In these days before our meeting, I thank God for you, and ask you to be steadfast in your faith that carries the flame of love and charity, and to hold fast to the hope that never disappoints. I ask you to join your prayers with mine, so that the announcement of the Gospel reaches the most remote peripheries, and that the values of the Kingdom of God may continue to be a leaven for the earth in our days too.

May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of America, protect you, and may the Lord bless you. Thank you, we will see each other soon, and please, do not forget to pray for me”.

Cardinal Vlk, Pope's special envoy to the commemoration of Jan Hus

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 9 April 2015, the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague, Czech Republic, as his special envoy to the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, to be held in Prague on 5 and 6 July 2015.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of: Rev. Michael Nimeeek, episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry, and Miroslav Simaeek, archdeacon of the parish of Usti. nadLabem and canon of the Chapter of the St. Stephen's Cathedral, at Litomerice.

The Catholic Church in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – As previously announced, the Pope will make an apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July. The following are some statistics regarding the presence of the Catholic Church in the three countries:

Ecuador has a surface area of 283,561 square kilometres and 15,775,000 inhabitants of whom 13,978,000 are Catholics (87.4%). The Church consists of 25 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 1,250 parishes and 4.369 pastoral centres, with 52 bishops, 2,198 priests, 973 seminarians, 5,261 men and women religious and 49,489 catechists. The Church runs 1,469 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 173 hospitals and clinics, 56 rest homes and 167 orphanages or nurseries, 32 family support centres and 626 other social structures.

Bolivia has a surface area of 1,098,581 square kilometres and 11,280,000 inhabitants of whom 9,301,000 are Catholics (82.5%). The Church consists of 18 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 600 parishes and 210 pastoral centres, with 38 bishops, 1,208 priests, 599 seminarians, 2,869 men and women religious, and 17,768 catechists. The Church runs 1,791 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 183 hospitals and clinics, 48 rest homes and 186 orphanages and nurseries, 49 family support centres and 293 other social structures.

Paraguay has a surface area of 406,752 square kilometres and 6,783,000 inhabitants of whom 6,318,000 are Catholics (93.2%). The Church consists of 15 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 372 parishes and 1,451 pastoral centres, with 23 bishops, 804 priests, 684 seminarians, 180 men and women religious, and 53,738 catechists. The Church runs 684 schools and teaching institutes at all levels and 38 hospitals and clinics, 14 rest homes and 26 orphanages and nurseries, 56 family support centres, and 46 other social structures.


Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Jean-Claude Michel, ambassador of the Principality of Monaco, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday 27 June the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, U.S.A.

In the afternoon of Thursday 25 June the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, accompanied by the secretary of the same dicastery, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo;

- Archbishop Eduardo Eliseo Martin of Rosario, Argentina;

- Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta of Oran, Argentina.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg, presented by Bishop Pierre Farine, upon reaching the age limit.

On Saturday 27 June, the Holy Father appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada; Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Eritrea; and Archbishop Fulop Kocsis of Hajdugorog for Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Hungary.
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