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Monday, September 14, 2015

11th Meeting of the Holy Father with the Council of Cardinals

Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning the eleventh meeting of the Holy Father with the Council of Cardinals began. The work of the “Council of Nine” will continue until Wednesday 16 September.

In two interviews the Pope reaffirms that unfair economic systems cause migration and insists on care for creation

Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has recently granted two interviews: one to the Portuguese broadcaster Radio Renascenca, on the occasion of the Portuguese bishops' “ad Limina” visit, and the other to the Argentine Radio Milenium, focusing on care for creation and the value of friendship and dialogue.

In the first, in response to a question regarding an eventual visit to Portugal to commemorate the centenary of the apparitions of the Virgin at Fatima, Francis expresses his wish to visit the country and adds that “the Virgin always asks us to receive and care for the family and the commandments. She does not ask for anything unusual. … And she appears to children. It is curious, she always seeks the simplest souls”.

With regard to the phenomenon of migration to Europe, he affirms, “it is the tip of an iceberg. We see these refugees, these poor people, who flee from war, from hunger. … But behind this there is the cause, and the cause is an unfair socio-economic system”. He adds, “Speaking of the ecological issue, within our socio-economic structure, within politics, at the centre there must always be the person. And today's dominant economic system has replaced the person at the centre with the god of money, the idol”. Therefore, he says, it is necessary to look to the root causes. “When the cause is hunger, create jobs and invest. When the cause is war, seek peace, work for peace. Today the world is at war; it is at war against itself”.

In this respect, the Pope reaffirms the importance of acceptance. “Accepting people, and welcoming them as they come”. With regard to his appeal to all parishes in Europe to host a family of refugees, he specified, “When I talk about a parish welcoming a family, I do not mean that they should go and live in the parish house, but rather that the parish community seek a place, a corner where they can make a little apartment or, if there is no other option, rent a modest apartment for this family; that they should have a roof over their heads, they should be welcomed, and that they should be included within the community”.

He also considers the theme of the culture of well-being, commenting that the birthrate is very low in many countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain. “When there is an empty space, people seek to fill it. If a country has no children, migrants come to occupy that space. … Not wanting children is, in part – and this is my interpretation, I don't know if it is correct – it is linked to the culture of comfort, isn't it? And then the elderly are left alone. I think that the great challenge facing Europe is to become once again Mother Europe, rather than Grandmother Europe. … It must be recognised that Europe has an exceptional culture – centuries of culture – and must regain her capacity for leadership in the concert of nations. Or rather, she must become once again the Europe who shows the way, as she has the culture to do so. … Europe must assume her role once again, as she has the culture to do so, to recover her identity. It is true that Europe has made mistakes. I do not reproach, I merely recall this. When she has wanted to speak about her identity, she has avoided recognising what is probably the deepest part of it: her Christian roots. We all make mistakes in life, but for Europe it is not too late to change”.

The Pope also emphasises that the Church must be outbound and must be willing to take risks. “If a church, a parish, a diocese, an institute, lives closed up in itself, it comes to a halt. It is the same thing that happens to a closed up home. We end up with an unhealthy Church, with fixed rules, without creativity, 'insured' but not safe. Instead, if a church or a parish goes out and evangelises, the same thing happens that can occur to any person who goes out into the street – accidents can befall them. So, between a sickly Church or an accident-prone one, I would prefer an accident-prone Church as at least she reaches out”.

With reference to his expectations of the Jubilee of Mercy, he expresses his hope that “everyone will come. May they come and experience God's love and forgiveness”, and with regard to the letter to Archbishop Fisichella in which he requests forgiveness during the Jubilee for the most difficult cases and to his two Motu Proprios on the reform of processes for declaring nullity of marriage, he explains that his intention is “to simplify … to facilitate faith among the people … to enable the Church to be a mother”.

In the interview granted to Milenium, Francis says that “we are mistreating creation; at times we treat it as if it were our worst enemy”, and “we live in a system that, to earn money, has displaced man from the centre and put money in his place, leading to the existence of “corrupt systems, with slavery, forced labour and disregard for creation”.

In relation to fundamentalism “as its followers are faithful to an idea but not to a reality”, Francis warns of the danger represented by this “darkness that obscures our horizon” and causes us to become closed up in our own convictions and 'ideologies'. “It is a wall that prevents encounter with others”.

Angelus: following Jesus means rejecting the worldly mentality

Vatican City, 13 September 2015 (VIS) – The path of those who follow Jesus does not lead to glory but is instead destined for true freedom, explained the Pope to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning to pray the Angelus.

Francis commented on today's Gospel reading in which Jesus, on the path to Caesarea Philippi, asks His disciples what the people said about Him, as some of them considered Him to have been sent by God, but did not yet recognise Him as the Messiah. The apostles answered that some considered Him as the living image of John the Baptist, others Elijah or one of the great prophets. Jesus then asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”.

“Here is the most important question, that Jesus addresses to those who followed him, to confirm their faith. Peter answers on behalf of all of them, without hesitation, 'You are the Christ'. Jesus is moved by Peter's faith and recognises that it is the 'fruit … of the special grace of God the Father'. And so he openly reveals to the disciples what awaits him in Jerusalem: that is, that 'the Son of Man must suffer many things … and be killed, and after three days rise again'. But upon hearing this Peter, who has just proclaimed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, is horrified. He takes the Master aside and rebukes him. Jesus reacts with great severity, saying 'Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man'”.

“Jesus realises that in Peter, as in the other disciples – and in each one of us! - the grace of God is opposed by the temptation of the Evil one, that would divert us from God's will. By announcing that He must suffer and be put to death to then rise again, Jesus wishes to show to those who follow Him that He is a humble servant. And the Servant obeys His Father's Word and will, unto the complete sacrifice of His own life. Therefore, turning to the crowd around Him, He declares that he who wishes to be His disciple must accept being a servant, as He has made Himself a servant, and warns, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'”.

“Following Jesus means bearing one's own cross – we all have one – to accompany Him on the way, a rough path that is not that of success or fleeting glory, but which leads to true freedom, which liberates us from selfishness and sin. It means clearly refusing that worldly mentality that places the self and one's own interests at the centre of existence. … Jesus instead invites us to give our life for Him, for the Gospel, so as to receive it again renewed, fulfilled and authentic. We are certain, thanks to Jesus, that this path leads ultimately to resurrection, to full and definitive life with God. The decision to follow our Master and Lord Who made Himself the Servant to all demands that we walk behind Him and listen carefully to His Word – reading every day a passage from the Gospel, and in the Sacraments”.

Finally he addressed the young people in the Square: “I ask you: have you felt the wish to follow Jesus more closely? Think, pray, and let the Lord speak to you”.

The Pope remembers the first Catholic martyr of South Africa

Vatican City, 13 September 2015 (VIS) – After today's Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that today in South Africa Samuel Benedict Daswa, the Catholic Church's first martyr in that country, is proclaimed blessed. A primary school teacher, Daswa was stoned to death in 1990 in Tshitanini, a village in the province of Limpopo, for attributing a fire affecting some huts to lightning and not to the forces of evil, and for refusing to pay for the services of a sangoma to end the storms. “In his life, he always showed great coherence, bravely assuming Christian attitudes and refusing worldly and pagan habits. May his witness especially help families to spread Christ's truth and charity. His witness joins that of many of our brothers and sisters, young and elderly, children, persecuted, cast out and killed for confessing Jesus Christ. We thank all these martyrs for their witness, Samuel Benedict Daswa and all of them, and ask them to intercede for us”.

He concluded by greeting teachers from Sardinia in precarious working conditions, and expressed his hope that the problems of the world of work “be faced taking into full consideration the family and its needs”.

Cooperatives must defend and promote an economy of honesty

Vatican City, 12 September 2015 (VIS) “The Church knows the value of cooperatives. Many of them originated from priests, committed lay faithful, and communities inspired by the spirit of Christian solidarity … and in the encyclical 'Laudato si'' I have underlined their value in the fields of renewable energy and agriculture”, said the Pope this morning as he received in audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall more than seven thousand people, including directors, employees and their families, from the Cooperative Credit Bank of Rome (BCC).

In his address Francis reiterated the suggestions he made in February to the Confederation of Cooperatives, adding that each one should dedicate itself to its specific mission: “Continue to be a motor for the development of the weakest part of local communities and of civil society, thinking especially of the young unemployed and aiming at the birth of new cooperative enterprises. Be agents in proposing and implementing new welfare solutions, starting in the field of healthcare. Occupy yourselves with the relationship between the economy and social justice, keeping the dignity and value of the person at the centre. The person must always be at the centre, not the god of money. Facilitate and encourage family life, and propose cooperative and mutual solutions for the management of common goods, that cannot become the property of the few or the object of speculation. Promote a fraternal and social use of money, in the style of the true cooperative, in which people are not guided by capital, but instead capital is guided by people. Favour the growth of an economy of honesty”.

“The economy of honesty – in this age in which the wind of corruption blows in all places. You are required not only to be honest – this is normal – but to spread and entrench honesty everywhere. A struggle against corruption”, remarked the Pope, suggesting as a final point “active participation in globalisation so that it may be a globalisation of solidarity”.

“You are the largest Cooperative Credit Bank in Italy”, he recalled. “The most important challenge you face is to grown while continuing to be truly cooperative, rather, becoming even more so. This means promoting the active participation of your members. Work together and work for others. … Banking is delicate enterprise that requires great rigour. But a cooperative bank must have something more: it must seek to humanise the economy, uniting efficiency with solidarity”.

In social doctrine there is an important word: “solidarity. As cooperative credit banks you have put the principle of subsidiarity into practice when you faced the difficulties of the crisis with your means, joining forces and not at the expense of others. This is subsidiarity: not placing a burden on institutions and therefore on the country when it is possible to face problems with one's own strengths, responsibly”. It is also important for cooperatives to allocate resources to charity and mutual funds and to be aware of where income is produced, “with attention to keep people, the young and families, at the centre”.

“At the origin of rural savings banks it was expected that the credit cooperative would be able to stimulate further initiatives of cooperation”, observed Francis. “This spirit remains valid. The BCC can be the nucleus around which a large network can be built, allowing the birth of businesses that create employment … there are many people without work. Businesses that create work in order to support families, and to experiment with microcredit and other ways of humanising the economy, and above all to give every man and woman the opportunity to have the dignity of work”, he concluded.

Pope's message for the opening of the plenary Assembly of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe

Vatican City, 12 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father send a message to Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, which holds its plenary assembly in the Holy Land from 11 to 16 September. The following is the full text of the message:

“I send fraternal greetings and prayerful good wishes to you and all the members of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences gathering in the Holy Land from 11 to 16 September 2015. As you reflect on the life of the Church in your various countries, I pray that your time together may be above all a time of deep prayer and solidarity. May your rest in the Lord renew you in holiness of life and in apostolic zeal for those entrusted to your care. May it also rekindle for you the freshness of the Gospel, from which 'new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent sings and words with new meaning for today's world'. I especially entrust to your prayers the upcoming General Synod, that the Church may respond with ever greater urgency and generosity to the needs of the family. Invoking the intercession of Mary, our Mother, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you as a pledge of wisdom and strength in Jesus Christ our Lord”.

Holy Father's calendar for September to November 2015

Vatican City, 12 September 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside from September to November:


Saturday 19 to Monday 28: Apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States of America.


Saturday 3: at 7 p.m. in St. Peter's Square, prayer vigil in preparation for the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Sunday 4, 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time: at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for the opening of the 14th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Sunday 18, 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time: at 10.15 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for the canonisation of Blesseds Vincenzo Grossi, Mary of the Immaculate Conception, and the couple Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin.

Sunday 25, 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time: at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for the conclusion of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.


Sunday 1, Solemnity of All Saints: Holy Mass at 4 p.m. in the Verano Cemetery, Rome

Monday 2, All Souls Day: at 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Supreme Pontiffs.

Thursday 5: at 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the year.

Sunday 15: at 4 p.m., visit to the Evangelical and Lutheran Church of Rome.

Wednesday 25 to Monday 30: Apostolic trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Cor Unum convenes meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq

Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” has organised a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq to be held on 17 September, which will be attended in particular by the Catholic charitable organisations active in the Middle East and the bishops of the region.

The meeting, supported by more than 30 organisations, will be divided into two parts. During the morning, after the introduction by Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council, there will be addresses from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and the United Nations under-secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs. There will then be a presentation of the report on humanitarian aid provided by ecclesial entities in the context of the crisis in Syria and Iraq (2014-2015), prepared by “Cor Unum”.

In the afternoon, following the presentation by Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, director of the Office for Islam of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and updates from the local Churches by Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, president of Caritas Syria and Bishop Shlemon Warduni, president of Caritas Iraq, the meeting will focus on concrete aspects of cooperation between the various actors in Syria, Iraq and the neighbouring countries.

The aim of the meeting, following the itinerary adopted during the last three years, will be to evaluate the work carried out so far by Catholic charitable organisations in the context of the crisis; to share information on the evolution of the crisis and the Church's responses to the humanitarian situation; to discuss key issues that have emerged and to identify future priorities; to analyse the situation of Christian communities resident in the countries affected by war, promoting synergy between ecclesial organisms, religious congregations and dioceses; and to analyse the activity of the “Humanitarian Focal Point”, instituted by Catholic charitable agencies within “Cor Unum” last year.

The crisis in Syria and Iraq is at the centre of the attention of the international community due to the seriousness of the situation caused by war. The Holy See, aside from its diplomatic activity, participates actively in aid programmes and in offering humanitarian assistance. Since 2011, according to available data, the crisis has claimed over 250 thousand victims and has caused a million injuries. There are currently over 12 million people in need of aid in Syria and more than eight million in Iraq; there are 7.6 million internally displaced people in Syria and more than three million in Iraq, and four million Syrian refugees throughout the Middle East: in particular, there are 1.9 in Turkey, 1.1 in Lebanon, and more than 600 thousand in Jordan.

The Courtyard of Francis, from 23 to 27 September in Assisi

Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – From 23 to 27 September the Italian city of Assisi will be the seat of the “Courtyard of Francis”, a place of encounter and dialogue, that will welcome political and institutional figures, artists and intellectuals, and all other men and women who wish to listen and to participate.

The initiative, which develops from the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture some years ago, proposes, in the birthplace of the saint who “was not afraid to speak with the Sultan of Egypt, to embrace a leper, to involve all of creation in a choral chant”, to delve into the deepest identity of people, “way beyond differences of faith, ideas, behaviour and political and social alliances”, as Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi explained today in a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office.

The other speakers at the Conference were the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, the director of the Museum of Bardo Moncef Ben Moussa, the architect Santiago Calatrava and the philosopher Massimo Cacciari.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, Pope's special envoy to the 1500th anniversary of the Swiss Abbey of Saint-Maurice

Vatican City, 13 September 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 8 August, the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Kurt Koch president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to the closing celebration of the 1500th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, to be held on 22 September.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Bishop Markus Buchel of Sankt Gallen and president of the Conference of Swiss Bishops, and Rev. Dom Marc de Pothuau,O.Cist., Cistercian Abbey of Hauterive, Fribourg.


Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Martin Krebs, apostolic nuncio in New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu and Tonga, and apostolic delegate for the Pacific Ocean.

On Saturday 12 September 2015, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions), accompanied by the secretary of the same dicastery, Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani;

- Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”;

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference;

- Rev. Fr. Raul Reinaldo Troncoso.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 14 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Angelo De Donatis as auxiliary of the diocese of Rome (area 849, population 2,885,272, Catholics 2,365,923, priests 4,834, permanent deacons 122, religious 27,524). The bishop-elect was born in Casarano, Italy in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and has served in a number of roles, including parish vicar in the parishes of San Saturnino and Santissima Annunziata a Grottaperfetta and officer of the General Secretariat of the Vicariate. He is currently archivist of the Secretariat of the College of Cardinals; director of the Clergy Office of the Vicariate of Rome and spiritual director of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, pastor of San Marco Evangelista in Campidoglio, Rome, and assistant for the diocese of Rome at the National Association of Families of Clergy.

On Saturday 12 September the Holy Father appointed:

- Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, as his special envoy to the National Eucharistic Congress of India, to be held in Mumbai from 12 to 15 November 2015.

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