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Thursday, November 12, 2015

To Slovak bishops: the Church is called to proclaim and bear witness to the welcome of migrants

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit. In the discourse he handed to them at the end of the audience he encouraged them to consider the phenomenon of migration as an opportunity for encounter, also recalling that the Church is called upon to proclaim and bear witness to the welcome of migrants in the context of observance of the law.

Francis begins his discourse by referring to the pastoral work of bishops and a situation characterised by rapid changes in many sectors of human life, affected also by the phenomenon of globalisation. A situation, he writes, in which “at times we perceive threats to less populous nations, but at the same time elements that can offer new opportunities. One opportunity, which has become a sign of the times, is the phenomenon of migration, which demands to be understood and confronted with sensitivity and a sense of justice. The Church is required to proclaim and bear witness to the welcome of the migrant in a spirit of charity and respect for the dignity of the human person, in the context of the necessary observance of the law”.

“Faced with the prospect of an increasingly extensive multicultural environment, it is necessary to assume attitudes of mutual respect to promote encounter. It is to be hoped that the Slovak people will maintain their cultural identity and heritage of ethical and spiritual values, strongly linked to the Catholic tradition. In this way they will be able to open up without fear to exchange on the broadest continental and global horizon, contributing to a sincere and fruitful dialogue, also on themes of vital importance such as the dignity of human life and the essential function of the family. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to enlighten the path of peoples with Christian principles, seizing the opportunities that the current situation offers to develop an evangelisation that, using a new language, makes Christ's message easier to understand. For this reason it important for the Church to give hope, so that all the present changes may be transformed into a renewed encounter with Christ, that guides the people towards authentic progress”.

The Pope expresses his appreciation for the prelates' work with families, which face many difficulties, and reiterates the importance of integral family pastoral ministry at diocesan and national levels, including “adequate accompaniment for all families, including those where members are not present, especially if there are children”. In this regard it is essential to pay special attention to the young, “the hope of the Church and of society”.

The paternal care of bishops for the priests, their main collaborators in pastoral ministry, is another of the themes considered by Francis, who insists on the need for “well-structured programmes of continuing formation in the fields of theology, spirituality, pastoral ministry and social doctrine of the Church, enabling them to become competent evangelisers”. He adds, “Indeed, for the majority of the People of God, they are the principal channel through which the Gospel passes, and also offer the most immediate image through which the mystery of the Church is encountered”.

The Church, “sign and tool of the unity of men with God and with each other, is called upon to be the house and school of communion, in which one learns to appreciate and welcome positive qualities in others”, remarks the Holy Father at the end of his discourse, emphasising that this attitude is also very useful with reference to the good contact it is necessary to re-establish in Slovakia between pastors and consecrated persons, better appreciating the valid contribution of all men and women religious to pastoral ministry. “At the same time”, he noted, “the Church in your country must carry forth the pastoral care of the Rom, through extensive evangelisation that seeks to reach all these people who, unfortunately, continue to live in some ways separated from the rest of society”.

Francis greets the members of the Don Guanella family: the worst famine is the lack of charity

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall the Pope greeted five hundred members of the Family of St. Luigi Guanella, known simply as Don Guanella (1842-1915), the Italian priest who founded the Congregation of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Order of the Servants of Charity. He was beatified in 1964 and canonised in 2011.

The Don Guanella Family's pilgrimage to Rome coincides with the first centenary of the saint's death and, in his address to the pilgrims, the Holy Father imagined what Don Guanella might have said to his followers to confirm them in faith, hope and charity, using three verbs: to trust, to look, and to make haste.

The first verb is to trust. “The life of Don Guanella had as its centre the certainty that God is the merciful and provident Father. This was for him the heart of faith: knowing himself to be an always beloved son, for whom the Father cared, and therefore a brother to all, called upon to inspire trust. … I think that it displeases the heavenly Father greatly to see that His children do not fully trust in Him; they perhaps believe in a distant God, rather than in a merciful Father. In many people there arises the doubt that God, while being Father, may also be a master. … But this is a great deception; the ancient deception of the enemy of God and man, which conceals reality and disguises good as evil. It is the first temptation: to distance oneself from God, intimidated by the suspicion that His paternity is not truly provident and good. God is instead love alone, pure provident love. He loves us more than we love ourselves, and knows what is truly good for us. He therefore hopes that in the course of life we become what we are at the moment of our Baptism: beloved children, able to vanquish fear and not ceding to lamentation, because the Father takes care of us”.

The second verb is to look. “The Father, the Creator, also inspires creativity in those who live like His children. They then learn to look at the world through new eyes, made more luminous by love and hope. They are eyes that enable us to look within with truth, and to see far in charity. … In the world there is never any lack of problems, and in our time there are unfortunately new forms of poverty and many injustices. But the greatest famine of all is that of charity: we need, most of all, people with eyes renewed by love and a gaze that inspires hope”.

“At times, our spiritual point of view is short-sighted, as we are not able to see beyond our own ego. At other times we are long-sighted: we like to help those who are far away but are not able to stoop to those who live next to us. Sometimes, indeed, we prefer to close our eyes, as we are tired and overcome by pessimism. Don Guanella, who recommended that we look at Jesus starting from His heart, invites us to have the same gaze as the Lord: a gaze that inspires hope and joy, able at the same time to feel a 'profound sentiment of compassion' towards those who suffer”.

Finally, to make haste: “The poor are the favoured sons” of the Father, St. Luigi said, and he liked to repeat that 'those who give to the poor, lend to God'. Just as the Father is delicate and concrete with regard to his smallest and weakest children, so we too cannot expect our brothers and sisters in difficulty to wait as, again in the words of Don Guanella, 'misery cannot wait. And we cannot stop as long as there are poor people to tend to'”.

Pope's video message to the National Eucharistic Congress of India

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – “Nourished by the Eucharist to nourish others” is the theme of the National Eucharistic Congress of India, inaugurated today in Mumbai and attended by 700 delegates from all over the country. The Congress will also provide the opportunity to commemorate the presence for the same event fifty years ago of Blessed Paul VI, during his trip to India in 1964. The opening of the Congress, which will conclude on 15 November, included a screening of the Pope's video message to the participants in which he expresses his hope that it will be a “herald of joy and happiness” for the whole Indian population. The following are extensive extracts from his message, transmitted in English:

“The Eucharistic Congress is God's gift not just for the Christians of the India but for the entire population of a country culturally so diverse yet spiritually so rich. Over thousands of years India has been permeated by the desire for truth, the search for the divine, the effort at goodness and kindness”.

“The Eucharist as the theme chosen rightly points out nourishes us. As I underlined in the homily of Corpus Domini, 'the Eucharist actualises the Covenant that sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in the marvellous Communion with God. Thus we learn that the Eucharist is not only a reward for the good but also the strength for the weak and for sinners. It is forgiveness and sustenance which helps us on our journey'”.

“Human beings all over the word today need nourishment. And this nourishment is not just to satisfy physical hunger. There are other hungers – for love, for immortality of life, for affection, for being cared for, for forgiveness, for mercy. This hunger can be satiated only by the bread that comes from above. Jesus himself is the living bread that gives life to the world. His body offered for our sake on the cross, his blood shed for the pardon of the sins of humanity is made available to us in the bread and wine to the Eucharist transformed in the consecration”.

“But the Eucharist does not end with the partaking of the bread and blood of the Lord. It leads us to solidarity with others. The communion with the Lord is necessarily a communion with our fellow brothers and sisters. And therefore the one who is fed and nourished by the very body and blood of Christ cannot remain unaffected when he sees his brothers suffering want and hunger. Those nourished by the Eucharist are called to bring the joy of the gospel to those who have not received it. Strengthened by the living Bread we are called to bring hope to those who live in darkness and in despair”.

Message to Cardinal Rylko: the conciliar basis of the vocation and mission of the laity

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Laity, in collaboration with the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, has organised a study day dedicated to the theme “Vocation and mission of the laity: fifty years after the Decree 'Apostolicam Actuositatem'”.

On this occasion, Pope Francis sent a message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and to all the participants in the event, in which he remarks that the Day enters within the context of the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II, an “extraordinary event of grace, that … led also, among its many fruits, to a new way of looking at the vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world, which is magnificently expressed primarily in the two great conciliar Constitutions Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. … The Council, therefore, does not look upon the laity as if they were members of a 'second order', in the service of the hierarchy and as simple executors of orders from above, but rather as Christ's disciples who, by virtue of their Baptism and their natural integration 'in the world', are called upon to inspire every environment, every activity,and every human relationship according to the spirit of the Gospel. … Within the overreaching framework of this conciliar doctrine, we find the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, which looks more closely at the nature and scope of the lay apostolate. This document clearly reminds us that … the announcement of the Gospel is not reserved to some 'mission professionals', but should instead be the profound wish of all the lay faithful”.

Declaration by Fr. Federico Lombardi on current investigations in the Vatican

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., made the following declaration late yesterday afternoon:

“The Vatican Gendarmerie, in their role as judicial police, have informed the Vatican prosecutors that the activity carried out by the journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi may constitute complicity in the crime of disseminating confidential news and documents, pursuant to Law No. IX of Vatican City State, of 13 July 2013 (article 116 bis).

Since the beginning of the investigation the prosecution has obtained pieces of evidence indicating the collaboration in offence by the journalists, who are now therefore under investigation.

The investigators are also examining some other situations regarding persons who, for reasons of office, could have cooperated in the acquisition the reserved documents in question.

Communique from the Holy See Press Office on the activity of APSA

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office yesterday issued the following communique:

“Various articles have been published by news agencies and in the press referring in a biased and inaccurate way to the content of a confidential document, based on the assumption that in the past the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) has been used for illegal financial activity. The Vatican legal authorities have opened an investigation into the circulation of this document. APSA has always collaborated with the competent bodies, is not under investigation and continues to conduct its activities in accordance with current regulations”.

Communique by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on ownership of real estate

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the communique issued yesterday afternoon by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on news relating to its ownership of real estate.

“The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, also known as 'Propaganda Fide', adheres fully to the Holy Father Francis' line of thought and guidance with regard to the life and reform of the Roman Curia; in addition, it his committed to pursuing the institutional aims set forth in the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus', as well as respecting the will of donors who over the years have contributed to its missionary work. Therefore, it welcomes all the administrative reforms anticipated by the Secretary for the Economy and submits all the budgets and final accounts to the latter.

Certain insinuations on the part of certain sectors of the media, which circulate news not corresponding to the truth, are therefore unacceptable. It has been written, for example, that the Congregation offers luxury properties for rent at low prices as favours, and even that it hosts a spa or is the proprietor of the Hotel Priscilla.

The real estate belonging to the Congregation, donated for the Missions, is rented at market value; there are exceptions in the case of situations of poverty. The aforementioned properties are rented in accordance with current Italian legislation, to which both the Congregation as the owner and the recipient are subject.

The income deriving from the rent of these properties, for which regular tax is paid in Italy (in 2014 the Dicastery paid IMU – imposta municipale unica, property tax, of 2,169,200 euros in Rome alone) is destined principally for the maintenance of the Congregation, the Pontifical Urbanian University, the Pontifical Collegio Urbano, the missionary institutions and young Churches in the mission territories.

Propaganda Fide is grateful to the benefactors who, with its help, make it possible for the Gospel to be announced and provide support for innumerable educational, social and healthcare initiatives in the poorest countries.

We wish to clarify that, should such dissemination of false or biased information recur, this Congregation will be obliged to protect its image in the appropriate forums”.


Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, with his auxiliary, Bishop Josef Hal’ko;

- Bishop Marian Chovanec of Banska Bystrica;

- Bishop Viliam Judak of Nitra;

- Bishop Jan Orosch of Trnava;

- Bishop Tomas Galis of Zilina;

- Archbishop Bernard Bober of Kosice, with the archbishop emeritus Alojz Tkac;

- Bishop Stanislav Stolarik of Rozanava;

- Bishop Stefan Secka of Spis;

- Archbishop Jan Babjak, S.J., of Presov for Catholics of Byzantine rite, with his auxiliary Bishop Milan Lach;

- Bishop Peter Rusnak of Bratislava for Catholics of Byzantine rite;

- Bishop Milan Chautur, C.SS.R., of Kosice for Catholics of Byzantine rite; and

- Bishop Frantisek Rabek, military ordinary.

Yesterday, 11 November, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 12 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Marcel Damphousse of Alexandria-Cornwall, Canada, as bishop of Sault Sainte Marie (area 265,000, population 436,000, Catholics 239,200, priests 90, permanent deacons 66, religious 174), Canada. He succeeds Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
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