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Monday, November 16, 2015

Meeting of the Holy Father with heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia

Vatican City, 16 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, in the Sala Bologna of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father presided at the meeting of heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

Francis visits the evangelical Lutheran community of Rome: it is time for reconciled diversity

Vatican City, 16 November 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father met with the evangelical Lutheran community of Rome in the Christuskirche, where he was warmly welcomed by Pastor Jeans-Martin Kruse, who in his welcome discourse also recalled the visits to the same temple by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis then answered questions from three members of the community, a child and two women, and after the vespers prayer, with the reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew (25, 31, 46), he pronounced an off-the-cuff homily in which he emphasised that Lutherans and Catholics must ask mutual forgiveness for persecutions against each other and for the scandal of divisions.

The first question to which the Pope responded was from a child who wanted to know what he liked the most about being the Pope. “The thing I like best, sincerely, is being a pastor”, Francis replied. “I like being the Pope in the style of a parish priest. Service: I like it, in the sense that I feel good, when I visit the sick, when I speak with people who are desperate or sad. I like going to prisons … to speak with detainees. … Every time I enter a prison I ask myself, 'Why them and not me?'. And I am aware of the salvation of Jesus Christ, His love for me. Because He saved me. I am no less a sinner than they are, but the Lord took me by the hand. And when I go into a prison I am happy. Being a Pope is being a bishop, being a pastor. If a Pope is not also a bishop, if a Pope is not also a pastor, he may be a very intelligent person, very important and hold great influence in society, but I think that inside he will not be happy”.

The second question came from a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic, who lamented the fact they cannot participate together in the Lord's Supper. “It is not easy for me to answer this”, affirmed the Pope. “I think that the Lord told us the answer when He gave us this mandate: 'Do this in memory of me'. And when we share the Lord's Supper, we remember and we imitate, we do the same thing that the Lord Jesus did. And there will be the Supper of the Lord, the final banquet in the New Jerusalem. … However on the path, I wonder – and I do not know how to answer, but I make your question my own – I wonder, is sharing the Lord's Supper the aim of the path, or the way of walking together? I leave this question to theologians, to those who understand. It is true that in a certain sense sharing means saying that there is no difference between us, that we have the same doctrine … but do we not have the same Baptism? And if we have the same Baptism, we should walk together. … When you pray together, this Baptism grows and becomes strong; when you teach your children who Jesus is … you do the same thing, in both a Lutheran and Catholic language, but it is the same thing. Your question: and the Supper? There are questions to which only if one is sincere with oneself and with the few theological 'lights' I have, it is necessary to answer in the same way. 'This is my body, this is my blood' said the Lord, 'do this in memory of me', and this is a viaticum that helps us to walk together. … To your question I respond only with a further question: what can I do with my husband, so that the Lord's Supper accompanies us as we walk together? It is a problem that each of us should respond to. A pastor friend said to me, 'We believe that the Lord is present there. He is present. You believe that the Lord is present. So what is the difference?' 'Ah, these are explanations, interpretations'. Life is greater than explanations and interpretations. Always make reference to your Baptism: 'one faith, one Baptism, one Lord', as St. Paujl said, and take it from there. I would never dare give permission to do this as it is not my competence. One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go ahead. I dare not say any more”.

The final question, from the treasurer of a project to help refugee families, related to how to combat poverty and to ensure that Christians do not consider this inevitable or, worse, erect new walls to defend themselves against it.

“Man, from the first moment, according to the Scriptures, was a great builder of walls that separate him from God”, said the Holy Father. “And there is a fantasy behind human walls, the fantasy of becoming like God. For me the myth … or the narrative of the Tower of Babel shows the attitude of men and women who build walls, because building a wall is like saying, 'We are the powerful, and you are outside'. Building a wall of exclusion follows this approach. The wall is a monument to exclusion. … For us too … how often do wealth, vanity and pride become walls … that distance us from the Lord? … What can we do to avoid building them? Let us do as Jesus did … by placing ourselves in the place of the least among us. … With this work of yours, helping young mothers, you do not build walls, you carry out service. … Human selfishness seeks to defend its own power, its own selfishness, but this defence distances it from the source of true richness. Walls, in the end, are a form of suicide. They close you in”.

Following this discussion the Pope said vespers and pronounced a brief homily in which, citing the Gospel of St. Matthew, he spoke about the questions that Jesus will ask us on Judgement Day. “Did you go to Mass? Did you receive a good catechesis? No. His questions will be about the poor, as the poor are at the centre of the Gospel. He, being rich, made Himself poor to enrich us with His poverty. … It is the choice of service. Did you use your life for yourself or to serve? To defend yourself from others with walls or to welcome them with love? This will be the final decision of Jesus”.

“And I wonder: we, Lutherans and Catholics, on what side will we be on that day, the right or the left? There have been many bad times between us …. Think of the persecutions – between us! With the same Baptism! Think of the many people burned alive. We must ask forgiveness for this, for the scandal of division, so that all of us, Lutherans and Catholics, are together in this choice, the choice of service that He has indicated to us, the servant of the Lord”.

“Finally, I like to ask Him, He Who serve unity, to help us to walk together. Today we have prayed together. Let us pray together, walk together for the poor, for the needy; let us love each other with true fraternal love. 'But father, we are different, because our dogmatic books say one thing and yours say another'. But a great exponent of yours once said that there is the time of reconciled diversity. Let us ask today for this grace, the grace of this diversity reconciled in the Lord, that is, the Servant of Yahweh, the God Who came among us to serve and not to be served”.

Angelus: the prospect of the end of the world should not distract us from the present

Vatican City, 15 November 2015 (VIS) – At midday today Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, and to reflect on the Gospel reading of the day's liturgy in which Jesus, before his last Passover, spoke of the final events of human history, marked with apocalyptic signs: wars, famine, cosmic catastrophes. However, he said, these elements are not the essential part of the message. The central nucleus around which the words of Jesus revolve is Him: He Himself, the mystery of His person, His death and His resurrection, and his coming at the end of time”.

“Our final destination is the encounter with the risen Lord”, Francis explained. “We do not await a time or a place; rather, we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Thus the problem is not 'when' these premonitory signs of the last days will occur, but rather that we find ourselves prepared. It is also not about knowing how these things will happen, but instead how we have to act today, in awaiting them. We are called to live in the present, building our future with serenity and trust in God. … The prospect of the end does not distract us from the present life, but instead leads us to regard our current days with hope. … And our hope has a face: the face of the Risen Lord. … The triumph of Jesus at the end of time will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself out of love for one's neighbour, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power, the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals of the world”.

The Lord Jesus “is not only the destination point of our earthly pilgrimage, but also a constant presence in our lives ... and this is why when we speak of the future and project ourselves toward it, it always leads us back to the present. He counters the false prophets, the fortune-tellers who predict that the end of the world is near; He counters fatalism. … He wishes to direct His disciples in every age away from curiosity about dates, predictions, horoscopes, and concentrate their attention on today in history. … This presence of Jesus calls us to anticipation and vigilance that excludes both impatience and lethargy; both refuge in the future and imprisonment in the current moment and in worldliness”.

Francis: abusing God's name to justify violence is blasphemy

Vatican City, 15 November 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father again expressed his sadness at the terrorist attacks that caused bloodshed in Paris, France on Friday evening, claiming many victims. “I send my deepest condolences to the president of the French Republic and to all citizens. I am especially close to the families of those who lost their lives, and to the injured”.

“Such barbaric acts leave us shocked, and we wonder how the human heart can conceive and carry out such horrible events, which have shaken not only France but the whole world. Faced with these intolerable acts, one can not but condemn such an unspeakable affront to human dignity. I wish to reaffirm strongly that the path of violence and hatred does not solve the problems of humanity, and to abuse God's name to justify such a way is blasphemy!”, he exclaimed.

“I entrust the the innocent victims of this tragedy to God's mercy. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, inspire in us thoughts of wisdom and intentions of peace. We ask her to protect and watch over the beloved French nation, the first daughter of the Church, Europe and the whole world. Let us pray together in silence and then recite the Hail Mary”.

The Pope went on to mention that yesterday in Tres Pontas, in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, Don Francisco de Paula Victor was proclaimed blessed. A Brazilian priest of African origin, the son of a slave, he was “generous and committed in catechesis and in administering the sacraments”, distinguished above all for his great humility. “May his extraordinary witness serve as a model for many priests, called to be humble servants of the people of God”.

The Pope praises the work of the Jesuit Refugee Service

Vatican City, 14 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall Pope Francis received 150 members of the Jesuit Refugee Service, the international organisation founded 35 years ago by Fr. Pedro Arrupe and currently active in more than 45 nations, whose mission is to accompany, assist and defend the rights of refugees and displaced persons.

Father Arrupe, the Pope recalled during the audience, initiated the service after witnessing the plight of the South-Vietnamese boat people, exposed to pirate attacks and storms in the South China Sea. The then Superior of the Jesuits, who had lived through the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima, realised the scope of the tragic exodus of refugees and saw it as a challenge the Jesuits could not ignore if they were to remain faithful to their vocation. He wanted the Jesuit Refugee Service “to meet both the human and the spiritual needs of refugees, not only their immediate need of food and shelter, but also their need to see their human dignity respected, to be listened to and comforted”.

The Holy Father referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' estimate that there are almost sixty million refugees worldwide, the highest number since the Second World War, and noted that the Jesuit Refugee Service is active in areas of greatest need, in conflict and post-conflict zones, such as Syria, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they accept men and women of different religious beliefs who share their mission.

“The Jesuit Refugee Service works to offer hope and prospects to refugees, mainly through the educational services you provide, which reach large numbers of people and is of particular importance”, said Francis, emphasising that “offering an education is about much more than dispensing concepts. It is something which provides refugees with the wherewithal to progress beyond survival, to keep alive the flame of hope, to believe in the future and to make plans. To give a child a place in school is the finest gift you can give. All your projects have this ultimate aim: to help refugees to grow in self-confidence, to realise their highest inherent potential and to be able to defend their rights as individuals and communities”.

“For children forced to emigrate, schools are places of freedom. In the classroom, they are cared for and protected by their teachers. Sadly, we know that even schools are not spared from attacks instigated by those who sow violence. Yet they are places of sharing, together with children of other cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds; places which follow a set pace and a reassuring discipline, places in which children can once more feel 'normal' and where parents can be happy to send them”.

However, “all too many refugee children and young people do not receive a quality education. Access to education is limited, especially for girls and in the case of secondary schools”. For this reason, during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Service has set the goal of helping another 100,000 young refugees to receive schooling, via a “Global Education” initiative entitled “Mercy in Motion”, with the collaboration of a large group of supporters and benefactors.

Francis invited those present, as they persevere in their work of providing education for refugees, to “think of the Holy Family, Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and the Child Jesus, who fled to Egypt to escape violence and to find refuge among strangers”, and to Jesus' words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”.

“And I cannot end this meeting … without presenting to you an icon: that 'swan song' of Fr. Arrupe, precisely in a centre for refugees. He asked us to pray, not to forget prayer. It was he himself who, with this advice and with his presence there, in that centre for refugees in Asia, did not know that he was bidding farewell: they were his last words, his final gesture. It was his final legacy to the Society. Upon arriving in Rome, he was afflicted by a stroke that caused him to suffer for many years. May this image accompany you: the image of a good man, not only the creator of this service, but also one to whom God gave the joy of giving his last farewell in a centre for refugees”.

The Pope expresses his grief for the Paris attacks, and again denounces violence

Vatican City, 14 November 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of the Holy Father to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, following the terrorist attacks in the French capital which took place during the night of 13 November, which have so far caused 127 deaths and many injuries.

Having learned of the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris and at the Stade de France, causing the death of many people and injuring many others, the Holy Father Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of the families affected by this tragedy and the mourning of the French people. He asks that God, the merciful Father, welcome the victims in the peace of His light and offer consolation and hope to the injured and their families. He assures them, and all the members of the emergency services, of his spiritual proximity. Once again the Holy Father vigorously condemns violence, which resolves nothing, and asks God to inspire in all thoughts of peace and solidarity, and to extend to all families at this difficult time, and all the French people, the abundance of His blessings”.

The Catholic television channel Sat 2000, during a special programme on the Paris attacks, made a telephone call to Pope Francis who, when asked about his reaction to last night's massacre, said: “I am moved, saddened and do not understand, but these things are difficult to comprehend … and so I pray. I am very close to the beloved French people, I am close to the families of the victims, and I pray for all of them”.

In response to the journalist who remarked that the Holy Father has often stated we are experiencing a “piecemeal third world war”, he affirmed, “Yes, and this is one of the pieces. But there are no justifications for these things, … neither religious nor human. This is not human. Therefore, I am close to all those who suffer and to all France, whom I love greatly. Thank you for calling”.

Communique of the 14th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops

Vatican City, 14 November 2015 (VIS) -The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has issued a complete list of the members of the 14th Ordinary Council, as follows:

Elected members of the Synod of Bishops

- Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, president of the Episcopal Conference of Austria;

- Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa;

- Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras;

- Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, Vatican City;

- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Vatican City;

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Vatican City;

- Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (C.C.B.I.), India.

- Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;

- Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, Great Britain, president of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales;

- Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Vatican City;

- Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Philadelphia, United States of America;

- Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy.

Members by papal appointment:

- His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, Iraq;

- Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain;

- Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia, president of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil.

Ratzinger Prize 2015: Nabil el-Khoury and Fr. Mario de Franca Miranda

Vatican City, 16 November 2015 (VIS) – At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the “Ratzinger Prize”, instituted by the “Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI”, to be awarded on 21 November to Professor Nabil el-Khoury, Lebanon, and Fr. Mario de Franca Miranda, S.J., Brazil. The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., member of the Foundation's Scientific Committee, Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, president of the Foundation, and Professor Pietro Luca Azzaro, executive secretary.

Nabil el-Khoury is professor of philosophy and comparative literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut, where he has taught since 1977, and at the University of Tubingen, Germany. He is the translator into Arabic of the Opera omnia of Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI. He has held courses at the Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen, the Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, the Johannes Gutenburg University of Mainz, and the University of Freiburg in Germany, and the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Fr. Mario de Franca Miranda, S.J. began teaching in the theological faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) in Rio de Janeiro in 1974, and served as ordinary professor of systematic theology and subsequently in the Jesuit faculty of theology in Belo Horizonte, where in 1990 he was appointed as academic rector. He returned to the PUC in 1993, where he served as dean of the faculty from 2001 to 2003. In recent years he has devoted himself to ecclesiological studies. He has given courses in various dioceses throughout Brazil, and has collaborated extensively with the Conference of Brazilian Bishops. He has also served as a member of the International Theological Commission in the Vatican under during two periods between 1992 and 2003, under the direction of the then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

In his discourse, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., emphasised that with its decision this year, the Foundation continues to broaden its horizons. “Indeed, from the beginning the Ratzinger Prizes have been granted to theologians of various nationalities: Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Poland and the United States, and by virtue of the ecumenical spirit that inspires the Foundation, this important award has also been given to some representatives of other Christian confessions. This year both prizewinners are Catholics, but neither of them belongs to the so-called 'Western world'. ... With these two figures, the list of theologians who have deservedly received the Ratzinger Prizes is further enriched not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively”.

Cardinal De Giorgi, Pope's special envoy to the centenary of the diocese of Lanciano

Vatican City, 14 November 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 22 October, the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Italy, as his special envoy to the closing celebration for the centenary of the creation of the diocese of Lanciano, now the archdiocese of Lanciano-Ortona, to take place on 22 November.


On Saturday 14 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 16 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Antonio Napolioni as bishop of Cremona (area 1,917, population 368,797, Catholics 331,250, priests 346, permanent deacons 14, religious 435), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Camerino, Italy in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles including vice-rector and rector of the regional seminary of the Marches, director of the regional centre for vocations, lecturer in pastoral theology and catechetics in the Istituto Marchigiano of Ancona, and the Pontifical Institute of Pastoral Ministry of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. He is currently pastor of the San Severino Vescovo parish. In 2005 he was named chaplain of His Holiness. He succeeds Bishop Dante Lanfranconi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Corrado Sanguinetti as bishop of Pavia (area 782, population 185,161, Catholics 173,000, priests 134, permanent deacons 5, religious 158), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Milan, Italy in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in biblical sciences from the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome and a degree in theology from the Pontifical University of the Sacred Heart, Rome. He has served in a number of roles in the diocese of Chiavari, including parish priest, president of the diocesan board for youth pastoral ministry, member of the diocesan centre for vocations, and member of the diocesan pastoral council. He is currently pastor of the parishes of San Colombano and San Martino del Monte, provost of the Cathedral of Nostra Signora dell'Orto, pro-vicar general, and member of the diocesan prebyteral council, the college of consultors and the diocesan pastoral council. He is lecturer in sacred scripture at the theological faculty of Northern Italy in Genoa, and was named chaplain of His Holiness in 2011. He succeeds Bishop Giovanni Giudici, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Bishop Enrique Sanchez Martinez, auxiliary of Durango, Mexico, as bishop of Nuevo Laredo (area 19,378, population 1,051,000, Catholics 884,000, priests 71, permanent deacons 8, religious 113), Mexico.
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