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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pope Francis receives in audience the prime minister of Iraq: importance of presence of Christians and ethnic minorities and defence of their rights

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) - Today, in the study of the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father Francis received in audience Haydar al-Abadi, prime minister of Iraq, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, reference was made to the good state of bilateral relations, to the life of the Church in the country and to the situation of Christians and ethnic and religious minorities living in Iraq, with particular reference to the importance of their presence and the need to protect their rights. Emphasis was placed on the role of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting tolerance and peace.

In this context, mention was made of the importance of the reconciliation process between the various social sectors within the country, and the national humanitarian and regional situation.

General audience: mercy must also reach our pockets

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, to a reflection on the biblical meaning of the Jubilee. Francis explained that every fifty years, on the Day of Atonement, a great event of liberation was announced. It consisted of a type of "general amnesty", in which all debts were cancelled and the land was restored to its owners. The central idea is that the earth belongs to God and has been entrusted to men as administrators. The Pope added that the biblical jubilee was a true jubilee of mercy which had the function of helping the people to experience genuine fraternity by sincerely pursuing, by means of mutual assistance, the good of their brother in need. Likewise he mentioned other rules and customs, such as the payment of the tithe, or one-tenth of their harvest, or the sharing of the first part of the harvest, and the prohibition of loads with disproportionate rates of interest, all intended to help the poor, the orphans and widows. Francis emphasised that the message of the biblical jubilee invites us to construct a land and a society based on solidarity, sharing and the just distribution of resources.

He stressed that if the Jubilee does not "reach our pockets" then it is not a true jubilee, and that this, "is in the Bible, it wasn't invented by the Pope". "We are all guests of the Lord, awaiting the celestial homeland, called upon to make the world that welcomes us inhabitable and human. And how much of the harvest the more fortunate could give to those who are in need! Not only the fruits of the fields, but also any other produce of work: salaries, savings, the many things we possess and which are often wasted. It also happens today".

"Thinking of this, the Holy Scripture insistently exhorts us to respond generously to requests for loans, without mean calculations and without demanding unreasonable rates of interest. … This teaching remains current. How many situations of usury do we see, and how much suffering and anguish among families? Very often, in desperation, men even arrive at the point of suicide because they can no longer cope; they are without hope and no-one extends a hand to help them, only a hand to demand they pay interest. Usury is a grave sin. … But the Lord promised His blessing to those who extend their hand to give generously. He will redouble the repayment, perhaps not in money but with other things; it will always be redoubled". Francis concluded by reiterating that "if we wish to receive God's mercy, we must start by being merciful ourselves, starting with our co-citizens, among families, peoples, continents. Contributing to creating an earth without poverty means building societies without discrimination, based on the solidarity that leads us to share what we possess, in a division of resources based on brotherhood and justice".

Mary, example of tenderness in the care of the sick

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father mentioned that tomorrow, the memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, will be the 24th World Day of the Sick. "In this year's message we reflect on the indispensable role of Mary in the wedding at Cana: 'Do whatever He tells you'. Mary's promptness reflects God's tenderness and the immense goodness of Merciful Jesus".

Francis invited those present to pray for the sick and to let them be aware of our love. "May the same tenderness of Mary's be present in the life of the many people who are by the side of the sick, so they may be able to perceive their needs, even those that are imperceptible, as they are seen through eyes filled with love".

Holy Father's Message for the "KeepLent" initiative

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – Pope Francis inaugurated the "KeepLent" initiative organised by the Youth Pastoral of the Prelature of Pompeii, Italy, with a voice message broadcast via the "Telegram" instant messaging application at 7.30 this morning.

"Dear boys and girls,

Jesus said to His disciples, 'Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them … So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets … Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you"

The Word of God guides us in living well the Lenten period.

When we do something good, at times we are tempted to be appreciated and to seek recompense: human glory. But it is a false recompense as it projects us towards what others think of us.

Jesus asks us to do good because it is good. He asks us to be aware that we are always under the watch of the heavenly Father and to live in relation to Him, not in relation to the judgement of others.

Living in the presence of the Father is a far more profound joy than worldly glory.

Our attitude during Lent must therefore be that of living in secret where the Father sees us, loves us and awaits us. Certainly, even external things are important, but we must always choose and live in the presence of God.

Let us do so in prayer, in mortification, and in the fraternal charity that we are able to give, humbly, before God. We will thus be worthy of the recompense of God the Father.

I wish you a good Lent. May Our Lady of Pompeii accompany you, and please, pray for me".

The Pope to the Missionaries of Mercy: show the maternity of the Church

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – Showing the maternal face of the Church, being aware of the need for forgiveness and the sense of shame of those who confess, and not applying a harsh form of justice were the main features of the advice Pope Francis gave yesterday afternoon to the Missionaries of Mercy from all continents, whom he received in audience in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. Today, during the Ash Wednesday Mass, he will confer to them their mandate as "missionaries" of mercy in the context of the Jubilee.

"I meet with you with great pleasure, before giving you the mandate of being Missionaries of Mercy. This is a sign of special relevance because it characterises the Jubilee, and enables the unfathomable mystery of the mercy of the Father to be lived in all the local Churches", said the Holy Father. "Being a missionary of mercy is a responsibility I have entrusted to you because it requires that you be witnesses in the first person of God's closeness and his way of loving. It is not our way, always limited and at times contradictory, but His way of loving, His way of forgiving, that is indeed mercy".

Francis went on to remind the new missionaries that in their ministry they are called upon to express the maternity of the Church. "The Church is a mother because she always generates new sons and daughters in faith; the Church is a mother also because she nurtures faith; and the Church is a mother also because she offers God's forgiveness, regenerating new life, the fruit of conversion. We cannot run the risk that a penitent does not perceive the maternal presence of the Church who welcomes and loves him. If this perception were to be made less evident as a result of our rigidity, it would constitute a grave damage first and foremost to faith itself, as it would prevent the penitent from seeing himself as integrated within the Body of Christ. Furthermore, it would greatly limit his sense of being part of a community. We are instead called upon to be a living expression of the Church who, as a mother, welcomes anyone who approaches her, knowing that through her they are integrated with Christ. Entering into the confessional let us always remember that it is Christ Who welcomes, Christ Who listens, Christ Who forgives, and Christ Who gives peace. We are His ministers, and we are the first who are in need of His forgiveness. Therefore, whatever may be the sin to be confessed – or that the person does not dare to say, but alludes to, which is enough – each missionary is called upon to remember their own existence as a sinner and to humbly place himself as a 'channel' of God's mercy".

Another important aspect is to know how to "look at the desire for forgiveness in the penitent's heart. It is the fruit of grace and its action in the life of people, which enables us to feel nostalgia for God, for His love and His home. Let us not forget that it is precisely this desire that is at the beginning of conversion. The heart turns to God, recognising the in committed, but with the hope of obtaining forgiveness. And this desire is strengthened when one decides in one's heart to change life and to sin no more. It is the moment at which one entrusts oneself to God's mercy, trusting fully in being understood, forgiven and supported by Him. Let us allow ample space to this desire for God and for His forgiveness; may we let it emerge as a true expression of the grace of the Spirit that inspires the conversion of the heart".

Finally, the Holy Father spoke about a crucial, often neglected aspect: shame. "It is not easy to place oneself in front of another man, knowing that he represents God, and confess to sin. One is ashamed not only of the sin committed, but also of having to confess it to another", said the Pope, emphasising that the Bible from its very first pages tells us about how Adam and Eve, after they had sinned, felt shame and hid themselves from God. Noah too, considered a righteous man, was not free from sin. His intemperance is a sign of his weakness, to the extent that he loses his dignity, expressed in the Scripture by his nakedness. Two of his sons, Shem and Japheth take his cloak and cover him to restore his dignity.

"This passage suggests to me the importance of our role as confessor", said Francis. "Before us there is a 'naked' person, and also a person who does not know how to speak and does not know what to say … with the shame of being a sinner, and very often unable to say so. Let us not forget: before us there is not the sin, but the repentant sinner. … A person who wishes to be accepted and forgiven. Therefore, we are not called upon to judge, with an attitude of superiority, as if we were immune to sin. On the contrary, we are called upon to act like Shem and Japheth, who took a cover to spare their father from shame. Being a confessor in accordance with Christ's heart means covering the sinner with a cloak of mercy, so that he is no longer ashamed and is able to recover the joy of his filial dignity, and may also know where to find it".

"However, it is not the club of judgement that we succeed in returning the lost sheep to the flock, but rather with the holiness of life that is the starting point of renewal and reform in the Church. Holiness is nurtured with love and knows how to bear the burden of the weak. A missionary of mercy carries the sinner on his shoulders, and consoles him with the power of compassion. … It is possible to do great damage, great damage to a soul if one does not listen with the heart of a father, with the heart of the Mother Church". "Some months ago I spoke with a wise cardinal of the Roman Curia about the questions that some priests ask in confession, and he said to me, 'When a person starts and I see that they want to say something, and I realise and understand, I say, I understand, don't worry. … This is a father".

"I accompany you on this missionary adventure", concluded the bishop of Rome, "offering you as examples two saints, ministers of God's forgiveness: St. Leopold and St. Pio … along with many other priests who during their life have borne witness to God's mercy. They will help you. When you feel the burden of the sins confessed to you, and the limits of your person and your words, trust in the power of mercy that reaches out to everyone as love and knows no bounds. And say, like many saintly confessors, 'Lord, I forgive you', and go ahead".

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Lauro Tisi as metropolitan archbishop of Trento (area 6,212, population 530,308, Catholics 486,000, priests 587, permanent deacons 28, religious 726), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Giustino, Italy in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Trento, including deputy priest, vice rector of the seminary, and spiritual father and delegate for young priests. He is currently vicar general and moderator of the Curia. He succeeds Archbishop Luigi Bressan, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Renato Marangoni as bishop of Belluno-Feltre (area 3,263, population 188,500, Catholics 188,300, priests 206, permanent deacons 6, religious 181), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Crespano del Grappa, Italy in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar, deputy director of the Gregorianum College in Padua, secretary of the Commission for the continuing formation of the clergy, episcopal delegate for family pastoral ministry, president of the Commission for the family, deputy director of the Istituto San Luca for the continuing formation of the clergy, member of the diocesan presbyteral council, delegate president of the presbyteral pastoral council, and episcopal vicar for lay apostolate. He is currently episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry in the diocese of Padua. He succeeds Bishop Giuseppe Andrich, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Roberto Carboni, O.F.M. Conv., as bishop of Ales-Terralba (area 1,494, population 97,830, Catholics 97,580, priests 66, permanent deacons 5, religious 89), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Scano Montiferro, Italy in 1958, gave his religious vows in 1982 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a licentiate in psychology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and has served in a number of roles including spiritual director of the national centre for spiritual guidance, lecturer of psychology in the Theological Institute of Assisi and in the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Sardinia, deputy priest in Cagliari, rector of the Franciscan postulate, secretary and provincial vicar, missionary in Cuba, spiritual director of the seminary, and rector of the Church of St. Francis in Havana, Cuba. He is currently general secretary for the formation of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. He succeeds Bishop Giovanni Dettori, whose resignation from the pastoral governance of the diocese was accepted upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 10 February 2016 (VIS) – No Vatican Information Service bulletin will be transmitted tomorrow, the eighty-seventh anniversary of the institution of Vatican City State by the signing of the Lateran Pacts. Service will resume on Friday, 12 February.
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