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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Pope addresses press on the return flight from Strasbourg: “I never give up a cause for lost”


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – During his return journey from Strasbourg, where he addressed both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis answered questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on the flight. The questions and the Holy Father's answers are published below.

Q: “Your Holiness addressed the European Parliament with pastoral works that may also be regarded as political words, and which may be linked, in my opinion, to a social-democratic stance - for example, when you say that we must ensure that the true expressive force of populations is not removed by multinational powers. Could we say that you are a social-democrat Pope?”

Pope Francis: “This would be reductive. It makes me feel as if I am part of a collection of insects: 'This is a social-democratic insect ...'. No, I would say not. I don't know if I am a social-democrat Pope or not. I would not dare to define myself as belonging to one side or another. I dare say that this comes from the Gospel: this is the message of the Gospel, taken up by the social doctrine of the Church. In reality, in this and in other things – social and political – that I have said, I have not detached myself from the social Doctrine of the Church. The social Doctrine of the Church comes from the Gospel and from Christian tradition. What I said – the identity of the people – is a Gospel value, is it not? In this sense, I say it. But you have made me laugh, thank you!”

Q: “There is almost no-one on the streets of Strasbourg this morning. The people say they are disappointed. Do you regret not visiting the Cathedral of Strasbourg, that celebrates is millennium this year? And when will you make your first trip to France, and where? Lisieux, perhaps?”

Pope Francis: “No, it is not yet planned, but one should certainly go to Paris. Then, there is a proposal to go to Lourdes. I have asked to visit a city where no Pope has yet been, to greet the citizens. But the plan has not yet been made. No, for Strasbourg, a visit to the cathedral was considered but it would have mean already making a visit to France, and this was the problem”.

Q: During your address to the Council of Europe I was struck by the concept of transversality, especially with reference to your meetings with young politicians in various countries, and indeed you spoke of the need for a sort of pact between generations, an intergenerational agreement at the margins of this transversality. Also, if I may ask, is it true that you are devoted to St. Joseph, and have a statue of him in your room?”

Pope Francis: “Yes, it is true. Whenever I have asked something of St. Joseph, he has granted it to me. The fact of 'transversality' is important. I have seen in dialogue with young politicians in the Vatican, from different parties and nations, that they speak with a differetn music, that tends towards transversality, and this is valuable. They are not afraid of coming out of their own territory, without denying it, but coming out in order to engage in dialogue. They are courageous! I believe that we must imitate this, along with intergenerational dialogue. This tendency to come out to find people of other origins and to engage in dialogue: Europe needs this today”.

Q: “In your second discourse, to the Council of Europe, you spoke about the sins of the sons of the Church. I would like to know if you have received the news on the events in Granada [alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests in the archdiocese, Ed.], that in a certain sense you brought to light...”

Pope Francis: “I received the news – it was sent to me, I read it, I called the person and I said, 'Tomorrow you must go to the bishop', and I wrote to the bishop asking him to begin work, to start the investigation and go ahead. How did I receive the news? With great pain, with very great sadness. But the truth is the truth, and we cannot hide it”.

Q: “In your addresses in Strasbourg, you spoke frequently of both the threat of terrorism and the threat of slavery: these are attitudes that are also typical of the Islamic State, which threatens much of the Mediterranean, which threatens Rome and also threatens you personally. Do you think it is possible to engage in dialogue with these extremists, or do you think this is a lost cause?”

Pope Francis: “I never give something up as a lost cause: never. Perhaps dialogue is not possible, but never close the door. It is difficult, one might say almost impossible, but the door is always open. You have used the word 'threaten' twice: it is true, terrorism is a threat. … But slavery is a real situation embedded in the today's social fabric, and has been for some time. Slave labour, human trafficking, the trade in children … it is a crisis! We must not close our eyes to this. Slavery, today, is a reality, the exploitation of people … And then there is the threat of these terrorists. But there is another threat, and it is State terrorism. When the situation becomes critical, and each State believes it has the right to massacre the terrorists, many who are innocent fall prey alongside the terrorists. This is a form of high-level anarchy that is very dangerous. It is necessary to fight terrorism, but I repeat what I said during my previous trip: when it is necessary to stop an unjust aggressor, it must be done with international consensus”.

Q: “In your heart, when you travel to Strasbourg, do you travel as Peter's Successor, as the bishop of Rome, or as the archbishop of Buenos Aires?”

Pope Francis: “As all three, I think. My memory is that of the archbishop of Buenos Aires, but I am no longer in this role. Now I am the bishop of Rome and Peter's Successor, and I think that I travel with this memory but with these realities; I travel with all these things. Europe worries me at the moment; it is good for me to go ahead in order to help, as the bishop of Rome and Peter's Successor; in this respect I am Roman”.

General Audience: the Church on the path to the Kingdom of Heaven


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated the catechesis of this morning's general audience to “a fundamental truth that Vatican Council II kept clearly in mind, and which must never be forgotten: the Church is not a static reality, still, an end in itself, but is instead continually in progress through history, towards the final, marvellous destination that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the earthly Church is the seed and the beginning”. He continued, “When we face this horizon, we realise that our imagination stops and discovers that it is only just able to intuit the splendour of the mystery that overcomes our senses. And certain questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage take place? What will the new dimension in which the Church enters be like? What will become of humanity? And of the Creation that surrounds us? But these questions are not new; they had already been posed by Jesus' disciples in those times”.

Francis explained that, faced with these questions, the Council Constitution “Gaudium et spes” affirms that “we are unaware of when the earth and humanity will come to an end, and we do not know how the universe will be transformed. Certainly, the appearance of this world, deformed by sin, will pass away. However, we know from Revelation that God prepares a new home and a new land, in which justice will abide, and whose joy will superabundantly satiate all the desires for peace that arise from the heart of man. … We will finally be clothed in joy, peace and God's love, completely and without any limit, face to face with Him”.

In this way, the Pontiff emphasised that it is good to perceive that there is a basic continuity and communion between the Church in Heaven and the Church in her earthly path, without forgetting that we are always invited to offer good works, prayers and the Eucharist to alleviate the suffering of souls that still await endless beatitude. “From a Christian perspective the distinction is no longer between those who are already dead and those who are not, but between those who are with Christ and those who are not. This is the decisive element for our salvation and for our happiness”.

“At the same time, the Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfilment of this marvellous plan cannot but affect all that which surrounds us and which emerged from the thought and the heart of God. … What we expect, as the completion of a transformation that is in reality already in process ever since Christ's death and resurrection, is therefore a new creation; it is not, therefore, the annihilation of the cosmos and all that which surrounds us, but rather bringing everything to its fullness of being, of truth, of beauty. This is the plan that God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has always wished to fulfil, and is fulfilling”. He concluded, “when we think of these stupendous reality that awaits us, we realise the extent to which belonging to the Church is truly a wonderful gift, that leads towards the highest vocation”.



Francis asks for prayers for his trip to Turkey


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – Following today's catechesis, the Pope offered special greetings to the Arab-speaking faithful, in particular those from Iraq and the Middle East. “The violence, suffering and the seriousness of the sins committed must lead us to leave all to the justice of God, who will judge each one according to his works. Be strong and cling to the Church and to your faith, so as to purify the world with your confidence; transform with your hope and heal with your forgiveness, with the love and patience of your witness. May the Lord protect and support you”.

Finally, during his greetings in Italian, and recalled that tomorrow his three-day apostolic trip to Turkey will begin, he invited those present to pray that “Peter's visit to his brother Andrew may bring fruits of peace, sincere dialogue between religions and harmony in the Turkish nation”.

Pope Francis' message to the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father sent a message to Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, on the occasion of the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities, held in the Catalan capital.

“I am glad to learn of the work accomplished and encourage all to continue to reflect creatively on the way to face the task of evangelising in great urban centres, in increasing expansion, and in which everyone needs to feel the closeness and mercy of God, who does not abandon”, writes the Pope.

“The Church has the mission of ensuring that the Good News of Jesus Christ and His salvific love reaches all environments, without fear of pluralism and without any form of discrimination. She does not consider it a loss to go out to the peripheries or to change the usual preconceptions, when necessary. Like a mother, whose primary concern is the wellbeing of her children, without sparing any effort or sacrifice, may she ensure they never lack the light of the Gospel that fills life with hope, joy and peace; that they never lack acceptance to feel integrated within a community, in circumstances of disintegration or in cold anonymity; that there grows in them the spirit of authentic solidarity with all, especially with those most in need”.


First International Prayer Day and reflection on human trafficking


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the international male and female Unions of Superior Generals (UISG and USG) have convoked an international conference for prayer and reflection on human trafficking, tobe held on 8 February 2015, feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese slave canonised in 2000.

According to a press release, “human trafficking is one of the worst examples of slavery in the XXI Century. This concerns the whole world. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) roughly 21 million people, often very poor and vulnerable, are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging, illegal organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation. Each year around 2.5 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery: 60 are women and children. They often suffer abuse and unspeakable violence. On the other hand, for traffickers and pimps, this is one of the most lucrative illegal activities in the world, generating a total of 32 billion dollars a year. It is the third most profitable 'business' after drugs and arms trafficking”.
“The primary objective of the International Day is to create greater awareness on this phenomenon and to reflect on the overall situation of violence and injustice that affect so many people, who have no voice, do not count, and are no one: they are simply slaves. Another goal is to attempt to provide solutions to counter this modern form of slavery by taking concrete actions. For this, it is necessary to stress the need to ensure rights, freedom and dignity to all trafficked persons, reduced to slavery. On the other hand, we must denounce both the criminal organisations and those who use and abuse the poverty and vulnerability of victims to transform them into goods for pleasure and gain”.



In brief


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR Interreligious Dialogue is participating in the 9th Colloquium between the aforementioned Pontifical Council and the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue (CID) of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation (ICRO), held in Teheran, Iran from 25 to 26 November on the theme “Christians and Muslims in constructive dialogue for the good of society”. In his address, the cardinal remarked that the term “construction” normally refers to the building of a house on strong foundations, and emphasised that “we need to be sure that we are doing good work, on solid foundations, to be sure of the hoped results for our present and our future”. Other themes to be considered during the meeting are spirituality, religious values as a response to extremism and violence, and the role of the media in promoting a culture of dialogue. Cardinal Tauran remarked that, when agreeing the sub-themes during the preparatory meeting, no-one imagined that extremism and violence would become as dramatic as they are today. “We cannot remain silent or indifferent to the extreme, inhuman and multi-form violence to which Christians and Yezedis have been subjected. Many of them, as we know, have preferred death to renouncing their faith. They are true martyrs. … Nothing can justify these heinous acts. Invoking religion to justify these crimes would be a crime against religion itself as well”.

ARCHBISHOP DOMINIQUE MAMBERTI, SECRETARY FOR RELATIONS WITH STATES yesterday addressed the plenary assembly of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in Sydney, in a discourse devoted to the diplomatic activity of the Holy See, with special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East. “The Holy See's diplomacy has various particular aims, which flow from its primarily spiritual mission. These include the defence of the Church's rights and freedom, and of religious liberty in general, the promotion of an ethical vision in the various questions which affect human life, society and development, the defence of human dignity and rights, the promotion of reconciliation and peace, the promotion of integral human development and humanitarian interests, the protection of the environment and, when requested, the mediation of disputes”.

The Holy See, he added, “is very concerned about the tragic situation currently unfolding in the Middle East. It does not propose technical solutions but it is tirelessly involved in raising international awareness and in appealing to the international community to intervene as a matter of urgency to stop the aggressor, provide humanitarian aid and address the root causes of the present crisis”.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Celestin Hakizimana as bishop of Gikongoro (area 2,057, population 582,159, Catholics 248,471, priests 51, religious 70), Rwanda. The bishop-elect was born in Kigali, Rwanda in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a doctorate in theology from the San Tommaso Faculty of Theology in Naples, Italy, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar in Rutongo, diocesan representative for Catholic education, director of the St. Paul National Pastoral Centre in Kigali, and director of GEMECA-Rwanda. He is currently secretary general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Francis prays for the intercession of the Virgin for his trip to Strasbourg


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, as is his custom before a journey, at around 5.30 the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of the Virgin Salus Popoli Romani and to ask for her intercession for his apostolic trip to the European institutions based in Strasbourg. Francis prayed for around half an hour and left before the Virgin a floral tribute in blue and yellow, the colours of the European flag.


The Pope to the European Parliament: dignity and transcendence, key concepts for the future of Europe


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Europe's future depends on the rediscovery of the vital and indissoluble nexus between dignity and transcendence, as otherwise it risks slowly losing its soul and the humanistic spirit that loves and defends. This was Pope Francis' message to the members of the European Parliament during his visit to the legislative body of the European Union (EU) in Strasbourg: it is the only international organisation directly elected by 508 million citizens, and composed of 751 deputies elected in the 28 member states of the EU.

The Holy Father left Rome by air shortly before 8 a.m. and arrived in Strasbourg in 10 a.m., where he was greeted by the French Minister of State for European Affairs, two deputy presidents, various representatives of the civil authorities, including the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, and local ecclesiastical figures. Pope Francis then travelled by car to the seat of the Parliament where he was received by President Martin Schulz and, following presentations by the two delegations of the 14 members of the Bureau of the Parliament and the 8 presidents of the political groups of the Assembly, he signed the Gold Book of the Parliament with the following phrase: “I hope that the European Parliament is always the place where each member contributes to ensure that Europe, mindful of her past, looks with confidence to the future to live with hope in the present”.

After attending the Solemn Session of the Parliament and listening to the speech by President Schulz, Pope Francis addressed the Assembly, recalling that his visit takes place over a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II, and many things have changed in Europe and throughout the world in the intervening period. “The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realised that 'Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it'. As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less 'Eurocentric'. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

“In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe. It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life. It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity”.

The Pope stressed the close bond between these two words: “dignity” and “transcendent”.
“'Dignity' was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War”, he affirmed. “Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in contrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterised as it is by an enriching encounter whose 'distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them', thus forging the very concept of the 'person'.

“Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age”.

Promoting the dignity of the person, he continued, “means recognising that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests”, yet “care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts. ... The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself”.

The Pontiff emphasised, “I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the ‘all of us’ made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. … To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that 'compass' deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation. Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation. In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future”.

This loneliness, he remarked, “has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is … no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions. Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings. Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb. This is the great mistake made 'when technology is allowed to take over'; the result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a 'throwaway culture' and an uncontrolled consumerism”.

Francis reminded the members of parliament that they are called to a great mission which may however appear impossible: tending to the needs of individuals and peoples. “To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalisation and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it. How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?”

To answer this question, the Pope referred to Raphael's celebrated fresco of the “School of Athens”, found in the Vatican. “Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato’s finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent – to God – which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe’s practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems. The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that 'humanistic spirit' which it still loves and defends. … I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe’s growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person”.

Pope Francis went on to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in “meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since 'it is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence'. Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.

“The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. ... I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. … At the same time, the specific features of each one represent an authentic richness to the degree that they are placed at the service of all. … Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament, within this dynamic of unity and particularity, yours is the responsibility of keeping democracy alive for the peoples of Europe. It is no secret that a conception of unity seen as uniformity strikes at the vitality of the democratic system, weakening the rich, fruitful and constructive interplay of organisations and political parties. … Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalising tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom”.

Keeping democracies alive “is a challenge in the present historic moment. The true strength of our democracies – understood as expressions of the political will of the people – must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. This is one of the challenges which history sets before you today. To give Europe hope means more than simply acknowledging the centrality of the human person; it also implies nurturing the gifts of each man and woman. It means investing in individuals and in those settings in which their talents are shaped and flourish. The first area surely is that of education, beginning with the family, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society. ... Then too, stressing the importance of the family not only helps to give direction and hope to new generations, but also to many of our elderly, who are often forced to live alone and are effectively abandoned because there is no longer the warmth of a family hearth able to accompany and support them. Alongside the family, there are the various educational institutes: schools and universities. … Young people today are asking for a suitable and complete education which can enable them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment”.

The Pontiff went on to speak about the defence of the environment, remarking that “Europe has always been in the vanguard of efforts to promote ecology. Our earth needs constant concern and attention. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. … Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes. I am thinking above all of the agricultural sector, which provides sustenance and nourishment to our human family. It is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables. Respect for nature also means recognising that man himself is a fundamental part of it. Along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of that human ecology which consists in respect for the person, which I have wanted to emphasise in addressing you today”.

The second area in which talent flourishes is work. “The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development. It also implies favouring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labour, their ability to create a family and educate their children”.

With regard to the need fro a united response to question of migration, Francis exclaimed, “We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! … The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions. Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts – the principal cause of this phenomenon – rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts.

“Awareness of one’s own identity is also necessary for entering into a positive dialogue with the States which have asked to become part of the Union in the future. I am thinking especially of those in the Balkans, for which membership in the European Union could be a response to the desire for peace in a region which has suffered greatly from past conflicts. Awareness of one’s own identity is also indispensable for relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly with those bordering the Mediterranean, many of which suffer from internal conflicts, the pressure of religious fundamentalism and the reality of global terrorism.

“It is incumbent upon you, as legislators, to protect and nurture Europe’s identity, so that its citizens can experience renewed confidence in the institutions of the Union and in its underlying project of peace and friendship. … I encourage you to work to make Europe rediscover the best of itself. An anonymous second-century author wrote that 'Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body'. The function of the soul is to support the body, to be its conscience and its historical memory. A two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity. It is a history not free of conflicts and errors, but one constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all. We see this in the beauty of our cities, and even more in the beauty of the many works of charity and constructive cooperation throughout this continent. This history, in large part, must still be written. It is our present and our future. It is our identity. Europe urgently needs to recover its true features in order to grow, as its founders intended, in peace and harmony, since it is not yet free of conflicts”.

“Dear Members of the European Parliament”, he concluded, “the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values, and faith too. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity”.


Francis at the Council of Europe: imposed peace is not enough – it must be loved, free and fraternal


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father proceeded by car to the seat of the Council of Europe, where he met the authorities, including the secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland, who accompanied him to the lobby of the Committee of Ministers. This was followed by an exchange of gifts, after which they entered the Great Hall where, following greetings and the opening discourse by the secretary general, the Pontiff addressed those present, thanking them for their invitation and for their “work and contribution to peace in Europe through the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.

He continued, “This year the Council of Europe celebrates its sixty-fifth anniversary. It was the intention of its founders that the Council would respond to a yearning for unity which, from antiquity, has characterised the life of the continent. Frequently, however, in the course of the centuries, the pretension to power has led to the dominance of particularist movements. … The dream of the founders was to rebuild Europe in a spirit of mutual service which today too, in a world more prone to make demands than to serve, must be the cornerstone of the Council of Europe’s mission on behalf of peace, freedom and human dignity”.

On the other hand, the road to peace, and avoiding a repetition of what occurred in the two World Wars of the last century, “is to see others not as enemies to be opposed but as brothers and sisters to be embraced. This entails an ongoing process which may never be considered fully completed. This is precisely what the founders grasped. They understood that peace was a good which must continually be attained, one which calls for constant vigilance. … Consequently, the founders voiced their desire to advance slowly but surely with the passage of time. That is why the founders established this body as a permanent institution. Pope Paul VI, several years later, observed that 'the institutions which in the juridical order and in international society have the task and merit of proclaiming and preserving peace, will attain their lofty goal only if they remain continually active, if they are capable of creating peace, making peace, at every moment'. What is called for is a constant work of humanisation, for 'it is not enough to contain wars, to suspend conflicts ... An imposed peace, a utilitarian and provisional peace, is not enough. Progress must be made towards a peace which is loved, free and fraternal, founded, that is, on a reconciliation of hearts'”.

Achieving the good of peace first calls for education in peace, “banishing a culture of conflict aimed at fear of others, marginalising those who think or live differently … Tragically, peace continues all too often to be violated. This is the case in so many parts of the world where conflicts of various sorts continue to rage. It is also the case here in Europe, where tensions persist”, he said. “Yet peace is also put to the test by other forms of conflict, such as religious and international terrorism, which displays deep disdain for human life and indiscriminately reaps innocent victims. This phenomenon is unfortunately bankrolled by a frequently unchecked traffic in weapons. The Church is convinced that 'the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured'. Peace is also violated by trafficking in human beings, the new slavery of our age, which turns persons into merchandise for trade and deprives its victims of all dignity. Not infrequently we see how interconnected these phenomena are. The Council of Europe, through its Committees and Expert Groups, has an important and significant role to play in combating these forms of inhumanity. … Peace is not merely the absence of war, conflicts and tensions. In the Christian vision, peace is at once a gift of God and the fruit of free and reasonable human acts aimed at pursuing the common good in truth and love”.

“The path chosen by the Council of Europe is above all that of promoting human rights, together with the growth of democracy and the rule of law. This is a particularly valuable undertaking, with significant ethical and social implications, since the development of our societies and their peaceful future coexistence depends on a correct understanding of these terms and constant reflection on them. … In your presence today, then, I feel obliged to stress the importance of Europe’s continuing responsibility to contribute to the cultural development of humanity.

“Throughout its history, Europe has always reached for the heights, aiming at new and ambitious goals, driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, development, progress, peace and unity. … But in order to progress towards the future we need the past, we need profound roots. We also need the courage not to flee from the present and its challenges. We need memory, courage, a sound and humane utopian vision. … Truth appeals to conscience, which cannot be reduced to a form of conditioning. Conscience is capable of recognising its own dignity and being open to the absolute; it thus gives rise to fundamental decisions guided by the pursuit of the good, for others and for one’s self; it is itself the locus of responsible freedom. … It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights”.

“This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. … And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents. … Europe should reflect on whether its immense human, artistic, technical, social, political, economic and religious patrimony is simply an artefact of the past, or whether it is still capable of inspiring culture and displaying its treasures to mankind as a whole. In providing an answer to this question, the Council of Europe with its institutions has a role of primary importance”.

“The history of Europe might lead us to think somewhat naively of the continent as bipolar, or at most tripolar … and thus to interpret the present and to look to the future on the basis of this schema, which is a simplification born of pretentions to power. But this is not the case today, and we can legitimately speak of a 'multipolar' Europe. Its tensions – whether constructive or divisive – are situated between multiple cultural, religious and political poles. Europe today confronts the challenge of creatively 'globalising' this multipolarity” which calls for “striving to create a constructive harmony, one free of those pretensions to power which, while appearing from a pragmatic standpoint to make things easier, end up destroying the cultural and religious distinctiveness of peoples”.

To speak of European multipolarity is to speak of peoples which are born, grow and look to the future. The task of globalising Europe’s multipolarity cannot be conceived by appealing to the image of a sphere – in which all is equal and ordered, but proves reductive inasmuch as every point is equidistant from the centre – but rather, by the image of a polyhedron, in which the harmonic unity of the whole preserves the particularity of each of the parts”.

“The second challenge which I would like to mention is transversality. … Were we to define the continent today, we should speak of a Europe in dialogue, one which puts a transversality of opinions and reflections at the service of a harmonious union of peoples. To embark upon this path of transversal communication requires not only generational empathy, but also an historic methodology of growth. In Europe’s present political situation, merely internal dialogue between the organisations (whether political, religious or cultural) to which one belongs, ends up being unproductive. Our times demand the ability to break out of the structures which 'contain' our identity and to encounter others, for the sake of making that identity more solid and fruitful in the fraternal exchange of transversality. A Europe which can only dialogue with limited groups stops halfway; it needs that youthful spirit which can rise to the challenge of transversality”.

“In the light of all this, I am gratified by the Council of Europe's desire to invest in intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension, through the Exchanges on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. Here is a valuable opportunity for open, respectful and enriching exchange between persons and groups of different origins and ethnic, linguistic and religious traditions, in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect”.

“This way of thinking also casts light on the contribution which Christianity can offer to the cultural and social development of Europe today within the context of a correct relationship between religion and society. … European society as a whole cannot fail to benefit from a renewed interplay between these two sectors, whether to confront a form of religious fundamentalism which is above all inimical to God, or to remedy a reductive rationality which does no honour to man. There are in fact a number of pressing issues which I am convinced can lead to mutual enrichment, issues on which the Catholic Church – particularly through the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) – can cooperate with the Council of Europe and offer an essential contribution”.

“Similarly, the contemporary world offers a number of other challenges requiring careful study and a common commitment, beginning with the welcoming of migrants. … Then too, there is the grave problem of work. … It is my profound hope that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation, free of ideological pressures, capable of confronting a globalised world while at the same time encouraging that sense of solidarity and mutual charity which has been a distinctive feature of Europe, thanks to the generous efforts of hundreds of men and women – some of whom the Catholic Church considers saints – who over the centuries have worked to develop the continent, both by entrepreneurial activity and by works of education, welfare, and human development. These works, above all, represent an important point of reference for the many poor people living in Europe. How many of them there are in our streets! They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work”.

“Finally, among the issues calling for our reflection and our cooperation is the defence of the environment, of this beloved planet earth. It is the greatest resource which God has given us and is at our disposal not to be disfigured, exploited, and degraded, but so that, in the enjoyment of its boundless beauty, we can live in this world with dignity”.

“Pope Paul VI called the Church an 'expert in humanity'. In this world, following the example of Christ and despite the sins of her sons and daughters, the Church seeks nothing other than to serve and to bear witness to the truth. This spirit alone guides us in supporting the progress of humanity. In this spirit, the Holy See intends to continue its cooperation with the Council of Europe, which today plays a fundamental role in shaping the mentality of future generations of Europeans. This calls for mutual engagement in a far-ranging reflection aimed at creating a sort of new agora, in which all civic and religious groups can enter into free exchange, while respecting the separation of sectors and the diversity of positions, an exchange inspired purely by the desire of truth and the advancement of the common good. For culture is always born of reciprocal encounter which seeks to stimulate the intellectual riches and creativity of those who take part in it; this is not only a good in itself, it is also something beautiful. My hope is that Europe, by rediscovering the legacy of its history and the depth of its roots, and by embracing its lively multipolarity and the phenomenon of a transversality in dialogue, will rediscover that youthfulness of spirit which has made this continent fruitful and great”.


The Pope receives the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, 24 November, Pope Francis received in audience Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Following this encounter the president met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

During the cordial exchange, discussions focused on the situation in the Egyptian nation, highlighting the closeness and solidarity of the Church to all the people of Egypt during this period of political transition. At the same time, hope was expressed that within the framework of guarantees enshrined by the new Constitution in terms of the safeguard of human rights and religious freedom, the peaceful coexistence among all components of society may be strengthened and the path to inter-religious dialogue may continue to be pursued.

Furthermore, themes of common interest were discussed with particular reference to the role of the country in the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa. In this regard, it was reiterated that dialogue and negotiation are the only options to put an end to the conflicts and to the violence that endanger defenceless populations and cause the loss of human lives.


The Pope to convoke a conference in Haiti in January 2015, five years after the earthquake that devastated the island


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” announced that its president, Cardinal Robert Sarah, will visit Haiti from 25 to 29 November, five years on from the earthquake that brought devastation to the island and its population, causing around 230 thousand deaths. The main aim of the trip is to bring a sign of concrete spiritual closeness to those who are still engaged in reconstruction works, and to inaugurate the “Notre Dame des Anges” school in Leogane, built through the work of the local Church and with the coordination of the apostolic nunciature.

On the occasion of this trip, the Holy Father has expressed his wish to convoke a conference on Haiti, to be held in the Vatican on 10 January 2015, to ensure that attention remains focused on this humanitarian catastrophe, the impact of which is still felt, and to emphasise the Church's closeness to the Haitian people. The meeting will be organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, in collaboration with local bishops.

Meanwhile, on 26 November, during his visit to the island, Cardinal Sarah will meet with representatives of Caritas Haiti, Msgr. Erick Touissant, the president and the director, Fr. Herve Francois, as well as other Caritas representatives present on the island. He will then meet with other Catholic humanitarian organisations working in Haiti.

On 27 November he will participate in the opening of the school “Notre Dame des Anges” in Leogane, managed by the Society of Jesus and built using funds sent directly by the Holy Father during the five years following the earthquake. On the same day he will meet with the local authorities, and in particular with the president of the Republic of Haiti.

On 28 November the prelate will meet with the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, the priests, religious and laypersons who offer their assistance not only in the reconstruction of infrastructure but also in the full human development of the population. The Cardinal will communicate the Pope's special encouragement to all to continue their work with dedication.


Audiences


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) –On the afternoon of Monday 24 November, the Holy Father received in audience Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, director general of the Islamic Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation, and entourage.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Pope to the faithful of the Malabar rite: St. Kuriakose Elias and St. Euphrasia, examples and encouragement to the people


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Basilica Pope Francis met with a group of faithful of Syro-Malabar rite, gathered in Rome for the canonisation on Sunday of Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family, and Euphrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart. The Holy Father took the opportunity to thank the Church in India, and specifically in Kerala, for “all its apostolic strength and for the witness of faith you have”, he said. “Continue in this way! Kerala is a land that is very fertile in religious and priestly vocations. Carry on working in this way, with your witness”.

“May this time of celebration and intense spirituality help you to contemplate the marvellous works accomplished by the Lord in the lives and deeds of these new saints. … who remind each of us that God’s love is the source, the support and the goal of all holiness, while love of neighbour is the clearest manifestation of love for God.”

Pope Francis described St. Kuriakose Elias as “a religious, both active and contemplative, who generously gave his life for the Syro-Malabar Church, putting into action the maxim 'sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others'”, while St. Euphrasia “lived in profound union with God, so that her life of holiness was an example and an encouragement to the people, who called her 'Praying Mother'. He encouraged those present to “treasure their lessons of evangelical living ... follow in their footsteps and imitate them, in a particular way, through love of Jesus in the Eucharist and love of the Church. Thus you will advance along the path to holiness”.

The Pope canonises six new blesseds: the Kingdom of God is built on tenderness and proximity


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – During the Mass celebrated this morning on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Holy Father canonised blesseds Giovanni Antonio Fraina (1803-1888), Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family (1805-1871), Ludovico da Casoria (1814-1885), Nicola da Longobardi (1650-1709), Euphrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart (1877-1952) and Amato Ronconi (c. 1226-c.1292).

In his homily, the Pope remarked that the kingdom of Jesus is the “kingdom of truth and life, the kingdom of sanctity and grace, the kingdom of justice, love and peace”, and he commented on today's readings show how the Lord established his kingdom, how He brings it about as history unfolds, and what He now asks of us.

Jesus brought about his kingdom “through his closeness and tenderness towards us”, as the prophet Ezekiel foresaw in the first reading that describes the attitude of the Shepherd towards His flock, using the verbs such as to seek, to keep watch, to round up, to lead to pasture, to bring to rest; to seek the lost sheep, to tend to the wounded, to heal the sick, to care for and to graze. “Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings. In this respect, the People of God have an unerring sense for recognising good shepherds and distinguishing them from hirelings”.

After his victory, that is, after the Resurrection – Jesus' kingdom grew, but it was not a kingdom according to earthly models. “For Him, to reign was not to command, but to obey the Father, to give Himself over to the Father, so that His plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment. … The Gospel teaches what Jesus' kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged. … The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus' works of mercy through which He brought about his kingdom”. He explained that those who accomplish these works show that they have understood and welcomed Jesus' sovereignty, because they have opened their hearts to God's charity. “In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. … Jesus has opened to us His kingdom to us, but it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now – his kingdom begins now – by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who as for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity, catechesis”.

“Today the Church places before us the examples of these new saints. Each in her or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters. They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour. They dedicated themselves without reserve to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and the measure of their unconditional love of God. In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth love for one's neighbour”. Pope Francis concluded, “Through the rite of canonisation, we have confessed once again the mystery of God's kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for His sheep. May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace it as the compass of our lives”.


Angelus: the example of the new saints revives spirit of harmony and reconciliation


Vatican City, 23 November 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass for the canonisation of six blesseds, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and greeted in particular the official delegations from Italy and India, the homelands of the new Saints.

“The example of the four Italian saints born in the provinces of Vicenza, Naples, Cosenza and Rimini helps the Italian people to revive the spirit of collaboration and harmony for the common good, and to look to the future with hope, united and trusting in the closeness of God Who never abandons us, even in the most difficult moments”.

“Through the intercession of the two new Indian saints from Kerala, a great land of faith and priestly and religious vocations, may the Lord grant a new missionary impulse to the Church in India, which is very great, so that inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation, Christians from India may continue on the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence”.


The poor are also evangelisers as they show us the peripheries the Gospel has not reached, says Francis at the 4th Missionary Convention of the CEI


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received in audience the participants in the 4th Missionary Convention of the Italian Episcopal Conference, around eight hundred people. “Every generation is called to be missionary … from the very beginning”, affirmed the Holy Father. “Remember how the apostles Andrew and John encountered the Lord and then … set out, enthusiastic. The first thing they did was become missionaries. They went to their brothers and said, 'We have found the Lord, we have found the Messiah'”.

Following these unscripted remarks, Pope Francis went on to cite his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in which he speaks of an outbound Church, and reiterated that a missionary can only be outbound, without fear of encounters, of discovering new things, and of speaking about the joy of the Gospel. “Not to proselytise, but to say what we have and want to share without imposition, with all and without distinction. … The particular Churches in Italy have done much. … I would like to repeat something that a Brazilian cardinal said to me: 'When I go to Amazonia – because he has the task of visiting dioceses in Amazonia – I go to the cemetery and see the tombs of missionaries. And there are many of them. And I think, these people could be canonised now!' It is the Church; they are the Churches of Italy”.

“Today I thank you for what you do in many areas … and I ask you to work with passion to keep this spirit alive. I see many laypeople alongside bishops and priests. The mission is the task of all Christians, not just the few. … The Italian Church, I repeat, has given many priests and laypeople fidei donum, who decide to spend their lives building up the Church in the peripheral areas of the world, among the poor and those who are far away. … I urge you, do not let yourselves be robbed of hope and the dream of changing the world with … the leaven of the Gospel, starting out from the human and existential peripheries. Reaching out means overcoming the temptation to talk among ourselves, forgetting the many who await from us a word of mercy, of consolation, of hope. Jesus' Gospel is fulfilled in history. Jesus Himself was a man from the outskirts, from Galilee, far from the centres of power of the Roman Empire and of Jerusalem. … However, His Word was the beginning of a transformation in history, the start of a spiritual and human revolution, the good news of a Lord Who died and rose again for us”.

The Pope encouraged those present to intensify their missionary spirit and their enthusiasm for the mission, without allowing themselves to be discouraged by difficulties and, above all, “beginning with children, who must receive a missionary catechesis. At times, even in the Church we are overcome by pessimism, which risks depriving many men and women of the announcement of the Gospel. Let us go ahead with hope! The many missionary martyrs to faith and charity are show us that victory is only in love and in a life spent for the Lord and for our neighbour, starting with the poor. The poor are the travelling companions of an outbound Church, as they are the first She encounters. The poor are also your evangelisers, as they show you those peripheries where the Gospel has yet to be proclaimed and lived”.

“Reaching out means not remaining indifferent to destitution, war, the violence in our cities, the neglect of the elderly, the anonymity of many people in need and marginalisation from little ones. Reaching out means not accepting that in our Christian cities the are many children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross. This is reaching out. It means being builders of peace, of the 'peace' that the Lord gives us every day and of which the world is so in need. Missionaries never give up their dream of peace, even when they experience difficulties and persecution, which make their presence strongly felt today”.


Francis: overcome the isolation that burdens the autistic and their families


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father today received in audience the participants in the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), dedicated to autism, including persons affected by this disorder and their families.

The Pope thanked the organisers of the Conference for having chosen such a complex theme, “which appeals directly to the responsibility of governments and institutions, without forgetting, of course, Christian communities”, and he emphasised the need for common efforts to promote “acceptance, encounter and solidarity … to break through the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma that burdens people affected by autism spectrum disorders, and frequently also their families”.

“This does not mean an anonymous and impersonal accompaniment, but instead and above all listening to the profound needs that emerge from within a disorder that is not only often difficult to diagnose, but which does not easily find acceptance without shame and solitude. In the assistance of those affected … it would be helpful to create, throughout the country, a network of support and services, complete and accessible, involving not only parents but also grandparents, friends, therapists, teachers and pastoral workers. These figures may help families to overcome the sensations of inadequacy, inefficacy and frustration that may emerge”.

Pope Francis went on to thank, personally and on behalf of the Church, the families and religious groups and various associations present for the work they carry out every day with persons affected by autism, and encouraged scholars and researchers in the arduous task of discovering therapies and support mechanisms in the treatment and above all the prevention of these disorders. He concluded, “All this is to be done with the necessary attention to the rights of those affected, considering their needs and their potential, and always safeguarding the dignity of every person”.


Ecclesial movements and new communities: conserve freshness of charism, respect freedom and seek communion

Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – Conserve the freshness of charism, respect freedom and always seek communion were the three directions that Pope Francis outlined at the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and based on the theme “The joy of the Gospel, a missionary joy”.

“The movements and communities you represent are now being projected into the phase of ecclesial maturity, which requires a vigilant attitude of permanent conversion, to render the evangelising impulse increasingly alive and fruitful”, said the Holy Father, who received the participants in the congress this morning in the Clementine Hall. Conversion and mission he said, are “intimately connected. Indeed, without an authentic conversion of heart and mind, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed; at the same time, if we are not open to mission, conversion is not possible and faith becomes sterile”.

With regard to the first indication, conserving the freshness of charism, Francis remarked that “as time goes by, there is a greater temptation to become comfortable, to become hardened in set ways of doing things, which, while reassuring, are nonetheless sterile. However, realities are more important than ideas; even if a certain institutionalisation of the charism is necessary for its survival, we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that external structures can guarantee the working of the Holy Spirit. The newness of your experiences does not consist in methods or forms, which are important, but rather in your willingness to respond with renewed enthusiasm to the Lord’s call”.

A further issue is how to welcome and accompany people today, especially the young. “Men and women today experience serious identity problems and have difficulty making proper choices; as a result, they tend to be conditioned and to delegate important decisions about their own lives to others. We need to resist the temptation of usurping individual freedom, of directing them without allowing for their growth in genuine maturity. Moral or spiritual progress that manipulates a person’s immaturity is only an apparent success, and one destined to fail. Christian education instead requires a patient accompaniment which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person, as the Lord does with each one of us. Patience is the only way to love truly and to lead others into a sincere relationship with the Lord”.

Finally, movements must not forget that “the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion”. ... For the world to believe that Jesus is Lord, it needs to see communion among Christians. If, on the other hand, the world sees divisions, rivalries and back-biting, regardless of the cause, how can we evangelise? Remember this further principle: 'Unity prevails over conflict', because our brothers and sisters are always of greater value than our personal attitudes; indeed, it is for our brothers and sisters that Christ has shed his blood. In addition, real communion cannot exist in Movements or in New Communities unless these are integrated within the greater communion of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church. The whole is greater than the part, and the part only has meaning in relation to the whole. Communion also consists in confronting together and in a united fashion the most pressing questions of our day, such as life, the family, peace, the fight against poverty in all its forms, religious freedom and education”, concluded the Holy Father.


Telegram for the death of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Vinicio Angelini for the death of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini last night at the age of 98. He offers his condolences to the family of the deceased cardinal, to the diocesan community of Rome and to the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face, and expresses his affection for “this dear and esteemed pastor, who exercised his long and intense ministry to build up the Church in Rome, in Italy and in the world, first as part of Catholic Action, then with praiseworthy apostolic zeal in hospitals and nursing homes in Rome, and finally as president of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers (for Health Pastoral Care)”.

He continues, “I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Mary Salus Populi Romani, He may receive this generous and distinguished man of the Church in joy and eternal peace, and I impart the comfort of my heartfelt apostolic blessing to those who mourn his passing”.


Private meeting between the Pope and the president of the Italian Republic


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., announced yesterday that the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. The meeting, of a strictly private nature, took place in very cordial atmosphere and lasted over an hour.


Audiences


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and entourage.

On Saturday 22 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

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


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

- appointed Bishop Donald J. Hying, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, U.S.A., as bishop of Gary (area 4,680, population 809,000, Catholics 189,000, priests 129, permanent deacons 64, religious 123), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Dale J. Melczek, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Victor Hlolo Phalana as bishop of Klerksdorp (area 34,800, population 1,500,000, Catholics 27,000, priests 24, permanent deacons 4, religious 11), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Erasmus, South Africa in 1961, and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in spirituality from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and studied African culture at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including parish priest in the parishes of “Christ the King”, Mabopane, “Good Shepherd” and “St. Peter” in Winterveldt; professor in the preparatory seminary of Hammanskraal and Cape Town; spiritual director of the St. Peter philosophical seminary; teacher at the St. John Vianney major seminary, and teacher at the Lumuko Pastoral Institute. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Pretoria and administrator of the Cathedral of Pretoria.

On Saturday 22 November, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Kieran O'Reilly of Killaloe, Ireland as metropolitan archbishop of Cashel and Emly (area 3,082, population 83,710, Catholics 82,118, priests 139, religious 196), Ireland. He succeeds Archbishop Dermot Clifford, whose resignation from the patoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Jean-Pierre Batut, auxiliary of Lyon, France, as bishop of Blois (area 6,422, population 340,729, Catholics 185,100, priests 98, permanent deacons 9, religious 121), France. He succeeds Bishop Maurice Le Begue de Germiny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. William Nolan as bishop of Galloway (area 9,332, population 520,000, Catholics 47,700, priests 39, permanent deacons 3, religious 41), Scotland. The bishop-elect was born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds a degree in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including vice rector of the Pontifical Scottish College in Rome, and in the diocese of Motherwell, parish priest of “Our Lady of Lourdes”, East Kilbride; judge of the National Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Scotland; head of continuing formation of clergy in the diocese, and deputy president of the presbyteral council. He is currently vicar general of Motherwell. He succeeds Bishop John Cunningham, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Stephen Marmion Lowe as bishop of Hamilton (area 49,700, population 678,000, Catholics 96,500, priests 49, religious 73), New Zealand. The bishop-elect was born in Hokitika, New Zealand in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He studied spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest of Timaru North and chaplain of the Roncalli College, Christchurch. He is currently director of formation at the Holy Cross national seminary in Auckland, parish priest of Ponsonby and administrator of Herne Bay in the diocese of Auckland. He succeeds Bishop Denis George Browne, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. John Yaw Afoakwa as bishop of Obuasi (area 6,350, population 1,394,910, Catholics 102,260, priests 84, religious 31), Ghana. The bishop-elect was born in Akrokerry, Ghana in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a B.A. in religious education from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome, a B.A. in religion with sociology from the University of Ghana in Accra, and an M.Sc. in Education from the Le Moyne College, Syracuse, U.S.A. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including teacher and chaplain at the Christ the King Secondary School in Obuasi; director of the diocesan Catechetics Office and the diocesan department of social communications; rector of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Akaporiso; and parish vicar at the Blessed Trinity Parish in the diocese of Rochester, U.S.A.. He currently teaches at the Bodwesango Senior High School, and is rector of the St. Louis Rectorate and chaplain of the St. Louis Clinic, Bodwesango.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Henryk Wejman as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamien (area 12,754, population 1,053,713, Catholics 1,000,000, priests 663, religious 250), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Recz, Poland in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a licentiate in theology of spirituality and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including: teacher and spiritual director in the major seminary of Szczecin, parish priest in the St. Albert Chmielowski parish, and adjunct professor in the Institute of philosophy of the University of Szczecin and the “Adam Mickiewicz” University of Poznan. He is currently professor of moral and spiritual theology and dean of the faculty of theology of the University of Sczcecin, and member of the College of Consultors and the presbyteral council.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, presented by Archbishop Louis Kebreau, S.D.B., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Archbishop Max Leroy Mesidor, currently coadjutor of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, as his special envoy at the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, to be held in Kiev on 10 December 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Pope to participants in the World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants: “Migration is an aspiration to hope”


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – “Migration is still an aspiration to hope, notwithstanding new developments and the emergence of situations which are at times painful and even tragic”, said the Pope in his address to the participants in the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, affirming the powerful hope that inspires many inhabitants of troubled areas throughout the world to seek a better future for their families in other places, even at the risk of disappointment and failure. This, he remarked, is caused in great part by the economic crisis which, to differing degrees, affects every country.

The three-day Congress highlighted the dynamics of cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrants. “First and foremost you have analysed the factors which cause migration, in particular: inequality, poverty, overpopulation, the growing need for employment in some sectors of the global job market, disasters caused by climate change, wars and persecution, and the desire of younger people to relocate as they seek new opportunities. Moreover, the link between cooperation and development shows, on the one hand, the difference of interests between states and migrants, and, on the other hand, the opportunities which derive for both”.

“In effect, receiving nations draw advantages from employing immigrants for production needs and national prosperity, not infrequently filling gaps created by the demographic crisis”, observed the Holy Father. “In turn, the nations which migrants leave show a certain reduction in unemployment and, above all, benefit from earnings which are then sent back to meet the needs of families which remain in the country. Emigrants, in the end, are able to fulfil the desire for a better future for themselves and their families. Yet we know that some problems also accompany these benefits. We find in the countries of origin, among other things, an impoverishment due to the so-called 'brain drain', the effects on infants and young people who grow up without one or both parents, and the risk of marriages failing due to prolonged absences. In the receiving nations, we also see difficulties associated with migrants settling in urban neighbourhoods which are already problematic, as well as their difficulties in integrating and learning to respect the social and cultural conventions which they find. In this regard, pastoral workers play an important role through initiating dialogue, welcoming and assisting with legal issues, mediating with the local population. In the countries of origin, on the other hand, the closeness of pastoral workers to the families and children of migrant parents can lessen the negative repercussions of the parents’ absence”.

However, the Congress affirmed that the implications of the Church's pastoral concern in the overall context of cooperation, development and migration go much further, and “it is here that the Church has much to say. The Christian community, in fact, is continuously engaged in welcoming migrants and sharing with them God’s gifts, in particular the gift of faith”. Furthermore, the Church “promotes pastoral plans for the evangelisation and support of migrants throughout their journey from their country of origin, through countries of transit, to the receiving countries. She gives particular attention to meeting the spiritual needs of migrants through catechesis, liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments”.

“Sadly”, he added, “migrants often experience disappointment, distress, loneliness and marginalisation. In effect, the migrant worker has to deal with the problem both of being uprooted and needing to integrate. Here the Church also seeks to be a source of hope: she develops programs of education and orientation; she raises her voice in defence of migrants’ rights; she offers assistance, including material assistance to everyone, without exception, so that all may be treated as children of God. When encountering migrants, it is important to adopt an integrated perspective, capable of valuing their potential rather than seeing them only as a problem to be confronted and resolved. The authentic right to development regards every person and all people, viewed integrally. This demands that all people be guaranteed a minimal level of participation in the life of the human community. How much more necessary must this be in the case of the Christian community, where no one is a stranger and, therefore, everyone is worthy of being welcomed and supported”.

“The Church, beyond being a community of the faithful that sees the face of Jesus Christ in its neighbour, is a Mother without limits and without frontiers. She is the Mother of all and so she strives to foster the culture of welcome and solidarity, where no one is considered useless, out of place or disposable. … Migrants, therefore, by virtue of their very humanity, even prior to their cultural values, widen the sense of human fraternity. At the same time, their presence is a reminder of the need to eradicate inequality, injustice and abuses. In that way, migrants will be able to become partners in constructing a richer identity for the communities which provide them hospitality, as well as the people who welcome them, prompting the development of a society which is inclusive, creative and respectful of the dignity of all”.

The Pope concluded by invoking upon the participants in the Congress “the protection of Mary, Mother of God, and St. Joseph, who themselves experienced the difficulty of exile in Egypt”.


Video message to the participants in the 4th Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a video message to the participants in the fourth edition of the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which this year focuses on the theme, “Beyond places, in time”. The title, he says, suggests various points for reflection, the first of which is the concept of “going beyond”. “The current situation of social and economic crisis can frighten us, disorientate us or seem so difficult that we conclude there is nothing we can do. The great temptation is to stop and tend to our own wounds, and find in that an excuse not to listen to the cry of the poor and the suffering of those who have lost the dignity of being able to put bread on the table because they have lost their jobs. And those who seek only to cure their own wounds end up preening themselves. This is a trap. The risk is that indifference makes us blind, deaf and mute, present only to ourselves, before the mirror, so that everything happens outside us. Men and women closed up in themselves”. This narcissism, he says, is not the right approach.

“We are required to go beyond this and to respond to real needs”, he continues. “To go overcome, it is necessary to take the initiative. … Nowadays, even in the economic sphere it is urgent to take the initiative, as the system tends to sanction everything and money takes control. The system leads to this form of globalisation which is not good and which sanctions everything. … Taking the initiative in these spheres means having the courage not to let oneself be imprisoned by money and short-term gains which enslave us. We need to find a new way of seeing things!”

“The real problem is not money though, but rather people: we cannot ask of money that which only people can do or create. Money alone does not lead to development: development requires people who have the courage to take initiative. And taking the initiative means developing activity capable of innovation, not only of a technological nature; it is also necessary to renew working relations, experimenting with new forms of participation and responsibility for workers, inventing new ways of entering the world of work, creating a bond of solidarity between business and territory. Taking initiative means overcoming 'assistentialism'”.

“Taking initiative also means considering love as the true motor of change”, he adds. “Freeing talents is the beginning of change; this action allows envy, jealousy, rivalry, disagreement and prejudice, and opening up to joy, to the joy of the new”. He emphasises that the question of talent is of particular relevance to the young: “If we want to go ahead, we must make decisive investments in them and trust in them”.

“'Going beyond places' is not the result of individual chance but of sharing an aim: history is a path towards fulfilment. If we act as a population, if we go ahead together, our existence will illustrate this meaning and this fullness”.


Francis: a strong and widespread desire to walk together


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – “This anniversary invites us to give thanks to God for the many fruits harvested in this last half-century. In particular, there has occurred what the Council recommended: the appreciation of how much there is that is good and true in the life of Christians in every community”. Thus Pope Francis greeted the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the theme of which is “The aim of ecumenism: principles, opportunities and challenges, fifty years after Unitatis Redintegratio”.

The Pontiff remarked that fifty years ago on 21 November, the dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and the Decree on the Oriental Catholic Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, were also published alongside Unitatis Redintegratio. These three profoundly connected texts offer the ecclesiological vision of Vatican Council II.

“Firstly, we can rejoice in the fact that the teaching of the Council has been widely received”, affirmed Francis. “In these years, on the basis of theological reasons rooted in the Scripture and in the tradition of the Church, the attitude of us as Catholics has changed in relation to Christians of other Churches and ecclesial communities. Hostility and indifference, which had dug trenches that it seemed impossible to fill and had inflicted deep wounds, now belong to the past, and a healing process has begun that enables us to accept others as brothers or sisters, in the profound unity born of Baptism”.

This change in mentality has made it possible to “deepen our contact with many Churches and ecclesial Communities, and to develop new forms of collaboration. In this respect, the ecumenical traditions of the Sacred Scripture have been very important. Christians of different Churches and ecclesial Communities work together in the service of suffering and needy humanity, for the defence of human life and its inalienable dignity, for the protection of creation and against the injustice that afflict many people and populations”.

He continued, “while we give thanks, we must acknowledge that Christians remain divided, and that divergence in relation to new anthropological and ethical themes complicates our path towards unity. However, we cannot give in to discouragement and resignation, but must continue to trust in God who plants seeds of love and unity in the hearts of Christians, so they can face today's ecumenical challenges with renewed zeal; to cultivate spiritual ecumenism, to recognise the value of ecumenism of blood, and to walk the path of the Gospel together”.

Spiritual ecumenism culminates in the Week of Prayer for Christian unity, “a worldwide network of moments of prayer that, from parochial to international level, infuse the body of the Church with the oxygen of genuine ecumenical spirit; a network of gestures, that unite us in working together charitably; and it is also the sharing of prayer, thoughts and other texts that circulate on the web and may contribute to increasing mutual knowledge, respect and esteem”.

With regard to ecumenism of blood, Unitatis Redintegratio invites us to recognise, “in the brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian Communities, the capacity, given by God, to bear witness to Christ unto the sacrifice of their lives. These testimonies have not been lacking in these fifty years, and continue to this day. ... Those who persecute Christ in his faithful do not differentiate in terms of confession: they persecute them simply because they are Christians”.

The Pope went on to remark that, in recent months, encountering many non-Catholic Christians, and reading their letters, he has noted the existence of a “widespread and strong desire to walk together, to pray, to know and love the Lord, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weak and suffering. I am convinced of this: on a common path, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and learning from each other, we can grow in the communion that already unites us”.

“Fifty years on from Unitatis Redintegratio, the quest for full Christian unity remains a priority for the Catholic Church, and it is therefore one of my main daily concerns. Unity is, first and foremost, a gift from God and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are all called to collaborate, always and in every circumstance”.




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