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Friday, September 4, 2015

Pope's video message to the Second International Congress of Theology in Buenos Aires: overcome the divorce between theology and pastoral ministry

Vatican City, 4 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday Pope Francis sent a video message to the participants in the Second International Congress of Theology, on the theme “Vatican II: memory, present and prospects”, held in Buenos Aires from 1 to 3 September to commemorate the centenary of the Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), and the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II. Extensive extracts from the message are published below:

“The anniversary of the Faculty of Theology celebrates the coming to maturity of a particular Church. It celebrates life, history, the faith of the People of God journeying on earth and in search of 'understanding' and 'truth' from their own positions. … It seems to me of great importance to link this event with the 50th anniversary of the Closing of Vatican Council II. There exists no isolated particular Church that can be said to be the owner and sole interpreter of the reality and the work of the Spirit. No community has a monopoly over interpretation or inculturation just as, on the other hand, there is no universal Church that turns away from, ignores or neglects the local situation”.

“And this leads us to assume that it is not the same to be a Christian … in India, in Canada, or in Rome. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the theologian is to discern and to reflect on what it means to be a Christian today, in the 'here and now'. How does that original source manage to irrigate these lands today, and to make itself visible and liveable? … To meet this challenge, we must overcome two possible temptations: first, condemning everything: … assuming 'everything was better in the past', seeking refuge in conservatism or fundamentalism, or conversely, consecrating everything, disavowing everything that does not have a 'new flavour', relativising all the wisdom accumulated in our rich ecclesial heritage. The path to overcoming these temptations lies in reflection, discernment, and taking both the ecclesiastical tradition and current reality very seriously, placing them in dialogue with one another”.

“Not infrequently an opposition between theology and pastoral ministry emerges, as if they were two opposite, separate realities that had nothing to do with each other. We not infrequently identify doctrine with conservatism and antiquity; and on the contrary, we tend to think of pastoral ministry in terms of adaptation, reduction, accommodation. As if they had nothing to do with each other. A false opposition is generated between theology and pastoral ministry, between Christian reflection and Christian life. … The attempt to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral ministry, between faith and life, was indeed one of the main contributions of Vatican Council II”.

“I cannot overlook the words of John XXIII in the Council's opening discourse, when he said 'The substance of the ancient doctrine of the depositum fidei is one thing; and the way in which it is presented is another'. We must turn again ... to the arduous task of distinguishing the living message from the form of its transmission, from the cultural elements in which it is codified at a given time”.

“Do not allow the exercise of discernment to lead to a betrayal of the content of the message. The lack of this theological exercise detrimental to the mission we are invited to perform. Doctrine is not a closed, private system deprived of dynamics able to raise questions and doubts. On the contrary, Christian doctrine has a face, a body, flesh; He is called Jesus Christ and it is His Life that is offered from generation to generation to all men and in all places”.

The questions our people pose, their anguish, their quarrels, their dreams, their struggles, their concerns all have hermeneutical value we cannot ignore if we are to take seriously the principal of incarnation. … Our formulations of faith were born of dialogue, encounter, comparison and contact with different cultures, communities and nations in situations calling for greater reflection on matters not previously clarified. For Christians, something becomes suspicious when we no longer admit the need for it to be criticised by others. People and their specific conflicts, their peripheries, are not optional, but rather necessary for a better understanding of faith. Therefore it is important to ask whom we are thinking of when we engage in theology. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit in a praying people is the subject of theology. A theology that is not born of this would offer something beautiful but not real”.

“In this regard, I would like to explain three features of the identity of the theologian:

1. The theologian is primarily a son of his people. He cannot and does not wish to ignore them. He knows his people, their language, their roots, their histories, their tradition. He is a man who learns to appreciate what he has received as a sign of God's presence because he knows that faith does not belong to him. This leads him to recognise that the Christian people among whom he was born have a theological sense that he cannot ignore.

2. The theologian is a believer. The theologian is someone who has experience of Jesus Christ and has discovered he cannot live without Him. ... The theologian knows that he cannot live without the object / subject of his love, and devotes his life to sharing this with his brothers.

3. The theologian is a prophet. One of the greatest challenges in today's world is not merely the ease with which it is possible to dispense with God; socially it has taken a step further. The current crisis pivots on the inability of people to believe in anything beyond themselves. ... This creates a rift in personal and social identities. This new situation gives rise to a process of alienation, owing to a lack of past and therefore of future. The theologian is thus a prophet, as he keeps alive an awareness of the past and the invitation that comes from the future. He is a able to denounce any alienating form as he intuits, reflecting on the river of Tradition he has received from the Church, the hope to which we are called”.

“Therefore, there is only one way of practising theology: on one's knees. It is not merely the pious act of prayer before then thinking of theology. It is a dynamic reality of thought and prayer. Practising theology on one's knees means encouraging thought when praying and prayer when thinking”.

In memoriam

Vatican City, 4 September 2015 (VIS) – The following prelates have died in recent weeks:

- Bishop Simon-Pierre Saint-Hillien, C.S.C., of Hinche, Haiti, on 22 July at the age of 64.

- Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, major penitentiary emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 23 July at the age of 88.

- Bishop Fransiskus Xaverius Rocharjanta Prajasuta, M.S.F., emeritus of Banjarmasin, Indonesia on 28 July at the age of 83.

- Archbishop Salvatore Cassisa, emeritus of Monreale, Italy, on 3 August at the age of 93.

- Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, emeritus of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, on 14 August at the age of 69.

- Cardinal Laszlo Pacifik Paskai, O.F.M. archbishop emeritus of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, on 17 August at the age of 88.

- Bishop Vladimír Filo, emeritus of Roznava, Slovakia, on 18 August at the age of 75.

- Bishop Paul Lokiru Kalanda, emeritus of Fort Portal, Uganda, on 19 August at the age of 88.

- Bishop Gaetano Aldo (Thomas) Donato, auxiliary of Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A., on 25 August at the age of 74.

- Archbishop Maroun Khoury Sader, emeritus of Tyre of the Maronites, Lebanon, on 26 August at the age of 88.

- Abbot Carmelo Domenico Recchia, O. Cist. emeritus of Claraval, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on 26 August at the age of 93.

- Bishop Francisco Capiral San Diego, emeritus of Pasig, Philippines, on 26 August at the age of 79.

- Former nuncio Jozef Wesolowski, on 28 August at the age of 67.

- Bishop Carlos Maria Ariz Bolea, C.M.F., emeritus of Colon-Kuna Yala, Panama, on 29 August at the age of 86.

- Bishop Pierfranco Pastore, secretary emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication on 30 August at the age of 88.

- Archbishop George Hamilton Pearce, S.M., emeritus of Suva, Fiji Islands, on 30 August at the age of 94.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Audience with the president of Israel: responsibility of religious leaders in promoting reconciliation and peace

Vatican City, 3 September 2015 (VIS) Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience Reuven Rivlin, president of the State of Israel, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

During the cordial discussions the Parties focused on the political and social situation in the Middle East, affected by several conflicts, with special attention to the condition of Christians and other minority groups. In this respect the importance of interreligious dialogue was recognised, along with the responsibility of religious leaders in promoting reconciliation and peace.

The need and urgency of promoting a climate of trust between Israelis and Palestinians was highlighted, alongside the resumption of direct negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement respecting the legitimate aspirations of the two Populations, as a fundamental contribution to peace and stability in the Region.

Various issues were considered regarding the relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, and between the state authorities and local Catholic communities. The Parties expressed their hope that the bilateral Agreement currently being drafted be concluded promptly, and that an adequate solution be found for various matters of common interest, including the situation of Christian schools in the country.

The Pope to Schoenstatt priests: “keep your ear to God's heart and your hand on the pulse of the time”

Vatican City, 3 September 2015 (VIS) – Contemplation, service, fraternity – three facets of priestly life that Pope Francis proposed to the participants in the general chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers. The Apostolic Schoenstatt Movement was founded on 18 October 1914 by Fr. Jose Kentenich as a path of spiritual renewal within the Catholic Church, and his name is drawn from the Marian shrine near Koblenz, Germany, which houses the image of Our Lady, and where there are the head offices of the movement's communities, now present in 42 countries. The Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers was instituted by Fr. Jose Kentenich on 18 July 1965, in the service of the Apostolic Movement.

The Pope remarked that, after these years of progress, their concern is to “keep alive your foundational charism and the ability to communicate it to the young, so as to continue to inspire and support your lives and your mission. You are aware that a charism is not a museum piece, that remains intact in a display cabinet, to be contemplated alone. Fidelity, keeping the charism pure, does not in any way mean closing it in a sealed bottle, like distilled water, so that it is not contaminated by the outside world. … Fr. Kentenich expressed this very well when he said that it was necessary to keep an ear to God's heart and a hand on the pulse of the time. … These are the two pillars of an authentic spiritual life”.

The Pope went on to speak about contact with God: “it is not a good approach to neglect prayer or, worse still, to abandon it with the excuse of a demanding ministry. … It would be a grave error to think that the charism stays alive focusing on external structures … or forms. God frees us from the spirit of functionalism. The vitality of the charism is rooted in the 'first love', renewed daily, in our willingness to listen and to respond with loving generosity. … May this healthy and necessary 'decentralisation' work in us, so that we set ourselves aside to allow Christ to occupy the centre of our life”.

The second pillar is formed by the expression “taking the pulse of the time”, that is, reality and people. “We must not be afraid of reality”, emphasised Francis. “Dialogue with God in prayer also leads us to listen to his voice in the people and the situations that surround us. We do not have two separate ears, one for God and one for reality. … When we meet with our brothers, especially those who in our eyes or in the eyes of the world are less agreeable, what do we see? Do we realise that God loves them, that they are of the same flesh that Christ assumed, or are we indifferent to their problems? … In prayer we learn not to pass by Christ Who suffers in His brothers. Let us learn to serve”.

“You are practically the last reality of the Movement founded by Fr. Kentenich, and this carries an important lesson, and is very good”, observed the Pope. “This fact of being the 'last' clearly reflects the role held by priests in relation to their brothers. The priest must never be above or in front of others, but instead must walk alongside them, loving them with the same love of Christ, Who came not to be served but rather to serve and to give His life in return for so many others. … Let us ask the Lord to give us shoulders as strong as His, to carry those who are without hope, those who seem lost, those to whom no-one offers a glance … and free us from 'careerism' in our priestly life”.

Finally, the Pope commented on priestly fraternity. “Please, never be alone”, he warned. “The presbyteral ministry cannot be conceived of in an individual or, worse still, individualist way. Fraternity is the great school of discipleship. … It is not we who choose our brothers, but we have the conscious and fruitful option to love them as they are, with their flaws and their virtues. … Please, may there not be any indifference in your communities. Behave as men: if disagreements or differences of opinion arise, do not worry: better the heat of the argument than the coldness of indifference, which is the real tomb of fraternal charity”.

At the end of the meeting the Pope gave three recommendations to the Schoenstatt priests. “Firstly, accompany and care for families, so that they are able to live the holy alliance of love and life, especially those who experience moments of crisis or difficulty. Secondly, and thinking of the upcoming jubilee of mercy, dedicate plenty of time to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Be great forgivers. … May you be witnesses of God's mercy and tenderness in your communities. And thirdly, pray for me, as I need your prayers”, he concluded.


Vatican City, 3 September 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretary for the Economy;

- Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, apostolic nuncio in Bulgaria and Macedonia;

- Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and entourage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

General audience: the family, conduit of faith

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The family as the conduit of faith was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during September's first general audience.

Francis remarked first that Jesus, both in His words and His signs, frequently presented family bonds as an example of our relationship with God. These bonds “within the experience of faith and God's love, are transformed and acquire a higher meaning, and are able to go beyond themselves, to create a broader paternity and maternity, and to welcome as brothers and sisters those who are at the margins”. To this purpose, the bishop of Rome cited the Gospel passage in which Jesus responded to those who said that His mother and brothers were seeking him outside: “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother”.

“The wisdom of affections that cannot be bought or sold is the finest quality of the family. It is precisely in the family that we learn to grow in that atmosphere of emotional wisdom. … When family affections are allowed to be converted by the witness of the Gospel, they become capable of unimaginable things, the actions that God works in history, like those that Jesus achieves for the men, women and children he encounters. A smile miraculously snatched from the despair of an abandoned child, who starts to live again, explains to us God's work in the world better than a thousand theological treatises. One man and one woman, capable of risking and making sacrifices for the child of others and not only their own, tell us things about love that scientists are not able to understand”.

“The family that responds to Jesus' call restores the rule of the world to the alliance of man and woman with God”, Francis emphasised. “Let us imagine that the helm of history (of society, the economy, politics) is finally passed to the alliance between man and woman, so that they might govern with a view to the generation to come. The themes of the earth and the home, the economy and work, would play a very different tune!”

“Effectively, the alliance between the family and God is called upon to oppose to the community desertification of the modern city. But our cities have been desertified through a lack of love, a lack of smiles. There is so much entertainment, so many things to pass the time, to make us laugh, but there is a lack of love. The smile of a family is able to conquer this desertification of our cities. And this is the victory of family love”.

“No form of economic or political engineering is able to substitute the contribution families make”, he concluded. “The project of Babel builds lifeless skyscrapers. The Spirit of God, instead, makes deserts bloom. We must leave the towers and strongholds of the elites, in order to frequent once more the homes and open spaces of the multitudes, open to the love of the family”.

May the world never experience again the horrors of World War

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis the Pope launched a new appeal for peace, on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

“During these days, also in the Middle East, we commemorate the end of the Second World War”, he said. “I renew my heartfelt prayers to the Lord of all so that, by the intercession of Our Lady, today's world may never again experience the horrors and the appalling suffering of similar tragedies. But it experiences them! This is also the enduring desire of all peoples, especially those who are victims of the various current bloody conflicts. Persecuted minorities, persecuted Christians, the madness of destruction, and then those who produce and deal in arms, weapons soaked with the blood of so many innocent people. No more war! It is the fervent cry that, from our hearts and from the hearts of all men and women of good will, rises up to the Prince of peace”.

The Pope presides at the liturgy of the first Day for the Care of Creation

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided at the liturgy for the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, instituted by the Pope on 10 August and which will from now on be celebrated by the Catholic Church on 1 September, as in the Orthodox Church. Numerous pilgrims and representatives of the Roman Curia participated in the liturgy, and many people and communities throughout the world have responded to the Pope's appeal to renew our vocation as custodians of creation.

The homily was pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household. After citing the biblical sources, from Genesis to the Book of Psalms, which describe the relationship between the human being and the world created by God, Fr. Cantalamessa went on to focus on the figure of St. Francis of Assisi and his “Canticle of the Creatures”, which the Pope chose as the basis for his encyclical “Laudato si'”,

“The saint's words, which define the sun as beautiful, the brother fire as beautiful, the stars as bright and beautiful, are an echo of that 'And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good', from the account of creation”, he commented. “The fundamental sin against creation, that precedes all others, is not listening to His voice, condemning it irretrievably, as St. Paul would say, to vanity, to insignificance. … Francis shows us the way to a radical change in our relationship with creation: it consists of substituting possession with contemplation. He describes a different way of enjoying its fruits, which is contemplating them instead of possessing them”.

“Certainly, Francis did not have a global and worldwide vision of the ecological problem, but rather a local, immediate view”, he added. “He thought about what he and, eventually, his brother friars, could do. Here too, however, he teaches us. A slogan currently in vogue is 'think globally, act locally'. What is the point in taking issue with those who pollute the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if we do not hesitate in throwing onto a riverbank or into the sea a plastic bag that will remain there for centuries if no-one retrieves it; if I throw away what I no longer want wherever I wish, on the streets or in the forest; or if I deface the walls of my city?”.

“The protection of creation, like peace, is 'handcrafted', as our Holy Father would say, starting with ourselves”, he concluded. “Peace begins with you, as is often repeated in the messages for World Day of Peace; similarly, the protection of creation begins with you. It was what an Orthodox representative affirmed during the ecumenical assembly in Basel in 1989 on 'Justice, peace and the protection of creation'. “Without a change in the human heart, environmentalism has no hope of success”.

Activities of the Holy Father and the Holy See during the month of August

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The following is a list of Pope Francis' activities during the month of August. It includes Angelus audiences, other pontifical acts, telegrams, messages and other news. The activities are presented in chronological order under the respective titles:


6. The Pope returns to his reflections on the family and refers to the situation of those who, following the breakdown of their marriage, establish a new cohabitation, and the pastoral attention they require. The Church, he says, knows that this situation contradicts the Christian sacrament, but with a mother's heart she seeks the good and the salvation of all, without exception.

12. The Holy Father begins a series of reflections on three aspects of family life: rest, work and prayer, starting with the first. The divine commandment to pause in our daily tasks reminds us that man, as the image of God, is a master rather than a slave to work. He urges us to free ourselves of our obsession with economic gain, which undermines human rhythms of life and denies us the time for what is truly important.

19. Francis speaks about work and the family. The management of work, he says, requires a great social responsibility that cannot be left to the mercy of the logic of profit or of a deified market, in which frequently the family is regarded as a burden or an obstacle to productivity.

26. The Pope dedicates his catechesis to prayer in the family and reiterates that, despite the difficulties of finding time in family life, always busy and with many things to do, prayer enables the family to find the peace to face necessary things, and to discover the joy of the Lord's unexpected gifts, the beauty of rest and the serenity of work.


2. In the first Angelus of August, the Pope recalled that Jesus speaks of going far beyond the immediate satisfaction of material necessities and instead invites the faithful to satisfy instead their “hunger for life”, the hunger for eternity that only the Lord is able to satiate, as He is the “bread of life”.

9. Following the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus explains to the people the meaning of this sign and takes as a starting point the experience of hunger and the symbol of bread to reveal Himself to the people and invite them to believe in Him. “In His flesh, that is, in his concrete humanity, all God's love is present, which is the Holy Spirit. Those who allow themselves to be attracted by this love go towards Jesus and towards faith, and receive from Him eternal life”.

After the Angelus prayer the Pope mentioned that sixty years ago, on 6 and 9 August 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a tragic event that urges us to pray for peace. He also expressed his concerns regarding the economic crisis in El Salvador, which has increased the suffering of the population.

15. On the Solemnity of the Assumption, Francis emphasised that that great things the Almighty realised in Mary speak to us of our journey in life and remind us of our destination. Following the Marian prayer, he invited the faithful to pray for the inhabitants of the city of Tianjin in northern China, where a series of explosions in the industrial zone claimed many victims and caused significant damage.

16. Francis devoted the Angelus of the third Sunday of August to the Gospel of John the Evangelist that presents Jesus as the living bread from heaven, and explains the purpose of Mass, emphasising that the Eucharist is a memorial, or rather a gesture that makes real and present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

23. The Pope concludes the reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, which ends with the discourse on the bread of life, pronounced by Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The enthusiasm of the multitude wanes as His words on His flesh and blood as food and drink, alluding to His imminent sacrifice are judged unworthy of the Messiah. Jesus' words, says Francis, always challenge us; in relation, for instance, to the spirit of the world and of worldliness.

On the eve of the national holiday in Ukraine, Peter's Successor launched a fresh appeal for peace in the country, afflicted for some months by a conflict that has worsened in recent weeks.

30. Superficial adherence to the law is not enough for good Christians, Francis emphasised, commenting on the Gospel of St. Mark which describes the dispute between Jesus and various Pharisees. We run the risk, he states, of considering ourselves to be better than others for the mere fact of following rules and customs, even if we love our neighbour. The literal fulfilment of precepts is fruitless if it does not change our heart and does not translate into concrete acts: opening ourselves up to the encounter with God and His Word, seeking justice and peace, and assisting the poor, the weak and the oppressed”.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that yesterday in Harissa, Lebanon, the Syro-Catholic bishop Flaviano Michele Melki, martyred during a terrible persecution of Christians, was declared blessed. “Today too, in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. May the beatification of this bishop martyr instil in them comfort, courage and hope”.

Finally, he denounced the tragic humanitarian crisis of migrants, many of whom recently lost their lives in Austria and in the Mediterranean, and he underlined the need to prevent these crimes, an affront to the entire human family.


4. Publication of the letter, written in Latin and dated 21 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, as his special envoy in the Tenth National Eucharistic Congress of Peru (Piura, 13-16 August).

6. Publication of the Pope's letter to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, dated 25 July, in which the latter is appointed as papal legate to the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (15 August).

The Holy Father writes to Bishop Maroun Lahham, auxiliary of Jerusalem of the Latins and patriarchal vicar for Jordan, on the situation faced by refugees from these countries.

7. Publication of the letter, dated 2 June, in which Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Cathedral of Strasbourg, France (15 August).

8. Publication of the letter, dated 20 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the celebration of the third centenary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles held in Sinj, Croatia (15 August).

10. Message to Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Vallidolid, Spain, and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, for the European Youth Meeting (Avila, 5-9 August) on the theme “In troubled times, strong friends of God”, commemorating the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.

With a letter to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pope institutes the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

18. Telegram of condolences to Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, for the death on 17 August of Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.

19. Message to Brother Alois and the Taize Community for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Community on 20 August, in the year of the centenary of the birth of founder Brother Roger Schutz and the tenth anniversary of his death.

Message to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini for the 36th Meeting for friendship between peoples, held in Rimini from 20 to 26 August.

20. Telegram from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Holy Father, to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, following the terrorist attacks on the Hindu Erawan shrine and the Sathorn district of Bangkok.

22. Publication of the letter, dated 25 July, in which the Holy Father designates Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, as his special envoy to the Mass in Bobbio, Italy on 30 August for the 18th International Meeting of Columbanian Communities, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.

23. Message to Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo, Italy, on the occasion of the Synod of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches, in Torre Pellice, Italy, from 23 to 28 August.

29. Publication of the letter dated 11 July in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Chile, Chile, as his special envoy to the Sixth National Eucharistic Conference of Mexico (Monterrey, 9-13 September).


1: The Holy Father appoints Msgr. Alberto Ortega as apostolic nuncio in Jordan and Iraq, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.

He also appoints Professor Alfredo Pontecorvi director of the Department of Health and Hygiene of the Governorate of Vatican City State. The new director is professor of Endocrinology and director of the School of Specialisation in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital.

4. Bishop Fernando Jose Castro Aguayo, auxiliary of Caracas, Venezuela, is appointed as bishop of Margarita in Venezuela.

6. The Pope accepts the resignation of Bishop Joseph Kunnath, C.M.I., from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Adilabad of the Syro-Malabars, India. Bishop Kunnath is succeeded by Fr. Anthony Prince Panengaden, former protosyncellus and parish priest in the same eparchy.

He erects the apostolic exarchate for the Syro-Malabars in Canada and appoints Fr. Jose Kalluvelil as the first exarch, elevating him to the dignity of bishop.

8. Appointment of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, as the Holy Father's special envoy to the consecration of the new cathedral of the diocese of Creteil, France, to be held on 20 September 2015.

The Pope appoints Professor Fabrizio Soccorsi, former head physician of hepatology at San Camillo Hospital, Rome, as his personal doctor.

10. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Juan Carlos Bravo Salazar, parish priest of Nuestra Senora de Belen en Guasipati, as bishop of Acarigua-Araure, Venezuela.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the ceremony for the 450th anniversary of the first founding mass of the city of St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A.

14. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Paolo Bizzetti, S.J., as apostolic vicar in Anatolia, Turkey, elevating him to episcopal rank. The new apostolic vicar was formerly rector of the Patavina Residentia Antonianum.

15. The Pope appoints Bishop Michael Didi Adgum of El Obeid, Sudan, as coadjutor archbishop of Jartum, Sudan, and apostolic administrator of El Obeid.

22. Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay, is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the Fifth Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia (Traija, 16-20 September).

The Pope appoints Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” as his special envoy to the concluding ceremony of the First National Eucharistic Congress of the Czech Republic (Brno, 17 October).

24. The Holy Father accepts the resignation presented by Bishop Gilberto Delio Goncalves Canavarro dos Reis from the pastoral ministry of the diocese of Setubal, Portugal, upon reaching the age limit, and appoints Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, S.C.I., superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians) as the new bishop of Setubal.

26. The Holy Father extended the eparchy of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars, India, to include the six civil districts around Bangalore in which Syro-Malabar faithful are resident: Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramnagara and Tumkur.

The Pope gave his assent to the election by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church of Fr. Antony Kariyil C.M.I., former director of the Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, Cochin, India, as eparchal vicar of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars.

28. Appointment of Fr. Jean-Pierre Cottanceau, S.S.C.C., as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Papeete, French Polynesia.


5. Audience with the ambassador of Nigeria, Francis Chukwuemeka Okeke, on his farewell visit.

7. The Pope receives in the Paul VI Hall the members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement.

8. Audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which Pope Francis authorises the promulgation of the decree regarding the martyrdom of Servant of God Flaviano Miguel Melki, born in 1858 in Kalaat Mara, present-day Turkey, and bishop of Gazireth of the Syrians, killed in hatred of the faith in Gazireth, present-day Turkey, in 1915.

12. Audience with the ambassador of Hungary, Gabor Gyorivanyi, on his farewell visit.

29. Audience with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

31. The Pope receives in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy;

- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy;

- Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea;

- Archbishop Rino Passigato, apostolic nuncio in Portugal;

- Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, apostolic nuncio in Colombia;

- Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio in Belgium and Luxembourg;

- Fr. Pascal Burri, chaplain of the Swiss Guard Corps, on his farewell visit.


4. The Pope meets with several thousand altar servers from more than twenty countries, participating in an international pilgrimage to Rome on the theme “Here I am! Send me”.

11. The Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” makes public the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 49th World Day of Peace (1 January 2016): “Overcome indifference and win peace”.

20. The Holy Father chooses the theme for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees (17 January 2016): “Migrants and refugees challenge us. The response of the Gospel of Mercy”.


14. The Holy See and the Democratic Republic of East Timor sign an agreement defining the legal status of the Catholic Church and regulating various matters including Catholic marriage, places of worship, religious education.

28. Press release regarding the raising of flags of Observer States in the central headquarters and offices of the United Nations.

28. The Holy See Press Office issues a communique on the death at home, by natural causes, of Msgr. Josef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio.

29. The Holy See Press Office announces that, following the death of former nuncio Josef Wesolowski in the evening of 27 August, the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the fulfilment of its required functions, has ordered that a post-mortem examination take place, and has appointed a commission of three experts to perform the task, coordinated by the Giovanni Arcudi, professor of forensic medicine. The first conclusions of the autopsy, carried out in the afternoon of 28 August, confirm the natural cause of death, due to cardiac failure. In the forthcoming days, the Office of the Promoter of Justice will obtain the results of the laboratory tests performed by the Commission.

30. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sends a letter on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Gianni Ambrosio of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italy, on the occasion of the 18th International Meeting of the Columbanian Communities on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pope's letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, regarding the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in which he reaffirms his hope that the jubilee indulgence will lead every person to a “genuine experience of God's mercy” and explains that it can also be obtained by incarcerated persons. In addition, he grants to all priests, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the faculty to absolve from sin those who have resorted to abortion, repenting and asking forgiveness with a sincere heart, and establishes that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach the priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. The following is the full text of the letter:

“With the approach of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I would like to focus on several points which I believe require attention to enable the celebration of the Holy Year to be for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.

“My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.

“Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.

“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity.

“Furthermore, the Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.

“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

“A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.

“Trusting in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy, I entrust the preparations for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year to her protection”.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for September

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for September is: “That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has renewed the Special Commission for the Liturgy in the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, composed as follows:

- Archbishop Piero Marini, president;

- Fr. McLean Cummings, secretary;

- Fr. Tedros Abraha, O.F.M. Cap., member;

- Fr. Cesare Giraudo, S.J., member;

- Fr. Thomas Pott, O.S.B., member;

- Archimandrite Fr. Manuel Nin, O.S.B., member;

- Fr. Rinaldo Iacopino, S.M., member;

- Msgr. Paul Pallath, member.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for August

Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for August is: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society”.


Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS)- We inform our readers that during the month of August, the Vatican Information Service will remain closed. Service will resume on Tuesday 1 September.

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