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Friday, May 22, 2015

Pope Francis, protagonist of the Ninth International Meeting of the Silos School of Thought

Vatican City, 22 May 2015 (VIS) – The Silos School of Thought, Spain, will dedicate its next two international meetings to the study and dissemination of the thought and action of Pope Francis. It is the ninth encounter of the School which, in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair in Spain, and under the auspices of the Benedictine Abbey of Silos, gathered together figures from the worlds of science and culture in an atmosphere of respectful pluralism and convergence in relation to universal values.

In a letter to the Steering Committee of the School, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, writes: “In the two years of his papacy Pope Francis has transformed into a media phenomenon. … And, however, … beyond these direct, concise, effective, high-impact phrases we have grown accustomed to, we discover vigorous and spiritual theological thought. He expresses this theology, with its Latin American accent and flavour, imbued with wisdom born of closeness to the people … with his own methods of communication. His reflection is part of the faith of the people, and this gives special strength and nuance to his thought. If John Paul II was the pope of Man, the path of the Church, and Benedict XVI of the word and the primacy of the search for God, Francis is the pope of the People of God, recipient and bearer of revelation, called to go forth in towards an encounter with others, with a message of mercy”.

The Ninth Meeting of the School, entitled “Thought and Action of Pope Francis: a voice for all”, will be divided into two phases. The first, on 6 June, in the Abbey of Silos, will be based on the paper “Pope Francis: words and gestures”, by Professor Angel Cordovilla Perez, director of the Department of Dogmatic and Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical University of Comillas, Madrid, Spain. The session will be chaired by Professor Manuel Balado Ruiz-Gallegos, director of the Silos School of Thought.

The second Meeting will be held during the first trimester of 2016 and will study the conclusions of the Synod on the family.


Vatican City, 22 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father visited various dicasteries of the Roman Curia located in Piazza Pio XII.

In the afternoon of Thursday 21 May the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

- Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, Argentina;

- Bishop Juan Ruben Martinez of Posadas, Argentina.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 22 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Jean-Louis Balsa as bishop of Viviers (area 5,556, population 327,072, Catholics 285,000, priests 142, permanent deacons 15, religious 591), France. The bishop-elect was born in Nice, France in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Nice and in theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He has served in a number of roles in the diocese of Nice, including coordinator of pastoral assistance in the lyceums and colleges of Cannes, parish priest, teacher of theology at the diocesan seminary, episcopal vicar for youth pastoral ministry, and secretary general of the diocesan Synod. He is currently vicar general for the diocese of Nice. He succeeds Bishop Francois Blondel, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Viviers upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Fr. Jean Cesar Scarcella, C.R.A., as ordinary abbot of the territorial abbey of Saint-Maurice (area 9,085, population 8.077, Catholics 6,154, priests 38, religious 91), Switzerland. The bishop-elect was born in Montreux, Switzerland in 1951, gave his solemn vows in 1988, and was ordained a priest in 1990. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Fribourg and has served as vicar in Aigle, curate in Bex, and within the abbey, animator of liturgy for the basilica, consulter, rector of the basilica, sacristan, and choirmaster. He is currently vicar general of the abbey and master of novices.

- Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari as apostolic nuncio to Malta. Archbishop Cassari was previously apostolic nuncio in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Pope thanks the Italian police for their efforts in receiving immigrants and fighting human trafficking

Vatican City, 21 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received in audience six hundred relatives of members of the State Police gravely injured in killed in service, and thanked them for their witness of Christian hope and for their faithfulness to institutions and to a mission that “demands the courage of helping those in danger and stopping the aggressor”. Society as a whole, he added, “is indebted to you for the possibility of conducting an orderly life, free of the arrogance of the violent and the corrupt”.

“Those who, day after day, take on the seriousness and commitment of their profession and place themselves at the disposal of the community, and especially those who are in danger or find themselves in situations of grave difficulty, 'go forth' to their neighbours and serve. Acting in this way, they live their life, even in the eventuality of losing it, as Jesus did, dying on the Cross. Only by contemplating Jesus on the Cross can we find the strength to forgive and the consolation that our crosses too will redeem His; therefore, every sacrifice and every tragedy will find redemption in Him”, affirmed the Holy Father.

“The witness of Christian values is even more eloquent in our times, in which the generous zeal of so many is not often accompanied by the capacity to channel it in a coherent and constant way. In our times, evidently, it proves easier to commit oneself to something temporary or partial. On the contrary, the work of the Police force requires something solid in time and, although contingent situations change, there is a constant in all ages: that of guaranteeing legality and order for all citizens, allowing us to reap the benefits”.

The Pope also remarked that during recent years the police have carried out decisive action in managing the impact of the flow of refugees arriving in Italy, seeking refuge from wars and persecution. “You are on the front line both in the initial reception of immigrants, and in counteracting unscrupulous traffickers. In this task … you are distinguished by your spirit of service and humanity, motivated not only by the law but first and foremost by the moral imperative to do good, to save as many people as possible and to spare no energy or time in this commitment”.

“Be proud of your work and continue to serve the state, every citizen and every person in danger. In defending the weak and the law you will find the truest meaning of your service and will be an example to the country, which needs people who serve it with altruism, and generosity and constancy”.

Presentation of the Second International Conference on Women

Vatican City, 21 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the second International Conference on Women (22-24 May, ex Domus Pacis, Rome) organised – like the first Conference held in 2009 – by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, in collaboration with the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (WUCWO) and the World Women's Alliance for Life and Family (WWALF). The theme of the conference will be “Women and the post-2015 development agenda - the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. The conference will be attended by over a hundred participants – mostly women, but to a lesser extent also men – from diverse cultural and social contexts and from all five continents, and will aim to offer the most complete overview possible of the main issues that affect women throughout the world in our times.

The speakers at the conference were Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”; Flaminia Giovanelli, under-secretary of the same dicastery; Olimpia Tarzia, president of the WWALF, and Maria Giovanni Ruggieri, president of the WUCWO.

Cardinal Turkson explained that the first day, 22 May, will begin with an analysis of female anthropology in the context of modern culture, which will also seek to shed light on recent and increasingly incisive semantic changes in terms of reference. The second panel will focus on the theme of education and the role of women in this field, as well as “the alliance between men and women and their mutual respect … in order to combat violence and abuse of power”. The cardinal emphasised that “education is an essential resource for ensuring the right to life, which is still denied in some parts of the planet where the birth of a female child is seen as a misfortune, since the sole destiny of a woman is an arranged marriage for which the family is required to provide a dowry”.

Another theme is interreligious dialogue as a path towards lasting peace, and the role of women in this context. “The many episodes in recent times in which women and girls have been victims of unspeakable atrocities involving sexual violence, also and above all due to their Christian faith, are an important challenge to us. Such episodes demand that we intensify interreligious dialogue and appeal to our shared human nature, that transcends all religions and cultures, to forcefully condemn such atrocities in order to protect those under threat”.

The second International Conference on Women will also offer the opportunity to discuss the many old and new forms of slavery and violence that affect women in various ways in different parts of the world. While in the western world domestic violence prevails and there is an increasing incidence of episodes of so-called “femicide”, in other poorer areas of developing countries the infanticide of female children and selective abortion of female foetuses are widespread practices. Inspired by Pope Francis' Message for Peace, the theme of which this year is “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters”, the Conference will denounce the phenomenon of human trafficking which the Pontiff has on numerous occasions described as a crime against humanity whose victims are, for the most part, girls and women.

“While in many countries there has certainly been significant progress in favour of women, especially in the fields of education, political representation and economic participation, much still remains to be done”, observed the president of Justice and Peace, noting that it is true that poverty continues to affect women disproportionately, and many women “have no protection in many fields, including domestic, manufacturing and agricultural work”.

However, the Conference does not intend merely to provide an overview of the most urgent matters linked to the conditions of women, or to be simply an opportunity to denounce the violations of the dignity of women and their rights. It will also endeavour to offer a contribution that may be useful within the framework of current negotiations for the new agenda for post-2015 developments. Therefore, on the second day of the meeting, on Saturday 23 May, working groups will focus on the main thematic areas of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The question of women is transversal and crucial in the majority of the current proposals of the SDGs: women play a key role in the reduction of poverty, hunger throughout the world, and education, and are also the guardians of life in all its phases”.


Vatican City, 21 May 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Mabel Chitiga, ambassador of Zimbabwe to the Holy See, presenting her credential letters;

- Josel Musa Nhleko, ambassador of Swaziland to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters;

- Cardinal Fernando Filone, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;

- Cardinal Carlo Caffara, archbishop of Bologna, Italy.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 21 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Merida-Badajoz, Spain, presented by Bishop Santiago Garcia Aracil upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Celso Moga Iruzubieta, coadjutor of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Dominique Blanchet as bishop of Belfort-Montbeliard (area 1,472, population 327,800, Catholics 249,500, priests 73, permanent deacons 14, religious 36), France. The bishop-elect was born in Cholet, France in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1999. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Angers, France, including episcopal delegate for youth pastoral ministry and parish priest. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of Angers, moderator of the Curia, administrator of the parish of Chalonnes-sur-Loire and parish priest of the parish of Sts. Lazarus and Nicholas in Angers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Education, the natural vocation of the family

Vatican City, 20 May 2015 (VIS) – The education of children as the natural vocation of the family was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The Holy Father, first citing the words of St. Paul to the Colossians: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged”, emphasised the duty of parents to accompany their children step by step, without demanding the impossible, so as not to overwhelm them. He then went on to speak of the difficulties faced by mothers and fathers who often only have the opportunity to see their children in the evening when they return home tired after work – “those who are lucky enough to have work”, he added – and also referred to the even more critical situation faced by separated parents, inviting them to ensure that the conflicts between the couple do not have an impact on the children.

Francis also mentioned that the family has been accused of other things, including authoritarianism, favouritism, conformism, and emotional repression that generates conflicts. “In fact, a fracture has opened up between family and society, undermining mutual trust, and in this way, the alliance between family and society in the education of children has entered into a crisis”.

“There are many symptoms”, he continued. “For example, in schools this has affected relationships between parents and teachers. … On the other hand, there has been a proliferation of so-called 'experts' who occupy the role of parents even in the most intimate aspects of education … and parents are expected only to listen, to learn and to adapt. Deprived of their role, they often become excessively apprehensive and possessive with regard to their children, to the point of never correcting them. They tend to increasingly entrust them to 'experts', even in relation to the most delicate and personal aspects of their life, placing themselves in the corner. In this way, parents run the risk of excluding themselves from the life of their children”.

“How have we arrived at this point? Without doubt in the past parents, or rather, certain educational models, had certain limits. But it is also true that there are mistakes that only parents are authorised to make, as they are able to compensate for them in a way that is impossible for any other person. On the other hand, as we well know, life now spares us little time for speaking, reflection and exchange. Many parents are 'kidnapped' by their work and other worries, and they find themselves paralysed by the fear of making mistakes. The problem, however, is not only about talking. … Let us ask ourselves instead: do we seek to understand 'where' our children truly are on their path? Where is their soul? … And above all, do we want to know?”.

Francis underlined that the Christian communities are called upon to offer support to the educational mission of the family. “At the base of everything there is love, that which God gives to us, that “is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. Even in the best of families, there is much to be endured, and it takes a lot of patience. Jesus Himself experienced education in the family”.

“Even in this case, the grace of Christ's love fulfils what is inscribed in human nature. How many excellent examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that good family education is the backbone of humanism. Its spread through society is the resource that allows us to compensate for the shortcomings, the wounds, the lack of paternity and maternity that affect the least fortunate children, and works true miracles”.

“I hope that the Lord may give Christian families the faith, freedom and courage necessary for their missions. If family education rediscovers the pride of its central role, many things will change for the better, for uncertain parents and disappointed children. It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile, and to fully resume their role as educators”, concluded Francis.

The Pope joins the Catholics of China in prayer and recalls Christians persecuted for their faith

Vatican City, 20 May 2015 (VIS) – Following today's catechesis, the Pope remarked that on 24 May Catholics in China pray with devotion to Mary Most Holy, Help of Christians, venerated in the Sheshan shrine in Shanghai. “In the statue above the Shrine, Mary holds her Son aloft, presenting Him to the world with His arms open in a gesture of love and mercy. We too ask Mary to help Catholics in China always to be credible witnesses of this merciful love among their people and to live spiritually united with the rock of Peter upon which the Church is built”.

The Holy Father also mentioned the initiative of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which has proposed that the dioceses, on the occasion of the Eve of Pentecost, remember the many brothers and sisters exiled or killed for the mere fact of being Christians. “They are martyrs. I hope that this moment of prayer may help spread the knowledge that religious freedom is an inalienable human right and raise awareness of the tragedy of Christians persecuted in our time, and bring an end to this unacceptable crime”.

Cardinal Parolin: when the future of the planet is at stake, there are no political frontiers, barriers and walls that can protect us from environmental and social degradation

Vatican City, 20 May 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a message to the participants in the conference “The New Climate Economy: how economic growth and sustainability can go hand in hand”, held today in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” the World Resource Institute, the New Climate Economy and the embassy of the Netherlands to the Holy See.

The conference takes place in the context of two key steps in the preparatory process adopted by the United Nations: the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda and the 21st conference on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Paris next December, to adopt a new agreement to face the adverse effects of climate change. “Both of them represent the serious ethical and moral responsibility that each of us has towards the whole human family, especially the poor and future generations”, observed the cardinal.

“When the future of the planet is at stake, there are no political frontiers, barriers or walls behind which we can hide to protect ourselves from the effects of environmental and social degradation. There is no room for the globalisation of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis. Of course, the path is not easy, since this ethical and moral responsibility calls into question the resetting of the development model, requiring a major political and economic commitment. However, as I said to the UN Climate Summit on 23 September 2014, 'the technological and operational bases needed to facilitate this mutual responsibility are already available or within our reach. We have the capacity to start and strengthen a true and beneficial process which will irrigate, as it were, through adaptation and mitigation activities, the field of economic and technological innovation where it is possible to cultivate two interconnected objectives: combating poverty and easing the effects of climate change'”.

Cardinal Parolin concluded by conveying Pope Francis' best wishes to the participants, and his hope that “the discussions and reflections of this Conference may contribute to further and deepen reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as to finding ways to guarantee access to a truly integral human development for all, especially the poor and the future generations”.

The Holy See at the 68th Assembly of the World Health Organisation

Vatican City, 20 May 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers and head of the Holy See delegation at the 68th Assembly of the World Health Organisation, held in Geneva from 18 to 26 May, participated in the debate on the Ebola virus epidemic which has claimed 9,380 lives out of a total of more than 23,000 cases of contagion throughout the world, mainly in West Africa.

“The Holy See delegation wishes to note the importance and the timeliness of the theme for the general discussion”, said the archbishop. “The recent Ebola outbreak was a human and public health tragedy, which, among others, showed that the need to build resilient health systems cannot be over emphasised, as they are essential for the provision of universal health coverage and for a prompt response to outbreaks of disease”.

“Unfortunately, most low income countries, which are still afflicted by infectious disease and epidemics, have very poor health systems that need urgent intervention, if they are to respond to the health needs of the whole population. … This requires long-term commitment from national governments and international donors to support resilient health systems and to ensure universal coverage of health services, thus strengthening the capacity of national health systems to deliver equitable and quality health-care services, and also stepping up their ability to respond to outbreaks and to improve community ownership and participation. This means short and long-term investment in a number of key elements of the health system; particularly, improved primary health care, an adequate number of trained health workers, availability of medicine, appropriate infrastructure, update statistical data, sufficient public financing, public-private partnership and scaling up the number of well-equipped health posts and district hospitals. It is also a challenge to donors to make a shift from short-term program funding to long-term comprehensive health service financing”.

“The recent report on Global evidence on inequities in rural health protection, by the International Labour Office, revealed that more than half of the population in rural areas worldwide does not have access to basic healthcare, with many of them at risk of impoverishment or deepened poverty due to out of pocket payment for services. This is clear evidence that, in 2015, we are still a long way from universal coverage. For various reasons, there are strong inequalities in access to healthcare between the rural and urban areas, with the latter often more advantaged than the former which are most deprived. Embracing the recommendation of the report, my delegation wishes to note the urgent need to address this rural urban divide in the post-2015 Development Agenda, bearing in mind that “human life is always sacred and always has ‘quality’”.

“In many countries, the Catholic Church is privileged to be one of the primary partners of the State in providing much needed health care services to populations in remote areas, through its over 110,000 health and social-welfare institutions around the world”, he concluded. “It is therefore important to offer them the necessary collaboration and support so as to enable them to bring the services close and to render them accessible to poor people in particular. Indeed, in many low-income countries, the contribution of civil society and communities to health services delivery is fundamental”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 20 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Alto Solimoes, Brazil, presented by Bishop Evangelista Alcimar Caldas Magalhaes, O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Adolfo Zon Pereira, S.X., coadjutor of the same diocese.

- appointed Fr. Paulo Jackson Nobrego de Sousa as bishop of Garanhuns (area 8,734, population 677,000, Catholics 609,000, priests 60, permanent deacons 7, religious 94), France. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Jose de Espinharas, Brazil in 1969 and was ordained a priest in 1993. He holds a licentiate in Biblical Sciences from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Patos, Brazil, including parish administrator, parish vicar, rector of the diocesan seminary, formator of major seminarians at the archdiocesan seminary of Joao Pessoa, diocesan pastoral coordinator, and parish priest. He has also served as national secretary of the Organisation of Seminaries and Philosophical and Theological Institutes of Brazil. He is currently professor of sacred scripture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, parish priest of the “Senhor Bom Jesus do Horto” parish in Belo Horizonte, and formator of seminarians in Patos.

- appointed Bishop Laurent Dognin, auxiliary of Bordeaux, France, as bishop of Quimper (area 6,785, population 899,870, Catholics 733,000, priests 271, permanent deacons 33, religious 582), France.

- appointed Bishop Pedro Cunha Cruz, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as coadjutor of the diocese of Campanha (area 15,420, population 780,000, Catholics 762,000, priests 116, religious 181), Brazil.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Hamburg, Germany, presented by Bishop Norbert Werbs upon reaching the age limit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Statistics on the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Vatican City, 19 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father will make an apostolic trip to Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on 6 June. The following are some statistical data on the Catholic Church in this country, from the Central Office of Church Statistics.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a surface area of 51,197 sq. km. and a population of 3,833,000 inhabitants, of whom 43,900 are Catholics – 11.5% of the population. There are four ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 304 parishes and one parish centre. The apostolate consists of six bishops, 624 priests, 14 men religious and 537 women religious. There are 68 catechists and 120 major seminarians.

The Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina has 16 educational centres including pre-school, primary, middle, secondary and high schools, and a university. There are also six clinics, four rest homes for the elderly and disabled, four orphanages and nurseries, six family counselling centres and life protection centres, three centres for social education or re-education, and six centres of other types.

The Pope to the Italian bishops: denounce corruption, which impoverishes all

Vatican City, 19 May 2015 (VIS) - “Our vocation is to listen when the Lord asks us: 'Console my people'. Indeed, we are asked to console, to help, to encourage, without discrimination, all our brothers who are oppressed by the weight of their crosses, without ever tiring of working to lift them up again with the strength that comes only from God”, said Pope Francis yesterday afternoon to the bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as he inaugurated the 68th assembly, to be held in the Vatican to analyse the reception of the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel).

Proclaiming the Gospel today, a difficult moment in history, requires prelates to “go against the grain: or rather, to be joyful witnesses of the Risen Christ to transmit joy and hope to others”, said the Holy Father, who went on to illustrate the importance of the “ecclesial sensibility”, which means assuming the same sentiments as Christ, “sentiments of humility, compassion, concreteness and wisdom”.

A sensibility that also involves “not being timid … in denouncing and fighting against a widespread mentality of the public and private corruption that shamelessly impoverishes families, pensioners, honest workers and Christian communities, discarding the young, who are systematically deprived of any hope for their future, and above all marginalising the weak and the needy. It is an ecclesial sensibility that, as good pastors, makes us go forth towards the People of God to defend them from ideological colonisations that take away their identity and human dignity”.

This sensibility is also made tangible in pastoral decisions and in the elaboration of documents “where the abstract theoretical-doctrinal aspect must not prevail, as if our directions were intended not for our People or our country, but only for a few scholars or specialists – instead we must make the effort to translate them into concrete and comprehensible proposals”, emphasised Francis.

The strengthening of the essential role of the laity is another of the concrete applications of pastoral sensibility, since “laypeople with an authentic Christian formation should not need a bishop-guide … to assume their own responsibilities at all levels, political to social, economic to legislative. However, they do need a bishop-pastor”.

Finally, the ecclesial sensibility is revealed in a tangible way “in collegiality and in the communion between bishops and their priests; in the communion between bishops themselves; between dioceses which are materially and vocationally rich and those in difficulty; between the periphery and the centre; between episcopal conferences and the bishops, and the Successor of Peter”. He remarked, “in some parts of the world we see a widespread weakening of collegiality, both in pastoral planning and in the shared undertaking of economic and financial commitments. The habit of checking the reception of programmes and the implementation of projects is lacking. For example, conferences or events are organised which promote the usual voices, anaesthetising the Communities, approving choices, opinions and people, instead of allowing us to be transported towards the horizons where the Holy Spirit asks us to go”.

“Why do we let the religious institutes, monasteries and congregations age so much, almost to the point of no longer giving evangelical witness faithful to the founding charism? Why do we not try to regroup them before it is too late?”. This is a global problem that, as the Holy Father stated, indicates a lack of ecclesial sensibility.

“I will end here, after have presented to you a few examples of weakened ecclesial sensibility due to the need to continually face enormous global problems and the crisis that spares not even the Christian and ecclesial identity itself”, he concluded, asking the Lord to grant to all during the Jubilee Year of Mercy “the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called to console every man and every woman of our time”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 19 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Rev. Fr. James Massa and Rev. Fr. Witold Mroziewski as auxiliaries of Brooklyn (area 466, population 4,838,406, Catholics 1,403,137, priests 604, permanent deacons 225, religious 1,053), U.S.A.

Bishop-elect Massa was born in Jersey City, U.S.A., in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a master's degree in theology from the Yale University School of Divinity, New Haven, and a doctorate in systematic theology from Fordham University, New York. He has served in a number of roles in the diocese of Brooklyn, including parish vicar, chaplain and professor at the Kansas Newman College, professor at the Pope John XXIII national seminary and the seminary of the Immaculate Conception, executive director of the ecumenical and interreligious committee of the U.S.A. episcopal conference, consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, professor of the St. Joseph seminary, moderator of the curia and administrator of the Holy Name Parish.

Bishop-elect Mroziewski was born in Augustow, Poland in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds master's degrees in theology and canon law, and a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. He has served in a number of roles, including parish vicar in the diocese of Lomza, Poland, and in Brooklyn, parish vicar, administrator, parish priest, judge at the diocesan tribunal, coordinator of the Polish apostolate, adjunct promoter of justice for criminal causes, member of the presbyteral council and defender of the bond. He is currently parish priest of the Holy Cross parish in Maspeth.

Monday, May 18, 2015

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

Vatican City, 18 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9 a.m., in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father met with the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

Pray for persecuted Christians, says Francis to the women religious in Rome for the canonisation of the Palestinian saints

Vatican City, 18 May 2015 (VIS) - “I am giving you a mission: pray to the two new saints for peace in your land, so that there may be an end to this interminable war, and to bring peace among peoples”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience the Carmelite Sisters of Bethlehem and the Middle East and the Sisters of the Rosary, in Rome to attend the canonisation of Mary of Jesus Crucified and Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas.

“Pray too for Christians who are persecuted, driven away from their homes and their land, and victims of 'white-gloved' persecution, hidden but present: white-gloved persecution and terrorism. Keep praying for peace”.

The Holy Father, who greeted the women religious during an interval in his meeting with the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, invited them all to pray a Hail Mary, each in her own language.

The Pope canonises four new saints

Vatican City, 17 May 2015 (VIS) - “Each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to His resurrection, above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident”, said the Pope in the homily he pronounced during the Mass for the canonisation of four new saints: Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve (1811-1854), French nun and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres; Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception (nee Maria Cristina Brando, 1856-1906), Italian nun and founder of the Oblation Sisters of the Holy Sacrament; Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (nee Maryam Sultanah, 1843-1927), Palestinian co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem; and Mary of Jesus Crucified (nee Maryam Baouardy 1846-1878) Palestinian nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The solemn ceremony, which took place in a packed St. Peter's Square, was attended by more than two thousand Christians from the Middle East, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, and an Israeli delegation whom the Pope greeted at the end of the celebration.

In his homily, the Holy Father, citing the Acts of the Apostles, recalls that their mission of announcing Jesus, of whose resurrection they were eyewitnesses, was a community rather than an individual undertaking. Thanks to the witness of the Twelve, many people came to believe; from faith in the risen Lord, Christian communities were born and are born continually. “We too, today, base our faith in the risen Lord on the witness of the Apostles, which has come down to us through the mission of the Church”, he said. “Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to an unbroken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians. Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to His resurrection, above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident”.

For this to happen, “we need to abide in the risen Christ and in His love, ... like Sister Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love”. This same love conquered another of the new saints, Sister Maria Cristina Brando, who “from prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love”.

Another essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among His disciples, in the image of His own unity with the Father. “From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of His poverty, His virginity and His obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer”. This was the love that Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced: “poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant dialogue with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Holy Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world”. So too, Sister Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas “came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another”.

The “luminous example” of the four new saints, who abide in God and in His love, inspires us, in our lives as Christians, “to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all”, concluded Pope Francis.

Regina Coeli: appeal for prayers for Burundi

Vatican City, 17 May 2015 (VIS) – Following the Mass for canonisation and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope greeted all those present in St. Peter's Square to pay homage to the four new saints, and in particular the official delegations from Palestine, France, Italy, Israel and Jordan. “May their intercession renew the missionary impulse in their countries of origin. Inspired by their example of mercy, charity and reconciliation, may the Christians of these lands look with hope to the future, continuing their path of solidarity and fraternal co-existence”.

He also addressed the faithful of the Czech Republic, gathered today in the shrine of Svaty Kopecek to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of St. John Paul II's visit. He also noted that yesterday in Venice, Italy, the priest Luigi Carburlotto was proclaimed blessed. Founder of the Daughters of St. Joseph, this “exemplary pastor … led an intense spiritual and apostolic life, entirely dedicated to the good of souls”.

He concluded by inviting those present “to pray for the dear people of Burundi, who are experiencing a delicate moment. May the Lord help all to flee from violence and to act responsibly for the good of the country”.

Francis receives the president of Palestine: the importance of interreligious dialogue and the fight against terrorism

Vatican City, 16 May 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience Mahmoud Abbas, president of the State of Palestine, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. President Abbas will attend tomorrow’s canonisation of the two Palestinian nuns, for which he thanked the Holy Father.

During the cordial discussions, great satisfaction was expressed for the accord reached on the text of a comprehensive Agreement between the Parties on various essential aspects of the life and the activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine, to be signed in the near future.

Attention then turned to the peace process with Israel, and the hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the Parties be resumed in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict. To this end the wish was reiterated that, with the support of the international Community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace. Finally, with reference to the conflicts that afflict the Middle East, and in reaffirming the importance of combating terrorism, the need for interreligious dialogue was underlined.

“Never fail to listen to those who knock at your door”, say the Pope to men and women religious in Rome

Vatican City, 16 May 2015 (VIS) – Thousands of men and women religious from Rome – representing the 25 thousand who belong to the Pope's diocese – gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall this morning to meet with the Holy Father, who spoke with them for over an hour, answering all their questions on consecrated life and its difficulties and joys, the relationship between the bearers of different charisms in the Church, and the rapport between cloistered monasteries and the outside world.

The first question, asked by a nun, related to the balance between cloistered life and involvement in diocesan life, and between silent prayer and proclamation.

“Your vocation is a tension between enclosure and visibility, between God's call to a hidden life and His call to make oneself visible in a certain way, to give a sign”, answered the Pope. “One of the things you must never, ever leave behind is time to listen to people. … It is important to have a connection with the world, to know what is happening, as your vocation is not a refuge: it is about going straight onto the battlefield, it is about fighting, calling to the heart of the Lord for your city. … Like Moses who lifted his hands up in prayer as his people fought. There are also monasteries that set aside half an hour or an hour a day to give food to those who come to ask for it, and this does not go against enclosure in God. … It is a service, it is a smile”.

The second question, again from a religious sister, concerned the similarities between marriage and consecrated virginity in the vocation to love, and the help that consecrated persons can offer Christian spouses and vice versa.

“In female consecration there is a spousal element”, said Francis. “It is present in male consecration too: we say that a bishop is the spouse of the Church, in Jesus' place. But do not forget that the Church is feminine: she is Jesus' bride. We often forget this, as we forget that the love of nuns is maternal, since the love of the Church is maternal, and the love of Our Lady is maternal. Faithfulness, the expression of the love of the consecrated woman, should – not as a duty but as a natural characteristic – reflect the faithfulness, love and tenderness of the Mother Church and the Mother Mary. … It is the concrete love … that we find in the Beatitudes. … Jesus' plan is concrete. I often think that the Beatitudes are the Church's first encyclical”.

The third question, from a monk, was dedicated to the concrete collaboration between bearers of different charisms in the local Church, without friction or competition.

“The Church is currently thinking of offering and restoring an old document on the relations between consecrated persons and the bishop”, the Holy Father explained. “The 1994 Synod called for the document 'Mutuae relationes' (14 May 1978). Many years have passed and it has not been done. The relationship between consecrated persons and the bishop, the diocese and priests is not an easy one. However it is necessary to face this task together. In the prefectures, how does one work on the pastoral plan for this quarter, all together? So it should be in the Church too. The bishop should not use consecrated persons as substitutes, and equally the religious should not see the bishop as the head of a company providing work”.

The last question regarded the accompaniment and spiritual direction of consecrated persons, over 80% of whom are women.

“The accompaniment of men and women religious can be a problem”, acknowledged the Pope. “In my former diocese, I always said to the nuns who came to ask for advice, 'Tell me, in your community or your congregation, is there not a wise sister, one who lives the charism well, a good sister with experience, who might be your spiritual guide?'. 'But she is a woman! But it is a charism of the laity'. Yes, spiritual direction is not the exclusive charism of presbyters: it is a charism of the laity. In primitive monasticism the laity were the great directors. … The spiritual director is one thing, the confessor is another. I tell the confessor my sins … but I tell the spiritual director what is happening in my heart. … Superiors have the responsibility of finding those in the community, in the congregation, and in the province, who have this charism, of giving them this mission and of forming them and helping them in this. … I think that in this respect, however, we are still immature”.

The Pontifical Council for the Family presents the initiative “The Great Mystery: the Gospel of the family, school of humanity for our times”

Vatican City, 16 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office for the presentation of the project “The Great Mystery: the Gospel of the Family, school of humanity for our times”, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family and by Maestro Andrea Bocelli. It is a series of events, in particular light and sound shows, to take place in different European cities during the year dedicated to reflection on the family in view of the upcoming Synod assembly in October. The speakers at the conference were Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the tenor Andrea Bocelli, and Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, the first city to host the event in the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia.

Cardinal Martinez Sistach recalled the universal dimension of Barcelona's basilica, which is visited by more than three million people every year, and its wealth of biblical, theological and liturgical symbolism. He emphasised that the initiative of the Pontifical Council, which will open during a time dedicated to the holy family, will propose, through beauty, music and thought, to “present the beauty and transcendence of the mystery of the Christian family, which consists of an intimate community of life and love between spouses and between parents, children, brothers and sisters, in the bosom of a much larger family, in society and in the Church. The great virtues and values of today's Christian family are necessary and very urgent. We must not forget that Vatican Council II, speaking of marriage and the family, tells us that the well-being of people, society and the Church are strictly linked to the prosperity of the conjugal and family communities”.

“The basilica of the Sagrada Familia is a manifestation of the great mystery of God and man”, explained the archbishop of Barcelona. “In our time, in which man attempts to build a life without God, as if He had nothing to say to us, this magnificent temple has great meaning. Gaudi, in his masterpiece, shows us that God is the true measure of man. That the secret of his authentic originality resides, as he himself said, in returning to his origins, which are God. The basilica, in the middle of this great city, a space of beauty, faith and hope, leads man to the encounter with He Who is Truth and Beauty itself”.


Vatican City, 16 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference;

- Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, apostolic nuncio in Hungary;

- Archbishop Nicola Girasoli apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, in the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Santa Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname; apostolic delegate in the Antilles;

- Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, president of the Supervisory Board of the Institute for the Works of Religion.

- Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, penitentiary major, with the regent of the apostolic penitentiary, Msgr. Krzysztof Josef Nykiel.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 16 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father appointed Rev. Dariusz Buras as apostolic administrator of Atyrau (area 747,600, population 2,395,000, Catholics 2,000, priests 8, religious 4), Kazakhstan. Rev. Buras was born in Skrzyszow, Poland in 1971 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He has served as parish vicar of the Cathedral Church of Oslo and head of continuing formation of the priests of the diocese of Tarnow, Poland in service in Norway.

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