Monday, March 31, 2014

News Vatican Information Service March 29 - 31, 2014




Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - This morning, in the the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father met with the participants in the General Chapter of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, which will take as its theme "Witnesses of Gospel Radicalism". "When one thinks of working for the good of souls, one overcomes the temptation of spiritual worldliness, and one does not seek other things, only God and His Kingdom. Temperance is a sense of moderation, of acceptance, a simple life".

The Pope highlighted their work with the young and remarked that the experience of Don Bosco and his "preventative system" helped them in their commitment to living with them. "It is necessary to prepare the young to work in society in the spirit of the Gospel as workers for justice and peace, and to live as agents of the Church. ... The presence of the community among them is marked by the tenderness that Don Bosco called 'amorevolezza', kindness, experimenting with new languages, but being well aware that the language of the heart is the fundamental language for being close to them and becoming their friends".

Before concluding Francis spoke about the vocational dimension and mentioned that next year, which will be dedicated to consecrated life, will be a good opportunity to present the beauty of vocations to the young. Likewise, he gave thanks to God for the fact that they work "not as isolated individuals, but as a community supports the entire apostolate" and encouraged them to revive the charisma of their Founder, the bicentenary of whose birth will be celebrated soon.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - Pope Francis' universal prayer intention for April is: "That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources".

His intention for evangelisation is: "That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness".


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the initiatives forming part of the preparations for the canonisations of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, to be celebrated on 27 April. The speakers were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, along with Msgr. Giulio Dellavite, secretary general for the Curia of Bergamo, Msgr. Walter Insero, head of the Office for Social Communications for the Vicariate of Rome, and Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office.

The initiatives will include a digital platform, the aim of which is to enable the faithful and pilgrims to have access to news and information regarding the ceremonies as well as a series of spiritual reflections on the life and teachings of both popes. Indeed, the official site is an almost-completed portal which offers contacts, sections for press offices, information, videos and images as well as biographical documentation on John XXIII and John Paul II. It will be available in five languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish and Polish.

The application entitled "Santo Subito", which may be downloaded free in both Android and IOS formats (in Italian, English, Spanish and Polish) and whose title draws on the famed saintliness of both Popes even during their lifetimes, will offer logistical information, as well as access to the main news on the canonisations, and will allow material relating to the various liturgical events to be downloaded.

Existing media include:

Official page of the Postulation with content in five languages:

Official Twitter page with content in five languages:

YouTube channel for the Postulation:

This latter, developed in 2011 for the beatification of Karol Wojtyla, gives a detailed illustration of the stages in the canonical process leading to the recognition of the saintliness of John Paul II and is available in several languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Romanian.

The parallel project #2popesaints, realised in collaboration with the students of communication sciences from the Roman university LUMSA involves a series of networks enabling young people to get to know the lives, teachings and testimony of faith of the two new saints. There will be a Facebook page entitled 2popesaints; on Twitter, the account @2popesaints; on Instagram, #2popesaints; and on YouTube, 2popesaints. Every day each one of the above will propose a theme relating to both popes in the media, starting from 16 April until the canonisation, and each event will be transmitted live on each network.

On Google+ there will be the possibility of following in a "hangout" the daily briefings during the week leading up to the canonisation. A QR code will also be created to allow rapid access to the site The initiative "Rome connecting to the World", a form of "twinning" between the faithful arriving in Rome and the young people of the city, will make it possible to get to know the most important locations in Rome along with the history of John XXIII and John Paul II, providing information on the Facebook page.

In the diocese of Rome, on 22 April in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini will preside at a meeting addressing young people, with the postulators for the causes of both saints: Msgr. Slavomir Oder (John Paul II) and Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano (John XXIII). On 26 April, starting at 9 p.m., there will be a "White night of prayer" and the churches throughout the centre of Rome will remain open for prayer and confession in various languages.

Similarly, the diocese of Bergamo will pay homage to XIII with the initiative "Le Opere Segno", a series of activities dedicated to charity, human development and solidarity which affect daily lives. They include an aid project for Haiti to guarantee three years' education in the John XXIII school; an invitation to priests to contribute a month's salary and all the alms collected by the parish communities on 27 April to a fund set up in aid of families afflicted by the economic crisis; and the commemoration, on 12 April, of the publication of the encyclical "Pacem in Terris", to be attended by ambassadors representing the countries where Angelo Roncalli carried out his diplomatic mission as an apostolic nuncio (Bulgaria, Turkey, Greek and France), and which will be presented by Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer he commented on the Gospel reading from St. John, which relates the story of the man blind from birth to whom Jesus gave sight. The apostle narrates the event in just a few verses as his intention is to attract attention not to the miracle in itself, but rather to the questions it raises.

"Many times a good act, a work of charity, provokes gossip and questions from people who do not want to know the truth. ... The cured blind man is first interrogated by the astonished crowd ... and then by the doctors of the law. ... In the end, the healed man attains faith, and this is the highest grace that he receives from Jesus: not only to see, but to know Him, to see him as the light of the world", said Francis.

"While the blind man gradually approaches the light, on the contrary the doctors of the law slip ever deeper into inner blindness. Locked away in their arrogance, they believe they already have the light, and so they do not open themselves up to the truth of Jesus and do everything they can to deny the evidence. They call into question the identity of the cured man, and then deny God's action in healing, using the excuse that God does not act on the sabbath and even casting doubt as to whether the man was indeed born blind. Their shunning of the light becomes aggressive and leads to expulsion of the healed man from the temple".

The blind man's path is instead "a journey in stages, starting from knowledge of the name of Jesus. ... Following insistent questioning by the doctors of the law, he first considers him a prophet and then a man close to God. After being removed from the temple, he encounters Jesus again, Who 'opens his eyes' for the second time, revealing his true identity. 'I am the Messiah', he says. At this point, the previously blind man exclaims 'Lord, I believe!', and bows down before Jesus".

"At times our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opens up to the light of God and His grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is rather like that of the doctors of law. From the heights of our pride we judge others, even the Lord. Today, we are invited to open ourselves to Christ's light, so that our lives might bear fruit; to eliminate our behaviour that is not Christian; we are all Christians, but we all at times behave in ways which are not Christian, which are sins. We must repent of this, and eliminate these forms of behaviour ... to behave like 'children of light', with humility, patience and mercy. ... Those doctors of the law had neither humility, nor patience, nor mercy. ... We must not be afraid! Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord, He Who always awaits us, to let us see better, to offer us more light, to forgive us... so we can be reborn to a new life".

After the Angelus prayer the Bishop of Rome greeted a group of Italian soldiers who had made a pilgrimage on foot from Loreto to Rome "praying for a peaceful and just resolution of conflicts. And this is very good. In the Beatitudes, Jesus says that blessed are those who work for peace".

"And let us not forget", he continued, addressing all present, "when we return home, to take the Gospel according to John, chapter 9, and read this story of the blind man whose sight was restored, and of those who supposedly could see yet slipped ever further into blindness".


Vatican City, 29 March 2014 (VIS) - "Witnesses to the Gospel for a culture of encounter" is the theme of the Day of Sharing organised by the Apostolic Movement of the Blind, with the participation of the Gualandi Mission for the Deaf (the Little Mission for the Deaf-Mute), as well as the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially-Sighted. These organisations were received in audience this morning by Pope Francis, who commented on the theme of the Day.

"The first thing I observe is that this expression ends with the word 'encounter', but first this presupposes another encounter, the one with Christ. Indeed, to be witnesses of the Gospel, it is necessary to have encountered Him, Jesus. ... Like the Samaritan woman. ... A witness to the Gospel is someone who has encountered Jesus Christ, who knows him, or rather, who feels known by him: recognised, respected, loved, forgiven, and this encounter ... fills him with a new joy, a new meaning for life. And this shines through, is communicated, is transmitted to others".

"I have mentioned the Samaritan woman because she offers a clear example of the type of person Jesus liked to meet, to make them his witnesses: marginalised, excluded, disdained people. The Samaritan woman was this type, inasmuch as she was a woman, and a Samaritan - the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. But let us think also of the many that Jesus wished to encounter, especially people affected by illness and disability, to cure them and to restore their full dignity to them. It is very important that precisely these people become witnesses to a new attitude, that we can call a culture of encounter. A typical example is the man blind from birth ... marginalised in the name of a false idea that he had received a divine punishment. Jesus radically refuses this way of thinking ... truly blasphemous! - and performs an act of God, giving him the gift of sight. But the important thing is that this man, as soon as this happens to him, becomes a witness to Jesus and His work, that is the work of God, of life, love and mercy. While the Pharisees, from their safe distance, judges both him and Jesus as 'sinners'; the cured blind man, with disarming simplicity, defends Jesus and in the at the end professes his faith in Him, and also shares his fate: Jesus is excluded, and he is excluded too. But in reality the man enters into a new community, based on faith in Jesus and on brotherly love".

"Here we have the two opposing cultures. The culture of encounter and the culture of exclusion, of prejudice. The sick or disabled person, precisely because of his or her frailty and limits, may become a witness to this encounter: the encounter with Jesus, that opens us to life and faith, and to the encounter with others, with the community. Indeed, only those who recognise their own fragility and their own limits can build bonds of fraternity and unity, in the Church and in society", concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 29 March 2014 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided over the rite of Reconciliation, confessing and imparting individual absolution to several penitents. This ceremony inaugurated an initiative of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, "24 Hours for the Lord", which has involved the participation of dioceses from all over the world, and during which many churches remained open throughout Friday night and Saturday morning to enable the faithful to confess.

In his homily, the Pope mentioned that during Lent the Church renews her call for conversion and her call for us to change our lives. "Converting is not a question of a moment or a period during the year: it is a life-long commitment. Who amongst us presumes not to be a sinner? No-one. We all are. The Apostle John writes, 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness'". And that is what happens in this celebration and in all this day of penance. The Word of God that we have listened to introduces us to two essential elements of Christian life".

The first is to "clothe ourselves as new men". Pope Francis explained, "The new man, 'created to be like God', is born in Baptism, where he receives the same life of God, which makes us His children and incorporates us in Christ and in his Church. This new life allows us to look at reality through different eyes, without being distracted by things that do not count ... from things which come to an end over time. For this reason we are required to abandon sinful behaviour and to focus on the essential. 'A man is more precious for what he is than for what he has'. This is the difference between life deformed by sin and life illuminated by grace".

Remaining in love is the second element. "Jesus Christ's love lasts for ever, and will never end because it is the very life of God. This love conquers sin and gives the strength to rise and begin again, because through forgiveness the heart is renewed and rejuvenated. We all know this: our Father never tires of loving. ...We can speak about the hope of God: our Father always awaits us; not only does he leave the door open, he awaits us. ... God is not only at the origin of love, but in Jesus Christ he calls to us to imitate his own way of loving: 'As I have loved you, so you must love one another'. To the extent that Christians live this love, they become credible disciples of Jesus Christ in the world. Love cannot stand to remain closed up in itself. It is by its nature open, it spreads and it is fruitful, it always generates new love".

The Pope concluded by mentioning the initiative, "24 Hours for the Lord", and inviting young people to participate in this as missionaries of reconciliation, communicating to those they meet "the joy of receiving the Father's forgiveness and of rediscovering full friendship with Him. And tell them", he concluded, "that our Father awaits us, our Father forgives us, our Father celebrates us. If you go to Him with all your life, even with many sins, instead of reproaching you, he will rejoice: this is our Father. You must say this, you must tell many people, today. He who experiences divine mercy is compelled to become a bringer of mercy to the least and the poorest among us. In 'the least of these brothers and sisters', Jesus awaits us".


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Syria.

- Steven Todd Green, president of the “American Bible Society”, with his wife and entourage.

- Bishop Lucas Van Looy of Gent, Belgium.

On Saturday, 29 March, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City, 31 March 2014 (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Nicholas Gilbert Hudson as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Southwark (area 3,000, population 4,478,000, Catholics 394,708, priests 419, permanent deacons 78, religious 742), England. The bishop-elect was born in Wimbledon, England in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a master's degree in history from Jesus College, University of Cambridge, England, and a licentiate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest in the parish of Canterbury, director of the Christian Education Centre in Southwark, and member of the council of consultors in the same archdiocese, and vice rector and subsequently rector of the Venerable English College in Rome. He is currently priest in the "Sacred Heart" parish of Wimbledon.

On Saturday, 29 March, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Drohiczyn (area 8,000, population 290,300, Catholics 210,150, priests 233, religious 140) Poland, presented by Bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Tadeusz Pikus, formerly auxiliary of the archdiocese of Warsaw, Poland.

- confirmed Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz as prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life;

- appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico, Mexico; Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodrigues Maradiaga S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See; Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto, Italy; Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, Japan; Archbishop Francisco Chimoio O.F.M. Cap. of Maputo, Mozambique; Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin, O.F.M. Conv., bishop of Treviso; Archbishop Luis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, O.F.M. of Cuenca en Ecuador, Ecuador; Archbishop Ricardo Blasquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis, U.S.A.; Archbishop Jaime Spengler O.F.M. of Porto Alegre, Brazil; Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa Rojas of Cartago, Costa Rica; Bishop Lucas Van Looy S.D.B. of Gent, Belgium; Bishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora of Santander, Spain; Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke O.S.B. of Eichstatt, Germany; Bishop John Corriveau O.F.M. Cap. of Nelson, Canada; Bishop Kieran O'Reilley S.M.A. of Killaloe, Ireland; Bishop Eusebio Hernandez Sola O.A.R. of Tarazona, Spain; Fr. Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, S.J., apostolic prefect of Battambang, Cambodia; and the superior generals Fr. Bruno Marin O.S.B., abbot president of the Subiaco Benedictine Congregation; Fr. Bruno Cadore O.P., minister general of the Order of Preachers; Fr. Mauro Johri O.F.M. Cap., minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor Capuchin; Fr. Enrique Sanchez Gonzalez M.C.C.I., superior general of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus; Fr. Emili Turu Rofes F.M.S., superior general of the Marist Brothers (Little Brothers of Mary); Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, rector general of the Societas Apostolatus Catholici; Giorgio Mario Mazzola, president general of the Institute “Cristo Re”.

- confirmed the following members of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley O.F.M. Cap., Cardinal Dominik Duka O.P., Cardinal Paolo Sardi S.T.L., Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B., Bishop Pierre Raffin O.P., Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon S.J., prepositor general of the Society of Jesus.

- confirmed the Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., as secretary of the same dicastery.

- confirmed, until the completion of their respective mandates, the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and appointed His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, as a member.

- appointed the following consultors of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Archbishop Tomash Bernard Peta of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan; Bishop William Hanna Shomali, auxiliary and vicar general of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Jerusalem; Msgr. Francois Bousquet, France, rector of the convent of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy; Don Valentino Cottini, rector of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Italy; Fr. Clarence Devadass, secretary for the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Malaysia; Fr. Claudio Monge O.P., president of the Union des Religieux et des Religieuses de Turquie, Turkey; Fr. Jose Manuel H. Arenas, S.J., secretary of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Chile; Fr. William Skudlarek O.S.B., of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, U.S.A., secretary general of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue in Rome; Sister Carmen Sammut S.M.N.D.A., Malta, superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa; Dr. Ilaria Morali, director of the department of Missiology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Italy.

- confirmed Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi as president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo and Bishop Barthelemy Adoukonou respectively as delegate and secretary of the same dicastery.

- confirmed, until the completion of their respective mandates, the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and appointed the following members of the same dicastery: Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, archbishop of Warsaw, ordinary of the Polish Ordinariate of the faithful of eastern rites without their own ordinary, Poland; Archbishop Denis James Hart of Melbourne, Australia; Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Archbishop Alfonso Cortes Contreras of Leon, Mexico; Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University S. Maria de los Buenos Aires, Argentina; Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Canada; Bishop Filomeno Do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda, Angola; Bishop Cecilio Raul Berzosa Martinez of Cuidad Rodrigo, Spain; Bishop Joaquim Giovanni Mol Guimaraes, auxiliary of Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Military Ordinary for the Federal Republic of Germany; Bishop Linus Lee Seong-Hyo, auxiliary of Suwon, Korea; Bishop Charles Morerod O.P. of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Switzerland; Rafael Vicuna, professor of molecular biology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Santiago, Chile.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

News Vatican Information Service March 28, 2014




Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, an expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and Greece, focused on issues of common interest, such as, in particular, the legal status of religious communities, the role of religion in society, and ecumenical collaboration.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the worldwide economic crisis, as well as the contribution of Greece within the European Union. Finally, concern was expressed regarding the future presence of Christians in the Middle East, in relation to political instability and the situations of conflict that affect various regions of the world.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – The vitality of the Church in Madagascar despite the difficult circumstances in which this country finds itself and the commitment of the dioceses to human development were some of the central issues in the message Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.

The Pope thanks the prelates for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelisation” and acknowledged the serious socio-economic problems encountered in Madagascar, mentioning at the same time that the bishops have urged all of society to contribute to building a new future”. He encouraged them to take their rightful place in the “task of reconstruction, with respect for the rights and duties of each person”. He writes, “It is important to maintain constructive relationships with the authorities of your country. You must search for unity, justice and peace to better serve your people, refusing any involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good”.

In this context, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable commitment of your dioceses in social work”, he continues. “Indeed, there is an intimate connection between evangelisation and human development. ... I encourage you to persevere in your attention to the poor and materially and spiritually supporting those who devote themselves to them, especially religious congregations, whom I thank with all my heart for their dedication and for their authentic witness to Christ's love for all men. I also invite you to call out without fear to all Malagasy society, and especially its leaders, with regard to the issue of poverty, which is largely due to corruption and lack of attention to the common good”.

Education is field in which the Church is very active in Madagascar. Therefore, the Pope asks the prelates to do everything in their power to “ensure that the greatest number of children, including those from the poorest families, have access to education, since as a result of economic difficulties many parents no longer have the economic means”. He also urges them to guarantee a Christian presence in public schools, so that Christians occupied in the field of education may “contribute to forming the Gospel and human values in the young generations that will be the leaders of the society to come”.

He goes on to mention that in their message for the end of the Year of Faith the bishops complained of the loss of the true “fihavanana”, a way of life typical of Malgasy culture, which promotes harmony and solidarity, and in relation to this he affirms that “the values that the Creator has instilled in your culture must continue to be transmitted, illuminated from within by the message of the Gospel. The dignity of the human person and the culture of peace, dialogue and reconciliation will find their place in society, leading to a better future”.

The Pope praises the implementation in dioceses throughout Madagascar of “an ambitious and very dynamic programme of formation for life and love”, and emphasises that the family “needs to be protected and defended so that it so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony”. With regard to challenges in the field of interreligious dialogue, he repeats that it is “urgent to develop, and also at times to initiate, a lucid and constructive dialogue in order to maintain peace between communities and to promote the common good”. He urges the prelates “never to doubt the strength of the Gospel, nor its ability to convert hearts to the resurrected Christ”, reiterating that for this to happen, “it is necessary that Christians bear daily witness to the faith they proclaim”, and for this witness to be credible, “life must be consistent with faith”.

This invitation”, he continues, “is directed mainly at the clergy and consecrated persons. The priesthood, like consecrated life, is not a means of social climbing, but rather a service to God and to man”. Likewise, he remarks that chastity and obedience are essential virtues for priests and concludes, “The same applies with respect to temporal goods and prudence in their management. Offering a poor example in this area is particularly disastrous because of the scandal it causes, especially before a population that lives in poverty”.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Hall of Blessings Pope Francis received in audience the six hundred participants in the annual course of the internal forum of the Apostolic Penitentiary. For a quarter of a century this dicastery has offered the course, especially to recently ordained priests and deacons, to contribute to the formation of good confessors.

In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to “treasure the experience acquired with wise creativity, to further help the Church and confessors to perform their ministry of mercy, which is so important”, and reflected on three key points related to confession.

Firstly, the agent of the ministry of Reconciliation is the Holy Spirit”, he said. “The forgiveness that the Sacrament confers is the new life transmitted by the Risen Lord by means of His Spirit. … Therefore, you are required always to be “men of the Holy Spirit”, witnesses and proclaimers, joyful and strong, of the resurrection of the Lord”. The Bishop of Rome encouraged them to welcome penitents “not with the attitude of a judge or even that of a mere friend, but with God's charity. … A priest's heart is a heart that is able to be touched. … If it is true that tradition suggests the dual role of doctor and judge for confessors, we must never forget that the doctor cures and the judge absolves”.

Moving on to the second aspect, he explained, “If Reconciliation transmits the new life of the Risen Lord and renews baptismal grace, then your task is to give this generously to your brethren. A priest who does not take care of this part of his ministry … is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost sheep. … But mercy is at the heart of the Gospel! It is the good news that God loves us, that He always loves man the sinner, and with this love he draws man towards Him and invites him to convert. We must not forget that the faithful often struggle to receive this Sacrament, both for practical reasons and for the natural difficulty of confessing one's own sins to another man. Therefore, it is necessary to work hard upon ourselves, on our humanity, so as never to be an obstacle to but rather to facilitate an approach to mercy and forgiveness. … Confession is not a sentencing court, but rather an experience of forgiveness and mercy!”.

Finally, Pope Francis referred to the difficulties that may frequently be encountered in confession. “There are many reasons, both historical and spiritual. However, we know that the Lord wished to offer this immense gift to the Church, offering the baptised the security of the Father's forgiveness. For this reason, it is very important that particular care is taken in the celebration of this Sacrament of forgiveness and salvation in all dioceses and parish communities. It is essential that in every parish the faithful know when they can find available priests: when there is trust, the fruits can be seen”.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the exhibition Verbum Domini II: “God's Word goes out to the Nations” is an exhibition that gathers together more than 200 historical findings, texts and rare Bible artefacts that tell the story of the Bible's journey around the world. The exhibition is sponsored by the Museum of the Bible and will be held in the Vatican's Charlemagne Wing from 2 April to 22 June 2014.

The speakers in the conference were Cary Summers, Chief Operating Officer of the Museum of the Bible, Fr. Jose Maria Abrego de Lacy S.J., rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, deputy prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The works that make up the exhibition belong to the Green Collection, the Vatican Library, the Vatican Museums and other institutional and private collections in the United States and Europe, and include: a page of the Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV, a manuscript created around the year 200 which contains much of the text of the Gospels according to Luke and John; a double page of the famous Codex Vaticanus, a manuscipt on parchment from the first half of the fourth century; and the Codex Claromontanus of the fifth and seventh centuries, valuable evidence of the Gospels translated into Latin in the Vulgate of St. Jerome.

Entry to the museum is free, and allows the visitor to travel through time and space, discovering how the Word of God has gone out to the Nationals, being accessible to different cultures while remaining faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew.


Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Bishop emeritus Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Federal Republic of Germany.

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Bishop Fulgence Razakarivony of Ihosy;

- Bishop Jose Alfredo Caires de Nobrega of Mananjary;

- Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina;

- Bishop Antoine Scopelliti of Ambatondrazaka;

- Bishop Marcellin Randriamamonjy of Fenoarivo Antsinanana;

- Bishop Gaetano Di Pierro of Moramanga;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabeony of Toliara;

- Bishop Zygmunt Robaszkiewicz of Morombe;

- Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilambonianina of Morondava, with his auxiliary, Bishop Donald Joseph Leo Pelletier;

- Bishop Vincent Rakotozafy of Tolagnaro.

Yesterday, Thursday 27 March, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

News Vatican Information Service March 27, 2014




Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning Barack H. Obama, president of the United States of America, was received in audience by Pope Francis, after which he met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meeting, views were exchanged on some current international themes and hope was expressed that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, the Parties discussed questions of particular relevance for the Church, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the Parties stated their common commitment to the eradication of human trafficking throughout the world.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – The dialogue between God's lament and man's justifications was the theme selected by the Holy Father in the homily he pronounced at this morning's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, attended by Italian ministers and members of parliament. Pope Francis spoke about the infidelity of the People of God, a generation that does not accept His messages, and in their place, seek justifications for their sins. “It was a very great task to drive idolatry from the hearts of his people, to make them docile to His Word. But they followed this route for a little while, before turning back”.

From being sinners, they went on to become corrupt”, he continued. “It is very hard for a corrupt person to turn back. The sinner, yes, because the Lord is merciful and awaits us all. But the corrupt are fixed on their affairs, and these people were corrupt. They therefore sought to justify themselves, because Jesus, with his simplicity, but with his strength in God, made trouble for them. And, step by step, they ended up convincing themselves that they had to kill Jesus, and one of them said, 'It is better for a man to die for the people'”.

These people had taken the wrong path. They resisted the salvation of the Lord's love, and drifted from faith, from a theology of faith to a theology of duty: 'You must do this, this and this …'”. Describing them as hypocrites, Jesus said, “'They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them'. They rejected the Lord's love and this rejection set them on a path that was not the dialectic of freedom offered by the Lord, but that of the logic of necessity, where there is no room for the Lord. … They have become 'behavioural': men of good manners, but with bad habits. Jesus called them 'whitewashed sepulchres'. This is the Lord's pain, God's pain, God's lament”.

Pope Francis mentioned that during Lent “we would do well to think about the invitation from the Lord to love, and to ask ourselves, all of us: am I on this path? Or do I risk justifying myself and taking another path? A road with many junctions that does not, however, lead to any promise. … And we pray that the Lord gives us the grace to always follow the path of salvation, to open ourselves to the salvation that comes only from God, through faith, not that which is proposed to us by these 'professionals of duty' who had lost the faith and who led their people with this pastoral theology of duty”.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today the programme of the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Land was published. The trip, which will take place from 24 to 26 May, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.15 a.m. and is schedule to arrive in Amman, Jordan at 1.15 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at Queen Alia International Airport, he will proceed to the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman, where he will be received by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, and will speak before the authorities of the kingdom of Jordan. At 4.00 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at the International Stadium in Amman, and later in the same afternoon he will meet with refugees and young disabled people in the Latin Church.

On Sunday, 25 May, the Pope will leave Jordan by helicopter at 8.15 a.m., destined for Bethlehem. In the presidential palace, after a courtesy visit to the president of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, he will address the Palestinian authorities. At 11 a.m. he will celebrate Mass and pray the Angelus in Manger Square in Bethlehem. The Holy Father will lunch with a number of Palestinian families in the Franciscan convent of Casa Nova and at 3 p.m. he will make a private visit to the Grotto of the Nativity. He will then greet the children in the refugee camps of Deheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin and, at 3.45 p.m., will leave the State of Palestine to travel by helicopter to the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, where his arrival is scheduled for 4.30 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony he will proceed, again by helicopter, to Jerusalem, where at 6.15 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople at the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem, for the signing of a joint declaration. At 7 p.m. in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre an ecumenical meeting will take place, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, after which Pope Francis will dine with the patriarchs, bishops and the papal suite at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

On Monday, 26 May at 8.15 a.m. the Holy Father will visit the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Great Council on the Esplanade of the Mosques, and will give an address. He will subsequently visit the Western Wall, after which he will lay a wreath at Mount Herzl. At 10 a.m. he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, where he will speak, and at 10.45., he will make a courtesy visit to the two Chief Rabbis at the Heichal Shlomo Centre, next to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem. At 11.45 he will proceed to the presidential palace where he will be received by the president of the State of Israel, Simon Peres. At 1 p.m., in the Notre Dame Centre, he will hold a private audience with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. At 3.30 p.m. he will meet privately with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1, near the Viri Galileai Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. At 4 p.m., in the Church of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, he will address priests, men and women religious and seminarians. At 5.20 p.m. he will celebrate Mass with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and the Papal suite in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem. At 7.30 p.m. he will transfer by helicopter from the Mount Scopus heliport to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where he will bid farewell to the State of Israel. The papal aeroplane will depart at 8.15 p.m. for Rome's Ciampino airport, where it is scheduled to land at approximately 11 p.m.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – On Tuesday, 1 April, in Vatican Radio's Sala Marconi, there will be a presentation of “The Voice of the Popes”, Vatican Radio's digital archive which brings together the voices of the popes who have succeeded to the see of St. Peter since 1931, the year in which the pontifical broadcasting entity was founded, from Pius XI to Francis. The institutional tasks of Vatican Radio are to consult, preserve and manage the papal audio archive ensuring that, in the case of use by third parties, the pastoral character of the material is conserved and intellectual property rights are protected.

The digitisation of the archive, which will take place in conjunction with the canonisation of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on 27 April, will guarantee the conservation of the audio material, whose integrity may be endangered by wear and tear of archive supports, and will allow the archiving of audio material and text (metadata) in a far more efficient and rational way. The new digital support will also ensure easier use of content by information workers and scholars.

The Vatican Radio technical directorate has completed the digitisation of the pontifical audio archive, reproducing the content of the 8000 tapes and original supports documenting the activities of popes, from Pius XI up to Francis, including Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, who will soon be canonised”.

Speakers at the press conference for the presentation of “The Voices of the Popes”, moderated by Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director general of Vatican Radio, were: Cardinal Giovan Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Vatican specialist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, and Guido Gusso, Pope John XXIII's valet and Dean of the Hall of the Papal Antechamber under Pope John Paul II. The digitisation of the archive was undertaken with the contribution of the Banca Intesa Russia and with the support of Confartigianato Persone.


Vatican City, 27 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, with his auxiliary, Bishop Jean de Dieu Raoelison;

- Bishop Philippe Ranaivomanana of Antsirabe;

- Bishop Jean Claude Randrianarisoa of Miarinarivo;

- Bishop Gustavo Bombin Espino O.SS.T. of Tsiroanomandidy;

- Bishop Rosario Saro Vella S.D.B. of Ambanja;

- Bishop Roger Victor Solo Rakotondrajao of Mahajanga;

- Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara M.E.P., coadjutor of Port-Berge;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabemahafaly of Fianarantsoa;

- Bishop Fidelis Rakotonarivo S.J. of Ambositra;

- Bishop Benjamin Marc Balthason Ramaroson C.M. of Farafangana.

- Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano dell'Jonio, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

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V.I.S. -Vatican Information Service.
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