- THE POPE TO THE SYRIAC-ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH: “YOURS IS A CHURCH OF MARTYRS”
- TO THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL FEDERATION: PASTORAL EFFORT TO ENSURE THE CENTRALITY OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
- MAY NO-ONE FEEL EXCLUDED FROM SPORT, SAYS THE POPE TO THE ATHLETES OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS
- CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS, TOGETHER TO COUNTER VIOLENCE PERPETRATED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION
- OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
THE POPE TO THE SYRIAC-ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH: “YOURS IS A CHURCH OF MARTYRS”
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) – Following a tradition established in 1971 by the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness Ignatius Jacob III and Blessed Paul VI, this morning Pope Francis received in the Vatican His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, accompanied by a Syriac-Orthodox delegation, recalling that the historic first meeting was the beginning of a “holy pilgrimage” towards full communion between the two Churches.
Francis also mentioned the Joint Declaration on the common profession of faith in the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the true God and the true man, signed in that year by the Patriarch and the Pope, which laid the foundations for a path to unity among disciples. Subsequent meetings between Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas and St. John Paul II, first in Rome and then in Damascus, represented important steps toward the concrete pastoral collaboration for the good of the faithful.
“How much has changed since those first meetings!” exclaimed the bishop of Rome. “Yours, Beatitude, has been a Church of martyrs since the very beginning, and continues to be so to this day in the Middle East, where, along with other Christian communities and other minorities, it suffers greatly as a result of war, violence and persecution. How much pain! How many innocent victims! Faced with all this, it seems that those in power seem unable to find solutions”.
“Let us pray together for the victims of this brutal violence and for all the situations of war throughout the world. In particular, let us remember the Metropolitan Gregorios Ibrahim and the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church Griega Paul Yazigi, abducted at the same time two years ago. Let us also remember the priests and the many other people, of different groups, deprived of their freedom. And let us ask of the Lord the grace always to be willing to forgive and to be builders of reconciliation and peace. This is what inspires the witness of the martyrs. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the unity of the Church and the tool for the edification of the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of peace and justice”.
“Beatitude, dear brother, in this moment of tension and pain”, concluded the Pope, “let us increasingly strengthen the bonds of friendship and fraternity between the Catholic Church and the Syriac-Orthodox Church. Let us hasten our steps on the common path, looking towards the day in which we will be able to celebrate our common belonging to Christ's single Church around the same altar of the Sacrifice and of worship. Let us exchange the treasures of our traditions as spiritual gifts, as what unites us is far greater than what divides us”.
The Holy Father and the Patriarch then prayed together in the Redemptoris Mater chapel.
TO THE CATHOLIC BIBLICAL FEDERATION: PASTORAL EFFORT TO ENSURE THE CENTRALITY OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Consistory Hall Pope Francis received the members of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF), which has recently elected Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, metropolitan archbishop of Manila, Philippines, as its new president. The Federation is currently holding its tenth plenary assembly dedicated to the theme “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you”, drawn from the First Epistle of St. John; reflecting on the Sacred Scripture as the source of evangelisation, it commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the dogmatic Constitution on the Divine Revelation Dei Verbum.
“To be able to proclaim the word of truth, we ourselves must have had the experience of the Word: we must have listened, contemplated, almost touched it with our own hands”, writes the Holy Father in the discourse he handed to those present. “Christians, who are the People of God, 'that you may proclaim the excellencies of him', must, as the dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum suggests, first of all venerate, read, listen, proclaim, preach, study and spread the Word of God. The Church, who proclaims the Word every day, receiving nourishment and inspiration from it, makes herself the beneficiary and excellent witness of the efficiency and strength inherent in that same Word of God. Neither we, nor our efforts, but rather the Holy Spirit works through those who dedicate themselves to pastoral ministry, and He does the same for the listeners, preparing them to listen to the Word and to receive its message of life”.
Referring to the anniversary of Dei Verbum and the timeliness of dedicating the plenary assembly to the relationship between the Scriptures and evangelisation, Francis mentions that in 1986 St. John Paul II had invited the CBF to undertake a careful rereading of the dogmatic Constitution, applying its principles and implementing its recommendations. The Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church in 2008 offered another important opportunity for reflecting on its application. He adds, “Likewise today I would like to invite you to go ahead with this work, always taking into consideration the value of the treasure of the Conciliar Constitution, as well as the subsequent Magisterium, while you communicate the joy of the Gospel to the furthest confines of the world, obeying the missionary mandate”.
“However, there are places where the Word of God has not yet been proclaimed or, although proclaimed, has not been received as the Word of salvation”, the Pope remarks. “There are places where the Word of God is emptied of its authority. The lack of the support or vigour of the Word leads to a weakening of the Christian communities of ancient tradition and curbs the spiritual growth and missionary fervour of the young Churches. We are all responsible if 'the message will run the risk of losing its freshness and will cease to have the freshness of the Gospel'. However, it remains valid to encourage a special pastoral effort to emphasise the central position of the Word of God in ecclesial life, promoting the Biblical inspiration of all pastoral ministry. We must ensure that the habitual activities of all Christian communities, in the parishes, associations and movements, truly have at heart the personal encounter with Christ communicated to us in His Word since, as St. Jerome teaches, 'ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ'”.
“The mission of the servants of the Word – bishops, priests, men and women religious and laypeople – is that of promoting and favouring this encounter, which inspires faith and transforms life; therefore I pray, in the name of all the Church, that you may fulfil your mandate: ensuring 'that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured', until the day of Jesus Christ”.
MAY NO-ONE FEEL EXCLUDED FROM SPORT, SAYS THE POPE TO THE ATHLETES OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) - “The world of sport looks to the Church with trust and attention, as it is aware that together it is possible to work to restore to sporting practice its true meaning: an educational, playful and recreational meaning, and also its cultural and social dignity. You are well aware of this, having chosen sport as an experience of development and growth, in the presence of a condition of fragility and limitation”, said the Pope as he received in audience 150 athletes participating in the Italian “Special Olympics”, and who will participate in the finals of the World Games in Los Angeles this July. The “Special Olympics” is an international sporting association founded in 1968 in the United States by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to help those with different mental capabilities to develop confidence in themselves and in their social capacities through training and competitive sport.
“It is beautiful and meaningful that young people and adults find in sport and participation in competitions, including at an international level, an incentive to live their life fully. It is a challenge”, emphasised Francis, “and you have accepted it and 'taken the field'. I encourage you to continue in your efforts to help each other to discover your potential and to love life, to appreciate it in all its limits and above all, its beautiful sides. Sport is a path that is well-suited to this discovery, to opening oneself up, to coming out of oneself and getting involved. In this way one learns to participate, to outdo oneself, to strive together. All this helps you to become active members of society and also of the Church; and it helps society itself and the Church to overcome all forms of discrimination and exclusion”.
“Please”, he continued, “be faithful to this ideal of sport. Do not let yourself be contaminated by a false sporting culture, that of economic success, victory at any cost, and individualism. Rather, it is necessary to rediscover amateur sport, the sport of gratuity, sport for sport's sake. We must protect and defend sport as an experience of human values: competition yes, but in loyalty and solidarity. Dignity for every person: always! No-one must feel excluded from sport. And the generous action and harmony between the various institutional and social bodies is necessary to attain this objective”.
He concluded by wishing them a joyful and serene experience at the upcoming World Championship, expressing his hope that they would enjoy themselves and form friendships with brothers and sisters throughout the world and reminding them to pray for him.
CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS, TOGETHER TO COUNTER VIOLENCE PERPETRATED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) – “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion” is the title of the Message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for Ramadan, which began this year on 18 June, and 'Id al-Fitr. The document, signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I., respectively president and secretary of the dicastery, is dated 12 June.
“For some of you and also for others from other religious communities, the joy of the feast is shadowed by the memory of the dear ones who lost their life or goods, or suffered physically, mentally and even spiritually because of violence. Ethnic and religious communities in a number of countries of the world went through various and enormous unjust sufferings: killing of some of their members, destruction of their religious and cultural heritages, forced emigration from their homes and cities, molestation and rape of their women, enslavement of some of their members, trafficking of persons, commerce of organs, and even selling of cadavers!
“We are all aware of the gravity of these crimes in themselves. However, what makes them even more heinous is the tentative of justifying them in the name of religion. It is a clear manifestation of instrumentalising religion for gaining power and richness.
“Needless to say that those who have the responsibility of security and public order have also the duty to protect their people and their properties from the blind violence of the terrorists. Besides, there is also the responsibility of those who have the task of education: families, schools, curricula, religious leaders, religious discourse, media. Violence and terrorism are first conceived in the mind of the deviated persons, thereafter perpetrated on the ground.
“All those are involved in the education of the youth and in the various educational spaces should teach the sacred character of life and the derived dignity of every person, regardless of his or her ethnicity, religion, culture, social position and political choice. There is no life that is more precious than another one because it belongs to a specific race or religion. Therefore, no one can kill. No one can kill in the name of God; this would be a double crime: against God and the very person.
“There cannot be any ambiguity in education. The future of a person, community and of the whole humanity cannot be built on such ambiguity or apparent truth. Christians and Muslims, according to their respective religious tradition, look at God and relate with Him as being the Truth. Our life and behaviour as believers should reflect such conviction.
“According to St. John Paul II, Christians and Muslims have 'the privilege of prayer' (Address to Muslim Religious Leaders, Kaduna, Nigeria, 14 February 1982). Our prayer is much needed: for justice, for peace and security in the world; for those who have deviated from the true path of life and commit violence in the name of religion, so as to return to God and change life; for the poor and the sick.
“Our feasts, among others, nourish in us hope for the present and the future. It is with hope that we look at the future of humanity, especially when we do our best to make our legitimate dreams become a reality.
“With Pope Francis, we wish that the fruits of Ramadan and the joy of ‘Id al-Fitr may bring about peace and prosperity, enhancing your human and spiritual growth”.
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in the Syrian Arab Republic.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
Vatican City, 19 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to the inauguration of the recently-restored “conventual complex” of the Shrine of Maria-Radna at Timisoara, Romania, to be held on 2 August 2015.
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