Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Pope receives the president of Croatia: collaboration between Church and State to support the family and youth


Vatican City, 28 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the president of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia, further reinforced by the recent Agreements stipulated between the Parties, were affirmed. Furthermore, themes of common interest were considered, such as the collaboration between the Church and the State for the common good of Croatian society, especially the support of families and the young.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the global economic crisis, and the main challenges at a regional level, with particular attention to the situation of Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To the bishops of the Dominican Republic: pastors of the Church cannot be indifferent to pastoral and charitable attention to immigrants


Vatican City, 28 May 2015 (VIS) – Fraternity with nearby Haiti, attention to marriage and the family, the battle against drug trafficking and the exploitation of minors, the continuing formation of priests and the laity, and the defence of the environment are the central themes of the written discourse the Pope handed this morning to the bishops of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate, where the evangelisation of the American continent began. “Today the Church, which continues her progress in these beloved lands with her children in search of a happy and prosperous future, encounters the great challenges of our time which affect social and ecclesial life, and families in particular”, writes the Pontiff. “Therefore, I would like to make an appeal to you to accompany the faithful, to reinforce the faith and identity of all members of the Church”.

Francis begins with marriage and the family, that is experiencing a “serious cultural crisis”. However, this does not mean it has lost its importance, but rather that the need for it is felt more than ever. He urged the prelates to pay special attention, in this upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, to matrimonial and family reconciliation, as keys to peaceful coexistence: “A broad-ranging catechetical effort regarding the Christian ideal of conjugal communion and family life, and the spirituality of fatherhood and motherhood, is necessary. Greater pastoral attention needs to be paid to the role of men as husbands and fathers, as well as the responsibility they share with their wives with respect to marriage, the family and the upbringing of children”.

The Pope goes on to invite the prelates to dedicate time to and to look after their priests, and remarks that the Dominican clergy is distinguished by its fidelity and coherence to Christian life. “May its commitment to the weakest and neediest help it to overcome the worldly tendency towards mediocrity”, he writes. “The seminaries must not neglect human, intellectual and spiritual formation, ensuring a true encounter with the Lord, while cultivating pastoral commitment and emotional maturity so as to prepare seminarians able to embrace priestly celibacy and to live and work in communion”.

“Pastoral and charitable attention to immigrants, especially those from neighbouring Haiti, who seek better conditions of life in the Dominican territory, cannot allow indifference on the part of pastors of the Church”, he underlines. “It is necessary to continue to collaborate with the civil authorities to find fraternal solutions to the problems of those who are without documents or deprived of their basic rights. It is inexcusable to fail to promote initiatives of fraternity and peace between the two nations that form this beautiful Caribbean island. It is important to know how to integrate immigrants into society and to welcome them into the ecclesial community. I thank those who are close to them and to all who suffer as a gesture of loving care towards the brother who feels alone and helpless, with whom Christ identified”.

The Pope assures the bishops that he is aware of their efforts and concerns in appropriately facing “the serious problems that affect our people, such as trafficking in drugs and persons, corruption, domestic violence, abuse and exploitation of minors and social insecurity. The intimate connection between evangelisation and human development means that every action of the Mother Church must be directed towards the care of the most disadvantaged. Everything that is achieved in this respect will increase the presence of the Kingdom of God that gave us Jesus Christ, while enhancing the credibility of the Church and the relevance of the voice of her pastors”.

With regard to the Dominican laity, which has an important presence in works of evangelisation, Francis emphasised the need for “constant support, so that it is able to bear witness to Christ, penetrating those environments that frequently the bishops, priests and religious cannot reach. … Those engaged in this service and this educational mission must not lack a vigilant and courageous attitude, so as to provide in schools an education that conforms to the moral and religious principals of families”.

The final part of the discourse is dedicated to the protection of the environment. The Pope, considering “the beauty and the colourful landscapes of the Dominican Republic” urged the prelates to “renew commitment to the conservation and care of the environment. Man's relationship with nature must not be governed by greed, manipulation or unfettered exploitation, but should instead conserve the divine harmony between creatures and creation to place it at the service of all, and of future generations”.

Audiences


Vatican City, 28 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has received in audience:

- sixteen prelates of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Freddy Antonio de Jesus Breton Martínez of Santiago de los Caballeros, with his auxiliary, Bishop Valentín Reynoso Hidalgo, and Archbishop emeritus Ramon Benito de la Rosa y Carpio;

- Bishop Hector Rafael Rodriguez Rodriguez of La Vega, with Bishop emeritus Antonio Camilo Gonzalez;

- Bishop Diomedes Espinal de Leon of Mao-Monte Cristi;

- Bishop Julio Cesar Corniel Amaro of Puerto Plata;

- Bishop Fausto Ramon Mejia Vallejo of San Francisco de Macoris;

- Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Arnancio Escapa Aparicio and Bishop Victor Emilio Masalles Pere;

- Bishop Andres Napoleon Romero Cardenas of Barahona, with Bishop emeritus Rafael Leonidas Felipe y Nunez;

- Bishop Gregorio Nicanor Pena Rodríguez of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higuey;

- Bishop Jose Dolores Grullon Estrella of San Juan de la Maguana;

- Bishop Francisco Ozoria Acosta of San Pedro de Macoris;

- Bishop Pablo Cedano Cedano, former auxiliary of Santo Domingo.


- Prince Alexander von Sachsen, Margrave of Meissen, and family;

- Senator Jose Mujica Cordano, with his wife.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

General audience: engagement is a path of preparation


Vatican City, 27 May 2015 (VIS) – Engagement, the time devoted to laying the groundwork for a project of love taken on in full freedom and awareness, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during today's Wednesday general audience.

“Betrothal is, in other words, the time in which two people are called to work on love, a shared and profound task” as “the alliance of love between a man and a woman, an alliance for life, cannot be improvised, and is not made in a day; it is a path on which one learns and refines. … It is, I dare say, an artisanal alliance. To make two lives one is almost a miracle of freedom and of the heart, entrusted to faith. We must perhaps work more on this point, as our 'sentimental coordinates' have become a little confused. Those who wish to attain everything immediately, also give up on everything straight away at the first hurdle (or at the first opportunity). … Engagement channels the will to preserve something together, something that should never be bought or sold, betrayed or abandoned, however tempting the alternatives may be”.

Francis recalled the Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni's novel “I promessi sposi”, “The Betrothed”, and invited those present to read it as it is “an authentic masterpiece which recounts the story of a betrothed couple who suffer greatly, who walk a path full of many difficulties before arriving at the end, at marriage. Do not forget this masterpiece on betrothal … read it and you will see beauty and suffering, but also the faithfulness of the betrothed couple”.

“The Church, in her wisdom, maintains the distinction between engaged and married couples – they are not the same – precisely in view of the delicate and profound nature of this fact. We are careful not to light-heartedly dismiss this wise teaching, nurtured by the experience of happily married life. The powerful symbols of the body hold the keys to the soul: we cannot treat the bonds of the flesh lightly, without opening up lasting wounds to the spirit”, continued the Holy Father, remarking that “today's culture and society have become rather indifferent to the delicate and serious nature of this passage. And on the other hand, they cannot be said to be generous with the young, who seriously intend to maintain a household and start a family. Rather, they set up a thousand obstacles, mental and practical”.

Pre-matrimonial courses are a special expression of preparation that offer engaged couples what may indeed be the sole opportunity to “reflect on their experience in terms that are not banal. Yes, many couples stay together for a long time, also intimately, at times living together, without truly knowing each other”, he observed. “Therefore there is a need to re-evaluate engagement as a time to get to know each other and for sharing a plan. … And focusing also here on the essential point: the Bible, to be rediscovered together, in a conscious way; prayer, in its liturgical dimension, but also in terms of 'domestic prayer' … in the Sacraments … in which the Lord comes to reside in the betrothed couple and prepares them to truly accept each other with the grace of Christ; and fraternity with the poor, the needy, which leads us towards sobriety and sharing. Couples who make this commitment both grow, and all this leads to preparing a beautiful marriage celebrated in a different way, not worldly but Christian”.

The Pope invited couples to reflect on and repeat to each other the words of the prophet Hosea: “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord”. “May every engaged couple think of this and say to each other, 'I will make you my spouse'. Wait for that moment; it is a moment on a path on which one proceeds slowly, a path of ripening. One must not pass through the different stages too quickly. Ripening takes place in this way, step by step”.

Therefore, “the time of betrothal must truly be a time of initiation … in surprise at the spiritual gifts that the Lord, through the Church, enriches the horizon of the new family that he prepares to live in His blessing”.

Pope Francis concluded by asking the thousands of faithful in St. Peter's Square to pray to the Holy Family of Nazareth so that engaged couples may understand the beauty of the path of preparation for lifelong marriage, and greeted couples in the square by wishing them a happy engagement.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 27 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Pedro Carlos Cipolini of Amparo, Brazil, as bishop of Santo Andre (area 825, population 2,704,000, Catholics 2,415,000, priests 160, permanent deacons 28, religious 193), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Nelson Westrupp, S.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Bishop Guerrino Riccardo Brusati of Caetite, Brazil, as bishop of Janauba (area 29,296, population 406,000, Catholics 345,000, priests 36, permanent deacons 3, religious 26), Brazil.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The whole world continues to be your cloister, says the Pope to the Order of Friars Minor


Vatican City, 26 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Sala Clementina of the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, dedicated this time to two key aspects of their identity: minority and fraternity.

In his address, the Holy Father remarked that minority “calls us to be and to feel small before God, entrusting ourselves entirely to his infinite mercy. The perspective of mercy is incomprehensible to those who do not recognise themselves as 'minor': that is, as small, needy and sinners before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more convinced we are of being sinners, the more disposed we are to be saved. … Minority also means coming out of ourselves, of leaving behind our preconceptions and personal views; it also means going beyond structures – that are of course useful if used wisely – and beyond our habits and certainties, to bear witness to real closeness to the poor, needy and marginalised, with an authentic attitude of sharing and service”.

Similarly, the dimension of fraternity is essential for bearing witness to the Gospel. “In the primitive Church, Christians lived in fraternal community to the extent that … the people were surprised to see them so united in love, so willing to give and to forgive each other”, commented the Pope. “Your religious family is called upon to express this concrete fraternity, by recovering this mutual trust in interpersonal relations, so that the world may see and believe, acknowledging that Christ's love heals wounds and renders us as one”.

In this respect, Francis invited the Franciscans to be “bringers of mercy, reconciliation and peace”, in obedience to their charism which has made them an “outbound congregation” since their origins. “It is said that when the first friars were asked to show their cloisters, they climbed a hill and, showing the land around, as far as the eye could see, they answered, 'This is our cloister'. Dear brothers, continue to go into this cloister, which is the whole world, driven by Christ's love, as St. Francis invites you to do … when he says … 'I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, meek and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting. … Into whatever house they may enter, first let them say: 'Peace to this house', and … it is lawful to eat any of the foods which are placed befor them”.

The Pope stressed that St. Francis' exhortation remains valid. “It is a prophecy of fraternity and minority for today's world too. How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without losing oneself in disputes and gossip, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, … with modest means, announcing peace and living in a sober fashion, content with what is offered to you. This also requires decisive commitment to transparency, to the ethical and fraternal use of goods, in a style of sobriety. If, instead, you are attached to worldly goods and wealth, and place your security there, it will be the Lord Himself Who will despoil you of this spirit of worldliness in order to preserve this valuable heritage of minority and poverty to which He has called you through St. Francis. You will either be freely poor and minor, or find yourselves denuded”.

“The Holy Spirit is the inspiration for religious life”, continued Pope Francis. “When consecrated persons let themselves be enlightened and guided by the Spirit, they discover in this supernatural vision the secret of their fraternity, the inspiration for their service to their brothers, the strength of their prophetic presence in the Church and in the world. The light and the strength of the Spirit will also help you face the challenges that lie before you, especially the numerical decrease, ageing and diminution of new vocations”.

“The people of God love you. Cardinal Quarracino once said: 'In our cities there are groups or people who are against the clergy, and when a priest passes by they say certain things to him – in Argentina they call them “crows”. But I have never, ever heard these remarks in the presence of a Franciscan habit. Why? You have inherited authority with the people of God with your minority, fraternity, meekness, humility, and poverty. Please preserve this! Do not lose it. The people love you”.

Francis commemorates St. Philip Neri on the fifth centenary of his birth


Vatican City, 26 May 2015 (VIS) – This year marks the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Philip Neri (Florence, 25 July 1515 – Rome 26 May 1595), known as the “apostle of Rome” and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory that, as Pope Francis writes in a letter addressed to the procurator general Fr. Mario Alberto Aviles, is characterised by “an intense and joyful spiritual life: prayer, listening and conversation on the Word of God, preparation to receive the sacraments in a dignified way, formation for Christian life through the history of the saints and the Church, and works of charity for the benefit of the poorest”.

The Holy Father, joining with those who commemorate the figure and the work of this saint, who spent sixty years of his life in Rome, remarks that thanks to the apostolate of St. Philip, commitment to saving souls “was restored as a priority in the Church's activity, and it was newly understood that pastors must stay with their people to guide them and sustain them in their faith. Philip was a guide for many people, announcing the Gospel and dispensing the Sacraments. In particular, he dedicated himself with great passion to the ministry of Confession, up to the evening of his last day on earth. His concern was that of constantly following the spiritual growth of his disciples, accompanying them in the bitterness of life and opening up to Christian hope. … His spiritual paternity shines through all his work, characterised by trust in people, by his rejection of gloomy and sombre tones, by his spirit of festivity and joy, by his conviction that grace does not restrain nature but instead heals, strengthens and perfects it”.

The Apostle of Rome also remains as “a shining model of the permanent mission of the Church in the world. The perspective of his approach to others, bearing witness to all the love and mercy of the Lord, can constitute a valid example for bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful. From the very first years of his presence in Rome, he undertook an apostolate of personal relations and friendship, as the ideal route to opening up to the encounter with Jesus and the Gospel. … He loved spontaneity, shunned artifice, chose the most enjoyable methods to educate in Christian virtues, and at the same time offered a healthy discipline that implied the exercise of will to welcome Christ in the fabric of one's life. His profound conviction was that the path to sanctity was based on the grace of an encounter with the Lord, accessible to any person … who welcomes him with the wonder of children”.

“The permanent state of mission of the Church requires that you, the spiritual children of St. Philip Neri, do not settle for a mediocre life; on the contrary, in the school of your Founder you are called upon to be men of prayer and witness to draw people to Christ”, concludes the Pope. “In our times, especially in the world of the young who were so dear to Fr. Philip, there is a great need for people who pray and who know how to teach others to pray”.


Meeting of the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops closes


Vatican City, 26 May 2015 (VIS) – The Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops today completed its two-day meeting to prepare for the 14th Ordinary General Assembly on the theme “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”, to be held from 4 to 25 October in the Vatican. The Council was chaired by the Holy Father, who met with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Bishop Fabio Fabene (respectively secretary general and under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops) last week, and whose presence underlined the importance he attributes to the current Synod path.

Yesterday, 25 May, and this morning, the Council closely examined the plan for the Instrumentum laboris resulting from the Relatio Synodi of the Extraordinary Assembly, integrated with numerous contributions provided by the answers to the questions included in the Lineamenta sent by the Episcopal Conferences and other competent entities, as well as the many contributions received by the Secretariat General from various ecclesial bodies and individual faithful. An extensive and detailed study of the text has generated proposals and contributions for its integration and improvement. The text, thus revised and shared by the members of the Council, has been entrusted to the Secretariat General for its final redaction, translation in various languages and publication, which will take place in a few weeks' time.

Following the examination of the Instrumentum laboris, proposals from the Secretariat General for updating the working method for the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops were presented.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops


Vatican City, 25 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father chaired the meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Pentecost: the Holy Spirit makes us capable of dedicating ourselves to works of justice and peace


Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – “Strengthened by the Spirit – who guides, who guides us into the truth, who renews us and the whole earth, and who gives us his fruits – strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts, may we be able to battle uncompromisingly against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption, which continues to spread in the world day after day, by devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace”, said the Holy Father during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the solemnity of Pentecost.

Pope Francis repeated several times during his homily that the Holy Spirit, today as yesterday, guides, renews and bears fruit, acting through people and communities, and making them capable of receiving God, “capax Dei” the Holy Fathers have affirmed.

“On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit; on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages. ... Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple, there too as Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace, with her smile,with her maternity, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus”.

In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to “guide them into all the truth”, and explains to them that its action will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially with regard to his death and resurrection. “To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralysed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand 'all the truth': that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, the Lord of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all”.

The Holy Spirit also renews the earth. “Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the 'garden' in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect. Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator”.

“The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit”, exclaimed the Pope at the end of his homily. “Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as 'hypocrites'; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. However, the world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul lists them: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace”.


Regina Coeli: the Church is not born isolated


Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – As is usual on a Sunday, the Pope appeared at the window of his study at midday today to pray the Regina Coeli with the thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before the Marian prayer he again referred to the solemnity of Pentecost, which represents “the baptism of the Church, which thus begins her path through history, guided by the strength of the Holy Spirit”. He continued, “That event, which changes the heart and the life of the apostles and the other disciples, is immediately reflected outside the Cenacle. Indeed, the door that had been kept closed for fifty days is finally opened and the first Christian Community, no longer closed in on itself, begins to speak to the crowds of different origins of the great things that God has done. … And every person present hears the disciples speak in his own language. The gift of the Spirit re-establishes the harmony of language lost in Babel, and prefigures the universal dimension of the apostles' mission”.

The Church “is not born isolated: she is born universal, one, Catholic, with a precise identity but open to all, not closed, an identity that embraces the whole world, without exception. The Mother Church does not close her door to anyone! Not even the greatest sinner! And this is due to the strength and the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Mother Church throws her doors wide open to all, because she is a mother”.

Pentecost is also “the beginning of a new season: the season of witness and fraternity. It is a season that comes from above, that comes from God, like the flames of fire that came to rest of the head of each disciple. It was the flame of love that burned away all bitterness; it was the language of the Gospel that crosses the boundaries set by man and touches the hearts of the multitude, without distinction of language, race or nationality. As on that day of Pentecost, today too the Holy Spirit is continually poured onto the Church and on each one of us, so that we leave behind our mediocrity and narrow-mindedness, and communicate the merciful love of the Lord to all the world … so that as we announce Jesus, resurrected, living and present in our midst, we warm our own heart and the heart of peoples, drawing them close to Him, the path, the truth, and life”.


The Pope urges the international community to help refugees in the Bay of Bengal


Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Regina Coeli the Pope voiced his concern and suffering for the fate of the many refugees stranded at sea in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, expressing his appreciation for the efforts made by those countries which “have shown their willingness to welcome these people who face great suffering and danger”, and urged the international community to offer humanitarian aid.

He went on to recall that today marks the centenary of Italy's entry into the First World War, “that senseless slaughter”. “Let us pray for the victims”, he said, “asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace”.

He also mentioned the beatification yesterday of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and the Italian religious sister Irene Stefanini in Kenya. “The first was killed in hatred of the faith as he celebrated the Eucharist”, he remarked. “This zealous pastor, following Jesus' example, chose to stay among his people, especially the poor and oppressed, even at the cost of his own life. Sister Irene Stefanini, Missionary of Consolation, served the Kenyan population with joy, mercy and tender compassion. May the example of these blesseds inspire in every one of us the wish to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice”.

Finally, on the feast day of Mary Help of Christians, he greeted the Salesian community, asking that the Lord might give them the strength to continue in their work in the spirit of St. John Bosco.


Message for World Missions Day: “There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”


Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's message for the 89th World Mission Day was published today. To be held on Sunday 18 October 2015, this year the Day will take place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life and will therefore highlight the bond between faith and mission.

The following is the full text of the message:

“The 2015 World Mission Sunday 2015 takes place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, which provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection. For if every baptised person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman. There is a clear connection between consecrated life and mission. The desire to follow Jesus closely, which led to the emergence of consecrated life in the Church, responds to his call to take up the cross and follow him, to imitate his dedication to the Father and his service and love, to lose our life so as to gain it. Since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality.

The missionary dimension, which belongs to the very nature of the Church, is also intrinsic to all forms of consecrated life, and cannot be neglected without detracting from and disfiguring its charism. Being a missionary is not about proselytising or mere strategy; mission is part of the 'grammar' of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers 'Come' and 'Go forth'. Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus 'walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise'.

Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realise that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realise once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people and all those who seek him with a sincere heart. In Jesus’ command to 'go forth', we see the scenarios and ever-present new challenges of the Church’s evangelising mission. 'l her members are called to proclaim the Gospel by their witness of life. In a particular way, consecrated men and women are asked to listen to the voice of the Spirit who calls them to go to the peripheries, to those to whom the Gospel has not yet been proclaimed.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree Ad Gentes is an invitation to all of us to reread this document and to reflect on its contents. The Decree called for a powerful missionary impulse in Institutes of Consecrated Life. For contemplative communities, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Patroness of the Missions, appears in a new light; she speaks with renewed eloquence and inspires reflection upon the deep connection between contemplative life and mission. For many active religious communities, the missionary impulse which emerged from the Council was met with an extraordinary openness to the mission ad gentes, often accompanied by an openness to brothers and sisters from the lands and cultures encountered in evangelisation, to the point that today one can speak of a widespread 'interculturalism' in the consecrated life. Hence there is an urgent need to reaffirm that the central ideal of mission is Jesus Christ, and that this ideal demands the total gift of oneself to the proclamation of the Gospel. On this point there can be no compromise: those who by God’s grace accept the mission, are called to live the mission. For them, the proclamation of Christ in the many peripheries of the world becomes their way of following him, one which more than repays them for the many difficulties and sacrifices they make. Any tendency to deviate from this vocation, even if motivated by noble reasons due to countless pastoral, ecclesial or humanitarian needs, is not consistent with the Lord’s call to be personally at the service of the Gospel. In Missionary Institutes, formators are called to indicate clearly and frankly this plan of life and action, and to discern authentic missionary vocations. I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are countercultural: Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission, of following Jesus through the total gift of yourself. In the depths of your conscience, ask yourself why you chose the religious missionary life and take stock of your readiness to accept it for what it is: a gift of love at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that, even before being necessary for those who have not yet heard it, the proclamation of the Gospel is a necessity for those who love the Master.

Today, the Church’s mission is faced by the challenge of meeting the needs of all people to return to their roots and to protect the values of their respective cultures. This means knowing and respecting other traditions and philosophical systems, and realising that all peoples and cultures have the right to be helped from within their own traditions to enter into the mystery of God’s wisdom and to accept the Gospel of Jesus, who is light and transforming strength for all cultures.

Within this complex dynamic, we ask ourselves: 'Who are the first to whom the Gospel message must be proclaimed?'. The answer, found so often throughout the Gospel, is clear: it is the poor, the little ones and the sick, those who are often looked down upon or forgotten, those who cannot repay us. Evangelisation directed preferentially to the least among us is a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring: 'There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them'. This must be clear above all to those who embrace the consecrated missionary life: by the vow of poverty, they choose to follow Christ in his preference for the poor, not ideologically, but in the same way that he identified himself with the poor: by living like them amid the uncertainties of everyday life and renouncing all claims to power, and in this way to become brothers and sisters of the poor, bringing them the witness of the joy of the Gospel and a sign of God’s love.

Living as Christian witnesses and as signs of the Father’s love among the poor and underprivileged, consecrated persons are called to promote the presence of the lay faithful in the service of Church’s mission. As the Second Vatican Council stated: 'The laity should cooperate in the Church's work of evangelisation; as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her saving mission'. Consecrated missionaries need to generously welcome those who are willing to work with them, even for a limited period of time, for an experience in the field. They are brothers and sisters who want to share the missionary vocation inherent in Baptism. The houses and structures of the missions are natural places to welcome them and to provide for their human, spiritual and apostolic support.

The Church’s Institutes and Missionary Congregations are completely at the service of those who do not know the Gospel of Jesus. This means that they need to count on the charisms and missionary commitment of their consecrated members. But consecrated men and women also need a structure of service, an expression of the concern of the Bishop of Rome, in order to ensure koinonia, for cooperation and synergy are an integral part of the missionary witness. Jesus made the unity of his disciples a condition so that the world may believe. This convergence is not the same as legalism or institutionalism, much less a stifling of the creativity of the Spirit, who inspires diversity. It is about giving a greater fruitfulness to the Gospel message and promoting that unity of purpose which is also the fruit of the Spirit.

The Missionary Societies of the Successor of Peter have a universal apostolic horizon. This is why they also need the many charisms of consecrated life, to address the vast horizons of evangelisation and to be able to ensure adequate presence in whatever lands they are sent.

Dear brothers and sisters, a true missionary is passionate for the Gospel. St. Paul said: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!'. The Gospel is the source of joy, liberation and salvation for all men and women. The Church is aware of this gift, and therefore she ceaselessly proclaims to everyone 'what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes'. The mission of the servants of the Word – bishops, priests, religious and laity – is to allow everyone, without exception, to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. In the full range of the Church’s missionary activity, all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each. A generous response to this universal vocation can be offered by consecrated men and women through an intense life of prayer and union with the Lord and his redeeming sacrifice.

To Mary, Mother of the Church and model of missionary outreach, I entrust all men and women who, in every state of life work to proclaim the Gospel, ad gentes or in their own lands. To all missionaries of the Gospel I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing”.


Francis prays with the Pentecostal evangelical pastors of Phoenix for the unity of the Church


Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – The diocese of Phoenix, U.S.A., has organised a day of dialogue and prayer, on the eve of Pentecost, with a group of evangelical pastors of Pentecostal orientation, including the Italian Giovanni Traettino, whom Pope Francis visited during his trip to Caserta. The Holy Father participated with a video message, screened yesterday afternoon at the opening of the meeting (during the night in Europe), ample extracts of which are given below:

“'Father, may we be one so that the world may believe you sent me'. This is the slogan, the theme of the meeting: Christ’s prayer to the Father for the grace of unity. Today, Saturday … I will be with you spiritually and with all my heart. We will search together, we will pray together, for the grace of unity. The unity that is budding among us is that unity which begins under the seal of the one Baptism we have all received. It is the unity we are seeking along a common path. It is the spiritual unity of prayer for one another. It is the unity of our common labour on behalf of our brothers and sisters, and all those who believe in the sovereignty of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, division is a wound in the body of the Church of Christ. And we do not want this wound to remain open. Division is the work of the father of Lies, the father of Discord, who does everything possible to keep us divided.

“Together today, I here in Rome and you over there, we will ask our Father to send the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and to give us the grace to be one, 'so that the world may believe'. I wish to say something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps. But there is someone who 'knows' that, despite our differences, we are one. It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom. He knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic … he doesn’t care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we are living an 'ecumenism of blood'. This must encourage us to do what we are doing today: to pray, to dialogue together, to shorten the distance between us, to strengthen our bonds of brotherhood.

“I am convinced it will not be theologians who bring about unity among us. Theologians help us, the science of the theologians will assist us, but if we hope that theologians will agree with one another, we will reach unity the day after Judgement Day. The Holy Spirit brings about unity. Theologians are helpful, but most helpful is the goodwill of us all who are on this journey with our hearts open to the Holy Spirit! In all humility, I join you as just another participant on this day of prayer, friendship, closeness and reflection. In the certainty that we have one Lord: Jesus is the Lord. In the certainty that this Lord is alive: Jesus is alive, the Lord lives in each one of us. In the certainty that He has sent the Spirit He promised us so that this 'harmony' among all His disciples might be realised”.


The Pope to Christian workers' association: fight for free, creative, participatory and fraternal work


Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) - “We must ensure that through work – free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive – human beings may express and increase the dignity of their lives”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience the members of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI), who celebrate the 70th anniversary of their foundation this year.

The Holy Father took the opportunity to reflect on the scale and urgency of the employment problem in today's world and the need to propose equitable, fraternal and genuinely practicable solutions. “The spread of precariousness, illegal work and organised crime, especially among the younger generations, ensure that the lack of work robs dignity and obstructs the fullness of human life. This demands an immediate and vigorous response”, he said, then indicating the four features that should be present in all work.

Firstly, work must be free: the true freedom of work means that man, continuing the work of the Creator, ensures that the world reaches its objective. Too often, however, work is a vehicle for oppression at several levels: man against another man; new forms of organised slavery that oppress the poorest. “In particular, many children and women suffer as the result of an economy that obliges them to carry out undignified work that contradicts creation in its beauty and harmony. We must ensure that work is not a tool of alienation, but rather of hope and new life”.

Creative work allows one to use his or her unique and original abilities. This is achieved “when man is permitted to express with freedom and creativity in certain forms of activity, in collaborative work conducted in the community that enable full economic and social development to him and to others. We cannot clip the wings of those, especially the young, who have much to give with their intelligence and capacities; they must be freed of the burdens that oppress them and prevent them from fully entering the world of work as soon as possible”.

Participatory work corresponds to the relational dimension of the person, and involves the establishment of responsible bonds of collaboration. However, “when, due to an 'economistic' vision … others are regarded as a means and not an end, work loses its primary meaning as the continuation of God's work, a work destined for all humanity, so that all may benefit”.

Finally, mutually supportive work means responding to the many men and women who have lost their jobs or are seeking employment, above all with closeness and solidarity. Associations such as the ACLI, as places of welcome and encounter, must also identify opportunities for formation and professional training.

Francis went on to refer to some key aspects of the ACLI. The first is its presence outside Italy, which began with the phase of Italian emigration and continues to be valuable since many young people leave Italy to seek work pertinent to their studies or to enrich their professional experience. “Support them on their path”, he said. “In their eyes you may see the reflection of your parents or grandparents who travelled far to work”.

The Association is also engaged in the battle against poverty and that of the impoverishment of the middle classes. “Offering support, not only of an economic nature, to those below the poverty line, who have increased in number in Italy in recent years, can bring benefits to all of society. At the same time, those who yesterday lived a dignified life must be prevented from slipping into poverty. It takes very little these days to become poor: the loss of a job, an elderly relative who is no longer self-sufficient, sickness in the family, or even – think of this terrible paradox – the birth of a child. It is an important cultural battle, that of ensuring that welfare is considered to be the infrastructure of development rather than a cost. You can act as a coordinator and motor for the 'alliance against poverty', which proposes the development of a national plan for decent and dignified work”.

“Christian inspiration and the popular dimension determine that way of understanding and implementing the ACLI's historic triple fidelity to workers, democracy and the Church. In the current context, it may be said that these three attitudes may be summarised in one, new and simple: fidelity to the poor”.


Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero: a martyr who knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock


Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, president of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador, for the beatification of Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez, former archbishop of the same archdiocese and martyr, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980. The the beatification Mass, celebrated in Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo in the Salvadoran capital, was attended by the Pope's special envoy Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The following is the full text of the letter:

“The beatification of Msgr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamex, who was the pastor of this beloved archdiocese, is a cause for great joy for Salvadorans and for those who rejoice in the example of the best sons of the Church. Msgr. Romero, who built peace with the strength of love, bore witness to faith, giving his life to the extreme.

The Lord never abandons His people in difficulties, and always shows solicitude to its needs. He sees oppression, He hears the cries of pain of His children, and he comes to their aid to free them from oppression and to lead them to a new land, of 'milk and honey', fertile and spacious. Just as He chose Moses to guide His people in His name, He continues to raise pastors after His own heart, who graze His flock with wisdom and prudence.

In this beautiful central American country, bathed by the Pacific Ocean, the Lord granted His Church a zealous bishop who, loving God and serving his brothers, converted himself in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. In times of difficult co-existence, Msgr. Romero knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock, remaining faithful to the Gospel and in communion with all the Church. His ministry was distinguished by his particular care for the poorest and most marginalised. And at the moment of his death, as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace of fully identifying himself with He Who gave His life for his flock.

On this day of celebration for the Salvadoran nation, and also for our brother countries in Latin America, let us give thanks to God for granting to the bishop martyr the capacity to see and hear the suffering of his people, and for forming his heart so that, in His name, he was guided and enlightened, and his work was filled with Christian charity.

The voice of the newly Blessed continues to resonate today, reminding us that the Church, a convocation of brothers around the Lord, is the family of God, in which there should be no division. Faith in Jesus Christ, when it is well understood and its full consequences are realised, generates communities that are builders of peace and solidarity. This is what the Church is called to do today in El Salvador, America and the world at large: to be rich in mercy, to convert into leaven for reconciliation for society.

Msgr. Romero invites us to good sense and reflection, respect for life and harmony. It is necessary to reject 'the violence of the sword, of hatred' and to live 'the violence of love, which caused Christ to be nailed to a cross, which enables us all to overcome our selfishness and ensures there may no longer be such cruel inequalities between us'. He was able to see and to experience in his own flesh 'the selfishness that lurks in those who do not wish to give what is theirs for the benefit of others'. And, with a father's heart, he cared for the 'poor majority', urging the powerful to transform their weapons into ploughshares.

May those who regard Msgr. Romero as a friend in faith, those who invoke him as a protector and intercessor, those who admire him, find in him the strength and encouragement to build the Kingdom of God, and to commit themselves to creating a more equitable and dignified social order.

It is the right time for true national reconciliation when faced with today's challenges. The Pope participates in your hopes, and unites himself to your prayers so that the seed of martyrdom may flourish and become entrenched in the true paths of the sons and daughters of that nation, which proudly bears the name of the divine Saviour of the World.

Dear brother, I ask you to pray and to ask for prayers for me, and I impart my apostolic blessing to all those who join in any way in the celebration of the new Blessed”.


Pope's message for the Second International Conference on Women


Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Pope has sent a message of greetings and encouragement to the participants in the Second International Conference on Women held in Rome, and which today comes to an end. The event was organised by the Pontifical Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, in cooperation with the World Union of Women’s Catholic Organisations and the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family, on the theme “Women and the post-2015 development agenda: the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

“Women face a variety of challenges and difficulties in various parts of the world”, he writes. “In the West, at times they still experience discrimination in the workplace; they are often forced to choose between work and family; they not infrequently suffer violence in their lives as fiancees, wives, mothers, sisters and grandmothers. In poor and developing countries, women bear the heaviest burdens: it is they who travel many miles in search of water, who too often die in childbirth, who are kidnapped for sexual exploitation or forced into marriages at a young age or against their will. At times they are even denied the right to life simply for being female. All of these problems are reflected in the proposals for the post-2015 Development Agenda currently being discussed in the United Nations.

“Issues relating to life are intrinsically connected to social questions. When we defend the right to life, we do so in order that each life – from conception to its natural end – may be a dignified life, one free from the scourge of hunger and poverty, of violence and persecution. Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, highlighted how the Church 'forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalised'.

“I encourage you, who are engaged in defending the dignity of women and promoting their rights, to allow yourselves to be constantly guided by the spirit of humanity and compassion in the service of your neighbour. May your work be marked first and foremost by professional competence, without self-interest or superficial activism, but with generous dedication. In this way you will manifest the countless God-given gifts which women have to offer, encouraging others to promote sensitivity, understanding and dialogue in settling conflicts big and small, in healing wounds, in nurturing all life at every level of society, and in embodying the mercy and tenderness which bring reconciliation and unity to our world. All this is part of that 'feminine genius' of which our society stands in such great need”.


Audiences


Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Boyko Borissov, prime minister of Bulgaria, and entourage;

- Nikola Gruevski, president of the government of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with his wife and entourage.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria, as apostolic nuncio to Pakistan.

- Sergio Melillo as bishop of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia (area 781, population 74,970, Catholics 74,270, priests 44, permanent deacons 8, religious 80), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1955 in Avellino, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1989. A licentiate in dogmatic theology, he has exercised his pastoral ministry in the diocese of Avellino in the roles of parish priest, vice director of diocesan Caritas and parish vicar of the Cathedral. He has also served as lecturer in dogmatic theology at the “San Giuseppe Moscati” Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, lecturer in religious culture the Avellino “Università della Terza Età”. He is currently vicar general and a member of the presbyteral council and college of consultors.

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.

Audiences


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.
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service