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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Programme of Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Turkey


Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today confirmed that His Holiness Francis, accepting the invitation issued by the civil authorities, His Holiness Bartolomaios I and the bishops, will make an apostolic trip to Turkey from 28 to 30 November 2014, during which he will visit Ankara and Istanbul.

The Pope will leave on the morning of Friday 28 from Rome's Fiumicino Airport, and will arrive at Esenboga Airport, Ankara at approximately 1 pm. He will first visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk, after which he will transfer to the presidential palace where he will be received by the president of the Republic and the authorities, to be followed by a meeting with the Prime Minister. He will subsequently visit the president of Religious Affairs in the Diyanet.

On the following day, Saturday 29, the Holy Father will travel by air to Istanbul where he will visit the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, and the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, where he will celebrate Mass. Later, in the patriarchal Church of St. George, there will be an ecumenical prayer and a private meeting with His Holiness Bartholomaios I.

On Sunday 30 Pope Francis will celebrate Mass privately with the apostolic delegation. In the patriarchal Church of St. George a divine liturgy will take place, followed by an ecumenical blessing and the signing of the Joint Declaration. In the afternoon the Holy Father will return to Istanbul Airport to return to Rome, where he is expected to arrive, at Fiumicino Airport, at 6.40 p.m.


The responsibility to protect and the rule of law


Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – A state based on the principles of rule of law and justice was the central theme of the address given on 13 October at the United Nations in New York by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations, during the 69th session of the General Assembly.

“While commitment to the rule of law would appear to be universal, there nonetheless remains persistent disagreement about the definition of 'the rule of law'. The Holy See Delegation has endorsed a definition of the rule of law, which is both rationally and morally grounded upon the substantial principles of justice, including the inalienable dignity and value of every human person prior to any law or social consensus; and, as a consequence of the recognition of this dignity, those elements of fundamental justice such as respect for the principle of legality (Nullum crimen sine lege), the presumption of innocence and the right to due process. Likewise, regarding relations among States, the rule of law means the paramount respect of human rights, equality of the rights of nations; and respect for international customary law, treaties (Pacta sunt servanda) and other sources of international law. This definition, with its reference point in the natural law, sidesteps self-referential definitional frameworks and anchors the orientation of the rule of law within the ultimate and essential goal of all law, namely to promote and guarantee the dignity of the human person and the common good.

“For this reason, in future debates of the rule of law my delegation would welcome increased attention to the human person and the society in which he or she lives, because, in addition to the police force, courts, judges, prosecutors and the rest of the legal infrastructure, the rule of law is unattainable without social trust, solidarity, civic responsibility, good governance and moral education. The family, religious communities and civil society play indispensable roles in creating a society that can promote public integrity and sustain the rule of law. As Pope Francis affirmed: 'When a society, whether local, national or global, is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquillity'. This is why the promotion of the rule of law needs to be indispensably supported and verified by prioritising the allocation of public resources to human integral development.

Archbishop Auza went on to observe that the UN Charter and the mandates contained within its purposes and principles are at the centre of the international framework governing rule of law. “In the exercise of these powers, it is appropriate to emphasise the commitment of States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for, and the promotion and protection of, all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. If the international rule of law is to reflect justice, frameworks to international protection of persons must be fairly and impartially applied by States to guarantee equal recourse to the protections available under the UN Charter. I refer here in particular to religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East and other regions awaiting urgent measures to effect this protection, including through further legal elaboration of the responsibility to protect”.

He continued, “the 'responsibility to protect' is a recognition of the equality of all before the law, based on the innate dignity of every man and woman. The Holy See wishes to reaffirm that every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights and from the consequences of humanitarian crises. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the UN Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, cannot be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty”.

Finally, the nuncio reiterated that the Holy See hopes that the “alarming, escalating phenomenon of international terrorism, new in some of its expressions and utterly ruthless in its barbarity, be an occasion for a deeper and more urgent study on how to re-enforce the international juridical framework of a multilateral application of our common responsibility to protect people from all forms of unjust aggression”.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Francis in the Consistory: we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians


Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the New Synod Hall, there commenced the Ordinary Public Consistory, presided at by Pope Francis, for the canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz, priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory of the Holy Cross of Miracles in Goa. and Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception, foundress of the Oblation Sisters of the Holy Sacrament.

The Holy Father wished to dedicate the opening of the Consistory to the Middle East, and in particular, the situation experienced by Christians. Francis thanked those brothers from the region for their presence, remarking that “We share a desire for peace and stability in the Middle East, and the will the promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue, reconciliation and political commitment. At the same time, we would like to give all the help possible to Christian communities to support them in remaining in the region. … We cannot resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians, who have profess the name of Jesus there for over two thousand years”.

The Pope emphasised his concerns regarding recent events, especially in Iraq and Syria. “We are witnessing a phenomenon of terrorism on an unimaginable scale”, he commented. “Many of our brothers and sisters are brutally persecuted and driven from their homes. It seems that an awareness of the value of human life has been lost; it as is if people do not count and can be sacrificed to other interests. And unfortunately all this encounters indifference on the part of many”.

“This unjust situation requires, aside from our constant prayer, an adequate response on the part of the international community. I am sure that, with the Lord's help, today's meeting will produce valid reflections and suggestions to enable us to help our brothers who suffer, and also to face the crisis of the reduction of the Christian presence in the land where Christianity was born and from where it spread”.

Pope Francis closes the Synod and beatifies Paul VI


Vatican City, 19 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Mass celebrated at 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square this morning, during which Pope Paul VI was proclaimed Blessed, closed the Synod of Bishops devoted to “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. The ceremony was attended by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 70,000 faithful from all over the world, and the Holy Father concelebrated with the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops and presbyters who took part in the Synod.

Following the rite of beatification and the Gospel reading, Francis pronounced a homily in which he emphasised that during the Synod, the participants felt “felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church ... called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost it”. He described the new Blessed as a “courageous Christian, a tireless apostle and the great helmsman of the Council”.

“We have just heard one of the most famous phrases in the entire Gospel: 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s'. Goaded by the Pharisees who want to put him to the test in matters of religion, Jesus gives this ironic and brilliant reply. It is a striking phrase which the Lord has bequeathed to all those who experience qualms of conscience, particularly when their comfort, their wealth, their prestige, their power and their reputation are in question. This happens all the time; it always has”.

He continued, “Jesus puts the stress on the second part of the phrase: 'and [render] to God the things that are God’s'. This means acknowledging and professing – in the face of any sort of power – that God alone is the Lord of mankind, that there is no other. This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises. God is not afraid of the new! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us 'new'. A Christian who lives the Gospel is 'God’s newness' in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this 'newness'!”.

“'Rendering to God the things that are God’s' means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace. Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavour to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest – with our feet firmly planted on the ground – and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way”.

“In these days, during the extraordinary Synod of Bishops, we have seen how true this is. 'Synod' means 'journeying together'. And indeed pastors and lay people from every part of the world have come to Rome, bringing the voice of their particular Churches in order to help today’s families walk the path the Gospel with their gaze fixed on Jesus. It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church. For the Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost it. For the gift of this Synod and for the constructive spirit which everyone has shown, in union with the Apostle Paul 'we give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers'. May the Holy Spirit, who during these busy days has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity, continue to guide the journey which, in the Churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015. We have sown and we continued to sow, patiently and perseveringly, in the certainty that it is the Lord who gives growth to what we have sown”.

Pope Francis went on to focus on the figure of Pope Paul VI, recalling on the day of his beatification the words with which he established the Synod of Bishops: “by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods… to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society”.

“When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thank you. Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI! Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church. In his personal journal, the great helmsman of the Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: 'Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour'”.

The Holy Father concluded, “In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularised and hostile society, he was able to hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord. Paul VI truly 'rendered to God what is God’s' by devoting his whole life to the 'sacred, solemn and serious task of continuing in history and extending on earth the mission of Christ', loving the Church and leading her so that she might be 'a loving mother of the whole human family and at the same time the minister of its salvation'”.


Angelus: Paul VI, tireless supporter of the missio ad gentes


Vatican City, 19 October 2014 (VIS) – Following the Holy Mass for the closure of the Synod of Bishops and before praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims from Italy, especially the dioceses of Brescia, Milan and Roma, closely linked to the life and ministry of Paul VI.

The new Blessed, said Pope Francis, was a tireless supporter of the missio ad gentes, as shown above all by the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii nuntiandi”, with which he sought to reawaken “zeal for and commitment to the mission of the Church. It is important to conside this aspect of Paul VI's papacy today, the very day we celebrate World Mission Sunday”.

“Before invoking Our Lady together with the Angelus prayer, I would like to underline Blessed Paul VI's profound marian devotion. The Christian people will always be grateful to this pontiff for the apostolic exhortation 'Marialis cultus' and for having proclaimed Mary as 'Mother of the Church', on the occasion of the closure of the third session of Vatican Council II. Mary, Queen of the Saints and Mother of the Church, help us to faithfully fulfil the Lord's will in our life, as the new Blessed did”.


The Final Report and votes conclude the work of the Synod of Bishops


Vatican City, 19 October 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the work of the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”, concluded with a final synodal report (Relatio Synodi), the different points of which were subject to a vote by the Synod Fathers. The Holy Father authorised the immediate publication of the full text of the Relatio Synodi, which will provide the focus for reflection by all the Episcopal Conferences throughout the world this year in preparation for the Synod Assembly in October 2015, and which was approved by a majority of Synod Fathers. He also authorised the publication of the number of votes for each point. The full text of the Relatio Synodi in Italian and the result of the votes may be consulted at:

http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0770/03044.html


The Pope speaks to the Synod Fathers: we walk a path together


Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – At the end of the fifteenth and final general congregation, and after the votes had been cast, Pope Francis addressed the Synod Fathers, affirming that during these two weeks the participants in the Third Extraordinary General Assembly have truly experienced synodality, a path of solidarity, a “journey together”.

However, Pope Francis observed, as in every journey there were moments of travelling smoothly and swiftly, as if wishing to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible, and moments of fatigue, of wanting to say “enough”, and at other times, moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and pains of the faithful; moments of consolation, grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and joy of married life. It is a journey during which the stronger are compelled to help those who are less strong, and the more experienced lend themselves to serve others, also through debate.

He continued by remarking that since it is a journey taken by human beings, there have also been moments of disappointment, tension and temptation, of which he gave five examples. The first is the temptation to hostile inflexibility, closing oneself within the written word, the letter of the law, rather than the spirit, not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, and cleaving to the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. This, he said, is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and the so-called “traditionalists and intellectuals.

Then there is the temptation of “do-goodism”, that in the name of deceptive mercy binds wounds without first treating and healing them; that addresses symptoms rather than causes and roots. It is the temptation of do-gooders, of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals”.

The third temptation is to transform stones into bread to break the long, hard, and painful fast; and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick; to transform it into unbearable burdens. The fourth is the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, rather than remaining there in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and turning it to the Spirit of God. Finally, there is the temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei”, thinking of ourselves not as guardians but as its owners or masters; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous and pompous language to say much yet at the same time to say nothing.

However, the Holy Father commented these temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, as no disciple is greater than his master, so if Jesus Himself was tempted, and even called Beelzebul, then His disciples should not expect better treatment. He added that he would be worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions, this movement of the spirits, as it was called by St. Ignatius; if all were in a state of agreement or silent in false, quietist peace.

Instead, he expressed his joy at having heard speeches and interventions full of faith, pastoral and doctrinal zeal, wisdom, frankness, courage, and parrhesia, since what was set before the eyes of the Synod Fathers was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law”, the “salus animarum”. This occurred without ever calling into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage, its indissolubility, unity, faithfulness, fruitfulness, and openness to life.

Pope Francis went on to emphasise that the Church is the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on wounds; who does not regard humanity from a glass house, ready to judge or categorise people. The Church is one, holy, Catholic, apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God's mercy. The Church is the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine; she is not afraid to dine and drink with prostitutes and publicans. Her doors are wide open to receive the needy, the repentant, and not only those who consider themselves perfect. The Church is not ashamed of the brother who has fallen, pretending not to see him, but on the contrary is involved and obliged to lift him up and set him on the path again, accompanying him to the definitive encounter with her spouse, in heavenly Jerusalem.

This, he continued, is the Church, our Mother. And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. This should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators have imagined that they see a quarrelsome Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners. The Pope emphasised the need to live through all this calmly and with inner peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro, with the presence of the Pope as a guarantee for all.

The duty of the Pope, he remarked, is to guarantee the unity of the Church, to remind the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow Christ's Gospel and to remind the pastors that their first duty is to nurture the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek the lost sheep with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears. His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, when he stated that the Church is called and commits herself to exercising this kind of authority which is service … not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ ... through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter … to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community.

As the Council stated, the Church's role is to ensure that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free. It is through us, Pope Benedict continues, that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord; this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant, gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope.

Therefore, said the Pontiff, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – “Il servus servorum Dei”, the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, setting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful and despite enjoying supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church.

Finally, Francis reminded those present that there remains a year before the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in which to develop, with true spiritual discernment, the ideas that have been proposed, and to find concrete solutions to many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families. There is a year to work on the “Relatio Synodi”, the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. He concluded by asking the Lord to accompany and guide all the participants in the Synod in their journey.


Audience with the Prime Minister of Vietnam: important step in relations with the Holy See


Vatican City, 18 October 2014 (VIS) – Today His Holiness Pope Francis received in audience the prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of the cordial conversations, the Parties expressed their satisfaction at today’s meeting, which marks an important step in the process of strengthening bilateral relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, this being the second visit of Prime Minister Dung to the Vatican, following that of 2007. The Church’s commitment to contributing to the development of the country, thanks to its presence in various areas which benefit society as a whole, was highlighted. In this context, sincere appreciation was expressed for the support given by the Authorities to the Catholic community in keeping with the developments sanctioned by the Constitution of 2013 with regard to religious policy, as well as for the assistance given to the non-resident Papal Representative of the Holy See to Vietnam in the discharge of his mission, which is aimed at promoting relations between Church and State with a view also to the common objective of diplomatic relations. The Parties then discussed some issues which, it is hoped, will be further examined and resolved through the existing channels of dialogue.

Finally, there was an exchange of views on some current regional and international issues, with particular reference to initiatives aimed at promoting peace and stability in the Asian continent.


Christians and Hindus: together to foster a culture of inclusion


Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – “Christians and Hindus: together to foster a culture of inclusion” is the theme of the Message addressed to followers of Hinduism by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights, to be celebrated on 23 October this year. The document was co-authored by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary of the same dicastery.

“It is true that globalisation has opened many new frontiers and provided fresh opportunities to develop, among other things, better educational and healthcare facilities”, according to the text. “It has ushered in a greater awareness of democracy and social justice in the world, and our planet has truly become a 'global village' due in large part to modern means of communication and transportation. It can also be said, however, that globalisation has not achieved its primary objective of integrating local peoples into the global community. Rather, globalisation has contributed significantly to many peoples losing their sociocultural, economic and political identities”.

“The negative effects of globalisation have also had an impact on religious communities throughout the world since they are intimately related to surrounding cultures. In fact, globalisation has contributed to the fragmentation of society and to an increase in relativism and syncretism in religious matters, as well as bringing about a privatisation of religion. Religious fundamentalism and ethnic, tribal and sectarian violence in different parts of the world today are largely manifestations of the discontent, uncertainty and insecurity among peoples, particularly the poor and marginalised who have been excluded from the benefits of globalisation”.

“The negative consequences of globalisation, such as widespread materialism and consumerism, moreover, have made people more self-absorbed, power-hungry and indifferent to the rights, needs and sufferings of others. This, in the words of Pope Francis, has led to a globalisation of indifference which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves. Such indifference gives rise to a 'culture of exclusion' in which the poor, marginalised and vulnerable are denied their rights, as well as the opportunities and resources that are available to other members of society. They are treated as insignificant, dispensable, burdensome, unnecessary, to be used and even discarded like objects. In various ways, the exploitation of children and women, the neglect of the elderly, sick, differently-abled, migrants and refugees, and the persecution of minorities are sure indicators of this culture of exclusion”.

“Nurturing a culture of inclusion thus becomes a common call and a shared responsibility, which must be urgently undertaken. It is a project involving those who care for the health and survival of the human family here on earth and which needs to be carried out amidst, and in spite of, the forces that perpetuate the culture of exclusion”.

“As people grounded in our own respective religious traditions and with shared convictions, may we, Hindus and Christians, join together with followers of other religions and with people of good will to foster a culture of inclusion for a just and peaceful society”.


Audiences


Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – On the afternoon of Friday, 17 October, the Holy Father received in audience Park Geun-hye, president of the Republic of Korea, and entourage.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Rev. Can. Gyorgy Snell as auxiliary of the diocese of Esztergom-Budapest (area 1,543, population 2,088,000, Catholics 1,254,000, priests 443, permanent deacons 23, religious 734), Hungary. The bishop-elect was born in Kiskiralysag, Hungary in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1972. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy parish priest in Kiskunlachaz-Pereg and Budapest-Rakoskeresztur, parish priest in Budapest-Rakoskeresztur, and dean. He is currently priest of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, director of the diocesan superintendency for Catholic schools, and canon of the metropolitan chapter.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Mati, Philippines, presented by Bishop Patricio H. Alo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law


On Saturday, 18 October, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the metropolitan archdiocese of Malta, presented by Archbishop Paul Cremona, O.P., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law;

- appointed Bishop Norbert Turini of Cahors, France, as bishop of Perpignan-Elne (area 4,116, population 454,737, Catholics 302,600, priests 85, permanent deacons 20, religious 79), France.

- appointed new members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and renewed the mandate of members of the previous five-year term. The aforementioned Commission for the 2014-2019 is composed of the following members:

Rev. Knut Backhaus, Germany;
Fr. Pietro Bovati, S.J., Italy;
Sister Nuria Calduch Benages, M.N., Spain;
Rev. Eduardo Cordova Gonzalez, Mexico;
Professor Bruna Costacurta, Italy;
Msgr. Pierre Deberge, France;
Rev. Juan Miguel Diaz Rodelas, Spain;
Rev. Luis Henrique Eloy e Silva, Brazil;
Pr. Francolino Goncalves, O.P., Portugal;
Rev. Adrian Graffy, Great Britain;
Professor Mary E. Healy, United States of America;
Rev. John ChijiokeIwe, Nigeria;
Rev. Thomas Manjaly, India;
Rev. Hugo Orlando Martinez Aldana, Colombia;
Rev. Levente Balazs Martos, Hungary;
Rev. Jean Bosco Matand Bulembat, Democratic Republic of Congo;
Rev. Fearghus O'Fearghail, Ireland;
Rev. Johan Yeong-Sik Pahk, Korea;
Rev. Eleuterio Ramon Ruiz, Argentina;
Rev. Henryk Jozef Witczyk, Poland.

- appointed Professor Yves Coppens, lecturer in paleoanthropology and prehistory at the College de France in Paris, France, and Professor Ada E. Yonath, lecturer in biochemistry and director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, as ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Message of the Synod Assembly on the pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation

Vatican City, 18 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the Message of the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation” (5-19 October). The speakers were Cardinals Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, delegate president; Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and president of the Commission for the Message and Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India. The full text of the message is published below:

We, Synod Fathers, gathered in Rome together with Pope Francis in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, greet all families of the different continents and in particular all who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We admire and are grateful for the daily witness which you offer us and the world with your fidelity, faith, hope, and love.

Each of us, pastors of the Church, grew up in a family, and we come from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. As priests and bishops we have lived alongside families who have spoken to us and shown us the saga of their joys and their difficulties.

The preparation for this synod assembly, beginning with the questionnaire sent to the Churches around the world, has given us the opportunity to listen to the experience of many families. Our dialogue during the Synod has been mutually enriching, helping us to look at the complex situations which face families today.

We offer you the words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me”. On his journeys along the roads of the Holy Land, Jesus would enter village houses. He continues to pass even today along the streets of our cities. In your homes there are light and shadow. Challenges often present themselves and at times even great trials. The darkness can grow deep to the point of becoming a dense shadow when evil and sin work into the heart of the family.

We recognise the great challenge to remain faithful in conjugal love. Enfeebled faith and indifference to true values, individualism, impoverishment of relationships, and stress that excludes reflection leave their mark on family life. There are often crises in marriage, often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic, where the Christian choice is not obvious.

We think also of the burden imposed by life in the suffering that can arise with a child with special needs, with grave illness, in deterioration of old age, or in the death of a loved one. We admire the fidelity of so many families who endure these trials with courage, faith, and love. They see them not as a burden inflicted on them, but as something in which they themselves give, seeing the suffering Christ in the weakness of the flesh.

We recall the difficulties caused by economic systems, by the “the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” which weakens the dignity of people. We remember unemployed parents who are powerless to provide basic needs for their families, and youth who see before them days of empty expectation, who are prey to drugs and crime.

We think of so many poor families, of those who cling to boats in order to reach a shore of survival, of refugees wandering without hope in the desert, of those persecuted because of their faith and the human and spiritual values which they hold. These are stricken by the brutality of war and oppression. We remember the women who suffer violence and exploitation, victims of human trafficking, children abused by those who ought to have protected them and fostered their development, and the members of so many families who have been degraded and burdened with difficulties. “The culture of prosperity deadens us…. all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us”. We call on governments and international organizations to promote the rights of the family for the common good.

Christ wanted his Church to be a house with doors always open to welcome everyone. We warmly thank our pastors, lay faithful, and communities who accompany couples and families and care for their wounds.

***
There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says, when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”.

This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigour and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved. In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.

This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people.

This journey is sometimes a mountainous trek with hardships and falls. God is always there to accompany us. The family experiences his presence in affection and dialogue between husband and wife, parents and children, sisters and brothers. They embrace him in family prayer and listening to the Word of God—a small, daily oasis of the spirit. They discover him every day as they educate their children in the faith and in the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel, a life of holiness. Grandparents also share in this task with great affection and dedication. The family is thus an authentic domestic Church that expands to become the family of families which is the ecclesial community. Christian spouses are called to become teachers of faith and of love for young couples as well.

Another expression of fraternal communion is charity, giving, nearness to those who are last, marginalized, poor, lonely, sick, strangers, and families in crisis, aware of the Lord’s word, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. It is a gift of goods, of fellowship, of love and mercy, and also a witness to the truth, to light, and to the meaning of life.

The high point which sums up all the threads of communion with God and neighbor is the Sunday Eucharist when the family and the whole Church sits at table with the Lord. He gives himself to all of us, pilgrims through history towards the goal of the final encounter when “Christ is all and in all”. In the first stage of our Synod itinerary, therefore, we have reflected on how to accompany those who have been divorced and remarried and on their participation in the sacraments.

We Synod Fathers ask you walk with us towards the next Synod. The presence of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their modest home hovers over you. United to the Family of Nazareth, we raise to the Father of all our petition for the families of the world:
Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.

Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.

Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.

Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.

Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy”.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Francis on World Food Day: to defeat hunger it is necessary to change the paradigm of aid and development policies


Vatican City, 17 October 2014 (VIS) – World Food Day, held on 16 October, was instituted in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in order to raise public awareness and strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father sent a message to the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, extensive extracts of which are published below.

“Again this year, World Food Day echoes the cries of our many brothers and sisters who, in many parts of the world, do not have enough to eat each day. … Despite the progress that is being achieved in many countries, recent data continue to indicate a troubling situation, contributed to by the general reduction of public development aid”.

“The theme proposed by the FAO for this year's World Food Day – 'Family farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth' – highlights the need to begin with people, as individuals or in groups, to propose new forms and methods of management for different aspects of nutrition. Specifically, it is necessary to give greater acknowledgement of the role of the rural family, and to develop its full potential. ... Indeed, the family promotes dialogue between generations and provides the foundation for a true social integration, aside from representing that hoped-for synergy between agricultural work and sustainability; who, more than the rural family, is concerned with preserving nature for generations to come? And who, more than the rural family, has at heart cohesion between people and social groups?”

“Defending rural communities from the serious threats posed by human action or natural disasters must not merely be a strategy but rather a form of permanent action aimed at promoting their participation in decision-making, at making appropriate technologies available, and extending their use, always with respect for the natural environment. Acting in this way can alter the methods of international cooperation and aid for the hungry and malnourished. Never more than in this moment has the world needed unity between people and among nations to overcome the divisions that exist and the conflicts in progress, and above all to seek concrete ways out of a crisis that is global, but the burden of which falls mostly on the poor. … Think of the men and women, of every age and condition, who are victims of bloody conflicts and their consequent destruction and misery, the lack of housing, medical care and education, who lose every hope of a dignified life. We have an obligation towards these people, of solidarity and sharing”.

“To defeat hunger, it is not enough to meet the needs of those who are unfortunate or to help through aid and donations those who live in situations of emergency. It is necessary, instead, to change the paradigm of aid and development policies … It is also necessary to change how we understand work, economic aims and activity, food production and the protection of the environment. This is perhaps the only possibility for constructing an authentic future of peace, threatened nowadays by insecurity in relation to food”.

“The Catholic Church, on her part, while pursuing her charitable activities in the different continents, remains available to offer, enlighten and accompany both the elaboration of policies and their concrete implementation, aware that faith becomes visible by putting into practice God's plan for the human family and for the world through that profound and real fraternity that is not exclusive to Christians, but that includes all peoples”.

Pope's message to the Italian Catholic University Federation


Vatican City, 17 October 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Italian Catholic University Federation (FUCI), which is preparing to hold an extraordinary national conference in Arezzo, Italy, devoted to Pope Paul VI, who was the Central Assistant of the institution from 1925 and 1933, and who will be proclaimed blessed next Sunday.

The Holy Father assures the participants of his spiritual closeness and accompanies them in their work with three words, the first of which is “studium”. “The essence of university life is found in study, in the effort and patience of thought that reveals the importance to humanity of truth, goodness and beauty. ... Do not be satisfied with partial truths or reassuring illusions, but welcome an increasingly full comprehension of reality in your study. Doing this requires the humility to listen, and a far-sighted vision”.

The second word is “research”, which along with dialogue is at the basis of the FUCI's study method. The Pope continues, “The FUCI must always experience the humility of research, that attitude of silently accepting the unknown, the other, and of showing openness and willingness to walk alongside all those who are inspired by a restless yearning for the Truth, believers and non-believers, outsiders and marginalised. Research challenges itself continually, becoming an encounter with mystery and opening up to faith: research makes the encounter between faith, reason and science possible, enabling a harmonious dialogue between them. … By this method of research it is possible to attain an ambitious objective: to repair the fracture between the Gospel and contemporary life through the style of cultural mediation, an itinerant mediation that, without denying cultural differences – instead, recognising their value – becomes the focus of positive planning”.

The third and final word is “frontier”. “The university is a frontier that awaits you, a periphery where the existential poverty of humanity can be received and cured. Poverty in relations, in human growth, tend to fill minds without leading to the creation of a shared plan for society, a common aim, sincere fraternity. Always be sure to encounter the other, to be receptive to the 'scent' of the people of today, to be imbued with their joys and hopes, their sadness and their anguish. Do not set up barriers that, intended to defend the frontier, preclude an encounter with the Lord. … In today's culture, in particular, we need to stand alongside everyone. You will be able to overcome the clash between peoples only if you succeed in nurturing a culture of encounter and fraternity”.

Benedict XVI to attend the beatification of Paul VI


Vatican City, 17 October 2014 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will attend the beatification of Paul VI in St. Peter's Square this Sunday, according to the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. The Pope emeritus was made a cardinal by the new blessed, and the ceremony will be attended by another two cardinals created by the pontiff, author of “Populorum Progressio”: Paulo Evaristo Arns, archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and William Wakefield Baum, major penitentiary emeritus.

A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the figure of the new blessed and his relevance to the contemporary Church. The speakers were Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops; Fr. Pierantonio Lanzoni, episcopal delegate for the promotion of the memory of Paul VI in the diocese of Brescia, where the pontiff was born in the town of Concesio in 1897; Fr. Antonio Marrazzo, C.SS.R., postulator of the cause for beatification and Fr. Davide Milani, spokesperson for the diocese of Milan, where Cardinal Montini was archbishop between 1954 and 1963. This afternoon, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Fr. Angelo Maffeis, president of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia, will speak on Vatican Radio, accompanied by Fausto Montini, Paul VI's nephew.

Thousands of pilgrims will attend the beatification and the events linked to it, the first of which will take place tomorrow, Saturday 18, in the Roman Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, when Cardinal Angelo Scola, current archbishop of Milan, will preside at Vespers. At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, in St. Peter's Square, the mass of beatification will be celebrated by Pope Francis and at 9.30 a.m. on Monday 20, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Cardinal Angelo Scola will celebrate a mass of thanksgiving for the faithful of the dioceses of Milan and Brescia.

Audiences


Vatican City, 17 October 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Ecclesiastical Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow;

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

- His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans;

- Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect emeritus of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Twelfth General Congregation: evaluation and suggestions based on the post-discussion report


Vatican City, 16 October 2014 (VIS) – The twelfth General Congregation included the presentation, in the Assembly, of the Reports of the ten Small Groups, divided according to language: two in French, three in English, three in Italian and two in Spanish. In general, the Small Groups presented both an evaluation of the “Relatio post disceptationem” (RPD), a provisional document published at the midway point during the Synod, as well as proposals to incorporate in the “Relatio Synodi” (RS), the definitive and conclusive document of the Assembly.

Firstly, some perplexity was voiced regarding to the publication, although legitimate, of the RPD since, it was said, this is a working document that does not express an opinion shared univocally by all the Synod Fathers. Therefore, after expressing their appreciation of the work involved in drawing up the text and regarding its structure, the Small Groups presented their suggestions.

It was first underlined that in the RPD there is a focus on the concerns of families in crisis, without broader reference to the positive message of the Gospel of the family or to the fact that marriage as a sacrament, an indissoluble union between man and woman, retains a very current value in which many couples believe. Therefore, the hope was expressed that the RS may contain a strong message of encouragement and support for the Church and for faithful married couples.

Furthermore, it was remarked that it is essential to underline more clearly the doctrine on marriage, emphasising that it is a gift from God. It was further proposed that elements not contained in the RPD be integrated in the RS, such as the theme of adoption, expressing the hope that bureaucratic procedures be streamlined, both at national and international levels, and also the themes of biotechnology and the spread of culture via the internet, which may condition family life, as well as a note regarding the importance of policies in favour of the family.

In addition, it was said that greater attention should be paid to the presence of the elderly within families, and to families who live in conditions of extreme poverty. The grave problems of prostitution, female genital mutilation and the exploitation of minors for sexual purposes and for labour were denounced. It is important, it was said, to underline the essential role of families in evangelisation and in the transmission of faith, highlighting their missionary vocation. Overall, the aim is to offer a balanced and global idea of the “family” in a Christian sense.

With regard to difficult family situations, the Small Groups highlighted that the Church should be a welcoming home for all, in order that no-one feel refused. However, greater clarity was advocated, to avoid confusion, hesitation and euphemisms in language, regarding for example the law of gradualness, so that it does not become gradualness of the law. Various Groups, furthermore, expressed perplexity regarding the analogy made with paragraph 8 of “Lumen Gentium”, inasmuch as this could give the impression of a willingness on the part of the Church to legitimise irregular family situations, even though these may represent a phase in the itinerary towards the sacrament of marriage. Other Groups expressed their hope for a more in-depth focus on the concept of “spiritual communion”, so that it may be evaluated and eventually promoted and disseminated.

With regard to possibility of divorced and remarried persons partaking in the sacrament of the Eucharist, two main perspectives emerged: on the one hand, it was suggested that the doctrine not be modified and to remain as it is at present; on the other, to open up the possibility of communication, with an approach based on compassion and mercy, but only under certain conditions. In other cases, furthermore, it was suggested that the matter be studied by a specific interdisciplinary Commission. Greater care was suggested in relation to divorced persons who have not remarried, and who are often heroic witnesses of conjugal fidelity. At the same time, an acceleration of the procedures for acknowledging matrimonial nullity and the confirmation of validity was advocated; furthermore, it was emphasised that children are not a burden but rather a gift from God, the fruit of love between spouses.

A more “Christ-centric” orientation was required, as well as clearer emphasis of the link between the sacraments of marriage and baptism. The vision of the world must be one which passes through the lens of the Gospel, to encourage men and women to the conversion of the heart.

Furthermore, it was emphasised that, despite the impossibility of equating marriage between a man and a woman with homosexual unions, persons of this orientation must receive pastoral accompaniment and their dignity must be protected, without however implying that this may indicate a form of approval, on the part of the Church, of their orientation and way of life. With regard to the issue of polygamy, especially polygamists who convert to Catholicism and wish to partake in the sacraments, thorough study was suggested.

The Small Groups advocated broader reflection on the figure of Mary and the Holy Family, to be better promoted as a model for reference for all family units. Finally, it was asked that it be highlighted that the RS will in any case be a preparatory document for the Ordinary Synod scheduled for October 2015.


Reports of the Small Groups


Vatican City, 16 October 2014 (VIS) – The texts of the reports by the twelve Small Groups (Gallicus A and B, French; Anglicus A, B and C, English; Italicus A, B and C, Italian; Hibericus A and B, Spanish) of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, presented this morning during the twelfth General Congregation, may be consulted on the Holy See Press Office Bulletin web page, at:
http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/16/0763/03042.html


Sistine Chapel: New breath, new light


Vatican City, 16 October 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office during which the director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Antonio Paolucci, presented the international congress “The Sistine Chapel, twenty years on: new breath, new light”, which will take place from 30 to 31 October. The congress coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Sistine Chapel by St. John Paul II following the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes by the experts Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci, and with the 450th anniversary of the death of celebrated artist.

During the congress, information will be given on the new air conditioning and lighting systems in the Sistine Chapel, put into effect during the last three years. Professor Paolucci explained that the great influx of visitors – more than six million each year with peaks of more than twenty thousand each day – necessitated “a radical intervention guaranteeing the circulation of air, the reduction of dust and other contaminants, temperature and humidity control and an acceptable level of carbon dioxide, factors that, in the long term, may pose a threat to the conservation of mural paintings, in this case the 2500 square metres that constitute the most important artistic anthology of the Italian Renaissance”.

A new lighting system was also necessary, to provide gentle but total illumination, non-invasive and respecting the complex iconographic, stylistic and historic reality of the Sistine Chapel. This involved no special “spotlight” on Michelangelo, but instead providing the possibility of a calm, objective and at the same time delicate observation of every detail of “this great catechism that three popes – Sixtus IV, Julius II and Paul III – wished to display along the walls and on the ceiling of the 'chapel of the world'”.
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