Monday, December 1, 2014

Saint December 2 : St. Bibiana : Patron of hangovers, headaches, mental illness, torture victims

St. Bibiana
MARTYR
Feast: December 2
Information:
Feast Day:December 2
Born:4th century in Rome
Died:361
Patron of:against epilepsy, against hangovers, against headaches, against insanity, against mental illness, epileptics, mentally ill people, single laywomen, torture victims
The earliest mention in an authentic historical authority of St. Bibiana (Vibiana), a Roman female martyr, occurs in the "Liber Pontificalis" where in the biography of Pope Simplicius (468-483) it is stated that this pope "consecrated a basilica of the holy martyr Bibiana, which contained her body, near the 'palatium Licinianum'" (ed. Duchesne, I, 249). This basilica still exists. In the fifth century, therefore, the bodily remains of St. Bibiana rested within the city walls. We have no further historical particulars concerning the martyr or the circumstances of her death; neither do we know why she was buried in the city itself. In later times a legend sprang up concerning her, connected with the Acts of the martyrdom of Sts. John and Paul and has no historical claim to belief. According to this legend, Bibiana was the daughter of a former prefect, Flavianus, who was banished by Julian the Apostate. Dafrosa, the wife of Flavianus, and his two daughters, Demetria and Bibiana, were also persecuted by Julian. Dafrosa and Demetria died a natural death and were buried by Bibiana in their own house; but Bibiana was tortured and died as a result of her sufferings. Two days after her death a priest named John buried Bibiana near her mother and sister in her home, the house being later turned into a church. It is evident that the legend seeks to explain in this way the origin of the church and the presence in it of the bodies of the above mentioned confessors. The account contained in the martyrologies of the ninth century is drawn from the legend.sourcehttp://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stbibiana.asp

Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis


01-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 213 

Summary
To the Swiss Bishops' Conference: safeguard your country's long Christian tradition
- The Pope speaks to the press on the return flight to Rome
- Francis denounces the degrading living conditions of many refugees
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for December
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit: the Church shows fidelity to the Holy Spirit when she does not seek to control or tame Him
- Prayer at the Ecumenical Patriarchate: brothers in hope of Jesus resurrected
- Francis participates in the Divine Liturgy on the Solemnity of St. Andrew, patron of the Church of Constantinople
- Joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I: “We call on all religious leaders to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue”
29-11-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 212 
Francis at the Diyanet: violence seeking religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation
- Pope Francis visits the Museum of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque
- Cardinal Schonborn, Pope's special envoy in Kiev
To the Swiss Bishops' Conference: safeguard your country's long Christian tradition
Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received the prelates of the Swiss Bishops' Conference at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit and handed them the text of the discourse he had prepared in advance, in which he referred to the country's long Christian tradition and the responsibility of prelates to keep faith strong. “Without living faith in the risen Christ, your beautiful churches and monasteries will gradually transform into museums; all the commendable works and institutions lose their soul, leaving behind only empty spaces and abandoned people”, he writes. “The mission that has been entrusted to you is to nurture your flock, proceeding in accordance with current circumstances. … The People of God cannot exist without their pastors, bishops and priests; the Lord has given the Church the gift of the apostolic succession in the service of the unity of faith and its full transmission”.
In this way, the Pope encourages them to continue their efforts in the formation of the seminarians, which constitutes the challenge for the future of the Church, and invites them to pay attention to their priests, especially in the case of estrangement or when the meaning of episcopal paternity appears to be forgotten. “A humble, honest and fraternal dialogue often enables a new beginning”, he writes. Similarly, he urges the bishops to acknowledge the support and efforts of the laity, differentiating between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. He encourages them to continue in the formation of the baptised regarding the truths of faith and their importance to liturgy, the parish, family and life, and to carefully select personnel to permit the laity to be truly integrated in and to take their rightful place in the Church.
The Holy Father mentions that the Church was born in Pentecost when the apostles went out and spoke in all languages thus reaching all mankind through the power of the Holy Spirit, and he recalls the Redeemer's invitation to preach the Gospel to all, proclaiming the Good News without bending to the whims of man. Finally, he imparts his apostolic blessing and expresses his hope that they may continue to cultivate God's field with diligence and patience, maintaining their passion for the truth, and he encourages them to entrust the future of evangelisation in their country to the Virgin Mary and to the intercession of St. Nicolas de Flue, St. Maurice, and their companions.
The Pope speaks to the press on the return flight to Rome
Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, as is his custom, Pope Francis spoke with the journalists accompanying him on the return flight from Istanbul to Rome. The questions touched mostly on the themes of relations between Islam and Christianity, and ecumenism.
The Holy Father affirmed that the Qu'ran is a book of peace and that Islam cannot be equated with terrorism; however, he remarked, it is necessary for Muslim political, religious and academic leaders to condemn terrorist attacks so that the people may hear this directly from such figures. He also revealed that in the Blue Mosque, he prayed above all for peace. Referring later on to so-called “Christianophobia” or anti-Christian sentiment, as opposed to “Islamophobia”, he underlined that today there are many Christian martyrs among the populations of the Middle East, and he mentioned those compelled to leave their homes. This martyrdom has been the fate of faithful of different Christian confessions and has given rise to an “ecumenism of blood”.
With regard to the Middle East, he spoke about the situation in Syria, condemning the traffic and sale of arms, and reiterated that behind every war there are always political and economic problems and commercial interests, in attempts to save a system that accords centrality to the god of money, rather than human beings. The Pope observed that it seems to him we are experiencing a third world war, fragmented and dispersed in various places, and expressed his wish to go to Iraq, although he remarked that at the moment it would not be possible since it would create important problems for the authorities and difficulties regarding security. Francis revealed that he considers the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border to be a very important issue, but is aware that there are political issues that make this difficult, and he invited prayer to contribute to making this opening possible.
The Pope focused closely on the question of ecumenism, commenting that it is a path that must be followed together and stressing the importance of spiritual ecumenism – praying, working and carrying out charitable works together. He added that with orthodoxy, this joint path is proving successful thanks to the sacraments and the apostolic succession, and that it will be fundamental to provide an answer to the question posed by John Paul II when he asked the Orthodox to help arrive at a formula for primacy acceptable to these Churches. He also expressed his wish to go to Moscow in order to meet with the Patriarch Kiril, but not at the moment due to the pressing problems in Ukraine. Again in relation to ecumenism, he stressed that when the Church looks inwardly to herself rather than at Christ, when she believes herself to be a creator of light rather than a bringer of light, she creates divisions. Finally, he remarked on the desire of Christians to be able to celebrate Easter on the same date.
One of the final questions related to the recent Synod of Bishops, and the Holy Father affirmed that the Synod is a path and a process, and therefore a person's opinion or a draft document cannot be given consideration. Nor is the Synod a parliament, but rather a protected space where one may let the voice of the Spirit be heard.
Francis denounces the degrading living conditions of many refugees
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis chose to conclude his final day in Turkey by meeting a group of around a hundred refugees and asylum seekers. Christians and Muslims, they were mostly from Iraq and Syria, although some were from other countries in the Middle East and Africa, and have been assisted for some time by the Salesian community in Istanbul. The meeting took place in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.
“I wish to assure you that I share your sufferings; I hope my visit, by the grace of God, may offer you some consolation in your difficult situation”, said the Pope. “Yours is the sad consequence of brutal conflicts and war, which are always evils and which never solve problems. Rather, they only create new ones”.
He emphasised the difficulty of the living conditions of refugees, who often find themselves deprived, sometimes for long periods, of “basic needs such as a dignified home, healthcare, education and work. They have had to abandon not only their material possessions, but above all their freedom, closeness to family, their homeland and cultural traditions. The degrading conditions in which so many refugees are forced to live are intolerable! For this reason, we must do everything possible to eradicate the causes of this situation. I appeal for greater international cooperation to resolve the conflicts which are causing bloodshed in your homelands, to counter the other causes which are driving people to leave their home countries, and to improve conditions so that people may remain or return home. I encourage all who are working generously and steadfastly for justice and peace not to lose heart. I ask political leaders to always remember that the great majority of their people long for peace, even if at times they lack the strength and voice to demand it”.
The Holy Father praised the work of many organisations in aid of refugees, including numerous Catholic groups “which offer generous aid to many in need without discriminating. I wish also to express deep gratitude to the Turkish authorities for the great efforts they have made in assisting the displaced, in particular Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and for the authorities’ tangible commitment in trying to meet their needs. I hope that the necessary support of the international community may not be lacking”.
He offered some words of encouragement to the young people present. “It is easy to say this, but please make an effort not to be discouraged. With the help of God, continue to hope in a better future, despite the difficulties and obstacles which you are currently facing. The Catholic Church is with you, including through the invaluable work of the Salesians. The Church, in addition to other forms of help, also offers you the opportunity to see to your education and formation. Remember always that God does not forget any of his children, and that those who are the smallest and who suffer the most are closest to the Father’s heart”.
“For my part, together with the whole Church, I will continue to pray to the Lord, asking him to inspire those in leadership, so that they will not hesitate to promote justice, security and peace and do so in ways that are clear and effective”, he concluded. “Through her social and charitable organisations, the Church will remain at your side and will continue to hold up your cause before the world. May God bless you all! Please pray for me. Thank you!”
Following the meeting, the Pope proceeded to the hospital to visit the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Mesrob II, who was admitted some years ago and remains in a coma. He subsequently went to Ataturk Airport where, after farewell greetings with the local civil and religious authorities, he departed for Rome. The aircraft carrying the Holy Father landed at6.40 p.m. Before returning to the Vatican, he stopped in the Basilica of St. Mary Major to commend the fruits of his apostolic trip in Turkey to the Virgin.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for December
Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for December is: “That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will”.
His intention for evangelisation is: “That parents may be true evangelisers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith”.
Audiences
Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate in Porto Rico;
- Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio in Ghana;
- Marco Vinicio Vargas Pereira, new ambassador of Costa Rica to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters;
- Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church;
- Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg im Breisgau, Federal Republic of Germany;
- Thirteen prelates of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Bishop Felix Gmur of Basel, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Martin Gachter and Bishop Denis Theurillat;
- Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur, with his auxiliary Bishop Marian Eleganti;
- Bishop Charles Morerod, O.P., of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Pierre Farine and Bishop Alain de Raemy;
- Bishop Valerio Lazzeri of Lugano;
- Bishop Markus Buchel of Sankt Gallen;
- Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey, C.R.B. of Sion;
- Fr. Urban Federer, O.S.B., abbot of Maria Einsiedeln, and
- Bishop Joseph Roduit, abbot of Saint-Maurice.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Mocoa-Sibundoy, Colombia, presented by Bishop Luis Alberto Parra Mora, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
30-11-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 212 

Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit: the Church shows fidelity to the Holy Spirit when she does not seek to control or tame Him
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Early yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis visited the Latin Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, opened for worship in 1846. In the courtyard there is a statue of Pope Benedict XV, erected by the Turks in 1919 during the Pope's lifetime, to thank him for his efforts in favour of the Turkish victims of the First World War. It bears the inscription: “To the great Pope of the world's tragic hour, Benedict XV, benefactor of the people, without discrimination of nationality or religion, a token of gratitude from the Orient”. During his papacy, Armenian Christians were massacred in the Ottoman Empire, and Benedict XV used every means available to him – words, humanitarian aid and diplomatic activity – to bring an end to the slaughter.
Pope Francis celebrated an inter-ritual Mass with prayers in Armenian, Turkish, Aramaic (Chaldean rite), Syro-Turkish, Italian, French, English and Spanish , attended by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, the Syro-Catholic Patriarch Ignacio III Youna, the patriarchal Armenian apostolic vicar of Istanbul, Archbishop Aram Ateshian, the Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan of Istanbul Filuksinos Yusf Cetin and other representatives of various evangelical confessions.
“In the Gospel”, explained Pope Francis, “Jesus shows himself to be the font from which those who thirst for salvation draw upon, as the Rock from whom the Father brings forth living waters for all who believe in him. In openly proclaiming this prophecy in Jerusalem, Jesus heralds the gift of the Holy Spirit whom the disciples will receive after his glorification, that is, after his death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. He gives life, he brings forth different charisms which enrich the people of God and, above all, he creates unity among believers: from the many he makes one body, the Body of Christ. The Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy Spirit; he fulfils all things”.
The profession of faith itself, as Saint Paul reminds us in today’s first reading, “is only possible because it is prompted by the Holy Spirit: 'No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit'. When we pray, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires prayer in our heart. When we break the cycle of our self-centredness, and move beyond ourselves and go out to encounter others, to listen to them and help them, it is the Spirit of God who impels us to do so. When we find within a hitherto unknown ability to forgive, to love someone who doesn’t love us in return, it is the Spirit who has taken hold of us. When we move beyond mere self-serving words and turn to our brothers and sisters with that tenderness which warms the heart, we have indeed been touched by the Holy Spirit”.
“It is true”, observed the Pontiff, “that the Holy Spirit brings forth different charisms in the Church, which at first glance, may seem to create disorder. Under His guidance, however, they constitute an immense richness, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which is not the same thing as uniformity. Only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity. When we try to create diversity, but are closed within our own particular and exclusive ways of seeing things, we create division. When we try to create unity through our own human designs, we end up with uniformity and homogenisation. If we let ourselves be led by the Spirit, however, richness, variety and diversity will never create conflict, because the Spirit spurs us to experience variety in the communion of the Church.
“The diversity of members and charisms is harmonised in the Spirit of Christ, Whom the Father sent and whom He continues to send, in order to achieve unity among believers. The Holy Spirit brings unity to the Church: unity in faith, unity in love, unity in interior life. The Church and other Churches and ecclesial communities are called to let themselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, and to remain always open, docile and obedient”.
He continued, “Ours is a hopeful perspective, but one which is also demanding. The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit, because He takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; He makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary and unchanging ways. In truth, the Church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame Him. We Christians become true missionary disciples, able to challenge consciences, when we throw off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. He is freshness, imagination and newness”.
Our defensiveness is evident “when we are entrenched within our ideas and our own strengths – in which case we slip into Pelagianism – or when we are ambitious or vain. These defensive mechanisms prevent us from truly understanding other people and from opening ourselves to a sincere dialogue with them. But the Church, flowing from Pentecost, is given the fire of the Holy Spirit, which does not so much fill the mind with ideas, but inflames the heart; she is moved by the breath of the Spirit which does not transmit a power, but rather an ability to serve in love, a language which everyone is able to understand. In our journey of faith and fraternal living, the more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace”.
The Pope extended his embrace “with this joyful conviction” to all those present at the Mass, and expressed his gratitude to the representatives of the Protestant communities, who joined in prayer with the Catholic faithful for this celebration. He also greeted the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Mesrob II, who was unable to attend.
“Brothers and sisters”, he concluded, “let us turn our thoughts to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. With her, she who prayed with the Apostles in the Upper Room as they awaited Pentecost, let us pray to the Lord asking him to send his Holy Spirit into our hearts and to make us witnesses of his Gospel in all the world”.
Prayer at the Ecumenical Patriarchate: brothers in hope of Jesus resurrected
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Francis transferred at midday to the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, the world centre of Orthodoxy.
The Orthodox Church has 300 million faithful, present especially in Eastern and Northern Europe, along the north-east coast of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. It consists of various patriarchal Churches who maintain their autonomy while remaining linked to each other in a spirit of faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the “primus inter pares” with respect to the other Orthodox patriarchates, and co-ordinates their activities. Its ecclesiastical jurisdiction includes not only Istanbul, but extends also to four other Turkish dioceses, Mount Athos, Crete, Patmos and the Islands of the Dodecanese and, following emigration, dioceses in Central and Western Europe, the Americas, Pakistan and Japan. Finally, it is the point of reference for Orthodox faithful throughout the world in territories not under the direct jurisdiction of the other Orthodox patriarchates. For centuries, the seat of the Patriarchate was next to the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it was transferred from 1601 to the quarter of Phanar. The Ecumenical Patriarch is His Holiness Bartholomaios I, whose commitment to inter-orthodox cooperation and ecumenical dialogue is well-known, as well as his interest in the protection of the environment, earning him the moniker “the green Patriarch”.
The Pope was received by the Patriarch in the Church of St. George, where an ecumenical liturgy took place in which both prayed for the unity of God's holy Churches. After Bartholomaios' discourse, Pope Francis addressed those present.
“Each evening brings a mixed feeling of gratitude for the day which is ending and of yearning trust before the oncoming night. This evening my heart is full of gratitude to God who allows me to be here in prayer with Your Holiness and with this sister Church after an eventful day during my Apostolic Visit. At the same time my heart awaits the day which we have already begun liturgically: the Feast of the Apostle Saint Andrew, Patron of this Church. In the words of the prophet Zachariah, the Lord gives us anew in this evening prayer, the foundation that sustains our moving forward from one day to the next, the solid rock upon which we advance together in joy and hope. The foundation rock is the Lord’s promise: 'Behold, I will save my people from the countries of the east and from the countries of the west… in faithfulness and in righteousness'.
“Yes, my venerable and dear Brother Bartholomaios, as I express my heartfelt 'thank you' for your fraternal welcome, I sense that our joy is greater because its source is from beyond; it is not in us, not in our commitment, not in our efforts – that are certainly necessary – but in our shared trust in God’s faithfulness which lays the foundation for the reconstruction of his temple that is the Church. 'For there shall be a sowing of peace'; truly, a sowing of joy. It is the joy and the peace that the world cannot give, but which the Lord Jesus promised to his disciples and, as the Risen One, bestowed upon them in the power of the Holy Spirit”.
He continued, “Andrew and Peter heard this promise; they received this gift. They were blood brothers, yet their encounter with Christ transformed them into brothers in faith and charity. In this joyful evening, at this prayer vigil, I want to emphasise this; they became brothers in hope. What a grace, Your Holiness, to be brothers in the hope of the Risen Lord! What a grace, and what a responsibility, to walk together in this hope, sustained by the intercession of the holy Apostles and brothers, Andrew and Peter! And to know that this shared hope does non deceive us because it is founded, not upon us or our poor efforts, but rather upon God’s faithfulness”.
“With this joyful hope, filled with gratitude and eager expectation, I extend to Your Holiness and to all present, and to the Church of Constantinople, my warm and fraternal best wishes on the Feast of your holy Patron”.
Francis and Bartholomaios then recited the Lord's Prayer together in Latin and imparted their blessing, the Pope in Latin and the Patriarch in Greek, after which they retired to the second floor for a private meeting.
Francis participates in the Divine Liturgy on the Solemnity of St. Andrew, patron of the Church of Constantinople
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' final day in Turkey began with a meeting, early in the morning at the Pontifical Representation in Istanbul, of the Chief Rabbi of Turkey, Ishak Haleva. The Jewish community in Turkey, consisting of around 25 thousand people, is numerically the second largest in an Islamic country, following that of Iran. The most substantial Jewish settlement in Turkey dates from the period of the Spanish Inquisition (1492). At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were around 100 thousand, but this figure dropped drastically as a result of emigration to America and Israel. Pope Benedict XVI also met with the Chief Rabbi during his trip to Turkey in 2006.
Following the celebration and after listening to the Patriarch's words, the Pope addressed those present, recalling how as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he had frequently participated in the Divine Liturgy of the city's Orthodox communities, but “today, the Lord has given me the singular grace to be present in this Patriarchal Church of Saint George for the celebration of the Feast of the holy Apostle Andrew, the first-called, the brother of Saint Peter, and the Patron Saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.
He continued, “Meeting each other, seeing each other face to face, exchanging the embrace of peace, and praying for each other, are all essential aspects of our journey towards the restoration of full communion. All of this precedes and always accompanies that other essential aspect of this journey, namely, theological dialogue. An authentic dialogue is, in every case, an encounter between persons with a name, a face, a past, and not merely a meeting of ideas.
“This is especially true for us Christians, because for us the truth is the person of Jesus Christ”, observed the Pontiff. “The example of Saint Andrew, who with another disciple accepted the invitation of the Divine Master, 'Come and see', and 'stayed with him that day', shows us plainly that the Christian life is a personal experience, a transforming encounter with the One who loves us and who wants to save us. In addition, the Christian message is spread thanks to men and women who are in love with Christ, and cannot help but pass on the joy of being loved and saved. Here again, the example of the apostle Andrew is instructive. After following Jesus to his home and spending time with Him, Andrew 'first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (meaning Christ). He brought him to Jesus'. It is clear, therefore, that not even dialogue among Christians can prescind from this logic of personal encounter”.
Therefore, “it is not by chance that the path of reconciliation and peace between Catholics and Orthodox was, in some way, ushered in by an encounter, by an embrace between our venerable predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, which took place fifty years ago in Jerusalem. Your Holiness and I wished to commemorate that moment when we met recently in the same city where our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose.
“By happy coincidence, my visit falls a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Christian Unity. This is a fundamental document which opened new avenues for encounter between Catholics and their brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities. In particular, in that Decree the Catholic Church acknowledges that the Orthodox Churches 'possess true sacraments, above all – by apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy'. The Decree goes on to state that in order to guard faithfully the fullness of the Christian tradition and to bring to fulfilment the reconciliation of Eastern and Western Christians, it is of the greatest importance to preserve and support the rich patrimony of the Eastern Churches. This regards not only their liturgical and spiritual traditions, but also their canonical disciplines, sanctioned as they are by the Fathers and by Councils, which regulate the lives of these Churches”.
The Pope emphasised the importance of reaffirming respect for this principle “as an essential condition, accepted by both, for the restoration of full communion, which does not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation. Rather, it means welcoming all the gifts that God has given to each, thus demonstrating to the entire world the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit. I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith. Further, I would add that we are ready to seek together, in light of Scriptural teaching and the experience of the first millennium, the ways in which we can guarantee the needed unity of the Church in the present circumstances. The one thing that the Catholic Church desires, and that I seek as Bishop of Rome, 'the Church which presides in charity', is communion with the Orthodox Churches. Such communion will always be the fruit of that love which 'has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us', a fraternal love which expresses the spiritual and transcendent bond which unites us as disciples of the Lord”.
In today’s world, “voices are being raised which we cannot ignore and which implore our Churches to live deeply our identity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first of these voices is that of the poor. In the world, there are too many women and men who suffer from severe malnutrition, growing unemployment, the rising numbers of unemployed youth, and from increasing social exclusion. These can give rise to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. We cannot remain indifferent before the cries of our brothers and sisters. These ask of us not only material assistance – needed in so many circumstances – but above all,our help to defend their dignity as human persons, so that they can find the spiritual energy to become once again protagonists in their own lives. They ask us to fight, in the light of the Gospel, the structural causes of poverty: inequality, the shortage of dignified work and housing, and the denial of their rights as members of society and as workers. As Christians we are called together to eliminate that globalisation of indifference which today seems to reign supreme, while building a new civilisation of love and solidarity”.
A second plea, he said, “comes from the victims of the conflicts in so many parts of our world. We hear this resoundingly here, because some neighbouring countries are scarred by an inhumane and brutal war. I think in a particular way of the numerous victims of the grotesque and senseless attack which recently killed and injured so many Muslims who were praying in a Mosque in Kano, Nigeria. Taking away the peace of a people, committing every act of violence – or consenting to such acts – especially when directed against the weakest and defenceless, is a profoundly grave sin against God, since it means showing contempt for the image of God which is in man. The cry of the victims of conflict urges us to move with haste along the path of reconciliation and communion between Catholics and Orthodox. Indeed, how can we credibly proclaim the Gospel of peace which comes from Christ, if there continues to be rivalry and disagreement between us?”
A third cry is that of young people. “Today, tragically, there are many young men and women who live without hope, overcome by mistrust and resignation. Many of the young, influenced by the prevailing culture, seek happiness solely in possessing material things and in satisfying their fleeting emotions. New generations will never be able to acquire true wisdom and keep hope alive unless we are able to esteem and transmit the true humanism which comes from the Gospel and from the Church’s age-old experience. It is precisely the young who today implore us to make progress towards full communion. I think for example of the many Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant youth who come together at meetings organised by the Taize community. They do this not because they ignore the differences which still separate us, but because they are able to see beyond them; they are able to embrace what is essential and what already unites us.
Pope Francis concluded by addressing Bartholomaios I: “We are already on the way, on the path towards full communion and already we can experience eloquent signs of an authentic, albeit incomplete union. This offers us reassurance and encourages us to continue on this journey. We are certain that along this journey we are helped by the intercession of the Apostle Andrew and his brother Peter, held by tradition to be the founders of the Churches of Constantinople and of Rome. We ask God for the great gift of full unity, and the ability to accept it in our lives. Let us never forget to pray for one another”.
Joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I: “We call on all religious leaders to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue”
Vatican City, 30 November 2014 (VIS) – Following the Divine Liturgy, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomaios I appeared on the balcony of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and blessed the faithful gathered in the street. Francis imparted the blessing in Latin, and Bartholomaios I in Greek. They subsequently ascended to the Throne Room where they signed and read the following joint Declaration:
“We, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of this new encounter enabling us,in the presence of the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to celebrate together the feast of Saint Andrew, the first–called and brother of the Apostle Peter. Our remembrance of the Apostles, who proclaimed the good news of the Gospel to the world through their preaching and their witness of martyrdom, strengthens in us the aspiration to continue to walk together in order to overcome, in love and in truth, the obstacles that divide us.
“On the occasion of our meeting in Jerusalem last May, in which we remembered the historical embrace of our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, we signed a joint declaration. Today on the happy occasion of this further fraternal encounter, we wish to re–affirm together our shared intentions and concerns.
“We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox. As well, we intend to support the theological dialogue promoted by the Joint International Commission, instituted exactly thirty–five years ago by the Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios and Pope John Paul II here at the Phanar, and which is currently dealing with the most difficult questions that have marked the history of our division and that require careful and detailed study. To this end, we offer the assurance of our fervent prayer as Pastors of the Church, asking our faithful to join us in praying 'that all may be one, that the world may believe'.
“We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East. We are united in the desire for peace and stability and in the will to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While recognising the efforts already being made to offer assistance to the region, at the same time, we call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years. Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many. As Saint Paul reminds us, 'If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together'. This is the law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. The terrible situation of Christians and all those who are suffering in the Middle East calls not only for our constant prayer, but also for an appropriate response on the part of the international community.
“The grave challenges facing the world in the present situation require the solidarity of all people of good will, and so we also recognise the importance of promoting a constructive dialogue with Islam based on mutual respect and friendship. Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war. Moreover, as Christian leaders, we call on all religious leaders to pursue and to strengthen interreligious dialogue and to make every effort to build a culture of peace and solidarity between persons and between peoples. We also remember all the people who experience the sufferings of war. In particular, we pray for peace in Ukraine, a country of ancient Christian tradition, while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony.
“Our thoughts turn to all the faithful of our Churches throughout the world, whom we greet, entrusting them to Christ our Saviour, that they may be untiring witnesses to the love of God. We raise our fervent prayer that the Lord may grant the gift of peace in love and unity to the entire human family.
“'May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you'”.
After the signing of the Declaration, the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch and various members of the respective delegations lunched together on the third floor of the Phanar.

Francis at the Diyanet: violence seeking religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation
Vatican City, 28 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, following his address before the Turkish authorities in the Presidential Palace, the Holy Father met with the prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, after which he proceeded to the Diyanet, the Department for Religious Affairs and highest Sunni Islamic authority in Turkey. Although a secular state, 98% of the Turkish population is Muslim, of whom 68% are Sunni and 30% Shia. The president of the Diyanet, Mehmet Gormez, welcomed the Pope upon arrival and accompanied him to his office where they spoke privately for a minute. They then entered the Hall together, where Francis addressed the gathered Muslim and Christian political and religious leaders.
“It is a tradition that Popes, when they visit different countries as part of their mission, meet also with the leaders and members of various religions. Without this openness to encounter and dialogue, a papal visit would not fully correspond to its purposes. And so I wished to meet you, following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessors. In this context, I am pleased to recall in a special way Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to this very same place in November 2006. Good relations and dialogue between religious leaders have, in fact, acquired great importance. They represent a clear message addressed to their respective communities which demonstrates that mutual respect and friendship are possible, notwithstanding differences. Such friendship, as well as being valuable in itself, becomes all the more meaningful and important in a time of crisis such as our own: crises which in some parts of the world are disastrous for entire peoples”.
He continued, “Wars cause the death of innocent victims and bring untold destruction, inter-ethnic and interreligious tensions and conflicts, hunger and poverty afflicting hundreds of millions of people, and inflict damage on the natural environment – air, water and land. Especially tragic is the situation in the Middle East, above all in Iraq and Syria. Everyone suffers the consequences of these conflicts, and the humanitarian situation is unbearable. I think of so many children, the sufferings of so many mothers, of the elderly, of those displaced and of all refugees, subject to every form of violence. Particular concern arises from the fact that, owing mainly to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. They have been forcibly evicted from their homes, and have had to leave behind everything to save their lives and preserve their faith. This violence has also brought damage to sacred buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural patrimony, as if trying to erase every trace, every memory of the other.
“As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace. The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences”.
However, as well as denouncing such situations, he added, “we must also work together to find adequate solutions. This requires the cooperation of all: governments, political and religious leaders, representatives of civil society, and all men and women of goodwill. In a unique way, religious leaders can offer a vital contribution by expressing the values of their respective traditions. We, Muslims and Christians, are the bearers of spiritual treasures of inestimable worth. Among these we recognise some shared elements, though lived according to the traditions of each, such as the adoration of the All-Merciful God, reference to the Patriarch Abraham, prayer, almsgiving, and fasting – elements which, when lived sincerely, can transform life and provide a sure foundation for dignity and fraternity. Recognising and developing our common spiritual heritage – through interreligious dialogue – helps us to promote and to uphold moral values, peace and freedom in society. The shared recognition of the sanctity of each human life is the basis of joint initiatives of solidarity, compassion, and effective help directed to those who suffer most. In this regard, I wish to express my appreciation for everything that the Turkish people, Muslims and Christians alike, are doing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing their countries due to conflicts. There are two million of them. This is a clear example of how we can work together to serve others, an example to be encouraged and maintained”.
In this regard, the Holy Father expressed his satisfaction at the good relations between the Diyanet and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. “It is my earnest desire that these relations will continue and be strengthened for the good of all, so that every initiative which promotes authentic dialogue will offer a sign of hope to a world so greatly in need of peace, security and prosperity. Following my meeting with the president, I am also hopeful that this interreligious dialogue will take on creative new forms”.
He concluded by thanking again the president of the Diyanet and his collaborators for this meeting, and expressed his gratitude to all present for their presence and their prayers for him and his ministry. “For my part, I assure you of my prayers. May the Lord grant us all his blessing”.
Following the encounter, the Pope transferred to the apostolic nunciature, where he spent the night.
Pope Francis visits the Museum of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque
Vatican City, 29 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis travelled by air from Ankara to Istanbul. The only city in the world divided across two continents, Asia and Europe, it is situated on the banks of the Bosphorus, the river that connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Upon arrival he was welcomed by the Governor of Istanbul and by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, and then transferred by car to the Blue Mosque, or the Mosque of the Sultan Ahmed.
Built between 1609 and 1917 by Ahmed I on what had been the site of the great palace of Constantinople, the mosque became the most important place of worship of the Ottoman Empire. The name “Blue Mosque” derives from the 21,043 turquoise ceramic tiles adorning the walls and the dome. The ceramics used to cover the walls, columns and arches originated from Iznik in ancient Nicaea, and range in colour from deep blue to green. Benedict XVI visited the mosque during his trip to Turkey in 2006. Pope Francis was received by the Grand Mufti and remained a moment in silent prayer.
The Holy Father then proceeded to the Museum of Hagia Sophia, the basilica dedicated to Divine Wisdom, first built in the year 360 by the emperor Constantine on a site previously occupied by pagan temples. It was later destroyed by two fires, one in 404 and another in 532, and the emperor Justinian undertook its reconstruction in order to make it into “the most sumptuous work since the time of Creation”, ordering all the provinces of the empire to provide their best marble and most prized materials. Hagia Sophia was inaugurated for the third time in 537. During the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, it was despoiled of its richest adornments by Latin Christians and in 1453, when it fell into the hands of the Ottomans, Mehmet II ordered it to be transformed into the first imperial mosque of Istanbul. During the subsequent three centuries, this Muslim place of worship received splendid gifts from various sultans, until the eighteenth century, when the mosaics were covered with plaster. In 1847 the Sultan Abdulmegid engaged the Swiss architects Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati to uncover the mosaics and restore the building. In 1935, at the behest of Ataturk, Hagia Sophia became a museum, which it remains to this day. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI all visited it during their trips to Turkey.
Pope Francis was received at the Imperial Door by the director of the Museum, who accompanied him on a guided tour lasting around half an hour. The Holy Father signed the guest book of Hagia Sophia, first in Greek with the phrase Αγ?α Σοφ?α του Θεο? (Holy Wisdom of God) and then in Latin: “Quam dilecta tabernacula tua Domine (Psalm 38).
After leaving Hagia Sophia through the Beautiful Gate, Francis proceeded to the papal representation where he was awaited by members of the Catholic communities (Latin, Armenian, Syrian and Chaldean) of Istanbul, and where he was greeted by the president of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey, Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini, O.F.M. Cap.
Cardinal Schonborn, Pope's special envoy in Kiev
Vatican City, 29 November 2014 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 18 November, the Holy Father nominated Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, as his special envoy at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, scheduled to take place in Kiev on 10 December 2014.
The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Rev. Yurij Kolasa, vicar for Greek-Catholics in Austria, and Rev. Ihor Sfiaban, head of the Ecumenical Commission of the Curia of the Major Archbishop.

Today's Mass Readings : Monday December 1, 2014

Monday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 175

Reading 1IS 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4B, 4CD-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you!"
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Alleluia SEE PS 80:4

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come and save us, LORD our God;
let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”