Thursday, March 21, 2013


Vatican City, 21 March 2013 (VIS) – On Holy Thursday, 28 March, the Holy Father Francis will celebrate the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning and then, at 5:30pm in the afternoon, will go to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Casal del Marmo youth detention centre instead of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where it had been traditionally held in past years.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper is characterized by the announcement of the commandment of love and the gesture of washing the feet. In his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate the Mass in a prison or hospital or hospice for the poor and marginalized. With this celebration at Casal del Marmo, Pope Francis will continue his custom, which is characterized by its humble context.
The other Holy Week celebrations will be held according to tradition, as established in a notification by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations.
Pope Benedict XVI also visited the Casal del Marmo youth detention centre, on 18 March in 2007, to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Merciful Father.

Vatican City, 21 March 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, on the occasion of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral in London, UK, this past Thursday. Archbishop Welby is the 105 Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“The pastoral ministry,” writes Francis, “is a call to walk in fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please be assured of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities, and I ask you to pray for me as I respond to the new call that the Lord has addressed to me.”
“I look forward to meeting you in the near future, and to continuing the warm fraternal relations that our predecessors enjoyed.”
Vatican City, 21 March 2013 (VIS) – Today was made public the message that Benedict XVI wrote this past 4 February to the Most Reverend Justin Welby on the occasion of his election as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Pope wrote that the archbishop was taking up his office “at a time when the Christian faith is being called into question in many parts of the Western world by those who claim that religion is a private matter, with no contribution to offer to public debate. Ministers of the Gospel today have to respond to a widespread deafness to the music of faith, and a general weariness that shuns the demands of discipleship. Yet the hunger for God, even if unrecognised, is ever-present in our society, and the preacher's task, as a messenger of hope, is to speak the truth with love, shedding the light of Christ into the darkness of people's lives. May your apostolate yield a rich harvest and may it open the eyes and ears of many to the life-giving message of the Gospel.”
Benedict XVI concluded with the prayer that “the Lord grant you strength and wisdom” in whatever challenges the new archbishop may encounter and asking that “the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you undertake in his name.”
Vatican City, 21 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, shortly after noon, around 50 Argentine nationals resident in Rome responded to an invitation to a spur of the moment gathering with the Pope at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
Those in attendance included the president of the Argentinian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz; Master General of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, Fr. Pablo Bernardo Ordone, O. de .M.; priests and religious; but also lay persons, families with children, and journalists.
The guests had the chance to sing and dance in front of the Pope, sharing light refreshments in a spirit of warm friendship. The Pope paid tribute to the fruitfulness of the Church in Argentina, praying that she might rise to the situation created by his pontifical election.
Vatican City, 21 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning in his private library on the second loggia, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Mr. Adolfo Perez Esquivel, recipient of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize,
- Msgr. Carlos Maria Nannei,
- Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and
- His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, with an entourage.
This afternoon, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, he received Mr. Peter Mizengo Kayanza Pinda, prime minister of Tanzania, in audience.


John 8: 51 - 59

51Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death."52The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, `If any one keeps my word, he will never taste death.'53Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?"54Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God.55But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word.56Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad."57The Jews then said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"58Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."59So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.


WDSD RELEASE: 21 March 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. But there is still so much more we can do.
Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the World to choose your own themes, activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
The internet is a powerful tool for raising awareness and we encourage people to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day through your own websites, blogs and social networking sites. However, we want to create a single meeting place where everyone can share their experiences and advertise their activities.
For this purpose we created a dedicated website Through this, you are able to register with us and share details of your activities and events with the global community.
Join our cause to create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome on 21 March.


Down Syndrome International invites everyone across the world to wear LOTS OF SOCKS on 21 March 2013 to raise awareness on World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). 

We want to get people talking about WDSD on 21 March, and we can do this if we all wear socks…BUT NOT JUST ANY SOCKS…brightly coloured socks, mismatched socks, long socks, printed socks, 1 sock…maybe even 3 socks (or EXTRA socks) for 3 chromosomes. Or if you don’t normally wear socks then wear them. Just so long as they are socks which are on display and people will ask you about.
AND WHY STOP AT SOCKS? Wear brightly coloured clothing if you like, say if it’s too hot for socks. The choice is yours, but we ask you to join us in wearing something which will help tell the world about WDSD.
It is easy to do, so whether you are at home, nursery, school, university, work, play, travel, holiday or anywhere, join in!
On 21 March 2013, wear LOTS OF SOCKS and invite all your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.


Other Ways to Get Involved

If you want to wear LOTS OF SOCKS and more, here are some ways you can get involved in our LOTS OF SOCKS campaign:
  1. Order special LOTS OF SOCKS logo socks from us. Please contact Down Syndrome International to receive these.
  2. If it's too hot for socks where you are or you want to promote LOTS OF SOCKS in other ways, you can order LOTS OF SOCKS clothing and merchandise to use on the day by following this link for Official LOTS OF SOCKS Merchandise
  3. Raise money to support people with Down syndrome by paying £1, $1, 1 Euro or a small amount in your own currency. 
  4. Donate this money to your local, regional or national Down syndrome charity BUT consider donating at least 25% to Down Syndrome International to support "Reach Out", our outreach training programmes in developing countries.
If you would like to raise money or hold your own event for the LOTS OF SOCKS campaign, you can contact Down Syndrome International and we will send you a DSi Fundraising Pack. Alternatively here are some useful resources available for you to download:


Agenzia Fides REPORT- "Society is crying out for compassion in finance", says a message of congratulations sent to Pope Francis from the "Association of Christian Financial Advisers" (ACFA), based in London. The Association – explains in a statement sent to Fides - welcomes the election of the Pope " who celebrated his inaugural mass by speaking up on behalf of the poor."
The spokesman of the Association, Aidan Vaughan, notes in the message sent to Fides: "In calling for a Church for the poor, and defending the virtue of simplicity, His Holiness Pope Francis embraces the prayers of many who are calling for financial righteousness to be at the heart of society."
Vaughan appreciates Pope Francis’ inaugural speech and called for "all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life’ to be protectors of creation… ‘showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need."
" In Pope Francis it seems the Catholic Church has found a leader with a genuine heart for the needy who will speak up for justice" remarked Vaughan. ACFA aims to be the voice of Christian financial advice and champions best practice in the UK. ACFA continues to campaign against high interest rate loans, which it describes as a social evil" and calls political authorities of European countries "to help the poorest who have been hardest hit by spending cuts." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/03/2013)



BANGUI, March 19, 2013 (CISA)–The rebels have attacked religious people and organisations in Bangui, reports Fides News Agency.
The rebels, from the rebel coalition Seleka, attacked and assaulted a religious clergy and stole a car in the village of Bangao (80 km from Bambari in the Central African Republic). The vehicle which was in poor condition was later abandoned.
In Bambari, rebels ransacked the pharmacy of the diocese, the community radio station and the offices of Caritas.
The Seleka coalition issued an ultimatum of 72 hours to President François Bozizé to implement the agreements of Libreville that was signed on 11 January 2013; if not, they would march on to the capital Bangui. The rebels also asked for the release of political prisoners and the departure of South African troops deployed in Bangui.
A delegation of five ministers has gone to the rebel headquarters in the city of Sibut to negotiate with Seleka.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
21 Mar 2013
Dr Mary Gowery at St Vincent's Outpatients in Melbourne circa 1914-1916
Gifted medical doctor and religious sister, Australian-born Mary Glowrey, JMJ will be declared a Servant of God in India next week signalling the start of the diocesan phase of the process which eventually may result in her beatification and canonisation.
Beloved, selfless and said to radiate Christ by word and example, Sr Mary Glowrey could well become Australia's next saint.
"It is my pleasure to let you know that on Wednesday , 27 March, at the Chrism Mass in the Diocese of Guntur, India, Bishop Gali Bali will declare Dr Sister Mary Glowrey 'A Servant of God,'" the Most Rev Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference announced this morning.
The preliminary phase of the cause of canonisation of the gifted doctor who spent 25 years as a Medical Missionary with the Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a Dutch order of Religious Sisters, commenced in Bangalore, India three years ago. This initial phase involved a careful examination of her work and writings together with her religious life and now progresses to the next phase on the way to beatification and possible sanctification.
In 2008 members of the Catholic Women's League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga, of which Mary Glowrey was the Founding President, began working closely with the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in India preparing for the commencement of the initial steps towards Beatification.
Two years ago, in December 2010 two months after the canonisation of Australia's first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Archbishop Hart announced  the preliminary phase of the Cause for Canonisation of Mary Glowrey had commenced in Banglalore, India. Now less than 18 months later the next phase begins.
Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Born on  23 June 1887 in Birregurra, Victoria -  about 135 km west of Melbourne - Mary Glowrey was the third of nine children. Intelligent and eager to learn, she did well at school and by the time she left her outstanding academic accomplishments had earned her a cash scholarship to begin studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne. However after a great deal of prayer and the encouragement of her father, Mary switched to Medicine, an unusual choice for a woman in those days. By 1910, one year after the death of fellow Victorian and religious, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, she graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
The next two years were spent in New Zealand where she did her residency. Returning to Melbourne in 1912, Mary Glowrey built a successful private practice with rooms in Collins Street. During this time she also worked at Victoria's St Vincent's Hospital, where she had gained invaluable clinical experience as a student, as the hospital's "Physician to Outpatients." She would later say: "I can never sufficiently express the gratitude I owe to St Vincent's Hospital."
In addition to St Vincent's Hospital she also worked at Melbourne's Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.
Mary's religious vocation came in 1915 after attending Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, when by chance she happened to read a pamphlet about the appalling death rate amongst babies in India, and the urgent need for medical missionaries there. The 28-year-old fell to her knees and knew that God was calling her to a life of medical mission work in India. But with the world in the turmoil of  World War I, she had to wait until the global conflict ended before she would be able to travel to India and begin her mission.
Despite her spiritual humility and natural reticence, the following year Mary was elected founding president of the Catholic Women's League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga in 1916 and led this inspiring group of young Catholic women seeking to change society through prayer as well as action.
Dr Mary Gowery leaving Melbourne for India to embark on her vocation as a medical missionary
During this time, she also studied for a higher medical degree with an emphasis on obstetrics, gynaecology and ophthalmology, and in 1919 graduated as Doctor of Medicine.
Finally in 1920, the war well over and shipping lanes open once more, 33-year-old Mary sailed for India where she joined the Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Guntur. 
The remainder of her life until her death in 1957 was spent ministering to the spiritual and medical needs of the people of India, particularly the poor. Her love of India, its culture and its people led her to explore traditional Indian medicines and to use these as part of her medical arsenal.
Recognising the need to promote the Christian use of medicine, in 1943 in the midst of World War II she founded the Catholic Hospital Association of India (CHAI) and several years later established a Catholic Medical College in India to train health professionals both in medical care as well as in Catholic teachings and the understanding of the inviolability of human life.
Throughout her life she was said to radiate Christ by word and example. According to those who knew her she never attempted anything without first praying to the Holy Spirit, knowing that with the help of the Holy Spirit all things are possible.
For the final two years of her life, she suffered excruciating physical pain which she bore with extraordinary courage and patience.
Mary died in Bangalore on Sunday, 5 May 1957. She was 70 years old.


by Shafique Khokhar
Over a thousand people attended an inter- religious conference. Hindu and Sikh leaders also present, as well as Saudi Muslim personalities. Appeal to Islamabad to punish those responsible for the attacks. Government of Punjab applauded for its support. Invitations to harmony and combat extremism.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence in the Joseph Colony of Badami Bah (Lahore), where over 100 homes belonging to Christians were burned: an appeal to the central government to punish the perpetrators; appreciation for the leadership of the province of Punjab, who have set up a plan for immediate assistance. This was highlighted by more than a thousand participants at the Interfaith meeting held on March 15 in Lahore, attended by priests and religious, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders, parliamentarians and representatives of the media, to mark a "Day of Solidarity".
The initiative, supported by 30 leaders from different religious communities, was promoted by Maulana Abdul Khubair Aazad, leader of the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore. At the end of the meeting, Hazrat Qari Bashir Ahmad, a Saudi cleric born in Medina, reiterated solidarity with the religious minorities of Pakistan and offered "special prayers" for peace and harmony in society.

AsiaNews spoke to prominent religious and secular figures present at the meeting, which re-launched the commitment to co-existence and unity according to the ideals of Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan. For Maulana Abdul Khubair Aazad all religious leaders "must promote harmony" and he expressed "deep sorrow" for the attack on the Christians. His sentiments were echoed by the Sunni Muslim leader Allama Muhammad Khan Laghari who invited people of goodwill to "combat extremism" and those who oppose the idea of ​​peaceful coexistence. Among the Muslim clerics present was Shia Allama Zubair Ahmad who described the anti-Christian attack as being "against Islam [...]only peace and harmony can create a prosperous nation."
Among the many Christian personalities present was Fr. Nisar Barkat, diocesan director of NCJP and Fr. Emmanuel Mani, National Director of NCJP (National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church). Fr. Francis Nadeem paid tribute to the Muslim leaders and thanked them for the messages of solidarity, expressing the hope that tragedies like Joseph Colony and Gojra will not be repeated. "I'm really happy - he added - that the Punjab government has immediately helped the victims." The Hindu MP Bhawan Daas also mentioned the persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim minority, while the Sikh leader Janam Singh added that "fraternal cooperation is key to avoiding such tragedies."


St. Nicholas of Flue
Feast: March 21

Feast Day:March 21
Born:21 March 1417 at Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Died:21 March 1487
Canonized:15 May 1947 by Pope Pius XII
Major Shrine:Sachseln, Switzerland
Patron of:councilmen, difficult marriages, large families, magistrates, parents of large families, Pontifical Swiss Guards, separated spouses, Switzerland
Had Nicholas not been a saint, or had he eaten and drunk like other saints, Switzerland with all it has meant for peace and humanity would probably not exist today. For Nicholas's entire life was ordained in view of his vocation to save his country.
Nicholas von Flue was born on March 21st, 1417 in the Canton of Unterwalden on the lake of Lucerne, a citizen of a peasant democracy and a farmer's son. As he grew up he proved himself a capable farmer, and the ability he displayed in the local parliament, of which every male citizen was a member, led to his election at an early age as councillor and judge. He also proved himself a capable commander of troops. In the war against the duke of Tirol he persuaded his compatriots to respect a convent of nuns. Though willing to perform his military service, Nicholas condemned as immoral, wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants inevitable in any major modern war. About the age of thirty he married a farmer's daughter, Dorothy Wiss, and built a farmhouse to receive her. The couple had ten children and descendants survive to this day.
Nicholas had thus approved himself to his countrymen as a thoroughly capable man, as farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and father of a family—also a man of complete moral integrity. All the while, however, he led a life of contemplative prayer and rigorous fasting. He was the subject of symbolic visions and a diabolic assault.
After some twenty years of married life, in 1467 Nicholas received a compelling call to abandon his home and the world and become a hermit. Though she had just borne his tenth child his wife heroically consented. His neighbors, however, even his older children, regarded his action as indefensible, unbalanced, immoral and irresponsible. He set out for Alsace, where he intended to live. Had he carried out his intention his vocation would have been missed. A storm, however, symbolically interpreted, and friendly advice not to settle where the Swiss were detested made him turn back from the border. At the same time he became incapable of eating or drinking—a condition which continued for the rest of his life. As an act of obedience to a bishop he once ate with acute agony a piece of soaked bread. (The problem of prolonged fasting is more fully discussed in the account of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.)
He resumed to his native canton, passing the first night undiscovered in the cow-shed of his farm and settled in a hermitage at Ranft within a few miles of his home. It was no temptation to return home, as he never felt the least desire for his former life. Symbolic visions continued to be a feature of his contemplation, and when, after a month's strict surveillance, his countrymen were convinced that his fast was genuine, they recognised his sanctity and vocation, and he became a spiritual guide whose advice was widely sought and followed. Pilgrims came from distant parts to consult him. He  acquired influence with Duke Sigismund of the Tirol, whom he confirmed in his neutrality when the Swiss confederacy met and defeated Charles of Burgundy. Everything was ready for the climax of Nicholas's life: the accomplishment of his unique vocation.
The victorious cantons were at loggerheads. The rural cantons opposed inflexibly the demand of Zurich and Lucerne that Freiburg and Soleure be admitted to the confederacy. A conference held at Stans, December 1481, failed to reach agreement. Next day the delegates would disperse and a civil war ensue which would presumably have destroyed the confederacy. The parish priest, once Nicholas's confessor, hurried to Ranft and laid the matter before the hermit. During the night Nicholas dictated suggested terms of agreement. The priest resumed in time to persuade the delegates to give a hearing to the proposals of a man so widely respected for his well tried practical abilities and so widely venerated for his holiness. The terms suggested—the conditional admittance of Freiburg and Soleure—were unanimously accepted and embodied in the agreement of Stans. Switzerland had been saved.
Nicholas survived his achievement almost six years, universally revered, visited and consulted. On March 21st 1487, his seventieth birthday, he died, apparently of his first illness. One is glad to know that his wife and children attended his deathbed. After all, she had never lost her husband completely. Honored by Swiss Protestants, venerated by Swiss Catholics, Nicholas's cult, uninterrupted since his death, was officially sanctioned by Clement IX (1667-9). In 1947 he was canonized by Pope Pius XII.



Vatican City, 20 March 2013 (VIS) – Early this afternoon in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received fraternal delegates, that is, representative envoys of Churches, Ecclesial Communities, and international ecumenical organizations, as well as representatives of non-Christian Religions, who have come to Rome for the inauguration of his ministry as Bishop of Rome and successor of the Apostle Peter.
On behalf of those present, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, greeted the Pope, recalling the “elevated, serious, and difficult task” that his ministry bears with it. He also reiterated the need for the Churches to shun worldly distractions and to work on the unity between Christians.
Francis, who listened to the words of the Patriarch seated on an armchair rather than the throne that is customarily used in the Clementine Hall, thanked Bartholomew I, calling him “my brother Andrew”, since the patriarchs of Constantinople are considered the successors of the Apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He then said that, thanks to the presence at yesterday's Mass of representatives of the various communities, he felt “in an even stronger way, the prayer for unity among the believers in Christ and [glimpsed] prefigured in some way, its full realization, which depends on God's plan and our sincere cooperation.”
“I begin my apostolic ministry,” he continued, “in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, with a truly inspired intuition, proclaimed the Year of Faith for the Catholic Church. With this initiative, which I wish to continue and which I hope serves as a stimulus for each of us in our journey of faith, he wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, proposing a type of pilgrimage to what is essential for every Christian: a personal and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for our salvation. The heart of the Council's message lies precisely in the desire to proclaim this ever-valid treasure of the faith to the persons of our time.”
Francis then recalled the image and words of Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Council: “The Catholic Church considers it her duty to actively work so as to bring about the great mystery of that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed so ardently to His Father in heaven on the eve of his sacrifice.” He continued saying: “Yes, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we all feel intimately joined in our Saviour's prayer at the Last Supper, to his call: 'ut unum sint'. Let us call on our merciful Father that we may fully live that faith that we received as a gift on the day of our Baptism and to be able to witness to it freely, joyfully, and courageously. This will be the best way we can serve the cause of unity among Christians, a service of hope for a world that is still marked by divisions, differences, and rivalries.”
“For my part, I wish to assure you, following in the path of my predecessors, of my firm will to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue ... I ask you to take my cordial greetings and assurance of my remembrance in the Lord Jesus to the Churches and Christian Communities that you represent here. I also ask of you the kindness of a special prayer for myself, so that I might be a Pastor in harmony with Christ's heart.”
Then, addressing the representatives of the Jewish communities, he emphasized “the very special spiritual bond” that they have with Christians. Quoting the Vatican II declaration Nostra Aetate, he said: “'The Church of Christ acknowledges that ... the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets.' … I am confident that, with the help of the Almighty, we can profitably continue that fraternal dialogue that the Council hoped for and that has been carried out, bearing not few fruits, especially over the last few decades.”
The Pope then greeted those belonging to other religious traditions, first of all the Muslims who “adore the one, living, and merciful God and who call upon Him in prayer.” Then, addressing all those gathered, he said: “I really appreciate your presence. In it I see a tangible sign of the desire to grow in mutual respect and cooperation for the common good of humanity.”
“The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions. I want to repeat this: the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions.”.. The Church “is also aware of the responsibility that we all bear to this our world, to all of creation, which we should love and protect. And we can do much for the good of the poorest, of the weak and suffering, to promote justice and reconciliation, to build peace. But, above all, we must keep alive the thirst for the Absolute in the world, not allowing a one-dimensional vision of the human person, in which humanity is reduced to that which it produces and consumes, to prevail. This is one of the most dangerous pitfalls of our times.”
“We know how, in recent times, violence has produced an attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity, and we feel the value of witnessing in our societies to the original openness to the transcendent that is inscribed in the human heart. In this, we also feel close to all men and women who, although not claiming to belong to any religious tradition, still feel themselves to be in search of truth, goodness, and beauty, God's Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, and who are our precious allies in the effort to defend human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples, and in carefully protecting creation.”

Vatican City, 19 March 2013 (VIS) – To protect with tenderness. That is the call to each of us. It is the new Pope's message. Perhaps it will be the directive of his government. Clear, simple, deep, compelling. Spoken in Italian and lasting no more than twenty minutes. The crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square remained attentive throughout the celebration, which lasted just under the two hours that had been planned.
“This is a punctual Pope. Even a bit ahead of schedule. At least that's how it was today,” said a German pilgrim, advanced in age, who had been waiting for hours in front of a giant screen set up in Via della Conciliazione, the street that runs in front of the Vatican. He had been watching as, little by little, thousands more gathered in the square. He was right. The Pope's Jeep appeared in St. Peter's Square around 8:50am. Standing up in the back, Pope Francis in his white cassock, his mozzetta, his black shoes, and his pectoral cross (the one he has had since being appointed bishop) smiled as he greeted and blessed those he passed. People began to run to him with their flags, their children, their friends, their sick... And then Francis picked up a baby in his arms and, to everyone's astonishment, got down from the car. What was going on? He had seen a handicapped man and wanted to embrace and bless him.
This is the new Pope: the Argentine, the first Pope from the Americas, the first Francis, leader of the Catholic Church who was presented to the world today and who, in the few days since his election, has excited so many. People already know him as the “close” Pope, the “simple” Pope, the Pope who “is like a father”, who greets the crowds with a “good afternoon” and says goodbye with an “enjoy your lunch”. He is the Pope who, first thing this morning, made a phone call to his native land where his countrymen and women had gathered in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo. Surprising everyone with the call, live over the phone, he left them with a message: “Do not be afraid.” They were the same words spoken by one of his predecessors in 1978, the Polish Pope Karol Wojtyla, Blessed John Paul II.
This is the first time that Pope Francis has taken the Popemobile through the square and the people wanted to see him better, closer... The new Pope moved through them and then went back around again in what was, perhaps, the longest trip that a Roman pontiff has ever made around the square. He travelled over the ground that, twenty-one centuries earlier, had been occupied by the Circus of Nero. The ground where modern investigators have confirmed the tradition of the site of St. Peter's martyrdom: Peter the fisherman, the first Pope of the Catholic Church, whose remains are still conserved in the same place. Of that ancient vista perhaps the only thing that remains is the great obelisk, brought to Rome from Heliopolis by order of the emperor Caligula. It is the same obelisk that hundreds of workers have been toiling around all night to prepare for the historic event.
Today, twenty-one centuries later, there are other witnesses and the spectacle is different but the protagonist is again a “common man”. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Argentine, 76 years-old, a chemical technician. His followers may number over 1,165,714,000: the number of Catholics in the world, which is, approximately, one out of every six. In the “bleachers” this time are men and women who have come from over 132 countries around the world. They have come “because they wanted to”, as the Holy See emphasized: “There were no 'invitations' sent out. All who wish to come are warmly welcomed. It must be made clear that no one has privileged status or will be refused.” And so they have come: six sovereigns, three crown princes, 31 heads of state, 11 heads of government... more than 250 Catholic bishops and 1200 priests and seminarians... But those numbers do not count the men, women, youth, elderly, those of every type, faith, language, culture, class, status, and opinion who also came.
On the terrace of the Charlemagne Wing (the left-hand side colonnade of the square, if you are facing the Basilica) were positioned the cameras of some of the nearly 6000 journalists covering the event. Some of them saw the dawn; others were even there at 4:00am. For many of them, this will be their final event to cover after following developments day-by-day, including the almost-daily press conferences held by Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, who yesterday was presented with a plaque and press pass by the Italian Agency for the Associated Press as a thank you on behalf of all the journalists.
But the ceremony begins. Within the Basilica, the Holy Father Francis venerates St. Peter at his tomb. At this important moment he chose to be accompanied by the ten Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches who were in attendance. Why? Perhaps to demonstrate the universality of the Catholic Church with its two rites, Oriental and Latin, that are equal in essence and dignity. From the Confession, the tomb of St. Peter, the Pope reascended to the main floor of the Basilica, following the Book of the Gospels, the papal pallium, and the new Fisherman’s Ring.
Outside in the square, ecclesiastics who are not concelebrating have been seated to the left of the altar (always if you are facing the Basilica) and, to the right, political and civil authorities. Beauty is present in the splendour of the chants intoned by the Sistine Chapel Choir and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. The first Gregorian chant is the “Laudes Regiae” (Christ is King). At the Offertory during the Mass a motet composed by Pierluigi da Palestrina precisely for the Inauguration of the Pontificate will be sung: “Tu es pastor ovium” (You Are the Shepherd of the Sheep). At the conclusion of the Mass will come the “Te Deum” with verses alternating between Gregorian chant and a melody by Tomas Luis de Victoria.
There are three important moments of the ceremony inaugurating the new pontiff's Petrine ministry before the Mass begins. The first is the imposition of the pallium made from lamb's wool. Cardinal proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran, the one who made the “habemus Papam” announcement from the Basilica’s loggia last Wednesday, today will place the pallium on the Holy Father's shoulders. It represents the “lost, sick, or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life”.
Then the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will bestow the Fisherman's Ring on Francis. It bears the image of Peter holding the keys and is made of gold-plated silver. It was designed by the Italian artist Enrico Manfrini for Pope Paul VI but was never cast in metal. Its wax cast was conserved by Paul VI's personal secretary Archbishop Pasquale Macchi and, on his death, by Archbishop Macchi's colleague Msgr. Ettore Malnati who had it cast and proposed it, through Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, as one of the choices for the new Roman Pontiff.
Thirdly, six cardinals, two from each of the Orders, will make a symbolic act of obedience on behalf of all the other cardinals. This act of obedience was already made, by the Cardinal electors at the end of the Conclave and by the rest of the College of Cardinals when they met with him the next day. The people of God will be represented in the act of obedience made by the faithful who are present when the Pope takes possession of the Cathedral of Rome—St. John Lateran—in the next few days.
Now the Mass begins. It is the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. Concelebrating are all the cardinals present in Rome, joined by six Patriarchs and Major Eastern Rite Archbishops; the Secretary of the College of Cardinals; Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., superior general of the Order of Friars Minor; and Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus. In total they will be around 180 concelebrating with Pope Francis.
The Gospel, the culminating moment of the Liturgy of the Word is proclaimed in Greek, in deference to the Eastern Rite. Afterwards, Pope Francis gives his homily in Italian. The square is silent and the Holy Father is calm. “It seems like he has always been Pope,” someone remarks as soon as they hear his first words. The text was given to journalists beforehand with the warning, “Be attentive! This Pope loves to improvise!” But in this moment he stuck with the prepared text.
The Pope speaks of St. Joseph, the example he gives us, of his vocation, his fidelity, his availability, of how he knew how to listen to God, of how he was attentive to everything going on around him. This is the preamble of his homily, then he arrives at its heart, connecting St. Joseph's vocation to that of us all, each of us, and to the Pope's own vocation as well. He concludes with a resounding entreaty: our responsibility to protect with tenderness, to not destroy what we have received. From creation to ourselves and those around us, and especially the poorest. “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!” Pope Francis exhorted. We are all called “so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!” So ended the homily of the new Bishop of Rome, the homily of the Mass inaugurating his pontificate.
In the square a young man says of the quiet: “We were silent but a seething volcano is within us.” He was one of the many young Italians who have come with their children, some of which are just babies. Beside him is a group from Lebanon who remember John Paul II and Benedict XVI's trips to their land. “Francis will come too. We're sure of it!”
At the end, after the Mass, the Pope went to pray before the statue of the Virgin that stood next to the altar. Then, amidst the crowd's cries of “Francesco, Francesco, Francesco”, the Gregorian chant, and the thundering bells of St. Peter's, the new Holy Father returned to the Basilica. After removing his liturgical vestments, he went to the Altar of Confession, standing in front of which he received the greetings of the diplomatic representatives of the 132 countries and various organizations that had attended the Mass.
In the next few days, Pope Francis will have to figure out how to answer the millions of email messages that have already been received, despite the fact that he still doesn't have an official address.
Vatican City, 19 March 2013 (VIS) – Following is the complete text of the homily that Pope Francis gave during the Mass inaugurating his Petrine ministry. Beginning with the image of St. Joseph, the “protector”, the Pope stressed that the vocation to protect creation and humanity concerns everyone. He urged all to not be afraid of goodness or even of tenderness.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.”
“I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.”
“In the Gospel we heard that 'Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife' (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission that God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the 'custos', the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: 'Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model' (Redemptoris Custos, 1).”
“How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly, and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.”
“How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by humans, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the heart of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!”
“The vocation of being a 'protector', however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!”
“Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and our hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are 'Herods' who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.”
“Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany our world's journey! But to be 'protectors', we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy, and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up or tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!”
“Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness; it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!”
“Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete, and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgement on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”
“In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, 'hoping against hope, believed' (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God that has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock that is God.”
“To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!”
“I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.”
Vatican City, 19 March 2013 (VIS) – The thousands of people who spent a sleepless night in the main square of Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo, to watch the Mass inaugurating former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio's Petrine ministry had a pleasant surprise. At 7:32am Rome time—that is, 3:32am in Argentina—the speakers placed outside the cathedral in the square began to carry the voice of Pope Francis. He was calling, from the Vatican, to greet them.
As reported by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, the Pope had called the cell phone of one of his aides, Fr. Alejandro Russo, rector of the cathedral. From the archdiocesan television centre they were then able to connect the call to Plaza de Mayo, so that the pontiff might say hello to his parishioners. Shortly afterwards, the rector announced that he had a special surprise and those gathered began to hear Francis' voice. “Dear sons and daughters, I know you have gathered in the square. I know that you are saying prayers, I need them very much. It is beautiful to pray because we look to heaven and know that we have a good Father who is God.”
A huge wave of applause greeted the Pope's words and he continued: “I want to ask a favour of you. I want to ask for us to walk together, to care for one another, for you to care for each other. Do not cause harm. Protect life. Protect the family; protect nature; protect the young; protect the elderly. Let there not be hatred or fighting. Put aside envy.” And, in the city's slang, he added: “No le saquen el cuero a nadie [literally, “don't flay or skin anyone alive”, that is, don't gossip, don't criticize one another]. Talk with one another so that this desire to protect each other might grow in your hearts. And draw near to God. God is good. He always forgives and understands. Do not be afraid of him. Draw near to him and may the Virgin bless you. May she, as a mother, protect you. Please do not forget this bishop who is far away but who loves you very much. Pray for me!”
“Through the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin, and each of your guardian angels, the glorious patriarch St. Joseph, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and each of your protector saints, may God All-mighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless you,” Francis concluded, imparting the papal blessing to all present before closing the connection.
Vatican City, 19 March 2013 (VIS) – This is the history of the Fisherman’s Ring that, beginning today, Pope Francis will wear on the ring finger of his right hand.
Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, the personal secretary of Pope Paul VI, kept the wax cast of the ring that had been designed for Paul VI by the Italian artist Enrico Manfrini. (He also made several medals and other artistic objects for Paul VI.) The ring depicts St. Peter holding the keys. It was never cast into metal therefore Paul VI never wore it. Instead, he always wore the ring that was commissioned at the time of the Second Vatican Council.
When he passed away in 2006, the cast, along with other objects, was left by Archbishop Macchi to Monsignor Ettore Malnati, who had worked closely with him for many years. Msgr. Malnati made a ring of gold-plated silver from the wax cast. This ring was offered to Pope Francis, along with several other possible options, by the Papal Master of Ceremonies, through the auspices of Cardinal Re. Pope Francis chose it for his Ring of the Fisherman and it was bestowed upon him at this morning's Mass of the Inauguration of his Petrine Ministry.
Vatican City, 20 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis made a phone call to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to express his well wishes on the Pope emeritus' saint's day—St. Joseph. Again he also declared his, and the Church's, gratitude for the Pope emeritus' service. It was a long and cordial call. The Pope emeritus has attentively followed the events of recent days, in particular the Mass of inauguration of the new pontiff's Petrine ministry, and he assured his successor of his continued closeness in prayer.
Vatican City, 20 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Her Excellency Dilma Vana Rousseff, president of Brazil, with an entourage,
- His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople,
- Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and
- Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress.


John 8:
 31 - 42

31Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
33They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free'?"
34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.
35The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever.
36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you.
38I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
39They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do what Abraham did,
40but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did.
41You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.