Vatican City, (VIS) – The Holy Father's catechesis in today's general audience focused on “the Eucharist, heart of Christian initiation and source of the life of the Church”. “The Word and the Bread, during Mass, become one, like in the Last Supper, when all Jesus' words, all the signs he had made, were condensed into the gesture of breaking bread and offering the chalice in anticipation of the sacrifice of the Cross”.
Pope Francis remarked that Jesus' gesture during the Last Supper is “the extreme giving of thanks to the Father for His love and for His mercy”, and recalled that “thanksgiving”, in Greek, is “eucaristia”. This is why the term Eucharist encompasses all of this gesture, which is the gesture of God and man, a gesture of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man”.
The Pope repeated that each time we celebrate this Sacrament, it does not simply mean remembering, but rather sharing in “the mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection”. “The Eucharist”, he said, “is the peak of the action of God's salvation: the Lord Jesus, making himself into bread, broken for us, indeed pours over us all His mercy and His love, thereby renewing our hearts, our existence and our way of relating with Him and with our brothers”.
Pope Francis concluded by inviting those present to pray to the Lord so that “this Sacrament may continue to keep its presence alive, within the Church, and to model our communities in charity and communion, in accordance with the heart of the Father. And this continues all through our lives, although it begins on the day our our first Communion. It is important that children prepare well for their first Communion and that every child does so, as it is the first step to this strong bond of belonging to Jesus Christ, following Baptism and Confirmation”.
|SOLIDARITY WITH THOSE AFFECTED BY FLOODS IN ITALY|
Vatican City, (VIS) – In his greetings following the catechesis at general audience, Pope Francis recalled in a special way those affected by the heavy downpours which have affected the regions of Tuscany and Latium for some days now, causing flooding and inundations and leaving many families homeless. “We are all praying for you and are close to you with our efforts, with our solidarity and with our love”.
He also greeted a group of bishops taking part in a congress promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community, and participants in a study week on human formation for candidates to the priesthood organised by the Pontifical University of the Sacred Heart, expressing his hope that their visit to the tomb of St. Peter be a “propitious occasion for the renewal of missionary commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel, especially to the marginalised and the poor”.
Finally, he mentioned the sick, who were gathered today in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall rather than in St. Peter's Square on account of the bad weather, commenting that he had greeted them prior to arriving in the square, and that they were able to follow the audience on screen.
|PRESS RELEASE ON OBSERVATIONS OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD|
Vatican City, (VIS) – This morning the Holy See Press Office issued a communique on the observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the full text of which is published below:
“At the end of its 65th session, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its Concluding Observations on the reviewed Reports of the Holy See and five States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Congo, Germany, Portugal, Russian Federation and Yemen).
According to the proper procedures foreseen for the parties to the Convention, the Holy See takes note of the Concluding Observations on its Reports, which will be submitted to a thorough study and examination, in full respect of the Convention in the different areas presented by the Committee according to international law and practice, as well as taking into consideration the public interactive debate with the Committee, held on 16 January 2014.
The Holy See does, however, regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of religious freedom.
The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine”.
|POPE FRANCIS TO RECEIVE QUEEN ELIZABETH II OF THE UNITED KINGDOM|
Vatican City, (VIS) – On Pope Francis will receive in audience Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was made public by Buckingham Palace and confirmed yesterday afternoon by the Holy See Press Office.
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip of Edinburgh, will be in Rome upon invitation by the president of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano. The Queen and Prince Philip will lunch in private with President Napolitano, and will then be received in audience by the Pope. It will be the first encounter between Pope Francis and the Queen, as at the Holy Mass at the beginning of his pontificate the United Kingdom was represented by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. President Napolitano's invitation was first presented last year, but neither the Queen nor Prince Philip were able to accept for reasons of ill health. Since then, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy and Pope Francis was elected.
The Italian Head of State renewed his invitation earlier this year and Queen Elizabeth decided to take the opportunity to meet with the new Pontiff. The same occurred on her last visit to Rome, in 2000, when she was received by Blessed John Paul II. The Queen met with Benedict XVI during his apostolic visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010.
|FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI IS AWARDED THE ¡BRAVO! PRIZE BY THE SPANISH EPISCOPAL COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., will today receive in Madrid, Spain, the ¡Bravo! Prize awarded every year by the Commission for Social Communication Media of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE).
Every year the CEE awards the ¡Bravo! Prize in recognition of the valuable work of all professionals in the field of communication in the various media, distinguished by their service to the dignity of man, human rights and the values of the Gospel. Fr. Lombardi will receive the ¡Bravo! Special Prize for his “intense service to Church communication” and for having promoted “closeness between the Church institution and the social communication media”.
The director of the Holy See Press Office will also attend an assembly of diocesan delegates in the field of social communications, where he will give a conference on the theme “Spokesmanship in the Vatican”.
|OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Santo Gangemi, apostolic nuncio in Guinea, as apostolic nuncio in Mali.