Latest News from Vatican Information Service and Pope Francis - Official Release

09-12-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 218 

- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: “Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility”
- Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
- Presentation of the International Campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”
- Pope Francis pays homage to the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna
- Angelus: like Mary, welcome grace and correspond with faith
- The Pope lights the tallest Christmas tree in the world
- Angelus: be messengers of God's consolation
- Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
- Director of the Holy See Press Office on the inquiry on two ex-executives of the IOR
- Telegram for the death of Queen Fabiola of Belgium
- Pope's video message for the Christians and people of Iraq
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pontiff comments that the cardinal dedicated “long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See”, and assures his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in “a long friendship”, so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated “such intense and generous commitment to the Church”.
“With faith in the Paschal mystery of Christ, that illuminates and fills Christian life with hope, and the memory of a Pastor devoted to the evangelising mission, I beg for divine consolation in these moments of suffering, for you and for those loved ones who mourn his passing, to whom I impart the comfort of my heartfelt apostolic blessing”, he concluded.
The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: “Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility”
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis' message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration was read today during the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna, Austria on 8 and 9 December.
“The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass-killing, more attention must be given to the 'unnecessary suffering' brought on by their use. Military codes and international law, among others, have long banned peoples from inflicting unnecessary suffering. If such suffering is banned in the waging of conventional war, then it should all the more be banned in nuclear conflict. There are those among us who are victims of these weapons; they warn us not to commit the same irreparable mistakes which have devastated populations and creation”.
He continued, “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. … Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue. Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritise such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price”.
“The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It is rooted in the Creator who makes all people members of the one human family. This desire can never be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. … Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples. Pope Paul VI stated this succinctly in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio: 'Development is the new name for peace'. It is incumbent on us to adopt concrete actions which promote peace and security, while remaining always aware of the limitation of short-sighted approaches to problems of national and international security”.
“In the context of this Conference, I wish to encourage sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states”. He emphasised, “This dialogue must be inclusive, involving international organisations, religious communities and civil society, and oriented towards the common good and not the protection of vested interests. 'A world without nuclear weapons' is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality”.
Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has today issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place from 4 to 25 October, on the theme “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”.
The Lineamenta, or rather the first document for this Assembly, as indicated by Pope Francis in the concluding discourse of the Third Extraordinary Assembly, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. However, to facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod's progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod.
The document, thus composed – the Italian-language original of which is published today – is sent to the Episcopal Conferences, the Synods of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, the Union of Religious Superiors and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
The aforementioned ecclesial organisms, who will receive the document translated into the most commonly-used languages, will be able to select the most appropriate methods for confirming the reception and further examination of the Relatio Synodi, involving the different components of the particular Churches and academic organisations, lay associations and other ecclesial bodies with the aim of promoting wide consultation on the family in accordance with the spirit of the synodal process.
The results of this consultation shall be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops by 15 April 2015, to allow them to be examined and taken into consideration in the preparation of the Instrumentum laboris, to be published before the summer.
The Episcopal Conferences and the various ecclesial bodies are invited to accompany the synodal process with timely moments of prayer and celebration for the family and in preparation for the next Assembly. This should take place in particular on the occasion of the upcoming liturgical feast of the Holy Family on 28 December. In addition, the faithful are invited to recite the Holy Father's prayer for the Synod on the Family. The full text in Italian can be found at
The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website:
Presentation of the International Campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, presented the international online bullying awareness campaign “Stop Threats on the Internet”, in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other speakers at the conference were Don Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”.
In the presentation, it was shown that bullying on the Internet is a new form of violence, and the related issue of the time the internet subtracts from family relations emerged. Alongside this there arose the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected”, a problem about which we all complain, and it was suggested that this might have its origins precisely in parents not spending enough time with them, and in not taking the time to listen to them. It was explained that numerous sociological studies exist, examining the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children. Therefore, there are examples that show that when family relationships are positive it is more likely that the potential of social networks lead to greater inter- and intra-generational cohesion, and where family relationships are poor or conflictual, the social networks more easily facilitate individualistic routes and forms of surrogate relationship. It was also mentioned that, in the globalised world in which we live, it is increasingly common for family members to live far from each other, and therefore social networks may constitute an important vehicle for information and entertainment. However, it is essential to remember that online connection is accompanied by “real”, offline relationships, and that we cannot live alone, wrapped up in ourselves.
Faced with these situations, it was noted that the Church cannot be excluded: emphasis was placed on the opportunities that the Web offers for evangelisation or spiritual assistance, and the need for pastoral efforts in the formation of families. In this way, Cardinal Turkson highlighted that the Holy See, through the ratification of treaties on the rights of the Child, expresses its constant concern for the well-being of children and their families, in the hope that these agreements are able to guarantee the protection of the rights and interests of children, whom St. John Paul II described as a precious treasure, given to each generation as a challenge to its wisdom and humanity.
Pope Francis pays homage to the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, and then to Piazza di Spagna where he carried out the traditional act of veneration of Mary Immaculate. For the occasion, Francis composed and recited a prayer, the full text of which is published below:
“Mary our Mother, today the People of God celebrate you and venerate you as Immaculate, preserved forever from the stain of sin.
Accept the homage I offer you in the name of the Church in Rome and throughout the world.
Knowing that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin, is of great comfort to us.
Knowing that evil has no power over you, fills us with hope and strength in the daily struggle we have to face against the threats of the evil one.
But we are not alone in this struggle, we are not orphans because Jesus, before dying on the Cross, gave you to us as our Mother.
Even though we are sinners, we are still your children, children of the Immaculate, called to that holiness that shines in you by the grace of God since the beginning.
Inspired by this hope, today we invoke your maternal protection for us, our families, this city and the whole world.
Through your intercession, may the power of God’s love that preserved you from original sin, free humanity from every form of spiritual and material slavery and make God’s plan of salvation be victorious in both hearts and in history.
May grace prevail over pride in us too, your children.
May we become merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.
During this time leading to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, teach us to go against the flow: to strip ourselves, to be humble and giving, to listen and be silent, to go out of ourselves, giving space to the beauty of God, source of true joy.
Pray for us, our Immaculate Mother!”.
Angelus: like Mary, welcome grace and correspond with faith
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us”. This, said Pope Francis, is the message of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, appearing at the window of his study to pray the Angelus at midday with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father explained that in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace”, since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, 'Be it done to me according to your word'. She does not say 'I will do it according to your word', but rather, 'Be it done to me…'. And the Word was made flesh in her womb. We too are asked to listen to God Who speaks to us and to accept His will; according to the logic of the Gospel, nothing is more active and fruitful than to listen and receive the Word of the Lord”.
The attitude of Mary of Nazareth “shows us that being comes before doing, and we must let God act in order to truly become what He wants us to be. It is He Who works so many marvels in us. Mary is receptive, but not passive. Just as, at a physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God Who grows in her, she also receives grace and corresponds with faith, on a spiritual level. This mystery of the acceptance of grace, that in Mary by unique privilege was without the obstacle of sin, is a possibility for all. … As Mary is greeted by St. Elizabeth as 'blessed among women', so we too have always been 'blessed', that is, loved, and therefore 'chosen first from the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate'. Mary was preserved, whereas we have been saved thanks to baptism and faith: all of us, however, Mary and ourselves, through Christ”.
“Faced with love, faced with mercy, with the divine grace poured into our hearts, just one consequence is imposed: gratuity. None of us can buy salvation! Salvation is a gift freely given by the Lord, a free gift from God who comes to us and abides in us. In the same way as we have received his gift freely, so we are called to freely give, in imitation of Mary, who straight after having received the Annunciation of the Angel, goes to share the gift of her fertility with her relative Elizabeth. Because, if all has been given, everything must be given again in turn. How? By letting the Holy Spirit make of us a gift for others. The Spirit is a gift for us and we, through the Spirit, must be a gift for others and enable the Holy Spirit to make us into instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness”.
“If our existence is allowed to be transformed by the Lord's grace, so that the Lord's grace may transform us, we cannot keep for ourselves the light that comes from His face, but must instead pass it on so that it may illuminate others”.
The Pope lights the tallest Christmas tree in the world
Vatican City, 8 December 2014 (VIS) – Every year on this day in Gubbio, the Italian city where St. Francis tamed the wolf, the tallest Christmas tree in the world is lit up. Situated on the slopes of Mount Ingino, it is made up of dots of light of different types: 250 green dots trace a silhouette more than 650 metres high, which contains more than 300 lights of various colours. It is topped with a star of 1000 square metres, made up of 200 white lights. At dusk yesterday, 7 December, the Holy Father illuminated the tree from the Vatican using a tablet, and he greeted those in attendance in Gubbio.
“In switching on the light of the Nativity scene, we wish for the light of Christ to be in us. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; let there be no hostilities, which are dark. Let there be the beautiful light of Jesus. This is my wish for all of you, when you turn on the light of the crib.
“Many thanks for your gift, it is beautiful. Also I give to you my warmest wishes, peace and happiness.
“If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul. Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything.
“May there be light in your hearts, in your families, in your cities. And now, with this wish, let us turn on the light.
“Blessed be God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Merry Christmas and pray for me”.
Angelus: be messengers of God's consolation
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace at midday today to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, Francis spoke about the second Sunday of Advent as a “wonderful time that reawakens in us the expectation of Christ's return and the memory of his historic coming. It is the Lord's invitation as expressed by the prophet Isaiah: 'Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God'”.
“The prophet invites those who listen to him – including us, today – to spread among the people this message of hope: that the Lord consoles us. And to allow room for the Lord's consolation”, he continued. “But we cannot be messengers of God's consolation if we do not first experience the joy of being consoled and loved by Him. This happens especially when we listen to the Word, the Gospel, which we should carry with us in our pockets … and when we remain in silent prayer in His presence, when we encounter Him in the Eucharist or in the sacrament of Reconciliation”.
The Pope recalled those who are “oppressed by suffering, injustice and abuse; those who are slaves to money, to power, to success and worldliness. “Theirs are false consolations, they are not the true consolation of the Lord! We are all called to console our brethren, showing that only God can eliminate the causes of existential and spiritual crisis”. The Pontiff went on to encourage all those present to allow themselves to be consoled by the Lord, and he concluded by entrusting to Mary the hopes for salvation and peace for all men and women of our time.
Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Vatican City, 7 December 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, 6 December, Pope Francis received in private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorised the promulgation of the following decrees regarding:
MIRACLES, attributable to the intercession of:
- Blessed Jeanne-Emilie de Villeneuve, France, foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres (1811-1854);
- Blessed Marie-Alphonsine (nee Maryam Sultanah Danil Ghattas), Turco-British Palestine, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem of the Latins (1843-1927);
- Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (nee Maryam Baouardy), Turkish Palestine, professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (1846-1878);
- Servant of God Carmela of Jesus (nee Francesca Paola Prestigiacomo), Italy, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Incarnate Word (1858- 1948);
- Servant of God Maria Seiquer Gaya, Spain, foundress of the Apostolic Sisters of Christ Crucified (1891-1975);
- Servant of God Adalberta (nee Vojtecha) Hasmandova, Czech Republic, superior general of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Charles Borromeo (1914-1988);
- Servant of God Praxedes Fernandez Garcia, Spain, laywoman and member of the Third Order of St. Dominic (1886-1936);
- Servant of God Elisabetta Tasca, Italy, laywoman and mother (1899-1978).
Director of the Holy See Press Office on the inquiry on two ex-executives of the IOR
Vatican City, 7 December 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office has issued the following statement in response to questions from the press:
“I can confirm that the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Tribunal has opened an investigation against two former executives of the IOR for suspected embezzlement of funds in the context of real estate transactions that took place during the period from 2001 to 2008. The investigation has also been extended to a lawyer for involvement in the case.
The matter was presented to the Vatican City State judiciary by the IOR authorities as a result of the internal audit carried out last year.
The accounts of those concerned in the IOR were frozen as a precautionary measure a few weeks ago.
Telegram for the death of Queen Fabiola of Belgium
Vatican City, 6 December 2014 (VIS) – The Pope has sent a telegram of condolences to His Majesty the King Philippe of Belgium for the death of Queen Fabiola yesterday, 5 December, at the age of 86.
In the text, Francis communicates to the monarch and all the Royal family, along with the Government and the Belgian people, his sorrow at learning of the death of the Queen, and expressed his deepest condolences. “I fervently pray that the Lord may receive his faithful servant in His Kingdom of Light, and that He may grant comfort and hope to all those affected by her departure”, he writes.
Pope's video message for the Christians and people of Iraq
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France, will transmit a video message from Pope Francis to the Christians and the population as a whole in Iraq, to be screened this afternoon in the city of Erbil. The twinning of the diocese with Mosul, which began last summer, has given rise to several initiatives to support the Iraqi population. The full text of the Pope's message is published below:
“I would like to greet each and every one of you, along with Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who once again brings you the concern and the love of the entire Church. I too would like to be there with you, but since I am unable to travel, I will do this instead … but I am very close to you in these difficult moments. I said, during my return journey from Turkey: Christians are being driven out of the Middle East, with suffering. I thank you for the witness you give; and there is a great deal of suffering in your witness. Thank you! Many thanks.
“It would seem that there they do not want there to be any Christians, but you bear witness to Christ. I think of the wounds, of the pain of women with their children, the elderly and the displaced, the wounds of those who are victims of every type of violence.
“As I mentioned in Ankara, particular concern is caused by the fact that above all, due to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially, – but not only – Christians and Yazidi, have suffered and continue to suffer inhuman violence because of their religious and ethnic identity. Christians and Yazidis have been forced out of their homes, they have had to abandon everything to save their lives, but they have not denied their faith. Even holy buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural heritage have been affected by the violence, almost as if to cancel every trace, every memory of the other.
“As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations of the dignity and rights of humanity.
“Today I wish to draw closer those of you who tolerate this suffering, and to be close to you … And I think of St. Therese of the Baby Jesus, who said that she and the Church were like a rod: when the wind rises and the storm comes, the rod bends but it does not break. At the moment, you are like this rod: you bend painfully, but you have the strength to carry forth your faith, which is a testimony to us. You are God's rod today! The rods that bend under this ferocious wind, but then rise up again.
“I wish to thank you again. I pray that the Spirit, Who makes all things new, will give each of you strength and resistance. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And I strongly urge, as I did in Turkey, greater international collaboration to resolve the conflicts that cause blood to be shed in your lands of origin, to combat the other causes that lead people to leave their homelands and to promote suitable conditions for them to remain or return. I hope that you will return, that you will be able to return.
“Dear brothers and sisters, you are in my heart and my prayers, and in the hearts and prayers of all Christian communities, whom I will ask to pray in a special way for you on 8 December, to pray to Our Lady to protect you: she is our mother and will protect you.
“Brothers and sisters, your resistance is martyrdom, it is dew that brings fruitfulness. Please, I ask you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you.
May God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you”.
Vatican City, 6 December 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;
- Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, apostolic nuncio in Korea and Mongolia;
- Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo, Italy;
- Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B.;
- Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Martin Musonde Kivuva of Machakos, Kenya, as archbishop of Mombasa (area 38,000, population 2,214,000, Catholics 323,000, priests 116, religious 321), Kenya.
- Msgr. Adolfo Ramon Canecin as coadjutor of the diocese of Goya (area 33,603, population 307,500, Catholics 283,000, priests 48, religious 51), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Formosa, Argentina in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He has served as vicar in the parish of “Maria Madre de la Iglesia” and parish priest of the “Sagrada Familia” parish, Formosa; rector of the cathedral of Formosa; and vicar general and rector of “La Encarnacion” interdiocesan seminary in Resistencia, Chaco. He is currently episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry and parish priest in the “San Francisco de Asis” parish.
On Monday, 8 December, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Cabinda, Angola, as archbishop of Luanda (area 343, population 3,682,000, Catholics 2,717,000, priests 14, religious 493), Angola.