Latest #Vatican Information Service News and #PopeFrancis

11-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 050 

- A Church that defies throwaway culture with the embrace of the young and the elderly
- The relic of St. Teresa's “pilgrim staff” arrives in the Vatican
- The Pope to visit the Roman Rebibbia prison on Holy Thursday
- Cardinal Parolin explains the diplomatic activity of the Holy See in the service of peace
- The Pope announces an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
- The Pope encourages the bishops of Korea and the Catholic community of Mongolia, a “pledge of the fullness of God's Kingdom”
- Every penitent who approaches the confessional is sacred ground to be cultivated with care and attention
- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran to visit Cote d'Ivoire
- The Holy See reaffirms its opposition to the death penalty
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
A Church that defies throwaway culture with the embrace of the young and the elderly
Vatican City, 11 March 2015 (VIS) – The value and importance of grandparents in the family was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Firstly, Francis affirmed that he was able to identify with grandparents as he is of the same age. “When I was in the Philippines, the people called me 'Lolo Kiko', or rather, 'Grandpa Francis'”, he said, emphasising that although society tends to reject the elderly, the Lord does not: on the contrary, He calls us to follow Him in all stages of life as old age too “contains a grace and a mission, a true vocation”.
“However, it is not yet the time to 'set down our oars'”, he said. “This period of life is different to those that preceded it, without doubt; we must also reinvent it a little since our societies are not yet ready spiritually or morally to accord it its full value. Previously, in fact, it was not normal to have so much free time; today far more so. And even Christian spirituality has been taken a little by surprise, and has had to delineate a spirituality for the elderly. But thanks to God there is no lack of testimonies from elderly saints!”.
The Pope gave the example of the elderly Simeon and Anna, who awaited the arrival of Jesus in the temple for many years, and who were resigned to dying before seeing Him, even though that long wait had occupied all their lives and had been their most important commitment. However, when Mary and Joseph arrived in the Temple in compliance with the Law, the burdens of age and their long wait disappeared in an instant. “They recognised the Child, and discovered a new strength, for a new task: to give thanks and to bear witness to this Sign of God. Simeon improvised a beautiful hymn of jubilation and Anna became Jesus' first preacher, as Luke tells us in his Gospel: she began 'to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem'”.
“Dear grandparents, dearly elderly”, exclaimed the Pope, “let us follow in the wake of these extraordinary old people! Let us too become poets of prayer: let us acquire the taste for seeking new words, reappropriating those that the Word of God teaches us. The prayer of grandparents and the elderly is a great gift for the Church. It is a great injection of wisdom for all society, especially for those who are too busy, too encumbered, too distracted. Someone has to sing the signs of God for these people too, to proclaim the signs of God. Let us look at Benedict XVI, who has chosen to spend the final part of his life in prayer and in listening to God. Olivier Clement, a great believer from the last century, of Orthodox tradition, said, “A civilisation where one does not pray is a civilisation in which old age no longer has any meaning. And this is terrifying: more than anything we need the elderly who pray, because old age was given to us for this”.
“We are able to thank the Lord for the favours received, and fill the emptiness of ingratitude that surrounds us. We can intercede for the expectations of the new generations and give dignity to the memory and sacrifices of those past. We can remind the ambitious young that a life without love is arid. We can say to the fearful young that anguish about the future can be defeated. We can teach the young who are too wrapped up in themselves that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. Grandparents form the permanent 'choir' of a great spiritual shrine, where prayer of supplication and hymns of praise support the community that works and struggles in the field of life”.
Likewise, “prayer incessantly purifies the heart. Praise and supplication to God prevent the hardening of the heart in resentment and selfishness. How sad it is to see the cynicism of an elderly person who has lost the sense of his or her own testimony, who is disdainful towards the young and does not communicate the wisdom of a lifetime! Instead, it is beautiful to see the encouragement that an elderly person is able to transmit to the young in search of the meaning of faith and life. It is truly the mission of grandparents, the vocation of the elderly. The words of the elderly hold something special for the young. And they know this. The words my grandmother wrote to me on the day of my priestly ordination I still carry with me now, in my breviary; I often read them and this does me good”.
“How I would like to see a Church that challenges the throwaway culture with the superabundant joy of a new embrace between the young and the elderly! And this is what I ask of the Lord today: this embrace”, concluded the Holy Father.
The relic of St. Teresa's “pilgrim staff” arrives in the Vatican
Vatican City, 11 March 2015 (VIS) – At the end of today's general audience, during his greetings in various languages, the Pope mentioned that this month will mark the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Jesus in Avila, Spain. “May her spiritual vigour stimulate you, dear young people, to bear joyful witness to faith in your life; may her trust in Christ the Saviour sustain you, dear sick people, in the moments of greatest discouragement; and may her tireless apostolate invite you, dear newly-weds, to place Christ at the centre of your marital home”.
Later on Pope Francis received in the Vatican the relic of St. Teresa's famous “pilgrim staff”, as part of on a worldwide tour organised by the Order of Carmelites, to commemorate the anniversary of the Spanish mystic and doctor of the Church. The global pilgrimage, entitled “Way of Light”, began in Avila on 15 October 2014 with the aim of visiting the family of Mount Carmel in 30 countries across five continents, a journey of 117 thousand kilometres and lasting more than 160 days. It will return to Avila on 28 March, in time for the 500th anniversary of the saint's birth.
On the same day, the Teresian jubilee year will be inaugurated with a prayer for world peace. Throughout the year a series of celebrations will be held, including the European Youth Meeting, which is expected to be attended by more than 9,000 young people from across the continent, several pilgrimages and many conferences and exhibitions.
The Pope to visit the Roman Rebibbia prison on Holy Thursday
Vatican City, 11 March 2015 (VIS) – The Prefecture of the Papal Household has announced today that on 2 April, Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will visit the Rebibbia New Complex Prison to meet with detainees.
At 5.30 p.m. in the “Padre Nostro” Chapel he will celebrate Mass “in coena Domini”, during which he will wash the feet of some inmates, and of some detainees from the nearby women's penitentiary.
Cardinal Parolin explains the diplomatic activity of the Holy See in the service of peace
Vatican City, 11 March 2015 (VIS) – This morning Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin gave a Lectio Magistralis at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, during the “Dies Academicus”, the annual study day dedicated to a theme that the different departments of the university analyse from the perspectives of various fields of study (theology, philosophy, history, culture, canon law, social sciences, missiology, psychology, spirituality, etc). This year's theme was “Peace: gift of God, human responsibility, Christian commitment”. The title of the Secretary of State's Lectio Magistralis was “The diplomatic activity of the Holy See in the service of peace”.
“The diplomatic activity of the Holy See is not content to observe events or evaluate their importance; nor can it remain merely a critical voice”, affirmed Cardinal Parolin. “It acts to facilitate the coexistence and cohabitation of various nations, to promote fraternity between peoples, where the term fraternity is a synonym for effective collaboration, true cooperation, harmonious and orderly, of a solidarity structured in favour of the common good and that of individuals. And the common good, as we know, has more than a link with peace. The Holy See works substantially on the international scene not to guarantee a generic security – made more difficult in this period of lasting instability – but to sustain an idea of peace as the fruit of just relations, of respect for international law, of the protection of fundamental human rights beginning with those of the least among us, the most vulnerable”.
“The diplomacy of the Holy See has a clear ecclesial function”, he added: “if it is the tool of communion that unites the Roman Pontiff with the Bishops at the head of the local Churches, or that guarantees the life of the local Churches in relation to the civil authorities, I dare say that it is also the vehicle of the Successor of Peter for reaching the peripheries, both ecclesiastically and in terms of the human family. … In the field of civil society, which forms of ethical guidance would be lacking were the Holy See not present in different intergovernmental contexts, in the areas of cooperation, disarmament, the struggle against poverty, the eradication of hunger, care for the sick, and promoting literacy?”.
Cardinal Parolin went on to explain that “papal diplomacy is entrusted the task of working in favour of peace following the methods and rules that are applicable to subjects of international law, therefore formulating practical answers in legal terms to prevent, resolve or regulate conflicts and to avoid their possible degeneration into the irrationality of armed force. But”, he concluded, “it is above all an activity that demonstrates how the aim pursued is primarily religious and as such is about being true 'workers for peace', and not 'workers for war or at least agents of misunderstanding', as Pope Francis reminds us”.
14-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 052 

The Pope announces an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, 13 March 2015, in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis declared the celebration of an extraordinary Holy year. The Jubilee announcement was made during the homily of the penitential celebration with which he opened the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
The papal Bull will be made public on Divine Mercy Sunday, 12 April, the Feast day instituted by St. John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.
12-03-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 051 

The Pope encourages the bishops of Korea and the Catholic community of Mongolia, a “pledge of the fullness of God's Kingdom”
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Pope received the bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he prepared for the prelates, extensive extracts of which are published below, the Holy Father refers to his visit to the country last year during which he experienced first hand the goodness of the Korean people who shared their joys and sorrows with him, and affirmed that the trip remains “a lasting encouragement” to him in his ministry to the Universal Church.
“In the course of my visit, we had the opportunity to reflect on the life of the Church in Korea and, in particular, on our episcopal ministry in the service of the People of God and of society”, he writes. “I wish to continue that reflection with you today,by highlighting three aspects of my visit: memory, youth and the mission of confirming our brothers and sisters in the faith. I would like also to share these thoughts with the Churchin Mongolia. Though a small community in a vast territory, it is like the mustard seed which is the pledge of the fullness of God’s Kingdom. May these reflections encourage the continuing growth of that seed, and nourish the rich soil of the Mongolian people’s faith”.
“For me, one of the most beautiful moments of my visit to Korea was the beatification ofthe martyrs Paul Yun Ji-chung and companions. … Even before their faith found full expression in the sacramental life of the Church, these first Korean Christians not only fostered their personal relationship with Jesus, but brought him to others, regardless of class or social standing, and dwelt in a community of faith and charity like the first disciples of the Lord. … Their love of God and neighbour was fulfilled in the ultimate act of freely laying down their lives, thereby watering with their own blood the seedbed of the Church. That first community has left you and all of the Church a beautiful witness of Christian living: 'their integrity in the search for truth, their fidelity to the highest principles of the religion which they chose to embrace, and their testimony of charity and solidarity with all'. Their example is a school which can form us into evermore faithful Christian witnesses by calling us to encounter, to charity and to sacrifice. The lessons which they taught are particularly applicable in our times when, despite the many advancements being made in technology and communication, individuals are increasingly becoming isolated and communities weakened. How important it is, then, that you work together with the priests, religious men and women, and lay leaders of your dioceses, to ensure that parishes, schools and centres of the apostolate are authentic places of encounter: encounter with the Lord who teaches us how to love and who opens our eyes to the dignity of every person, and encounter with one another, especially the poor, the elderly, the forgotten in our midst”.
“My thoughts now turn to your young people who greatly desire to carry forward the legacy of your ancestors. … Just as the witness of the first Christians calls us to care for one another, so our youth challenge us to hear one another. … When we speak with young people, they challenge us to share the truth of Jesus Christ clearly and in a way that they can understand. They also test the authenticity of our own faith and fidelity. Though it is Christ we preach and not ourselves, we are called to be an example to the People of God in order to draw people to him. … As you reflect on the life of your dioceses, as you formulate and revise your pastoral plans, I urge you to keep before you the young whom you serve. See them as partners in 'building a holier, more missionary and humble Church, a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalised'. Be close to them. … This closeness will not only strengthen the institutions and communities of the Church, but will also help you to understand the difficulties they and their families are experiencing in their daily lives in society. In this way, the Gospel will penetrate ever more deeply the life of the Catholic community as well as that of society as a whole”.
“As you prepare to return to your local Churches, as well as encouraging you in your ministry and confirming you in your mission, I ask you, above all, to be servants, just as Christ came to serve, and not to be served. Ours is a life of service, freely given, for each soul entrusted to our care, without exception. … In this spirit of service, may you be solicitous for one another. By your collaboration and fraternal support, you will strengthen the Church in Korea and Mongolia and become ever more effective in proclaiming Christ.
Every penitent who approaches the confessional is sacred ground to be cultivated with care and attention
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – “The Sacraments, as we know, are God's demonstration of closeness and tenderness towards humanity; they are the concrete way God created to move be closer to us, to embrace us, without shame for our limits”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience in the Paul VI Hall the participants in the annual Course on the Inner Forum organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. “Without doubt”, he continued, “among the Sacraments, it is that of Reconciliation that best shows the merciful face of God. We must never forget, either as penitents or as confessors: there is no sin that God cannot forgive! None! Only what is hidden from divine mercy cannot be forgiven, like those that hide themselves from the sun cannot be illuminated or warmed.
Following the theme of reconciliation, Francis emphasised three demands. The first is to live the Sacrament as a way of educating in mercy. The Pope described Confession “not as a form of torture but rather as a liberating encounter, full of humanity, through which we can educate in a mercy that does not exclude, but rather includes the just commitment to make amends, as far as possible, for the sin committed”. The second is that of “allowing oneself to be educated in what we are celebrating, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation”, as “it is possible to learn much from conversion and the repentance of our brothers. They lead us to examine our own consciences”. He then outlined the third requirement, that of keeping one's gaze towards heaven and the supernatural. He urged those present to remember that they are all ministers of reconciliation “purely by the grace of God, gratuitously and out of love, or rather, out of mercy. We are ministers of mercy thanks to God's mercy, and we must never lose this view to the supernatural that makes us truly humble, weloming and merciful towards every brother and sister who wishes to confess. … Every faithful penitent who approaches the confessional is 'sacred ground' to be cultivated with dedication, care and pastoral attention”.
The Pope concluded by encouraging those present to “make the most of this Lenten period for personal conversion and to dedicate yourselves generously to confessions, so that the People of God can be purified as they reach Easter, which represents the final victory of Divine Mercy over all the evil in the world”.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran to visit Cote d'Ivoire
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue today announced that Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the dicastery, will visit Cote d'Ivoire from 13 to 17 March 2015, accompanied by Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary and Msgr. Lucio Sembrano, official.
The aim of the visit is primarily to participate in the celebrations to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the evangelisation of the Great North in the diocese of Korhogo.
The delegation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will meet with the academic community of the Catholic University of Western Africa (UCAO) in Abidjan Cocody.
In Yamoussoukro, Cardinal Tauran will meet with members of the Episcopal Conference of Cote d'Ivoire and will preside at Mass concelebrated in the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
The visit will offer the opportunity to promote and encourage interreligious dialogue in Cote d'Ivoire, in a context of respect and friendship, in accordance with the teaching of Pope Francis. With this objective, various meetings are scheduled with leaders of other religious traditions, especially of Islam and traditional African religions, first in Korhogo, and subsequently in Yamoussoukro and Abidjan.
On 17 March, Cardinal Tauran will pay a private visit to the president of the Republic, Alessane Ouattara.
The Holy See reaffirms its opposition to the death penalty
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva gave an address at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council on 4 March, regarding the issue of the death penalty.
Speaking in English, the nuncio said, “The Delegation of the Holy See … joins an increasing number of States in supporting the fifth U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. Public opinion in support of the various provisions aimed at abolishing the death penalty, or suspending its application, is growing. This provides a strong momentum which this delegation hopes will encourage States still applying the death penalty to move in the direction of its abolition”.
The archbishop explained that twenty years ago, during the papacy of St. John Paul II, the position of the Holy See was “framed within the proper ethical context of defending the inviolable dignity of the human person and the role of the legitimate authority to defend in a just manner the common good of society”. He continued, “Considering the practical circumstances found in most States, as a result of steady improvements in the organisation of the penal system, it appears evident nowadays that means other than the death penalty are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons. For that reason, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity with the dignity of the human person”.
Benedict XVI affirmed in 2011 that “the political and legislative initiatives promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order are moving in the right direction. Pope Francis has further emphasised that the legislative and judicial practice of the State authority must always be guided by the primacy of human life and the dignity of the human person”, noting also “the possibility of judicial error and the use made by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes … as a means of suppressing political dissidence or of persecuting religious and cultural minorities”.
“Respect for the dignity of every human person and the common good are the two pillars on which the position of the Holy See has developed. These principles converge with a similar development in international human rights law and jurisprudence. Moreover, we should take into account that no clear positive effect of deterrence results from the application of the death penalty and that the irreversibility of this punishment does not allow for eventual corrections in the case of wrongful convictions”.
Therefore, the Holy See “contends that bloodless means of defending the common good and upholding justice are possible, and calls on States to adapt their penal system to demonstrate their adhesion to a more humane form of punishment. As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so”.
In conclusion, the Holy See delegation “fully supports the efforts to abolish the use of the death penalty. In order to arrive at this desired goal, these steps need to be taken: sustaining the social reforms that would enable society to implement the abolition of the death penalty and improving prison conditions, to ensure respect for the human dignity of people deprived of their freedom”.
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Archbishop Girolamo Prigione, apostolic nuncio;
- Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio in Panama;
- Fourteen prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon of Suwon, with his auxiliary, Bishop Linus Lee Seong-hyo;
- Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon of Uijeongbu, with Bishop emeritus Joseph Lee Han-taek;
- Bishop Jacobus Kim Ji-Seok of Wonju;
- Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu;
- Bishop John Chrisostom Kwon Hyeok-ju of Andong;
- Bishop Paul Hwang Chul-soo of Busan, with his auxiliary, Bishop Joseph Son Sam-seok;
- Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun of Cheongnju;
- Bishop Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok of Masan, with Bishop emeritus Michael Pak Jeon-il;
- Bishop Francis Xavier Yu Soo-il, military ordinary; and
- Bishop Wenceslao S. Padilla, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 12 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Rev. Fr. John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv., as bishop of Lexington (area 42,520, population 1,601,000, Catholics 47,900, priests 64, permanent deacons 71, religious 89), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Amherst, Ohio, U.S.A. in 1966, gave his solemn vows in 1992, and was ordained a priest in 1995. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest, administrator and parish priest of the “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” parish in El Paso, Texas; vicar general of the diocese of El Paso; administrator of the “Our Lady of the Valley” parish; and chancellor of the diocese of El Paso. He is currently provincial vicar of the “Our Lady of Consolation” Franciscan Conventual Province and rector of the Basilica and national shrine of “Our Lady of Consolation”, Carey, Ohio.
- appointed Bishop Thomas Anthony Daly, auxiliary of San Jose in California, U.S.A., as bishop of Spokane (area 63,325, population 325,161, Catholics 107,271, priests 146, permanent deacons 43, religious 230), U.S.A.
- given his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church of Rev. Fr. Teodor (Taras) Martynyuk, M.S.U., as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Ternopil'-Zboriv (area 8,346, population 636,000, Catholics 385,000, priests 320, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Yaremche, Ukraine in 1974, gave his solemn vows in 1997 and was ordained a priest in 2000. He holds a doctorate in Oriental canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute. During his pastoral ministry he has served in various roles in the Lavra of Univ and the monastery of St. Michael in Lviv, and as a lecturer in Oriental canon law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome. He is currently Igumen of the Lavra of the Dormition in Univ, Ukraine.