Thursday, April 30, 2015

Latest #News from #Vatican and #PopeFrancis


30-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 081 

Summary
- The Pope receives the president of the Republic of the Seychelles
- To the Anglican-Catholic Commission: the cause of unity is not an optional undertaking
- To the Community of Christian Life: reach out to the neediest frontiers of humanity
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Giovanni Canestri: a wise pastor, attentive to the needs of others
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for May
- Presentation of the concert for Papal works of charity
- New commission for Vatican communications
- The international community must not resign itself to the tragedy of Christians in the Middle East
- Audiences
- General audience: the dignity of marriage
- The Pope sends a video message to guests at the Caritas centres
The Pope receives the president of the Republic of the Seychelles
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Republic of the Seychelles, James Alix Michel, who subsequently met with Cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations existing between the Holy See and the Republic of the Seychelles. Mention was made of the Catholic Church’s contribution to the service of society, especially in the fields of welfare and education, and themes of common interest were considered, such as the dignity and full development of the human person and the protection of the environment.
Finally, there was an exchange of opinions on the socio-political situation in the country and in the region.
To the Anglican-Catholic Commission: the cause of unity is not an optional undertaking
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience twenty members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, meeting in these days in order to study the relationship between the universal Church and the local Church, with particular reference to processes for discussions and decision making regarding moral and ethical questions. The Commission was created as a result of the historic meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Arthur Michael Ramsey, who signed a joint declaration to establish dialogue based on the Gospel and the common tradition in the hope of leading to the unity in truth for which Christ prayed.
Although that goal has not yet been reached, the Commission's visit to the Pope shows how “the shared tradition of faith and history between Anglicans and Catholics can inspire and sustain our efforts to overcome the obstacles to full communion”. Furthermore, the commission will shortly publish five jointly agreed statements from the second phase of the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, a reminder that ecumenical relations and dialogue are not secondary elements of the life of the Churches. “The cause of unity is not an optional undertaking and the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable”, said the Holy Father.
“There is a strong bond that already unites us which goes beyond all divisions”, underlined Francis. “It is the testimony of Christians from different Churches and traditions, victims of persecution and violence simply because of the faith they profess. And not only now, that there are many of them; I think also of the martyrs of Uganda, half Catholics and half Anglicans. The blood of these martyrs will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment, a fervent desire to fulfil the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one. The witness by these our brothers and sisters demands that we live in harmony with the Gospel and that we strive with determination to fulfil the Lord's will for his Church. Today the world urgently needs the common, joyful witness of Christians, from the defence of life and human dignity to the promotion of justice and peace. Together let us invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to respond courageously to the 'signs of the times' which are calling all Christians to unity and common witness”.
To the Community of Christian Life: reach out to the neediest frontiers of humanity
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the Community of Christian Life (CVX) and the Student Missionary League, for the inauguration of the National Conference of the two Italian groups, exponents of Ignatian spirituality, to be held in Frascati, Italy, from today until 3 May, on the theme “Beyond Walls”. The Holy Father handed them a written discourse in which he indicates various priorities to be taken into account on their spiritual and community path.
First, he mentions the challenge of promoting a culture of justice and peace. “Faced with a culture of illegality, corruption and confrontation, you are called to devote yourselves to the common good, also through service to those linked to politics. If Christians dissociate themselves from direct involvement in politics, it would be a betrayal of the mission of the lay faithful, who are called upon to be salt and light in the world, also through this form of presence”.
He focuses on family pastoral ministry, following the last Synod of Bishops, as a second apostolic priority, and encouraged them to help diocesan communities in their care for families, the vital cell of society, an in accompanying couples as they prepare for marriage. He also emphasises the importance of working with those who have “drifted away” from the Church: among them there are many separated couples, “who suffer as a result of the failure of their plans for married life”, and also other difficult family situations.
Finally, he turns his attention to missionary life, and encourages them to maintain their capacity to “go out towards the frontiers of humanity at its neediest”. The Pope mentions the members of communities present in Syria, Lebanon and plans for the reception of immigrants in Sicily, and reminds them that, “in this luminous and fruitful apostolic style, you too can be active in inspiring the various educational institutions in Italy, Catholic and state-managed, as in other parts of the world”.
Telegram for the death of Cardinal Giovanni Canestri: a wise pastor, attentive to the needs of others
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar for the diocese of Rome, for the death at the age of 97 of Cardinal Giovanni Canestri, who was archbishop of Genoa, Italy from 1987 to 1995. Originally from the diocese of Alessandria, the late cardinal belonged to the clergy of Rome.
“The passing of the venerated cardinal elicits in my heart profound emotion and sincere admiration for an esteemed man of the Church who lived with humility and devotion his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopate in the service of the Gospel and of the souls entrusted to him. I recall with gratitude his fervent ministry, first as a deputy priest during the difficult war years in the outskirts of Rome, areas affected by suffering and poverty; then as a parish priest in two populous suburbs, intent on educating the young in particular in the joy of faith. Upon being appointed as auxiliary bishop of Rome, he devoted himself with apostolic intensity to the spiritual and material needs of the people, while participating diligently in the work of Vatican Council II. In his episcopal ministry in Tortona, then as vicegerent and subsequently archbishop of Cagliari, and finally Genoa-Bobbio, he demonstrated pastoral wisdom and generous attention to the needs of others, reaching out to all with goodness and gentleness. I raise fervent prayers that the Lord receive the late cardinal in eternal joy and peace, and I bestow upon you and those who share in sorrow the comfort of my apostolic blessing, with a special thought for the Apostolic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who lovingly cared for him especially in these last years of his infirmity”.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for May
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) - The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for May is: “That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor”.
His intention for evangelisation is: “That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularised cultures be open to proclaiming Jesus”.
Presentation of the concert for Papal works of charity
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the concert organised to support the Pope's charitable work, which will take place on 14 May, solemnity of the Ascension, at 6 p.m. in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. The concert, to be conducted by Maestro Daniel Oren and performed by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Salerno, Italy and the choir of the diocese of Rome led by Msgr. Marco Frisina, is sponsored by the Papal Almoner, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and the St. Matthew Foundation, in memory of Cardinal Van-Thuan, and unites culture with charitable concerns. For the occasion, the donations gathered will be entirely devolved to the office of the Apostolic Almoner, the dicastery responsible for the Pope's charity.
The protagonists of the event are the most needy, the poor and sick, who will occupy the front rows and have been invited through charitable and voluntary associations: the Great Priory of Rome and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the Circle of St. Peter, diocesan Caritas, the Sant'Egidio Community and the Centro Astalli, which assists migrants and refugees, the Daughters of Charity and other associations present in the diocese of Rome. The event will also be attended by detainees from the Rebibbia prison and various inhabitants of camps for nomadic peoples. Elderly people, families and young people from the Roman parishes have also been invited, especially those from the quarters afflicted by material and spiritual difficulties.
An invitation is required to attend the concert. These are entirely free and may be obtained online before 8 May by compiling the form on the website of the Choir of the Diocese of Rome, at http://www.corodiocesidiroma.com/concerto-aula-paolo-vi.html.
During the press conference, Msgr. Diego Ravelli, head of the office of the Apostolic Almoner, explained that this will be a concert not only “with” the poor but rather “for” the poor, as the donations made by the sponsors and all those who wish to offer an economic contribution will be destined for Pope Francis' charitable works. This task is entrusted to the Apostolic Almoner, whose mission is explained below, and which receives every day a great number of letters from needy people and families, a number that has increased along with the economic crisis, rising unemployment and the phenomenon of immigration. All these letters are authenticated by parish priests and other ecclesiastical authorities, to whom as guarantors the economic assistance will be given, to be devolved to the people concerned, “as it is important for the Pope's concrete gesture to be integrated with the solidarity of the local Church and Christian parish community”.
“Aid will be modest as it is hoped it will reach the largest possible number of people”, he continued. “The Almoner's Office also supports associations devoted to alleviating the suffering of different groups of people in difficulties, such as the homeless, political refugees, prisoners, overseas university students, hospital inpatients, the elderly, single mothers and orphaned or abandoned children. Similarly, again with modest subsidies, it also intervenes outside Italy, especially in the poorest countries, to support initiatives of a charitable nature promoted by bishops and diocesan or religious priests. Particular attention is also given to cloistered women religious, who often lack sufficient economic resources for everyday needs or to face extraordinary or unexpected maintenance work on community buildings”.
“In total, the sum that the Apostolic Almoner distributed in 2014 exceeded one and a half million Euros”, said Msgr. Rivelli, who went on to remark that when Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Konrad Krajewski in 2013 he instructed him to reach out to the poor, not to wait for them to ask for help, and to “leave his desk to go in search of them beyond the office walls”.
“All this is possible thanks to the charity fund available to the Almoner, made up of donations from private individuals and groups or bodies, or collections organised for the purpose, and offers directly from the hands of the Holy Father, who receives contributions for his charity during the general audiences and from meetings with pilgrims. The majority of the funds, however, come from the faculty, delegated to the Almoner by Pope Leo XIII, to grant apostolic blessings in the form of documents on parchment to the faithful who request them for certain occasions”.
New commission for Vatican communications
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – During the last meeting of the Council of Cardinals to assist the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church and to draw up a plan for the revision of the apostolic constitution “Pastor bonus” on the Roman Curia (13-15 April 2015), the final report of the committee charged with proposing reform of Vatican communications, the so-called Vatican Media Committee (VMC), was examined.
The Council of Cardinals subsequently proposed to His Holiness the institution of a commission to study this final report and to suggest feasible approaches to its implementation. The proposal was favourably accepted by the Holy Father, who on 23 April decided to institute the commission and to appoint its members.
The new commission will be chaired by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre, and its members will be: Paolo Nusiner, director general of the daily newspaper “Avvenire”, Nuova Editoriale Italiana, Milan; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, directorate of Telecommunications of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., director of “La Civiltà Cattolica”; and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The international community must not resign itself to the tragedy of Christians in the Middle East
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spoke yesterday at the opening of the Symposium “Christians in the Middle East: what future?”, organised by the Sant'Egidio Community and the archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto, Italy.
In his address, the cardinal remarked that many Christians in the East, hearing just a few days ago the story of Pilate's famous gesture of washing his hands, “may have thought of the indifference and inaction to which the international community appears to have resigned itself before the tragedies that have for some years now been wearing away at Syria and Iraq”. He added, “it is also saddening to see the incapacity of leaders in Lebanon, even those who are Christians, to arrive at consensus on the new president on the basis of a line of conduct due less to conscience than to the weighty influences of the forces that compete for supremacy in the area”.
“We trust, however, that in the heart of all people, both in the West and in the East, the governor Pilate's poignant question remains alive: 'Quid est veritas?', 'What is truth?', followed by his search and service to it. The truth is first and foremost an act of removing every veil and covering from reality. It cannot be denied that if a solution has not yet been found it is certainly because the problems are many and complex, and also touch upon the internal relations between the different groups of Muslim faithful and between them and other religions present in the region, including Christians. But it is also legitimate to think that there are interests and balances of power and wealth that go before – seemingly without conceding a step – the mere survival, rather than the well-being, of the populations. And this is a scandal: let us remember what the Lord says, still today, to all the Cains on earth: 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground'.
Cardinal Sandri went on to mention that every year he launches an appeal, on behalf of the Holy Father, for support and aid to Christians in the Holy Land, a term that designates not only those who live within the borders of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but also all the places linked to salvation history, the area of Mesopotamia and Persia, where the apostles preached, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, where the Holy Family sought refuge.
“But mentioning a presence thus configured must be an indication of a method also for discussion at other levels”, he added. “It is not possible to speak of stability in the Middle East without reference to the age-old question of Israel and Palestine, accepting that Christians are permitted to live relatively peacefully in both territories. On the other hand, there must be no doubt regarding the need for all States, including Israel, to exist and be protected, not threatened. It is the task of Christian pastors throughout the Middle East to help their faithful to grow in this knowledge, pouring abundant oil of consolation, forgiveness and mercy on the wounds of the recent past. If we do not move in this direction, there is no doubt that power-crazed groups such as ISIS will multiply, especially as they are supported with arms and resources by various interested parties”.
“The West appears to have lost, over the centuries, the capacity for conceiving of itself within a healthy religious framework of reference, and increasingly favours an exasperated secular model, if not indeed a true 'eclipse of God'. The destruction and horrors of the Middle East – which some wish to attribute exclusively to the religious factors – must not become an excuse to confirm this partial and mistaken vision, but rather a stimulus for rethinking the coexistence of and collaboration between different sectors of society for the full development of humanity”, concluded the prefect.
The participants in the symposium subsequently attended the Basilica of St. Nicholas, patron of Bari, where they prayed for the saint's intercession to bring an end to the suffering of Christians in the Middle East and to accompany the work of the Pan-Orthodox Council, to be held in Turkey in 2016.
Audiences
Vatican City, 30 April 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Robert Francis Provost, apostolic administrator of Chiclayo, Peru.
29-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 080 
General audience: the dignity of marriage
Vatican City, 29 April 2015 (VIS) – Following last Wednesday's catechesis on God's original plan for man and woman as a couple, the Pope spoke at today's general audience about marriage, recalling that Jesus' first miracle took place during the wedding at Cana, when He transformed water into wine and thus ensured that the celebrations could take place. “This fact reminds us of Genesis, when God completed His creation with his masterpiece: man and woman”, he said. “And Jesus began His miracles with this masterpiece, in marriage. … Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: the man and the woman who love each other. ... Since that time, many things have changed but that 'sign' of Christ contains a message that remains valid”.
“Nowadays it does not seem easy to describe marriage as a celebration that is renewed over time, in the different seasons in the entire life of spouses. It is a fact that fewer people marry. Instead, in many countries the number of separations is increasing, while the number of children is in decline. The difficulty of staying together – both as a couple and as a family – leads to bonds being broken with increasing frequency and rapidity. … In effect, many young people are led to give up the plan of an irrevocable bond and a lasting family. There is a kind of culture of the provisional: everything is temporary, and it seems that nothing is permanent”.
For this reason, the Pope continued, one of the questions we must face nowadays is why young people do not choose to get married, and seem to have little confidence in marriage and in the family. “The difficulties are not only of an economic nature, although these are very important”, he observed. “Many people believe that the change that has taken place in recent decades was set in motion by the emancipation of women. But this argument is not valid either. It is an insult, a form of misogyny that seeks to subjugate women. If men behave in this way, we are like Adam, when God asked him who had eaten the fruit of the tree, and he said that the woman gave it to him”.
“In reality, almost all men and women would prefer emotional security in the form of a solid marriage and a happy family … but, for fear of failure, many do not even want to think about it. … Perhaps it is precisely that fear of failure that is the greatest obstacle to receiving the word of Christ, Who promises His grace to the matrimonial union and to the family”. However, “marriage consecrated by God preserves that bond between man and woman that God has blessed ever since the creation of the world; and it is a source of peace and good for all married and family life. For example, in the early times of Christianity, this great dignity of the bond between man and woman defeated an abuse considered to be entirely normal in those times, that is, the right of husbands to repudiate their wives, even for the most specious and humiliating reasons. The Gospel, the Gospel that announces this sacrament, ended this culture of habitual repudiation”.
“The Christian seed of radical equality between spouses must bear new fruit today”, emphasised the Holy Father. “The witness of the social dignity of marriage will become persuasive, the witness of reciprocity between husband and wife, of complementarity. .. And as Christians we must become more demanding in this respect. For example, in decisively supporting equal pay for equal work: inequality is a scandal. Why is it taken for granted that women should earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. At the same time, the maternity of women and the paternity of men should be recognised as a richness that remains valid, especially for the benefit of children. Equally, the virtue of hospitality in Christian families today retains a crucial importance, especially in situations of poverty, degradation and domestic violence”.
“Do not be afraid of inviting Jesus to the wedding celebrations! And also His Mother Mary!” exclaimed Pope Francis. “Christians, when they marry 'in the Lord', are transformed into an effective sign of God's love. Christians do not marry only for themselves: they marry in the Lord in favour of all the community, of society as a whole”.
The Pope sends a video message to guests at the Caritas centres
Vatican City, 29 April 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday evening in the Brancaccio theatre, Rome, the guests of the Caritas reception centre were the protagonists of the play “Se non fosse per te” (“If it were not for you”), directed by Carlo Del Giudice, which narrates their life stories. It recounts stories of love, disappointment and abandonment, but also of mutual love for children, parents, life and God. It offers a unique opportunity for dialogue between Rome and her most vulnerable citizens, in which Pope Francis wished to participate by sending a video message to the actors.
“The way in which you speak to the city offers a meaningful opportunity for dialogue and exchange. Between you, on the stage, displaying your hidden talents, assisted by expert professionals who have guided you as actors to enable your resources and potential to flourish – and those who are listen, surely amazed by the richness you offer. Whoever thought that a homeless person could be someone we can learn from? Whoever thought they could be a saint? Instead, this evening you transmit to us from the stage valuable teachings on love, on the needs of others, on solidarity, and on how to find, amid difficulties, the love of the Father”.
“Poverty is the great teaching that Jesus gave to us when he descended into the waters of the Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist. He did not do so out of a need for penance, for conversion; He did so in order to be among the people, people in need of forgiveness, in the midst of us, sinners, in order to bear the burden of our sins. And this is the path He chose so as to console us, save us, liberate us from our misery. That which gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is His love of compassion, tenderness and sharing. The Good Samaritan who lifts us up, beaten by robbers”.
“St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great theologian of antiquity, writes: 'Consider well who are the poor in the Gospel and discover their dignity; they wear the face of the Lord. In His mercy He has given them His own face'. And St. Augustine said, 'On earth Christ is hungry in the poor. You must fear Christ in heaven and recognise Him on earth; on earth He is poor, in heaven He is rich'”.
“I too wish to make these words my own. You are not a burden to us. You are the wealth without which our attempts to discover the face of the Lord are in vain. A few days after my election, I received from you a letter of well wishes and offers of prayer. I remember replying immediately, to tell you that I hold you in my heart and am at your disposal. I confirm those words. On that occasion I asked you to pray for me. I reiterate my request, as I am truly in need of your prayers”.
The Pope went on to thank all the workers of Caritas Rome. “I think of them as my hands, the hands of the bishop, in touching the Body of Christ. I also thank the many volunteers from the parishes of Rome and other parts of Italy. In this way they discover a world that requires attention and solidarity; men and women who seek affection, relationships, dignity, and with whom we can experience charity by learning to welcome, listen and give of ourselves”.
The Pope remarked that the city of Rome has in all times been distinguished by persons filled with God's love. “Let us think of St. Lawrence (his jewels were the poor) and St. Pammachius (a Roman senator who converted and devoted himself exclusively to the service of the least among us), St. Fabiola (the first to build a hostel for the poor in Porto), St. Philip Neri, Blessed Angelo Paoli, St. Joseph Labre (the 'beggar saint'), and Don Luigi di Liegro, founder of Caritas Rome. How I would like Rome to shine with 'pietas' for those who suffer, with welcome for those who flee from war and death, with willingness, smiles and magnanimity for those who have lost hope. How I would like the Church of Rome always to show herself to be an ever more attentive and caring mother to the weak. We all have weaknesses, all of us; everyone has their own. How I would like the parish communities in prayer, as a poor person enters the Church, to kneel in veneration as they do when the Lord enters! How I would like the flesh of Christ to be touched in the needy of this city”.
The Pope concluded his message by expressing his hope of meeting the actors personally, as occurred recently with the homeless in the Sistine Chapel, and he bestowed on them his blessing.

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