Latest News from #Vatican Information and #PopeFrancis

20-04-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 074 

- Pope Francis receives the Conference of European Rabbis
- The Holy Father remembers Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff
- Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery
- Regina Coeli: the content of Christian witness is not an ideology
- Men and women like us, seeking a better life
- State Visit of the President of the Italian Republic
- Italy and the Holy See: promoting and protecting religious freedom and human dignity at bilateral and international levels
- To the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences: raise awareness of new forms of slavery
- The Pope receives the A.C.I.S.J.F.: let young women know they are called to happiness
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Francis Eugene George
- The Pope to receive Catholic Charismatic Renewal in audience on 3 July
- Symposium on Friar Junipero Serra, to be canonised 23 September
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Pope Francis receives the Conference of European Rabbis
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) – For the first time a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, presided by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, has met with the Successsor of Peter in the Vatican. Pope Francis, who received them this morning, expressed his joy at this event, and at the same time offered his condolences, which he extended to the Jewish community of Rome, for the death yesterday of the ex Grand Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, a “man of peace and dialogue”, who received Pope John Paul II during his historical visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in April 1986. For this reason, the current Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, was not present at the meeting.
In his address to the delegation, the Pope emphasised that the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish communities continues to progress as it has for half a century; 28 October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is still the reference point for efforts in this regard. “With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years, rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us”, he said.
“Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life”, he continued. “In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable”.
Francis voiced his concerns regarding increasing anti-Semitism and acts of hatred and violence in Europe, and affirmed that “every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people”. He also referred to the recent seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations. Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere”.
“Dear friends”, he concluded, “I heartily thank you for this very significant visit. I extend my best wishes to your communities, with the assurance of my closeness and prayers. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Shalom alechem!”.
The Holy Father remembers Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a letter of condolences to the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, for the death yesterday of his predecessor in this role, Rabbi Elio Toaff, at the age of 99. The following is the full text of the letter.
“I wish to express my heartfelt participation in the mourning of the family and the entire Jewish community of the capital following the departure of the Rabbi Professor Elio Toaff, the long-time spiritual guide of the Jews of Rome.
A key figure in Italian Jewish and civil history during recent decades, he knew how to earn esteem and appreciation through his moral authority, linked to a profound humanity.
I recall with gratitude his generous efforts and sincere willingness to promote dialogue and fraternal relations between Jews and Catholics, which experienced a significant moment in his memorable encounter with St. John Paul II at the Synagogue of Rome.
I raise prayers that the Almighty, rich in love and faithfulness, welcome him in His Kingdom of peace”.
Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) – “Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery” is the title of the message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to Buddhists, to celebrate the month of Vesakh, the commemoration of the three most significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha – his birth, enlightenment and death. This occasion, according to the president of the dicastery, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, also provides an opportunity “to think of the unfortunate and all who suffer, and to rededicate ourselves to bringing them comfort and happiness through acts of love and compassion”.
This year's text is inspired by Pope Francis’s “Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace”, entitled No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters, in which the Holy Father observes that, historically, the institution of slavery was once generally accepted and resulted in the “rejection of others, their mistreatment, violations of their dignity and fundamental rights, and institutionalised inequality”. Accordingly, “a slave could be bought and sold, given away or acquired, as if he or she were a commercial product” and although slavery has been formally abolished throughout the world, there are still “millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – deprived of freedom and forced to live in conditions akin to slavery”.
Pope Francis gives examples of modern day slavery: men, women and child labourers; migrants who undergo physical, emotional and sexual abuse while working in shameful working conditions; persons forced into prostitution, many of whom are minors, as well as male and female sex slaves; those kidnapped by terrorists and forced to be combatants, and those who are tortured, mutilated or killed. Human hearts deformed by corruption and ignorance are, according to the Holy Father, the cause of these terrible evils against humanity. When hearts are corrupted, human beings no longer see others as “beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects”.
“Dear friends, we share the conviction that modern slavery and human trafficking are grave crimes, open wounds on the body of contemporary society”, states the message for Vesakh. In one section of the “Eightfold Path” – namely “Right Livelihood” – the Buddha declares that trading in live beings, including slaves and prostitutes, is one of five occupations that are not to be engaged in. He instructs that possessions are to be acquired peacefully, honestly and by legal means, without coercion, violence or deceit, and by means that do not cause harm or suffering. In this way, Buddhism promotes respect for the life and freedom of each person”.
“As Buddhists and Christians committed to respect for human life, we must cooperate together to end this social plague. Pope Francis invites us to overcome indifference and ignorance by offering assistance to victims, in working for their psychological and educational rehabilitation, and in efforts to reintegrate them into society where they live or from which they come”.
The text concludes, “We pray that your celebration of Vesakh, which includes making special efforts to bring happiness to those less fortunate in our midst, may be a time of deepened consideration of the various ways in which we can work together so that there will no longer be slaves, but brothers and sisters living in fraternity, loving kindness and compassion for all”.
Regina Coeli: the content of Christian witness is not an ideology
Vatican City, 19 April 2015 (VIS) – At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful present in the square. Before the Marian prayer, Francis spoke about the meaning of witness in the life of Christians. “A witness is one who has seen, who recalls, and recounts”, he said. “To see, to remember and to tell are the three verbs that describe identity and mission. The witness is one who has seen, but not with indifferent eyes; he has seen and allowed himself to be involved in the event. Therefore, he also remembers, not only because he is able to precisely reconstruct the facts, but because these facts have spoken to him and he has grasped their deep meaning. And so the witness recounts, not in a cold or detached way, but as one who has allowed himself to be questioned, and has from that day forth changed his life”.
“The content of Christian witness is not a theory, and ideology, or a complex system of precepts and prohibitions”, he added, “but rather a message of salvation, a concrete event, or rather a Person: it is the risen Christ, the sole and living Saviour of all”.
The Pontiff went on to emphasise that the Christian may be a witness of the risen Christ “by way of a path that has its foundation in Baptism and its nourishment in the Eucharist, its seal in Confirmation and its continual conversion in Penance. … If, however, a Christian allows himself to be rapt by comforts and vanity, if he becomes deaf and blind to the question of 'resurrection' of so many of his brothers, how will he be able to communicate the living Jesus, with his liberating power and infinite tenderness?”.
Men and women like us, seeking a better life
Vatican City, 19 April 2015 (VIS) – Following the Marian prayer, the Pope launched an appeal to the international community to react as soon as possible to tragedies likeSaturday's shipwreck in Sicilian waters, causing the deaths of hundreds of immigrants travelling towards the Italian coast.
“They are men and women like us”, he said. “Our brothers who seek a better life; hungry, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of wars, seeking a better life. They were looking for happiness. I invite you to pray for them”.
State Visit of the President of the Italian Republic
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received a State visit from the president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The visit takes place just two months after his election, and as the Pontiff remarked, “shows the excellent relations between the Holy See and Italy”. There is a long-standing tradition of regular meetings between the Italian authorities and the Universal Church, reinforced following Vatican Council II.
In his address to the president, the Pope referred first to the Lateran Pacts, incorporated into the Republican Constitution, which constitute “a solid framework for reference, within which the relations between Italy and the Holy See have been peacefully developed and strengthened, guaranteeing mutual sovereignty and independence and at the same time ensuring mutual orientation towards active collaboration, on the basis of shared values and in view of the common good”. For this, it is fundamental for collaboration to be constantly renewed, “distinguishing roles and competences and with full respect for reciprocal functions”, with the aim of “uniting forces for the good of all citizens, who have the right to such harmony, from which they derive innumerable benefits. … Reciprocal autonomy does not diminish, but indeed enhances common responsibility for human beings and for the spiritual and material needs of the community, which we all have the task of serving with humility and dedication”.
“A healthy pluralism does not reject the specific contribution offered by the various ideal and religious members that make up our society, provided that, of course, they accept the fundamental principals that guide civil life, and do not exploit or distort their beliefs to violent and abusive ends. In other words, the orderly development of a pluralistic civil society presupposes that it does not claim to confine the true religious spirit solely to the intimacy of the conscience, but that it also recognises its significant role in the building of society, legitimating the the valuable contribute that it may offer”. In this respect, the history of Italy clearly demonstrates both the great contribution of Christianity to her culture and the character of her population, and the extent to which Christian faith has permeated the art, architecture and customs of the country”.
The Pope did not fail to mention, among the fundamental goods for the development of each community, the importance of work, “distinguished by its bond with the very dignity of the person, with the possibility of building a dignified and free existence”, and he emphasised that “the lack of work for the young becomes a cry of pain that must impel those in public office, intermediary organisations, private businesspeople and the ecclesial community to make every effort to remedy the situation, according the suitable priority to the problem. Indeed, the possibility of dignity and of the future resides in the availability of work”.
Another theme of the Pope's address was the protection of the environment, and in this regard he spoke about the Milan Universal Exposition, the theme of which is “Feeding the planet: energy for life”. “The event of the Expo will be an important occasion in which the most modern technologies necessary for guaranteeing healthy, safe and sufficient food for all peoples, respecting the environment, will be presented”, he said. “This may also contribute to deeper study of the causes of environmental degradation, in order to provide the competent authorities with a framework of knowledge and experience indispensable for making effective decisions and for preserving the health of the planet that God has entrusted to the care of humankind”.
Finally, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for Italy's efforts in receiving the many immigrants who, risking their lives, seek acceptance. “It is clear that the proportions of the phenomenon require a much broader involvement. We must never tire of soliciting more extensive efforts at European and international levels”.
Francis concluded by expressing his hope that Italy, “treasuring her noble traditions and culture, largely inspired by Christian faith, may progress and prosper in harmony, offering her valuable contribution to peace and justice in the world”.
Italy and the Holy See: promoting and protecting religious freedom and human dignity at bilateral and international levels
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) - This morning the president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, paid a visit to the Holy Father Francis. The Head of the Italian State, accompanied by Paolo Gentiloni, minister for foreign affairs and international cooperation, subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and Italy, further consolidated by the recent signing of the Convention on fiscal matters. Themes relevant to the Italian social situation were then considered, with particular reference to the family, education, work and migration. Appreciation was affirmed for the cooperation of the Catholic Church in alleviating the situations of hardship that characterise some sectors of society. Mention was also made, within the framework of the current international situation, of the worrying spread of violence that continues to affect the eastern Mediterranean and North African areas.
The Parties confirmed their willingness to pursue their active collaboration on a bilateral level in the context of the international community, especially with regard to the promotion and protection of religious freedom and the dignity of human beings.
To the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences: raise awareness of new forms of slavery
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, chaired by Margaret Archer, dedicated its plenary session to human trafficking. This morning the Pope received in audience the members of this institution and thanked them for their work in deepening knowledge of new forms of slavery and in endeavouring to eradicate human trafficking, noting that this scourge afflicts those who suffer as a result of forced labour, prostitution, and trafficking in organs and drugs.
“St. Peter Claver, in an historical moment at which slavery was widespread and socially acceptable, unfortunately – and scandalously – also in the Christian world, as it was a large-scale business, felt himself to be called by the words of the Lord, and consecrated himself as 'a slave of slaves'. And many other saints, such as St. John of Matha, went on to fight slavery, following the mandate of Paul: slaves no more, but brothers and sisters in Christ”.
“We know that the historical abolition of slavery as a social structure is a direct consequence of the message of freedom brought to the world by Christ with its fullness of grace, truth and love, with His programme of the Beatitudes. The progressive awareness of this message throughout history is the work of the Spirit of Christ and of His gifts, in which there participate the saints and many men and women of good will, who do not identify with a religious faith but who are committed to improving the human condition”.
“Unfortunately, in a global economic system dominated by profit, new forms of slavery have developed, in a certain way worse and more inhuman than those of the past. Therefore, following the Lord's message of redemption, we are called upon even more today to denounce and combat them. Firstly, we must raise awareness of this new evil that, in the globalised world, seeks to conceal itself as it is scandalous and 'politically incorrect'. No-one likes to acknowledge that in their own city, region or nation, there are new forms of slavery, yet we know that this wound afflicts almost all countries. We must then denounce this terrible scourge in all its gravity. Pope Benedict XVI has already categorically denounced every violation of the principle of equal dignity among human beings. I too have declared several times that these new forms of slavery – human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution, the trade in organs – are serious crimes and 'an open wound on the body of contemporary society'”.
Francis launched a final appeal to all of society to become more aware, “especially with regard to national and international legislation, in order to be able to bring traffickers to justice and to redirect their unjust earnings for the rehabilitation of victims. The most suitable methods must be sought to penalise those who are complicit in this inhuman market. We are required to improve the methods of rescuing victims, and their social inclusion, also bringing up to date the legislation on the right of asylum. The civil authorities must be more cognizant of the seriousness of this tragedy, which constitutes a regression for humanity”.
The Pope receives the A.C.I.S.J.F.: let young women know they are called to happiness
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) - “I wish to express my gratitude to you for your generous efforts in the service of young women who live in situations of precariousness and suffering”, said the Pope this morning as he received, in the Sala Clementina, seventy members of the International Catholic Association for the Service of Young Women (A.C.I.S.J.F.), founded in Fribourg, Switzerland, by Louise de Reynold in response to the needs of young women who, due to social changes, lived far from their family environment.
The number of these women, as the Pope observed in his address, is increasing, and the many forms of poverty that affect them “call out to us and should inspire a new creativity, to offer them the material and spiritual aid they need. … Through your ongoing activities to welcome them, and through reflection to face the new challenges generated by today's world, such as the phenomenon of migration, your work seeks to be at the service of the life and dignity of the person, demonstrating that 'true faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving … from service”.
The young are most in need of “attention and to be listened to”, and the A.C.I.S.J.F. must help them “to grow in confidence, to find points of reference and to progress in human and spiritual maturity, nourished by Gospel values”, he added. “Be credible witnesses for them, so that they experience the joy of knowing they are loved by God, their Father, and called to happiness. And, at the same time, let yourselves be instructed by these young people whom you accompany and assist. Even amid their difficulties. They often bear witness to those essential virtues of fraternity and solidarity. They also remind us that we are frail and depend on God and on others. May the Lord's merciful gaze touch us and help us to welcome our poverty in order to go ahead trustfully, and to make efforts together in that 'revolution of tenderness' to which Jesus opened the way through his Incarnation”.
He concluded, “I hope that the sense of belonging to the Church, who is a great family, may grow in you. I invite you to continue to announce to all the joy of the Gospel, bear in mind the diversity of cultures, of religious traditions, and of the origins of the young women you wish to serve, as well as their richness that demands to be received with respect”.
Telegram for the death of Cardinal Francis Eugene George
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to the Archbishop of Chicago, U.S.A., Blase J. Cupich, for the death yesterday, Friday 17 April, of Cardinal Francis Eugene George, O.M.I., emeritus of the same archdiocese, at the age of 78.
In the text the Pope recalls with gratitude Cardinal George's witness of consecrated life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, his service to the Church's educational apostolate, and his years of episcopal ministry in the Churches of Yakima, Portland and Chicago, and commends the soul of “this wise and gentle pastor” to the merciful love of the Father.
The Pope to receive Catholic Charismatic Renewal in audience on 3 July
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office has stated that the Holy Father will receive in audience the Movement of Catholic Charismatic Renewal at 10 a.m. on 3 July, in St. Peter's Square.
Symposium on Friar Junipero Serra, to be canonised 23 September
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press office, the Day of Reflection dedicated to “Friar Junipero Serra, apostle of California, witness of holiness”, to be held on Saturday 2 May at the Pontifical North American College of Rome, Italy. At the beginning of the press conference, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., announced that the Pope will canonise Blessed Junipero Serra on 23 September during his apostolic trip to the United States, outside the National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
The event on 2 May, convoked by the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and funded by the archdiocese of Los Angeles, will aim to inform on the life, mission and witness of holiness of Friar Junipero Serra, O.F.M. (1713-1784).
Speakers at the conference were Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., president of the Pontifical Council for Latin America; Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, secretary of the vice-presidency of the same dicastery; Fr. Vincenzo Criscuolo, O.F.M. Cap., general rapporteur of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; and Msgr. James Francis Checcio, rector of the Pontifical North American College.
The activities to take place on the Day of Reflection include the Pope's visit to the Pontifical North American College, during which he will officiate at Holy Mass.
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;
- Signor Tomaz Kunstelj, new ambassador of Slovenia to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence;
- Archbishop Santo Gangemi, apostolic nuncio in Guinea and Mali;
- Bishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vazquez of Solola-Chimaltenango, Guatemala;
- Six prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Gabon, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Basile Mve Engone of Libreville;
- Bishop Timothee Mobido-Nzockena of Franceville;
- Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila, apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Port-Gentil with Bishop emeritus Dominique Bonnet, C.S.Sp.;
- Bishop Jean-Vincent Ondo Eyene of Oyem;
- Bishop Joseph Koerber, C.S.Sp., apostolic vicar of Makokou.
On Saturday, 18 April, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) – On Saturday, 18 April, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez of Yopal, Colombia, as bishop of Duitama-Sogamoso (area 4,928, population 437,000, Catholics 423,000, priests 115, permanent deacons 13, religious 155), Colombia.