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15-06-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 111 

- Audience with the president of Colombia: special attention to the reconciliation process and prospects for a peace agreement
- Francis to the ROACO: continue your service of Christian charity, condemning all that tramples human dignity
- Francis commemorates the reformer Jan Hus on the 600th anniversary of his death
- The Pope inaugurates the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome: we parents, witnesses to the beauty of life
- Angelus: God entrusted his Word to the fruitfulness of “our earth”
- Pope Francis announces the publication of his encyclical
- Francis praises the goodness and wisdom of the Scouts and Guides movement
- The Pope to Italian magistrates: justice is not an abstract concept, it is centred on the person
- God's tenderness: theme of the Pope's homily at the Third Worldwide Priests' Retreat
- Former nuncio Jozef Wesolowski committed to trial
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with the president of Colombia: special attention to the reconciliation process and prospects for a peace agreement
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia were evoked, underlining the contribution the Catholic Church has given and continues to guarantee in favour of the human, social and cultural progress of the population. Among the issues considered, special attention was given to the state of the reconciliation process in the country, the complexity of the negotiations that this entails, and the prospects that could open the way to achieving a peace agreement.
Finally, there was an exchange of views on the regional political and social situation, with attention to the efforts made towards promoting stability in the countries of the area, their harmonious and equitable development, and a culture of legality.
Francis to the ROACO: continue your service of Christian charity, condemning all that tramples human dignity
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – The lands of the Middle East, marred by years of conflict, are also “marked by the footprints of those who seek refuge and soaked with the blood of many men and women, including numerous Christians persecuted for their faith”, said the Holy Father as he received in audience the members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), a year after their pilgrimage and Francis' plea for peace in the region, when all hoped that “the seed of reconciliation would have borne greater fruits”.
Recalling the recent trip to Iraq by a delegation of the ROACO, during which they met with displaced persons from the Nineveh Plain and with small groups from Syria, the Pope affirmed, “in those eyes that asked for help and pleaded for peace and to return home there was Jesus Himself Who looked at you, asking for that charity that makes us Christians. Every form of assistance, so as not to fall into the trap of uncompromising efficiency or mere aid that does not promote persons or peoples, must always be reborn from this blessing of the Lord Who reaches us when we have the courage to look at the situations and the brothers before us”.
Nevertheless, “the world seems to have become aware of the tragedy of recent months, and has opened its eyes, taking account of the millennial presence of Christians in the Middle East. Initiatives for raising awareness and offering aid to them to to others unjustly affected by violence have flourished. However, further efforts must be made to eliminate what would appear to be tacit agreements by which the lives of thousands and thousands of families – women, men, children, elderly – in the balance of interests appear to weigh less than petroleum and weapons, and while peace and justice is proclaimed, it is accepted that the traffickers of death act in those lands. I therefore encourage you, as you carry out your service of Christian charity, to condemn all that tramples human dignity”.
The Holy Father mentioned that in these days ROACO is dedicating special attention to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Armenia. “The first two, from this year, canonically constitute two separate realities, inasmuch as they are metropolitan sui generis Churches, but they remain profoundly linked by their common Alexandrian-Gheez tradition”. He urged the ROACO “to help these ancient Christian communities to feel that they are members in the evangelical mission and to offer, especially to the young, prospects of hope and growth. Without this, it will not be possible to stop the migratory flow in which so many sons and daughters of the region set out to reach the Mediterranean coasts, risking their lives”. Armenia, “cradle of the first nation to receive baptism, also has a great history rich in culture, faith and martyrdom. Support for the Church in that land contributes to the path towards the visible unity of all believers in Christ”.
The Pope concluded by dedicating to the Oriental Catholic Churches some words from St. Ephrem's Hymn of Resurrection: “Accept, our King, our offering, and give us in return our salvation. Pacify devastated lands and rebuild the burned-down churches so that, when there will be great peace, we may weave a great crown from flowers from all places, so that the Lord of peace may be crowned”.
Francis commemorates the reformer Jan Hus on the 600th anniversary of his death
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the representatives of the Czech Hussite Church and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, in Rome to celebrate a liturgy of reconciliation on the occasion of the 600 th anniversary of the reformer Jan Hus, distinguished preacher and rector of the University of Prague, whose execution was lamented by St. John Paul II in 1999, who included him among the reformers of the Church.
“In the light of this consideration”, said Francis, “it is necessary to continue our studies of the figure and work of Jan Hus, which has long been a matter of controversy between Christians, but which has today become a reason for dialogue. This research, conducted without any form of ideological conditioning, will be an important service to historical truth, to all Christians and to society as a whole, even beyond your national borders”.
“Today's meeting gives us the opportunity to renew and deepen the relations between our communities”, he added. “Many disputes of the past ask to be revisited in the light of the new context in which we live, and agreements and convergences will be reached if we face the traditional conflictual questions with a new outlook. Above all, we cannot forget that the shared profession of faith in God the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, in which we have been baptised, already unites us in bonds of authentic fraternity”.
“Vatican Council II affirmed that 'every renewal of the Church is essentially grounded in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the basis of the movement toward unity. … Church renewal has therefore notable ecumenical importance'. Nowadays, in particular, the need for a new evangelisation of many men and women who seem indifferent to the joyful news of the Gospel makes it urgent to renovate every ecclesial structure so as to promote a positive response from all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. And visible communion between Christians will certainly make this announcement more credible”.
“Responding to the call of Christ to continual conversion, of which we are all in need, we can progress together on the path of reconciliation and peace. Along this road let us learn, by God's grace, to recognise each other as friends and to consider the motivations of others in the best light possible. In this sense I hope that bonds of friendship may develop also at the level of local and parish communities. With these sentiments, I join spiritually in the penitential liturgy you will celebrate here in Rome”, concluded the Holy Father. “May God, rich in mercy, grant us the grace to recognise ourselves all as sinners and to know how to forgive each other”.
The Pope inaugurates the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome: we parents, witnesses to the beauty of life
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Square Pope Francis inaugurated the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome, whose theme this year is: “For what I received I passed on to you – we parents, witnesses to the beauty of life”. The meeting began with greetings from Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and a prayer invoking the Holy Spirit. The Holy Father went on to address some off-the-cuff remarks to the families, catechists, priests and pastoral workers present, extensive extracts of which are given below.
“Our city must be reborn, morally and spiritually, as it seems as if everything is the same, that everything is relative; that the Gospel is a beautiful story about good things, pleasant to read, but which remains simply an idea. It does not touch the heart! Our city needs this rebirth. And this commitment is so important when we talk about educating children and young people, for which you as parents are responsible”.
“This evening I would like to reflect with you on a few simple words that express the mystery of being parents. I do not know if I will manage to say all I want to say, but I would at least like to speak about vocation, communion and mission”.
“The first word is mission. St. Paul wrote that all paternity derives from God, and we can also add all maternity. We are all sons and daughters, but becoming a father or mother is a calling from God! It is a calling from God: it is a vocation. God is eternal love, which gives ceaselessly and calls us to existence. It is a mystery that, however, Providence wished to entrust in particular to man and woman, called upon to love each other entirely and without reserve, cooperating with God in this love and in transmitting life to their children. The Lord has chosen you to love each other and to transmit life. Your children, dear parents, need to discover, looking at your life, that loving each other is good. Never forget that your children are always watching you. Children, before living in a house made of bricks, inhabit another house, even more essential: they live in the mutual love of their parents”.
“The second word, the second thought on which I would like to reflect is communion. … Being parents is based on the diversity of being male and female, as the Bible reminds us. This is the 'first' and most fundamental difference, constitutive of the human being. It is a wealth. Differences are wealth. … We men learn to recognise, through the female figures we encounter in life, the extraordinary beauty that women bear. And women follow a similar path, learning from male figures that the man is different and has his own way of feeling, understanding and living. And this communion in difference is very important also in the education of children”.
“It is very painful when a family lives in a state of tension that cannot be resolved, when there is a fracture that cannot be healed. It is painful. When there are the first signs of this, a father and a mother are duty bound, for themselves and for their children, to ask for help, to seek support. … And even when by now separation – we must also speak of this – seems inevitable, know that the Church carries you in her heart. And that your educative task is not interrupted: you are and will always be father and mother, that cannot live together because there are wounds and problems. Please, always seek understanding, collaboration, harmony for the good and the happiness of your children”.
“And the gift of marriage, which is so beautiful, also has a mission. A mission that is very important. You are collaborators of the Holy Spirit Who whispers the words of Jesus! Be this way for your children. Be missionaries of your children! They will learn from your words and your life that to follow the Lord brings enthusiasm, the wish to give oneself to others, always to give hope, even when faced with difficulties and pain, because we are never alone, but always with the Lord and with our brothers”.
“I would not like to finish without offering a word to grandparents, who are the wisdom of the people, who are the memory of the people, who are the wisdom of the family. The grandparents who saved the faith in many countries where it was forbidden to practice religion and took children to be secretly baptised; and the grandparents who taught them how to pray”.
Angelus: God entrusted his Word to the fruitfulness of “our earth”
Vatican City, 14 June 2015 (VIS) – The effectiveness of the Word of God and the needs of His Kingdom, which are the reasons for our hope and our efforts throughout history were the theme of the Pope's reflection before today's Sunday Angelus. To the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Francis explained the two brief parables from the Gospel: the seed that grows in the earth alone and the tiny mustard seed that becomes the largest plant.
“In the first parable, our attention is placed on the fact that the seed, thrown on the ground, takes root and develops by itself, whether the farmer sleeps or is awake. The farmer trusts in the inner strength of the seed itself and of the fertility of the ground. In the language of the Gospel, the seed is the symbol of the Word of God, Whose fruitfulness is recalled by this parable. Just as the humble seed that develops in the ground, so the Word operates with God's power in the heart of those who listen. God entrusted His Word to our earth, that is, to each one of us with out concrete humanity”.
The second parable uses the image of the mustard seed that, despite being the smallest of the seeds, grows to become “the largest of plants”. “Thus is the Kingdom of God: a humanly small and apparently irrelevant reality. To become a part of it, one must be poor of heart; not trusting in one's own abilities, but rather in the power of God's love; not acting so as to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble. When we live like this, the strength of Christ erupts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the entire mass of the world and of history”.
The teaching of these two parables, Francis underlined, is that the Kingdom of God requires our collaboration, but it is above all the initiative and gift of the Lord. “Our feeble work, seemingly small faced with the complexity of the problems of the world, if embedded into that of God, no longer fears difficulty. The victory of the Lord is sure: His love will lead every seed of good present on the earth to germinate and grow. It opens us up to trust and hope, despite the tragedies, injustice and suffering we encounter. The seed of good and of peace germinates and develops because it is ripened by the merciful love of God”.
“May the Holy Virgin, who received as 'fertile earth' the seed of the divine Word, sustain us in this hope that never lets us down”.
Pope Francis announces the publication of his encyclical
Vatican City, 14 June 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Pope announced that on Thursday 18 June, his encyclical “Laudato Sii: on the care of our common home” will be published, and he invited all those present to accompany the event “with renewed attention to situations of environmental degradation, but also of recovery, in your territories. This encyclical is addressed to all: let us pray that all receive its message and grow in responsibility towards the common home that God has entrusted to us all”.
On the World Blood Donor Day Francis thanked “the millions of people who contribute … to helping their brothers in difficulty”, and he invited young people to follow their example.
He also greeted the group present in St. Peter's Square that remembers all missing persons, and assured them of his prayers. Likewise, he expressed his closeness to “all those workers who defend the right to work with solidarity: it is a right to dignity!”.
Francis praises the goodness and wisdom of the Scouts and Guides movement
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Seventy five children and young people from the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts (AGESCI) from all over the peninsula gathered in St. Peter's Square from the early hours of this morning to meet the Pope, who shortly after 11 a.m. toured the square to greet them, warmly embracing many.
“You are a valuable part of the Church in Italy”, Francis said, praising “the goodness and wisdom of the scouting method, based on great human values, on contact with nature, religiosity and faith in God; a method that educates in freedom and responsibility”. “When asked, 'How does religion enter into scouting?', your founder Lord Baden-Powell answered that is did not need to 'enter' since it was already a part of it. There is no religious 'side' of the movement – or a non-religious one. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realisation and service of God”.
Associations such as yours are a wealth for the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit to evangelise all environments and sectors. I am sure that AGESCI can bring to the Church a new evangelical zeal and a new capacity for dialogue with society. Take heed: capacity for dialogue! Make bridges in this society where there is the tendency to build walls. Build bridges through dialogue. And this can happen only on one condition: that the single groups do not lose contact with the parish where they are based, but which in many cases do not attend as, although they carry out their service there, they come from other areas”.
The bishop of Rome, who spoke in a colloquial manner with those present, urged them to aim at finding a way of integrating themselves into the pastoral ministry of the particular Church, “establishing relationships of respect and collaboration at all levels with your bishops, parish priests and other clergy, with educators and members of other ecclesial associations present in the parish and in the same territory, and not settling for a 'decorative' presence on Sundays or on other major occasions”.
The Pope to Italian magistrates: justice is not an abstract concept, it is centred on the person
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Pope received in audience the two hundred members of the newly-recomposed High Council of the Italian Magistrature (CSM). During his address, Pope Francis spoke about the complexity of legislation in current times and the variety of cases which must be responded to, bearing in mind the phenomenon of globalisation that may at times be a vehicle for concepts and norms far from the roots of a given social fabric.
“In this context of deep shocks to cultural roots, it is important for the public authorities, including those of a legal nature, to use the space allocated to them to provide stability and to make the foundations of human co-existence more solid through the recovery of fundamental values”.
Starting from these bases, it is possible to effectively counteract phenomena such as “the spread of criminality, even in its economic and financial forms, and the scourge of corruption, which affects even the most evolved democracies”. Therefore, “it is necessary to intervene not only at the moment of repression, but also in an educational way, addressing in particular the new generations, offering an anthropology and a model of life able to respond to the highest and most profound aspirations of the human heart”.
All those in legal office “contribute to this work of construction, on the front line”, the Pope continued. “Although magistrates are required to intervene in the presence of a violation of the law, it is also true that the reaffirmation of the rule is not an act directed solely at the single person, but rather goes beyond the individual case to affect the community as a whole. In this sense, every judicial pronouncement goes beyond the single procedure, opening up to become an opportunity for all the community ('the people', in whose name the sentence is pronounced) to assume this rule, to reaffirm its value and in this way, even more importantly, to identify with it”.
“In our times, and rightly so, particular emphasis is given to the issue of human rights, which constitute the fundamental nucleus of the recognition of the essential dignity of man. This must be done without abusing this category, for instance by allowing practices and forms of behaviour that, instead of promoting and guaranteeing human dignity, in reality threaten or even violate it. Justice is not done in an abstract sense, but rather by always considering the person in terms of his or her real value, as a being created in the image of God and called upon to be, here on earth, His semblance”.
The Holy Father concluded by mentioning Vittorio Bachelet, the deputy president of the CSM assassinated by the Red Brigades in 1980, and he invited the magistrates to follow his example “as a man, as a Christian and and a jurist in serving justice and the common good”.
God's tenderness: theme of the Pope's homily at the Third Worldwide Priests' Retreat
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Today the homily in Spanish pronounced by the Pope last Friday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran during the Third Worldwide Priests' Retreat, organised by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS) and the Catholic Fraternity, dedicated to the theme “Called to sanctity for the new evangelisation” based on the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”. Before the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father reflected with those present on the theme “Transformed by love and for love”, and answered five questions from attendees. The following is an extract from the homily, which focused on God's tenderness.
“How good it is to listen to God Who teaches me to progress, the Almighty Who stoops down to me and teaches me to walk. … And God's closeness is this tenderness: He taught me to walk, and without Him I would not know how to walk in the Spirit.
“How often I think that we are afraid of God's tenderness, and since we are afraid of God's tenderness, we do not allow ourselves to experience Him and as a result are at times hard, harsh and punishing; we are pastors without tenderness. What does Jesus tell us in Luke Chapter 15, about that pastor who noticed that he had only ninety-nine sheep and that one was missing? He locked them up safely and went looking for the other one, which was entangled in thorns. He did not hit or reprimand her; he took her in his arms, put her on his shoulders, took her home and healed her. Do you do likewise with your parishioners, when you notice that one is missing from the flock, or are we accustomed to being a Church with one sheep in the flock and ninety-nine lost on the mountain?
“Today I ask you during this retreat to be pastors with God's tenderness, to leave the whip in the sacristy and to be tender pastors, even with those who cause you the most problems. It is a grace, it is a divine grace. We do not believe in an ethereal God – we believe in a God made flesh, with a heart, and this heart says to us today, 'they come to me if they are tired, overwhelmed, and I soothe them; treat my little ones with tenderness, with the same tenderness with which I treat them”. The heart of Christ tells us this today, and it is what I ask of you and of myself in this Mass today”.
During the Eucharistic celebration the Pope entrusted the missionary mandate to the priests.
Former nuncio Jozef Wesolowski committed to trial
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – The President of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, by decree of 6 June 2015 in response to the request submitted by the Office of the Promoter of Justice, has ordered the trial of the former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski. The first hearing of the trial is scheduled for 11 July 2015. The ex-prelate is accused of a number of offences committed both during his stay in Rome from August 2013 until the moment of his arrest (on 22 September 2014) and in the period he spent in the Dominican Republic, during the five years in which he held the office of apostolic nuncio (he was appointed as nuncio to the Dominican Republic on 24 January 2008 and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, offices from which he resigned on 21 August 2013).
With regard to the period spent in Rome, the nuncio is charged with the offence of possession of child pornography under Law VIII of 2013 introduced by Pope Francis. The allegations referring to the preceding period are based on evidence transmitted by the judicial authorities of the Dominican Republic in relation to the sexual abuse of minors.
These serious allegations will be scrutinised by the competent judicial body which will be assisted by both technical appraisals of the IT systems used by the defendant and, if necessary, international legal cooperation for the evaluation of testimonial evidence from the competent authorities in the Dominican Republic. This will be a delicate and detailed procedure, requiring the most careful observations and insights from all parties involved in the trial.
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow;
- Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua;
- Enrique Garcia, executive president of the “Banco de Desarrollo de America Latina”;
On Saturday 13 June the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect for the Congregation for Bishops.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A., presented by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He has appointed Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, coadjutor of Newark, U.S.A., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante” of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
- appointed Archbishop Petar Rajic, currently apostolic nuncio in Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and apostolic delegate to the Arabian Peninsula, as apostolic nuncio in Angola and Sao Tome and Principe.
On Saturday 13 June, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Wieslaw Spiewak, C.R., as bishop of Hamilton (area 54, population 64,237, Catholics 9,340, priests 6, religious 2), Bermuda. The bishop-elect was born in Krakow, Poland in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a master's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and a licentiate in spiritual theology from the Salesian Fathers in Rome. He has served in a number of roles within the Congregation of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and is currently provincial superior in Poland and a member of the Episcopal Commission for migrants. He succeeds Bishop Robert Joseph Lurtz, C.R., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.