Latest News from #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee

10-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 153 

- Audience with the prime minister of Kuwait: the importance of education in promoting respect and peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions
- To new bishops: no sphere of human existence is excluded from the pastor's interest
- The Pope receives the Equipes Notre Dame: Christian couples are in a better condition to announce Jesus Christ to other families
- The Holy Father to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic in November
- Audiences
- General audience: it is essential to revive the alliance between the family and the Christian community
- Archbishop Gallagher at the UN Conference on the protection of victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East
- Audiences
Audience with the prime minister of Kuwait: the importance of education in promoting respect and peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions
Vatican City, 10 September 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Highness Sheik Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, prime minister of the State of Kuwait, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, various themes of mutual interest were reviewed, including the positive contribution that the historical Christian minority offers to Kuwaiti society. The Parties also focused on the importance of education in promoting a culture of respect and peaceful coexistence between the different peoples and religions.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait was then signed by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher and Sheik Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, first deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs. With this instrument the Parties undertake to consolidate and strengthen bilateral relations in order to favour mutual collaboration, peace and regional and international stability.
The agreement further strengthens the bonds of collaboration in the political and cultural spheres, and offers tools for consultation between the Parties. It entered into effect immediately upon signing.

To new bishops: no sphere of human existence is excluded from the pastor's interest
Vatican City, 10 September 2015 (VIS) – The bishops are witnesses to the risen Christ, educators, spiritual guides and catechists, mystagogues and missionaries, Pope Francis affirmed this morning as he received in audience in the Clementine Hall the new bishops ordained during the past year. They were accompanied by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The following are extensive extracts from the Holy Father's address.
“Bishops .. are witnesses of the Resurrected Christ. This is your primary and indispensable task. You have been entrusted the preaching of the reality that holds up the entire edifice of the Church. Jesus is risen! … We too will be resurrected with Christ. … This is not an obvious or easy proclamation. The world is so content with … what it is seemingly able to provide that appears useful to suppress the demand for what is definitive. … However, we are assailed by questions, the answers to which can only come from a definitive future. … How can we face our difficult present if our sense of belonging to the community of the Risen Christ fades? Will we be able to remember the greatness of human destiny if there abates in us the courage to subordinate our life to the love that does not die?”.
“I think of great challenges such as globalisation, which brings together those who are distant from each other yet at the same time separates those who are close; I think of the epochal phenomenon of migration that unsettles our times; I think of the natural environment, the garden God gave to us as the habitat for human beings and for other creatures, threatened by short-sighted and often predatory exploitation; I think of the dignity and future of human work, of which entire generations are deprived; I think of the desertification of relationships, a widespread abdication of responsibility … the bewilderment of many young people and the solitude of many elderly. … I do not wish to focus on this agenda of tasks to complete as I do not want to alarm you. … I wish only to offer to you the joy of the Gospel. … Remember always that it is the Gospel that protects you and therefore do not be afraid to go everywhere and to be with those whom God has entrusted to you. … No sphere of human life is excluded from the interest of the heart of the pastor. … Be on your guard against the danger of neglecting the many and singular situations of the members of your flock; do not renounce encounters with them; do not spare preaching of the living Word of the Lord; invite all to the mission”.
Bishops as educators, spiritual guides and catechists
“With those who are at home, who frequent your communities and partake of the Eucharist, I invite you to be educators, spiritual guides and catechists, able to take them by the hand and to lead them up Mount Tabor, guiding them in the knowledge of the mystery they profess. … Do not spare any efforts in accompanying them and do not let them resign themselves to staying on the plain”.
Bishops as mystagogues
“I think of baptised people who do not however respond to the demands of their Baptism. Perhaps it has long been thought that the land on which the seed of the Gospel falls is not in need of care. Some have drifted away as they are disillusioned by the promises of faith or perhaps because the path to realising them has appeared too challenging. Some instead leave, slamming the door behind them, holding our weaknesses against us or seeking, while not entirely successfully, to convince themselves that they had been deceived by hopes that were ultimately dashed. Be bishops able to intercept their path. … Do not be scandalised by their pain or their disappointments. Enlighten them with a humble flame … always able to illuminate those who are reached by its light that is, however, never blinding. Devote time to meeting them on the road to their Emmaus. Offer them words that show to them what they are still unable to see: the hidden potential of their very delusions. … More than with words, warm their hearts by humbly listening, interested in what is truly good for them, so that they open their eyes and are able to reverse course, returning to Him, from Whom they had drifted.
Bishops as missionaries
“As pastors and missionaries of God's gratuitous salvation, seek also those who do not know Jesus or have simply refused Him. Go in their direction … without fear or unease. … It is not true that we can do without these distant brothers. It is not permissible for us to dispense with our concerns about their fate. … Seeing in us the Lord Who calls to them, perhaps they will have the courage to respond to the divine invitation. If so, our communities will be enriched by what they have to share and our Pastors' hearts will rejoice to repeat once more, “Today salvation has come to this house”.
The Pope receives the Equipes Notre Dame: Christian couples are in a better condition to announce Jesus Christ to other families
Vatican City, 10 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received in audience the participants in the International Meeting of the Equipes Notre Dame (Teams of Our Lady, END), held in Rome on the theme, “Here I am Lord, send me”. The Equipes are a lay movement focusing on married spirituality, established in response to the needs of couples to live fully the sacrament of marriage, using its own method and exploring the complex reality of married couples today. The END were founded in France in 1938 upon the initiative of a number of couples and the priest Fr. Henri Caffarel, whose cause for beatification has been received in Rome.
Recalling the upcoming Synod on the family, Francis invited the members of the END to pray for the Synod Fathers and for what they must reflect upon in the assembly on the “vital cell of our societies … in the difficult current cultural context”, and devoted his discourse primarily to the missionary role of the Equipes Notre Dame.
“Christian couples and families are often in the best position to announce Jesus Christ to other families, to support them, to strengthen and encourage them. What you live in the couple and the family – accompanied by the charism typical of your movement – this profound and unique joy that the Lord enables you to experience in the intimacy of domestic life, between joy and suffering, you must bear witness to … so that others, in turn, take the same path”.
The Pope encouraged all the couples to live deeply the “concrete aspects of commitment” of the movement, such as prayer in couples and in the family, a “beautiful and necessary tradition that has always supported the faith and hope of Christians, and unfortunately abandoned in many regions of the world”. He also emphasised the importance of monthly dialogue between spouses, “that well-known and challenging 'need to sit down' that is counter to the habits of our frenetic and agitated world riven with individualism”. Finally, participation in the life of a team brings “the wealth of teaching and sharing, as well as the help and comfort of friendship”. In this respect Francis underlined the mutual fruitfulness of meeting with the accompanying priests, and thanked the couples of the END for the support and encouragement in the ministry of their priests “who always find, in contact with your Equipes and your families, priestly joy, fraternal presence, emotional balance and spiritual paternity”.
The missionary task of the movement is of supreme importance and the Holy Father indicated various fields of action, such as accompanying young couples and forming them in faith before and after marriage, or closeness to wounded families, “of whom there are so many these days, due to unemployment, … health problems, bereavement … the imbalance caused by distance or absence, or a climate of violence. We must have the courage to enter into contact with these families, in a discreet but generous way, materially, humanly and spiritually, in those circumstances in which they are vulnerable”.
Finally, the Pope encouraged couples to “be instruments of the mercy of Christ and the Church towards those whose marriage has failed. Never forget that your conjugal fidelity is a gift from God, and that mercy has been shown to every one of us. A united and happy couple can understand better than any other, from within, the harm and the suffering caused by abandonment, betrayal, and a lack of love. It is necessary, therefore, that you bring your witness and your experience to help Christian communities to discern the real situations in which these people find themselves, to welcome them with their wounds, and to help them to journey in faith and in truth, under the gaze of Christ the Good Shepherd, to take part in the life of the Church in an appropriate way. Nor must you forget the unspeakable suffering of the children who experience these painful family situations.
The Holy Father to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic in November
Vatican City, 10 September 2015 (VIS) – Accepting the invitation issued by the respective Heads of State and the bishops, Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to Kenya from 25 to 27 November 2015, Uganda from 27 to 29 November, and the Central African Republic from29 to 30 November. The programme of the trip will be published in due course.
Vatican City, 10 September 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio in Canada.

09-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 152 

General audience: it is essential to revive the alliance between the family and the Christian community
Vatican City, 9 September 2015 (VIS) – The relationship between the family and the Christian community, “a 'natural' bond, since the Church is a spiritual family and the family is a small Church”, was the theme chosen by the Pope for the catechesis of today's Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square.
The Christian community is the home of those who believe in Jesus as the source of fraternity between all humanity. The Church journeys among peoples, in the history of men and women, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. “This is the history that matters to the Lord”, explained the Pope. “The great events of world powers are written in history books, and stay there. But the history of human affections is inscribed directly on God's heart, and it is the history that remains for eternity. It is the place of life and faith. The family is the locus of our initiation – irreplaceable, indelible – into this history of full life that culminates in the contemplation of God for all eternity in heaven, but begins in the family”.
“The son of God also learned human history in this way, and experienced it to its end. … Then, when he left Nazareth and began his public life, Jesus formed a community around him, an 'assembly', a convocation of people. This is the meaning of the word 'church'”.
In the Gospels, Jesus' assembly has the form of “a hospitable family, not an exclusive closed sect”. Pope Francis observed, “we find Peter and with John, but also the hungry and the thirsty, the outsider and the persecuted, the sinner and the publican, the Pharisees and the masses. And Jesus never ceases to welcome them all and to speak with them, including those who did not expect to encounter God in their lives. It is a powerful lesson for the Church! The same disciples were chosen to take care of this assembly, of this family invited by God”.
In order to continue to experience the reality of Jesus' assembly, “it is essential to revive the alliance between the family and the Christian community”, he affirmed. “We could say that the family and the parish are the two places in which the communion of love that finds its ultimate source in God Himself is realised. A true Church according to the Gospel cannot but have the form of a welcoming home, with open doors, always. Churches, parishes and institutions with closed doors cannot call themselves churches – they should call themselves museums”.
“Today this alliance is crucial. Against the centres of power – ideological, financial and political, we posit our experiences in these centres of love: evangelising, full of human warmth, based on solidarity and participation, and also mutual forgiveness. Certainly, it requires a generous faith to find the intelligence and the courage to renew this alliance. Families at times pull back, saying that they are not up to the challenge. … But no-one is! … Without God's grace, we cannot do anything. And the Lord never arrives in a new family without some kind of miracle. Let us remember what He did at the wedding in Cana. Yes, the Lord, if we place ourselves in His hands, makes us perform miracles: these everyday miracles, when the Lord is there, in the family”.
“Naturally the Christian community must play its part. For instance … favouring interpersonal dialogue, and mutual understanding and respect. May families take the initiative and be conscious of their responsibility to bring their precious gifts to the community!” exclaimed the Pope. “We must all be aware that Christian faith plays on the open field of life shared with all, and the family and parish must perform the miracle of achieving a more community-based life for the whole of society”.
After the catechesis, in his greetings to various groups of faithful, the Pope remarked that today the Church celebrates the liturgical memory of the Jesuit St. Peter Claver, patron of the missions in Africa, and expressed his hope that the saint's example, with his tireless service to the weakest, impel the young to choose solidarity with the needy. “May his spiritual vigour help the sick to carry the cross with courage, and his love for Christ be a model for newly-weds of the love that should occupy the centre of the family”, added the Holy Father.
Archbishop Gallagher at the UN Conference on the protection of victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East
Vatican City, 9 September 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, spoke at the United Nations International Conference on the Protection of Victims of Ethnic and Religious Violence in the Middle East, held yesterday in Paris, France. The prelate remarked that during this past year we have witnessed “unspeakable atrocities committed in the Middle East, which have forced thousands of Christians and members of other religious and ethnic minorities to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere in precarious conditions, involving great physical and moral suffering”.
“Fundamental principles such as the value of life, human dignity, religious freedom and the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of individuals and peoples are at stake. The phenomenon continues, with the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law by the so-called Islamic State, as well as those perpetrated by other parties to the conflict. The drama of migration during recent weeks, which has compelled Europe to pay greater attention to the situation, is irrefutable proof of this tragedy”.
He went on to indicate three key aspects for improving the future of ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East, beginning with raising awareness in the international community to face the humanitarian emergency and to guarantee minimum conditions of safety for minorities and Christian communities.
“Currently the situation compels us to deal with the humanitarian crisis”, but, “in the long term, other suitable measures will have to be taken to ensure their presence in their homelands. Among the challenges to be faced, I would underline those regarding first and foremost the respect for human rights, especially those freedom of religion and conscience. It is important to insist on religious freedom, which obviously includes the freedom to change religion. Indeed, in many countries in the Middle East, freedom of worship exists, although the space for religious freedom is at times extremely limited. Increasing this space for freedom is necessary to guarantee to all those who belong to the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith. It would appear appropriate for the States in the region to be directly involved, along with the rest of the international community, in protecting the fundamental rights of Christians and members of other religious minorities. It is not a question of protecting one religious community or another, or one ethnic group or another, but of protecting people who belong to the single human family and whose fundamental rights are systematically violated”.
The second issue is that of guaranteeing the right of refugees to return to live with dignity and in safety in their country of origin; a right that “must be defended and guaranteed both by the international community and by States, whose citizens are refugees or displaced. It must be emphasised that Christians and other religious minorities do not wish simply to be tolerated but to be considered as citizens to full effect. It is important that this concept of citizenship opens up an ever broader space, as a point of reference for social life, guaranteeing the rights of all, including members of minority groups, through the implementation of adequate legal measures”.
Finally, it is important to face the phenomenon of terrorism and to promote interreligious dialogue. “The mechanisms must be found to encourage all, including in particular countries with a Muslim majority, to deal with terrorism in a serious way, with particular attention to the issue of education”, observed the prelate. “In this respect, it is important that teaching in schools, internet use and the preaching of religious leaders do not provide an opportunity for the development of intransigent and extremist attitudes, or radicalisation, but instead promote dialogue and reconciliation. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that care must be taken regarding the use of certain expressions and manifestations, considered sacred by some religions, as occurs from time to time in the West, to avoid acts causing offence to those to whom they are meaningful”.
It is also essential to promote interreligious dialogue, which is “an antidote to fundamentalism, which afflicts religious communities. Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders can and must play a fundamental role in favouring both interreligious and intercultural dialogue and education in mutual understanding. Furthermore, they must clearly condemn the abuse of religion to justify violence”. Archbishop Gallagher concluded by adding “a positive and respectful separation of religion and State should also be promoted. In this sense, it is necessary to contribute to develop the idea of the need to distinguish between the two spheres, in favour of autonomy and mutual independence, without concealing the indispensable collaboration between them, so that they may coexist without contradicting one another, thanks to dialogue between religious and political authorities and with respect for their respective competences”.
Vatican City, 9 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, Tuesday 8 September, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio in Argentina.