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23-10-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 186 

- The Pope announces the institution of a new dicastery
- Bishop Jan Vokal reminds the Synod of St. John Paul II's invitation to mercy
- Pope's message to international congress on Fr. Matteo Ricci
The Pope announces the institution of a new dicastery
Vatican City, 23 October 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, at the beginning of the afternoon Synod Congregation, the Holy Father made the following announcement.
“I have decided to establish a new dicastery with competency for the Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Pontifical Academy for Life will be joined to the new dicastery.
To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competences of the new dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion by the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December”.
Bishop Jan Vokal reminds the Synod of St. John Paul II's invitation to mercy
Vatican City, 23 October 2015 (VIS) – An appeal for mercy concluded the Czech bishop Jan Vokal's brief reflection with which he opened the General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on the family this morning.
Bishop Vokal quoted the prophet Amos: “He who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is His thought, Who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the Lord, the God of hosts, is His name”.
“From time to time we need to pause, to raise our eyes to heaven, and to remember that we are not the masters of the world and of life. We need to contemplate the sky, the mountains, the sea; to feel the strength of the wind, the voice of the great waters … as St. John Paul II, whose liturgical memory we celebrated just yesterday, loved to do. We need to feel small – as indeed we are – in the great universe that God has created and continues to create and give life to at every instant”.
“Living increasingly among artificial things, made by ourselves, gradually changes our perception of reality and of ourselves. Without realising, we forget where we are and who we are; we lose the sense of our true dimension. At times we feel omnipotent, but we are not; at times we feel impotent, but we are not”.
“As the prophet Amos reminds us, we are like a blade of grass, it is true, but our heart is capable of the infinite. We are 'almost nothing', it is true, but we can ask 'why?', and feel within ourselves a mysterious bond, at times painful, with He Who created the world, the sun, the moon, the stars”.
“Among all the creatures – who, in their way, are more humble and obedient to the Creator than we are – we humans are the only ones who recognise, and at times feel, that this omnipotence of God's, His incomprehensible greatness, is love, and that it is a merciful, tender, compassionate love, like that of a mother for her small and fragile children. We are the only ones to intuit that all of creation moans and suffers as if in the pangs of childbirth”.
St. John Paul II left us the legacy of his prophecy that this is the time of mercy. He gave the Second Sunday of Easter the name of Divine Mercy, and passed away precisely on the eve of this Sunday. May he continue to intercede for us, so that we become ever more merciful, just as our heavenly Father is merciful”.

22-10-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 185 

Pope's message to international congress on Fr. Matteo Ricci
Vatican City, October 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of the Holy Father Francis to the bishop of Macerata, Nazzareno Marconi, on the occasion of the international congress on the Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, organised by the University of Macerata, Italy, and the Confucius Institute (founded by the “Hanban” Office of the Chinese Ministry of Education, for teaching the Chinese language and culture), and held from 21 to 23 October.
In his text, the Pope expresses his appreciation for the initiative, intended to facilitate detailed study of the missionary work and cultural activity carried out by Fr. Ricci, born in Macerata and a “friend of the dear Chinese people”. The Holy Father also hopes that “the memory of such a zealous man of the Church, attentive to social changes and committed to interweaving relations between the European and Chinese cultures, may reaffirm the importance of dialogue between cultures and religions in a climate of mutual respect and with a view to the common good”.
The congress “New perspectives in the study of Fr. Matteo Ricci”, an initiative suggested by the president of Hanban and Chinese deputy minister of education Xu Lin during his official visit to the Confucius Institute of Macerata in 2013, is one of the most important on the figure of the Italian Jesuit who lived from 1552 to 1610.
Three themes will be considered, regarding little known aspects of the life and activity of Fr. Matteo Ricci. The first relates to work carried out in private and public archives in China on unpublished documents in Chinese regarding Matteo Ricci and his interlocutors, especially his Chinese correspondence.
Secondly, the conference will propose new models of analysis of Ricci's work, studying hitherto little explored themes or works that have not been adequately understood. In particular, there will be two presentations on Michele Ruggeri and Matteo Ricci's Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, as well as analyses using the tools of linguistics, semiology, rhetoric and intercultural comparativism. There will also be a discussion on the importance of cartography in the experience of Ricci and the Jesuits in China, Japan and Korea.
The third theme regards Europe's reflection on itself in the light of the image of Chinese civilisation transmitted by Ricci, the Jesuits and other religious orders, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The reactions of the European Enlightenment to the image of China will be considered, along with the repercussions of Chinese philosophy for Jesuits in the history of European philosophy and finally, the relationship between Ricci's quotation and interpretations of the Analects of Confucius and the first translations of the work by the Jesuits.