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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

General audience: the family, conduit of faith

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The family as the conduit of faith was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during September's first general audience.

Francis remarked first that Jesus, both in His words and His signs, frequently presented family bonds as an example of our relationship with God. These bonds “within the experience of faith and God's love, are transformed and acquire a higher meaning, and are able to go beyond themselves, to create a broader paternity and maternity, and to welcome as brothers and sisters those who are at the margins”. To this purpose, the bishop of Rome cited the Gospel passage in which Jesus responded to those who said that His mother and brothers were seeking him outside: “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother”.

“The wisdom of affections that cannot be bought or sold is the finest quality of the family. It is precisely in the family that we learn to grow in that atmosphere of emotional wisdom. … When family affections are allowed to be converted by the witness of the Gospel, they become capable of unimaginable things, the actions that God works in history, like those that Jesus achieves for the men, women and children he encounters. A smile miraculously snatched from the despair of an abandoned child, who starts to live again, explains to us God's work in the world better than a thousand theological treatises. One man and one woman, capable of risking and making sacrifices for the child of others and not only their own, tell us things about love that scientists are not able to understand”.

“The family that responds to Jesus' call restores the rule of the world to the alliance of man and woman with God”, Francis emphasised. “Let us imagine that the helm of history (of society, the economy, politics) is finally passed to the alliance between man and woman, so that they might govern with a view to the generation to come. The themes of the earth and the home, the economy and work, would play a very different tune!”

“Effectively, the alliance between the family and God is called upon to oppose to the community desertification of the modern city. But our cities have been desertified through a lack of love, a lack of smiles. There is so much entertainment, so many things to pass the time, to make us laugh, but there is a lack of love. The smile of a family is able to conquer this desertification of our cities. And this is the victory of family love”.

“No form of economic or political engineering is able to substitute the contribution families make”, he concluded. “The project of Babel builds lifeless skyscrapers. The Spirit of God, instead, makes deserts bloom. We must leave the towers and strongholds of the elites, in order to frequent once more the homes and open spaces of the multitudes, open to the love of the family”.

May the world never experience again the horrors of World War

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis the Pope launched a new appeal for peace, on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

“During these days, also in the Middle East, we commemorate the end of the Second World War”, he said. “I renew my heartfelt prayers to the Lord of all so that, by the intercession of Our Lady, today's world may never again experience the horrors and the appalling suffering of similar tragedies. But it experiences them! This is also the enduring desire of all peoples, especially those who are victims of the various current bloody conflicts. Persecuted minorities, persecuted Christians, the madness of destruction, and then those who produce and deal in arms, weapons soaked with the blood of so many innocent people. No more war! It is the fervent cry that, from our hearts and from the hearts of all men and women of good will, rises up to the Prince of peace”.

The Pope presides at the liturgy of the first Day for the Care of Creation

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided at the liturgy for the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, instituted by the Pope on 10 August and which will from now on be celebrated by the Catholic Church on 1 September, as in the Orthodox Church. Numerous pilgrims and representatives of the Roman Curia participated in the liturgy, and many people and communities throughout the world have responded to the Pope's appeal to renew our vocation as custodians of creation.

The homily was pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household. After citing the biblical sources, from Genesis to the Book of Psalms, which describe the relationship between the human being and the world created by God, Fr. Cantalamessa went on to focus on the figure of St. Francis of Assisi and his “Canticle of the Creatures”, which the Pope chose as the basis for his encyclical “Laudato si'”,

“The saint's words, which define the sun as beautiful, the brother fire as beautiful, the stars as bright and beautiful, are an echo of that 'And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good', from the account of creation”, he commented. “The fundamental sin against creation, that precedes all others, is not listening to His voice, condemning it irretrievably, as St. Paul would say, to vanity, to insignificance. … Francis shows us the way to a radical change in our relationship with creation: it consists of substituting possession with contemplation. He describes a different way of enjoying its fruits, which is contemplating them instead of possessing them”.

“Certainly, Francis did not have a global and worldwide vision of the ecological problem, but rather a local, immediate view”, he added. “He thought about what he and, eventually, his brother friars, could do. Here too, however, he teaches us. A slogan currently in vogue is 'think globally, act locally'. What is the point in taking issue with those who pollute the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if we do not hesitate in throwing onto a riverbank or into the sea a plastic bag that will remain there for centuries if no-one retrieves it; if I throw away what I no longer want wherever I wish, on the streets or in the forest; or if I deface the walls of my city?”.

“The protection of creation, like peace, is 'handcrafted', as our Holy Father would say, starting with ourselves”, he concluded. “Peace begins with you, as is often repeated in the messages for World Day of Peace; similarly, the protection of creation begins with you. It was what an Orthodox representative affirmed during the ecumenical assembly in Basel in 1989 on 'Justice, peace and the protection of creation'. “Without a change in the human heart, environmentalism has no hope of success”.

Activities of the Holy Father and the Holy See during the month of August

Vatican City, 2 September 2015 (VIS) – The following is a list of Pope Francis' activities during the month of August. It includes Angelus audiences, other pontifical acts, telegrams, messages and other news. The activities are presented in chronological order under the respective titles:


6. The Pope returns to his reflections on the family and refers to the situation of those who, following the breakdown of their marriage, establish a new cohabitation, and the pastoral attention they require. The Church, he says, knows that this situation contradicts the Christian sacrament, but with a mother's heart she seeks the good and the salvation of all, without exception.

12. The Holy Father begins a series of reflections on three aspects of family life: rest, work and prayer, starting with the first. The divine commandment to pause in our daily tasks reminds us that man, as the image of God, is a master rather than a slave to work. He urges us to free ourselves of our obsession with economic gain, which undermines human rhythms of life and denies us the time for what is truly important.

19. Francis speaks about work and the family. The management of work, he says, requires a great social responsibility that cannot be left to the mercy of the logic of profit or of a deified market, in which frequently the family is regarded as a burden or an obstacle to productivity.

26. The Pope dedicates his catechesis to prayer in the family and reiterates that, despite the difficulties of finding time in family life, always busy and with many things to do, prayer enables the family to find the peace to face necessary things, and to discover the joy of the Lord's unexpected gifts, the beauty of rest and the serenity of work.


2. In the first Angelus of August, the Pope recalled that Jesus speaks of going far beyond the immediate satisfaction of material necessities and instead invites the faithful to satisfy instead their “hunger for life”, the hunger for eternity that only the Lord is able to satiate, as He is the “bread of life”.

9. Following the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus explains to the people the meaning of this sign and takes as a starting point the experience of hunger and the symbol of bread to reveal Himself to the people and invite them to believe in Him. “In His flesh, that is, in his concrete humanity, all God's love is present, which is the Holy Spirit. Those who allow themselves to be attracted by this love go towards Jesus and towards faith, and receive from Him eternal life”.

After the Angelus prayer the Pope mentioned that sixty years ago, on 6 and 9 August 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a tragic event that urges us to pray for peace. He also expressed his concerns regarding the economic crisis in El Salvador, which has increased the suffering of the population.

15. On the Solemnity of the Assumption, Francis emphasised that that great things the Almighty realised in Mary speak to us of our journey in life and remind us of our destination. Following the Marian prayer, he invited the faithful to pray for the inhabitants of the city of Tianjin in northern China, where a series of explosions in the industrial zone claimed many victims and caused significant damage.

16. Francis devoted the Angelus of the third Sunday of August to the Gospel of John the Evangelist that presents Jesus as the living bread from heaven, and explains the purpose of Mass, emphasising that the Eucharist is a memorial, or rather a gesture that makes real and present the event of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

23. The Pope concludes the reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, which ends with the discourse on the bread of life, pronounced by Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The enthusiasm of the multitude wanes as His words on His flesh and blood as food and drink, alluding to His imminent sacrifice are judged unworthy of the Messiah. Jesus' words, says Francis, always challenge us; in relation, for instance, to the spirit of the world and of worldliness.

On the eve of the national holiday in Ukraine, Peter's Successor launched a fresh appeal for peace in the country, afflicted for some months by a conflict that has worsened in recent weeks.

30. Superficial adherence to the law is not enough for good Christians, Francis emphasised, commenting on the Gospel of St. Mark which describes the dispute between Jesus and various Pharisees. We run the risk, he states, of considering ourselves to be better than others for the mere fact of following rules and customs, even if we love our neighbour. The literal fulfilment of precepts is fruitless if it does not change our heart and does not translate into concrete acts: opening ourselves up to the encounter with God and His Word, seeking justice and peace, and assisting the poor, the weak and the oppressed”.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that yesterday in Harissa, Lebanon, the Syro-Catholic bishop Flaviano Michele Melki, martyred during a terrible persecution of Christians, was declared blessed. “Today too, in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, Christians are persecuted. May the beatification of this bishop martyr instil in them comfort, courage and hope”.

Finally, he denounced the tragic humanitarian crisis of migrants, many of whom recently lost their lives in Austria and in the Mediterranean, and he underlined the need to prevent these crimes, an affront to the entire human family.


4. Publication of the letter, written in Latin and dated 21 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, archbishop emeritus of Quito, Ecuador, as his special envoy in the Tenth National Eucharistic Congress of Peru (Piura, 13-16 August).

6. Publication of the Pope's letter to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, dated 25 July, in which the latter is appointed as papal legate to the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (15 August).

The Holy Father writes to Bishop Maroun Lahham, auxiliary of Jerusalem of the Latins and patriarchal vicar for Jordan, on the situation faced by refugees from these countries.

7. Publication of the letter, dated 2 June, in which Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Cathedral of Strasbourg, France (15 August).

8. Publication of the letter, dated 20 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the celebration of the third centenary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles held in Sinj, Croatia (15 August).

10. Message to Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Vallidolid, Spain, and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, for the European Youth Meeting (Avila, 5-9 August) on the theme “In troubled times, strong friends of God”, commemorating the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.

With a letter to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pope institutes the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

18. Telegram of condolences to Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, for the death on 17 August of Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.

19. Message to Brother Alois and the Taize Community for the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Community on 20 August, in the year of the centenary of the birth of founder Brother Roger Schutz and the tenth anniversary of his death.

Message to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini for the 36th Meeting for friendship between peoples, held in Rimini from 20 to 26 August.

20. Telegram from Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, on behalf of the Holy Father, to His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand, following the terrorist attacks on the Hindu Erawan shrine and the Sathorn district of Bangkok.

22. Publication of the letter, dated 25 July, in which the Holy Father designates Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, as his special envoy to the Mass in Bobbio, Italy on 30 August for the 18th International Meeting of Columbanian Communities, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.

23. Message to Bishop Pier Giorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo, Italy, on the occasion of the Synod of the Methodist and Waldensian Churches, in Torre Pellice, Italy, from 23 to 28 August.

29. Publication of the letter dated 11 July in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Chile, Chile, as his special envoy to the Sixth National Eucharistic Conference of Mexico (Monterrey, 9-13 September).


1: The Holy Father appoints Msgr. Alberto Ortega as apostolic nuncio in Jordan and Iraq, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.

He also appoints Professor Alfredo Pontecorvi director of the Department of Health and Hygiene of the Governorate of Vatican City State. The new director is professor of Endocrinology and director of the School of Specialisation in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital.

4. Bishop Fernando Jose Castro Aguayo, auxiliary of Caracas, Venezuela, is appointed as bishop of Margarita in Venezuela.

6. The Pope accepts the resignation of Bishop Joseph Kunnath, C.M.I., from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Adilabad of the Syro-Malabars, India. Bishop Kunnath is succeeded by Fr. Anthony Prince Panengaden, former protosyncellus and parish priest in the same eparchy.

He erects the apostolic exarchate for the Syro-Malabars in Canada and appoints Fr. Jose Kalluvelil as the first exarch, elevating him to the dignity of bishop.

8. Appointment of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, as the Holy Father's special envoy to the consecration of the new cathedral of the diocese of Creteil, France, to be held on 20 September 2015.

The Pope appoints Professor Fabrizio Soccorsi, former head physician of hepatology at San Camillo Hospital, Rome, as his personal doctor.

10. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Juan Carlos Bravo Salazar, parish priest of Nuestra Senora de Belen en Guasipati, as bishop of Acarigua-Araure, Venezuela.

Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston, U.S.A., is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the ceremony for the 450th anniversary of the first founding mass of the city of St. Augustine, Florida, U.S.A.

14. The Holy Father appoints Fr. Paolo Bizzetti, S.J., as apostolic vicar in Anatolia, Turkey, elevating him to episcopal rank. The new apostolic vicar was formerly rector of the Patavina Residentia Antonianum.

15. The Pope appoints Bishop Michael Didi Adgum of El Obeid, Sudan, as coadjutor archbishop of Jartum, Sudan, and apostolic administrator of El Obeid.

22. Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay, is appointed as the Holy Father's special envoy to the Fifth Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia (Traija, 16-20 September).

The Pope appoints Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” as his special envoy to the concluding ceremony of the First National Eucharistic Congress of the Czech Republic (Brno, 17 October).

24. The Holy Father accepts the resignation presented by Bishop Gilberto Delio Goncalves Canavarro dos Reis from the pastoral ministry of the diocese of Setubal, Portugal, upon reaching the age limit, and appoints Fr. Jose Ornelas Carvalho, S.C.I., superior general of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonians) as the new bishop of Setubal.

26. The Holy Father extended the eparchy of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars, India, to include the six civil districts around Bangalore in which Syro-Malabar faithful are resident: Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramnagara and Tumkur.

The Pope gave his assent to the election by the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church of Fr. Antony Kariyil C.M.I., former director of the Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, Cochin, India, as eparchal vicar of Mandya of the Syro-Malabars.

28. Appointment of Fr. Jean-Pierre Cottanceau, S.S.C.C., as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Papeete, French Polynesia.


5. Audience with the ambassador of Nigeria, Francis Chukwuemeka Okeke, on his farewell visit.

7. The Pope receives in the Paul VI Hall the members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement.

8. Audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which Pope Francis authorises the promulgation of the decree regarding the martyrdom of Servant of God Flaviano Miguel Melki, born in 1858 in Kalaat Mara, present-day Turkey, and bishop of Gazireth of the Syrians, killed in hatred of the faith in Gazireth, present-day Turkey, in 1915.

12. Audience with the ambassador of Hungary, Gabor Gyorivanyi, on his farewell visit.

29. Audience with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

31. The Pope receives in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Italy;

- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy;

- Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea;

- Archbishop Rino Passigato, apostolic nuncio in Portugal;

- Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, apostolic nuncio in Colombia;

- Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio in Belgium and Luxembourg;

- Fr. Pascal Burri, chaplain of the Swiss Guard Corps, on his farewell visit.


4. The Pope meets with several thousand altar servers from more than twenty countries, participating in an international pilgrimage to Rome on the theme “Here I am! Send me”.

11. The Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” makes public the theme chosen by the Holy Father for the 49th World Day of Peace (1 January 2016): “Overcome indifference and win peace”.

20. The Holy Father chooses the theme for the 102nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees (17 January 2016): “Migrants and refugees challenge us. The response of the Gospel of Mercy”.


14. The Holy See and the Democratic Republic of East Timor sign an agreement defining the legal status of the Catholic Church and regulating various matters including Catholic marriage, places of worship, religious education.

28. Press release regarding the raising of flags of Observer States in the central headquarters and offices of the United Nations.

28. The Holy See Press Office issues a communique on the death at home, by natural causes, of Msgr. Josef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio.

29. The Holy See Press Office announces that, following the death of former nuncio Josef Wesolowski in the evening of 27 August, the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the fulfilment of its required functions, has ordered that a post-mortem examination take place, and has appointed a commission of three experts to perform the task, coordinated by the Giovanni Arcudi, professor of forensic medicine. The first conclusions of the autopsy, carried out in the afternoon of 28 August, confirm the natural cause of death, due to cardiac failure. In the forthcoming days, the Office of the Promoter of Justice will obtain the results of the laboratory tests performed by the Commission.

30. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sends a letter on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Gianni Ambrosio of Piacenza-Bobbio, Italy, on the occasion of the 18th International Meeting of the Columbanian Communities on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columbanus.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pope's letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, regarding the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in which he reaffirms his hope that the jubilee indulgence will lead every person to a “genuine experience of God's mercy” and explains that it can also be obtained by incarcerated persons. In addition, he grants to all priests, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the faculty to absolve from sin those who have resorted to abortion, repenting and asking forgiveness with a sincere heart, and establishes that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach the priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. The following is the full text of the letter:

“With the approach of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I would like to focus on several points which I believe require attention to enable the celebration of the Holy Year to be for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.

“My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.

“Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.

“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity.

“Furthermore, the Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.

“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

“A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.

“Trusting in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy, I entrust the preparations for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year to her protection”.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for September

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for September is: “That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has renewed the Special Commission for the Liturgy in the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, composed as follows:

- Archbishop Piero Marini, president;

- Fr. McLean Cummings, secretary;

- Fr. Tedros Abraha, O.F.M. Cap., member;

- Fr. Cesare Giraudo, S.J., member;

- Fr. Thomas Pott, O.S.B., member;

- Archimandrite Fr. Manuel Nin, O.S.B., member;

- Fr. Rinaldo Iacopino, S.M., member;

- Msgr. Paul Pallath, member.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for August

Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for August is: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society”.


Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS)- We inform our readers that during the month of August, the Vatican Information Service will remain closed. Service will resume on Tuesday 1 September.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jubilee for the young

Vatican City, 30 July 2015 (VIS) – The Jubilee for young boys and girls from 13 to 16 years of age will take place in Rome from 23 to 25 April 2016, within the broader framework of the Jubilee of Mercy convoked by Pope Francis. The event is being organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation in collaboration with the Italian national service for youth pastoral ministry.

The first day, 23 April, will be dedicated to mercy. Various groups of young people will depart from Castel Sant'Angelo and will proceed along Via della Conciliazione on a penitential journey, reading the Word of God and meditating. Upon arrival at St. Peter's Square, they will be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessing to the priests available under the Colonnade. They will then enter the basilica via the Holy Door for the profession of faith at the Altar of Confession at St. Peter's tomb.

During the Jubilee, in the squares and most important locations in Rome, a series of installations will be prepared, explaining the seven works of corporal mercy and the seven works of spiritual mercy. A number of witnesses to charity will be present to explain to the young people how mercy can be translated into concrete gestures.

The climax of the event will be participation in the Holy Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday 24 in St. Peter's Square.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Year of Reconciliation begins in Africa

Vatican City, 29 July 2015 (VIS) – The African Year of Reconciliation, convoked by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), opens today with a solemn celebration in Accra, Ghana. It will focus on the theme “A Reconciled Africa for Peaceful Co-existence”, and will conclude on 29 July 2016 during the SECAM 17th Plenary Assembly, to be held in Angola. The SECAM was instituted by Blessed Paul VI in 1969 during his pastoral visit to Uganda, and comprises 37 national episcopal conferences and eight regional conferences.

The initiative responds to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's 2011 invitation to the African episcopates in his post-Synodal apostolic exhortation “Africae Munus” to “promote a continent-wide Year of Reconciliation to beg of God special forgiveness for all the evils and injuries mutually inflicted in Africa, and for the reconciliation of persons and groups who have been hurt in the Church and in the whole of society”. This would be “an extraordinary Jubilee Year during which the Church in Africa and in the neighbouring islands gives thanks with the universal Church and implores the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of reconciliation, justice and peace”. The exhortation, signed by Benedict XVI on 19 November in Cotonou, Benin, during his apostolic trip to the country, followed the Second Extraordinary Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops held in the Vatican in 2009 on the theme “The Church in Africa in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace”.

The archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer Buckle, on behalf of the president of SECAM, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, C.S.Sp., of Lubango, Angola, has sent a letter to all the African episcopal conferences, inviting them to organise programmes and initiatives on reconciliation throughout the year, in collaboration with the commissions of Justice and Peace in their countries. He also encouraged the bishops of the continent to carry out a special collection on a Sunday of their choice for the second SECAM Day. The Day was instituted two years ago by the association's 16th Assembly in order to finance evangelisation projects, the promotion of justice and peace, and the Catholic media.
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