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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Francis prays for the intercession of the Virgin for his trip to Strasbourg


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, as is his custom before a journey, at around 5.30 the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of the Virgin Salus Popoli Romani and to ask for her intercession for his apostolic trip to the European institutions based in Strasbourg. Francis prayed for around half an hour and left before the Virgin a floral tribute in blue and yellow, the colours of the European flag.


The Pope to the European Parliament: dignity and transcendence, key concepts for the future of Europe


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Europe's future depends on the rediscovery of the vital and indissoluble nexus between dignity and transcendence, as otherwise it risks slowly losing its soul and the humanistic spirit that loves and defends. This was Pope Francis' message to the members of the European Parliament during his visit to the legislative body of the European Union (EU) in Strasbourg: it is the only international organisation directly elected by 508 million citizens, and composed of 751 deputies elected in the 28 member states of the EU.

The Holy Father left Rome by air shortly before 8 a.m. and arrived in Strasbourg in 10 a.m., where he was greeted by the French Minister of State for European Affairs, two deputy presidents, various representatives of the civil authorities, including the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, and local ecclesiastical figures. Pope Francis then travelled by car to the seat of the Parliament where he was received by President Martin Schulz and, following presentations by the two delegations of the 14 members of the Bureau of the Parliament and the 8 presidents of the political groups of the Assembly, he signed the Gold Book of the Parliament with the following phrase: “I hope that the European Parliament is always the place where each member contributes to ensure that Europe, mindful of her past, looks with confidence to the future to live with hope in the present”.

After attending the Solemn Session of the Parliament and listening to the speech by President Schulz, Pope Francis addressed the Assembly, recalling that his visit takes place over a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II, and many things have changed in Europe and throughout the world in the intervening period. “The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realised that 'Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it'. As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less 'Eurocentric'. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

“In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe. It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life. It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity”.

The Pope stressed the close bond between these two words: “dignity” and “transcendent”.
“'Dignity' was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War”, he affirmed. “Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in contrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterised as it is by an enriching encounter whose 'distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them', thus forging the very concept of the 'person'.

“Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age”.

Promoting the dignity of the person, he continued, “means recognising that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests”, yet “care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts. ... The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself”.

The Pontiff emphasised, “I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the ‘all of us’ made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. … To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that 'compass' deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation. Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation. In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future”.

This loneliness, he remarked, “has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is … no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions. Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings. Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb. This is the great mistake made 'when technology is allowed to take over'; the result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a 'throwaway culture' and an uncontrolled consumerism”.

Francis reminded the members of parliament that they are called to a great mission which may however appear impossible: tending to the needs of individuals and peoples. “To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalisation and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it. How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?”

To answer this question, the Pope referred to Raphael's celebrated fresco of the “School of Athens”, found in the Vatican. “Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato’s finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent – to God – which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe’s practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems. The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that 'humanistic spirit' which it still loves and defends. … I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe’s growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person”.

Pope Francis went on to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in “meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since 'it is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence'. Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.

“The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. ... I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. … At the same time, the specific features of each one represent an authentic richness to the degree that they are placed at the service of all. … Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament, within this dynamic of unity and particularity, yours is the responsibility of keeping democracy alive for the peoples of Europe. It is no secret that a conception of unity seen as uniformity strikes at the vitality of the democratic system, weakening the rich, fruitful and constructive interplay of organisations and political parties. … Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalising tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom”.

Keeping democracies alive “is a challenge in the present historic moment. The true strength of our democracies – understood as expressions of the political will of the people – must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. This is one of the challenges which history sets before you today. To give Europe hope means more than simply acknowledging the centrality of the human person; it also implies nurturing the gifts of each man and woman. It means investing in individuals and in those settings in which their talents are shaped and flourish. The first area surely is that of education, beginning with the family, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society. ... Then too, stressing the importance of the family not only helps to give direction and hope to new generations, but also to many of our elderly, who are often forced to live alone and are effectively abandoned because there is no longer the warmth of a family hearth able to accompany and support them. Alongside the family, there are the various educational institutes: schools and universities. … Young people today are asking for a suitable and complete education which can enable them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment”.

The Pontiff went on to speak about the defence of the environment, remarking that “Europe has always been in the vanguard of efforts to promote ecology. Our earth needs constant concern and attention. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. … Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes. I am thinking above all of the agricultural sector, which provides sustenance and nourishment to our human family. It is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables. Respect for nature also means recognising that man himself is a fundamental part of it. Along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of that human ecology which consists in respect for the person, which I have wanted to emphasise in addressing you today”.

The second area in which talent flourishes is work. “The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development. It also implies favouring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labour, their ability to create a family and educate their children”.

With regard to the need fro a united response to question of migration, Francis exclaimed, “We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! … The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions. Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts – the principal cause of this phenomenon – rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts.

“Awareness of one’s own identity is also necessary for entering into a positive dialogue with the States which have asked to become part of the Union in the future. I am thinking especially of those in the Balkans, for which membership in the European Union could be a response to the desire for peace in a region which has suffered greatly from past conflicts. Awareness of one’s own identity is also indispensable for relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly with those bordering the Mediterranean, many of which suffer from internal conflicts, the pressure of religious fundamentalism and the reality of global terrorism.

“It is incumbent upon you, as legislators, to protect and nurture Europe’s identity, so that its citizens can experience renewed confidence in the institutions of the Union and in its underlying project of peace and friendship. … I encourage you to work to make Europe rediscover the best of itself. An anonymous second-century author wrote that 'Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body'. The function of the soul is to support the body, to be its conscience and its historical memory. A two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity. It is a history not free of conflicts and errors, but one constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all. We see this in the beauty of our cities, and even more in the beauty of the many works of charity and constructive cooperation throughout this continent. This history, in large part, must still be written. It is our present and our future. It is our identity. Europe urgently needs to recover its true features in order to grow, as its founders intended, in peace and harmony, since it is not yet free of conflicts”.

“Dear Members of the European Parliament”, he concluded, “the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values, and faith too. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity”.


Francis at the Council of Europe: imposed peace is not enough – it must be loved, free and fraternal


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father proceeded by car to the seat of the Council of Europe, where he met the authorities, including the secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland, who accompanied him to the lobby of the Committee of Ministers. This was followed by an exchange of gifts, after which they entered the Great Hall where, following greetings and the opening discourse by the secretary general, the Pontiff addressed those present, thanking them for their invitation and for their “work and contribution to peace in Europe through the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law”.

He continued, “This year the Council of Europe celebrates its sixty-fifth anniversary. It was the intention of its founders that the Council would respond to a yearning for unity which, from antiquity, has characterised the life of the continent. Frequently, however, in the course of the centuries, the pretension to power has led to the dominance of particularist movements. … The dream of the founders was to rebuild Europe in a spirit of mutual service which today too, in a world more prone to make demands than to serve, must be the cornerstone of the Council of Europe’s mission on behalf of peace, freedom and human dignity”.

On the other hand, the road to peace, and avoiding a repetition of what occurred in the two World Wars of the last century, “is to see others not as enemies to be opposed but as brothers and sisters to be embraced. This entails an ongoing process which may never be considered fully completed. This is precisely what the founders grasped. They understood that peace was a good which must continually be attained, one which calls for constant vigilance. … Consequently, the founders voiced their desire to advance slowly but surely with the passage of time. That is why the founders established this body as a permanent institution. Pope Paul VI, several years later, observed that 'the institutions which in the juridical order and in international society have the task and merit of proclaiming and preserving peace, will attain their lofty goal only if they remain continually active, if they are capable of creating peace, making peace, at every moment'. What is called for is a constant work of humanisation, for 'it is not enough to contain wars, to suspend conflicts ... An imposed peace, a utilitarian and provisional peace, is not enough. Progress must be made towards a peace which is loved, free and fraternal, founded, that is, on a reconciliation of hearts'”.

Achieving the good of peace first calls for education in peace, “banishing a culture of conflict aimed at fear of others, marginalising those who think or live differently … Tragically, peace continues all too often to be violated. This is the case in so many parts of the world where conflicts of various sorts continue to rage. It is also the case here in Europe, where tensions persist”, he said. “Yet peace is also put to the test by other forms of conflict, such as religious and international terrorism, which displays deep disdain for human life and indiscriminately reaps innocent victims. This phenomenon is unfortunately bankrolled by a frequently unchecked traffic in weapons. The Church is convinced that 'the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured'. Peace is also violated by trafficking in human beings, the new slavery of our age, which turns persons into merchandise for trade and deprives its victims of all dignity. Not infrequently we see how interconnected these phenomena are. The Council of Europe, through its Committees and Expert Groups, has an important and significant role to play in combating these forms of inhumanity. … Peace is not merely the absence of war, conflicts and tensions. In the Christian vision, peace is at once a gift of God and the fruit of free and reasonable human acts aimed at pursuing the common good in truth and love”.

“The path chosen by the Council of Europe is above all that of promoting human rights, together with the growth of democracy and the rule of law. This is a particularly valuable undertaking, with significant ethical and social implications, since the development of our societies and their peaceful future coexistence depends on a correct understanding of these terms and constant reflection on them. … In your presence today, then, I feel obliged to stress the importance of Europe’s continuing responsibility to contribute to the cultural development of humanity.

“Throughout its history, Europe has always reached for the heights, aiming at new and ambitious goals, driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, development, progress, peace and unity. … But in order to progress towards the future we need the past, we need profound roots. We also need the courage not to flee from the present and its challenges. We need memory, courage, a sound and humane utopian vision. … Truth appeals to conscience, which cannot be reduced to a form of conditioning. Conscience is capable of recognising its own dignity and being open to the absolute; it thus gives rise to fundamental decisions guided by the pursuit of the good, for others and for one’s self; it is itself the locus of responsible freedom. … It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights”.

“This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. … And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents. … Europe should reflect on whether its immense human, artistic, technical, social, political, economic and religious patrimony is simply an artefact of the past, or whether it is still capable of inspiring culture and displaying its treasures to mankind as a whole. In providing an answer to this question, the Council of Europe with its institutions has a role of primary importance”.

“The history of Europe might lead us to think somewhat naively of the continent as bipolar, or at most tripolar … and thus to interpret the present and to look to the future on the basis of this schema, which is a simplification born of pretentions to power. But this is not the case today, and we can legitimately speak of a 'multipolar' Europe. Its tensions – whether constructive or divisive – are situated between multiple cultural, religious and political poles. Europe today confronts the challenge of creatively 'globalising' this multipolarity” which calls for “striving to create a constructive harmony, one free of those pretensions to power which, while appearing from a pragmatic standpoint to make things easier, end up destroying the cultural and religious distinctiveness of peoples”.

To speak of European multipolarity is to speak of peoples which are born, grow and look to the future. The task of globalising Europe’s multipolarity cannot be conceived by appealing to the image of a sphere – in which all is equal and ordered, but proves reductive inasmuch as every point is equidistant from the centre – but rather, by the image of a polyhedron, in which the harmonic unity of the whole preserves the particularity of each of the parts”.

“The second challenge which I would like to mention is transversality. … Were we to define the continent today, we should speak of a Europe in dialogue, one which puts a transversality of opinions and reflections at the service of a harmonious union of peoples. To embark upon this path of transversal communication requires not only generational empathy, but also an historic methodology of growth. In Europe’s present political situation, merely internal dialogue between the organisations (whether political, religious or cultural) to which one belongs, ends up being unproductive. Our times demand the ability to break out of the structures which 'contain' our identity and to encounter others, for the sake of making that identity more solid and fruitful in the fraternal exchange of transversality. A Europe which can only dialogue with limited groups stops halfway; it needs that youthful spirit which can rise to the challenge of transversality”.

“In the light of all this, I am gratified by the Council of Europe's desire to invest in intercultural dialogue, including its religious dimension, through the Exchanges on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. Here is a valuable opportunity for open, respectful and enriching exchange between persons and groups of different origins and ethnic, linguistic and religious traditions, in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect”.

“This way of thinking also casts light on the contribution which Christianity can offer to the cultural and social development of Europe today within the context of a correct relationship between religion and society. … European society as a whole cannot fail to benefit from a renewed interplay between these two sectors, whether to confront a form of religious fundamentalism which is above all inimical to God, or to remedy a reductive rationality which does no honour to man. There are in fact a number of pressing issues which I am convinced can lead to mutual enrichment, issues on which the Catholic Church – particularly through the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) – can cooperate with the Council of Europe and offer an essential contribution”.

“Similarly, the contemporary world offers a number of other challenges requiring careful study and a common commitment, beginning with the welcoming of migrants. … Then too, there is the grave problem of work. … It is my profound hope that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation, free of ideological pressures, capable of confronting a globalised world while at the same time encouraging that sense of solidarity and mutual charity which has been a distinctive feature of Europe, thanks to the generous efforts of hundreds of men and women – some of whom the Catholic Church considers saints – who over the centuries have worked to develop the continent, both by entrepreneurial activity and by works of education, welfare, and human development. These works, above all, represent an important point of reference for the many poor people living in Europe. How many of them there are in our streets! They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work”.

“Finally, among the issues calling for our reflection and our cooperation is the defence of the environment, of this beloved planet earth. It is the greatest resource which God has given us and is at our disposal not to be disfigured, exploited, and degraded, but so that, in the enjoyment of its boundless beauty, we can live in this world with dignity”.

“Pope Paul VI called the Church an 'expert in humanity'. In this world, following the example of Christ and despite the sins of her sons and daughters, the Church seeks nothing other than to serve and to bear witness to the truth. This spirit alone guides us in supporting the progress of humanity. In this spirit, the Holy See intends to continue its cooperation with the Council of Europe, which today plays a fundamental role in shaping the mentality of future generations of Europeans. This calls for mutual engagement in a far-ranging reflection aimed at creating a sort of new agora, in which all civic and religious groups can enter into free exchange, while respecting the separation of sectors and the diversity of positions, an exchange inspired purely by the desire of truth and the advancement of the common good. For culture is always born of reciprocal encounter which seeks to stimulate the intellectual riches and creativity of those who take part in it; this is not only a good in itself, it is also something beautiful. My hope is that Europe, by rediscovering the legacy of its history and the depth of its roots, and by embracing its lively multipolarity and the phenomenon of a transversality in dialogue, will rediscover that youthfulness of spirit which has made this continent fruitful and great”.


The Pope receives the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, 24 November, Pope Francis received in audience Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Following this encounter the president met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

During the cordial exchange, discussions focused on the situation in the Egyptian nation, highlighting the closeness and solidarity of the Church to all the people of Egypt during this period of political transition. At the same time, hope was expressed that within the framework of guarantees enshrined by the new Constitution in terms of the safeguard of human rights and religious freedom, the peaceful coexistence among all components of society may be strengthened and the path to inter-religious dialogue may continue to be pursued.

Furthermore, themes of common interest were discussed with particular reference to the role of the country in the promotion of peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa. In this regard, it was reiterated that dialogue and negotiation are the only options to put an end to the conflicts and to the violence that endanger defenceless populations and cause the loss of human lives.


The Pope to convoke a conference in Haiti in January 2015, five years after the earthquake that devastated the island


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” announced that its president, Cardinal Robert Sarah, will visit Haiti from 25 to 29 November, five years on from the earthquake that brought devastation to the island and its population, causing around 230 thousand deaths. The main aim of the trip is to bring a sign of concrete spiritual closeness to those who are still engaged in reconstruction works, and to inaugurate the “Notre Dame des Anges” school in Leogane, built through the work of the local Church and with the coordination of the apostolic nunciature.

On the occasion of this trip, the Holy Father has expressed his wish to convoke a conference on Haiti, to be held in the Vatican on 10 January 2015, to ensure that attention remains focused on this humanitarian catastrophe, the impact of which is still felt, and to emphasise the Church's closeness to the Haitian people. The meeting will be organised by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, in collaboration with local bishops.

Meanwhile, on 26 November, during his visit to the island, Cardinal Sarah will meet with representatives of Caritas Haiti, Msgr. Erick Touissant, the president and the director, Fr. Herve Francois, as well as other Caritas representatives present on the island. He will then meet with other Catholic humanitarian organisations working in Haiti.

On 27 November he will participate in the opening of the school “Notre Dame des Anges” in Leogane, managed by the Society of Jesus and built using funds sent directly by the Holy Father during the five years following the earthquake. On the same day he will meet with the local authorities, and in particular with the president of the Republic of Haiti.

On 28 November the prelate will meet with the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, the priests, religious and laypersons who offer their assistance not only in the reconstruction of infrastructure but also in the full human development of the population. The Cardinal will communicate the Pope's special encouragement to all to continue their work with dedication.


Audiences


Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) –On the afternoon of Monday 24 November, the Holy Father received in audience Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, director general of the Islamic Educational Cultural and Scientific Organisation, and entourage.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Pope to the faithful of the Malabar rite: St. Kuriakose Elias and St. Euphrasia, examples and encouragement to the people


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Basilica Pope Francis met with a group of faithful of Syro-Malabar rite, gathered in Rome for the canonisation on Sunday of Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family, and Euphrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart. The Holy Father took the opportunity to thank the Church in India, and specifically in Kerala, for “all its apostolic strength and for the witness of faith you have”, he said. “Continue in this way! Kerala is a land that is very fertile in religious and priestly vocations. Carry on working in this way, with your witness”.

“May this time of celebration and intense spirituality help you to contemplate the marvellous works accomplished by the Lord in the lives and deeds of these new saints. … who remind each of us that God’s love is the source, the support and the goal of all holiness, while love of neighbour is the clearest manifestation of love for God.”

Pope Francis described St. Kuriakose Elias as “a religious, both active and contemplative, who generously gave his life for the Syro-Malabar Church, putting into action the maxim 'sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others'”, while St. Euphrasia “lived in profound union with God, so that her life of holiness was an example and an encouragement to the people, who called her 'Praying Mother'. He encouraged those present to “treasure their lessons of evangelical living ... follow in their footsteps and imitate them, in a particular way, through love of Jesus in the Eucharist and love of the Church. Thus you will advance along the path to holiness”.

The Pope canonises six new blesseds: the Kingdom of God is built on tenderness and proximity


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – During the Mass celebrated this morning on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Holy Father canonised blesseds Giovanni Antonio Fraina (1803-1888), Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family (1805-1871), Ludovico da Casoria (1814-1885), Nicola da Longobardi (1650-1709), Euphrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart (1877-1952) and Amato Ronconi (c. 1226-c.1292).

In his homily, the Pope remarked that the kingdom of Jesus is the “kingdom of truth and life, the kingdom of sanctity and grace, the kingdom of justice, love and peace”, and he commented on today's readings show how the Lord established his kingdom, how He brings it about as history unfolds, and what He now asks of us.

Jesus brought about his kingdom “through his closeness and tenderness towards us”, as the prophet Ezekiel foresaw in the first reading that describes the attitude of the Shepherd towards His flock, using the verbs such as to seek, to keep watch, to round up, to lead to pasture, to bring to rest; to seek the lost sheep, to tend to the wounded, to heal the sick, to care for and to graze. “Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings. In this respect, the People of God have an unerring sense for recognising good shepherds and distinguishing them from hirelings”.

After his victory, that is, after the Resurrection – Jesus' kingdom grew, but it was not a kingdom according to earthly models. “For Him, to reign was not to command, but to obey the Father, to give Himself over to the Father, so that His plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment. … The Gospel teaches what Jesus' kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged. … The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus' works of mercy through which He brought about his kingdom”. He explained that those who accomplish these works show that they have understood and welcomed Jesus' sovereignty, because they have opened their hearts to God's charity. “In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. … Jesus has opened to us His kingdom to us, but it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now – his kingdom begins now – by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who as for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity, catechesis”.

“Today the Church places before us the examples of these new saints. Each in her or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters. They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour. They dedicated themselves without reserve to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and the measure of their unconditional love of God. In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth love for one's neighbour”. Pope Francis concluded, “Through the rite of canonisation, we have confessed once again the mystery of God's kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for His sheep. May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace it as the compass of our lives”.


Angelus: the example of the new saints revives spirit of harmony and reconciliation


Vatican City, 23 November 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Holy Mass for the canonisation of six blesseds, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and greeted in particular the official delegations from Italy and India, the homelands of the new Saints.

“The example of the four Italian saints born in the provinces of Vicenza, Naples, Cosenza and Rimini helps the Italian people to revive the spirit of collaboration and harmony for the common good, and to look to the future with hope, united and trusting in the closeness of God Who never abandons us, even in the most difficult moments”.

“Through the intercession of the two new Indian saints from Kerala, a great land of faith and priestly and religious vocations, may the Lord grant a new missionary impulse to the Church in India, which is very great, so that inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation, Christians from India may continue on the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence”.


The poor are also evangelisers as they show us the peripheries the Gospel has not reached, says Francis at the 4th Missionary Convention of the CEI


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received in audience the participants in the 4th Missionary Convention of the Italian Episcopal Conference, around eight hundred people. “Every generation is called to be missionary … from the very beginning”, affirmed the Holy Father. “Remember how the apostles Andrew and John encountered the Lord and then … set out, enthusiastic. The first thing they did was become missionaries. They went to their brothers and said, 'We have found the Lord, we have found the Messiah'”.

Following these unscripted remarks, Pope Francis went on to cite his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in which he speaks of an outbound Church, and reiterated that a missionary can only be outbound, without fear of encounters, of discovering new things, and of speaking about the joy of the Gospel. “Not to proselytise, but to say what we have and want to share without imposition, with all and without distinction. … The particular Churches in Italy have done much. … I would like to repeat something that a Brazilian cardinal said to me: 'When I go to Amazonia – because he has the task of visiting dioceses in Amazonia – I go to the cemetery and see the tombs of missionaries. And there are many of them. And I think, these people could be canonised now!' It is the Church; they are the Churches of Italy”.

“Today I thank you for what you do in many areas … and I ask you to work with passion to keep this spirit alive. I see many laypeople alongside bishops and priests. The mission is the task of all Christians, not just the few. … The Italian Church, I repeat, has given many priests and laypeople fidei donum, who decide to spend their lives building up the Church in the peripheral areas of the world, among the poor and those who are far away. … I urge you, do not let yourselves be robbed of hope and the dream of changing the world with … the leaven of the Gospel, starting out from the human and existential peripheries. Reaching out means overcoming the temptation to talk among ourselves, forgetting the many who await from us a word of mercy, of consolation, of hope. Jesus' Gospel is fulfilled in history. Jesus Himself was a man from the outskirts, from Galilee, far from the centres of power of the Roman Empire and of Jerusalem. … However, His Word was the beginning of a transformation in history, the start of a spiritual and human revolution, the good news of a Lord Who died and rose again for us”.

The Pope encouraged those present to intensify their missionary spirit and their enthusiasm for the mission, without allowing themselves to be discouraged by difficulties and, above all, “beginning with children, who must receive a missionary catechesis. At times, even in the Church we are overcome by pessimism, which risks depriving many men and women of the announcement of the Gospel. Let us go ahead with hope! The many missionary martyrs to faith and charity are show us that victory is only in love and in a life spent for the Lord and for our neighbour, starting with the poor. The poor are the travelling companions of an outbound Church, as they are the first She encounters. The poor are also your evangelisers, as they show you those peripheries where the Gospel has yet to be proclaimed and lived”.

“Reaching out means not remaining indifferent to destitution, war, the violence in our cities, the neglect of the elderly, the anonymity of many people in need and marginalisation from little ones. Reaching out means not accepting that in our Christian cities the are many children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross. This is reaching out. It means being builders of peace, of the 'peace' that the Lord gives us every day and of which the world is so in need. Missionaries never give up their dream of peace, even when they experience difficulties and persecution, which make their presence strongly felt today”.


Francis: overcome the isolation that burdens the autistic and their families


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father today received in audience the participants in the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), dedicated to autism, including persons affected by this disorder and their families.

The Pope thanked the organisers of the Conference for having chosen such a complex theme, “which appeals directly to the responsibility of governments and institutions, without forgetting, of course, Christian communities”, and he emphasised the need for common efforts to promote “acceptance, encounter and solidarity … to break through the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma that burdens people affected by autism spectrum disorders, and frequently also their families”.

“This does not mean an anonymous and impersonal accompaniment, but instead and above all listening to the profound needs that emerge from within a disorder that is not only often difficult to diagnose, but which does not easily find acceptance without shame and solitude. In the assistance of those affected … it would be helpful to create, throughout the country, a network of support and services, complete and accessible, involving not only parents but also grandparents, friends, therapists, teachers and pastoral workers. These figures may help families to overcome the sensations of inadequacy, inefficacy and frustration that may emerge”.

Pope Francis went on to thank, personally and on behalf of the Church, the families and religious groups and various associations present for the work they carry out every day with persons affected by autism, and encouraged scholars and researchers in the arduous task of discovering therapies and support mechanisms in the treatment and above all the prevention of these disorders. He concluded, “All this is to be done with the necessary attention to the rights of those affected, considering their needs and their potential, and always safeguarding the dignity of every person”.


Ecclesial movements and new communities: conserve freshness of charism, respect freedom and seek communion

Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – Conserve the freshness of charism, respect freedom and always seek communion were the three directions that Pope Francis outlined at the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and based on the theme “The joy of the Gospel, a missionary joy”.

“The movements and communities you represent are now being projected into the phase of ecclesial maturity, which requires a vigilant attitude of permanent conversion, to render the evangelising impulse increasingly alive and fruitful”, said the Holy Father, who received the participants in the congress this morning in the Clementine Hall. Conversion and mission he said, are “intimately connected. Indeed, without an authentic conversion of heart and mind, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed; at the same time, if we are not open to mission, conversion is not possible and faith becomes sterile”.

With regard to the first indication, conserving the freshness of charism, Francis remarked that “as time goes by, there is a greater temptation to become comfortable, to become hardened in set ways of doing things, which, while reassuring, are nonetheless sterile. However, realities are more important than ideas; even if a certain institutionalisation of the charism is necessary for its survival, we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that external structures can guarantee the working of the Holy Spirit. The newness of your experiences does not consist in methods or forms, which are important, but rather in your willingness to respond with renewed enthusiasm to the Lord’s call”.

A further issue is how to welcome and accompany people today, especially the young. “Men and women today experience serious identity problems and have difficulty making proper choices; as a result, they tend to be conditioned and to delegate important decisions about their own lives to others. We need to resist the temptation of usurping individual freedom, of directing them without allowing for their growth in genuine maturity. Moral or spiritual progress that manipulates a person’s immaturity is only an apparent success, and one destined to fail. Christian education instead requires a patient accompaniment which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person, as the Lord does with each one of us. Patience is the only way to love truly and to lead others into a sincere relationship with the Lord”.

Finally, movements must not forget that “the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion”. ... For the world to believe that Jesus is Lord, it needs to see communion among Christians. If, on the other hand, the world sees divisions, rivalries and back-biting, regardless of the cause, how can we evangelise? Remember this further principle: 'Unity prevails over conflict', because our brothers and sisters are always of greater value than our personal attitudes; indeed, it is for our brothers and sisters that Christ has shed his blood. In addition, real communion cannot exist in Movements or in New Communities unless these are integrated within the greater communion of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church. The whole is greater than the part, and the part only has meaning in relation to the whole. Communion also consists in confronting together and in a united fashion the most pressing questions of our day, such as life, the family, peace, the fight against poverty in all its forms, religious freedom and education”, concluded the Holy Father.


Telegram for the death of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Vinicio Angelini for the death of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini last night at the age of 98. He offers his condolences to the family of the deceased cardinal, to the diocesan community of Rome and to the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face, and expresses his affection for “this dear and esteemed pastor, who exercised his long and intense ministry to build up the Church in Rome, in Italy and in the world, first as part of Catholic Action, then with praiseworthy apostolic zeal in hospitals and nursing homes in Rome, and finally as president of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers (for Health Pastoral Care)”.

He continues, “I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that, by the intercession of the Mary Salus Populi Romani, He may receive this generous and distinguished man of the Church in joy and eternal peace, and I impart the comfort of my heartfelt apostolic blessing to those who mourn his passing”.


Private meeting between the Pope and the president of the Italian Republic


Vatican City, 22 November 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., announced yesterday that the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. The meeting, of a strictly private nature, took place in very cordial atmosphere and lasted over an hour.


Audiences


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and entourage.

On Saturday 22 November, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 24 November 2014 (VIS) – 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

- appointed Bishop Donald J. Hying, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, U.S.A., as bishop of Gary (area 4,680, population 809,000, Catholics 189,000, priests 129, permanent deacons 64, religious 123), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Dale J. Melczek, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Victor Hlolo Phalana as bishop of Klerksdorp (area 34,800, population 1,500,000, Catholics 27,000, priests 24, permanent deacons 4, religious 11), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Erasmus, South Africa in 1961, and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in spirituality from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and studied African culture at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including parish priest in the parishes of “Christ the King”, Mabopane, “Good Shepherd” and “St. Peter” in Winterveldt; professor in the preparatory seminary of Hammanskraal and Cape Town; spiritual director of the St. Peter philosophical seminary; teacher at the St. John Vianney major seminary, and teacher at the Lumuko Pastoral Institute. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Pretoria and administrator of the Cathedral of Pretoria.

On Saturday 22 November, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Kieran O'Reilly of Killaloe, Ireland as metropolitan archbishop of Cashel and Emly (area 3,082, population 83,710, Catholics 82,118, priests 139, religious 196), Ireland. He succeeds Archbishop Dermot Clifford, whose resignation from the patoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Jean-Pierre Batut, auxiliary of Lyon, France, as bishop of Blois (area 6,422, population 340,729, Catholics 185,100, priests 98, permanent deacons 9, religious 121), France. He succeeds Bishop Maurice Le Begue de Germiny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. William Nolan as bishop of Galloway (area 9,332, population 520,000, Catholics 47,700, priests 39, permanent deacons 3, religious 41), Scotland. The bishop-elect was born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds a degree in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including vice rector of the Pontifical Scottish College in Rome, and in the diocese of Motherwell, parish priest of “Our Lady of Lourdes”, East Kilbride; judge of the National Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Scotland; head of continuing formation of clergy in the diocese, and deputy president of the presbyteral council. He is currently vicar general of Motherwell. He succeeds Bishop John Cunningham, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Stephen Marmion Lowe as bishop of Hamilton (area 49,700, population 678,000, Catholics 96,500, priests 49, religious 73), New Zealand. The bishop-elect was born in Hokitika, New Zealand in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He studied spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest of Timaru North and chaplain of the Roncalli College, Christchurch. He is currently director of formation at the Holy Cross national seminary in Auckland, parish priest of Ponsonby and administrator of Herne Bay in the diocese of Auckland. He succeeds Bishop Denis George Browne, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Rev. Fr. John Yaw Afoakwa as bishop of Obuasi (area 6,350, population 1,394,910, Catholics 102,260, priests 84, religious 31), Ghana. The bishop-elect was born in Akrokerry, Ghana in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a B.A. in religious education from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome, a B.A. in religion with sociology from the University of Ghana in Accra, and an M.Sc. in Education from the Le Moyne College, Syracuse, U.S.A. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including teacher and chaplain at the Christ the King Secondary School in Obuasi; director of the diocesan Catechetics Office and the diocesan department of social communications; rector of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Akaporiso; and parish vicar at the Blessed Trinity Parish in the diocese of Rochester, U.S.A.. He currently teaches at the Bodwesango Senior High School, and is rector of the St. Louis Rectorate and chaplain of the St. Louis Clinic, Bodwesango.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Henryk Wejman as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamien (area 12,754, population 1,053,713, Catholics 1,000,000, priests 663, religious 250), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Recz, Poland in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He holds a licentiate in theology of spirituality and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including: teacher and spiritual director in the major seminary of Szczecin, parish priest in the St. Albert Chmielowski parish, and adjunct professor in the Institute of philosophy of the University of Szczecin and the “Adam Mickiewicz” University of Poznan. He is currently professor of moral and spiritual theology and dean of the faculty of theology of the University of Sczcecin, and member of the College of Consultors and the presbyteral council.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, presented by Archbishop Louis Kebreau, S.D.B., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Archbishop Max Leroy Mesidor, currently coadjutor of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, as his special envoy at the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, to be held in Kiev on 10 December 2014.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Pope to participants in the World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants: “Migration is an aspiration to hope”


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – “Migration is still an aspiration to hope, notwithstanding new developments and the emergence of situations which are at times painful and even tragic”, said the Pope in his address to the participants in the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, affirming the powerful hope that inspires many inhabitants of troubled areas throughout the world to seek a better future for their families in other places, even at the risk of disappointment and failure. This, he remarked, is caused in great part by the economic crisis which, to differing degrees, affects every country.

The three-day Congress highlighted the dynamics of cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrants. “First and foremost you have analysed the factors which cause migration, in particular: inequality, poverty, overpopulation, the growing need for employment in some sectors of the global job market, disasters caused by climate change, wars and persecution, and the desire of younger people to relocate as they seek new opportunities. Moreover, the link between cooperation and development shows, on the one hand, the difference of interests between states and migrants, and, on the other hand, the opportunities which derive for both”.

“In effect, receiving nations draw advantages from employing immigrants for production needs and national prosperity, not infrequently filling gaps created by the demographic crisis”, observed the Holy Father. “In turn, the nations which migrants leave show a certain reduction in unemployment and, above all, benefit from earnings which are then sent back to meet the needs of families which remain in the country. Emigrants, in the end, are able to fulfil the desire for a better future for themselves and their families. Yet we know that some problems also accompany these benefits. We find in the countries of origin, among other things, an impoverishment due to the so-called 'brain drain', the effects on infants and young people who grow up without one or both parents, and the risk of marriages failing due to prolonged absences. In the receiving nations, we also see difficulties associated with migrants settling in urban neighbourhoods which are already problematic, as well as their difficulties in integrating and learning to respect the social and cultural conventions which they find. In this regard, pastoral workers play an important role through initiating dialogue, welcoming and assisting with legal issues, mediating with the local population. In the countries of origin, on the other hand, the closeness of pastoral workers to the families and children of migrant parents can lessen the negative repercussions of the parents’ absence”.

However, the Congress affirmed that the implications of the Church's pastoral concern in the overall context of cooperation, development and migration go much further, and “it is here that the Church has much to say. The Christian community, in fact, is continuously engaged in welcoming migrants and sharing with them God’s gifts, in particular the gift of faith”. Furthermore, the Church “promotes pastoral plans for the evangelisation and support of migrants throughout their journey from their country of origin, through countries of transit, to the receiving countries. She gives particular attention to meeting the spiritual needs of migrants through catechesis, liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments”.

“Sadly”, he added, “migrants often experience disappointment, distress, loneliness and marginalisation. In effect, the migrant worker has to deal with the problem both of being uprooted and needing to integrate. Here the Church also seeks to be a source of hope: she develops programs of education and orientation; she raises her voice in defence of migrants’ rights; she offers assistance, including material assistance to everyone, without exception, so that all may be treated as children of God. When encountering migrants, it is important to adopt an integrated perspective, capable of valuing their potential rather than seeing them only as a problem to be confronted and resolved. The authentic right to development regards every person and all people, viewed integrally. This demands that all people be guaranteed a minimal level of participation in the life of the human community. How much more necessary must this be in the case of the Christian community, where no one is a stranger and, therefore, everyone is worthy of being welcomed and supported”.

“The Church, beyond being a community of the faithful that sees the face of Jesus Christ in its neighbour, is a Mother without limits and without frontiers. She is the Mother of all and so she strives to foster the culture of welcome and solidarity, where no one is considered useless, out of place or disposable. … Migrants, therefore, by virtue of their very humanity, even prior to their cultural values, widen the sense of human fraternity. At the same time, their presence is a reminder of the need to eradicate inequality, injustice and abuses. In that way, migrants will be able to become partners in constructing a richer identity for the communities which provide them hospitality, as well as the people who welcome them, prompting the development of a society which is inclusive, creative and respectful of the dignity of all”.

The Pope concluded by invoking upon the participants in the Congress “the protection of Mary, Mother of God, and St. Joseph, who themselves experienced the difficulty of exile in Egypt”.


Video message to the participants in the 4th Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a video message to the participants in the fourth edition of the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which this year focuses on the theme, “Beyond places, in time”. The title, he says, suggests various points for reflection, the first of which is the concept of “going beyond”. “The current situation of social and economic crisis can frighten us, disorientate us or seem so difficult that we conclude there is nothing we can do. The great temptation is to stop and tend to our own wounds, and find in that an excuse not to listen to the cry of the poor and the suffering of those who have lost the dignity of being able to put bread on the table because they have lost their jobs. And those who seek only to cure their own wounds end up preening themselves. This is a trap. The risk is that indifference makes us blind, deaf and mute, present only to ourselves, before the mirror, so that everything happens outside us. Men and women closed up in themselves”. This narcissism, he says, is not the right approach.

“We are required to go beyond this and to respond to real needs”, he continues. “To go overcome, it is necessary to take the initiative. … Nowadays, even in the economic sphere it is urgent to take the initiative, as the system tends to sanction everything and money takes control. The system leads to this form of globalisation which is not good and which sanctions everything. … Taking the initiative in these spheres means having the courage not to let oneself be imprisoned by money and short-term gains which enslave us. We need to find a new way of seeing things!”

“The real problem is not money though, but rather people: we cannot ask of money that which only people can do or create. Money alone does not lead to development: development requires people who have the courage to take initiative. And taking the initiative means developing activity capable of innovation, not only of a technological nature; it is also necessary to renew working relations, experimenting with new forms of participation and responsibility for workers, inventing new ways of entering the world of work, creating a bond of solidarity between business and territory. Taking initiative means overcoming 'assistentialism'”.

“Taking initiative also means considering love as the true motor of change”, he adds. “Freeing talents is the beginning of change; this action allows envy, jealousy, rivalry, disagreement and prejudice, and opening up to joy, to the joy of the new”. He emphasises that the question of talent is of particular relevance to the young: “If we want to go ahead, we must make decisive investments in them and trust in them”.

“'Going beyond places' is not the result of individual chance but of sharing an aim: history is a path towards fulfilment. If we act as a population, if we go ahead together, our existence will illustrate this meaning and this fullness”.


Francis: a strong and widespread desire to walk together


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – “This anniversary invites us to give thanks to God for the many fruits harvested in this last half-century. In particular, there has occurred what the Council recommended: the appreciation of how much there is that is good and true in the life of Christians in every community”. Thus Pope Francis greeted the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the theme of which is “The aim of ecumenism: principles, opportunities and challenges, fifty years after Unitatis Redintegratio”.

The Pontiff remarked that fifty years ago on 21 November, the dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and the Decree on the Oriental Catholic Churches, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, were also published alongside Unitatis Redintegratio. These three profoundly connected texts offer the ecclesiological vision of Vatican Council II.

“Firstly, we can rejoice in the fact that the teaching of the Council has been widely received”, affirmed Francis. “In these years, on the basis of theological reasons rooted in the Scripture and in the tradition of the Church, the attitude of us as Catholics has changed in relation to Christians of other Churches and ecclesial communities. Hostility and indifference, which had dug trenches that it seemed impossible to fill and had inflicted deep wounds, now belong to the past, and a healing process has begun that enables us to accept others as brothers or sisters, in the profound unity born of Baptism”.

This change in mentality has made it possible to “deepen our contact with many Churches and ecclesial Communities, and to develop new forms of collaboration. In this respect, the ecumenical traditions of the Sacred Scripture have been very important. Christians of different Churches and ecclesial Communities work together in the service of suffering and needy humanity, for the defence of human life and its inalienable dignity, for the protection of creation and against the injustice that afflict many people and populations”.

He continued, “while we give thanks, we must acknowledge that Christians remain divided, and that divergence in relation to new anthropological and ethical themes complicates our path towards unity. However, we cannot give in to discouragement and resignation, but must continue to trust in God who plants seeds of love and unity in the hearts of Christians, so they can face today's ecumenical challenges with renewed zeal; to cultivate spiritual ecumenism, to recognise the value of ecumenism of blood, and to walk the path of the Gospel together”.

Spiritual ecumenism culminates in the Week of Prayer for Christian unity, “a worldwide network of moments of prayer that, from parochial to international level, infuse the body of the Church with the oxygen of genuine ecumenical spirit; a network of gestures, that unite us in working together charitably; and it is also the sharing of prayer, thoughts and other texts that circulate on the web and may contribute to increasing mutual knowledge, respect and esteem”.

With regard to ecumenism of blood, Unitatis Redintegratio invites us to recognise, “in the brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian Communities, the capacity, given by God, to bear witness to Christ unto the sacrifice of their lives. These testimonies have not been lacking in these fifty years, and continue to this day. ... Those who persecute Christ in his faithful do not differentiate in terms of confession: they persecute them simply because they are Christians”.

The Pope went on to remark that, in recent months, encountering many non-Catholic Christians, and reading their letters, he has noted the existence of a “widespread and strong desire to walk together, to pray, to know and love the Lord, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weak and suffering. I am convinced of this: on a common path, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and learning from each other, we can grow in the communion that already unites us”.

“Fifty years on from Unitatis Redintegratio, the quest for full Christian unity remains a priority for the Catholic Church, and it is therefore one of my main daily concerns. Unity is, first and foremost, a gift from God and it is the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are all called to collaborate, always and in every circumstance”.




The Virgin Mary, protagonist of the 19th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a message to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council for Coordination between the Pontifical Academies, on the occasion of the 19th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, devoted to the theme “Mary, icon of the infinite beauty of Dios Marialis cultus and the Marian teaching of Blessed Paul VI”, organised by the Pontifical International Marian Academy.

In his message, the Pope spoke about Blessed Paul VI's great love for the Virgin Mary, which he expressed on many occasions during his papacy, as well as in several documents, including his two encyclicals, Mense Maio and Christi Matri, dedicated to the Mother of God and the worship of her as Mater Ecclesiae. He also devoted three apostolic exhortations to Mary: Signum Magnum, Recurrens Mensis October and, finally, Marialis Cultus, published forty years ago this year.

“On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of Vatican Council II, established by Paul VI – not by chance – on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 1965, it is beautiful that you wish to make his voice through the recording of the homily in which he entrusts the fate of the Church, radically renewed through the Council assize, to Mary. On that solemn and historical occasion, Paul VI wished to commend the entire Church to Mary as the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother”.

Similarly, Francis recalled that in crucial and difficult moments for the Church and for humanity, Paul VI always turned to Mary, exhorting the people of God to pray for her intercession and protection, and invoking the gift of peace. “In the wake of the Synod of Bishops on new evangelisation, in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I too entrusted the way of the Church to Mary's maternal and caring intercession, reminding all believers that there is a Marian style to the evangelising activity of the Church, as every time we look to Mary we believe again in the revolutionary power of tenderness and affection. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but rather of the strong, who do not need to mistreat others to feel important”.

The Holy Father continued, “Let us not tire of learning from Mary, of admiring and contemplating her beauty, of letting ourselves be guided by her, she who leads us always to the original source and fullness of authenticity: infinite beauty, that of God, revealed to us in Christ, Son of the Father and Son of Mary”. The Pontiff concluded by awarding the Pontifical Academies Prize to the Italian Interdisciplinary Mariological Association, above all for more than twenty years of publishing the journal Theotokos, and the Pontifical Medal to the “Centro mariano de difusion cultural” of the Order of the Servants of Mary, in Mexico.

Audiences


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

- Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo, Magnificent Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University;

- Bishop Anthony Sablan Apuron of Agana, Guam.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Rev. Fr. Ariel Lascarro Tapia as bishop of Magangue (area 20,165, population 838,000, Catholics 677,000, priests 70, religious 30), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Carmen de Bolivar, Colombia in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He holds a licentiate in theology from the University of Navarra, Spain, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Cartagena, including parish priest of “San Estanislao Kostka”, “Inmaculada Concepcion”, “Maria, Madre de los pobres”, “Cristo Salvador”, “Maria, Madre de la Iglesia” and “Santa Catalina de Alejandria”; diocesan head of vocational pastoral ministry, delegate for missionary childhood and archdiocesan delegate for the biblical inspiration of pastoral care. He is currently archdiocesan vicar for pastoral care and parish priest of “Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro”, Bocagrande.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Moises Carlos Atisha Contreras, Sch.P., as bishop of San Marcos de Arica (area 16,512, population 198,400, Catholics 140,000, priests 37, deacons 29, religious 30), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago de Cile, Chile in 1969 and gave his religious vows and was ordained a priest in 1994. He has served as spiritual director of the “Colegio Hispano-americano y Calasanz” and as secretary of the National Commission for Youth Pastoral Care in the Chilean Episcopal Conference, and is currently parish priest of “La Ascension del Senor” in the archdiocese of Santiago.

- appointed Rev. Fr. Jorge Martin Torres Carbonell as auxiliary of Lomas de Zamora, Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He has served as parish priest of “Santa Clara”, “Nino Jesus” and “Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza” in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires, as well as head of youth pastoral care in the archdiocese, episcopal vicar for the “Villas de Emergencia”, and dean and member of the presbyteral council. He is currently priest of the the Shrine of San Cayetano of Buenos Aires.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of La Serena, Chile, presented by Bishop Luis Carlos Gleisner Wobbe upon reaching the age limit.

Appointment of deputy editor of “L'Osservatore Romano”


Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has appointed Giuseppe Fiorentino as deputy editor of “L'Osservatore Romano”. The new deputy director was previously a reporter for the same newspaper.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Pope at the Conference on Nutrition at the FAO: “The hungry ask for dignity, not charity”


Vatican City, 20 November 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis visited the headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, on the occasion of the second International Conference on Nutrition, taking place in Rome from 19 to 21 November.

Upon arrival the Holy Father was received by the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, the adjunct director, Oleg Chestnov and Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, Holy See Permanent Observer at the FAO.

The full text of the Pontiff's address, delivered in the Plenary Hall, is published below:

“I am pleased and honoured to speak here today, at this Second International Conference on Nutrition. I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for your warm greeting and the words of welcome addressed to me. I cordially greet the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, and the Director General of the FAO, Professor José Graziano da Silva, and I rejoice in their decision to convene this conference of representatives of States, international institutions, and organisations of civil society, the world of agriculture and the private sector, with the aim of studying together the forms of intervention necessary in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, as well as the changes that must be made to existing strategies. The overall unity of purpose and of action, and above all the spirit of brotherhood, can be decisive in finding appropriate solutions. The Church, as you know, seeks always to be attentive and watchful regarding the spiritual and material welfare of the people, especially those who are marginalised or excluded, to ensure their safety and dignity.

“The fates of nations are intertwined, more than ever before; they are like the members of one family who depend upon each other. However, we live in a time in which the relations between nations are too often damaged by mutual suspicion, that at times turns into forms of military and economic aggression, undermining friendship between brothers and rejecting or discarding what is already excluded. He who lacks his daily bread or a decent job is well aware of this. This is a picture of today’s world, in which it is necessary to recognise the limits of approaches based on the sovereignty of each State, intended as absolute, and national interest, frequently conditioned by small power groups. Your working agenda for developing new standards and greater commitments to feed the world shows this well. From this perspective, I hope that, in the formulation of these commitments, the States are inspired by the conviction that the right to food can only be ensured if we care about the actual subject, that is, the person who suffers the effects of hunger and malnutrition.

“Nowadays there is much talk of rights, frequently neglecting duties; perhaps we have paid too little heed to those who are hungry. It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities”, the “primacy of profit”, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature. And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity.

“These criteria cannot remain in the limbo of theory. Persons and peoples ask for justice to be put into practice: not only in a legal sense, but also in terms of contribution and distribution. Therefore, development plans and the work of international organisations must take into consideration the wish, so frequent among ordinary people, for respect for fundamental human rights and, in this case, the rights of the hungry. When this is achieved, then humanitarian intervention, emergency relief and development operations – in their truest, fullest sense – will attain greater momentum and bring the desired results.

“Interest in the production, availability and accessibility of foodstuffs, climate change and agricultural trade should certainly inspire rules and technical measures, but the first concern must be the individual as a whole, who lacks daily nourishment and has given up thinking about life, family and social relationships, instead fighting for survival. St. John Paul II, in the inauguration in this hall of the First Conference on Nutrition in 1992, warned the international community against the risk of the “paradox of plenty”, in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes. Unfortunately, this “paradox” remains relevant. There are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger; few topics as likely to be manipulated by data, statistics, the demands of national security, corruption, or futile lamentation about the economic crisis. This is the first challenge to be overcome.

“The second challenge to be faced is the lack of solidarity; we suspect that subconsciously we would like to remove this word from the dictionary. Our societies are characterised by growing individualism and division: this ends up depriving the weakest of a decent life, and provokes revolts against institutions. When there is a lack of solidarity in a country, the effects are felt throughout the world. Indeed, solidarity is the attitude that makes people capable of reaching our to others and basing their mutual relations on this sense of brotherhood that overcomes differences and limits, and inspires us to seek the common good together.

“Human beings, as they become aware of being partly responsible for the plan of creation, become capable of mutual respect, instead of fighting between themselves, damaging and impoverishing the planet. States, too, understood as a community of persons and peoples, are required to act concertedly, to be willing to help each other through the principles and norms offered by international law. A source of inspiration is natural law, inscribed in the human heart, that speaks a language that everyone can understand: love, justice, peace, elements that are inseparable from each other. Like people, States and international institutions are called to welcome and nurture these values – love, justice, peace – and this must be done with a spirit of dialogue and mutual listening. In this way, the aim of feeding the human family becomes feasible.

“Every woman, man, child and elderly person everywhere should be able to count on these guarantees. It is the duty of every State that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens to subscribe to them unreservedly, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their implementation. This requires perseverance and support. The Catholic Church also offers her contribution in this field through constant attention to the life of the poor in all parts of the world; along the same lines, the Holy See is actively involved in international organisations and through numerous documents and statements. In this way, it contributes to identifying and assuming the criteria to be met in order to develop an equitable international system. These are criteria that, on the ethical plane, are based on the pillars of truth, freedom, justice and solidarity; at the same time, in the legal field, these same criteria include the relationship between rights and food, and the right to life and a dignified existence, the right to be protected by law, not always close to the reality of those who suffer from hunger, and the moral obligation to share the economic wealth of the world.

“If we believe in the principle of the unity of the human family, based on the common paternity of God the Creator, and in the fraternity of human beings, no form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable. Political and economic pressure: here I think of our sister and mother, Earth, our planet, and of whether we are free of political and economic pressure and able to care for her, to avoid her destruction. We have two conferences ahead of us, in Perù and France, which pose the challenge to us of caring for our planet. I remember a phrase that I heard from an elderly man many years ago: God always forgives … our misdemeanours, our abuse, God always forgives; men forgive at times; but the Earth never forgives. We must care for our sister the Earth, our Mother Earth, so that she does not respond with destruction. But, above all, no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger.

“By sharing these reflections with you, I ask that the Almighty, God rich in mercy, bless all those who, with different responsibilities, place themselves at the service of those who experience hunger and who assist them with concrete gestures of closeness. I also pray that the international community might hear the call of this Conference and consider it an expression of the common conscience of humanity: feed the hungry, save life on the planet. Thank you”.


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