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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It is not easy to be a prophet, says Cardinal Alencherry to the Synod

Vatican City, 6 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9 a.m., with the recitation of the Terce prayer, the third Congregation of the General Ordinary Assembly on the Family opened in the Synod Hall.

His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India, and president of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church, pronounced a homily in which he underlined, in the light of the Bible readings, the prophetic mission of the Church in our times.

“The reading from Jeremiah gives us a message very much applicable to the goal of our Synodal deliberations on family”, he began. “Prophet Jeremiah uttered a few oracles to the royal family of Judah cautioning the King against the ruin that may fall upon the Kingdom, if the King does not render Justice and righteousness and save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor. Josiah and Jehoiakim were the kings of Judah, at that time. We know that both of them were weak kings, and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, destroyed the Kingdom of Judah and the temple. Owing to the failures of the kings the people were driven to exile and all the sufferings that arose from it. Josiah and Nebuchadnezzar, the kings of Judah, could not render justice and righteousness and save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor. Justice means the acceptance of the reign of God and righteousness is the grace of God resulting from the acceptance of God’s reign. The kings of Judah failed in their responsibility to give justice and righteousness to the people, and accordingly the people had to suffer the consequences”.

“The words of the prophet are applicable to rulers and leaders of all the times and also to the people governed by them. In many countries of the world people are denied justice and righteousness as a result of the promotion of individualism, hedonism and oppression by secularist values and lines of action. The question arises as to whether the leaders of the Church have come forward with a prophetic role like that of Jeremiah to support the people with the Word of God and by personal witness”.

“Jeremiah had to suffer the cost of his prophetic role”, the Cardinal observed. “His life was a symbol of the message he gave. Suffering and ruin he had to take upon himself. He was asked to accept three signs in his life: not to marry, not to attend funerals and not to attend parties”.

“'Do not take a wife': Jeremiah is not to experience the deep love of a bride, for the bride, Israel, has rejected Yahweh’s love. He must experience loneliness, as Yahweh experiences loneliness. In Christian times, celibacy becomes a sign”.

“'Do not go into a house where there is mourning': Jeremiah is not to mourn or show compassion to the dead, because Yahweh has lost all feelings for his people. They will die unlamented”.

“'Do not go into a house where there is a celebration': Jeremiah is not to join any celebration, because there is nothing to celebrate. Jeremiah is called to lead a terrible life, and no wonder he goes into deep depression and bitter lament. It is not easy to be a prophet”.

“The pastors of the Church in the present times are called to take upon their lives a prophetic role of suffering and kenosis, similar to that of the prophet Jeremiah”, concluded His Beatitude, citing Pope Francis' words in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”:

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: 'Give them something to eat'”.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First General Congregation: the Synod is the Church that walks together to see reality with the eyes of faith, says the Pope

Vatican City, 5 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9 a.m. the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world” commenced in the Vatican. In the presence of the Holy Father, the first to speak was the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, who presented to the Synod Fathers a brief meditation summarising the intentions and spirit of the Assembly.

“Brothers, who come from the four corners of the world summoned by Peter, moved by the love of Jesus and the Mother Church”, he began. “St. Paul invites us, indeed, to joy. The joy of the gospel that Pope Francisco tirelessly proclaims worldwide. But as he himself has told us, the greatest risk in the world today, with its multiple and overwhelming consumption, is an individualistic sorrow that springs from the comfortable and covetous heart, the feeble search for superficial pleasures, the isolated consciousness. Sometimes it saddens us to hear how the world has focused on this Synod as if we came together as two opposing sides to defend entrenched positions. Therefore, with Jesus Christ joy is always born and reborn'”.

“But let us take heart”, he continued. “We are not a Church in danger of extinction or indeed far less. Neither is the family, although it is threatened and opposed. Nor do we come to mourn or lament the difficulties. Psalm 26 tells us: 'Be brave, take heart. Hope in the Lord'. Let us all have one mind: let us all seek the unanimity that comes from dialogue, not ideas defended at all costs. St. Paul reminds us to have same sentiments as Christ. Live in peace: as Evangelii Gaudium tells us, dialogue contributes to peace, because the Church proclaims the 'Gospel of peace'. To proclaim Jesus Christ, Who is peace in person, the Mother Church encourages us to be instruments of peace and credible witnesses of a reconciled life. It is time to know how to plan a culture that favours dialogue and the pursuit of consensus and agreements as a form of encounter. We are not in need of a project of few and for the few, or an enlightened or minority that appropriates a collective sentiment”.

“Therefore, we wish to begin the Synod in peace”, he concluded. “It is not the peace of the world, made of compromises and commitments that frequently are not fulfilled. It is the peace of Christ, peace with ourselves. And the conclusion is clear: 'The God of love and peace will be with you'. So we can say, 'Stay with us, Lord', not because the day is ending, but rather because it is beginning. A new day for the families of the world, believers or not, families tired of the uncertainties and doubts sown by various ideologies such as deconstruction, cultural and social contradictions, fragility and loneliness. Abide with us Lord, so that this Synod indicate a path of joy and hope for all families”.

The Holy Father than introduced the work of the first day, explaining that “the Synod is not a convention or a locutory; it is not a parliament or a senate, where an accord is sought. The Synod, instead, is an ecclesial expression, that is, the Church who walks together to read reality with the eyes of faith, and which therefore does not represent a museum to be looked at or even to be protected, but is rather a living source from which the Church slakes her thirst so as to slake the thirst and enlighten the deposit of life”.

The Synod is, furthermore, “a protected space where the Church can experience the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod the Spirit speaks through the language of all those who let themselves be guided by God, Who always surprises us, by God Who shows to the smallest among us what He hides from the wise and the intelligent, by God Who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa, by God Who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to seek the one lost sheep, by God Who is always greater than our logic and our calculations. However, let us remember that the Synod may be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants clothe ourselves in apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trustful prayer”.

“Apostolic courage so that we do not let ourselves be afraid neither before the seductions of the world, that tend to extinguish in the heart of men the light of the truth, substituting it will small temporary lights, neither before the hardening of some hearts that, in spite of good intentions, distance people from God”, underlined the Pope.

“Evangelical humility so that we empty ourselves of our own conventions and prejudices in order to listen to our brother Bishops and to fill ourselves with God. Humility that leads us not to point a finger at others to judge them, but rather to offer them a hand to help them up without ever feeling superior to them”.

“Trustful prayer is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when it calms our mood so we hear the gentle voice of God that speaks in the silence. Without listening to God, all of our words will remain words alone, that nether satisfy nor serve. Without allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, all our decisions will be mere decorations that instead of exalting the Gospel, cover or conceal it”.

“Dear brothers”, concluded Francis, “as I said, the Synod is not a parliament where, in order to reach a consensus or a common accord we resort to negotiation, pacts or compromise; the only method of the Synod is to open itself to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage, with evangelical courage and with trustful prayer so that He may guide us, enlighten us and let us put before our eyes not our own personal views, but our faith in God, fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the salus animarum”.

The president delegate, the cardinal archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois, then commented that the Pope's decision to convoke two sessions of the Synod of Bishops on the mission of the family in the contemporary world has been fruitful and that the episcopate has borne witness to this. The particular Churches have made efforts to contribute to the work by answering to the questionnaire that informed the Instrumentum Laboris. “Our Synod is led by the Church”. The cardinal also mentioned the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, with which the Holy Father has reformed the canonical procedures regarding the declaration of nullity of marriage, which offers valuable direction on the spirit according to which this phase of the Synod should unfold. “Without casting doubt on the sacramental tradition of our Church, nor its doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage, you invite us to share our pastoral experiences and to open the paths of mercy by which the Lord calls all those who wish to and are able to enter into a space for conversion with a view to forgiveness”.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod, explained the working methods of the Synod of Bishops in this extraordinary assembly, including the time available for interventions by the Synod Fathers and the greater space accorded to the Circuli Minori to foster more intense debate, as well as the importance conceded to the contributions by couples and the relationships between the Synod and the media.

Finally, the general rapporteur, the cardinal archbishop of Ezstergom-Budapest, Peter Erdo, illustrated the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris, which begins by listening to the challenges to the family, placing them in the contemporary socio-cultural context, and its anthropological change, characterised by a “flight from institutions” leading to institutional instability and the predominance of individualism and subjectivism. He then spoke about the discernment of the family vocation, the divine pedagogy of the family and indissolubility as a gift and a task, mentioning the family in the Magisterium of the Church and its missionary dimension, as well as “wounded” families, placing them in the context of mercy and truth. The cardinal touched upon the theme of the evangelising dimension of the family and ecclesial accompaniment of family units, as well as the issue of reproductive responsibility and the challenges of education.

“Listening to the Word of God, our response must show the sincere and fraternal attention to the needs of our contemporaries, to transmit to them the liberating truth and to be witnesses of our greatest mercy. To face today's challenges to the family. The Church must convert and become more alive, more personal, and more community-based, also at the levels of the parish and the small community. It would appear that a community reawakening is already in process in many areas. So that it might be more general and increasingly profound, we ask that the light of the Holy Spirit show us also the concrete steps we need to take. In this way, the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world, the theme of this Synod, would appear in the serene and concrete light that enables us to grow in hope and trust in God's mercy; in that mercy to which Pope Francis wished to dedicate an extraordinary Jubilee. Let us thank the Holy Father for this decision of hope and entrust our work to the Holy Family of Nazareth”.

“The man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved”

Vatican City, 4 October 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father presided at the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”. In his homily, the bishop of Rome commented on the Biblical texts of this 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, noting that they focus on “three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family”.

Regarding solitude, he spoke of Adam's dominion over all the other creatures in the Garden of Eden, “a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power”. Nonetheless, “he felt alone, because 'there was not found a helper fit for him'”. Loneliness, said the Pope, “is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture”.

“Today we experience the paradox of a globalised world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them... Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past”.

In the first reading we hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness, and resolved to make him a helper fit for him. “These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as today’s Psalm says. This is God’s dream for His beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self”.

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”, said the Pope, turning to the theme of the family. “This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan. Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense”.

“For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude”, he continued. “Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyses the human heart. Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving”.

“In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love. To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously”.

“To carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. … To carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgement of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a 'field hospital' with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support”.

Francis recalled St. John Paul II who said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved”, and added “The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: 'For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brethren'”.

“In this spirit”, he concluded, “we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide His Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse”.

Society is not strong without the family

Vatican City, September 2015 (VIS) – In today's Sunday Angelus the Pope again asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for prayers for the Synod on the Family inaugurated yesterday with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

“The Synod Fathers, from all over the world and gathered around St. Peter's Successor will reflect during these three weeks on the vocation and the mission of the Church in the Church and in society, for a careful spiritual and pastoral discernment. We will keep our gaze fixed on Jesus in order to find, on the basis of His teaching of truth and mercy, the most appropriate routes for adequate commitment on the part of the Church, with families and for families, so that the Creator's original plan for man and woman may be implemented and may operate in all its beauty and strength in today's world”.

In this sense, the reading of the Book of Genesis on complementarity and reciprocity between the man and woman who unite and become one flesh, “that is, one life, one existence”, and in this way “transmit their life to new human beings: they become parents. They participate in the creative power of God Himself. But”, he warned, “be careful! God is love, and one participates in His work when one loves with and like Him. … And this is also the love that is given to spouses in the Sacrament of marriage. It is the love that nurtures their relationship, through joy and suffering, in moments of serenity and difficulty. It is the love that awakens the desire to create children, to wait for them, welcome them, raise them and educate them. It is the same love that, in today's Gospel, Jesus reveals to the children: 'Let the children come to me, do not prevent them'.

“Today we ask the Lord that all parents and educators in the world, as in society as a whole, are made instruments of that acceptance and love with which Jesus embraces the little ones. He looks into their hearts with the tenderness and care of a father and, at the same time, a mother. I think of so many children that are hungry, abandoned, exploited, forced into the war, refused. It is painful to see images of children that are unhappy, looking lost, fleeing from poverty and conflicts. They are knocking on our doors and our hearts begging for help. May the Lord help us not to be a 'fortress-society,' but rather a 'family-society' which welcomes – with the proper rules -but always welcomes with love”.

The Pope concluded by invoking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the Synod Fathers and the intercession of the Virgin Mary, uniting with those who today, Italian Shrine of Pompeii, pray the traditional supplication to the Our Lady of the Rosary.

Following the Angelus, Francis mentioned the beatification yesterday in Santander, Spain, of Pio Heredia and seventeen companions of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance of St. Bernard, killed in hatred of the faith during the Spanish civil war and the religious persecution of the 1930s. “Let us praise the Lord for their courageous witness, and with their intercession, let us beg that He liberate the world from the scourge of war”.

He prayed for the victims of a landslide that swept away an entire village in Guatemala, and of the flood in the Cote d'Azur in France, and urged concrete acts of solidarity in their support. He also affectionately greeted Italian pilgrims on the feast day of the their patron, St. Francis of Assisi.

Prayer Vigil for the Synod – the Church can light up the darkness of humanity

Vatican City, 3 October 2015 (VIS) - “When life proves difficult and demanding, we can be tempted to step back, turn away and withdraw, perhaps even in the name of prudence and realism, and thus flee the responsibility of doing our part as best we can”, said the Holy Father during his inauguration of the prayer vigil for the Synod of Bishops, held during the night of Saturday 3 October. Organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference, large numbers of faithful and pilgrims participated in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope spoke about the human fear that the prophet Elijah experienced and how he got up and fled for his life, and recalled that “just a year ago, in this same Square, we invoked the Holy Spirit and asked that - in discussing the theme of the family - the Synod Fathers might listen attentively to one another, with their gaze fixed on Jesus, the definitive Word of the Father and the criterion by which everything is to be measured. This evening, our prayer cannot be otherwise. For as Patriarch Athenagoras Metropolitan Ignatius IV Hazim reminded us, without the Holy Spirit God is far off, Christ remains in the past, the Church becomes a mere organisation, authority becomes domination, mission becomes propaganda, worship becomes mystique, Christian life the morality of slaves”.

“Let us pray that the Synod which opens tomorrow will show how the experience of marriage and family is rich and humanly fulfilling”, he continued. “May the Synod acknowledge, esteem, and proclaim all that is beautiful, good and holy about that experience. May it embrace situations of vulnerability and hardship: war, illness, grief, wounded relationships and brokenness, which create distress, resentment and separation. May it remind these families, and every family, that the Gospel is always 'good news' which once again enables us to start over. From the treasury of the Church’s living tradition may the Fathers draw words of comfort and hope for families called in our own day to build the future of the ecclesial community and the city of man”.

The Pope emphasised that “every family is always a light, however faint, amid the darkness of this world. Jesus’ own human experience took shape in the heart of a family, where he lived for thirty years. His family was like any number of others, living in an obscure village on the outskirts of the Empire”.

He gave the example of Charles de Foucauld who “came to understand that we do not grow in the love of God by avoiding the entanglement of human relations. For in loving others, we learn to love God, in stooping down to help our neighbour, we are lifted up to God. Through his fraternal closeness and his solidarity with the poor and the abandoned, he came to understand that it is they who evangelise us, they who help us to grow in humanity”.

The Holy Father encouraged the faithful to enter into the mystery of the family in order to be able to understand it. “The family is a place where evangelical holiness is lived out in the most ordinary conditions. There we are formed by the memory of past generations and we put down roots which enable us to go far. The family is a place of discernment, where we learn to recognise God’s plan for our lives and to embrace it with trust. It is a place of gratuitousness. of discreet fraternal presence and solidarity, a place where we learn to step out of ourselves and accept others, to forgive and to be feel forgiven”.

“Let us set out once more from Nazareth for a Synod which, more than speaking about the family, can learn from the family, readily acknowledging its dignity, its strength and its value, despite all its problems and difficulties. In the 'Galilee of the nations' of our own time, we will rediscover the richness and strength of a Church which is a mother, ever capable of giving and nourishing life, accompanying it with devotion, tenderness, and moral strength. For unless we can unite compassion with justice, we will end up being needlessly severe and deeply unjust”.

“A Church which is family is also able to show the closeness and love of a father ... a Church of children who see themselves as brothers and sisters, will never end up considering anyone simply as a burden, a problem, an expense, a concern or a risk. Other persons are essentially a gift, and always remain so, even when they walk different paths. The Church is an open house, far from outward pomp, hospitable in the simplicity of her members. … This Church can indeed light up the darkness felt by so many men and women. She can credibly point them towards the goal and walk at their side, precisely because she herself first experienced what it is to be endlessly reborn in the merciful heart of the Father”, Francis concluded.

The Pope receives volunteers from the Food Bank and again denounces food waste

Vatican City, 3 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience seven thousand volunteers from the Food Bank Foundation, established 25 years ago by the Italian businessman Danilo Fossati and Don Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, to combat food waste, recovering and distributing food among the poor and families in need.

In his address to them, Francis underlined that hunger has now assumed the dimensions of a true scandal that threatens the life and dignity of many people: men and women, children and the elderly. “Every day we must face this injustice: in a world rich in food resources, thanks also to enormous technological progress, there are too many people who do not have the essentials for survival; and this is true not only of poor countries, but increasingly so in rich and developed societies. The situation is aggravated by the increase in migratory flows, which bring thousands of refugees to Europe, fleeing their countries and in need of everything. In the face of such an immeasurable problem, Jesus' words resonate: 'For I was hungry and you gave me food'. We see in the Gospel that the Lord, when He realises that the crowd that has come to listen to Him is hungry, does not ignore the problem, nor does He give a good speech on the fight against poverty; instead He performs a gesture that leaves everyone astonished. He takes the little that the disciples have brought with them, He blesses it, and He multiplies the bread and fishes, so that in the end 'they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over'”.

“We cannot perform a miracle as Jesus did; however we can do something when faced wit the emergency of hunger, something useful, that also has the power of a miracle. First of all we can educate ourselves in humanity, in recognising the humanity present in every person, in need of everything. This is perhaps what Danilo Fossati, entrepreneur in the food sector and founder of the Food Bank, was thinking of when he confided to Don Giussani his unease at seeing the destruction of products that could still be consumed, when so many people in Italy suffered from hunger”.

The bishop of Rome remarked that the Foundation has its roots in the heart of those two men who were not indifferent to the cry of the poor and “understood that something needed to change in the mentality of the people, that the walls of individualism and selfishness had to be broken down. … Jesus Himself invites us to make space in our heart for the urgency of feeding the hungry, and the Church has made it one of the works of corporal mercy”.

Finally, commenting that the Food Bank volunteers encounter hundreds of people every day, the Pope reminded them of the need to remember that they are “people and not numbers, each one with his or her burden that at times seems impossible to bear. Always keeping this in mind, you will be able to look them in the eye, to hold their hand, to descry the flesh of Christ in them and to help them regain their dignity and get back on their feet. I encourage you to be brothers and friends to the poor; to let them feel that they are important in God's eyes”.

Mass for the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps

Vatican City, 3 October 2015 (VIS) – Following the festivity of St. Michael Archangel, patron of the Vatican City State Gendarmerie Corps, Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in the Governorate Chapel, attended by the members of the Corps.

The Holy Father spoke in his homily about St. Michael's battle against Satan, affirming that “there is a war between good and evil, in which we must choose what we want, good or evil. But … the methods of war adopted by these two enemies are totally opposed to one another. In the initial prayer … we ask for the grace to be defended by Archangel Michael against the temptations of the devil, and this is one of the devil's methods: temptation”.

He then explained “the three steps of the method of the ancient serpent, the devil. First, having things: in this case bread, wealth, the wealth that gradually leads to corruption, and this corruption is not a tale, it is everywhere. Many people are willing to sell their soul for a pittance, they sell their happiness, their life, everything. It is the first step: money and wealth. Then, when you have it you feel important, which leads to the second step: vanity. What the devil said to Jesus: Let's go to the terrace, 'cast Yourself down from here' – make a great spectacle! Living for vanity. And the third step is power, pride and arrogance: 'to you I will give all this authority', you will be in command”.

“This also happens to us, in small things, always, in small things: too attached to wealth, we like it when we are praised, like the peacock. And many people become ridiculous. Vanity makes us become ridiculous. Or, in the end, when you have power you feel as if you are God, and this is the great sin”.

“You who have a difficult job, in which there are always conflicts and you have to put in things in their place, often enabling crime to be avoided. Pray to the Lord that, by the intercession of St. Michael Archangel, He will defend you from any temptation of corruption for money, for wealth, for vanity or arrogance. The humbler you are, like Jesus, the humbler your service will be and the more fruitful and useful it will be for all of us”.

Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office

Vatican City, 3 October 2015 (VIS) – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., today made the following statement:

“With regard to the declarations and interview given by Msgr. Krzystof Charamsa it should be observed that, notwithstanding the respect due to the events and personal situations, and reflections on the issue, the decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the Synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the Synod assembly to undue media pressure. Msgr. Charamsa will certainly be unable to continue to carry out his previous work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical universities, while the other aspects of his situation shall remain the competence of his diocesan Ordinary”.


Vatican City, 3 October 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio in Belarus.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 5 October 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Salvatore Ligorio of Matera-Irsina, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Potenza-Muro-Lucano-Marsico Nuovo (area 1,634, population 154,600, Catholics 152,600, priests 113, permanent deacons 23, religious 124), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Agostino Superbo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Andrea Migliavacca as bishop of San Miniato (area 691, population 176,794, Catholics 161,000, priests 79, permanent deacons 10, religious 122), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Pavia, Italy in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles in Pavia, including notary of the diocesan ecclesiastical tribunal, adjunct judicial vicar, head of youth pastoral, Catholic Action assistant for youth, parish administrator of the San Genesio ed Uniti. He is currently vice chancellor and judge of the Lombard Regional Ecclesiastical Tribunal, rector of the diocesan seminary and head of vocations, judicial vicar and canon of the Cathedral Chapter.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri explains how the Synod on the Family will unfold

Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, gave a presentation of the phases and methods of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”, which will commence on Sunday 4 October.

“Tomorrow evening, in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of the Holy Father, a prayer vigil will be held in preparation for the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be attended by the Synod Fathers, the participants in the Synod and all the faithful of the world, on an initiative of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which has invited families, movements and ecclesial associations. At nightfall the beauty of the family will shine through lighted torches. The trustful invocation of the Holy Spirit by the People of God is the prelude to the work of the Synod; indeed, we recall the important tone given to the last Extraordinary General Assembly by the Holy Father, with the powerful homily he gave during the Vigil.

The Mass on Sunday morning, presided by the Holy Father, will signal the opening of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod on 'The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world', allowing all the faithful of the world to join the common path of the pastors cum Petro et sub Petro.

This Assembly is the culmination of the synodal journey undertaken two years ago, with the distribution of the first questionnaire to all the particular Churches, enabling the profile of the family in the world, its riches and its challenges, to be outlined. The Extraordinary General Assembly then prepared a Final Report (Relatio Synodi) which raised further questions; the answers have been incorporated in today's Instrumentum Laboris. With this text in hand, composed of the Relatio Synodi and by the contributions of the particular Churches, the Fathers are preparing to listen to the challenges faced by the family, to discern its vocation, and to announce its mission.

Composition of the Ordinary General Assembly

In accordance with the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum (Art. 5 § 1), the Ordinary General Assembly will be attended by the Heads of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, the bishops elected by the Synod of Bishops and the Councils of the Hierarchy of the Oriental Catholic Churches, the bishops elected by the Episcopal Conferences, ten religious elected by the Union of Superiors General and the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia. In addition, the Holy Father also appoints some Members, in accordance with the same Synod regulations (Art. 5 § 4).

A total of 270 Synod Fathers will participate in this Assembly. They are divided into the following three categories: 42 ex officio, 183 ex electione and 45 ex nominatione pontificia. The Fathers originate from the five continents, as follows: 54 from Africa, 64 from America, 36 from Asia, 107 from Europe and 9 from Oceania.

The Members ex officio comprise the heads of the 15 Synods of Bishops of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches; 25 heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia; the general secretary and the under Secretary.

The 270 Synod Fathers include: 74 cardinals (including one cardinal Patriarch and 2 major archbishops), six Patriarchs, one major archbishop, 72 archbishops (including three titular), 102 bishops (including six auxiliaries, three apostolic vicars and one emeritus), two parish priests and 13 religious. In addition, other invitees from different cultures and nations will take part in this Synod Assembly (cf. Art. 7 Ordo Synodi): 24 experts and collaborators of the Special Secretary, 51 auditors and 14 fraternal delegates. Noteworthy is the fact that, since this is an Assembly dedicated to the family, particular importance is given to spouses, parents and family heads, of whom a total of 18 are present (17 auditors and one among the experts). Finally, we are pleased to welcome the fraternal delegates who, as representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities, certainly share with the Catholic Church a concern for evangelisation and the pastoral care of families in today's world.

Synod methodology

Starting from the experience gained during the Third Extraordinary General Assembly last October and taking into account various suggestions have come from many sides, especially by the Synod Fathers, the General Secretariat of the Synod has developed a new methodology to apply the Ordinary General Assembly, approved by the Holy Father at the meeting of the Ordinary Council of the Secretariat on 25-26 May 2015.

Given the methodology of the previous synods, the majority of the Fathers suggested that the General Assembly is made more dynamic and participatory through the distribution of interventions among the individual members at different times, enabling more attention to be devoted each contribution. In addition, the Fathers requested the enhancement of the work in the Circuli Minores, where there is more active participation in the discussion, more direct and immediate connection between the Fathers in their own language, and in which the auditors and fraternal delegates can intervene.

The result of the first Synod phase, devloped during the last Extraordinary General Assembly, was the Relatio Synodi, which became, together with an attached series of questions, the Lineamenta of the Ordinary General Assembly presented to the particular Churches and to all other entitled persons. The Instrumentum Laboris, resulting from the composition of the Relatio Synodi and the answers related to it, it is the foundational document of this Synod Assembly.

In the opening session, the President Delegate will greet the Holy Father, who will open the meeting. This will be followed by reports from the General Secretary and the General Rapporteur. The General Rapporteur will then present the themes of the First Part (“Listening to the challenges to the family”; cf. Instrumentum Laboris Nos. 6-36). After the testimony of a married couple (auditors), the interventions of the Synod Fathers in the General Congregations, will begin. Their contribution constitutes a development of the basic text.

This will be followed by the sessions of the Circuli minori, in which the Fathers reflect on the basic text supplemented by the contributions made in the assembly hall, in order to develop the “ways” in which the text continues to mature. At the end of the sessions, the rapporteur from each Circulo presents a brief report of their work and indicates the supplements to be inserted in the base text. The reports of the Working Groups will be made public.

The same process is repeated for the Second Part (“The discernment of the vocation of the family”; cf. Instrumentum Laboris Nos. 37-68) and the Third Party (“The mission of the family today”; cf. Instrumentum Laboris Nos. 69 -147), during the following two weeks.

The Commission for the Elaboration of the Final Report, appointed by the Holy Father, in which all five continents are represented, consists of: Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary), Rapporteur General; the General Secretary; Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto (Italy); Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay (India); Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington (United States of America); Cardinal John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington (New Zealand); Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (Argentina); Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila (Gabon); Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano (Italy); Father Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, superior general of the Society of Jesus, representing the Union of Superiors General.

The Commission has the duty of following each stage of the project; therefore, it meets at the end of the work on each part and in drafting the final document. At the end of the three stages of work, the Commission oversees preparation of the draft of the Final Report, to be presented in plenary session. Bearing in mind that this project is the composition of three texts that have already been received in the Circuli minores – whose reports were read in plenary and published – further interventions must be advanced with regard to the collective work conducted so far.

Subsequently, the above Commission oversees the preparation of the final text of the Relatio finalis, to be presented on the morning of Saturday 24 October in plenary session and submitted for approval to the Assembly in the afternoon.

In accordance with the nature of the Synod, this document, the result of the collective work of the Fathers (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 343), will be consigned to the Holy Father (cf. Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, Art. 23 § 4), who is responsible for decisions.

4) Given the large number of those entitled to speak (318 Fathers, the fraternal delegates and auditors) and the extra space reserved for Circuli minores (13 sessions), each speaker has the right to speak in the House for three minutes and to intervene extensively in the Circuli. As in the past, the General Congregations are granted one hour each, dedicated to free interventions by the Fathers. In addition, it is always possible to submit other written texts to the General Secretariat, in addition to the texts in paper and electronic formats presented in the Assembly Hall.

5) Considering that media communication and information during the last Extraordinary General Assembly was abundant and comprehensive, the same methods will also be used in relation to this General Assembly. In this regard, it is essential to bear in mind the basic criterion mentioned by the Holy Father on a number of occasions: the Synod must be a safe space so that the Holy Spirit can act and so that the Fathers have the freedom to express themselves with parresia.

During the three weeks, the briefing will be maintained as the basis for providing information; it will however be expanded, with a greater presence of the Synod Fathers, and using all available means of communication. The Fathers are free to communicate with the media at their own discretion and responsibility. The various stages in the development of the basic document remain confidential, since during the synodal process, the texts are subject to continuous developments right up to the final draft. However, the reports of the Circuli minori on the three aspects of the work of the Synod will be published. A special Commission, together with the Holy See Press Office, will as usual be responsible for providing information on the Synod.

Further information

On Saturday 17 October from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops will take place in the Paul VI Hall. The event is open to all who wish to participate, as well as those attending the Synod. In the mind of Blessed Paul VI, who instituted it on 15 September 1965, the Synod was intended to perpetuate the spirit of Vatican Council II in the Church, so that even after its conclusion, it would continue to receive that 'great abundance of benefits that we have been so happy to see flow to the Christian people during the time of the Council as a result of Our close collaboration with the bishops'.

After the introduction by the General Secretary, the commemorative report will be entrusted to Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna and president of the Episcopal Conference of Austria. There will then be communications from five prelates representing all continents (Cardinal Gerald Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and president of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales, for Europe; Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Maputo, for Africa; Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, archbishop of Santiago del Chile and president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, for the Americas; His Beatitude Raphael I Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, and Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Church, for Asia; and Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, bishop of Tonga and president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific, for Oceania). Lastly, the Holy Father will give the concluding address.

On Sunday 18 October at 10:30 am in the Vatican Basilica, there will be a Mass for the canonisation of, among others, the Blessed spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azelie Guérin, parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

In the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, the People of God are invited to accompany with prayer the work of the Synod, invoking the protection of the Salus Populi Romani and the Blessed Martin couple, whose relics are exhibited there. Every day the Holy Rosary will be recited at 5 p.m. and Mass will be celebrated at 6. In the first week we will pray for children, in the second for parents, and for grandparents in the third.

Near the Synod Hall there will be, as usual, a chapel for prayer for the participants in the Synod, where the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, her parents and the Beltrame Quattrocchi spouses will be displayed”.

Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office

Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., today issued the following statement regarding the Pope's meeting with Kim Davis, an American public official who spent five days in prison for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington D.C. for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

“The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects”.

Cardinals to take possession of their titular churches

Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that on Sunday 11 October the following cardinals will take possession of their titular churches.

At 11 a.m., Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok, Thailand, will take possession of the title of Santa Maria Addolorata (Viale della Venezia Giulia, 134).

At 11.15 a.m. Cardinal Alberto Suarez Inda, archbishop of Morelia, Mexico, will take possession of the title of San Policarpo (Piazza Aruleno Celio Sabino, 50).

At 11.30 a.m., Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, will take possession of the title of Sant’Ireneo a Centocelle (Via dei Castani, 291).

At 12.00 p.m., Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain, will take possession of the title of Santa Maria in Vallicella (Via del Governo Vecchio, 134).


Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Alexandros Couyou, ambassador of Greece, presenting his credential letters;

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

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;

- Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein;

- the 200 participants in the meeting organised to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Servant of God, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Jan Dubina, Slovakia, as papal master of ceremonies.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Francis praises the great spiritual and missionary heritage of the Comboni Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – The Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus attending their general chapter were received in audience by the Holy Father in the Clementine Hall this morning. In his address to them, Francis spoke about the words that define their name and identity.

As missionaries, the Combonians are “servants and messengers of the Gospel, especially for those who do not know it or have forgotten it”, said the Pope. “At the root of this, the personal relationship with Christ … determines all of our existence and action; and it is experienced and nurtured above all in prayer, in staying by the Lord's side. … In this prayerful space we encounter the true treasure we give to our brethren through proclamation. Indeed, the missionary is the servant of God Who speaks, Who wishes to speak to today's men and women, just as Jesus spoke to those of His time. … In the Word of God there is the wisdom that comes from above, and that enables us to find the languages, approaches and tools suited to responding to the challenges of a changing humanity”.

As Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, you contribute joyfully to the mission of the Church, bearing witness to the charism of St. Daniel Comboni, characterised by the merciful love of Christ's Heart for the defenceless. In this Heart there is the source of the mercy that saves and generates hope. Therefore, as you are consecrated to God for the mission, you are called upon to imitate the merciful and mild Jesus, to live your service with a humble heart, caring for the most abandoned of our time. … From that Heart you learn the necessary meekness to carry out your apostolic action even in difficult and hostile contexts. This heart, that so loved humanity, drives you to the peripheries of society to bear witness to the perseverance of patient and faithful love”.

Finally, the Pope expresses to the missionaries his hope that this general chapter might illuminate the path of the Institute in the coming years, helping it to “continually rediscover its great heritage of spirituality and missionary activity. In this way you are able to trustfully continue your valuable contribution to the mission of the Church. May you be inspired and encouraged by the example of many of your brethren, who have given their lives for the cause of the Gospel, willing even to offer the supreme witness of blood. Indeed, it is well known that the Combonian Institute is distinguished by an uninterrupted chain of martyrs, up to our times. They are a fruitful seed in spreading God's Kingdom, and protectors of your apostolic efforts”.

Migrants and refugees challenge us: the response of the Gospel of mercy

Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – “Migrants and refugees challenge us: the response of the Gospel of mercy” is the title of the Holy Father's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be held on 17 January 2016. The document, the full text of which is given below, was signed in the Vatican on 12 September, memorial of the Holy Name of Mary.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the Bull of indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I noted that 'at times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives'. God’s love is meant to reach out to each and every person. Those who welcome the Father’s embrace, for their part, become so many other open arms and embraces, enabling every person to feel loved like a child and 'at home' as part of the one human family. God’s fatherly care extends to everyone, like the care of a shepherd for his flock, but it is particularly concerned for the needs of the sheep who are wounded, weary or ill. Jesus told us that the Father stoops to help those overcome by physical or moral poverty; the more serious their condition, the more powerfully is His divine mercy revealed.

In our time, migration is growing worldwide. Refugees and people fleeing from their homes challenge individuals and communities, and their traditional ways of life; at times they upset the cultural and social horizons which they encounter. Increasingly, the victims of violence and poverty, leaving their homelands, are exploited by human traffickers during their journey towards the dream of a better future. If they survive the abuses and hardships of the journey, they then have to face latent suspicions and fear. In the end, they frequently encounter a lack of clear and practical policies regulating the acceptance of migrants and providing for short or long term programmes of integration respectful of the rights and duties of all. Today, more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences, prevents us from taking the suffering of others for granted, and points out way of responding which, grounded in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, find practical expression in works of spiritual and corporal mercy.

In the light of these facts, I have chosen as the theme of the 2016 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 'Migrants and refugees challenge us: the response of the Gospel of mercy'. Migration movements are now a structural reality, and our primary issue must be to deal with the present emergency phase by providing programmes which address the causes of migration and the changes it entails, including its effect on the make-up of societies and peoples. The tragic stories of millions of men and women daily confront the international community as a result of the outbreak of unacceptable humanitarian crises in different parts of the world. Indifference and silence lead to complicity whenever we stand by as people are dying of suffocation, starvation, violence and shipwreck. Whether large or small in scale, these are always tragedies, even when a single human life is lost.

Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?

At this moment in human history, marked by great movements of migration, identity is not a secondary issue. Those who migrate are forced to change some of their most distinctive characteristics and, whether they like or not, even those who welcome them are also forced to change. How can we experience these changes not as obstacles to genuine development, rather as opportunities for genuine human, social and spiritual growth, a growth which respects and promotes those values which make us ever more humane and help us to live a balanced relationship with God, others and creation?

The presence of migrants and refugees seriously challenges the various societies which accept them. Those societies are faced with new situations which could create serious hardship unless they are suitably motivated, managed and regulated. How can we ensure that integration will become mutual enrichment, open up positive perspectives to communities, and prevent the danger of discrimination, racism, extreme nationalism or xenophobia?

Biblical revelation urges us to welcome the stranger; it tells us that in so doing, we open our doors to God, and that in the faces of others we see the face of Christ Himself. Many institutions, associations, movements and groups, diocesan, national and international organisations are experiencing the wonder and joy of the feast of encounter, sharing and solidarity. They have heard the voice of Jesus Christ: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock'. Yet there continue to be debates about the conditions and limits to be set for the reception of migrants, not only on the level of national policies, but also in some parish communities whose traditional tranquillity seems to be threatened.

Faced with these issues, how can the Church fail to be inspired by the example and words of Jesus Christ? The answer of the Gospel is mercy.

In the first place, mercy is a gift of God the Father who is revealed in the Son. God’s mercy gives rise to joyful gratitude for the hope which opens up before us in the mystery of our redemption by Christ’s blood. Mercy nourishes and strengthens solidarity towards others as a necessary response to God’s gracious love, 'which has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit'. Each of us is responsible for his or her neighbour: we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. Concern for fostering good relationships with others and the ability to overcome prejudice and fear are essential ingredients for promoting the culture of encounter, in which we are not only prepared to give, but also to receive from others. Hospitality, in fact, grows from both giving and receiving.

From this perspective, it is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare. This is especially the case when they responsibly assume their obligations towards those who receive them, gratefully respecting the material and spiritual heritage of the host country, obeying its laws and helping with its needs. Migrations cannot be reduced merely to their political and legislative aspects, their economic implications and the concrete coexistence of various cultures in one territory. All these complement the defence and promotion of the human person, the culture of encounter, and the unity of peoples, where the Gospel of mercy inspires and encourages ways of renewing and transforming the whole of humanity.

The Church stands at the side of all who work to defend each person’s right to live with dignity, first and foremost by exercising the right not to emigrate and to contribute to the development of one’s country of origin. This process should include, from the outset, the need to assist the countries which migrants and refugees leave. This will demonstrate that solidarity, cooperation, international interdependence and the equitable distribution of the earth’s goods are essential for more decisive efforts, especially in areas where migration movements begin, to eliminate those imbalances which lead people, individually or collectively, to abandon their own natural and cultural environment. In any case, it is necessary to avert, if possible at the earliest stages, the flight of refugees and departures as a result of poverty, violence and persecution.

Public opinion also needs to be correctly formed, not least to prevent unwarranted fears and speculations detrimental to migrants.

No one can claim to be indifferent in the face of new forms of slavery imposed by criminal organisations which buy and sell men, women and children as forced labourers in construction, agriculture, fishing or in other markets. How many minors are still forced to fight in militias as child soldiers! How many people are victims of organ trafficking, forced begging and sexual exploitation! Today’s refugees are fleeing from these aberrant crimes, and they appeal to the Church and the human community to ensure that, in the outstretched hand of those who receive them, they can see the face of the Lord, 'the Father of mercies and God of all consolation'.

Dear brothers and sisters, migrants and refugees! At the heart of the Gospel of mercy the encounter and acceptance by others are intertwined with the encounter and acceptance of God Himself. Welcoming others means welcoming God in person! Do not let yourselves be robbed of the hope and joy of life born of your experience of God’s mercy, as manifested in the people you meet on your journey! I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, Mother of migrants and refugees, and to St. Joseph, who experienced the bitterness of emigration to Egypt. To their intercession I also commend those who invest so much energy, time and resources to the pastoral and social care of migrants. To all I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing”.

Presentation of the Pope's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Emigration is not the juxtaposition of cultures, but rather an encounter of peoples”

Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Holy Father's Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, published today.

Cardinal Veglio explained that not only does the Day fit naturally into the context of the Year of Mercy, the point of reference for the Church during the coming months, but also in view of the current situation in which migration is assuming immense proportions and leading to tragedies throughout the world, it must be recognised that this phenomenon in all its forms challenges us to respond.

It is hoped that this year the Day, celebrated in all the Church and at both national and diocesan levels as the Jubilee Day of Migrants and Refugees, will therefore provide a concrete opportunity for all the Christian community to reflect, pray and act. “Migration especially affects the local Churches, as they are closest to migrants and refugees. There we meet these people face to face and it is at that level that our encounter can truly assume a dimension nature”.

“We cannot remain indifferent or in silence when faced with so many tragedies. We cannot fail to express our heartfelt pain before so many situations of suffering – they are men and women, often poor, hungry, persecuted, spiritually or physically wounded, exploited or victims of war – who seek a better life. … This is the basis of the theme chosen for the Holy Father for the next Day”, added Cardinal Veglio, who went on to outline the issues in the Pope's document that challenge both individuals and the community as a whole.

Firstly, the text refers to the humanitarian crisis in the context of migration that affects not only Europe, but the entire world. This fact, as the Holy Father writes, “necessitates deeper study of the situation to enable us to better understand the causes of migrations, along with the consequences both in the destinations and from a global perspective, and therefore to face the phenomenon in the correct way ensuring the protection of human dignity”.

Secondly, the Message highlights the question of identity. “The arrival of immigrants in a new social context requires a process of mutual adaptation to the new situation”, the Cardinal observed. “Integration in the new society also requires inner strength demanding changes in elements of one's identity to adapt to the new social and cultural context”. Similarly, the arrival of migrants “seriously challenges the various societies who receive them, so that the process of insertion and integration respects values that make us ever more humane and help us to live a balanced relationship with God, others and creation , but at the same time allow migrants to contribute to the growth of the society that receive them. The Holy Father invites us to find a delicate balance between the two extremes, avoiding the creation of a cultural ghetto on the one hand, and any trace of extreme nationalism or xenophobia on the other”.

The Message also highlights the theme of welcome, emphasising that the Church has a prophetic word in encouraging welcome, that resonates in the various acts and works that the Christian communities carry out.

Faced with these problems and questions, the Pope affirms that “the response of the Gospel is mercy”. Mercy leads to solidarity with others and to cultivating a culture of encounter; “it challenges all of us so that everyone is willing not only to give but also to receive from others, and tends to build communion and unity”.

“The complexity of migration makes it difficult to separate the different political legislative, humanitarian and security aspects”, emphasised the prelate. “The perspective of the culture of encounter implies looking at the migrant as a whole, with all of his or her aspects. … In this way the presence of migrants becomes not a mere juxtaposition of different cultures in the same territory, but rather an encounter of peoples, where the proclamation of the Gospel inspires and encourages routes towards the renewal and transformation of all humanity”.

The third issue considered by the Holy Father in his Message is the defence of every person’s right to live with dignity, remaining in his or her homeland. … Every person has the right to emigrate – it is one of the fundamental rights ascribed to every human being. But beyond and before this, the right not to have to emigrate should be reaffirmed – that is, to be in the condition of being able to remain in one's homeland. First of all this implies the need to help those countries migrants and refugees leave behind. … The need for a response is not limited only to the war against smugglers or the tightening of immigration legislation, but must also consider that those who enjoy prosperity should ensure that the poor and needy (both individuals and nations) have the means with which to respond to their needs and to undertake a path of development through an equitable distribution of the planet’s resources”.

Finally, the Pope mentions the responsibility of the media and the importance of those who contribute to “unmasking false prejudices regarding migration, presenting it as truthfully as possible”.

Decrees for the Causes of Saints

Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, 30 September, the Holy Father Francis received in a private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he authorised the Congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Servant of God Valentin Palencia Marquina, Spanish diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Suances, Spain in 1937;


- Servant of God Giovanni Folci, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Opera Divin Prigioniero (1890-1963);

- Servant of God Franciszek Blachnicki, Polish diocesan priest (1921-1987);

- Servant of God Jose Rivera Ramirez, Spanish diocesan priest (1925-1991);

- Servant of God Juan Manuel Martín del Campo, Mexican diocesan priest (1917-1996);

- Servant of God Antonio Filomeno Maria Losito, Italian professed priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (1838-1917);

- Servant of God Maria Benedetta Giuseppa Frey (nee Ersilia Penelope), Italian professed nun of the Cistercian Order (1836-1913);

- Servant of God Hanna Chrzanowska, Polish layperson, Oblate of the Ursulines of St. Benedict (1902-1973).


Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Francisco Jose Ottonelli, ambassador of Uruguay, presenting his Credential Letters;

- Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, honorary president of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, with:

- Archbishop Diego Rafael Padron Sanchez of Cumana, president of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela;

- Bishop Jose Luis Azuaje Ayala of Barinas, first deputy president;

- Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal de Venezuela, second deputy president;

- Rev. Victor Hugo Basabe, secretary general.

- Filip Vucak, ambassador of Croatia, on his farewell visit.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 1 October 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Msgr. Luigi Renna as bishop of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano (area 1,327, population 110,889, Catholics 101,672, priests 58, permanent deacons 14, religious 87), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1966 in Corato, Italy, and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and a doctorate from the Pontifical Lateran University. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles in the diocese of Andria, Italy, including vice rector of the episcopal seminary; director of the diocesan “Msgr. Di Donna” school of formation; rector of the diocesan minor seminary, and lecturer in moral theology at the Pugliese Theological Faculty in Molfetta. He is currently canon of the cathedral chapter of Andria; director of the diocesan “San Tommaso d'Aquino” library; member of the college of consultors; director of the “San Luca Evangelista” diocesan archive; director of the school for training pastoral workers and rector of the Pius XI Pontifical regional seminary of Molfetta. He was named Chaplain of His Holiness in 2009.

- appointed Fr. Giovanni Roncari, O.F.M. Cap., as bishop of Pitigliano – Sovana – Orbetello (area 2,177, population 72,100, Catholics 70,000, priests 65, permanent deacons 9, religious 68), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1949 in Verona, Italy, gave his religious vows in 1972 and was ordained a priest in 1975. He holds a licentiate in Church history and has served in a number of roles in his order and as parish priest and delegate for the archdiocese of Florence for the lay apostolate. He is currently a parish priest, member of the college of consultors, episcopal vicar for the Florentine clergy and professor of theology in the Central Italy Faculty of Theology.

- confirmed the election of Rev. Sarkis Davidian as Armenian bishop of Ispahan (Catholics 2,000, priests 1, religious 12), Iran. The bishop-elect was born in 1943 in Aleppo, Syria and was ordained a priest in 1970. He has served as parish priest in France and Lebanon, and currently exercises his ministry as pastor in Armenia.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Cebu, Philippines, presented by Bishop Emilio L. Bataclan, upon reaching the age limit.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis on his apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States

Vatican City, 30 September 2015 (VIS) – The catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square was dedicated to the Holy Father's recent apostolic trip in Cuba and the United States, which originated with his wish to participate in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on 28 September. The visit was extended to include a visit to the United States, to the headquarters of the United Nations, and to Cuba, which was the first stage of his itinerary. The Pope took the opportunity to once again express his gratitude to the president of Cuba Raul Castro, the president of the United States Barack Obama, and the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, for the welcome they reserved to him, and to the bishops and collaborators in the organisation of the trip for their work.

The Pope recounted that he presented himself in Cuba, “a land rich in natural beauty, culture and faith”, as a “Missionary of Mercy”. “God's mercy is greater than any affliction, any conflict, any ideology; and with this gaze of mercy I was able to embrace the entire Cuban population, at home and abroad, looking beyond any division. The symbol of this deep unity is Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, … Patroness of Cuba, … Mother of Hope … who guides us on the path of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation. … I was able to share with the Cuban people the hope of fulfilling the prophecy of St. John Paul II: that Cuba will open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba. No more closure, no more exploitation of the poor, but instead freedom and dignity. It is the path that draws strength from the Christian roots of the people, who have suffered greatly”.

After Cuba, the Pope proceeded the United States. “A symbolic step, a bridge that, thanks be to God, is being rebuilt”, he commented, adding that “God always wants to build bridges; we are the ones who build walls. But walls always fall down”.

He then spoke about the three phases of his trip to the United States: Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia. In Washington D.C. he met not only with the political authorities, but also the clergy, the poor and the marginalised. He remarked that the greatest wealth of the country and her people is her “spiritual and ethical heritage. And so, I wanted to encourage to continuation of social construction faithful to the United States' fundamental principle, that all men are created by God, equal and endowed with inalienable rights, such as life, liberty an the pursuit of happiness. These values, that may be shared by all, find their fulfilment in the Gospel, as was clearly shown by the canonisation of the Franciscan Fr. Junipero Serra, the great evangeliser of California. St. Junipero shows us the way to joy: going forth and sharing Christ's love with others. This is the way of Christians, but also of any person who has known love: not to keep it to oneself but to share it with others. The United States of America have grown on this religious and moral base, and on this base they can continue to be a land of freedom, welcome and cooperation for a more just and fraternal world”.

Turning to the second phase of the trip, in New York, the Pope recalled his address to the representatives of nations at the General Assembly of the United Nations, in which he renewed the Catholic Church's commitment to support the institution and “its role in the promotion of development and peace, especially with regard to the need for joint and active commitment to care for creation”, and highlighted his appeal “to stop and prevent violence against ethnic and religious minorities and against civil populations”. The Holy Father recounted that he had prayed at Ground Zero for peace and fraternity, accompanied by representatives of various religions and families of victims of the 11 September attacks, and celebrated Mass for peace and justice in Madison Square Garden.

“In both Washington D.C. and New York I was able to meet various charitable and educational bodies, emblematic of the enormous service that the Catholic community – priests, man and women religious, and laypeople – offer in these fields”.

However, the climax of the trip was the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, “where the horizon extends to all the world through the 'prism' of the family”. He continued, “the family is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a dual challenge: fragmentation and solidification, two extremes which co-exist, support each other and together support the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer as it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and community dimensions, and at the same time the model for a sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the protagonist of an integral ecology, as it is the primary social subject which contains within itself the two basic principals of human civilisation on earth: the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Biblical humanism presents us with this icon: the human couple, united and fruitful, placed by God in the garden of the world to cultivate it and protect it”.

The Holy Father concluded by greeting the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, noting his great love for the family made manifest in the organisation of the event. “It is not by chance, but rather providential that … the witness of the World Meeting of Families came at this moment from the United States of America – that is, the country that during the last century reached the highest level of economic and technological development without renouncing its religious roots. Now these same roots are asking to be replanted in the family, to rethink and change the model of development, for the good of the entire human family”.

The Pope recalls Blessed Klara Ludwika Szczesna, St. Rita of Cascia and St. Jerome

Vatican City, 30 September 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis, the Holy Father greeted among others the Sister Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from Poland, who are currently in Rome, the “heart of the Church”, to give thanks for the beatification of Klara Ludwika Szczesna, co-founder of this congregation, in Krakow last Sunday. “By her life, the new Blessed taught us about giving oneself to God, humble service to neighbours, life according to the spirit of the Gospel, and sensitivity to the poor, to those in need and those who have lost their way in life. May her motto, “All for the Heart of Jesus”, be a challenge for all of us, so that we may live according to God's will”.

He also blessed a statue of St. Rita of Cascia, offered by a group of Lebanese faithful to the Italian archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, which will be placed at the crossroads between the saint's birthplace, Roccaporena, and Cascia, where her relics are held. He invited all during the upcoming Jubillee of Mercy to “reread her extraordinary human and spiritual experience as a sign of the power of God's mercy”.

Finally, he recalled that today we celebrate the memory of St. Jerome, and said, “Dear young people, may his passion for the Sacred Scripture lead you to fall in love with the Book of Life; dear sick people, may his austerity bring meaning to your suffering; dear newlyweds, may his spiritual vigour strengthen the faith of your new home”.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for October

Vatican City, 30 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for October is: “That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it”.

Papal Magisterium on communication available online

Vatican City, 30 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Baragli Project, entitled “The Church and Communication”. The speakers were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Fr. Franco Lever, professor emeritus of the Faculty of Social Communication Science at the Pontifical Salesian University and consultor of the same Pontifical Council, and Paolo Sparaci, professor at the same university.

“The PCCS is very pleased to support the Baragli Project”, affirmed Archbishop Celli. “The primary function of the PCCS, in accordance with the mandate given to it by Vatican II, is to promote the importance of communications in the life of the Church. Communication is not just another activity of the Church but is at the very essence of its life. … This project is particularly valuable because it brings together, and makes available to a wider public, a long tradition of teaching and reflection by the Church precisely on the centrality of communications”.

“The material themselves are hugely significant as they show how the Church has, throughout its history, sought to engage with the changing means and forms of communication which have shaped culture and human society. This collection enables us to appreciate how the Church’s manner and means of expressing its message have been transformed over the years in order to take account of changes and developments in the dominant forms and technologies of mass communication. … What one sees is a constant effort on the part of the Church to ensure that the Good News of the Gospel is made known to its contemporaries in ways that are culturally appropriate and that fully realise the potentials of new models of communications and developing technologies. The publication of these materials on-line will provide the raw resources which will enable theologians and communications scholars to deepen their reflections on how the Church today should fulfil its responsibility to share its message with all people”.

Fr. Level explained that “'The Church and Communication' is an 'online digital library' [that] gives access to excerpts chosen from over 1,100 documents, translated into various languages, from the first to the twenty-first century; features a 'navigator' which helps to explore available online sources; offers a platform for reading and personal study; and provides an open environment for collaboration. The site is geared towards those interested in the subject, and especially those working in Church educational and formation centres which do not have large libraries”.

“After some years of preparation, the beta version in Italian is going live today and can be found at www.chiesaecomunicazione.com. The purpose is to share what has been put together so far, to gather feedback and to finalize development of the definitive version in the coming months”.

At the same time, he added that 'The Church and Communication' will always be a work in progress with respect to three areas of ongoing development:

“Expanding the archive: not only adding future documents of the Magisterium, but widening the range of documents presented, including those from episcopal conferences (Latin America, Asia, USA, Africa, Europe), together with particularly significant contributions from individual bishops (example, the works of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini in the field); consideration will also be given to documents from the Orthodox Church and the evangelical churches, especially the World Council of Churches and the Anglican Communion”;

“Creating a network of collaborators: an indispensable effort in order to offer translations of documents and background notes, also to discover new sources and evaluate their acquisition and inclusion”; and

“Offering new instruments and methodologies through the IPERNOTE publication platform, which features and tests new technologies which favour the shared reading and study of documents among a community of readers”.

He explained that the idea for this project was inspired by the figure and works of Father Enrico Baragli, SJ, (1908-2001), “a pioneer of the church in Italy with his study of the 'means of social communication'. … The origins for this project go back to 1998 when Father Baragli gave permission to Fr. Franco Lever to use his writings”, he concluded.

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