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Friday, January 31, 2014


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – “To promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world” is the duty that John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution “Pastor bonus” assigns to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This morning, at the end of their plenary session, Pope Francis received in audience the members of the dicastery.

The Holy Father emphasized that, “from the earliest days of the Church, there has been a temptation to understand doctrine in an ideological sense or to reduce it to a set of abstract and fossilized theories. In fact, doctrine has the sole purpose of serving the life of the People of God and seeks to ensure a firm foundation to our faith. Great indeed is the temptation to commandeer the gifts of salvation that come from God, to acclimate them—maybe even with the best intention—to the world's viewpoints and spirit.”

The task of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should “also always seek to keep in mind the needs of constructive, respectful, and patient dialogue with the authors. If truth demands precision, this always grows in charity and fraternal assistance for those called to deepen or clarify their beliefs.” Likewise, the Pope noted that the Congregation's method of working is distinguished “by its practice of collegiality and dialogue. Effectively, the Church is a place of communion and, at all levels, each of us is called to cultivate and promote communion, each one with the responsibility assigned to us by the Lord.”

Then, mentioning their plenary session that was dedicated to the relationship between faith and marriage, he stated that “it is a reflection of great importance. It arises in the wake of the invitation already formulated by Benedict XVI regarding the need to question more deeply the relationship between personal faith and the celebration of the sacrament of marriage, especially in the changed cultural context.”

On this occasion, I would also like to thank you for your efforts in dealing with sensitive issues regarding the most serious crimes, in particular, the cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clerics. Think of the welfare of children and the young, who in the Christian community must always be protected and supported in their human and spiritual growth. In this sense, the possibility is being looked into of connecting the specific Commission for the Protection of Minors, which I have established, to your dicastery. I hope it will be an example for all those who wish to promote the welfare of children.”


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, Pope Francis received prelates of the Austrian Bishops' Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit, delivering the speech that the extracts below are taken from. In his speech the Holy Father recalled the kindness of the Austrian Church for the Successor of Peter that was concretely expressed in the cordial reception given to Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the Shrine of Mariazell in 2007, despite the difficult years for the Church in following years, a difficulty marked, among other factors, by the decline in the number of Catholics. He writes, however, that this trend “should not find us inactive, but should encourage our efforts for the new evangelization that is always needed.”

Pope Francis affirmed that being the Church “doesn't mean administration, but going out, being missionaries, bringing people the light of faith and the joy of the Gospel. Let us not forget that the momentum of our commitment as Christians in the world is not a philanthropic idea, not a vague humanism, but a gift from God, that is, the gift of being sons and daughters that we have received in Baptism. This gift is, at the same time, a task. God's children do not hide; rather they bring their joy as children of God to the world.”

The Church,” the Pope continued, quoting the Second Vatican Council, “'embraces in its bosom sinners'. But the council says in the same passage that we should not resign ourselves to sin, that is … the holy Church is always in need of being purified. That means that we must always be committed to our purification, in the sacrament of Reconciliation. … As pastors of the Church we want to assist the faithful with tenderness and understanding in this wonderful sacrament, to make them feel the Good Shepherd's love precisely in this gift. I ask you, therefore, not to tire of inviting people to encounter Christ in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.”

An important area of our work as shepherds,” the Pope noted, “is the family. It is located at the heart of the evangelizing Church. … The foundation upon which you can develop harmonious family life is mainly marital fidelity. Unfortunately, in our times we see that the family and marriage, in countries in the Western world, have suffered an profound interior crisis. … Globalization and post-modern individualism promote a lifestyle that makes the development and stability of interpersonal relationships much more difficult and that is not conducive to promoting a culture of the family. Here a new missionary area is opened to the Church, for example, in family groups that create space for relationships between persons and with God where true communion, which welcomes each equally without confining them in elite groups, can grow.”

The Church's concern for the family begins with good preparation and proper accompaniment of the bride and groom, as well as a faithful and clear presentation of Church doctrine on marriage and the family. As a sacrament, Marriage is a gift from God and, at the same time, a commitment.”

From the family, the Pope moved on to the parish, “the large field that the Lord has entrusted to us to make fruitful with our pastoral work. Priests, pastors should always be aware that their task of governing is a deeply spiritual service. It is always the pastor who leads the parish community, relying on the help and valuable contribution of the various co-workers and of all the faithful laity. … Each is called; each is sent out. It is not a given, however, that the place of the call be just the parish centre … God's call can reach us … in the places of our everyday lives.”

Speaking about God,” he concluded, “bringing people the message of God's love and salvation in Jesus Christ, [a message] for all people, is the duty of every baptized person. This duty includes not only speaking with words, but with our whole way of acting and doing. … It is precisely in our time, when we seem to become the 'little flock', that we car called, as disciples of the Lord, to live as a community that is 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world'.”


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Press Office of the Holy See, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary of the same congregation, presented the Year for Consecrated Life 2015. It was called for by Pope Francis at the end of his meeting with 120 superior generals of male institutes, at the suggestion of the heads of the aforementioned congregation on having heard from many of the consecrated.

First of all,” Cardinal Braz de Aviz said, “this Year dedicated to consecrated life has been prepared in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and, more specifically, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the conciliar decree on the renewal of consecrated life 'Perfectae caritatis'. … Because we recognize these 50 years that separate us from the Council as a moment of grace for consecrated life, as marked by the presence of the Spirit that leads us to live even our weaknesses and infidelities as an experience of God's mercy and love, we want this Year to be an occasion for 'gratefully remembering' this recent past. This is the first objective of the Year for Consecrated Life.”

With a positive look at this time of grace between the Council and today, we want the second objective to be 'embracing the future with hope'. We are well aware that the present moment is 'difficult and delicate' … and that the crisis facing society and the Church herself fully touches upon the consecrated life. But we want to take this crisis not as an antechamber of death but as … an opportunity to grow in depth, and thus in hope, motivated by the certainty that the consecrated life will never disappear from the Church because 'it was desired by Jesus himself as an irremovable part of his Church'.”

This hope,” he concluded, “doesn't spare us—and the consecrated are well aware of this—from 'living the present passionately', and this is the third objective for the Year. … It will be an important moment for 'evangelizing' our vocation and for bearing witness to the beauty of the 'sequela Christi' in the many ways in which our lives are expressed. The consecrated take up the witness that has been left them by their respective founders and foundresses. … They want to 'awaken the world' with their prophetic witness, particularly with their presence at the existential margins of poverty and thought, as Pope Francis asked their superior generals.”

For his part, Archbishop Rodriguez Carballo explained the initiatives and events that will take place during the Year for Consecrated Life, which will begin this October to coincide with the anniversary of the promulgation of the conciliar constitution “Lumen Gentium”.

The Year's official inauguration is planned with a solemn celebration in St. Peter's Basilica, possibly presided by the Holy Father, which could take place on 21 November, the World Day 'Pro orantibus'. Still this November, it would be followed by a plenary assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the theme of which would be “The 'Novum' in Consecrated Life beginning from Vatican II”.

Various international events are also planned for Rome, among which would include a meeting of young religious and novices, those who have professed temporary or final vows for less than ten years, a meeting for spiritual directors, an international theological conference on consecrated life dedicated to “Renewal of the Consecrated Life in Light of the Council and Perspectives for the Future”, and an international exhibit on “Consecrated Life: The Gospel in Human History”.

For the conclusion of the Year for Consecrated Life another concelebration presided by Pope Francis is planned, probably for 21 November 2015, 50 years after the decree “Perfecta caritatis”. Every four months throughout the year, the dicastery will publish a newsletter on themes related to consecrated life, the first of which will come out on 2 February of next year, entitled “Be Glad” and dedicated to the Magisterium of the Holy Father on consecrated life. In response to the Pope's wishes, the Antonianum Pontifical University in Rome will host a symposium on the management of economic goods and capital by religious from 8 to 9 March. There will be a series of initiatives planned particularly for contemplative religious, including a world Chain of Prayer among monasteries.

Archbishop Rodriguez Carballo also spoke of several documents that the dicastery is preparing. To that end, in close collaboration with the Congregation for Bishops and following a mandate by the Holy Father, the document “Mutuae relationes” on the relations between bishops and religious in the Church is being drawn up. Also, always on the mandate of the Pope, the instruction “Verbi Sponsa”, which deals with the autonomy and cloistering of entirely contemplative religious, is being revised. Another document in preparation will deal with the life and the mission of religious while a fourth one will touch on the question of how consecrated manage goods in order to offer some guidelines and direction in the complex situations that arise in that area.

Finally, during the Year of Consecrated Life, it is hoped that the Holy Father will promulgate a new apostolic constitution on contemplative life in place of “Sponsa Christi”, which was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950.


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Study and Guidance of the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, in collaboration with the Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital and the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Foundation, have mandated the institution of a “due diligence” of economic, administrative, and management processes of the two hospitals for the purpose of being able to correctly complete the overall picture of financial data and organizational aspects of the entities that refer to the Holy See.

The Commission will use the data obtained to propose appropriate recommendations for improving the models of management and ensuring transparency and efficiency in fulfilling the noble mandate of protecting and safeguarding human health and life.

A bidding process was announced for the “due diligence”, which resulted in the task being assigned to PWC for Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital and to Deloitte for Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Foundation.


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – The Press Office of the Holy See has announced the launch of a new Twitter account, @HolySeePress, to give notice when the Bulletin—which gives information in the various official languages of the Holy See on the important events occurring in the Vatican—is published daily. The notifications will also have a link to the Bulletin's webpage on the Vatican site.


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, with Dr. Javier Maria Prades Lopez, rector of the San Damaso Ecclesiastical University in Madrid,

- Archbishop Bruno Musaro, titular of Abari and apostolic nuncio to Cuba,

- Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, England,

- Fr. Ferdinando Neri of the Nomadelfia Community, and

- Dr. Franco Miano, national president of Italian Catholic Action.

This afternoon he is scheduled to meet with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.


Vatican City, 31 January 2014 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Stefano Manetti, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy, as bishop of the Diocese of Montepulciano-Chiusi-Pienza (area 1,068, population 73,177, Catholics 69,508, priests 61, permanent deacons 3, religious 19), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Florence, Italy in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984. Since ordination he has served in various pastoral and diocesan roles, most recently as coordinator of the Presbyteral Council. He has been a member of the College of Consultors since 2009.

- appointed Fr. Antonio Mura, of the clergy of the Diocese of Alghero-Bosa, Italy, as bishop of the Diocese of Lanusei (area 2,349, population 68,713, Catholics 67,954, priests 51, permanent deacons 8, religious 23), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Bortigali, Italy in 1952 and was ordained a priest in 1979. Since ordination he has served in various pastoral and diocesan roles, most recently as director of the diocesan weekly and regional director of the Cultural Project for the Italian Bishops' Conference. He succeeds Bishop Antioco Piseddu, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Archbishop Franco Coppola, previously apostolic nuncio to Burundi, as apostolic nuncio to Central African Republic.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Vatican City, 30 January 2014 (VIS) - The American Catholic University Notre-Dame du Lac, known as Notre Dame, located in South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A., and funded by Fr. Edward Sorin in 1842, of the Congregation of Santa Cruz. For this reason, this morning the Pope received the Managing Board of the institution, which from its founding, “has made an outstanding contribution to the Church in your country through its commitment to the religious education of the young and to serious scholarship inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue.

The vision which guided Father Edward Sorin and the first religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross in establishing the University of Notre Dame du Lac remains, in the changed circumstances of the twenty-first century, central to the University’s distinctive identity and its service to the Church and American society. In my recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to 'missionary discipleship' ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities, which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life”.

For this reason, “essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defence of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness”.


Vatican City, 30 January 2014 (VIS) - The Holy Father received in audience the following prelates, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg, with Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Laun, O.S.F.S.

- Bishop Benno Elbs of Feldkirch.

- Bishop Alois Schwarz of Gurk.

- Bishop Manfred Scheuer of Innsbruck.

- Dom Anselm van der Linde, O. Cist., abbot of Wettingen-Mehrerau.


Vatican City, 30 January 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation presented by Bishop Michele Russo, M.C.C.I. from the pastoral government of the diocese of Doba, Chad, in conformity with canon 401 paragraph 2 of the CIC, and has named Bishop Miguel Angel Sebastian Martinez, M.C.C.I., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of that same diocese.

- accepted the request presented by Cardinal Attilio Nicora to step down as president of the Financial Intelligence Authority of the Holy See and Vatican City State (AIF), and has named Bishop Giorgio Corbellini as interim president of that office. Bishop Corbellini will maintain his positions at the Labour Office of the Apostolic See and the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – During this Wednesday's general audience Pope Francis, continuing his catechesis on the sacraments, focused on Confirmation, a sacrament which must be understood as “continuing from Baptism, to which it is indissolubly linked”.

“These two sacraments, along with the Eucharist, constitute a single saving event – Christian initiation – in which we are brought into Christ who died and rose again, and become new creatures and members of the Church. This is because originally these three Sacraments were celebrated together, at the end of the catechumenal path, normally on Holy Saturday. This concluded the process of formation and gradual insertion into the Christian community, that could even take several years. It is a step by step process, first reaching Baptism, then Confirmation, and finally the Eucharist”.

“In confirmation, we are anointed with oil. And indeed, through the oil known as the 'holy Chrism' we are conformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to Christ, who is the only true 'anointed one' the Messiah, the Saint of God. The term 'confirmation' reminds us that this Sacrament involves growth from baptismal grace; it unites us more firmly with Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it accords to us the special strength of the Holy Spirit in order to spread and to defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and never to be ashamed of His Cross”.

“For this reason it is important that all our children receive this Sacrament”, he added. “We are all concerned about baptising them, but perhaps less so with regard to confirmation, and therefore they remain at a halfway point, and do not receive the Holy Spirit that gives us the strength to go forward in Christian life”. Therefore, “it is important to provide a good preparation for Confirmation, aiming to lead them towards personal adhesion to faith in Christ and to reawaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church”.

“Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men, but rather the work of God, Who takes care of our lives in order to mould us in the image of His Son, to make us able to love like Him. He infuses us with the Holy Spirit, whose action pervades the whole person and all of life, as is shown by the Seven Gifts that Tradition, in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, has always made clear: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord”, said the Bishop of Rome, announcing that these gifts will be the subject of his next catechesis, after the Sacraments. “When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow it to act, Christ Himself is made present in us and takes form in our lives; through us, it will be He Who prays, forgives, brings hope and consolation, serves our brothers, is close to the needy and the abandoned, Who creates communion and sows peace”.

The Pope brought his catechesis to and end by urging those present to remember that they have received Confirmation, firstly “to thank the Lord for this gift, and then to ask Him for His help in living as true Christians, to always journey with joy according to the Holy Spirit that has been granted to us”. As he was concluding, it began to rain heavily and Pope Francis exclaimed, “It seems that on these last few Wednesdays, during the audience, we have been blessed from heaven! However, since you are brave, let us go ahead and continue...”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – Following today's general audience, the Pope greeted the faithful present, offering some special words to the “Carta di Roma” and “Casa Alessia” associations, which both work to help the needy and refugees, and encouraged them to continue in their challenging work. He also greeted the families of workers from Castelfiorentino, Italy, recently made redundant following the closure of Shelbox due to the current economic crisis. “While I express my closeness to you, I hope also that the competent authorities will make every effort to ensure that work, which is the source of dignity, is a central concern for all”.

Finally, he greeted the National Council of Anti-Usury Foundations. “I hope that these institutions may intensify their commitment alongside the victims of usury, a dramatic social ill. When a family has nothing to eat, because it has to make payments to usurers, this is not Christian, it is not human! This dramatic scourge in our society harms the inviolable dignity of the human person”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon in the Great Hall of the St. Pius X Palace the Pontifical Academies celebrated their 18th Public Session, the theme of which was “Occulata Fides. Reading Truth with the eyes of Christ”. The work of the Session was introduced by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council for Co-ordination between the Pontifical Academies.

During the session, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, read a message from Pope Francis to the participants, recalling that this year's theme is drawn from a phrase of St. Thomas Aquinas, cited in the encyclical Lumen Fidei and which the Pontifical Academies debate in this document and the recent Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”.

“In both documents, I invite reflection on the 'enlightening' dimension of faith and on the connection between faith and truth, to be investigated not only with the mind's eye, but also that of the heart, that is, from the perspective of love”, writes the Pope. Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings light. The comprehension of faith is that which is born when we receive God's great love which transforms us within and gives us new eyes through which we see reality. … This has important consequences both in terms of how believers act, and for the way theologians work. 'Truth nowadays is often reduced to the subjective authenticity of the individual. A common truth intimidates us, for we identify it with the intransigent demands of totalitarian systems. But if truth is a truth of love, if it is a truth disclosed in personal encounter with the Other and with others, then it can be set free from its enclosure in individuals and become part of the common good. … Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all”.

“This vision – of a journeying missionary Church – is that which is developed in the Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today's world. The 'dream of a … missionary impulse capable of transforming everything' relates to the entire Church and every part of her. The Pontifical Academies are also called to this transformation, so that the contribution of this ecclesiastical Body is not lacking. This is not a matter of external operations, of a 'facade', however. It is, rather, also for you, a question of concentrating increasingly on the the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary'”.

The Holy Father concluded his message by announcing that this year's Pontifical Academies Prize, dedicated this year to theological research, will be awarded to two young scholars for their contribution to the promotion of a new Christian humanism: Rev. Professor Alessandro Clemenzia, for his work “In the Trinity as Church. In dialogue with Heribert Muhlen”, and Professor Maria Silvia Vaccarezza for the work “The reasons of the contingent. Practical wisdom from Aristotle to St. Thomas Aquinas”.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – On 27 January, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Malta, the third additional protocol to the agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta of 3 February 1993 on the recognition of civil effects to canonical marriages and the decisions of the Authorities and ecclesiastical tribunals on the same marriages.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, apostolic nuncio to Malta, as Plenipotentiary, and for the Republic of Malta by George W. Vella, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta.

The Third Additional Protocol, which consists of four articles, amends the aforementioned Agreement of 1993.


Vatican City, 29 January 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Edmilson Amador Caetano, O. Cist. of Barretos, Brazil, as bishop of Guarulhos (area 341, population 1,357,000, Catholics 879,000, priests 50, religious 105), Brazil.

- appointed Msgr. Estevam Santos Silva Filho as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia (area 3,859, population 3,862,000, Catholics 2,730,000, priests 289, religious 756), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil in 1968, and was ordained a priest in 1995. He studied philosophy at the Instituto Filosofico Nossa Senhora das Vitorias and theology at the Instituto Coracao Eucaristico de Jesus in Belo Horizonte, and specialised in communications at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including priest in various parishes in the archdiocese of Vitoria da Conquista, and was spiritual director of the preparatory seminary at Itapetinga, the major seminary of philosophy in Vitoria da Conquista, and the major seminary of theology in Ilheus. He also serves as a member of the Council of Formators, the College of Consultors, and the Presbyteral Council, and as ecclesiastical assessor for archdiocesan pastoral of communication and in the youth sector. He is currently priest of the parish “Nossa Senhora das Candeias”, archdiocesan bursar and formator in the seminary of philosophy in Vitoria da Conquista.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Vatican City, 28 January 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for Social Communications is organising a seminar on communication, to be held in February in Havana, Cuba. During the four days during which the meeting will take place, the participants, thirty-five bishops from Central America and the Caribbean, will reflect upon the meaning of communication in today's world, how to communicate and what to communicate, according to Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the dicastery.

The seminar will focus on the Pope's message for World Social Communications Day, “Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter”, and will have the principal aim of offering bishops the tools for improving their communication strategies in their dioceses.


Vatican City, 28 January 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, as secretary of the College of Cardinals.


Vatican City, 28 January 2014 (VIS) – The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Bishop Arvaldis Andrejs Brumanis, emeritus of Liepaja, Latvia, on 17 December at the age of 87.

- Cardinal Ricard Maria Carles Gordo, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, on 17 December at the age of 87.

- Bishop Francisco Manuel Vieira, emeritus of Osasco, Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 23 December at the age of 88.

- Bishop Soane Lilo Foliaki, S.M., emeritus of Tonga, Pacific (Oceania), on 24 December at the age of 80.

- Bishop Joaquim Goncalves, emeritus of Vila Real, Portugal, on 31 December at the age of 77.

- Bishop Salvatore Nicolosi, emeritus of Noto, Italy, on 10 January at the age of 91.

- Bishop Alphonsus Augustus Sowada, O.S.C, emeritus of Agats, Indonesia, on 11 January at the age of 80.

- Bishop Francis Joseph Pierre Deniau, emeritus of Nevers, France, on 12 January at the age of 77.

- Bishop Jose de Jesus Garcia Ayala, emeritus of Campeche, Mexico, on 15 January at the age of 103.

- Bishop John Mackey, emeritus of Auckland, New Zealand, on 20 January at the age of 96.

- Bishop Kurt Krenn, emeritus of Sankt Polten, Austria, on 25 January at the age of 77.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Vatican City, 27 January 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience he authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


- Servant of God Pietro Asua Mendia, Spanish diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Liendo, Spain in 1936.


- Servant of God Giuseppe Girelli, Italian diocesan priest (1886-1978).

- Servant of God Zacarias of St. Theresa (ne Zacarias Salterain Viscarra), Spanish professed priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (1887-1957).

- Servant of God Marcelle Mallet, Canadian foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec (1805-1871).

- Servant of God Maria Benita Arias, Argentine foundress of the Servants of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (1822-1894).

- Servant of God Margerita De Brincat, Maltese foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus (1862-1952).

- Servant of God Seraphine (nee Noemy Cinque), Brazilian professed nun of the Congregation of Adorers of the Blood of Christ (1913-1988).

- Servant of God Elisabetta Sanna, Italian laywoman and professed Tertiary of the Order of Minims of St. Francis (1788-1857).


Vatican City, 26 January 2014 (VIS) – The beginning of Jesus' public life, starting from “Galilee of the Gentiles”, as it was called by the prophet Isaiah, was the topic of Pope Francis' reflection during this Sunday's Angelus, attended by thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Jesus' mission, he said, “did not set out from Jerusalem, the religious, social and political centre, but rather began in a peripheral zone, an area regarded with disdain by the most devout Jews, on account of the presence in the region of various foreign populations. For this reason, the prophet Isaiah referred to it as 'Galilee of the Gentiles'”.

“It was a border area, a transit zone where people of different races, cultures and religions encountered one another. Galilee therefore became a symbolic place for the opening of the Gospel to all peoples. From this point of view, Galilee resembles today's world: the co-presence of various cultures, the need for comparison and encounter. We too are immersed every day in a 'Galilee of the Gentiles', and in this type of context we can become fearful and give in to the temptation to build barriers, to feel more secure, more protected. But Jesus teaches us that the Good News He brings is not reserved for a part of humanity, but rather is to be communicated to all. It is a joyful proclamation, destined to all those who await it, but also to those who perhaps no longer await anything, or who no longer have even the strength to seek and to ask”.

Setting out from Galilee, Jesus “teaches us that no-one is excluded from God's salvation; on the contrary, God prefers to begin in the periphery, with those who are last in line, to reach everyone. He teaches us a method, His method, which however expresses the content, the mercy, of the Father. … We are all invited to heed this call, to come out of our own comfort zone and reach out to the peripheries in need of the light of the Gospel”.

Jesus began his mission “not only from a location far from the centre, but also with men one might describe as having a 'low profile'. To choose his first disciples and future apostles, he did not seek in the schools of scribes or among doctors of the Law, but among simple people committed to preparing themselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus goes to call them where they work, on the banks of the lake: they are fishermen. He calls them and they follow Him, immediately. They leave their nets and go with Him; their lives become an extraordinary and fascinating adventure”.

“The Lord calls today too! The Lord passes along the streets of our everyday lives. Today, too, in this very moment, the Lord passes through the squares. He calls us to go with Him, to work with Him for the Kingdom of God, in the 'Galilees' of our times”.


Vatican City, 27 January 2014 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father recalled that “today is World Leprosy Day; this disease, although in regression, unfortunately still affects many people causing grave suffering. It is important to maintain solidarity with these brothers and sisters”, and asked those present to assure their prayers for all those who are afflicted.

Francis prayed for those affected by the violence in Ukraine, and for little Coco Campolongo, the three-year-old boy killed last week, burned inside a car in Cassano all'Jonio.

The Pope also mentioned that, over the next few days, millions of people from the far East, including Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese, will celebrate the new lunar year. He expressed his wish to all of them for a celebration full of joy and hope.

Before greeting all the pilgrims present in the square, the Pontiff dedicated some words to Maria Cristina of Savoy, proclaimed a Blessed last Saturday in Naples. “A woman of profound spirituality and humility, she took upon herself the suffering of her people, becoming a true mother to the poor”, he said. “Her extraordinary example of charity demonstrates that the good life of the Gospel is possible in all environments and irrespective of social status”.

Finally, two young people from Catholic Action read a message of peace to the Pope, for the conclusion of the “Caravan of Peace”. Pope Francis then released two doves from the window of his study as a symbol of peace.


Vatican City, 25 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Pope received in audience representatives of the CIF (Centro Italiano Femminile – Italian Women's Centre), on the occasion of their congress. This organisation was established in 1944 for the purpose of co-ordinating women and associations of a Christian nature to contribute to the reconstruction of the country through democratic participation, human advancement and solidarity. Currently the CIF proposes to act with institutions for the full exercise of the rights of citizenship and collaboration with women from diverse cultural backgrounds. It works in the civil, social and cultural fields in order to contribute to the construction of a democracy of solidarity and co-existence based on respect for human rights and the dignity of the person, in accordance with Christian spirit and principles, the Italian Constitution and laws, and European and international legislation.

In his address, Pope Francis thanked the CIF for its work over the last sixty years and for the example its members have given regarding the role of women in society and in the ecclesial community, observing that during recent decades, “alongside other cultural and social transformations, also the identity and role of women in the family, in society and in the Church has seen significant changes, and in general the participation and responsibility of women has increased”.

In this process, he recalled, “discernment on the part of the Magisterium of the Popes” has been, and still is, important, especially the publication in 1988 of Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Letter “Mulieris dignitatem” on the dignity and vocation of women, and his Message for the 1995 World Day for Peace on the theme “Women: teachers of peace”. He continued, “I too have considered the indispensable contribution of women in society … I have rejoiced in seeing many women sharing some pastoral responsibility with priests in accompanying people, families and groups, as in theological reflection, and I have expressed my hope that greater room can be made for a more capillary and incisive female presence in the Church”.

“If in the world of work and in the public sphere a more incisive contribution by the female gender is important, then this contribution also remains indispensable within the domain of the family, which for Christians is not simply a private space, but rather that 'domestic Church' whose health and prosperity is a condition for the health and prosperity of the Church of society itself”, he added. “At this point it is natural to ask: how is it possible for women to increase their effective presence in many contexts within the public sphere, in the world of work and in places where the most important decisions are made, and at the same time maintaining their presence and preferential and entirely special attention in and for the family? Here it is the field of discernment that, aside from reflection on the reality of women in society, presupposes assiduous and persistent prayer”.

“It is in dialogue with God, enlightened by prayer, that the Christian woman continually searches to answer the Lord's call, in the reality of her situation. This is a prayer that is always supported by the maternal presence of Mary. She, who cared for her divine Son, who propitiated his first miracle at the wedding at Cana, who was present on Calvary and at the Pentecost, shows you the road to take to deepen the meaning and role of women in society and to be fully faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and to your mission in the world”.


Vatican City, 25 January 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” will visit the areas struck by the typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda on 8 November last year, on behalf of Pope Francis, as a gesture of consolation and spiritual closeness to the population, which now faces the task of reconstruction following the damage wrought by this natural disaster, and also to promote the network of assistance which is already active in these areas.

The mission, according to a press release by “Cor Unum”, will take place from 26 to 31 January, and it will be marked by three moments of special significance: a meeting with Filipino bishops, gathered in their Episcopal Conference in those days; an encounter with the president of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, and a visit to the area of Tacloban, which was most severely affected by the typhoon.

In the context of the visit, Cardinal Sarah will present, in the name of the Holy Father and through “Cor Unum”, a plan for the new building of an orphanage and a rest home for the elderly. The building will include, among other things, a small convent for the nuns, a chapel and a dispensary.

According to recent reports by Caritas Philippines / Nassa, typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda caused over 5,500 deaths, more than 26,000 injuries, and almost 2,000 missing persons. Around 3,8 million people, belonging to more than 851,000 families, were left homeless. In total, 12 million people suffered damage or losses of various types, in 574 towns and cities, and now there are fears of epidemics.

As soon as the Holy Father received the news, he decided to make a first contribution, through “Cor Unum”, of 150,000 dollars in emergency aid for the population, in support of the work carried out to assist those left homeless or otherwise affected by the floods, to be added to the funds contributed by the Church as a whole, the local Churches, parishes throughout the world, the Caritas network, and other national and diocesan agencies engaged in charitable works.


Vatican City, 25 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Fr. Jose Gabriel Funes, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory, accompanied by Fr. Jozef Marian Maj, S.J., deputy managing director.

- Bray Barnes, president of the International Catholic Conference of Scouting, accompanied by Roberto Cociancich and Rev. Jacques Gagey.


Vatican City, 25 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Mamfe, Cameroon, presented by Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya, co-adjutor of the same diocese.
- appointed Rev. Antonio Suetta as bishop of Ventimiglia-San Remo (area 715, population 157,150, Catholics 151,500, priests 101, permanent deacons 8, religious 268), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Loano, Italy in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Lateran University and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum", Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including vicar and administrator of the parish of Ceslo-Arzeno d'Oneglia, administrator and priest of the parish of Caravonica, priest and provost of Borgo Verezzi, and director of the diocesan Caritas. He was chaplain of the Prison of Imperia, co-founder and president of the social co-operative “Il Cammino”. He taught fundamental theology, ecclesiology and and Mariology in the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences and major seminary. Since 2005 he has held the role of diocesan bursar; and has served as rector of the diocesan seminary of Albenga-Imperia since 2011 and canon of the Cathedral Chapter since 2009. He succeeds Bishop Alberto Maria Careggio, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon having reached the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Professor Vincenzo Buonomo as advisor to Vatican City States. Professor Buomono is office chief of the Pontifical Representation at the United Nations Organisations and Entities for Food and Agriculture – F.A.O., I.F.A.D., and P.A.M., and director of the degree program in law at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Vatican City, 24 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience the president of the French Republic, Francois Hollande, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The colloquial discussions focused on the contribution of religion to the common good. Emphasising the good existing relations between France and the Holy See, the Parties made mention of their mutual commitment to maintaining a regular dialogue between the State and the Catholic Church and to collaborating constructively in questions of common interest. In the context of the defence and the promotion of the dignity of the human person, various matters of current relevance were discussed, such as the family, bioethics, respect for religious communities and the protection of places of worship.

Attention then turned to matters of an international nature, such as poverty and development, migration and the environment, and in particular to the issue of conflicts in the Middle East and in some regions of Africa, and hope was expressed that peaceful social co-existence may be re-established in the countries affected, respecting the rights of all, especially ethnic and religious minorities.


Vatican City, 24 January 2014 (VIS) – “Your ministry, dear judges and employees of the Roman Rota Tribunal … is a service peculiar to the God of Love, who is close to every person. While you perform your judicial duties, do not forget that you are pastors! Behind every plea, every position, every case, there are people who seek justice”.

With these words the Pope addressed the prelate auditors, employees and collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, whom he encountered today for the first time during his pontificate for the opening of the judicial year, recalling that “the legal dimension and the pastoral dimension of ecclesial ministry are not opposed to one another, as both contribute to the aims and the unity of action proper to the Church”.

“Ecclesial judicial activity, which takes the form of service to the truth in justice, has indeed a profoundly pastoral meaning, as it aspires to the pursuit of the good of the faithful and the edification of the Christian community. … Furthermore, dear judges, through your specific ministry you offer a competent contribution to facing emerging pastoral issues”.

Pope Francis went on to briefly outline the profile of the ecclesiastical judge from human, judicial and pastoral perspectives. With regard to the first, the judge is required to demonstrate “a mature humanity, expressed in serenity of judgement and detachment from personal views. Human maturity also includes the capacity to identify with the mentality and legitimate aspirations of the community in which the judge serves. In this way he becomes an interpreter of the animus communitatis which characterises the part of the People of God that is the subject of his work, and is able to practice a form of justice that is not legalistic or abstract, but instead adapted to real needs”.

With regard to the judicial aspect, aside from the juridical and theological prerequisites, in the exercise of his ministry the judge must display “expertise in law, the objectivity of judgement and equity, judging with imperturbable and impartial neutrality. Furthermore, in his work he must be guided by the aim of protecting the truth, with respect for the law, without neglecting the tact and humanity appropriate to a pastor of souls”.

Finally, considering the pastoral profile, “as an expression of the pastoral care of the Pope and the bishops, the judge is required to show not only confirmed competence, but also a genuine spirit of service. He is a servant of justice, called to handle and judge the condition of the faithful who turn to him with trust, in imitation of the Good Shepherd who tends to his injured sheep. For this, he is inspired by pastoral charity; that charity that God has poured into our hearts … and which also constitutes the soul of the role of the ecclesiastical judge”, concluded the Holy Father.


Vatican City, 24 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Bishop Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.


Vatican City, 24 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Ronald William Gainer, bishop of Lexington, U.S.A., as bishop of Harrisburg (area 19,839, population 2,224,542, Catholics 249,238, priests 169, permanent deacons 69, religious 369), U.S.A.

- appointed Rev. Herwig Gossl as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Bamberg (area 10,290, population 2,163,801, Catholics 713,781, priests 475, permanent deacons 49, religious 778), Germany. The bishop-elect was born in Munich, Germany in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1993. He studied philosophy and theology at the universities of Bamberg and Innsbruck, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in various parishes in Bayreuth, Hannberg and Weisendorf. In 2006 he was appointed as priest of the parish group of Erlangen North-West. In 2007 he was appointed vice-rector of the major seminary of Bamberg and member of the diocesan liturgical commission, and in 2008 was appointed vice-rector of the seminary of Wurzburg and head of vocational pastoral care.

- appointed Msgr. Myron Joseph Cotta of the clergy of Fresno, U.S.A., as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sacramento (area 110,325, population 3,589,000, Catholics 997,000, priests 291, permanent deacons 143, religious 316), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Dos Palos, U.S.A. in 1953, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in a number of roles, including vicar of the Saint Anthony parish in Adwater, administrator of the Our Lady of Fatima shrine in Laton, priest of the Our Lady of Miracles parish in Gustine, parish administrator of the Holy Rosary parish in Hilmar, director of the office for the permanent formation of the clergy, director of Pastoral Support of Priests, director of the Sensitive Claim Board, member of the diocesan finance council, diocesan administrator, member of the diocesan personnel board, diocesan consultor, vicar general and moderator of the Curia. In 2002 he was appointed Chaplain of His Holiness and, in 2008, Prelate of Honour.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Vatican City, 23 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Professor Chiara Giaccardi of the faculty of philosophy and letters of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, presented the Holy Father's message for the 48th World Day of Social Communication, entitled, “Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter”.

Archbishop Celli explained that “in the message, there clearly emerges the image of a Church who wishes to communicate, who wishes to enter into dialogue with men and women of today, aware of the role that has been entrusted to her in this context. The Pope has mentioned the theme of the culture of encounter many times, inviting the Church and her members to face various dimensions and needs specific to this culture. In the text two broad wavelengths can be seen. The first part of the message is directed towards the world of communication in the lay context, in which the Pope offers useful reflections for those who have not taken the religious option in life but who are nonetheless called upon to perceive or are already aware of the profound human value of the world of communication”.

“However, it is in addressing the Lord's disciples that the message demonstrates its specific tone, depth and frequency, and the reference to the parable of the good Samaritan is particularly evocative, as it helps us to understand communication in terms of proximity to others. … From this perspective, a challenge emerges to all of us who endeavour to be the Lord's disciples: to discover that the digital network can be a place rich in humanity, a network not of cables but rather of human beings”.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications emphasised that the message is “eminently Franciscan”, as it shows a profound harmony between the image of the Church as portrayed by the Pope and the world of communication. “It is undeniable that speaking about the culture of encounter means focusing on others, and the Church may not abdicate her role of 'accompanying, of going beyond merely listening; a Church who walks the path alongside us'. Three words resound in these texts: neighbourliness, solidarity, encounter. … If the culture of encounter means attention to and solidarity with man in the reality of the path he walks daily, then it must be able, through respectful dialogue, to lead today's men and women towards the encounter with Christ”.

In her address, Professor Giaccardi observed that, taking as a starting point the fundamental dimension of encounter, the Pope's document offers at least three clear indications for interpreting the contemporary world where the means of communication, above all the digital media, are almost omnipresent. “First of all”, she said, “communication is by definition a human, rather than a technological conquest. Technology may facilitate or hinder, but it does not determine. … If the anthropological dimension prevails over the technological, then any form of determinism should be denied. The internet does not make us more sociable, nor does it cause us to be more alone. We must not, therefore, use it as an alibi or as a scapegoat instead of assuming our own responsibilities. Secondly, understanding communication in terms of solidarity, rather than transmission (which may easily take place from a distance), has profound implications for education, formation, training, and catechesis. … Thirdly, when the word and life are in profound harmony, the communicator is credible. Witness, or rather the word incarnate, brings warmth and beauty to all paths, digital ones included”.

Finally, Giaccardi commented on the image of the good Samaritan, referred to by the Pope in the message as the “parable of the communicator”, emphasising that “the Samaritan was neither a technician nor a specialist”, and that “knowledge or social prestige are not enough to make us capable of communicating, let alone fully human; it is a reproach to the 'Church of functionaries', but also to journalists (and intellectuals) and their world which is certainly not immune to self-referentiality”.

“Journalists, and also academics, must decide which side they are on: the world is injured and journalists depict this, by their 'right to inform', claiming neutrality and objectivity, then pass on to the next story. Or worse, they can be scoundrels who manipulate and distort reality, without giving due consideration to the consequences of their actions and their words, in order to obtain personal advantage. Or, on the other hand, they can be like the good Samaritan, who looks benevolently upon the wounded … who tries to help him as best he can, and calls others to action, giving rise to a chain reaction on the basis of his witness”.


Vatican City, 23 January 2014 (VIS) – “Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter” is the title of Pope Francis' message for the 48th World Day of Social Communications, the only world day established by Vatican Council II (Inter Mirifica, 1963), which is celebrated on the Sunday before the feast of Pentecost (which falls on 1 June 2014). The message is dated 24 January, memorial of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of communicators. The full text of the message is published below:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Today we are living in a world which is growing ever 'smaller' and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family. On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows. We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.

“In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.

“This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.

“While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement. What is it, then, that helps us, in the digital environment, to grow in humanity and mutual understanding? We need, for example, to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen. We need also to be patient if we want to understand those who are different from us. People only express themselves fully when they are not merely tolerated, but know that they are truly accepted. If we are genuinely attentive in listening to others, we will learn to look at the world with different eyes and come to appreciate the richness of human experience as manifested in different cultures and traditions. We will also learn to appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, and many others.

“How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: 'And who is my neighbour?' (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of 'neighbourliness'. We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be 'neighbourly' in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God. I like seeing this power of communication as 'neighbourliness'.

“Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road. The Levite and the priest do not regard him as a neighbour, but as a stranger to be kept at a distance. In those days, it was rules of ritual purity which conditioned their response. Nowadays there is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbour.

“It is not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply 'connected'; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness. he digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people. The impartiality of media is merely an appearance; only those who go out of themselves in their communication can become a true point of reference for others. Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator. Christian witness, thanks to the internet, can thereby reach the peripheries of human existence.

“As I have frequently observed, if a choice has to be made between a bruised Church which goes out to the streets and a Church suffering from self-absorption, I certainly prefer the first. Those 'streets' are the world where people live and where they can be reached, both effectively and affectively. The digital highway is one of them, a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope. By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach 'to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8). Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone. We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church; today the social networks are one way to experience this call to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ. In the area of communications too, we need a Church capable of bringing warmth and of stirring hearts.

“Effective Christian witness is not about bombarding people with religious messages, but about our willingness to be available to others 'by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence' (BENEDICT XVI, Message for the 47th World Communications Day, 2013). We need but recall the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. We have to be able to dialogue with the men and women of today, to understand their expectations, doubts and hopes, and to bring them the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself, God incarnate, who died and rose to free us from sin and death. We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert. To dialogue means to believe that the 'other' has something worthwhile to say, and to entertain his or her point of view and perspective. Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute.

“May the image of the Good Samaritan who tended to the wounds of the injured man by pouring oil and wine over them be our inspiration. Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts. May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful 'neighbours' to those wounded and left on the side of the road. Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.”


Vatican City, 23 January 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, head of the Holy See delegation, spoke yesterday at the international conference on Syria taking place in Montreux, Switzerland. The prelate remarked that “confronted with the indescribable suffering of the Syrian people, a sense of solidarity and common responsibility prompts us to engage in a dialogue which is based on honesty, mutual trust, and concrete steps” and stressed that dialogue is the only way forward.

“There is no military solution to the Syrian crisis”, he said. “The Holy See is convinced that violence leads nowhere but to death, destruction and no future. … The Holy See renews its urgent appeal to all the parties concerned for the full and absolute respect for humanitarian law”.

He presented various proposals, emphasising that “an immediate cease-fire without preconditions and the end to violence of all kinds should become a priority and the urgent goal of these negotiations”, to which he added that “all weapons should be laid down and specific steps should be taken to stop the flow of arms and arms funding that feed the escalation of violence and destruction, to leave room for the instruments of peace”.

Likewise, he commented that the cessation of hostilities should be accompanied by “increased humanitarian assistance and the immediate start of reconstruction”, which should “start together with negotiations and should be sustained by the generous solidarity of the international community. In this process, young people should be given a preferential consideration so that through their employment and work they may become protagonists for a peaceful and creative future for their country”.

“Community rebuilding calls for dialogue and reconciliation sustained by a spiritual dimension. The Holy See strongly encourages all religious faiths and communities in Syria to reach a deeper mutual knowledge, a better understanding and a restoration of trust”.

He continued, “It is important that regional and international powers favour the ongoing dialogue and that regional problems be addressed. Peace in Syria could become a catalyst of peace in other parts of the region, and a model of that peace that is so urgently needed”.

“Beyond the tragedies of the current crisis, new opportunities and original solutions for Syria and its neighbours can come about. … [so that] no-one is forced to leave his country because of intolerance and the inability to accept differences. In fact, the equality assured by common citizenship can allow the individual to express for himself and in community with others the fundamental values all persons hold indispensable to sustain their inner identity”.

The archbishop concluded by emphasising that since the Syrian crisis began, the Holy See has been following its developments with deep concern and has constantly advocated that all parties involved commit themselves to the prevention of violence and to the provision of humanitarian assistance to all victims.

The Holy See observer also referred to the many occasions on which the Pope has raised his voice “to remind people of the futility of violence, inviting a negotiated resolution of problems, calling for a just and equitable participation of everyone in the life of society”, and highlighted the convocation by the Holy Father of a Day of Prayer and Fasting for peace in Syria and the Middle East, which received an overwhelmingly positive response worldwide. He concluded by remarking that the culture of encounter and the culture of dialogue are “the only way to peace”.


Vatican City, 23 January 2014 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

- Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio in Poland.

- Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

- Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, Argentina.

- Bishop Eduardo Maria Taussig of San Rafael, Argentina.

This afternoon, he is scheduled to receive:

- Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

- Bishop Adolfo Armando Uriona of Anatuya, Argentina.

Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.


Vatican City, 23 January 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed the following as prelate auditors of the Roman Rota Tribunal: Msgr. Antonio Bartolacci, moderator of the Chancery of the same Tribunal, and Fr. Manuel Saturino da Costa Gomes, S.C.I., lecturer in Canon Law at the faculty of theology and director of the Higher Institute of Canon Law of the Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, and judge of the Patriarchal Tribunal of Lisbon.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Vatican City, 22 January 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this Wednesday's general audience to the Prayer Week for Christian Unity, which ends next Saturday, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It is a spiritual initiative in which Christian communities have participated for over one hundred years, and is a time dedicated to prayer for the unity of all baptised persons, in accordance with Christ's will “that they may all be one”. Every year an ecumenical group from one region in the world, under the guidance of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, suggests the theme and prepares the activities for the Prayer Week. This year the initiatives will be prepared by the Churches and Ecclesiastical Communities of Canada, who have proposed the question posed by St. Paul to the Christians of Corinth: “Is Christ divided?”

“No, Christ is not divided”, said the Holy Father. “But we must recognise sincerely, although with suffering, that our communities continue to experience divisions, which are a scandal. There is no other word for it: the divisions between Christians are a scandal”. Evoking the words of St. Paul, he added, “Each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul', and 'I of Apollos', and 'I of Cephas', and 'I of Christ'. Even those who named Christ as their leader were not applauded by Paul, because they used Christ's name to separate themselves from others within the Christian community. But the name of Christ creates communion and unity, not division! Baptism and the Cross are central elements in our common Christian discipleship. Divisions, on the other hand, weaken the credibility and effectiveness of our commitment to evangelization”.

In his Letter, the Apostle rebukes the Corinthians for their divisions, but also gives thanks to the Lord because the community has been enriched in Jesus Christ, “in all speech and all knowledge”. “These words are not a simple formality, but rather the sign that first and foremost he sees God's gifts to the community, for which he is sincerely joyful. In spite of the suffering of divisions, which unfortunately persist to this day, we welcome Paul's words as an invitation to rejoice sincerely in the grace conceded by God to other Christians. We have experienced the same baptism, the same Holy Spirit has bestowed grace upon us, so let us rejoice!”.

“It is good to recognise the grace with which God blesses us and, moreover, to find in other Christians something which we need, something we can receive as a gift from our brothers and sisters”, continued the Bishop of Rome. The Canadian group which has prepared this Prayer Week has not invited the communities to think about what they might give to their Christian neighbours, but rather has exhorted us to encounter one another to understand what all communities can receive from time to time from the others. This requires something more. It requires humility, reflection and continual conversion. Let us follow this path, praying for Christian unity and an end to this scandal”, he concluded.


Vatican City, 22 January 2014 (VIS) – After his catechesis, the Pope commented that an international Conference in support of peace in Syria opens in Montreux, Switzerland today, to be followed by the Geneva II Peace negotiations which will begin on 24 January.

“I pray that the Lord may touch the hearts of all so that, seeking together the greater good of the Syrian population, so sorely troubled, they may spare no efforts in urgently bringing to an end the violence in this conflict that has already caused too much suffering. I hope that the dear Syrian nation may embark on a decisive path towards reconciliation, concordance and restructuring with the participation of all citizens, so that each person may regard his peers not as enemies or competitors, but rather as brothers to be welcomed and embraced”.


Vatican City, 22 January 2014 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages, the Pope, addressing the Arab-speaking faithful – especially those from Egypt – said, “May faith be not a reason for division but rather an instrument of unity and communion with God and with our brothers. May the invocation of the name of the Lord be not a reason for closure but rather a a way to open the heart to the love that unites and enriches”.

He also greeted, in Italian, the participants in the Meeting of Regional Co-ordinators of the Apostolate of the Sea, exhorting them to “be the voice of those workers who live far from their loved ones and face dangerous situations and troubles”.


Vatican City, 22 January 2014 (VIS) – The participants in the 44th World Economic Forum, to be held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, have received a message from Pope Francis, in which he invites the Heads of State, economists and businesspeople attending the meeting to approach economics from an inclusive perspective, taking into account the dignity of every human person and the common good. The Pope also manifested his hope that this encounter may represent an opportunity for in-depth reflection on the causes of the economic crisis that has gripped the world during recent years.

The 2014 edition of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum will be attended by 40 heads of State and Government and more than 2,500 other participants from around 100 countries, 1,500 of whom are business leaders from the thousand companies that make up the Forum, as well as representatives of international organisations, civil society, the media, education and arts.

Published below is the Pope's message to Klaus Schwab, executive president of the World Economic Forum, which was read by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”.

“I am very grateful for your kind invitation to address the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which, as is customary, will be held at Davos-Klosters at the end of this month. Trusting that the meeting will provide an occasion for deeper reflection on the causes of the economic crisis affecting the world these past few years, I would like to offer some considerations in the hope that they might enrich the discussions of the Forum and make a useful contribution to its important work.

“Ours is a time of notable changes and significant progress in different areas which have important consequences for the life of humanity. In fact, 'we must praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications' (Evangelii Gaudium, 52), in addition to many other areas of human activity, and we must recognize the fundamental role that modern business activity has had in bringing about these changes, by stimulating and developing the immense resources of human intelligence. Nonetheless, the successes which have been achieved, even if they have reduced poverty for a great number of people, often have led to a widespread social exclusion. Indeed, the majority of the men and women of our time still continue to experience daily insecurity, often with dramatic consequences.

“In the context of your meeting, I wish to emphasize the importance that the various political and economic sectors have in promoting an inclusive approach which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good. I am referring to a concern that ought to shape every political and economic decision, but which at times seems to be little more than an afterthought. Those working in these sectors have a precise responsibility towards others, particularly those who are most frail, weak and vulnerable. It is intolerable that thousands of people continue to die every day from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available, and often simply wasted. Likewise, we cannot but be moved by the many refugees seeking minimally dignified living conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality, but often, tragically, perish in moving from place to place. I know that these words are forceful, even dramatic, but they seek both to affirm and to challenge the ability of this assembly to make a difference. In fact, those who have demonstrated their aptitude for being innovative and for improving the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise can further contribute by putting their skills at the service of those who are still living in dire poverty.

“What is needed, then, is a renewed, profound and broadened sense of responsibility on the part of all. 'Business is - in fact - a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life' (Evangelii Gaudium, 203). Such men and women are able to serve more effectively the common good and to make the goods of this world more accessible to all. Nevertheless, the growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all 'a transcendent vision of the person' (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 11), because 'without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space' (ibid.). It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.

“I am convinced that from such an openness to the transcendent a new political and business mentality can take shape, one capable of guiding all economic and financial activity within the horizon of an ethical approach which is truly humane. The international business community can count on many men and women of great personal honesty and integrity, whose work is inspired and guided by high ideals of fairness, generosity and concern for the authentic development of the human family. I urge you to draw upon these great human and moral resources and to take up this challenge with determination and far-sightedness. Without ignoring, naturally, the specific scientific and professional requirements of every context, I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.

“Dear Mr Chairman and friends: I hope that you may see in these brief words a sign of my pastoral concern and a constructive contribution to help your activities to be ever more noble and fruitful. I renew my best wishes for a successful meeting, as I invoke divine blessings on you and the participants of the Forum, as well as on your families and all your work”.

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