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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for August

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

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


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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jubilee for the young

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Year of Reconciliation begins in Africa

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A blessing to one another: John Paul II and the Jewish People

Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – “A blessing to one another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” is the title of an exhibition opening today in the Vatican (Charlemagne Wing, 29 July to 17 September), previously displayed in a number of state capitals in the U.S.A., where it received more than a million visitors.

The exhibition, presented as a gift to John Paul II for his 85th birthday, was inaugurated at the Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18 May 2005, just a month after the Pope's death. It then arrived in Rome, and while in Europe its organisers wanted it to visit Krakow, the Polish city where Karol Wojtyla was archbishop.

“A blessing to one another” describes the steps the Pontiff took to improve the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and reflects the continuing relevance of the conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate”, issued fifty years ago, in which the Catholic Church expresses her appreciation for other religions and reaffirms the principals of universal fraternity, love and non-discrimination.

Funded by various universities and private individuals and bodies who see interreligious dialogue as a source of progress for humanity, the exhibition narrates John Paul II's relations with those whom he defined during his historic visit to the synagogue of Rome on 13 April 1986 as “our elder brothers”. It is divided into four sections and consists of photographs, videos, recordings and other interactive sources.

The first section illustrates Karol Wojtyla's early years in his birthplace Wadowice, what would become a lifelong friendship with the young Jew Jerzy Kluger, and the relations between Catholics and Jews in Poland during the decade 1920 to 1930. The second section is dedicated to the Pope's university years in Krakow, and his work not far from his friends in the Ghetto who knew the horrors of the Shoah. The third describes his priestly and episcopal life, Vatican Council II and the change of direction it represented in relations between Jews and Christians, and the close link between the cardinal archbishop of Krakow and the Jewish community in his archdiocese.

The final section considers the figure of Wojtyla as the Successor of Peter, his visit to the Synagogue of Rome, and his trip to Israel in the year 2000 when he left a prayer in the Western Wall asking for divine forgiveness for the treatment that Jews had received in the past and reaffirming the Church's commitment to a path of fraternal continuity with the People of the Covenant. Visitors to “A blessing to one another” are invited to write a prayer to be placed in a reproduction of the Wall. They will be gathered and deposited in the Western Wall without being read.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Salvador Gimenez Valls of Menorca, Spain, as bishop of Lleida (area 2,977, population 233,531, Catholics 207,167, priests 131, permanent deacons 5, religious 195), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Joan Piris Frigola, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Maronite Church, of Rev. Paul Abdel Sater as bishop of the patriarchal curia. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Ain El Remmaneh, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He studied moral theology and science of education in Boston, U.S.A., and since returning to Lebanon has served as deputy priest, parish priest, school director, and eparchial bursar. He is currently syncellus for economic affairs and parish priest of the “Saint Jean” parish in Beirut.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Angelus: Jesus counters the logic of the market with the logic of giving

Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – At midday today Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He commented on the day's Gospel passage, which narrates “the great sign of the multiplication of the loaves”, when Jesus finds Himself on the shores of the Sea of Galilee surrounded by the multitude, drawn by the “signs He was performing on the sick”.

Francis remarked that God's merciful power acts in Christ, curing every malady of the body and the spirit. But He is not merely a healer, He is also a teacher; He teaches from the “cathedra” represented by the mount and tests His disciples, asking them how they can give food to all the people present. The apostle Philip makes a rapid calculation, confirming that by organising a collection they could raise at most two hundred denari to buy bread, which would not be sufficient to feed five thousand people.

“The disciples reason in 'market' terms, but Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with the logic of giving”, explained the Pope. “And at this point Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, presents a boy who offers all he has: five loaves and two fishes, which are certainly not enough for so many people, Andrew says”. But this was exactly what Jesus was expecting, and so He tells the disciples to ask the people to be seated, takes the loaves and fishes, blesses them, gives thanks to the Father and distributes them.

“These gestures anticipate those of the Last Supper, which gives Jesus' bread its truest meaning. God's bread is Jesus Himself. Making Communion with Him, we receive His life in us and become children of the heavenly Father and brothers among ourselves. In this communion we encounter Jesus, truly alive and risen! Participating in the Eucharist means entering into Jesus' logic, the logic of gratuity, of sharing. And poor though we may be, we can all give something. 'Making Communion' means drawing from Christ the grace that makes us capable of sharing what we are and what we have with others”.

The crowd is astonished by the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, “but the gift that Jesus offers is the fullness of life for famished mankind. Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but also the most profound hunger for the meaning of life: our hunger for God. Faced with suffering, loneliness, poverty and the difficulties of so many people, what can we do? Complaining resolves nothing, but we can offer what little we have, like the boy in the Gospel. We all surely have a little time, some kind of talent, some kind of expertise to offer. Who among us does not have their 'five loaves and two fishes'? We all have it! If we are willing to place it in the Lord’s hands, it would be enough to bring to the world a little more love, peace, justice and above all, joy. How much we are in need of joy in the world! God is capable of multiplying our little gestures of solidarity and letting us participate in His gift”.

Appeal for the liberation of Dall'Oglio and Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria

Vatican City, 26 July 2015 (VIS) – Following the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled that registration began today for the 31st World Youth Day, to be held in 2016 in Krakow, Poland. He was the first to register as a pilgrim by means of an electronic device brought to him by a boy and girl, before the faithful in St. Peter's Square. “The Day will coincide with the Year of Mercy”, he observed, “and will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth called upon to reflect on the theme 'Blessed are the merciful, for they will find mercy'. I invite the young from all over the world to live this pilgrimage either by going to Krakow or by participating in this moment of grace within their communities”.

He continued, “In a few days' time it will be the second anniversary of the kidnapping of Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio. I wish to make a heartfelt and urgent appeal for the liberation of this esteemed religious man. Similarly, I do not forget the Orthodox bishops abducted in Syria, nor all the other people kidnapped in war zones. I hope that the competent authorities, both local and international, may redouble their efforts to enable freedom to be restored to these brothers of ours. With affection and participation in their suffering, let us remember them in prayer, and pray together to Our Lady”.

After praying the “Hail Mary” for these abducted people with all those present in the square, the Pope concluded by commenting that today the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary and therefore Jesus' grandparents. “On this occasion, I would like to greet all grandmothers and grandfathers, and to thank them for their valuable presence in families and for the new generations. Let us greet and applaud all those grandparents who are living, and also those who look upon us from Heaven”.

Pope's message to the new Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians

Vatican City, 27 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has granted ecclesiastical communion to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, as requested by the latter following his election as Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians by the Synod of the Patriarchal Church on 24 July. The new patriarch succeeds His Beatitude Nerses Pierre XIX Tarmouni, who died on 25 June.

The Pope took the opportunity to send a message of congratulations to His Beatitude Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan, in which he commented that his election comes at a moment when the Church faces new difficulties and challenges, especially the situation of many Armenian Catholic faithful in the Middle East. “However, illuminated by the light of faith in the Risen Christ, our outlook on the world is full of hope and mercy, for we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life”.

“I am sure that Your Beatitude, in communion with the venerable Synod Fathers, with the help of the Holy Spirit and with evangelical wisdom, will know how to be the 'Pater et Caput”, the Good Shepherd to that part of the People of God entrusted to you. The many Armenian martyrs and St. Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church, will not fail to intercede on your behalf”.

Finally, the Pope entrusted the Patriarch and his ministry to Jesus Christ and to the protection of the Holy Mother of God, and imparted his apostolic benediction to all the Patriarchate.

Telegram for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum

Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to the cardinal archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., Donald Wuerl, for the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese and major penitentiary emeritus, on 23 July at the age of 88.

In his text the Pope expresses his gratitude for the late cardinal's years of episcopal service in Springfield-Cape Girardeau and in Washington, and for his long service to the Apostolic See as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and major penitentiary. The Holy Father commends the late cardinal's soul to God, the Father of all mercies, and imparts his apostolic blessing to all who mourn his passing.

Cardinal Meisner, Pope's special envoy to the inauguration of the Maria Radna convent complex in Timisoara

Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) - In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 20 May 2015, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany, as his special envoy to the inauguration of the convent complex at the Shrine of Maria Radna in Timisoara, Romania, to take place on 2 August, the day of the Portiuncula. In the text, the Pope mentions the fame of the Marian shrine, an ancient Franciscan convent, and expresses his pleasure at the restoration works, fruit of collaboration between the citizens of Timisoara, several dioceses in Germany, and the European Union.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 25 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tumaco, Colombia, presented by Bishop Gustavo Giron Higuita, O.C.D., upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin as papal legate at the celebration of the fifth centenary of the evangelisation of East Timor, to be held in Dili, East Timor, on 15 August 2015.

- appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, as special envoy to the Mass to be held in Bobbio, Italy on 30 August, on the occasion of the Eighteenth Meeting of the Colombanian Community, on the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Colombanus.

- appointed Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as special envoy to the concluding celebrations of the 1500th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, to take place on 22 September 2015.

Friday, July 24, 2015

New members and substitutes for the upcoming Synod on the Family

Vatican City, 24 July 2015 (VIS) – With regard to the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world”, we publish a further list of the members and substitutes elected by the various Episcopal Conferences and confirmed by the Holy Father.


Cote d’Ivoire
Member: Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo of Katiola, president of the National Episcopal Commission for the Lay Apostolate.

Equatorial Guinea
Member: Bishop Juan Matogo Oyana, C.M.F., of Bata.

Member: Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, M.C.C.J., of Juba;
Substitute: Bishop Michael Didi Adgum Mangoria of El Obeid.

Member: Bishop Xavier Johnsai Munyongani of Gweru.


Member: Bishop Miguel Angel Cabello Almada of Concepcion en Paraguay;
Substitute: Bishop Pierre Laurent Jubinville, C.S.Sp., of San Pedro.


2nd Substitute: Bishop Lawrence Pius Dorairaj of Dharmapuri.

Member: Archbishop Ramzi Garmou of Teheran of the Chaldeans, patriarchal administrator of Ahwaz of the Chaldeans;
Substitute: Archbishop Neshan Karakeheyan, patriarchal administrator of Ispahan, Esfaan of the Armenians.

Member: Bishop Silvio Siripong Charatsri of Chanthaburi;
Substitute: Archbishop Louis Chamniern Santisukniran of Thare and Nonseng.

East Timor
Member: Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento of Baucau, president of the Episcopal Conference;
Substitute: Bishop Norberto Do Amaral of Maliana.


International Episcopal Conference of Sts. Cyril and Methodius
Member: Bishop Ladislav Nemet, S.V.D., of Zrenjanin, Serbia.

Member: Archbishop Zbignevs Stankevics of Riga;
Substitute: Bishop Janis Bulis of Rezekne-Aglona, president of the Episcopal Conference.

Member: Bishop Teemu Sippo, S.C.I., of Helsinki, Finland;
Substitute: Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
Member: Bishop Anton Bal of Kundiawa, representing the “Commission for Family Life”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 24 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid as bishop of Cucuta (area 2,200, population 891,383, Catholics 804,236, priests 166, permanent deacons 8, religious 212), Colombia. He succeeds Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, was accepted by the Holy Father.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy

Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations.

The Holy Father gave an impromptu address in which he reiterated that care for the environment meant, above all, adopting an attitude of human ecology and that “Laudato si'” was not simply a “green” but also a social document. He also considered the theme of the unfettered growth of cities due to the lack of work for rural populations, and invited the mayors to collaborate with international bodies in order to face the issues of exploitation and human trafficking caused by migratory phenomena.

“I offer you my sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you have done”, said the Pope to the participants in the symposium. “It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this 'green' culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical 'Laudato si'': that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, 'no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical'. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude”.

“It seemed to me to be a very fruitful idea to invite the mayors cities both large and not so large, because one of the things that is most evident when the environment, Creation, is not cared for, is the unfettered growth of cities. It is a worldwide phenomenon … cities become larger but with growing bands of poverty and misery, where the people suffer the effects of environmental neglect. In this respect, the phenomenon of migration is involved. Why do people come to large cities, to the outskirts of large cities, to the slums, shanty towns and favelas? … It is simply because the rural world does not offer them opportunities. And one issue mentioned in the Encyclical ... is the idolatry of technocracy. Technocracy leads to the loss of work, it creates unemployment, which leads to migration and the need to seek new horizons. The great number of unemployed is a warning. I do not have the statistics to hand, but in some countries in Europe, youth unemployment – effecting those aged 25 and younger – surpasses 40 per cent and in some cases even 50 per cent. … What prospects can the future offer to today's unemployed youth? Addiction, boredom, not knowing what to do with life – a life without meaning, which is very tough – or indeed suicide. The statistics on youth suicide are not fully published. Or indeed the search for other horizons, even in guerrilla projects that present an ideal of life”.

“Health is also at stake”, emphasised the Pope. “The increasing incidence of 'rare' diseases, which often come from elements used to fertilise the fields, or … from an excess of technification. One of the most important problems relates to oxygen and water. That is, the desertification of large areas as a result of deforestation. Here beside me is the cardinal archbishop representing the Brazilian Amazon: he can tell us what deforestation means today in the Amazon, one of the world's great lungs. The Congo and the Amazon are the world's great lungs. … What happens when all these phenomena of excessive technification, of environmental neglect, as well as natural phenomena, affect migration? It leads to unemployment and human trafficking. Illegal work, without contracts, is increasingly common … and means that people do not earn enough to live. This can give rise to criminal behaviour and other problems typical of large cities as a result of migration due to technification. I refer in particular to human trafficking in the mining sector; slavery in mining remains a major issue. Mining also involves the use of certain elements in the purifying of minerals, such as arsenic and cyanide, causing diseases in the population. In this we have a great responsibility. … Everything has a rebound effect ... This can include human trafficking for the purposes of slave labour or prostitution”.

“Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people. A couple of months ago I received in audience a delegation of women from the United Nations, who were occupied with the issue of the sexual exploitation of children in countries at war. … Wars are another element contributing to environmental imbalance”.

“I wish to end with a reflection that is not mine, but is instead from the theologian and philosopher Romano Guardini”, Francis said. “He speaks about two forms of ignorance: the ignorance that God gives us to be transformed into culture, giving us the mandate to care for, nurture and dominate the earth; and the second form of ignorance, when man does not respect this relationship with the earth, and does not look after it. .. When he does not care for Creation, man falls prey to this second type of ignorance and starts to abuse it. … Atomic energy is good and can be helpful, but up to a certain point – think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disaster and destruction can be caused. It is the second form of ignorance that destroys humanity. A medieval rabbi, from around the time of St. Thomas Aquinas … explained the problem of the tower of Babel to his faithful in the synagogue, and said that in order to build the tower a good deal of time and work was needed, especially in making the bricks. … Each brick was worth a lot. … When a brick fell it was a very serious matter and the culprit who neglected it and let it fall was punished. However, when a worker who was building the tower fell, nothing happened. This is the problem of the second form of ignorance, of the man as the creator of ignorance and not of culture. Man as the creator of ignorance because he does not care for the environment”.

“And so, why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the centre to the periphery, and from the periphery to the centre. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the centre, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors. I therefore thank you for bringing clarification of the condition of many peripheries gravely affected by these problems, which you have to govern and resolve. I thank you and I ask the Lord to grant us the grace of being aware of the problem of the destruction that we ourselves have wrought by failing to care for human ecology, … so we might transform ignorance into culture, and not the contrary”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Joseph Kodakallil as eparchial bishop of Satna of the Syro-Malabars (area 45,188, population 10,459,000, Catholics 220,000, priests 142, religious 276), India. The bishop-elect was born in Upputhode, India in 19656 and ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a doctorate in liturgy form the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and has served as parish priest, rector of the St Thomas Minor Seminary, Satna, professor and vice-rector at St. Ephrem's Theological College, Satna, and protosyncellus of the eparchy. He is currently parish priest of St. Vincent's Cathedral.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In memoriam

Vatican City, 21 July 2015 (VIS) – The following prelates have died in recent weeks:

- Bishop Tadeusz Jozef Zawistowski, auxiliary emeritus of Lomza, Poland, on 1 June at the age of 85.

- Bishop Thomas Flynn, emeritus of Achonry, Ireland, on 2 June at the age of 83.

- Bishop Mawule Kouto, emeritus of Atakpame, Togo, on 5 June at the age of 68.

- Bishop Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira, emeritus of Minas, Uruguay, on 17 June at the age of 71.

- His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Lebanon, on 25 June at the age of 75.

- Bishop Victor de la Pena Perez, O.F.M., apostolic vicar emeritus of Requena, Peru, on 1 July at the age of 81.

- Bishop Luigi Martella, of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi, Italy, on 6 July at the age of 67.

-Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, on 11 July at the age of 87.

- Bishop Omar Felix Colome, emeritus of Cruz del Eje, Argentina, on 12 July at the age of 82.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 21 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, Msgr. David G. O'Connell, and Fr. Robert E. Barron as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Los Angeles (area 14,019, population 11,852,427, Catholics 4,276,930, priests 1,111, permanent deacons 383, religious 2,229), U.S.A.

Bishop-elect Brennan was born in Van Nuys, U.S.A. in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, including parish vicar, parish priest, chaplain, member of the presbyteral council, vicar general and moderator of the curia. In 2005 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.

Bishop-elect O'Connell was born in Cork, Ireland in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1979. He has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, including parish vicar, parish priest, dean and member of the presbyteral council and parish administrator. In 1999 he was named Prelate of Honour.

Bishop-elect Barron was born in Chicago, U.S.A. in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a masters in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, a licentiate in theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Chicago, and a doctorate in theology from the Institut Catholique, Paris, France. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles, including parish vicar, professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, founder and executive director of the Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. He is currently rector and president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

- appointed Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Shrine of the Miraculous Madonna of Sinj in the archdiocese of Spalato-Makarska, Croatia, to be held on 15 August.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Francis recalls his recent trip to Latin America

Vatican City, 19 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis, in today's Sunday Angelus, commended the fruits of his recent apostolic trip in Latin America to the Virgin Mary, venerated in those lands as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and thanked the people of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay for their warm and affectionate welcome, and for their enthusiasm.

He also offered thanks to the authorities of the three countries for their collaboration, and for all the clergy, from the bishops to men and women religious, who accompanied him during his stay. “With these brothers and sisters, I praised the Lord for the wonders that He has worked in the People of God on their path in those lands, and for the faith that has inspired and continues to inspire their life and culture. And we have also praised Him for the natural beauty with which He enriched these lands. The Latin American continent has great human and spiritual potential, and safeguards deeply rooted Christian values, but also experiences serious social and economic problems. To contribute to their solution, the Church is committed to mobilising the spiritual and moral forces of her communities, collaborating with all members of society. Faced with the great challenges that announcing the Gospel entails, I invited them to draw from Christ the Lord the grace that saves and gives strength to the effort of Christian witness, and to further spread of the Word of God, so that the strong religiosity of the people may always bear faithful witness to the Gospel”.

The Pope had previously commented on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus takes the apostles to a secluded place to rest, but seeing that the multitudes follow them, feels compassion for them and begins to impart His teachings. Francis focused on the verbs that the evangelist uses: to see, to have compassion, and to teach.

“We can call them the verbs of the Pastor”, he observed. “To see, to have compassion, to teach. The first and the second, to see and to have compassion, are always linked to Jesus' attitude: indeed, His outlook is not that of a sociologist or a photojournalist, since He always sees with 'the eyes of the heart'. These two verbs, to see and to have compassion, configure Jesus as the Good Shepherd. But His compassion is not merely a human sentiment: it is the emotion of the Messiah in whom God's tenderness is made flesh. And from this compassion there emerges Jesus' desire to nourish the crowd with the bread of His Word, that is, to teach the Word of God to the people. Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, and Jesus teaches”.

“And I asked the Lord that the Spirit of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, this Spirit, might guide me during the apostolic trip I made in Latin America over the last few days”, added the Pope.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 20 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Dr. Salvatore Vecchio, formerly director of Human Resources at the Bambino Gesu Paedatric Hospital, Rome, as director of the Labour Office of the Apostolic See.

On Saturday 18 July, the Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Claudio Cipolla as bishop of Padua (area 3,297, population 1,068,498, Catholics 1,004,088, priests 990, permanent deacons 49, religious 1976), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Goito, Italy in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1980. He has served in a number of roles in the diocese of Mantua, including parish vicar and director of diocesan Caritas. He is currently parish priest, episcopal vicar for the pastoral sector, and member of the college of consultors, the diocesan pastoral council and the commission for the continuing formation of the clergy. He is a “ratione officii” member of the episcopal council and the presbyteral council, and was named Chaplain of His Holiness in 2011. He succeeds bishop Antonio Mattiazzo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Basil Bhuriya, S.V.D., as bishop of Jhabua (area 21,366, population 5,812,071, Catholics 38,726, priests 68, religious 236), India. The bishop-elect was born in Panchjui, India in 1956, gave his solemn vows in 1985, and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Indore, India, and has served in an number of roles, including parish vicar in a number of parishes in the dioceses of Baroda, Indore and Jhabua and rector of the St. Thomas Seminary in Indore. He is currently parish priest and member of the Provincial Council of the Verbite Fathers in the Central Indian Province.

- appointed Fr. Corrado Melis as bishop of Ozieri (area 2,288, population 54,600, Catholics 54,200, priests 48, religious 54), Italy. The bishop elect was born in Sardara, Italy in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Sardinia in Cagliari, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Ales-Terralba, including parish vicar, vice rector of the diocesan seminary in Villacidro, director of the diocesan catechistic office, chaplain, parish administrator, and parish priest. He is currently parish priest of Santa Barbara in Villacidro, episcopal vicar for evangelisation and education, director of the diocesan office for family pastoral ministry, and director of the pastoral ministry of ecumenism. He is also a member of the college of consultors and the diocesan council for economic affairs.

- elevated Fr. Natale Paganelli, S.X., apostolic administrator of Makeni, Sierra Leone, to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Grignano di Brembate, Italy in 1956, gave his religious vows in 1979, and was ordained a priest in 1980.

- appointed Bishop Henry Akuna of Makeni, Sierra Leone, as auxiliary of the diocese of Kenema, (area 15,710, population 1,481,000, Catholics 87,000, priests 19, religious 32), Sierra Leone.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Pope writes to the participants in the meeting “United with God, we hear a cry” on the effects of mining

Vatican City, 17 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, to be communicated to the representatives of communities affected by mining activities participating in the meeting “United with God, we hear a cry”, organised by the same dicastery in collaboration with the Latin American “Churches and Mining” network.

“You come from difficult situations and in various ways you experience the repercussions of mining activities, whether they be conducted by large industrial companies, small enterprises or informal operators. You have chosen to gather in Rome on this day of reflection that recalls a passage from the Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii gaudium', to echo the cry of the many people, families and communities who suffer directly and indirectly as a result of the consequences, too often negative, of mining activities. A cry for lost land; a cry for the extraction of wealth from land that paradoxically does not produce wealth for the local populations who remain poor; a cry of pain in reaction to violence, threats and corruption; a cry of indignation and for help for the violations of human rights, blatantly or discreetly trampled with regard to the health of populations, working conditions, and at times the slavery and human trafficking that feeds the tragic phenomenon of prostitution; a cry of sadness and impotence for the contamination of the water, the air and the land; a cry of incomprehension for the absence for inclusive processes or support from the civil, local and national authorities, which have the fundamental duty to promote the common good.

“Minerals and, in general the wealth of the earth, of the soil and underground, constitute a precious gift from God that humanity has used for thousands of years. Indeed, minerals are fundamental to many sectors of human life and activity. In the Encyclical 'Laudati si'' I wished to make an urgent appeal for collaboration in the care of our common home, countering the dramatic consequences of environmental degradation in the life of the poorest and the excluded, advancing towards an integral, inclusive and sustainable development. The entire mining sector is undoubtedly required to effect a radical paradigm change to improve the situation in many countries. A contribution can be made by the governments of the countries of origin of multinational companies and those in which they operate, businesses and investors, the local authorities who supervise mining operations, workers and their representatives, the international supply chains with their various intermediaries and those who work in the markets of these materials, and the consumers of goods for whose production the minerals are required. All these people are called upon to adopt behaviour inspired by the fact that we constitute a single human family, “that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.

“I encourage the communities represented in this meeting to reflect on how they can interact constructively with all the other actors involved, in a sincere and respectful dialogue. I hope that this occasion may contribute to a greater awareness of and responsibility towards these themes: and that, based on human dignity, the culture necessary for facing the current crisis may be created. I pray to the Lord that your work in these days be fruitful, and that these fruits can be shared with all those in need. I ask you, please, to pray for me and with affection I bless you, your communities and your families”.

Justice and Peace speaks out for communities affected by mining

Vatican City, 17 July 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, presented the dicastery's initiative “A day of Reflection: united with God, we hear a cry”, to be attended by various representatives of communities affected by mining activity in Africa, Asia and America who will gather in the Salesianum Congress Centre in Rome from 17 to 19 July.

Cardinal Turkson explained that the aim of the meeting was to take stock of the situation of these communities, recalling that in 2013 Justice and Peace organised a day of reflection entitled “Mining for the common good”, upon request of the directors of various mining companies, in order to evaluate the human, economic and environmental implications of this activity. A report of the event was distributed to the Episcopal Conferences of the countries involved. A second day of reflection will be held in September, entitled “Creating a new future, Reimaging the future of mining” and so the current initiative, aimed at giving a voice to the communities affected by the mining industry, is intended as preparation for this second meeting.

“There is no lack of reasons and motives for the decision of the Pontifical dicastery”, said the Cardinal. “With the Encyclical 'Laudato si'' the Holy Father urges us to 'hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor'. We cannot remain indifferent to this cry, as the need to her it is 'born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a mission reserved only to a few: the Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might'”.

“Many of us are aware of this harrowing cry from those areas where mineral extraction is carried out”, he continued. “To give just a few examples: the 'Africa Progress Report' by the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, the OECD directives on the issue, the numerous reports on the rights of indigenous populations, the 'Publish what you pay' initiative, legislation on the traceability of minerals currently being developed by the European Parliament, in cinema with films such as 'Blood Diamonds' or 'Avatar', and so on”.

“The Church, on various occasions and for many years, has closely followed mining activities. At national level, the documents of the Episcopal Conferences which denounce human rights violations, illegality, violence and the exploitation of deposits causing pollution and problems for the safety of local produce. … At regional level, it is considered by the Continental Episcopal Conferences, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, and so on, and at transnational level, by Franciscan networks, the CIDSE and Caritas. All these voices follow the same direction: faced with these situations, we cannot allow indifference, cynicism and impunity to continue to prevail. A radical paradigm change is needed in the interests of the common good, justice, sustainability and human dignity”.

In these three days the representatives of the communities affected by mining operations in different ways will act as spokespeople for those who are unable to come to Rome and whose voice frequently goes unheard by experts and commentators. “I must emphasise that some people who are attending the meeting have experienced pressure and intimidation in recent days, for example after having requested a passport. The Pontifical Council has heard testimonies of threats, violence and murder; of retaliation, of compensation never received, and of unkept promises”.

“Therefore”, he continued, “there are individuals who work without a truly human aim. There are denials of the primacy of the human being, insensitivity to the welfare of the social and natural environment and the full experience of fragility, abandonment and rejection. Those responsible are investors, businesspeople, politicians and governors of the countries where the deposits are found, or rather the countries where the headquarters of the mining multinationals reside”.

“On the other hand, exploited and poor countries are above all in need of honest governments, educated people and investors with an acute sense of justice and the common good, as it is morally unacceptable, politically dangerous, environmentally unsustainable and economically unjustifiable for developing countries to 'continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future'”, he concluded.

Decrees for the Causes of Saints

Vatican City, 17 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon 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 regarding the heroic virtues of:

- Servant of God Andrey Sheptytsky, O.S.B.M., major archbishop of Leopolis of the Ukrainians, metropolitan of Halyc (1865-1944);

- Servant of God Giuseppe Carraro, Bishop of Verona, Italy (1899-1980);

- Servant of God Agustin Ramirez Barba, Mexican diocesan priest and founder of the Servants of the Lord of Mercy (1881-1967);

- Servant of God Simpliciano della Nativita (ne Aniello Francesco Saverio Maresca), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor, founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts (1827-1898);

- Servant of God Maria del Refugio Aguilar y Torres del Cancino, Mexican founder of the Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1866-1937);

- Servant of God Marie-Charlotte Dupouy Bordes (Marie-Teresa), French professed religious of the Society of the Religious of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1873-1953);

- Servant of God Elisa Miceli, Italian founder of the Rural Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart (1904-1976);

- Servant of God Isabel Mendez Herrero (Isabel of Mary Immaculate), Spanish professed nun of the Servants of St. Joseph (1924-1953).


Vatican City, 17 July 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Consolidated statements for the Holy See and financial statements for the Governorate of Vatican City State

Vatican City, July 2015 (VIS) – At the Council for the Economy meeting on 14 July 2015, Cardinal Pell and the staff from the Secretariat for the Economy presented the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See and the Financial Statements for the Governorate. The Statements had been prepared by the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and reviewed and verified by the Secretariat, the Audit Committee of the Council and the External Auditor.

It was noted that 2014 was a year of transition to new Financial Management policies based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The former accounting principles and consolidation perimeter (comprising 64 Holy See entities) were used in preparation of the 2014 Statements. Managers were however asked to ensure they had included all assets and liabilities and provide appropriate certification as to completeness and accuracy. Working with the external auditor, third party confirmation of balances were requested so that, consistent with sound audit practice, amounts could be independently verified. To include all assets and liabilities in the accounts at year end and to prepare for the new policies, a number of closing entries were included which make direct comparison with 2013 figures difficult. Where appropriate relevant points of comparison were provided to the Council.

The journey of transition to new policies is progressing well and the Secretariat was pleased to report high levels of interest and cooperation in the entities. The 2014 Financial Statements reflect an enormous amount of work by staff in many Holy See entities, particularly in the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and the Secretariat for the Economy and Council members expressed their gratitude for the rigorous and professional work and the strong commitment to implementing the financial reforms approved by the Holy Father.

The Financial Statements for the Holy See for 2014 indicate a deficit of 25,621k Euro which is similar to the deficit of 24.471k Euro reported in the 2013 Statements. Had the same accounting treatment applied in 2014 been applied in 2013, the 2013 deficit would have been reported as 37,209k Euro. The improvement in 2014 was largely due to favourable movements in investments held by the Holy See. The main sources of income in 2014, in addition to investments, include the contributions made pursuant to canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law (21m Euro) and the contribution from Institute of Works of Religion (50m Euro).

Net assets increased by 939m Euro as adjustments were made to include all assets and liabilities in the closing balances for 2014. For the entities included in the consolidation perimeter, assets previously off the balance sheet amounted to 1,114m Euro and liabilities amounted to 222m Euro. While the patrimonial situation in the pension fund was not reflected in the closing balance sheet, it was reported that the new pension fund board will be asked to prepare an updated assessment of the overall situation.

As in previous years, the most significant expense included in the Holy See Financial Statements is the cost of staff (126.6m Euro) and the statements indicate a total of 2880 personnel in the 64 Holy See entities included in the consolidation.

The financial statements for the Governorate for 2014 indicate a surplus of 63,519k Euro which is a significant improvement on the 2013 surplus of 33,042k Euro, largely due to continued strong revenue from the cultural activities (especially the Museums) and favourable movements in investments. Net Assets increased by 63.5m Euro and there were no adjustments necessary to include additional assets and liabilities in closing balances for 2014. The Statements indicate a total staff of 1930 in the Governorate.

Following the meeting of the Council for the Economy,the Secretariat for the Economy was advised the Auditor confirmed that a clear audit certificate had been issued for the Holy See and Governorate Financial Statements.

The Council also received a further update on the 2015 Budget. The 2015 Budgets were prepared under the new Financial Management Policies, approved last year by the Holy Father. The Council in late May received a detailed budget submission prepared by the Secretariat. The submission highlighted proposed activities as well as anticipated revenue and expenditure for the coming year and included specific recommendations for each of the 136 entities on the list, as approved by the Holy Father, who are subject to control and vigilance of the Council and Secretariat. The Budgets indicate the deficits experienced in recent years are likely to continue in 2015.

While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition to the IPSAS is likely to take several years. The 2015 Budgets and the 2015 Statements are the first important steps. From 2015, the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See will include the new practices and additional entities, as required under the new Financial Management Policies and the IPSAS Standards.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The commitment of cities against modern slavery and climate change

Vatican City, 15 July 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, presented the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of the cities”, and the symposium “Prosperity, people and planet in the cities”, to be held in the Casina Pio IV (Vatican, 21-22 July). These events will be attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations, and the speakers will include expert communications consultants Michael Shank and Alessandro Gaetano.

“The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is in agreement with the Holy Father in perceiving a clear link between these two emergencies: the crisis of climate change and the social crisis, both of anthropic origin”, explained the prelate. Our commitment, following the Encyclical, is to ensuring that all society is made aware of these phenomena and of the human responsibilities for these crises, and reacts with firmness, as a new moral imperative for all humanity in favour of the common good”.

“In this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role”, explained the prelate. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase. Each of our cultural traditions also affirms the inherent dignity and the social responsibility of each individual in relation to the common good. They emphasise the importance of living together in the polis for the fulfilment of the social, cultural and religious identity of every human being and for the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the world, recognising it as a precious gift that supports life and is entrusted to our stewardship. It is not a matter of preserving it as in a museum, but of developing it according to its potential, following the very laws of nature. Respecting and developing “our common home” rather than devastating it is a moral imperative”.

Bishop Sanchez Sorondo noted that, as the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has remarked, although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change and often live on the outskirts of the city, they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption. However, the world now has within reach the scientific knowledge, technological tools and financial means to reverse anthropogenic climate change, while ending extreme poverty at the same time through solutions that include renewable and low carbon emission energy sources. “Financing the initiative in favour of this 'integral ecology', including the decisive containment of human-induced climate change, could also be based on the relentless pursuit of peace, which would allow a redistribution of public spending from military expenditure towards urgent investments for the benefit of social inclusion and the effective monitoring of carbon emissions, particularly in the cities”.

With reference to the presence of mayors at the events on 21 and 22 July, he emphasised that the intention of the Pontifical Academy was for them “to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking”.

“At the same time”, he added, “we would like the mayors to commit to put an end to abuse, exploitation, human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery within their communities. These tragic occurrences, which Pope Benedict and Pope Francis termed 'crimes against humanity', also include forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking and domestic servitude. We would also like the mayors to commit to developing resettlement and social integration programmes for the victims, at the national and local levels, in order to avoid their involuntary repatriation”.

“In short”, he concluded, “we would like our cities and urban settlements to become more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and ecologically integrated”.

The studies of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences on the impact of climate change can be consulted on-line at www.pas.va

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 15 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Passo Fundo, Brazil, presented by Archbishop Antonio Carlos Altieri, S.D.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Fr. Dominicus Meier. O.S.B., as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Paderborn (area 14,750, population 4,900,000, Catholics 1,581,343, priests 1,008, permanent deacons 173, religious 1,647), Germany. The bishop-elect was born in 1959 in Heggen, and was ordained a priest in 1989. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Salzburg, as well as a licentiate and professional diploma in canon law from the University of Munster. He has served as ordinary professor of canon law at the Philosophical-Theological High School of the Pallottines in Vallendar, judge at the diocesan tribunal of Salzburg and defender of the bond and promoter of justice at the tribunal of the archdiocese of Paderborn. He was elected abbot of the abbey of Konigsmunster at Meschede in 2001, for a twelve-year mandate. He is currently judicial vicar of the archdiocese of Paderborn. He succeeds Bishop Manfred Grothe, whose resignation from the office of auxiliary of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Laurent Camiade as bishop of Cahors (area 5,216, population 395,000, Catholics 170,700, priests 66, permanent deacons 8, religious 96), France. The bishop-elect was born in Agen, France in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a degree in philosophy and a doctorate in theology from the Institut Catholique de Toulouse, and has served as parish vicar, diocesan director of youth pastoral ministry, and parish priest. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of Agen and parish priest of Laverdac, and teaches spiritual theology at the Institut Catholique de Toulouse.

- appointed Fr. Udo Bentz as auxiliary of the diocese of Mainz (area 7,692, population 2,891,000, Catholics 749,583, priests 504, permanent deacons 124, religious 447), Germany. The bishop-elect was born in 1967 in Rulzheim, Germany and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Freiburg im Breisgau, and has served as parish vicar in the Cathedral of Worms and special secretary to Cardinal Karl Lehmann. He is currently rector of the major seminary of Mainz and president of the Conference of rectors of German major seminaries.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Pope on his return flight to Rome: encourage Latin America's young Church

Vatican City, 14July 2015 (VIS) – During the return flight from Paraguay to Rome, the Pope answered questions from the journalists who accompanied him on his apostolic trip to Latin America, as summarised below.

Question: Why does Paraguay not have a cardinal? What sin has Paraguay committed, so as not to have a cardinal?

Answer: Well, not having a cardinal isn’t a sin. The majority of countries in the world do not have a cardinal. The nationalities of the cardinals … are a minority compared to the whole. … At times, for the election of cardinals, an evaluation is made, the files are studied one by one, you see the person, the charism especially, of the cardinal who will have to advise and assist the Pope in the universal government of the Church. The cardinal, though he belongs to a particular Church, is incardinated in the Church of Rome, and needs to have a universal vision. This does not mean that there is not a bishop in Paraguay who has it, but you always have to elect up to a number, there is a limit of 120 cardinal electors. … I ask another question: Does Paraguay deserve a cardinal, if we look at the Church of Paraguay? I’d say that yes, they deserve two, but it has nothing to do with merits. It is a lively Church, a joyful Church, a fighting Church with a glorious history.

Question: We would like to know whether you consider just the Bolivians wish to have sovereign access to the sea, to return to having a sovereign access to the Pacific, and by what criteria. And, Holy Father, should Chile and Bolivia ask for your mediation, would you accept?

Answer: The issue of mediation is very delicate, and it would be a last step. That is, Argentina experienced this with Chile, and it was truly to stop a war. It was a very extreme situation, and dealt with very well by those appointed by the Holy See, always backed by John Paul II who was very interested. … At the moment, I have to be very respectful about this because Bolivia has made an appeal to an international court. So at present if I make a comment, as a head of State, it could be interpreted as involvement or pressure on my part. It is necessary to be very disrespectful of the decision of the Bolivian people who made this appeal. … There is another thing I want to make very clear. In the Cathedral of Bolivia, I touched on this issue in a very delicate way, taking into account the situation of the appeal to the international court. I remember the context perfectly – brothers have to engage in dialogue, the Latin American peoples need to engage in dialogue. I stopped, I was silent a moment, and then said, “I’m thinking of the sea”. I continued, “dialogue and dialogue.” I think it was clear that my comment referred to this problem, with respect for the situation as it is at present. It is in an international tribunal, so it is not possible to speak about mediation or facilitation. We have to wait.

Follow-up question: Is the Bolivians' wish just or not?

Answer: There is always a base of justice when there is a change in the territorial borders, particularly after a war. So this is under continuous revision. I would say that it is not unfair to present something like this, this wish. I remember that in the year 1961, during my first year of philosophy, we were given a documentary about Bolivia … called “The Ten Stars”. And it presented each one of the nine provinces and then, at the end, for the tenth, there was the sea, without a word. That stayed in my mind. It was the year 1961. In other words, it is clear that there is a desire.

Question: Ecuador was in a state of unrest before your visit, and after you left the country those who oppose the government returned to the streets. It seems that they would like to use your presence in Ecuador for political ends, especially because of the phrase you used, “the people of Ecuador have stood up with dignity”. I would like to ask you, if possible, what did you mean by this phrase?

Answer: Evidently there were some political problems and strikes. I don’t know the details of politics in Ecuador and it would be foolish of me to give an opinion. Afterwards I was told that there was a type of hiatus during my visit, which I am grateful for, as it is the gesture of a people on their feet, of respect for the visit of a Pope. … But if these problems resume, clearly, the problems and political debates continue. With regard to the phrase you mentioned: I refer to the greater awareness of their courage that the people of Ecuador have been gaining. There was a border war with Peru not long ago. There is a history of war. Then, there’s been a greater awareness of Ecuador’s ethnic diversity and dignity. Ecuador is not a throwaway country. Or rather, it refers to the people as a whole and to all of the dignity of the people who, after the border war, stood up with ever greater awareness of its dignity and the wealth it has in its diversity and variety. In other words, it cannot be attributed to one concrete political situation. That phrase – I was told, I did not see it myself - was manipulated to suggest that the government had put Ecuador on her feet, or that she had been raised to her feet by those opposing the government. One comment can be manipulated, and I believe that in this we must be very careful.

Question: In your address to popular movements in Bolivia you spoke about the new colonialism and the idolatry of money that subjugates the economy, and the imposition of austerity measures that continually “tighten the belt” of the poor. For some weeks now in Europe there is the situation in Greece, which risks leaving the Euro zone. What do you think about what is happening in Greece, and which also affects all of Europe?

Answer: I am near to this situation, as it is a phenomenon present throughout the world, all over the world. Also in the East, in the Philippines, in India, in Thailand. There are movements that are organised among themselves not as a form of protest but in order to keep going and to be able to live. And they are movements that have momentum, and these people – there are many of them – do not feel represented by union, as they say that the unions are now corporations and do not fight – I am simplifying somewhat – for the rights of the poor. And the Church cannot be indifferent to this. The Church has a social doctrine and is in dialogue with these this movement, and does so well. You have seen the enthusiasm of feeling that the Church – they say – is not distant from us, the Church has a doctrine that helps us to fight for this. It is a dialogue. The Church does not choose an anarchic path. No, we are not anarchists. These people work, they try to work hard even with waste, with what is left over; they are real workers.

Then, regarding Greece and the international system, I do not understand it well … but it would certainly be all too simple to say that the blame lies only on one side. If the Greek government has advanced this situation of international debt, it too bears responsibility. With the new Greek government, there have been steps in the right direction, towards revision. I hope, and it is the only thing I can say to you, as I do not know the situation well, that a way will be found to solve the Greek problem, and also a path of supervision so that other countries do not experience the same problem, and that this may help us to go ahead, as the path of loans and debts never ends. I was told, about a year or so ago, that there was a United Nations project … whereby a Country can declare itself bankrupt – which is not the same as being in default – but it is a project I heard about and I do not know how it ended or whether or not it was true. If a company can declare bankruptcy why can’t a country do it, so that we can then go to the aid of others?

Then, with regard to the new colonialisms, evidently these are a question of values. The colonialism of consumerism, for example. The habit of consumerism is the result of a process of colonisation, as it leads to a habit that is not one's own and causes a personality imbalance. Consumerism also upsets the balance of the domestic economy and of social justice, as well as physical and mental health, for instance.

Question: Holy Father, what did you think when you received the hammer and sickle with Christ on it, offered by President Morales? And what became of the object?

Answer: I didn't know about it, and I was not aware that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and also a poet. I found out in these days. I saw it and it was a surprise to me. It can be qualified as belonging to the genre of protest art. For example, in Buenos Aires a few years ago there was an exhibition of protest art by a good, creative Argentine sculptor – he is dead now – and I remember a work which was a crucified Christ on a bomber that was falling down. It was a critique of Christianity allied with imperialism, in the form of the bomber. Firstly, then, I did not know about it and secondly, I would qualify it as protest art that can in some cases be offensive; in some cases. Thirdly, in this specific case: Fr. Espinal was killed in the year 1980. It was a time in which liberation theology had many different threads, one of which was the Marxist analysis of reality, and Fr. Espinal subscribed to this. … In the same year, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arrupe, sent a letter to the whole Society regarding the Marxist analysis of reality in theology, stopping this to some extent, saying no, this doesn't work, they are different things, it is not right. And four years later, in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith published its first short volume, its first declaration on liberation theology, which it criticised. Then there was the second, that opens up more Christian perspectives. … Let us consider the hermeneutics of that period. Espinal was an enthusiast of the Marxist analysis of reality, but also of theology. That work came from this. Espinal's poetry also belongs to the protest genre: it was his life, his thought. He was a special man, with great human geniality, who fought in good faith. Through a hermeneutics of this type I understand the work. To me it was not offensive. But I had to apply this hermeneutics and I say this to you, so that there are not any mistaken opinions. I now carry the object with me, it is coming with me. You perhaps heard that President Morales wished to bestow two honours on me: one is the most important in Bolivia and the other is of the Order of Fr. Espinal, a new Order. I have never accepted honours, but he did this with such good will and with the wish to please. And I thought that this comes from the people of Bolivia – I prayed about this and thought about it – and if I take them to the Vatican they will end up in a museum where nobody will see them. So, I decided to leave them to Our Lady of Copacabana, the Mother of Bolivia, and these two honours will go to the Shrine of Copacabana, to Our Lady. However, I am taking the the sculpture of Christ with me.

Question: During the Mass in Guayaquil, you said that the Synod will have to develop true discernment to find concrete solutions to the difficulties faced by families. And then you asked the people to pray because even that which may seem impure to us, which may seem scandalous or frightening, can be transformed into a miracle by God. Can you clarify what “impure”, “scandalous” or “frightening” situations you were referring to?

Answer: Here again there is a need for a hermeneutics of the text. I was talking about the miracle of the wine during the wedding at Cana and I said that the jars of water were full, but they were intended for purification. Or rather, every person who entered the feast carried out a rite of cleansing, leaving behind their spiritual impurities. It is a purification rite performed before entering a house or a temple. A rite that we have in holy water, which is what remains to us of the Jewish ritual. I said that Jesus made good wine with the impure water, the worst water. In general, I thought about making this comment: the family is in crisis, we all know this. … I was referring to all of this, in general: that the Lord may purify us of these crises, of the many things that are described in the Instrumentum laboris. It is a general issue, not referring to any particular point.

Question: Seeing how well the mediation went between Cuba and the U.S., do you think it would it be possible to do something similar between other delicate situations in other countries on the Latin American continent? I’m thinking of Venezuela and Colombia.

Answer: The process between Cuba and the United States was not mediation. It did not have the character of mediation. There was a wish that came … And then, to tell you the truth, three months went by, and I only prayed about the matter … what could I do with these two who had been like this for more than 50 years. Then the Lord made me think of a cardinal. He went there and talked; then knew nothing more and months went by. One day the secretary of State, who is here, told me, “Tomorrow we will have the second meeting with the two teams.” … “Yes, yes, they are talking, the two groups are talking …”. It happened by itself. It was not a mediation. It was the goodwill of the two countries, and the merit is theirs, the merit is theirs for doing this. We did hardly anything, only small things. And in mid-December, it was announced. … Now, I am concerned that the peace process in Colombia must not come to a halt. I have to say this, and I hope that the process goes ahead. In this sense, we are always willing to help, in many ways. It would be a bad thing if it did not go ahead. In Venezuela, the Episcopal Conference is working to make peace there, too. But there too, there is no mediation.

Question: One thing we have heard very little of is a message for the middle class, that is, people who work, who pay their taxes, normal people. My questions is: why are there so few messages for the middle class in the Holy Father's teaching?

Answer: Thank you, it is a good correction? You are right, it is an error on my part. The world is polarised. The middle class is becoming smaller. The polarisation between rich and poor is great, this is true, and perhaps this has led me not to take account of it. Some nations are doing very well, but in the world in general polarisation is very evident. And the number of poor is large. And why do I speak of the poor? Because they are at the heart of the Gospel. … Then with regard to the middle class, I have said a few words, but somewhat “in passing”. But the common people, the simple people, the worker, that is a great value. But I think you are telling me about something I need to do: I need to deepen the magisterium on this.

Question: Now that Cuba will have a greater role in the international community, do you think that Havana will have to improve its reputation with regard to human rights and religious freedom? And do you think that Cuba risks losing something in its new relationship with the most powerful country in the world?

Answer: Human rights are for all, and are not to be respected only in one or two countries. I would say that in many countries throughout the world human rights are not respected. … What will Cuba or the U.S. lose? Both will gain something and lose something, because this happens in negotiations. Both will gain, this is sure: peace, encounter, friendship, collaboration. These they will gain … but what will they lose, I cannot imagine. They may be concrete things. But in negotiations one always [both] wins and loses. But returning to human rights, and religious freedom: just think that in the world there are some countries, even in Europe, where you cannot make a religious sign, for different reasons. The same applies to other continents. Religious freedom is not respected in all the world: there are many places where it is not respected.

Question: Holy Father, in summary, what message did you want to give to the Latin American Church in these days? And what role can the Latin American Church have, also as a sign to the world?

Answer: The Latin American Church has a great asset: it is a young Church … with a certain freshness, also some informalities, it is not very formal. In addition it has a rich body of theological research. I wanted to encourage this young Church and I believe that this Church can offer us much. One thing that really struck me was that in all three countries, in the streets, there were many fathers and mothers with their children. … I have never seen so many children! It is a people – and also a Church – that has a lesson for us, for Europe, where the declining birthrate is worrying, and there are few policies for helping large families. France has a good policy for helping large families and it has achieved a birthrate of more than two per cent, but in others it remains at zero percent. … The greatest asset of this people and of this Church is that it is a living Church. I believe we can learn from this and correct it as otherwise, if we no longer have children … It is what touches me most about this tendency to cast aside: children are discarded, the elderly are discarded, and through the lack of work, the young too are discarded. These new nations of young people give us greater strength. For the Church, I would say that a young Church – with many problems, because it has problems – I think that this is the message I find: do not be afraid of this youth and this freshness of the Church. It can also be a somewhat undisciplined Church, but with time it will become disciplined, and it offers us much that is good.

The Holy See regards the Iranian nuclear programme in a positive light

Vatican City, 14 July 2015 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., made the following statement this morning regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran:

“The agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See. It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit. It is hoped that those fruits will not be limited to the field of nuclear programme, but may indeed extend further”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 14 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Emmanuel Fianu, S.V.D., as bishop of Ho (area 5,893, population 658,845, Catholics 200,670, priests 82, religious 92), Ghana. The bishop-elect was born in Tegbi, Ghana in 1957, gave his perpetual vows in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 1985. He studied biblical theology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and has served in a number of administrative and academic offices, including admonitor of the S.V.D. District in Lome, lecturer in biblical sciences at the St. Jean Paul II Seminaire and the Institute St. Paul of Lome; secretary for the Commission for liturgical publications for Ghana-Togo; rector of the College of the Divine Word, Rome; secretary for formation for the Africa-Madagascar S.V.D. Provinces; and coordinator for the AFRAM zone, based in Accra. He is currently secretary of the General Council of his Congregation. He succeeds Bishop Francis Anani Kofi Lodonu, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, O.F.M., as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile (area 9,132, population 6,290,000, Catholics 4,205,000, priests 877, permanent deacons 339, religious 3,109), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Carahue, Chile in 1958, gave his solemn vows in 1983, and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a doctorate in social sciences from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served in a number of roles, including provincial secretary for formation and studies, parish vicar, guardian of the “San Felipe de Jesus” formation house in Santiago and commissioner for the Holy Land in Chile. He is currently provincial minister for the Franciscan Province of the Most Holy Trinity in Chile, president of the Conference of Provincial Ministers of the Southern Cone (Argentina, Paraguay and Chile) and first deputy president of the Conference of Religious in Chile.

- Fr. Benedictus Son Hee-Song as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Seoul (area 17,349, population 10,143,645, Catholics 1,472,815, priests 908, religious 2,282), Korea. The bishop-elect was born in Kyenki Yeonchenun Chadari, Korea, and was ordained a priest in 1986. He studied theology in Innsbruck, Austria, obtaining a licentiate and doctorate. He has served in a number of roles, including parish priest, lecturer at the Catholic University of Seoul, deputy director of the Commission for reviewing publications; and secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for the doctrine of faith. He is currently director of archdiocesan pastoral ministry, member of the presbyteral council, member of the pastoral council, member of the Commissions for continuing formation of the clergy, for foreign missions, and for the management of day care centres for the elderly of Seoul, member and deputy director of the Commission for the protection of the holy sites of martyrdom in Seoul, and secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for the lay apostolate.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Visit to the “Ninos de Acosta Nu” paediatric hospital

Vatican City, 12 July 2015 (VIS) – The Pope's first visit in Paraguay after his meeting with the president, Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, was to the patients of the Ninos de Acosta Nu paediatric hospital.

The Pope arrived at 8.30 a.m. (local time) and spent around an hour with the inpatients, including those who were in the emergency room and the oncology ward. Instead of pronouncing the discourse he had prepared, the full text of which is reproduced below, he handed out a copy “as read” and spoke informally to the patients.

“Dear children, I want to ask you a question; maybe you can help me. They tell me that you are all very intelligent, and so I want to ask you: Did Jesus ever get annoyed? … Do you remember when?

If this seems like a difficult question, let me help you. It was when they wouldn’t let the children come to Him. That is the only time in the entire Gospel of Mark when we hear that He was 'annoyed'. We would say that He was really 'ticked off'.

Do you get annoyed every now and then? Jesus felt that way when they wouldn’t let the children come to Him. He was really mad. He loved children. Not that He didn’t like adults, but He was really happy to be with children. He enjoyed their company, He enjoyed being friends with them. But not only. He didn’t just want to have them around, he wanted something else: he wanted them to be an example. He told his disciples that 'unless you become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'.

The children kept coming to Jesus, and the adults kept trying to keep them away, but Jesus called them, embraced them and brought them forward, so that people us could learn to be like them. Today, he wants to tell us the same thing. He looks at us and he says: 'Learn from the children'.

We need to learn from you. We need to learn from your trust, your joy, and your tenderness. We need to learn from your ability to fight, from your strength, from your remarkable endurance. Some of you are fighters. And when we look at young 'warriors' like you, we feel very proud. Isn’t that right, moms? Isn’t that right, dads and grandparents? Looking at you gives us strength, it gives us the courage to trust, to keep moving forward.

Dear mothers, fathers, grandparents: I know that it is not easy to be here. There are moments of great suffering and uncertainty. There are times of heart-rending anguish but also moments of immense happiness. These two feelings often collide deep within us. However, there is no better relief than your tender compassion, your closeness to one another. It makes me happy to know that as families you help, encourage and support each other, so that you can keep going in these difficult moments.

You count on the support of the doctors, nurses and the entire staff of this home. I thank them for their vocation of service, for helping not only to care for, but also to be there, for these young brothers and sisters of ours who suffer.

Let us never forget that Jesus is close to his children. He is very near, in our hearts. Never hesitate to pray to Him, to talk to Him, to share with him your questions and your pain. He is always with us, He is ever near and he will not let us fall.

There is another thing we can be sure of, and I would say it once again. Wherever there is a son or daughter, there is always a mother. Wherever Jesus is, there is Mary, the Virgin of Caacupe. Let us ask her to wrap us in her mantle, to protect and intercede for you and for your families.

And also, please don’t forget to pray for me. I am certain that your prayers are heard in heaven”.
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