Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

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...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Friday, July 3, 2015

Cardinal Parolin explains the importance of the Encyclical “Laudato si'” for the Church and the world in the light of major events in 2015

Vatican City, 3 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke at the high-level conference “People and planet first: the imperative to change course” (Rome, Augustinianum, 2-3 July), organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” and CIDSE, an international network of Catholic non-governmental development organisations.

The theme of the Cardinal's address was “The Importance of the Encyclical Laudato Si' for the Church and the World, in the Light of Major Political Events in 2015 and Beyond”. Three key United Nations conferences are scheduled to take place in the second half of 2015: the “Third International Conference on Financing for Development”, (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 to 16 July); the “United Nations Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, (New York, U.S.A., 25 to 27 September); and the “Twenty-First Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change” or “COP21” (Paris, France, 30 November to 11 December), for the purpose of adopting a new agreement on climate change. Cardinal Parolin affirmed that “the Encyclical will have a certain impact on these events, but its breadth and depth go well beyond its context in time”.

The Secretary of State's discourse focused on three sectors to help understand of “Laudato si'” – the international sphere, the national and local sphere, and the sphere of the Church – emphasising the two pressing requirements relevant to all three, namely “redirecting our steps” and promoting a “culture of care”.

In the international framework, he said, there is a need for “an ever greater recognition that 'everything is connected' and that the environment, the earth and the climate are 'a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone'. They are a common and collective good, belonging to all and meant for all, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone'. Recognising these truths is not, however, a foregone conclusion. It calls for a firm commitment to develop an authentic ethics of international relations, one that is genuinely capable of facing up to a variety of issues, such as commercial imbalances, and foreign and ecological debt, which are denounced in the Encyclical”.

“Unfortunately, what has prevented the international community from assuming this perspective can be summed up in the following observations of the Pope: its 'failure of conscience and responsibility' and the consequent 'meagre awareness of its own limitations'. We live, however, in a context where it is possible to 'leave behind the modern myth of unlimited material progress... [and] to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power'; 'we have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral'”. The Cardinal remarked, “more than once I have had occasion to emphasise how the technological and operative base for promoting such progress is already available or within our reach. We must seize this great opportunity, given the real human capacity to initiate and forge ahead on a genuinely and properly virtuous course, one that irrigates the soil of economic and technological innovation, cultivating three interrelated objectives: to help human dignity flourish; to help eradicate poverty; and to help counter environmental decay”.

“The forces at work in the international sphere are not sufficient on their own, however, but must also be focused by a clear national stimulus, according to the principle of subsidiarity. And here we enter into the second area of our reflection, that of national and local action. Laudato Si' shows us that we can do much in this regard, and it offers some examples, such as: 'modifying consumption, developing an economy of waste disposal and recycling... [the improvement of] agriculture in poorer regions... through investment in rural infrastructures, a better organisation of local [and] national markets, systems of irrigation, and the development of techniques of sustainable agriculture', the promotion of a 'circular model of production', a clear response to the wasting of food, and the acceleration of an 'energy transition'”. He added, “unfortunately, 'there are too many special interests, and economic interests too easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected'”.

The final area considered by the Secretary of State was the Catholic Church, who “finds nourishment in the example of St. Francis who, as indicated from the very opening pages of the Encyclical, 'lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace”.

He concluded, “Pope Francis states once again that 'the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics', but seems to be the bearer of the need to question the meaning and purpose of all human activity. What is well-known by now is the Encyclical's call for us to reflect on 'what kind of world we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up'. The answer which the Pope offers to this question is quite revealing: 'When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. … It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity”.


Vatican City, 3 July 2015 (VIS) – In the afternoon of Thursday 2 July, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 3 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Dennis Villarojo and Fr. Oscar L. Florencio as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Cebu (area 5,088, population 4,692,562, Catholics 4,153,173, priests 612, permanent deacons 1, religious 1,827), Philippines.

Bishop-elect Villarojo was born in Cebu City, Philippines in 1967, and was ordained a priest in 1994. He received a licentiate in philosophy from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines and a doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical University of the Sacred Heart, Rome. He has served as the personal secretary of the archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Vidal, and coordinator of the archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Board. He is currently moderator of the personal pastoral group of the parish of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Capitol, Cebu City, and secretary general of the 51st Eucharistic Congress to take place in Cebu in January 2016.

Bishop-elect Florencio was born in Capoocan, Philippines in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He received a licentiate in theology from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of the Sacred Heart, Rome. He has served as parish vicar and spiritual director of the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, and parish priest. He is currently rector of the Saint John School of Theology, Palo, and vice-chancellor of the same archdiocese.

- Philippe Morard as vice commander of the Swiss Pontifical Guard, with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

One billion tourists, one billion opportunities

Vatican City, 2 July 2015 (VIS) - “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities” is the title of the Message for World Tourism Day 2015 (27 September), published today by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The Message, dated 24 June, was signed by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively president and secretary of the dicastery.

The document, as its title indicates, focuses on the opportunities and challenges that the great increase in tourism represents for contemporary society and notes that the concept of the “tourist” is increasingly being substituted by that of the “traveller”, who does not merely visit a place but rather, in a sense, becomes an integral part of it. In the light of Pope Francis' Encyclical “Laudato si'”, the Message highlights that the tourism sector, by promoting appreciation of natural and cultural wealth, can promote their conservation or, paradoxically, their destruction. The Message finally invites the transformation of travel into “an existential experience”.

“It was 2012 when the symbolic barrier of one billion international tourist arrivals was surpassed. Now the numbers continue to grow so much that the forecasts estimate a new threshold of two billion will be reached in 2030. To this data even higher figures related to local tourism must be added.

For World Tourism Day we want to concentrate on the opportunities and challenges raised by these statistics, and for this we make the theme proposed by the World Tourism Organisation our own: 'One billion tourists, one billion opportunities'.

This growth launches a challenge to all the sectors involved in this global phenomenon: tourists, businesses, governments and local communities and, of course, the Church too. The billion tourists should necessarily be considered above all in their billion opportunities.
This message is being made public a few days after the presentation of Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato si’ dedicated to care for our common home. We need to take this text into great consideration because it offers important guidelines to follow in our attention to the world of tourism.

We are in a phase of change in which the way of moving is changing and consequently the experience of travelling as well. Those who go to countries different from their own do so with the more or less conscious desire to reawaken the most hidden part of themselves through encounter, sharing and confrontation. More and more, a tourist is in search of direct contact with what is different in its extra-ordinariness.

By now the classic concept of a 'tourist' is fading while that of a 'traveller' has become stronger: that is, someone who does not limit himself to visiting a place but in some way becomes an integral part of it. The 'citizen of the world' is born: no longer to see but to belong, not to look around but to experience, no longer to analyse but to take part in, and not without respect for what and whom he encounters.

In his latest Encyclical, Pope Francis invites us to approach nature with 'openness to awe and wonder' and to speak 'the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world'. This is the right approach to adopt with regard to the places and peoples we visit. This is the road to seizing a billion opportunities and making them bear even more fruits.

The businesses in this sector are the first ones who should be committed to achieving the common good. The responsibilities of companies is great, also in the tourist area, and to take advantage of the billion opportunities they need to be aware of this. The final objective should not be profit as much as offering travellers accessible roads to achieving the experience they are looking for. And businesses have to do this with respect for people and the environment. It is important not to lose awareness of people's faces. Tourists cannot be reduced only to a statistic or a source of revenue. Forms of tourist business need to be implemented that are studied with and for individuals and invest in individuals and sustainability so as to offer work opportunities in respect for our common home.

At the same time, governments have to guarantee respect for the laws and create new ones that can protect the dignity of individuals, communities and the territory. A resolute attitude is essential. Also in the tourist area, the civil authorities of the different countries need to have shared strategies to create globalised socio-economic networks in favour of local communities and travellers in order to take positive advantage of the billion opportunities offered by the interaction.

From this viewpoint, also the local communities are called to open up their borders to welcome those who come from other countries moved by a thirst for knowledge, a unique occasion for reciprocal enrichment and common growth. Giving hospitality enables the environmental, social and cultural potentialities to bear fruit, to create new jobs, to develop one's identity, and to bring out the value of the territory. A billion opportunities for progress, especially for countries that are still developing. To increase tourism, especially in its most responsible forms, makes it possible to head towards the future strong with one's specificity, history and culture. Generating income and promoting the specific heritage can reawaken that sense of pride and self-esteem useful for strengthening the host communities' dignity, but care is always needed to not betray the territory, traditions and identity in favour of the tourists. It is in the local communities where there can grow 'a greater sense of responsibility, a strong sense of community, a readiness to protect others, a spirit of creativity and a deep love for the land. They are also concerned about what they will eventually leave to their children and grandchildren'.

One billion tourists, if well received, can become an important source of well-being and sustainable development for the entire planet. Moreover, the globalisation of tourism leads to the rise of an individual and collective civic sense. Each traveller, by adopting a more correct criterion for moving around the world, becomes an active part in safeguarding the earth. One individual's effort multiplied by a billion becomes a great revolution.

On a voyage, a desire for authenticity is also hidden which is realised in the spontaneity of relations and getting involved in the communities visited. The need is growing to get away from the virtual, which is so capable of creating distances and impersonal acquaintances, and to rediscover the genuineness of an encounter with others. The economy of sharing can also build a network through which humanity and fraternity increase and can generate a fair exchange of goods and services.

Tourism also represents a billion opportunities for the Church's evangelising mission. 'Nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts'. First of all, it is important for the Church to accompany Catholics with liturgical and formative proposals. She should also illuminate those who during the experience of travelling open their hearts and ask themselves questions and in this way make a real first proclamation of the Gospel. It is essential for the Church to go forth and be close to travellers in order to offer an appropriate and individual answer to their inner search. By opening her heart to others, the Church makes a more authentic encounter with God possible. With this goal, hospitality by the parish communities and the religious formation of tourist personnel should be enhanced.

The Church's task is also to educate to living free time. The Holy Father reminds us that 'Christian spirituality incorporates the value of relaxation and festivity. We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away with the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning. We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity'.

Moreover, we should not forget Pope Francis' convocation to celebrate the Holy Year of Mercy. We have to ask ourselves how the pastoral care of tourism and pilgrimages can be an area to 'experience the love of God who consoles, pardons, and instils hope'. A particular sign of this jubilee time will undoubtedly be the pilgrimage.

Faithful to her mission and starting from the conviction that 'we also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise', the Church cooperates in making tourism a means for the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged ones, and setting in motion simple but effective projects. However, the Church and institutions should always be vigilant to prevent a billion opportunities from becoming a billion dangers by cooperating in the safeguard of personal dignity, workers' rights, cultural identity, respect for the environment, and so on.

One billion opportunities also for the environment: 'The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God'. Between tourism and the environment there is a close interdependency. The tourist sector, by taking advantage of the natural and cultural riches, can promote their conservation or, paradoxically, their destruction. In this relationship, the Encyclical Laudato si’ appears to be a good travelling companion.

Many times we pretend we do not see the problem. 'Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption'. By acting not as masters but with 'responsible stewardship', each one has his or her obligations that must be made concrete in precise actions that range from specific, coordinated legislation down to simple everyday actions, passing through appropriate educational programs and sustainable and respectful tourist projects. Everything has its importance, but a change in lifestyles and attitudes is necessary and surely more important. 'Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little'.

The tourism sector can be an opportunity, indeed, one billion opportunities for building roads to peace too. Encounter, exchange and sharing favour harmony and understanding.
There are one billion occasions to transform a voyage into an existential experience. One billion possibilities to become the makers of a better world, aware of the riches contained in every traveller's suitcase. One billion tourists, one billion opportunities to become 'instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness'”.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Pope commemorates the late Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians

Vatican City, 1 July 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to Bishop Gregoire Ghabroyan, administrator of the Patriarchate of Cilicia of the Armenians, for the funeral of His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, who died on 25 June, to be held in the Cathedral of St. Elie and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut. The message was read during the funeral ceremony by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the return to the house of the Father of our beloved brother in Christ, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians. I conserve in my heart the memory of my encounter with him, accompanied by the bishops of the Synod and the faithful of this Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the victims of the Metz Yegern and the proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as as Doctor of the universal Church. It was as if these events lived in the vicinity of the relics of the apostle St. Peter had marked the long and faithful journey of your 'Caput et Pater', revealing some of his most characteristic aspects.

“He was, above all, deeply rooted on the Rock that is Christ. He held that the most valuable treasure that a bishop is called upon to minister to is the faith that comes from apostolic preaching. His Beatitude spared nothing in ensuring its dissemination, especially by promoting the continuing formation of the clergy so that, even in difficult contexts, the ministers of God renew their adhesion to Christ, the sole hope and consolation for humanity.

“He dedicated himself to ensuring that the just commemoration of the sufferings of the Armenian people throughout their history become an action of God's grace considering the example of martyrs and witnesses, and at the same time obtained from Him the balm of consolation and reconciliation, which alone may heal the deepest wounds of souls and of peoples.

“Patriarch Nerses was finally able to rejoice with the Armenian people at the elevation of St. Gregory of Narek to the luminous title of Doctor of the Church. His Beatitude wished the spiritual influence of this great saint be an example for pastors and faithful, convinced that through St. Gregory of Narek everyone can experience the wonders that the Lord is able to achieve in the heart that opens up to Him in daily simplicity and humility, and in solidarity with the drama of humanity, through ceaseless intercession.

“Invited to perpetuate this triple heritage left to us by Patriarch Nerses, we implore the Holy Spirit to continue to renew the face of the Armenian Catholic Church, through the commitment of pastors and faithful, and we also entrust to the Father of all Mercy the labours , linked to the the limits and weaknesses of the condition of the pilgrims on their way to the eternal homeland”.

People and planet first: the imperative to change course

Vatican City, 1 July 2015 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the high-level Conference “People and planet first: the imperative to change course” (Rome, Augustinianum, 2-3 July) organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” and CIDSE, an international network of Catholic non-governmental development organisations.

The speakers at the conference were Cardinal Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”; Naomi Klein, writer; Ottmar Edenhofer, co-president of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) and Bernd Nilles, secretary general of Cooperation Internationale pour le Developpement et la Solidarite (International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity).

Cardinal Turkson emphasised that the title of the conference, which focuses on climate change, clearly indicates the aim to be pursued: “people and planet, not one or the other, not one at the expense of the other”. He noted that in his recent Encyclical “Laudato si'”, the Pope proposes an integral ecology that respects its human and social dimensions, and shows that climate change is one of the main challenges facing humanity in our times, also highlighting that the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. “Yet the costs of climate change are being borne by those least responsible for it and least able to adapt to it – the poor. Overall, climate change is a global problem with a spectrum of serious implications: environmental, social, economic and political”. In “Laudato si'”, the Pope also laments the failure of past global summits on the environment, and launches an urgent appeal for enforceable international agreements to stop climate change.

In this respect, as Cardinal Turkson observes, the COP21 Conference held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015 will be crucial in identifying strong solutions to the problem of climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals are also relevant in this context, and coincide in various aspects with the points made by Pope Francis in his Encyclical. “For example, the 13th proposed goal will express the imperative to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Related goals include: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.

“These goals, similar to important points made in 'Laudato si'', await the pledges and the will of the whole world community during the 70th United Nations General Assembly beginning in mid-September 2015. Yet the single biggest obstacle to the imperative to change course is not economic, scientific or even technological, but rather within our minds and hearts. The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty. A more responsible overall approach is needed to deal with both problems: the reduction of pollution and the development of poorer countries and regions. … The political dimension needs to re-establish democratic control over the economy and finance, that is, over the basic choices made by human societies. This is the path the entire human family is on, the one which leads through New York to Paris and beyond”, concluded the prelate.

Naomi Klein affirmed that what Pope Francis writes in “Laudato si'” “is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for 'every person living on this planet'. And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me”.

“In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality. Because if we agree that endangering life on earth is a moral crisis, then it is incumbent on us to act like it. That does not mean gambling the future on the boom and bust cycles of the market. It means policies that directly regulate how much carbon can be extracted from the earth. It means policies that will get us to 100 per cent renewable energy in two or three decades – not by the end of the century. And it means allocating common, shared resources – like the atmosphere – on the basis of justice and equity, not winners-take-all”.

Therefore, “a new kind of climate movement is fast emerging. It is based on the most courageous truth expressed in the encyclical: that our current economic system is both fuelling the climate crisis and actively preventing us from taking the necessary actions to avert it. A movement based on the knowledge that if we don’t want runaway climate change, then we need system change. And because our current system is also fuelling ever widening inequality, we have a chance, in rising to the climate challenge, to solve multiple, overlapping crises at once. In short, we can shift to a more stable climate and fairer economy at the same time”.

“This growing understanding is why you are seeing some surprising and even unlikely alliances. Like, for instance, me at the Vatican. Like trade unions, Indigenous, faith and green groups working more closely together than ever before. Inside these coalitions, we do not agree on everything. … But we understand that the stakes are so high, time is so short and the task is so large that we cannot afford to allow those differences to divide us. When 400,000 people marched for climate justice in New York last September, the slogan was 'To change everything, we need everyone'. Everyone includes political leaders, of course. But having attended many meetings with social movements about the COP summit in Paris, I can report this: there is zero tolerance for yet another failure being dressed up as a success for the cameras. … If the deal fails to bring about immediate emission reductions while providing real and substantive support for poor countries, then it will be declared a failure. As it should be”.

“What we must always remember is that it’s not too late to veer off the dangerous road we are on, the one that is leading us towards 4 degrees of warming”, emphasised Naomi Klein. “Indeed we could still keep warming below 1.5 degrees if we made it our top collective priority. It would be difficult, to be sure. As difficult as the rationing and industrial conversions that were once made in wartime. As ambitious as the anti-poverty and public works programs launched in the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Second World War. But difficult is not the same as impossible. And giving up in the face of a task that could save countless and lives prevent so much suffering – simply because it is difficult, costly and requires sacrifice from those of us who can most afford to make do with less – is not pragmatism. It is surrender of the most cowardly kind. And there is no cost-benefit analysis in the world that is capable of justifying it”.

Archbishop Tomasi: terrorism is the antithesis of the values and commitments of peaceful national and international co-existence

Vatican City, 1 July 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations and other international bodies in Geneva spoke yesterday at the 29 th Session of the Human Rights Council Panel on the effects of terrorism on the enjoyment by all persons of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“The Holy See Delegation would like to denounce most especially terrorist acts carried out in the name of religion”, said the nuncio. “As Pope Francis states, 'religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext'. … Acts of terrorism cause the destruction of human rights, political freedoms and the rule of law. Terrorism is the antithesis of the shared values and commitments which serve as the basis for peaceful coexistence domestically and internationally. Indeed, with the proliferation of terrorism and the impunity which its proponents enjoy, we can say that there is also a 'globalisation of terrorism'. ... A situation is thus created where the positive political will of the major players is required in order to address and resolve the problem of global terrorism and its disastrous effects”.

“The Holy See is deeply convinced that terrorism, especially those forms that derive from religious extremism, must be confronted with concerted political efforts by all players, especially by all the local and regional parties involved, as well as by the major international players, whose role is indispensable in negotiating and finding a viable solution, diplomatic or otherwise, to protect life and the future stability of the regions touched by terrorism. The response to terrorism cannot be merely by way of military action. Political participation, fair and just legal systems, and cutting all forms of public and private support for terrorism are means not only to respond, but also to prevent, terrorism. It is also important to remember the positive obligation that States have to undertake in order to protect their citizens and, where that is not possible, to collaborate with other regional authorities in order to address the threats posed by terrorist groups”, concluded Archbishop Tomasi.

Message for Sea Sunday: more resources to combat human trafficking and exploitation

Vatican City, 1 July 2015 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples today published its message for Sea Sunday (12 July), signed by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively president and secretary of the dicastery. The following is the full text of the message:

“To transport goods and products around the world, the global economy deeply relies on the maritime industry supported by a workforce of around 1.2 million seafarers, who at sea and in the oceans frequently facing the strong and powerful forces of nature, manage ships of all kinds and dimensions.

As ports are built far away from the cities, and because of the fast turnaround in loading and unloading cargo, the crews sailing the ships are like 'invisible' people. As individuals we do not acknowledge the importance and the benefits that the maritime profession brings to our life and we become aware of their work and sacrifices only when disasters strike.

In spite of the technological development that makes life on board more comfortable and makes it easier to communicate with loved ones, seafarers are forced to spend long months in a restricted space, away from their families. Restrictive and unjust regulations often limit shore leave when in port and the continuous threat of piracy in many sea routes adds stress while sailing. We are still confident that the ratification and coming into force of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 by a growing number of countries, accompanied by effective inspections by flag States will result in a tangible improvement of the labour and working conditions on board all ships.

In the present day, with war, violence and political instability in several countries, a new phenomenon has been affecting the shipping industry. Since last year, alongside the coast guards and the naval forces of Italy, Malta and European Union, the merchant vessels transiting in the Mediterranean Sea have been actively involved in the by-now daily task of rescuing thousands and thousands of migrants trying to reach the coasts of Italy in all kinds of overcrowded and substandard crafts.

Since time immemorial seafarers have fulfilled the obligation to rescue people in distress at sea under any conditions. However, as it has been stressed by other maritime organisations, for the merchant vessels rescuing migrants at sea remains a health, safety and security risk for seafarers. Commercial ships are designed to transport goods (containers, oil, gas, etc.) and all the facilities are custom-made for the limited number of crew members on board. For these reasons merchant vessels are not equipped to provide assistance to a large number of migrants.

Seafarers are professionally qualified in their work and trained to handle a number of emergency situations but rescuing hundreds of often frantic men, women and children is something that no training course in maritime school has prepared them for. Furthermore, the physical effort in seeking to rescue as many persons as possible, and witnessing numerous lifeless bodies in the sea, render the experience traumatic and leave the crews exhausted and psychologically distressed, in need of specific psychological and spiritual support.

On Sea Sunday as the Catholic Church we would like to express our appreciation for seafarers in general for their fundamental contribution to the international trade. This year in particular, we would like to recognise the great humanitarian effort made by the crews of merchant vessels that without hesitation, sometimes risking their own life, have engaged in many rescue operations saving thousands of migrants lives.

Our gratitude goes also to all the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea for their daily commitment in serving the people of the sea; their presence in the docks is the sign of the Church in their midst and shows the compassionate and merciful face of Christ.

In conclusion, while we appeal to the governments in Europe, the countries of origin of migration flows, and international organisations to cooperate in searching for a durable and definitive political solution to instability in those countries, we would also like to call for more resources to be committed not only for search and rescue missions but also to prevent the trafficking and exploitation of persons escaping from conditions of conflict and poverty”.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jews and Christians believe that God is revealed to man through His Word

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international congress promoted by the International Council of Christians and Jews, held in Rome from 28 June to 1 July on the theme “The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate: the past, present and future of relations between Jews and Christians”.

The Pope expressed his pleasure that this year's meeting is taking place in Rome, the city where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried – “for all Christians, both Apostles are an important point of reference: they are like 'pillars' of the Church” – and the home of the most ancient Jewish community in Western Europe, whose origins can be traced to the time of the Maccabees. “Christians and Jews therefore have lived together in Rome for almost two thousand years, even though their relations in the course of history have not been without difficulty”.

The development of authentic fraternal dialogue has been made possible since Vatican Council II, following the promulgation of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, “a document which represents a definitive 'yes' to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable 'no' to anti-Semitism”. He continued, “In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we are able to see the rich fruits which it has brought about and to gratefully appraise Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In this way, we can express our thanks to God for all the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding these past fifty years, as his Holy Spirit has accompanied our efforts in dialogue. Our fragmented humanity, mistrust and pride have been overcome thanks to the Spirit of Almighty God, in such a way that trust and fraternity between us have continued to grow. We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters. Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history. And he, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, always blesses our commitment to dialogue”.

“Christians, all Christians, have Jewish roots”, emphasised the Pope. “Because of this, since its inception, the International Council of Christians and Jews has welcomed the various Christian confessions. Each of them, in its own way, has drawn near to Judaism, which in its time, has been distinguished by diverse trends and sensibilities. The Christian confessions find their unity in Christ; Judaism finds its unity in the Torah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking a right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life, and Jews to the teaching of the Torah. This pattern of theological reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity arises precisely from Nostra Aetate, and upon this solid basis can be developed yet further”.

Pope Francis greets Benedict XVI before the Pope emeritus' two-week stay in Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – At around 10 a.m. this morning, Pope Francis visited Benedict XVI in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae ex-convent to greet him and to wish him a good stay in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope emeritus transferred this morning and will remain for two-weeks (he is expected to return on 14 July). The meeting lasted for around half an hour.

The Holy See Press Office announced that the Wednesday General Audiences will be suspended for the month of July and will resume in August in the Paul VI Hall. All other audiences will be suspended, with the exception of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal meeting in St. Peter's Square on 3 July. The morning Mass with groups of faithful in the Sanctae Marthae chapel will be suspended during the months of July and August, to resume at the beginning of September.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for July

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for July is: “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society”.

Programme of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today the programme was published for Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations on the occasion of his participation in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from 19 to 28 September.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 19 September and is expected to arrive at 4.05 p.m. in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. On Sunday 20 September he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic in the Palace of the Revolution. Later he will celebrate Vespers in the Cathedral with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, and will subsequently greet the young in the Fr. Felix Varela Cultural Centre.

On Monday 21 September, in the morning, he will transfer to Holguin where he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion and will bless the city from the Loma de la Cruz. He will then depart by air for Santiago, where he will meet with the bishops in St. Basil's Major Seminary. The day will conclude with the prayer to Our Lady of Charity with the bishops and the papal entourage in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago.

Tuesday 22 September will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago. The Pope will then meet families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion in Santiago and, after blessing the city, will depart by air for Washington D.C., U.S.A., where he will be received at the Andrews Air Force Base.

On Wednesday 23 September, there will be a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Pope will pronounce a discourse and pay a courtesy visit to the president of the United States. At 11 a.m., the Pope will meet with the bishops of the United States in St. Matthew's Cathedral. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass for the canonisation of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra.

On Thursday 24 September Pope Francis will visit and address the United States Congress. He will subsequently visit the charity centre of the St. Patrick's parish where he will meet a group of homeless people. In the afternoon he will transfer by air to New York, where at 6.45 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with priests and men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Friday 25 September will begin with an address by the Holy Father at the seat of the United Nations in New York and, at 11.30 a.m., he will participate in an interreligious meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial site. He will then visit the “Our Lady, Queen of Angels” school and meet with families of immigrants in Harlem. The day will conclude with Holy Mass in Madison Square Garden.

On Saturday 26 September, the Pope will travel by air to Philadelphia, where at 10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass with the bishops, clergy and men and women religious in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. In the afternoon he will participate in a meeting for religious freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in the Independence Mall, Philadelphia.

Sunday 27 September will begin with a meeting with the bishops invited to the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, after which the Pope will visit the detainees in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia. He will go on to celebrate the concluding Holy Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In the late afternoon, before the farewell ceremony, he will greet the organising committee, the volunteers and benefactors at the international airport of Philadelphia, from where he will depart on his return flight to Rome. The aircraft carrying the Holy Father is scheduled to land on Monday 28 September at 10 a.m.

The Pope to the new metropolitan archbishops

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father blessed the pallia destined for the archbishops appointed during the year. At Francis' behest, the pallium – the band of white wool adorned with black crosses symbolising the sheep placed on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd and worn by the Pope and the archbishops as a sign of communion – was not imposed by the bishop of Rome, but instead sent privately in order to be imposed at a later date by the apostolic nuncio in the country of origin, as a sign of synodality.

Following the blessing of the pallia, placed prior to the service below the altar of the Confession of the apostle Peter, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic celebration with the new metropolitan archbishops. As is customary on the solemnity of the patron saints of Rome, the Holy Mass was attended by a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, led by the metropolitan of Pergamo, Ioannis (Zizioulas), accompanied by the metropolitan of Silyvria, Maximo and Fr. Heikki Huttunen of the Orthodox Church of Finland.

In his homily, the full text of which is reproduced below, the Holy Father spoke about the courage of the apostles when the first Christian community was beset by persecution, and recalled that in our days too we are witnessing “atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible” persecutions, often “under the silent gaze of all”, and exhorted the metropolitan archbishops to “teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing, and offer witness by living”.

“The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison'.

“However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.

A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: 'Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church'. And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.

The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.

“The first reading continues: 'Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side … And the chains fell off his hands'.

Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel? An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation? Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, 'You are not alone'.

How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the 'maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognising Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door'.

No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children. Jesus asked himself: 'And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?'. In prayer, believers express their faith and their trust, and God reveals his closeness, also by giving us the angels, his messengers.

A call to faith: in the second reading Saint Paul writes to Timothy: 'But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully … So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom'. God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: 'The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want'.

How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: 'To him be glory for ever and ever'.

Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.

In the name of Christ, believers have raised the dead; they have healed the sick; they have loved their persecutors; they have shown how there is no power capable of defeating the one who has the power of faith!

A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God.

Paul writes in a moving way to Timothy: 'My son, I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing'.

A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'.

Dear Archbishops who today receive the Pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission. The Pallium is 'a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other Bishops of the world'.

Today, by these Pallia, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness. The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!

The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross. No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!

The Church wants you to be men of witness. St. Francis used to tell his brothers: 'Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!'. There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle! Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world. And this follows the example of Peter and Paul and so many other witnesses along the course of the Church’s history, witnesses who, yet belonging to different Christian confessions, have contributed to demonstrating and bringing growth to the one Body of Christ. I am pleased to emphasise this, and am always pleased to do so, in the presence of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by my beloved brother Bartholomew I.

This is not so straightforward: because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others.

Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!”

Angelus: the legacy of Sts Peter and Paul is a source of pride for Rome

Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) – At midday, after celebrating Holy Mass with the new metropolitan archbishops in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

“The solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated, as you know, by the universal Church, but it is lived with particular joy by the Church of Rome, as her foundations lie in their witness, sealed with blood. Rome nurtures a special affection and acknowledgement for these men of God, who came from a faraway and to announce, at the expense of their lives, the Gospel of Christ to Whom they were totally dedicated. The glorious legacy of these two apostles is a reason for spiritual pride for Rome and, at the same time, is a reminder to live Christian virtues and in particular faith and charity: faith in Jesus the Messiah and Son of God, that Peter professed first and Paul announced to the people; and charity, which this Church is called upon to serve with a universal outlook”.

“In the Angelus prayer”, he explained, “we associate the memory of Saints Peter and Paul with that of Mary, the living image of the Church, Christ's spouse, whom the two Apostles made fruitful with their blood”. Peter personally knew Mary and, conversing with her, especially in the days preceding Pentecost, he was able to deepen his knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Paul, in announcing the fulfilment of the salvific plan 'in the fullness of time', does not neglect to mention the 'woman' to whom the Son of God was born in time. In the evangelisation of the two apostles here in Rome there are also the roots of the Romans' deep, centuries-long devotion to the Holy Virgin, invoked in particular as Salus Populi Romani. Mary, Peter and Paul: they are our travelling companions in our search for God, they are our guides on the path of faith and holiness; they drive us towards Jesus, to do all that He asks of us. Let us invoke their help, so that our heart may always be open to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit and encounter with our brothers”.

Francis asked all those present to pray in a special way for Rome, for its spiritual and material well-being, and that divine grace might support the Roman people to live Christian faith fully. After the Marian prayer he reminded those present of his upcoming apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July, and again asked the faithful to accompany him in prayer to Our Lady during the trip.

Angelus: faith is touching Jesus and receiving the grace that saves us

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – The resurrection of Christ that acts throughout history as the source of renewal and hope was the theme of the Pope's reflection during this Sunday's Angelus, in which which he commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, the awakening after death of the daughter of one of the heads of the synagogue, and the healing of the bleeding woman.

In the first passage, Jesus is called by the father of the dead child, says “Do not fear, only believe” and, entering the house, he orders her to rise. The child awakens and begins to walk. “Here we see Jesus' absolute power over physical death, that for Him is like a slumber from which one can reawaken”.

In the second reading, Jesus heals a woman who has suffered bleeding for two years, an illness that in the cultural context of the time would have rendered her “impure” and obliged her to avoid all human contact, “as if she were condemned to a civil death”, the Pope explained. “This anonymous woman, in the midst of the crowd following Jesus, says to herself, 'If I touch even his garments, I will be made well'. And so it was: the need to be freed drives her to boldness and her faith 'seizes', as it were, the cure. Those who believe touch Jesus and draw from Him the Grace that saves. It saves our spiritual life and it saves us from many problems”.

“These two episodes – healing and resurrection – have a sole centre: faith. The message is clear, and can be summarised in a question: do we believe that Jesus can heal us and reawaken us from death? All the Gospel is written in the light of this faith: Jesus is resurrected, he conquers death, and by this, his victory, we too will rise again. … Christ's Resurrection acts in history as a source of renewal and hope. Whoever is desperate and tired, unto death, if he trusts in Jesus and His love, may begin to live again. Also starting out on a new life, changing one's life, is a way of rising again, of resuscitating. Faith is a force of life that gives fullness to our humanity; and he or she who believes in Christ must recognise this so that it may promote life in every situation, and enable everyone, especially the weakest, to experience God's love that liberates and saves”.

“Let us ask the Lord, by the intercession of Our Lady, for the gift of strong and courageous faith, that drives us to spread hope and life among our brethren”, concluded the bishop of Rome.

The Pope's telegrams for the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait

Vatican City, 28 June 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent telegrams on behalf of the Holy Father to the representatives of the Holy See in France, Tunisia and Kuwait following the terrorist attacks on 26 June in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, Sousse and Kuwait City.

The Pope writes to the apostolic nuncio in France that he participates in prayer in the suffering of the family of the victim of the attack in Saint-Quentin Fallavier, and with the wounded and their relatives. He repeats his condemnation of “violence that gives rise to so much suffering”, invokes the Lord's gift of peace, and blesses the afflicted families and all the French people.

In his telegram to the apostolic nuncio in Tunisia, Francis expresses his heartfelt condolences to the Tunisian people and in particular to the families of the deceased following the attack in Sousse. Again condemning violence, he asks God to welcome the souls of the departed in His light, and blesses the injured, their loved ones and all Tunisian citizens.

In his third telegram, the Holy Father declares his sadness at the tragic loss of life and injuries caused by the attack on a mosque in Kuwait City, and offers his prayers for the victims and for all those who mourn. Deploring these acts of barbarism, he reaffirms his spiritual closeness to all the families affected and to the Kuwaiti people, encouraging them not to lose heart in the face of evil, and invokes upon the nation the consoling and healing love of the Almighty.

The Pope institutes the Secretariat for Communication

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the apostolic letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by which the Holy Father has instituted the Secretariat for Communication:

“The current communications context, characterised by the presence and development of digital media, and by factors of convergence and interactivity, requires a re-evaluation of the information system of the Holy See and commitment to reorganisation that, taking into consideration what has developed historically within the communication structures of the Apostolic See, proceeds decisively towards integration and unified management.

For these reasons, I consider that all those bodies that have until now been occupied in different ways with communication be brought together in a new dicastery of the Roman Curia, which will be entitled Secretariat for Communication. In this way the communication system of the Holy See will be able to respond better to the needs of the Church's mission.

Therefore, after having examined reports and studies, received the feasibility study and heard the unanimous opinion of the Council of Cardinals, I hereby institute the Secretariat for Communication and establish the following.

Art. 1
The following bodies will merge into the dicastery, as presented by the Commission for Vatican Media instituted on 30 April 2015, at the established times: Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service; Vatican Radio; Vatican Television Centre; L'Osservatore Romano; Vatican Typography; Photographic Service; Vatican Publishing House.

Art. 2
These bodies, from the date of publication of the present Motu Proprio, will continue to carry out their activities, in accordance, however, with indications given by the Secretariat for Communication.

Art. 3
The new dicastery, in agreement with the Secretariat of State, will take on the institutional web site of the Holy See: www.vatican.va and the Twitter service of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex

Art. 4
The Secretariat for Communication will begin its functions on 29 June 2015, and will be based provisionally in Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia 3, 00120 Vatican City.

I order that all that I have set forth in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio is to be fully observed, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, albeit deserving of special mention, and I hereby decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and subsequently in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on 27 June of the year 2015, third of my Pontificate”.

The Holy Father, following the Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio, “The current communications context” of 27 June 2015, by which he instituted the Secretariat for Communication, appointed:

- Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre, as prefect of the Secretariat for Communication;

- Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, as secretary;

- Paolo Nusiner, director general of Avvenire, Nuova Editoriale Italiana, as director general; and

- Giacomo Ghisani, head of the Office for International Relations and Legal Affairs of Vatican Radio and member of the managing board of the Vatican Television Centre, as deputy director general.

Francis receives a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is present in Rome for the customary visit on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome, bearing witness to the profound relationship between the two Churches foreshadowed by the bond uniting their respective patrons, the apostles Peter and Andrew, “brothers in blood and faith, united in apostolic service and martyrdom”, as Pope Francis affirmed.

A Holy See delegation reciprocates every year with a visit to Istanbul, Turkey on 30 November, St. Andrew's Day, and the Holy Father recalled the warm welcome he received on this occasion last year from Patriarch Bartholomew and the clergy and faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ecumenical prayer on the vigil of the feast, and then the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, offered us the possibility of together praising the Lord and asking him with one voice for that day to draw nearer when full, visible communion between Orthodox and Catholics may be re-established”, he said.

“Attaining that goal, towards which we have set out together in trust, represents one of my main concerns, for which I do not cease to pray to God”, he added. “I hope, therefore, that opportunities may increase for meeting each other, for exchange and cooperation among Catholic and Orthodox faithful, in such a way that as we deepen our knowledge and esteem for one another, we may be able to overcome any prejudice and misunderstanding that may remain as a result of our long separation. It is my desire that we may be able to face, in truth but also with a fraternal spirit, the difficulties which still exist”. In this regard, Francis reiterated his support for the valuable work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, emphasising that the problems that may arise during the course of theological dialogue must not lead to discouragement or resignation. “The careful examination of how in the Church the principle of synodality and the service of the one who presides are articulated, will make a significant contribution to the progress of relations between our Churches”.

The Pope gave the assurance of his prayers and those of many Catholics for the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, and asked in turn for prayers for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church dedicated to the family, to be held in the Vatican this coming October, “at which we are looking forward also to the participation of a fraternal delegate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.

Pope's video message on the eve of his trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis sent a video message, transmitted simultaneously in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, for his upcoming apostolic trip to the three Latin American countries from 5 to 12 July. The following is the full text of the message:

“The trip is almost upon us. With this greeting I would like to express my closeness, my cordiality, and my good will. My desire is to be with you, to share your concerns, to show my affection and nearness and also to celebrate with you.

I would like to be a witness to this joy of the Gospel and to bring the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to his children who are most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, those who are victims of this culture of waste. The Father's love, so merciful, enables us without measure to discover the face of His Son Jesus in every brother and every sister of ours, in our neighbour. It is necessary only to be near, to make ourselves neighbours. As Jesus said to that young doctor of the law when he asked Him, who is my neighbour? Do as the good Samaritan did, go and do the same, do not walk on by.

On this trip I will visit three sister nations in these lands of the American continent. The faith we all share is a source of fraternity and solidarity: it builds peoples, forms a family of families, fosters harmony and encourages the desire for and commitment to peace.

In these days before our meeting, I thank God for you, and ask you to be steadfast in your faith that carries the flame of love and charity, and to hold fast to the hope that never disappoints. I ask you to join your prayers with mine, so that the announcement of the Gospel reaches the most remote peripheries, and that the values of the Kingdom of God may continue to be a leaven for the earth in our days too.

May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of America, protect you, and may the Lord bless you. Thank you, we will see each other soon, and please, do not forget to pray for me”.

Cardinal Vlk, Pope's special envoy to the commemoration of Jan Hus

Vatican City, 27 June 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 9 April 2015, the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop emeritus of Prague, Czech Republic, as his special envoy to the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, to be held in Prague on 5 and 6 July 2015.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of: Rev. Michael Nimeeek, episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry, and Miroslav Simaeek, archdeacon of the parish of Usti. nadLabem and canon of the Chapter of the St. Stephen's Cathedral, at Litomerice.

The Catholic Church in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – As previously announced, the Pope will make an apostolic trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay from 5 to 12 July. The following are some statistics regarding the presence of the Catholic Church in the three countries:

Ecuador has a surface area of 283,561 square kilometres and 15,775,000 inhabitants of whom 13,978,000 are Catholics (87.4%). The Church consists of 25 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 1,250 parishes and 4.369 pastoral centres, with 52 bishops, 2,198 priests, 973 seminarians, 5,261 men and women religious and 49,489 catechists. The Church runs 1,469 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 173 hospitals and clinics, 56 rest homes and 167 orphanages or nurseries, 32 family support centres and 626 other social structures.

Bolivia has a surface area of 1,098,581 square kilometres and 11,280,000 inhabitants of whom 9,301,000 are Catholics (82.5%). The Church consists of 18 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 600 parishes and 210 pastoral centres, with 38 bishops, 1,208 priests, 599 seminarians, 2,869 men and women religious, and 17,768 catechists. The Church runs 1,791 schools and educational institutes at all levels and 183 hospitals and clinics, 48 rest homes and 186 orphanages and nurseries, 49 family support centres and 293 other social structures.

Paraguay has a surface area of 406,752 square kilometres and 6,783,000 inhabitants of whom 6,318,000 are Catholics (93.2%). The Church consists of 15 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 372 parishes and 1,451 pastoral centres, with 23 bishops, 804 priests, 684 seminarians, 180 men and women religious, and 53,738 catechists. The Church runs 684 schools and teaching institutes at all levels and 38 hospitals and clinics, 14 rest homes and 26 orphanages and nurseries, 56 family support centres, and 46 other social structures.


Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Jean-Claude Michel, ambassador of the Principality of Monaco, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday 27 June the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, U.S.A.

In the afternoon of Thursday 25 June the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, accompanied by the secretary of the same dicastery, Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo;

- Archbishop Eduardo Eliseo Martin of Rosario, Argentina;

- Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta of Oran, Argentina.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg, presented by Bishop Pierre Farine, upon reaching the age limit.

On Saturday 27 June, the Holy Father appointed the following members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary; Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada; Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam of Asmara, Eritrea; and Archbishop Fulop Kocsis of Hajdugorog for Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Hungary.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Pope to the International Catholic Conference of Guiding: the education of women is vitally important

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) - “Education is the indispensable means for enabling girls to grow into active and responsible women, proud and happy in the faith in Christ they live in their everyday life. In this way they will participate in the construction of a world imbued with the Gospel”, said Pope Francis to delegates from the International Catholic Conference of Guiding (ICCG), whom he received in audience this morning, gathered in Rome on the fiftieth anniversary of the institution's foundation to analyse the theme: “Living as guides the joy of the Gospel”.

The ICCG unites national associations of Catholic guides and national interconfessional guiding organisations. Its aim is to help member associations to transform guiding into a genuine tool for education in faith and to make its pedagogical richness, formative activities and experience in interconfessional collaboration more widely known.

The Holy Father emphasised the excellence of the theme chosen for the meeting and the programme it has given rise to: “proclaiming to others, through the witness of our own life, that encountering Jesus frees us and heals us … opens us to other and drives us to announce him, especially to the poorest and most distant, the lonely and abandoned”.

He invited the delegates to be faithful to the principles of their movement and to establish a sincere dialogue with guides of different cultures and religions, with respect for the beliefs of each one, and serenely affirming their Catholic faith and identity. Pope Francis then went on to speak about his recent Encyclical “Laudato si'”, in which he states that education in ecology is essential to transform habits and ways of thinking so as to overcome the troubling challenges that face humanity in relation to the environment. “I think that the guiding movement, which in its educational method accords an important role to contact with nature, is particularly well-disposed to this”, he said. “I hope that guides will continue to be alert to the presence and the goodness of the Creator in the beauty of the world that surrounds them. This contemplative attitude will lead them to live in harmony with themselves, with others and with God. It is a new way of life, more coherent with the Gospel, that they will be able to transmit to others around them”.

Finally, the Pope reiterated the need to ensure that the importance of women is recognised, so that they take their rightful place both in the Church and in society. “Here too, the role of educational associations such as yours, that address young girls, is absolutely essential for the future, and your teaching must be clear on these issues. We are in a world where we see the spread of ideologies contrary to nature and God's design for the family and marriage. It is therefore a question not only of educating girls in the beauty and greatness of their vocation as women, in a just relationship recognising the difference between man and woman, but also to take on important responsibilities in the Church and in society. In some countries where women are still in a position of inferiority, or even exploited and mistreated, you certainly have a significant role to play in promotion and education. I ask you not to forget, in your pedagogic approach, the necessary and explicit openness to the possibility of a life consecrated to the Lord, an area in which the guiding movement has historically been fruitful”.

The Holy See and the State of Palestine sign a general Agreement

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – Today, Friday 26 June, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Comprehensive Agreement was signed between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. The accord follows on the Basic Agreement which was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on 15 February 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past years.

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States, signed on behalf of the Holy See and Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs, signed for the State of Palestine.

The following took part in the solemn act:
For the Holy See: Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio; His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins; Mgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States; Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., under-secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Mgr. Alberto Ortega, official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Mgr. Paolo Borgia, official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Fr. Oscar Marzo, O.F.M., member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

For the State of Palestine: Ramzi Khoury, advisor to the president and deputy head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Vera Baboun, mayor of Bethlehem; Moussa Abu Hadeed, mayor of Ramallah; Ammar Hijazi, deputy assistant foreign minister for Multilateral Affairs; Azem Bishara, legal advisor of the PLO; Ammar Nisnas, counsellor of the diplomatic representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.

The Agreement is comprised of a preamble and 32 articles distributed in 8 chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region. It will come into effect when both Parties have notified each other in writing that the relevant constitutional or internal requirements have been met.

Agreement between the State of Palestine and the Holy See: look to the future without forgetting the past

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – The following is a summary of the content of the Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine, based on the text provided by L'Osservatore Romano.

The Agreement has a specific nature that takes into account the legal and political situations that surround the conflict, and the rules that have gradually built up over the centuries. The Preamble, which refers to current international law, frames a series of key points: the self-determination of the Palestinian people; the objective of the two-state solution; the meaning, not only symbolic, of Jerusalem, in terms of its holy character for Jews, Christians and Muslims and its universal religious and cultural value as heritage for all humanity; and the Holy See's interests in the Holy Land. The two Parties, considering their mutual daily relations, indicate in the negotiated agreement a way of working, together and separately, not only in defining the condition of the Catholic Church in Palestine but also for the good of people and institutions. The Agreement is therefore an instrument for use in the process of attaining that “just and lasting” peace that may be the result only of an agreement between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. The idea that the future of the Holy Land rests in the hands of the actors present there is supported by the Holy See's wish to exercise her “educational, spiritual and moral mission”, but – with reference to and amplifying the formula of Article 24 of the Lateran Pact, the Holy See “shall take no part in any temporal rivalries between other States, nor in any international congresses called to settle such matters, save and except in the event of such parties making a mutual appeal to the pacific mission of the Holy See”.

Chapter 2 of the Agreement relates to the theme of freedom of worship and conscience, exploring its various dimensions and content, ranging from the civil effects of canonical marriage, the “customary facilities” for the different rites, respect for feast days and the right of Christians who work in public offices to be able comply with the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, religious assistance for the armed forces and prisoners, and the right of parents to impart a “religious and moral” education to their children. The explicit acknowledgement of authentic conscientious objection as a practice consistent with the right of freedom of thought, belief and religion is notable for its current relevance.

The signing of the Agreement urges the Parties to look to the future without forgetting history and those events that, on political and legal levels, have outlined the condition, social fabric and normative order of Palestine, and within this, the action of the Church, as may be seen in the following chapters:

Chapter 3, recognising the legal personality and right to self-organisation of the Church, protects its internal order, the freedom to confer ecclesiastical office, and the exemption of clergy from obligatory personal service such as military service, etc. Confirmation is given of the competence, as stipulated by Palestinian law, of ecclesiastical tribunals to exercise civil jurisdiction. The issue, further clarified in chapter 4, also relates to matters such as marriage, filiation and adoption, following the personal status of Christians in the Holy Land.

Chapter 5, starting from the regime of the “Status Quo”, lists the nature and typology of the Holy Places. The concept of holiness – from which that of religious rights derives – is posited as the source of the obligation of the civil authorities to respect for the Holy Places the exclusive authority and canonical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, except in the case of joint actions to the contrary. The issue is linked to freedom of worship and the necessary guarantees for pilgrimages and structures offering hospitality to pilgrims.

Chapter 6 guarantees the Church's right to work in educational, social, charitable and communications sectors, and regulates the relationship with the Palestinian legal system. This is accompanied by general regulations on the freedom to receive funds and the discretion appropriate to ecclesiastical institutions with regard to their function and personnel.

Chapter 7 is dedicated entirely to Church property and the special fiscal regime applicable to them, inspired by functional criteria of non-liability, issues which due to their direct link to the local situation and legislation will be the object of further negotiations and agreements.

The participation of the Palestinian Catholic community in the lengthy negotiations, which began in a systematic fashion in 2010, gave the Agreement an added value. The local Church has been shown to be an effective agent, providing a valuable contribution not only towards the consolidation of the ecclesial reality, but also to the image of Palestine and the Holy Land as a whole.

Metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium

Vatican City, 26 June 2015 (VIS) – Forty-six metropolitan archbishops have been nominated by the Holy Father to receive the pallium this year, imposed every 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica:

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Cologne, Germany

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Valencia, Spain

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Archbishop Eduardo Eliseo Martin of Rosario, Argentina

Archbishop Florentino Galang Lavarias of San Fernando, Philippines

Archbishop Anthony Pappusamy of Madurai, India

Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens, Greece

Archbishop Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan

Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland

Archbishop Anthony Colin Fisher, O.P., of Sydney, Australia

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, U.S.A.

Archbishop Oscar Omar Aparicio Cespedes of Cochabamba, Bolivia

Archbishop Jose Antonio Fernandez Hurtado of Durango, Mexico

Archbishop Stane Zore, O.F.M., of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Archbishop Djalwana Laurent Lompo of Niamey, Niger

Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi of Foggia-Bovino, Italy

Archbishop Richard Daniel Alarcon Urrutia of Cuzco, Peru

Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaounde, Cameroon

Archbishop Edmundo Ponciano Valenzuela Mellid, S.D.B., of Asuncion, Paraguay

Archbishop Beatus Kinyaiya, O.F.M. Cap., of Dodoma, Tanzania

Archbishop Max Leroy Mesidor of Cap-Haitien, Haiti

Archbishop Kieran O'Reilley, S.M.A., of Cashel, Ireland

Archbishop Filomeno do Nascimento Vieira Dias of Luanda, Angola

Archbishop Martin Musonde Kivuva of Mombasa, Kenya

Archbishop Vicente Jimenez Zamora of Zaragoza, Spain

Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal

Archbishop Jose Antonio Peruzzo of Curitiba, Brazil

Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam, M.C.C.J., of Asmara, Eritrea

Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, Germany

Archbishop Juan Nsue Edjang Maye of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

Archbishop Yustinus Harjosusanto, M.S.F., of Samarinda, Indonesia

Archbishop Freddy Antonio de Jesus Breton Martinez of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Archbishop Charles Jude Scicluna of Malta, Malta

Archbishop David Macaire, O.P., of Fort-de-France, Martinique, France

Archbishop Alojzij Cvikl. S.J., of Maribor, Slovenia

Archbishop Fulop Kocsis of Hajdudorog for Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Hungary

Archbishop John Charles Wester of Santa Fe, U.S.A.

Archbishop Denis Grondin of Rimouski, Canada

Archbishop Francescantonio Nole, O.F.M. Conv., of Cosenza-Bisignano, Italy

Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta of Merida-Badajoz, Spain

Archbishop Gustavo Rodriguez Vega of Yucatan, Mexico

Archbishop-elect Erio Castellucci of Modena-Nonantola, Italy

Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin, Germany

Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas, S.J., of Kaunas, Lithuania

Archbishop Thomas Ignatius Macwan of Gandhinagar, India.

Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service