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Saturday, April 26, 2014


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. He subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

The cordial discussions, which took place within the context of good bilateral relations between the Holy See and Ukraine, focused on the current situation; the hope was expressed that all the parties involved will collaborate constructively to re-establish political and social stability throughout the country, in accordance with international law, and to promote understanding between peoples in the region. Attention then turned to the specific role that Churches and religious organisations, as well as all believers, are called upon to fulfil in fostering mutual respect and harmony among all components of society.

Finally, mention was made of possible further initiatives by the international community in this regard.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – The city of Rome is preparing to receive hundreds of thousands of faithful for the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter's Square tomorrow, which will be attended by delegations from more than 100 countries and at least 24 Heads of State.

Already during this past week the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP) has installed 19 maxi-screens to enable faithful and pilgrims to see the ceremony for the canonisation of the two Popes in both Rome and Milan. Three will be located in the central Via dei Fori Imperiali, one at Rome's Fiumicino airport and another in Piazza del Duomo, Milan. However, the majority of these new screens will be set up in the streets adjacent to St. Peter's Square: Via della Conciliazione, Piazza Pio XII, and in the pedestrian zone and gardens of Castel Sant'Angelo. There are screens in Piazza Navona and Piazza Farnese for Polish- and French-speaking pilgrims respectively, and another at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. News and films relating to the two Popes, as well as public service information, will be broadcast in six languages until Monday 28 April.

Bishop Liberio Andreatta, commenting on this unprecedented event, remarks: “Never in the history of Rome or in the history of the world has this occurred: two Pope Saints and two living Popes who knew them”. There is, therefore, a rich and varied agenda of activities preceding the event. Yesterday, French pilgrims began their “Path of Holiness” which will conclude on 27 April; it consists of an itinerary of art and faith taking in the five churches of the French community in Rome. Similarly, university students planning to attend the canonisation took part in Mass in the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. Today, at 6 p.m., pilgrims from Bergamo, the province where John XXIII was born, will gather in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, while at 7 p.m. a prayer vigil will begin at the church of Santa Maria in Montesanto, “the artists' church”, in Piazza del Popolo.

At 9 p.m. the “white night” of prayer will begin. Churches in the centre of Rome will remain open for prayer vigils or confession, and liturgical celebrations will take place in various languages in the churches of Sant' Agnese in Agone, San Marco al Campidoglio, Sant'Anastasia, Santissimo Nome di Gesu, Santa Maria in Vallicella, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Sant'Andrea della Valle, San Bartolomeo all'Isola Tiberina, Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio, the Holy Stigmata of St. Francis, the Twelve Apostles, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The young people of Catholic Action will meet in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionfale from 10.30 p.m. until 5 a.m on 27 April.

Tomorrow, 100 members of the ORP and 550 volunteers from Catholic associations will be available to assist those present in Via della Conciliazione, providing all types of information. From 5 a.m. eight buses will transport to St. Peter's Square 200 priests and deacons for the distribution of the Eucharist, as well as 5000 Roman priests and 200 seminarians from the capital and from Bergamo, who will attend the ceremony. Bishop Andreatta emphasises that entry to St. Peter's Square is free and there are no tickets. The Prefecture of the Papal Household has also issued a reminder to the public to be vigilant regarding ticket touting and requests for money from agencies and tour operators for the purposes of obtaining tickets, reiterating that participation in celebrations presided by the Holy Father is entirely free.

The municipality of Rome has made special transport provisions for this period. The metro lines will be open around the clock from 26 to 28 April, the number of buses in service will increase, policing will be reinforced and there will be fourteen mobile medical units, as well as 2,630 civil protection volunteers in active service.

The internet will also play a role during these special days. The Office of the Postulation of the Vicariate of Rome has created a free App, “Santo Subito”, available in four languages and providing news, maps, itineraries and an order of service for the canonisation ceremony, along with an agenda of all the events planned from 25 to 28 April.

The Vatican Museums are celebrating the canonisation with a photographic exhibition entitled “The humility and courage that changed history”, which presents 120 photographs of the two Pope saints. This photographic anthology, which will remain open to the public until 19 July, is divided into two sections: the first, entirely in black and white, narrates the pontificate of John XXIII, whereas the second, in colour, presents that of John Paul II, the longest of the twentieth century.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – Blessed Pope John XXIII was born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli at Sotto il Monte, Italy, in the Diocese of Bergamo on 25 November 1881. He was the fourth in a family of 14. The family worked as sharecroppers. It was a patriarchal family in the sense that the families of two brothers lived together, headed by his great-uncle Zaverio, who had never married and whose wisdom guided the work and other business of the family. Zaverio was Angelo's godfather, and to him he always attributed his first and most fundamental religious education. The religious atmosphere of his family and the fervent life of the parish, under the guidance of Fr. Francesco Rebuzzini, provided him with training in the Christian life.

He entered the Bergamo seminary in 1892. Here he began the practice of making spiritual notes, which he continued in one form or another until his death, and which have been gathered together in the “Journal of a Soul”. Here he also began the deeply cherished practice of regular spiritual direction. In 1896 he was admitted to the Secular Franciscan Order by the spiritual director of the Bergamo seminary, Fr. Luigi Isacchi; he made a profession of its Rule of life on 23 May 1897.

From 1901 to 1905 he was a student at the Pontifical Roman Seminary. On 10 August 1904 he was ordained a priest in the church of Santa Maria in Monte Santo in Rome's Piazza del Popolo. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the new Bishop of Bergamo, Giacomo Maria Radini Tedeschi. He accompanied the Bishop in his pastoral visitations and collaborated with him in his many initiatives: a Synod, management of the diocesan bulletin, pilgrimages, social works. In the seminary he taught history, patrology and apologetics. He was an elegant, profound, effective and sought-after preacher.

These were the years of his deepening spiritual encounter with two saints who were outstanding pastors: St Charles Borromeo and St Francis de Sales. They were years, too, of deep pastoral involvement and apprenticeship, as he spent every day beside "his" Bishop, Radini Tedeschi. When the Bishop died in 1914, Fr. Angelo continued to teach in the seminary and to minister in various pastoral areas.

When Italy went to war in 1915 he was drafted as a sergeant in the medical corps and became a chaplain to wounded soldiers. When the war ended, he opened a "Student House" for the spiritual needs of young people.

In 1919 he was made spiritual director of the seminary, but in 1921 he was called to the service of the Holy See. Benedict XV brought him to Rome to be the Italian president of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In 1925 Pius XI named him Apostolic Visitator in Bulgaria, raising him to the episcopate with the titular Diocese of Areopolis. For his Episcopal motto he chose Oboedientia et Pax, which became his guiding motto for the rest of his life.

On 19 March 1925 he was consecrated a Bishop and left for Bulgaria. He was granted the title of apostolic delegate and remained in Bulgaria until 1935, visiting Catholic communities and establishing relationships of respect and esteem with the other Christian communities. In the aftermath of the 1928 earthquake his solicitude was everywhere present. He endured in silence the misunderstandings and other difficulties of a ministry on the fringes of society, and thus refined his sense of trust and abandonment to Jesus crucified.

In 1935 he was appointed as apostolic delegate in Turkey and Greece. The Catholic Church was present in many ways in the young Turkish republic. His ministry among the Catholics was intense, and his respectful approach and dialogue with the worlds of Orthodoxy and Islam became a feature of his tenure. When the Second World War broke out he was in Greece. He tried to get news from the prisoners of war to their families and assisted many Jews to escape by issuing "transit visas" from the Apostolic Delegation. In December 1944 Pius XII appointed him Nuncio in France.

During the last months of the war and the beginning of peace he aided prisoners of war and helped to normalise the ecclesiastical organisation of France. He visited the great shrines of France and participated in popular feasts and in important religious celebrations. He was an attentive, prudent and positive observer of the new pastoral initiatives of the Bishops and clergy of France. His approach was always characterised by a striving for Gospel simplicity, even amid the most complex diplomatic questions. The sincere piety of his interior life found expression each day in prolonged periods of prayer and meditation. In 1953 he was created a Cardinal and sent to Venice as Patriarch. He was filled with joy at the prospect of ending his days in the direct care of souls, as he had always desired since becoming a priest. He was a wise and enterprising pastor, following the model pastors he had always venerated and walking in the footsteps of St Laurence Giustiniani, first Patriarch of Venice. As he advanced in years his trust in the Lord grew in the midst of energetic, enterprising and joyful pastoral labours.

At the death of Pius XII he was elected Pope on 28 October 1958, taking the name John XXIII. His pontificate, which lasted less than five years, presented him to the entire world as an authentic image of the Good Shepherd. Meek and gentle, enterprising and courageous, simple and active, he carried out the Christian duties of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy: visiting the imprisoned and the sick, welcoming those of every nation and faith, bestowing on all his exquisite fatherly care. His social magisterium in the Encyclicals Pacem in terris and Mater et Magistra was deeply appreciated.

He convoked the Roman Synod, established the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law and summoned the Second Vatican Council. He was present as Bishop in his Diocese of Rome through his visitation of the parishes, especially those in the new suburbs. The faithful saw in him a reflection of the goodness of God and called him "the good Pope". He was sustained by a profound spirit of prayer. He launched an extensive renewal of the Church, while radiating the peace of one who always trusted in the Lord. Pope John XXIII died on the evening of 3 June 1963, in a spirit of profound trust in Jesus and of longing for his embrace.

He was beatified by John Paul II on 3 September 2000. His liturgical feast day is 11 October, the day of the opening of Vatican Council II.

In his homily, John Paul II pronounced the following words about his predecessor:

“Today we contemplate in the glory of the Lord another Pontiff, John XXIII, the Pope who impressed the world with the friendliness of his manner which radiated the remarkable goodness of his soul. By divine design their beatification links these two Popes who lived in very different historical contexts but, beyond appearances, share many human and spiritual similarities. Pope John's deep veneration for Pius IX, to whose beatification he looked forward, is well known. During a spiritual retreat in 1959, he wrote in his diary: "I always think of Pius IX of holy and glorious memory, and by imitating him in his sacrifices, I would like to be worthy to celebrate his canonization" (Journal of a Soul, Ed. San Paolo, 2000, p. 560)”.

“Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times”.

“The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity”.

“In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness". We too wish to receive this testament, as we glorify God for having given him to us as a Pastor”.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – Karol Jozef Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in the Polish town of Wadowice, a small city fifty kilometres from Krakow, on 18 May 1920. He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941. A sister, Olga, had died before he was born.

He was baptised on June 20, 1920 in the parish church of Wadowice by Fr. Franciszek Zak, made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Krakow's Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.

The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.

In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Krakow. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the "Rhapsodic Theatre," also clandestine.

After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Krakow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Sapieha in Krakow on November 1, 1946.

Shortly afterwards, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the subject of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross (Doctrina de fide apud Sanctum Ioannem a Cruce). At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.

In 1948 he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Krakow as well as chaplain to university students. This period lasted until 1951 when he again took up his studies in philosophy and theology. In 1953 he defended a thesis on "evaluation of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler" at Lublin Catholic University. Later he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Krakow and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, he was appointed titular bishop of Ombi and auxiliary of Krakow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak.

On January 13, 1964, he was appointed archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal June 26, 1967 with the title of S. Cesareo in Palatio of the order of deacons, later elevated pro illa vice to the order of priests.

Besides taking part in Vatican Council II (1962-1965) where he made an important contribution to drafting the Constitution Gaudium et spes, Cardinal Wojtyla participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

The Cardinals elected him Pope at the Conclave of 16 October 1978, and he took the name of John Paul II. On 22 October, the Lord's Day, he solemnly inaugurated his Petrine ministry as the 263rd successor to the Apostle. His pontificate, one of the longest in the history of the Church, lasted nearly 27 years.

Driven by his pastoral solicitude for all Churches and by a sense of openness and charity to the entire human race, John Paul II exercised the Petrine ministry with a tireless missionary spirit, dedicating it all his energy. He made 104 pastoral visits outside Italy and 146 within Italy. As bishop of Rome he visited 317 of the city's 333 parishes.

He had more meetings than any of his predecessors with the people of God and the leaders of nations. More than 17,600,000 pilgrims participated in the General Audiences held on Wednesdays (more than 1160), not counting other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone), and the millions of faithful he met during pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world. We must also remember the numerous government personalities he encountered during 38 official visits, 738 audiences and meetings held with Heads of State, and 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

His love for young people brought him to establish the World Youth Days. The 19 WYDs celebrated during his pontificate brought together millions of young people from all over the world. At the same time his care for the family was expressed in the World Meetings of Families, which he initiated in 1994.

John Paul II successfully encouraged dialogue with the Jews and with the representatives of other religions, whom he several times invited to prayer meetings for peace, especially in Assisi.

Under his guidance the Church prepared herself for the third millennium and celebrated the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 in accordance with the instructions given in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio adveniente. The Church then faced the new epoch, receiving his instructions in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, in which he indicated to the faithful their future path.

With the Year of the Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist, he promoted the spiritual renewal of the Church.

He gave an extraordinary impetus to Canonizations and Beatifications, focusing on countless examples of holiness as an incentive for the people of our time. He celebrated 147 beatification ceremonies during which he proclaimed 1,338 Blesseds; and 51 canonizations for a total of 482 saints. He made Therese of the Child Jesus a Doctor of the Church.

He considerably expanded the College of Cardinals, creating 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore) in 9 consistories. He also called six full meetings of the College of Cardinals.

He organized 15 Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops - six Ordinary General Assemblies (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 2001), one Extraordinary General Assembly (1985) and eight Special Assemblies (1980,1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 (2) and 1999).

His most important Documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions, 45 Apostolic Letters.

He promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the light of Tradition as authoritatively interpreted by the Second Vatican Council. He also reformed the Eastern and Western Codes of Canon Law, created new Institutions and reorganized the Roman Curia.

As a private Doctor he also published five books of his own: "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (October 1994), "Gift and Mystery, on the fiftieth anniversary of my ordination as priest" (November 1996), "Roman Triptych" poetic meditations (March 2003), "Arise, Let us Be Going" (May 2004) and "Memory and Identity" (February 2005).

In the light of Christ risen from the dead, on 2 April a.D. 2005, at 9.37 p.m., while Saturday was drawing to a close and the Lord's Day was already beginning, the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church's beloved Pastor, John Paul II, departed this world for the Father.

From that evening until April 8, date of the funeral of the late Pontiff, more than three million pilgrims came to Rome to pay homage to the mortal remains of the Pope. Some of them queued up to twenty-four hours to enter St. Peter's Basilica.

On April 28, the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced that the normal five-year waiting period before beginning the cause of beatification and canonization would be waived for John Paul II. The cause was officially opened by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, on June 28 2005.

He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 1 May 2011, who, in his homily, remembered him thus:

“Today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium”.

“In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: 'When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: "The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium"'. And the Pope added: 'I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church - and especially with the whole episcopate - I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate'. And what is this 'cause'? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter's Square in the unforgettable words: 'Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!' What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan - a strength which came to him from God - a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others”.

“When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its 'helmsman', the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call 'the threshold of hope'. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an 'Advent' spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfilment of all our longings for justice and peace”.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – A letter was published today, in Latin and dated 21 March, by which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as his special envoy to the consecration of the shrine of St. Augustine of Hippo (recently restored) on the centenary of its elevation to a Basilica, which will take place in Annaba, Algeria on 2 May 2014. The mission accompanying the Cardinal will be composed of Msgr. Christian Mauvais, vicar general of the archdiocese of Algiers, and Fr. Michel Guillaud of the diocese of Constantine/Hippo.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Juan Orlando Hernandez Alvarado, president of the Republic of Honduras, with his wife and entourage.

- King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, and entourage.

- Bronislaw Komorowski, president of the Republic of Poland, with his wife and entourage.

Yesterday, Friday 25 April, the Holy Father received in audience Salvador Sanchez Ceren, president-elect of the Republic of El Salvador, with his wife and entourage.


Vatican City, 26 April 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Loikaw, Myanmar, presented by Bishop Sotero Phamo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, and has appointed Bishop Stephen Tjephe, auxiliary of the same diocese, as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis”.
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