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

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel. President Peres then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial talks, the political and social situation in the Middle East—where more than a few conflicts persist—was addressed. A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for, so that, with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region. Reference to the important issue of the City of Jerusalem was not overlooked. Particular worry for the conflict that plagues Syria was expressed, for which a political solution is hoped for that privileges the logic of reconciliation and dialogue.

A number of issues concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between state authorities and the local Catholic communities were also addressed. In conclusion, the significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission, which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest, was appreciated and its rapid conclusion is foreseen.


Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, in the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis was presented with the stamps issued jointly between the Vatican City State and Argentina, which are dedicated to the beginning of his pontificate.

The four stamps in the set, which reproduce photographic images of the new pontiff, have the values of: €0.70 (for mail to Italy); €0.85 (Europe); €2.00 (Africa, Asia, the Americas); and €2.50 (Oceania). There will be 250,000 complete series printed.

The Philatelic and Numismatic Office will issue, along with the stamp series, a stamp and coin card and an official collector's edition folder with the four stamps and a postcard of the first page of the extraordinary edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, from 13 March 2013 (the day of the new pontiff's election).


Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

   - appointed Bishop Audilio Aguilar Aguilar as bishop of Santiago de Veraguas (area 11,239, population 233,600, Catholics 211,343, priests 38, permanent deacons 2, religious 43), Panama. Bishop Aguilar, previously of Colon-Kuna Yala, Panama, has been vice-president of the Panamanian Bishops' Conference since 2010. He succeeds Bishop Oscar Mario Brown Jimenez, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

   - appointed Bishop Salvatore Visco as archbishop of Capua (area 500, population 198,700, Catholics 190,700, priests 83, permanent deacons 10, religious 297), Italy. The archbishop-elect, previously of Isernia-Venafro, Italy, was born in Naples, Italy in 1948, was ordained to the priesthood in 1973, and received episcopal ordination in 2007. He is currently vice-president of the Abruzzo-Molise region of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

   - appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo, almoner of His Holiness and titular archbishop of Balneoregium, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

   - appointed Fr. Jose Granados, D.C.J.M., vice dean of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome, Italy, as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City, 30 April 2013 (VIS) – Tomorrow, Wednesday 1 May, feast of St. Joseph the Worker and a holiday in the Vatican, no VIS bulletin will be transmitted. Service will resume on Wednesday 2 May.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pope's general prayer intention for May is: "That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience."

His mission intention is: “That seminaries, especially those of mission Churches, may form pastors after the Heart of Christ, fully dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel.”


Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) - The Council of Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE) will be meeting in London from 13 May to discuss Christian-Muslim relations. The meeting will be chaired by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be a keynote speaker.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, will celebrate Mass for the delegates at Westminster Cathedral on the second day of the conference.

The 32 participants represent 20 Bishops' Conferences, European Cultural and Church organisations, and experts in the field of Christian-Muslim dialogue. On the first day, Fr. Andrea Pacini, CCEE coordinator of the Christian-Muslim network and secretary for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the regional Bishops' Conference of Piedmont and the Aosta Valley, Italy, will address the theme of the conference “Dialogue and Proclamation”.

The second day will focus on reflection, dialogue, and shared experiences on the religious identity of young Christians and Muslims in Europe. Professor Brigitte Marechal from the University of Louvain and Dr. Erwin Tanner, general secretary of the Swiss Bishops' Conference will be the day's keynote speakers.

Delegates will describe the situation in their respective countries on the final day. Cardinal Tauran will look specifically at “What is new in relations between Muslims and the Catholic Church?”


Vatican City, 28 April 2013 (VIS) – “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord,” Pope Francis exhorted the 100,000 persons gathered this morning in St. Peter's Square to participate in the Mass at which he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 faithful from around the world, representing the Church around the world. In his homily, the Bishop of Rome reflected on three themes: the newness of God, the trials of life, and firm hope in the Lord. Following is the full text of his homily.

The Newness of God
In the second reading, we listened to the beautiful vision of Saint John: new heavens and a new earth, and then the Holy City coming down from God. All is new, changed into good, beauty and truth; there are no more tears or mourning. This is the work of the Holy Spirit: he brings us the new things of God. He comes to us and makes all things new; he changes us. The Spirit changes us! And Saint John’s vision reminds us that all of us are journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the ultimate newness which awaits us and all reality, the happy day when we will see the Lord’s face—that marvellous face, the most beautiful face of the Lord Jesus—and be with him for ever, in his love.

You see, the new things of God are not like the novelties of this world, all of which are temporary; they come and go, and we keep looking for more. The new things which God gives to our lives are lasting, not only in the future, when we will be with him, but today as well. God is even now making all things new; the Holy Spirit is truly transforming us, and through us he also wants to transform the world in which we live. Let us open the doors to the Spirit, let ourselves be guided by him, and allow God’s constant help to make us new men and women, inspired by the love of God which the Holy Spirit bestows on us! How beautiful it would be if each of you, every evening, could say: Today at school, at home, at work, guided by God, I showed a sign of love towards one of my friends, my parents, an older person! How beautiful!

The Trials of Life
A second thought. In the first reading Paul and Barnabas say that “we must undergo many trials if we are to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The journey of the Church, and our own personal journeys as Christians, are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials. To follow the Lord, to let his Spirit transform the shadowy parts of our lives, our ungodly ways of acting, and cleanse us of our sins, is to set out on a path with many obstacles, both in the world around us but also within us, in the heart. But difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged! We have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these trials!

Firm Hope in the Lord
And here I come to my last point. It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness. The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people!

The new things of God, the trials of life, remaining steadfast in the Lord. Dear friends, let us open wide the door of our lives to the new things of God which the Holy Spirit gives us. May he transform us, confirm us in our trials, strengthen our union with the Lord, our steadfastness in him: this is a true joy! So may it be.


Vatican City, 28 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrating the Rite of Confirmation, the Holy Father prayed the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before concluding this celebration,” he said, “I want to entrust all those who have been confirmed and all of you to Our Lady. The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to welcome the newness of God in our lives. She conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and every Christian, each one of us, is called to welcome the Word of God, to welcome Jesus within ourselves and then to bring him to all. Mary called upon the Spirit with the Apostles in the Cenacle. We as well, each time we gather in prayer, are sustained by the spiritual presence of Jesus' Mother to receive the gift of the Spirit and to have the strength to witness to the Risen Jesus.”

After affectionately greeting the pilgrims from all six inhabited continents, the Pope recalled the many victims of factory that collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh this past Wednesday, 24 April. “I would like to offer up a prayer for [them]. I express my solidarity and deepest sympathy to the families mourning their loved ones and from the depths of my heart I make a strong appeal that the dignity and safety of the worker may may always be protected.”


Vatican City, 27 April 2013 (VIS) - Made public today was a letter, written in Latin, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland, as his special envoy to the celebration for the 600th anniversary of the Cathedral Basilica of Kaunas, Lithuania, scheduled for 5 May 2013.

The Cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Vytautas Vaicunas, vice dean of the Faculty of Theology in Kaunas and Msgr. Arturas Jagelavicius, professor in the same faculty and judicial pro-vicar of the Archdiocese of Kaunas.


Vatican City, 29 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received

   - Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (in Institutes of Study),

   - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, titular of Cibalae and secretary general of the Synod of Bishops,

   - Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, titular of Victoriana and apostolic nuncio to Colombia, with members of his family,

   - Archbishop Michael Wallace Banach, titular of Memphis and apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guinea, with members of his family, and

   - Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, titular of Suelli and apostolic nuncio to Benin, with members of his family.

On Saturday, 27 April, the Holy Father received:

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

   - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).


Vatican City, 27 April 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Fr. Omar de Jesus Mejia Giraldo as bishop of Florencia (area 15,441, population 277,000, Catholics 239,000, priests 51, permanent deacons 5, religious 67), Colombia. The bishop-elect, previously rector of the Cristo Sacerdote Major Seminary in La Ceja, Colombia, was born in El Santuario, Department of Antioquia, Colombia, in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1991.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Vatican City, 26 April 2013 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Andry Nirina Rajoelina, president of the High Transitional Authority of Madagascar. President Rajoelina then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial talks, the good relations existing between the Holy See and the Republic of Madagascar were focused on and some aspects of the country's situation were examined. In particular, Madagascar's efforts in the quest for stability and democracy, greater economic development, and reconstruction of international relations were noted. The Malagasy Church's significant contribution in supporting national dialogue and its indispensable capillary commitment in the areas of health and education were highlighted.


Vatican City, 26 April 2013 (VIS) – The journey of faith is not alienating, it is a preparation for arriving at our final destiny. These were the Pope's words during today's homily of the Mass he celebrated this morning at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. In attendance were employees of the Vatican Typography, the labour office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), and members of Corps of the Gendarmerie.

Pope Francis commented on Jesus' words to his disciples in today's Gospel: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “Jesus' words are truly beautiful. At the moment of his farewell, Jesus speaks to his disciples, but from the heart. He knows that his disciples are sad … and He begins to speak of what? About heaven, about their final homeland. 'Have faith [in God] and also in me? … Using the image of an engineer, of an architect telling them what He is going to do: 'I am going to prepare you a place, in my Father's house there are many dwelling places.' And Jesus goes to prepare a place for us.”

Preparing a place means “preparing our possibility to enjoy, … our possibility to see, to fell, to understand the beauty of what awaits us, of that homeland towards which we walk. All of Christian life is Jesus' labour, the Holy Spirit's, to prepare us a place, to prepare our eyes to be able to see … our hearing to be able to hear the beautiful things, the beautiful words. Above all, to prepare our hearts … to love, to love more.”

Along our lives' path, the pontiff repeated, the Lord prepares our hearts “with trials, with consolations, with tribulations, with good things. The entire journey of our lives is a path of preparation. Sometimes the Lord has to do it quickly, like He did with the Good Thief. There were just a few minutes to prepare him and He did it. But it generally happens that way in our lives, doesn't it? Letting him prepare our hearts, our eyes, our hearing to arrive at this homeland. Because that is our homeland.”

But some would say “that all these thoughts are an alienation, that we are alienated, that this is life, the concrete, and beyond it you don't know what might be. … But Jesus tells us that it is not thus. He tells us: 'Have faith in me as well.' What I am telling you is the truth: I am not tricking you; I am not deceiving you.”

Preparing oneself for heaven,” the Bishop of Rome finished, “is beginning to greet him from afar. This is not an alienation. This is the truth. This is letting Jesus prepare our hearts, our eyes, for that great beauty. It is the path of beauty, the path of our return to the homeland. May God grant us the hope, courage, and humility to let the Lord prepare us a place!”


Vatican City, 26 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

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

   - Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, titular of Vicohabentia and president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive Senator Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy, on his farewell visit.


Vatican City, 26 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:

   - accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Klerksdorp, South Africa, presented by Bishop Zithulele Patrick Mvemve in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale, O.M.I., of Johannesburg, South Africa, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the same diocese.

   - appointed Fr. Juan Antonio Menendez Fernandez as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Oviedo (area 10,565, population 1,088,000, Catholics 1,034,000, priests 533, religious 1,009), Spain, assigning him the Titular See of Nasai. The bishop-elect, previously pastor of San Nicolas de Bari parish in Aviles, Asturias, Spain, and episcopal vicar for Juridical Affairs of the same archdiocese, was born in Villamarin de Salcedo, Asturias, Spain, in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1981.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pope presided over Mass this morning, the feast of the Evangelist St. Mark, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Among those present were members of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, accompanied by their secretary general, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic.

Francis, noting that today's Gospel narrates Jesus' Ascension, emphasized that, before he was taken up into heaven, the Lord sent his Apostles to proclaim the Gospel “to the ends of the earth, not just in Jerusalem or in Galilee. … The horizon is wide and, as you can see, this is the nature of the Church's missionary action. The Church goes forward with this proclaiming to all, to all the world. But she does not go forward alone: she goes with Jesus. … The Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel.”

The Bishop of Rome also referenced the First Letter of Peter, which defines the Christian style of preaching; “humility, service, charity, fraternal love. But—'Lord, we have to conquer the world!' That word, 'conquer', doesn't belong. We have to preach to the world. The Christian cannot be like the soldiers who, when they win the battle, make a clean sweep of everything. The Christian announces the Gospel by his witness more than by his words, and this goes two ways...: a great spirit is not frightened by great things, of going forward toward unending horizons, and the humility of being aware of the little things.”


Vatican City, 25 April 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, around 6:00pm, the Holy Father Francis, of his own initiative, called the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, to thank him for his telegram of greetings and well wishes on the Pope's saint's day. The Pope expressed his appreciation with these words: “Mr. President, I called to thank you for your example. You have been an example for me. With your conduct, you have brought to life the fundamental principle of coexistence: that unity is greater than conflict. I am touched by your decision.”

Last week, Giorgio Napolitano, who is 87 years old, accepted the petition to be a candidate for the presidency of the Italian Republic owning to inconclusive general elections in February caused by the severe institutional crisis the country is undergoing. On Monday, 20 April, he became the first president of the Republic to be re-elected to a second term, a majority of votes in the Italian Parliament supporting his candidacy.


Vatican City, 25 April 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Family, in a note issued today, declares that “there is no basis to the news, circulated by some press agencies, that a document on distributing communion to remarried divorced persons is being prepared.”


Vatican City, 25 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts,

six members of the presidency of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM):
    - Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, president,
    - Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, first vice president,
    - Archbishop Dimas Lara Barbosa of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, second vice president,
    - Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales. auxiliary of Valparaiso, Chile, secretary general,
    - Bishop Carlos Maria Collazzi Irazabal, S.D.B., of Mercedes, Uruguay, president of the economic council, and
    - Fr. Leonidas Ortiz Losada, adjunct secretary general, and

- Rabbi Isaac Sacca, Chief Rabbi of the Sephardic Community of Buenos Aires, Argentina and president of Menora (international youth organization), with his entourage.

This afternoon, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive Cardinal Franc Rode, C.M., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.


Vatican City, 25 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Besancon, France, presented by Archbishop Andre Lacrampe, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Fr. Rafael Valdivieso Miranda as bishop of Chitre (area 6,146, population 203,000, Catholics 199,000, priests 28, permanent deacons 3, religious 37), Panama. The bishop-elect, previously rector of the San Jose Major Seminary of Panama, was born in David, Panama in 1968 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He succeeds Bishop Fernando Torres Duran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


atican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of his Wednesday general audience to three Gospel texts that help us to enter into the mystery of one of the truths professed in the Creed: that Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. The three texts are: the parable of the ten virgins; the parable of the talents; and the final judgement. They all form part of Jesus' teaching on the end of time in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Before the more than 75,000 persons filling St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father spoke of the “'immediate time' between Jesus' first and final comings, which is precisely the time in which we are living. The parable of the ten virgins is located within this context.” They are awaiting the Bridegroom but fall asleep because he is late in arriving. Five of them, who are wise, keep oil aside and can light their lamps when the Bridegroom arrives unexpectedly. The other, foolish ones, do not have it and, while they look for it, the nuptial celebrations have already begun and the door to enter into the banquet is closed to them.

The Bridegroom is the Lord and the time of awaiting his arrival is the time that He gives us, with mercy and patience, before his final coming. It is a time of vigilance, a time in which we must keep the lamps of faith, hope, and love lit. [It is a time] to keep our hearts open to the good, to beauty, and to truth; a time to live according to God because we do not know either the day or the hour of Christ's return. What is asked of us is to be prepared for the encounter, which means knowing how to read the signs of his presence, to keep our faith alive with prayer and the Sacraments, and to be vigilant so as not to fall asleep, not to forget God. The life of Christians who are sleeping is a sad life, not a happy life. Christians must be happy, [feeling] the joy of Jesus.”

The second parable, of the talents, “makes us reflect on the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return when he will ask us how we have used them. … This tells us that our awaiting the Lord's return is a time of action … time to make the most of God's gifts, nor for ourselves, but for him, for the Church, for others. [It is] the time in which to always seek to make good grow in the world. Particularly in this time of crisis, today, it is important not to be locked up in ourselves, removing our talents, our spiritual and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but to open ourselves, to be compassionate, to be attentive to others.”

In the square today there are many young persons. Is this true? Are there many youth? Where are they? To you, who are at the beginning of life's path, I ask: have you thought of the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how to put them at the service of others? Don't take your talents away! Bet on great ideals, those ideals that enlarge our hearts, those ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. We were not given life so that we might hold it back, jealously, for ourselves, but it was given to us so that we might offer it. Dear young persons, you have great souls! Don't be afraid to dream of great things!”

The Holy Father then spoke of the story of the final judgement that tells of the second coming of the Lord when He will judge all human beings, living and dead. At his right hand will be those who have acted in accordance with God's will, helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned—I said 'foreigner'. I am thinking of all the foreigners who are here in the Diocese of Rome. What are we doing for them?“ the Pope asked.

In the story, at the Lord's left hand are those who did not assist their neighbour. “This tells us that we will be judged by God on charity, on how we have love our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and most needy of them. Of course, we always have to keep in mind that we are judged, we are saved by grace, by an act of God's gratuitous love that always precedes us. Alone we can do nothing. Faith is foremost a gift that we have received. But, to bear fruit, God's grace always requires our openness to him, our free and concrete response. Christ comes to bring us the mercy of the God who saves. We have been asked to entrust ourselves to him, to make our good lives—made of deeds inspired by faith and love—match the gift of his love.”

Looking to the final judgement must never frighten us,” the pontiff concluded. “Rather, it urges us to live the present better. With mercy and patience, God offers us this time so that we might learn every day to recognize him in the poor and the small, might strive for the good, and might be vigilant in prayer and love. The Lord, at the end of our existence and of history, may then recognize us as good and faithful servants.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of his catechesis, Pope Francis spoke of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Syria—Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch—who were kidnapped by a group of armed men who killed their driver, a deacon, while they were on a humanitarian mission.

The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering. While I recall in my prayers both bishops, that they might return soon to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts and I renew the urgent appeal that I made on Easter, that the bloodshed cease. May the necessary humanitarian assistance be given to the people and may a political solution to the crisis be found as soon as possible.”

Yesterday, 23 April, as well, the Press Office of the Holy See issued a communique saying that the Pope, informed of the kidnapping, “is following the events with deep participation and is ... praying that, with the commitment of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and that real hopes of peace and reconciliation may rise on the horizon.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to presentat the next two events scheduled for the Year of Faith: the Day of Confirmands (27-28 April) and the Day of Confraternities and Popular Piety (3-5 April). Participating in the press conference were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Bishop Jose Octavio Ruiz Arena, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

Archbishop Fisichella explained that the common denominator of the events, which will take place in Rome with the Holy Father, will be “of highlighting pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter. That is why, the day before, the participants will take part in a symbolic procession from the obelisk in St. Peter's Square to the tomb of the Apostle where they will pray the Creed. Along the way there will be a brief catechesis to recall the significance of the places that we find ourselves at and their historic meaning for the faith.”

The first event will take place this 27-28 April and will be dedicated to all those who have or who will receive receive the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. “Already more than 70,000 youth, accompanied by their catechists and priests, have signed up. This presence shows the enthusiasm with which they have joined in the initiative and the great turn-out that we should expect.”

For the first time, Pope Francis will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 44 youth from around the world, symbolically representing the entire Church. “They are youth,” the archbishop said, “ who show the face of the Church there where people are living and suffering, to give all hope and certainty for the future.” But there will not just be youth in attendance since there is no uniformity on the age at which to receive the Sacrament and the ages of the confirmands who are coming stretches from 11 to 55.

The second important event, which over 50,000 persons have already signed up for, will take place from 3 to 5 May and will be dedicated to popular piety. The Confraternities, particularly from the countries where the tradition is strongest, will give witness to the different local traditions that have resulted from a religiosity that has been expressed through the centuries with initiatives and works of art that have lasted to this day. The event's culminating moment will be Mass celebrated by the Pope on Sunday at 10:00am in St. Peter's Square.

It will be “a moment of faith,” the prelate concluded, “that finds, in the simplicity of the expressions of popular piety, its most deep-rooted core in our people who live these signs uninterruptedly as a reminder of the faith of previous generations and as a tradition that should be witnessed to with courage and enthusiasm.”


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – In the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican yesterday, the feast of St. George, the Holy Father presided at Mass with the cardinals resident in Rome, thanking them for their presence: “Thank you,” he said, “because I feel very well welcomed. I feel good with you and that pleases me.”

In the homily, Francis commented on the first reading of the day's liturgy that narrates the story of the first Christians who escaped persecution in Jerusalem, travelling to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, where they began to spread the Good News, among the Greeks as well. “At that moment when persecution breaks out,” the Pope said, “the Church's missionary activity breaks out.”

But in Jerusalem, they didn't understand how it was possible to preach to non-Jews. “A little nervous, they sent an Apostolic Visit, they sent Barnabas. Perhaps, a bit humorously,” Pope Francis explained, “we can say that this was the theological beginning of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, this Apostolic Visit by Barnabas. He observed and he saw that things were going well. The Church thus is more a Mother: a Mother of more children, of many children. She becomes … more and more a Mother: a Mother who gives us faith, a Mother who gives us our identity. But our Christian identity is not an ID card. Christian identity is a belonging to the Church because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church, because finding Jesus outside of the Church is not possible. The great Paul VI said: it is an absurd dichotomy to want to live with Jesus but outside of the Church. And that Mother church who gives us Jesus gives us an identity that is not merely a seal; it is a belonging. Identity means belonging.”

The Pope then spoke of the three ideas that the story brought to his mind: the first was of the beginning of the mission, the second the Church as Mother, and the third the joy of the evangelizer that Barnabas feels when he see the immense crowd listening to the preaching. “Thus the Church advances … among the world's persecutions and the Lord's consolation. … If we want to travel the path or worldliness, negotiating with the world … we will never have the Lord's consolation. And, if we only seek his consolation, it will be a superficial one, … a human consolation. The Church always goes between the Cross and the Resurrection … This is the path. Whoever travels by this path will not be mistaken.”

Let us think today of the Church's missionary activity: in those disciples … who have the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, something almost scandalous at that time. Let us think of the Mother church who grows, grows with new children to whom she fives the identity of faith because one cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. … and let us think of the consolation that Barnabas had, 'the sweet and consoling joy of evangelizing'. And let us ask the Lord … for this apostolic fervour, that urges us to go forward, as brothers and sisters, all of us: forward!. Let us go forward bearing Jesus' name at the heart of the Holy Mother Church.”

After the Eucharistic celebration, the Swiss Guard Musical Band offered the Pope a short concert in the Saint Damasus Courtyard, to wish him a happy saint's day.


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.


Vatican City, 24 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Liro Vendelino Meurer as bishop of Santo Angelo (area 19,293, population 554,000, Catholics 404,000, priests 80, permanent deacons 1, religious 265), Brazil. Bishop Meurer was previously auxiliary of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and titular of Thucca in Numidia. He succeeds Bishop Jose Clemente Weber, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Bishop Moacir Silva as metropolitan archbishop of Ribeirao Preto (area 8,782, population 1,097,000, Catholics 769,000, priests 149, permanent deacons 14, religious 224), Brazil. Archbishop-elect Silva, previously bishop of Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, was born in 1954 in Sao Jose dos Campos, was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2004. He currently serves as a member of the National Bishops' Commission for Ecclesiastic Tribunals of second instance and as vice president of the Regional Bishops' Conference of the state of Sao Paulo.

Yesterday, 23 April, the Holy Father extended the jurisdiction of Bishop John Michael Botean, of the Eparchy of Saint George's in Canton of the Romanians, over the Greek-Catholic Romanians present in the entire territory of Canada.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Vatican City, 22 April 2013 (VIS) – The reflection on Jesus as the “door” to enter into the Kingdom of God was the central theme of this morning's Mass celebrated by the Pope in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at which the personnel of the Press Office of the Holy See and various technicians of Vatican Radio were in attendance.

The Holy Father recalled that in today's Gospel, which narrated the story of the Good Shepherd, Jesus asserted that: “whoever doesn't enter the sheepfold by the gate is not the shepherd. … He is a thief or a robber,” the Pope said, “someone seeking his own profit. ...There are also such people in the Christian community, who seek their own profit and, consciously or unconsciously, pretend to enter at the door. But they are thieves … because the steal Jesus' glory and seek their own. … They have not entered by the true door. … The true door is Jesus and whoever does not enter by this door errs.”

How do we know that the true door is Jesus?” the pontiff asked. “Reading what the Beatitudes say, as they are told in St. Matthew: 'Be humble, be poor, be meek, be just' … When they give you another suggestion, don't listen to it. The door is always Jesus and whoever enters by that door is not mistaken. Jesus isn't only the door; He is the way, the path. There are many paths: some seems more advantageous for arriving but they are misleading. They are false.”

Let us ask today for the grace to always knock at that door. … Sometimes we have problems doing so. But we don't have to go looking for other, easier doors. The door is Jesus, who doesn't disappoint, who doesn't deceive. He has given his life for us. And each of us has to say: 'You have given your life for me, open, please, that I might enter. Open, Lord, because I want to enter by 'this' door, not by that other,” Pope Francis concluded.


Vatican City, 22 April 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State, sent a short message on behalf of the Holy Father to the organizers and participants in the National Eucharistic Congress that is being held in Costa Rica with the theme of “Eucharist: Bread of Life for Our People”.

The Pope invites all to “intensify their prayer lives, making the Eucharist the true centre of Christian communities, where praise and thanksgiving are the impetus to a renewed commitment to evangelization and ecclesial communion. May the Blessed Sacrament at the altar give all the Baptised plentiful spiritual energy to build a world that is ever more just and harmonious, according to the message of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

With these regards,” the text concludes, “the Supreme Pontiff entrusts to the loving protection of Our Lady of the Angels, the pastors and faithful who have made the pilgrimage to the House of the Father in Costa Rica. As a sign of abundant heavenly gifts, he affectionately imparts to them the besought Apostolic Blessing.”


Vatican City, 22 April 2013 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that next Sunday, 28 April, the Fifth Sunday of Easter at 10:00am in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father Francis will celebrate Mass for confirmands who have come in pilgrimage to Rome from around the world for the Year of Faith. He will administer the sacrament of Confirmation to some of them.


Vatican City, 22 April 2013 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that next Sunday, 28 April, at 11:00am, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, will take possession of the title of St. Gerardo Maiella on Via Romolo Balzani, 74.


Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis conferred priestly ordination upon ten deacons from several Roman diocesan seminaries: the Major Seminary, the Seminary of the Oblates, the sanctuary of the Virgin of Divine Love, and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for Rome, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, O. Carm., vice gerent of the diocese of Rome, auxiliary bishops, and the superiors of the seminaries from which the new priests came.

The homily delivered by the Bishop of Rome was based on the one that appears in the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, with one or two personal additions, mainly emphasizing the mercy that must characterize the new priests. Following are ample extracts from his homily.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.”

Now ... you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the Word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith! ... Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach. Remember too that the Word of God is not your property: it is the Word of God. And the Church is the custodian of the Word of God.”

You will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. … You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly.”

Remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.”

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”


Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica for the ordination of ten deacons, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope explained that the fourth Sunday of Easter is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, citing the four verses that contain “Jesus' entire message”. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:27-30).

Jesus wants to establish a relationship with his friends that reflects the one he has with the Father: a relationship of mutual belonging in complete confidence, in intimate communion.” To express this it is necessary to use the image of the sheep who recognize the voice of the shepherd and follow him. “The mystery of the voice is suggestive. Already at our mother's breast we learn to recognize her voice, and that of our father. By someone's tone of voice we can perceive love or contempt, affection or coldness. Jesus' voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it, He guides us on the path of life, a path that even overcomes the abyss of death.”

However, referring to his sheep, Jesus also says: “My Father, who has given them to me. This is very important. It is a profound mystery that is not easy to understand. If I feel attracted to Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father who has put this desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty within me. And Jesus is all this completely. This helps us to understand the mystery of vocation, especially of the call to a special consecration.”

Today there are many young persons in the piazza,” the pontiff observed. “I want to ask you, has there been a time when you have heard the Lord's voice, who through a desire, a restlessness, has invited you to follow him more closely? … Youth needs to put its high ideals into action. Have you thought of this? … Ask Jesus what He wants of you and be courageous! … Behind and before each vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone's strong and intense prayer: a grandmother, a grandfather,a mother, a father, a community. This is why Jesus said 'ask the master of the harvest—that is, God the Father—to send out labourers for his harvest'. Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer. Only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I would like to emphasize that today is the 'World Day of Prayer for Vocations'. Let us pray in particular for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome who I had the joy or ordaining this morning. … And let us call upon the intercession of Mary, who is the Woman of the 'Yes'. She said 'Yes' her entire life. She learned to recognize Jesus' voice from when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to always know better Jesus' voice and to follow it, to walk in the path of life.”


Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – After the Regina Coeli, the Pope asked for prayers for those suffering from the political violence in Venezuela and from the earthquake in China.

I am following attentively the events that are happening in Venezuela,” the Pontiff said. “I accompany them with deep concern, with intense prayer, and with the hope that you will seek and find ways to overcome, with justice and peace, this moment of serious difficulty that the country is undergoing. I call upon the beloved Venezuelan people, especially institutional and political decision makers, to firmly reject any type of violence and to establish a dialogue based in truth, mutual recognition, in the search for the common good, and in love for the Nation. I ask believers to pray and work for reconciliation and peace. Let us join together in a prayer full of hope for Venezuela, placing it in the hands of Our Lady of Coromoto.”

My thoughts are also with, the pontiff continued, “those who have been affected by the earthquake that struck the south-west of mainland China. We pray for the victims and those who are suffering because of the violent earthquake.”

The Pope also noted that, this afternoon in Sondrio, Italy, Fr. Nicolo Rusca, who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries, will be beatified. “For a long time he was an exemplary pastor in Sondrio and he fell victim to the political-religious conflicts that were afflicting Europe at that time. Let us give thanks to God for his witness.”

Finally, he spoke of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which was “born 50 years ago thanks to the happy intuition of Pope Paul VI. I invite everyone to pray that the Lord send many workers to his vineyard. St. Annibale Maria di Francia, apostle of prayer for vocations, remind us of this very important task.”


Vatican City, 20 April 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a telegram to the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, on the occasion of his re-election.

At this moment in which you, with ready willingness and a spirit of sacrifice, have again accepted the supreme magistrature of the Italian State as President of the Republic, I wish to express my most sincere and heartfelt best wishes. Wishing that you may continue your enlightened and wise activity, supported by the responsible cooperation of all, I invoke upon your person and your exalted service to the Nation, constant divine assistance. I wholeheartedly impart to you and to the beloved Italian Nation, the Apostolic Blessing, as encouragement to building a future of harmony, solidarity, and hope.”


Vatican City, 20 April 2013 (VIS) – Following is the text of the telegram sent, on behalf of the Holy Father, by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, USA for the explosion Wednesday night of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, USA which has caused 14 deaths and hundreds of wounded to date.

Saddened by news of the destruction caused by the explosion in West, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the civil authorities and the afflicted families. He prays for the eternal rest of the victims and implores God’s blessings of consolation and peace upon those who mourn and all who generously aid in the continuing work of relief.”


Vatican City, 20 April 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, accompanied by Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, under secretary of the same dicastery, visited the Russian Monastery of the Dormition in Rome on the occasion of the arrival of some aspirants to the monastic life these past months.

The cardinal recalled the great richness of the Eastern monastic tradition at the heart of the Church of Rome, called to preside in charity over the entire Church, and offering its prayers in a special way for the intentions of the universal Pastor, Pope Francis. These prayers, the prefect affirmed, will sustain the life of all the Oriental Catholic Churches, which are often beset by suffering and persecution, and they will represent an inestimable assistance on the path toward the reconciliation and unity of all Christians.

The community, which supported itself in the past by creating icons and liturgical vestments for bishops and priests, will resume the activity of its workshops.

The Monastery of the Dormition of Mary (Uspenskij in Slavic) was officially established on 15 December 1957, in realization of the wishes and commitment of the then-secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Eugenio Tisserant, as well as the dedication of the Jesuit fathers. Founded during the years of persecution that the Church behind the Iron Curtain suffered, the monastery was blessed by Pope Pius XII so that it might contribute, with its prayers, to the spiritual rebirth of the Eastern European lands, especially Russia. In an audience granted to Cardinal Tisserant in 1956, he agreed to the establishment in Rome of a Russian monastery for women in order to “beg the clemency of God Almighty toward the Russian peoples”.

The monastery's liturgy, as Cardinal Tisserant desired, is in the Byzantine Rite, always carried out in communion with the Bishop of Rome, who is named seven times in the daily office of prayers. For more than 50 years this prayer has continued without interruption. The monastery has been considered an island of Russia, through which Russian students, prelates, monks, and nuns have passed, feeling themselves at home. One such visitor was the current patriarch of Moscow, Kirill I, who came to know the monastery when he was a young priest.


Vatican City, 22 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

eight prelates of the Umbria region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve,
- Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino,
- Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia,
- Bishop Mario Ceccobelli of Gubbio,
- Bishop Benedetto Tuzia of Orvieto-Todi,
- Bishop Domenico Cancian, F.A.M., of Città di Castello,
- Bishop Gualtiero Sigismondi of Foligno,
- Bishop Ernesto Vecchi, titular Bishop of Lemellefa, Apostolic Administrator of Terni-Narni-Amelia, and

Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia.

On Saturday, 20 April, the Holy Father received:

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

- Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.


Vatican City, 20 April 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed:

Fr. Stanislaw Jamrozek as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Przemysl (area 9,750, population 741,500, Catholics 730,000, priests 1,027, religious 1,312), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Malawa, Poland in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1989. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral, academic, and administrative roles, most recently as spiritual director and Theology professor at the Major Seminary of Przemysl. He is an ordinary canon “de numero” of the Cathedral Chapter. The Holy Father has assigned him the Titular See of Chelm.

Fr. Alejandro W. Bunge, judicial vicar of the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Buenos Aires, Argentina, as prelate auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Vatican City, 19 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Rafael Correa Delgado, president of the Republic of Equador. President Correa then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

During the talks, which were held in an atmosphere of cordiality, the Catholic Church's significant contribution in the various sectors of the country's social life and the importance of sincere and permanent dialogue between the Church and the State to address fundamental societal challenges were discussed.

Then, the centrality of social justice and the value of solidarity and subsidiarity in seeking the common good were emphasized. Finally, issues regarding current events in the region, respect for indigenous peoples and their culture, as well as environmental protection were treated.


Vatican City, 19 April 2013 (VIS) – Beginning 3 May until the end of October (except during the month of August) the Vatican Museums will host 21 evenings of music. Every Friday the Museums will have special hours from 7:30pm until 11:00pm. During these special openings, the music of Brahms, Debussy, Beethoven, Respighi, Piazzolla, Mendelssohn, and others will be offered in the Rooms of Raphael, the Gregorian Museum, the terraces of the Pinacoteca, or the Courtyard of the Pinecone in concerts beginning at 8:30pm and lasting around an hour.

The musical series, entitled “Beauty to be Heard” is the result of a collaboration between the Vatican Museums, the Venaria Real (the Royal Palace of Turin, Italy, a Baroque masterpiece declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the Giuseppe Verdi National Conservatory of Turin. The initiative was born of the conviction that the Museums and the Venaria Real are not simply collections, architecture, history, or culture from the past, but the ideal meeting place for all those who want to transform art into a passion to be shared. In the "Room of the Signatura" of Raphael's Stanze, two winged cupids in the lunette above the Parnassus Wall—where Apollo, the god of Beauty and Poetry, surrounded by the Muses representing all the Arts, plays a lyre—bear signs reading “Numine afflatur”, inviting us to contemplate that Art, in all its manifestations, is inspired by divinity.

The beauty of music and the beauty of the figurative arts go hand in hand, Raphael says, portraying Apollo at the centre of his celestial court. This unity is what the youth of the Giuseppe Verdi National Conservatory wish to demonstrate in their Friday concerts at the Vatican Museums. The initiative also includes Saturday performances at the Venaria Reale during the summer months.

The Vatican Museums administration has also provided for a series of thematic guided visits on the musical iconography within the Museums. The complete schedule of “Il Bello da Sentire” (Beauty to be Heard) with the information regarding the places where the concerts will take place and details of the guided “musical” visits is available, in Italian, on the Vatican Museum website: www.museivaticani.va.


Vatican City, 19 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received:

- His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, and

- His Excellency Mr. Antun Sbutega, ambassador of the Republic of Montenegro, on his farewell visit.


Vatican City, 19 April 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed Fr. Milan Lach, S.J., as auxiliary of the Archeparchy of Presov for Catholics of Byzantine rite (Catholics 123,373, priests 294, permanent deacons 2, religious 126), Slovak Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Kezmarok, Slovakia in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 2001. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and academic roles, most recently as vice dean for Foreign Relations and Development in the Theology faculty of the University of Trnava, Slovakia. The Holy Father has assigned him the Titular See of Ostracine.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) - “The Holy Father shares your sorrow, and that of the many mothers and families who have and are suffering the tragic loss of their loved ones at this moment in Argentina's history.” These are the words that the Pope addressed to Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in a letter dated 10 April and signed by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.

The Bishop of Rome thus responded to the letter that Hebe de Bonafini sent to him this past 21 March, gladdened by Cardinal Bergoglio's commitment in the “slums” of Buenos Aires and asking him to join with “all those in this unjust world who are fighting for an end to poverty.”

The Pope, writes Msgr. Camilleri, expresses his gratitude for the letter and responds to “your kindness, asking God for the strength for the fight, in the ministry that he has just accepted, for the eradication of poverty in the world, so that the suffering of so many who are in need might cease. His Holiness appreciates and highly esteems those who are close to the most disadvantaged and who make the effort to assist them, understand them, and meet their aspirations. In his prayers, he also asks that those responsible for the common good be enlightened so that they might fight the scourge of poverty with effective, equable, and caring means.”

The letter concludes with the Pope's blessing “as a sign of hope and support, at the same time asking the favour that they pray for and have prayers said for him.”

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo is an association of Argentinian mothers created in 1977 to denounce the disappearance of their children during the time of the Military Junta that controlled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Since 1977 they have assembled every Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada (the “Pink House”, seat of the Argentinian government) to protest for the crimes committed during that era and to keep alive the memory of the desaparecidos.


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) – The German multinational financial services company Allianz Group, present in over 70 countries and with over 78 million clients worldwide, has awarded the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., as their Communicator of the Year.

The prize was awarded this morning during a meeting of the company's communications directors who meet once a year in a European capital to analyse themes and strategies tied to the world of communications with the assistance of experts in the field.

Among the reasons for this year's award, Allianz notes that Fr. Lombardi “represents the key to understanding and interpreting the Holy See with great refinement and experience, without seeking to make himself the protagonist.” The text of the award adds that the Press Office Director has always been “at the service of information, from both the side of the one who has it as well as that of the one who seeks it.”


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received:

- His Excellency Antonio Carlos Carvalho de Almeida Ribeiro, the new ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters,

- His Beatitude Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, Syria, and

eight prelates of the Triveneto region of the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

  - Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trento,

  - Archbishop Andrea Bruno Mazzocato of Udine,

  - Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, bishop of Trieste,

  - Archbishop Carlo Roberto Maria Redaelli of Gorizia,

  - Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin, O.F.M. Conv., bishop of Treviso,

  - Bishop Corrado Pizziolo of Vittorio Veneto,

  - Bishop Giuseppe Pellegrini of Concordia-Pordenone, and

  - Bishop Ivo Muser of Bolzano-Bressanone.


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Djuro Hranic as metropolitan archbishop of Dakovo-Osijek (area 7,752, population 643,892, Catholics 548,137, priests 250, permanent deacons 1, religious 423), Croatia. Bishop Hranic, previously auxiliary of the same ecclesiastic circumscription, was born in Vinkovci, Croatia in 1961, was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and received episcopal ordination in 2001, being assigned the See of Gaudiaba. The archbishop-elect succeeds Archbishop Marin Srakic, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Fr. David J. Walkowiak as bishop of Grand Rapids (area 17,592, population 1,318,000, Catholics 179,500, priests 141, permanent deacons 40, religious 67), Michigan, USA. Fr. Walkowiak, of the clergy of the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, was born in Cleveland in 1953, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1979. Holding a doctorate in Canon Law, he serves as an associate judge of the appellate tribunal for the Province of Cincinnati as well as the pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA. The bishop-elect succeeds Bishop Walter Allison Hurley, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Vatican City, 17 April 2013 (VIS) – The meaning of the Ascension, the event culminating Jesus' earthly life, was the central theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during the Wednesday general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square and attended by over 50,000 people.

In the Creed,” noted the pontiff, “we confess our faith in Christ who 'ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father'. … What does this mean for our lives? While he 'ascends' to [Jerusalem], where his 'exodus' from this life will take place, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but he knows well that the path that will take him back to the Father's glory passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity. … We also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into God's glory demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans.”

The Pope explained the Ascension in light of St. Luke's Gospel, which gives a short version of it. “Jesus led his disciples 'as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven'. .. This is the first important point: Jesus is the only and eternal Priest who, by his passion, has traversed death and the grave and is risen and ascended into Heaven. He is with God the Father, where he always intercedes in our favour. As St. John affirms in his First Letter: He is our Advocate.”

He then added: “How wonderful it is to hear this! When someone is called in front of a judge or goes to court, the first he does is look for a lawyer to defend him. We've got one who always defends us, who defends us from the devil's snares, defends us from ourselves, from our sins! Dear brothers and sisters, we have this Advocate. Let us not be afraid to go to him and ask forgiveness, to ask for blessing, to ask for mercy. He always forgives us. He is our Advocate. He defends us always. Never forget this!”

Jesus' Ascension into Heaven thus allows us to know this reality that is so consoling on our journey: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity has been brought to God. He has opened the way. He is like the leader of a mountain climbing party that is roped together. He has reached the summit and pulls us to himself, leading us to God. If we entrust our lives to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain of being in safe hands.”

St. Luke mentions that the Apostles, after seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven, return to Jerusalem 'with great joy'. This seems a little strange to us,” the Pope said. “Usually, when we are separated from our family members, from our friends, definitively, and especially when caused by death, we are naturally sad because … we can no longer enjoy … their presence. Instead, the Evangelist emphasizes the Apostles' profound joy. Why? Precisely because, with the gaze of faith, they understand that, even if they gone from view, Jesus remains always with them. He does not abandon them and, in the Father's glory, He sustains them, guides them, and intercedes for them.”

The Evangelist also tells of the Ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles “to underline that this event is like the link that connects and unites Jesus' earthly life to that of the Church.” He also mentions that, after a cloud takes him from sight of the Apostles, they remain looking at the sky until two men dressed in white garments invite them not to stay fixed there, looked at the sky, but “to nourish their lives and witness with the certainty that Jesus will return in the same way they saw him ascend to Heaven. It is an invitation to step forth from the contemplation of Jesus' Lordship and to receive from him the strength to carry forth and witness to the Gospel in their everyday lives: to contemplate and to act, 'ora et labora', St. Benedict teaches, are both necessary in our Christian life.”

The Ascension,” Francis concluded, “doesn't indicate Jesus' absence, but rather it tells us that He is living among us in a new way. He is no longer in a particular place in the world as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives we are never alone: we have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone. The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the Lordship of God's love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen and ascended into Heaven, we have an Advocate.”

At the end of his catechesis, the Pope greeted, among others, the prelates of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Polish pilgrims from the Shrine of St. Andrew Bobola—one of the Patron Saints of Poland, a Jesuit and martyr—in Warsaw who had come to Rome for the 75th anniversary of the saint's canonization. “He gave his life for the faith, the reconciliation of his brothers, and the unity of the Church. May his intercession before God bring the gift of unity and peace to the Church,” the Holy Father exclaimed.

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