Thursday, February 25, 2016

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24-02-2016 - Year XXII - Num. 38 

Summary
- General audience: mercy and power
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts

- "Love before the world": the Pope answers questions from children
- Francis to meet the Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia
- Religious and migrations: perspectives, response and challenges
- Audiences
- Notice to VIS subscribers

- Heydar Aliyev Foundation funds restoration of catacombs of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
- Theological and pastoral perspectives, a decade after "Deus caritas est"
- In memoriam
General audience: mercy and power
Vatican City, 24 February 2016 (VIS) – Mercy and power were the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis in this week's Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square, attended by more than twenty thousand faithful and pilgrims.
The Holy Father explained that various passages of the Bible speak about kings and men of power, and also of their arrogance and abuses, demonstrating that "wealth and power can be good and useful for the common good if placed at the service of the poor and of all, with justice and charity. However if, as often occurs, if lived as a privilege, with selfishness and arrogance, they become tools of corruption and death".
An example of this unjust privilege is found in the account of the vineyard of Naboth. The king Ahab wishes to acquire it since it was situated adjacent to the royal palace, but Naboth refuses since for Israel the land is God's, and receives His blessing which is handed from generation to generation. Ahab is indignant at receiving this refusal, which he perceives as an offence to his power, undermining his authority. His wife, Jezebel, which also considered royal power to be absolute, decides to eliminate Naboth and makes false witnesses accuse him before the elders and the authorities of having blasphemed and spoken ill of the king, crimes which carried the death penalty. Naboth was executed and the king inherited his vineyard.
"Recalling these events, Jesus tells us: 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave'. If the dimension of service is lost, power transforms into arrogance and oppression". The story of Naboth, continued the Pope, "is not a story of other times; it is also the story of today, of the powerful who exploit the poor, exploit the people, to have more money. It is the story of human trafficking, of slave labour, of poor people who work illegally and with the minimum salary to enrich the powerful. It is the story of corrupt politicians who want more and more".
The episode of Naboth's vineyard teaches us "where the exercise of authority without respect for life or justice and without mercy leads us. And here we see where the thirst for power leads: it becomes avarice, the desire to possess everything". Francis gave the example of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "who was not a communist", when he observed the avidity of the rich landowners who sought to acquire more and more houses and land. "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land".
However, "God is greater than evil, and the dirty games human beings play, and in His mercy He sends the prophet Elijah to help Ahab convert. The king, faced with his sin, is humbled and asks for forgiveness. How good it would be if today's powerful exploiters were to do likewise!", exclaimed Francis. "The Lord accepts his penance, but an innocent man was killed and this inevitably has consequences. Indeed, the evil committed leaves painful traces, and the history of mankind bears the scars".
In this case too, mercy shows the path to follow as it is able to cure wounds and change history. "Divine mercy is stronger than the sin of men. It is stronger, this is the example of Ahab! We know its power, when we remember the coming of the Innocent Son of God Who made Himself man to destroy evil with His forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the true king, but His power is completely different. His throne is the cross. He is not a king who kills, but on the contrary gives His life. His approach to all, especially the weakest, defeats solitude and the destiny of death that sin leads to. Jesus Christ, with His closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the space of grace and forgiveness. And this is God's mercy".
Audiences
Vatican City, 24 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munchen und Freising, Germany, coordinator of the Council for the Economy.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 24 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Zenildo Luiz Pereira da Silva, C.SS.R., as prelate coadjutor bishop of Borba (area 98,650, population 157,900, Catholics 127,600, priests 11, religious 15), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Linhares, Brazil in 1968, gave his religious vows in 1997 and was ordained a priest in 2001. He has served as parish priest and superior of the Redemptorist vice-province of Amazonia, and is currently parish priest of the cathedral of "Santana e Sao Sebastiao" in the diocese of Coari.


25-02-2016 - Year XXII - Num. 39 


"Love before the world": the Pope answers questions from children
Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – "L'amore prima del mondo" ("Love before the world") is the title of a book published by Rizzoli, in the form of 31 letters and drawings sent to the Holy Father by children from various Jesuit institutions from all five continents, asking for advice and explanations, and Francis' replies.
The title is drawn from the Pope's answer to the question, "What did God do before the world was made?". The eighty pages of the volume consist of a dialogue between Francis and the Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica, who took the children's letters and drawings the Domus Sanctae Marthae last summer and to ask for a response. The Pope accepted the proposal and the resulting book has been released in Italian bookshops today. It will shortly be available in other languages.
Francis answers questions on a wide variety of issues, such as how Jesus managed to walk on water: "God doesn't sink", and why He created us if He knew we were going to sin against Him: Because God created us like Him. Free. And being free includes the possibility of sinning. … Freedom can be frightening because it cannot be planned. But it is beautiful and it is the greatest gift". In response to questions from the youngest children regarding the devil and guardian angels, the Pope recalls the importance of liturgy of prayer, or evokes the fantastic imagination of the young: "God defeated the devil on the cross. The devil is like the big scary dragons who are defeated and killed. They have a very long tail which, even if they are beaten and killed, continues to move".
There are also questions regarding war and atrocities; for instance, a child from Nigeria asks how these conflicts could be resolved. "It is necessary to encourage people of good will to speak against war. I cannot solve the conflicts in the world, but you and I can try to make this a better world. We need to convince everyone that the best way to win a war is not to enter into one. It is not easy, I know. But I try. You can try too".
A child from China wants to know why the Pope likes football. "I have never learned well the techniques of the game", admits Francis. "I don't have agile feet. But I like to see the team on the field because it is a game of solidarity". In response to a boy from the United Kingdom asks, "What was your hardest choice in your mission for faith?", the Holy Father replies, "There are many hard choices, but I have to say that the type of decision that is most difficult for me is to remove someone from a responsible job or a position of trust, or a path they are following, for reasons of unsuitability".
Francis to meet the Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia
Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – On Monday, 29 February, the Holy Father Francis will meet with His Holiness Abuna Mathias, Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia, who will be present in Rome from Friday 26 to Monday 29. During his stay the Patriarch will visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the tomb of the apostle Peter, and will celebrate Holy Mass with the Ethiopian community of Rome onSunday 28 February in the chapel of the Urbanian College.
The Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia currently consists of 35 million faithful, and a large community exists in Rome. It enjoys cordial and increasingly close relations with the Catholic Church, especially following the first visit in 1993 of the then-Patriarch Abuna Paulos to Pope John Paul II.
Religious and migrations: perspectives, response and challenges
Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – The international conference "The religious and migrations in the 21 st century: perspectives, response and challenges", organised by the representation before the United Nations of the Passionists International, the Congregation of St. Joseph, Augustinians International and the Vincentians, yesterday concluded two days of intense work.
The aim of the meeting, attended by around a hundred men and women religious, as well as laypersons and experts in the sector, was to understand more fully the phenomenon of migration and its repercussions in today's world, especially in the context of the current European situation. It also considered the identification of more effective and shared forms of solidarity. A strong appeal was launched for intensified network-building among congregations, associations and other organisations in countries of origin, transit and destination. The network represents one of the most efficient ways of using energy, skills and resources, to give greater impetus to the already extraordinary work that these entities carry out. In Italy alone, some 23 million people (almost a quarter of the refugees present in the country) are received by parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries.
The participants expressed major concerns regarding the large number of often unaccompanied minors involved in migratory flows, as well as the many young women, especially from Nigeria (more than four thousand in 2015) who risk falling into the trap of exploitation and prostitution.
Fr. Emela Xris Obiezu, representative of Augustinians International before the United Nations, emphasised that "In this complex world, and faced with the challenge of migration, it is increasingly necessary to think globally and act locally, also in terms of lobbying and advocacy, to take the voice of the victims and those who work alongside them to every level of attention, from local administrations to the United Nations, so as to influence working decisions, always placing at the centre of attention the person and respect for his or her freedom and dignity".
Audiences
Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Notice to VIS subscribers
Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – From Tuesday 1 March 2016, the Vatican Information Service newsletter will not be transmitted, but subscribers will instead receive a link via which they may consult the web page including a synthesis in English of the official Holy See Press Office Bulletin, the summary hitherto provided by the Vatican Information Service.
The newsletter service is expected to resume within a few weeks.
23-02-2016 - Year XXVI - Num. 37 
Heydar Aliyev Foundation funds restoration of catacombs of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
Vatican City, 23 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, along with Mehriban Aliyeva, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation (HAF), Azerbaijan, presented the results of the restoration of the Roman catacombs of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter "ad duas lauros", entirely funded by the HAF.
On the basis of an agreement signed in 2012, the Foundation presided over by Aliyev has funded the restoration of the paintings of the cubicle of Susanna and the fossor, the niche of Daniel, the arcosolium of Orpheus, the cubicle of Our Lady with two Magi, and the cubicle of the praying matron. The most advanced conservation techniques, especially laser-based cleaning, have enabled the removal of a tenacious black patina that had provided resistant to all traditional cleaning methods. The last procedure, recently completed, involved the cubicle of the "praying matron", in an advanced state of deterioration. The newly-revealed frescoes consist of a central medallion with the Good Shepherd surrounded by the Biblical episodes of Jonah, Daniel among the lions and Noah in the Ark. In the corners there are praying male figures and birds. On the walls there is a rich decorative pattern with floral, plant-based and fantasy elements. On the wall of the entrance there is the notable figure of a praying woman, which although only just recognisable before restoration, now makes a strong visual impact. The figure, framed by two slender trees, may represent the deceased entombed in the cubicle.
During the presentation, which took place at the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Ravasi and the president of the HAF announced that their collaboration will continue and its next objective will be the restoration of the monumental complex of St. Sebastian Outside-the-Walls on the Via Appia Antica, currently only partially open to the public. The agreement relates to an extraordinary collection of sarcophagi, some situation in the perimeter of the Basilica of St. Sebastian (Museum of Sculptures and Epigraphic Museum), others "in situ" in their mausoleums. The Pontifical Commission for Religious Art has proposed to the HAF a conservation programme for the restoration of around fifteen sarcophagi. Aliyeva expressed her appreciation of the proposal on behalf of the Foundation, and a new agreement will be signed for the financing of the restoration works to render the complex accessible to the public.
Theological and pastoral perspectives, a decade after "Deus caritas est"
Vatican City, 23 February 2016 (VIS) – An international conference entitled "Love will never end. Prospects ten years on from the Encyclical Deus caritas est" will be held on Thursday 25 February in the Vatican's New Synod Hall. Organised by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", the conference forms part of the programme of events for the Jubilee of Mercy and has the aim of examining in depth the theological and pastoral implications of Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical for today's world, especially in relation to the activity of those who work in the Church's charitable service. The event will be attended by, among others, representatives of the episcopal conferences and Catholic charitable organisations from all over the world.
The conference will begin with greetings from Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the "Cor Unum", followed by an intervention from Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled "The Encyclical Deus caritas est: a theological reading". The subsequent speakers will be Michel Thio, president of the International Confederation of St. Vincent de Paul, Marina Almeida Costa, director of Caritas Cabo Verde, and Roy Moussali, executive director of the Syrian Society for Social Development. In the afternoon the theme of the meaning of love for the three monotheistic religions will be considered by Rabbi David Shlomo Rosen, director of the Department of Religious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee of Jerusalem, Professor Saeed Ahmed Khan, lecturer at the Wayne State University of Detroit, U.S.A., and the philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj, director of the Institut Philanthropos of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
The second day will begin with a presentation from Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines and president of Caritas Internationalis, entitled "The importance of Deus caritas est for the charitable service of the Church today", followed by interventions from Alejandro Marius, president of the Asociacion Civil Trabajo y Persona, Venezuela, and Eduardo M. Almeida, representative in Paraguay of the Inter-American Bank. At midday the participants will be received in audience by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace. The afternoon session will open with contributions from Rev. Professor Paolo Asolan, lecturer at the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome, and Professor Rainer Gehrig, lecturer at the Catholic University of Murcia, Spain.
The morning sessions will be moderated by Martina Pastorelli, president of Catholic Voices Italia, and the afternoon sessions by Professor Luca Tuninetti, lecturer at the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome.
Holy Mass will be celebrated on 25 and 26 February at 6 p.m. in the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà in Camposanto dei Teutonici (Our Lady of Mercy in the German Cemetery). On the first day Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of "Cor Unum"; will preside, and on the second, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The conference will be fully broadcast by web streaming on the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" website, at www.corunumjubilaeum.va .
In memoriam
Vatican City, 23 February 2016 (VIS) – The following prelates have died in recent weeks:
- Bishop Ian Murray, emeritus of Argyll and The Isles, Scotland, United Kingdom, on 22 January at the age of 83.
- Bishop Emile Jean Marie Henri Joseph Destombes, M.E.P., apostolic vicar emeritus of Phnom-Penh, Cambodia, on 28 January at the age of 80.
- Bishop John Baptist Kakubi, emeritus of Mbarara, Uganda, on 11 February at the age of 86.
- Bishop Barry Philip Jones of Christchurch, New Zealand, on 13 February at the age of 74.
- Archbishop Carlos Quintero Arce, emeritus of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, on 15 February at the age of 96.
- Bishop Gregorio Garavito Jimenez, S.M.M., emeritus of Villavicencio, Colombia, on 16 February at the age of 96

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