Meeting with Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: A New Time of Fraternal Friendship
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis welcomed His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. During the meeting the Bishop of Rome emphasized that the patriarch's visit strengthens the fraternal bonds that already unite both churches. He mentioned as milestones of the common path towards unity His Holiness Abune Paulos' encounters with St. John Paul II in 1993 and with Benedict XVI in 2009, who invited him to participate in the Synod of Bishops for Africa as was common practice in the early Church for representatives to be sent to the synods of other Churches. Likewise, a delegation from the Holy See was present at the 2012 funeral of Patriarch Abune Paulos.
Moreover, as Francis explained, since 2004 the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches have deepened their communion through theological dialogue in the International Joint Commission, which over the years has analysed the fundamental concept of the Churches' communion understood as participation in the communion between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many things have been found in common: one faith, one baptism, one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and many elements of the monastic traditions and the liturgy. "What unites us," the Pope said, "is greater than what divides us."
He continued, "We truly feel that the words of the Apostle Paul apply to us: 'If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.' Shared sufferings have enabled Christians, otherwise divided in so many ways, to grow closer to one another. Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity. The martyrs and saints of all the ecclesial traditions are already one in Christ. Their names are inscribed in the one martyrologium of the Church of God. The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity."
The Pope recalled that the Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been, from the beginning, a Church of martyrs and that still today "you are witnessing a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. We cannot fail, yet again, to implore those who govern the world’s political and economic life to promote a peaceful coexistence based on reciprocal respect and reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and solidarity." He also acknowledged the great strides being made in Ethiopia "to improve the living conditions of its people and to build an ever more just society, based on the rule of law and respect for the role of women". In particular, he noted the problem of access to water, with its grave social and economic repercussions. "There is great room for cooperation between the Churches in the service of the common good and the protection of creation," he stated, certain of "the readiness of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work together with the Orthodox Tewahedo Church".
"it is my fervent hope that this meeting will mark a new chapter of fraternal friendship between our Churches. We are conscious that history has left us with a burden of painful misunderstandings and mistrust, and for this we seek God’s pardon and healing. Let us pray for one another," the pontiff concluded, "invoking the protection of the martyrs and saints upon all the faithful entrusted to our pastoral care. May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us and guide our steps towards harmony and peace. May he nourish in us the hope that one day, with God’s help, we will be united around the altar of Christ’s sacrifice in the fullness of Eucharistic communion."
Pope appreciates work of Rome-St. Peter's Carabinieri squad
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) – One hundred and fifty members of the Rome-St. Peter's Carabinieri Squad who work with the competent bodies of the Holy See to regulate events in and around St. Peter's Square throughout the year were received by Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican this morning. The pontiff thanked them for their work in service of pilgrims and tourists, noting that it is work that "requires professionalism and a sense of responsibility as well as attention to people---many of whom are elderly---continuous patience and availability to all. These are not easy qualities, which is why it is important to rely on God's help."
"The Holy Year of Mercy," he continued, "opens the possibility of renewal to all of us, beginning with inner purification, which is reflected in how we act and in how we carry out our daily activities. This spiritual dimension of the Jubilee compels each of us to question our actual commitment in responding to the demands of faithfulness to the Gospel to which the Lord calls us from our state in life. The Jubilee thus becomes a propitious occasion for personal and community verification. The 'paradigm' to test ourselves against are works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. The Lord reminds us: 'Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
"May this teaching of Jesus also guide you, who are responsible for the protection of public order, and help you to foster solidarity in every circumstance, especially towards the weak and defenceless. To be guardians of the right to life through the commitment to safety and the safety of persons. In carrying out this mission, may we always be aware that every person is loved by God and is his creature deserving of welcome and respect. May the grace of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy," the Pope concluded his brief address, "renew the spirit which you dedicate to your profession, bringing you to live it with extra attention, devotion, and generosity.
Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for March
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) - The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for February is: “That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.”
His intention for evangelisation is: “That those Christians who, on account of their faith, are discriminated against or are being persecuted, may remain strong and faithful to the Gospel, thanks to the incessant prayer of the Church."
Holy Father's calendar for March and April
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside in the months of March and April 2016:
Friday 4: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, penitential celebration.
Sunday 6: Fourth Sunday of Lent. In Ariccia, beginning of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia.
Friday 11: Conclusion of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia.
Tuesday 15: At 10 a.m. in the Consistory Hall, consistory for causes of canonisation.
Sunday 20: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of the palms, procession and Holy Mass.
Thursday 24: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Chrism Mass.
Friday 25: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of the Lord.
At 9.15 p.m. at the Colosseum, Rome: Via Crucis (Way of the Cross).
Saturday 26: Holy Saturday. At 8.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Easter vigil
Saturday 2: At 6 p.m. in St. Peter's Square, prayer vigil and Jubilee for adherents to the spirituality of Divine Mercy.
Sunday 3: Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday). At 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, Holy Mass and Jubilee for adherents to the spirituality of Divine Mercy Sunday.
Angelus: never too late to repent, let us begin today!
Vatican City, 28 February 2016 (VIS) – "Every day, unfortunately, bad news is reported: murders, accidents, disasters, … In today's Gospel passage Jesus refers to two tragic events, which at the time caused quite a stir: the bloody crackdown by Roman soldiers inside the temple and the collapse of the tower of Siloam in Jerusalem, which claimed eighteen victims." These are the words that Pope Francis started with this afternoon before the Angelus, relating our current lived experience to the Gospel of the day. "Jesus knows the superstitious mentality of his listeners," he continued, "and knows that they interpret those kinds of events wrongly. In fact, they think that, if those persons died so cruelly, it's a sign that God has punished them for some grave offence they had committed, as if to say 'They deserved it.' And the fact that they had been spared from the disaster was equivalent to being 'okay'. They 'deserved it' but I 'am good'.
The Pope explained that "Jesus clearly rejects this view because God does not allow tragedies in order to punish sins. He affirms that those poor victims were not worse than others. Rather, he invites us to draw a warning from such painful events, a warning for all because we are all sinners. He said to those who are asking him: 'If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!' Even today, in the face of certain misfortunes and tragic events, we might feel the temptation to 'dump' the responsibility onto the victims or even onto God himself. But the Gospel invites us to reflect: what is our idea of God? Are we convinced that God is this way or is it not just our own projection, a god made 'in our image and likeness'? In contrast, Jesus calls us to a change of heart, to make a radical change in our life's path, abandoning the pacts with evil – and we all do this, make pacts with evil, hypocrisy, I believe that we all have at least one piece of hypocrisy – to decisively take the Gospel path".
"But here again is the temptation to justify ourselves: 'What should we convert from? Aren't we all basically good people?' How many times have we thought that: 'All in all, I'm a pretty good person?' – haven't we? – 'Aren't we believers, who even practice enough?' And we think, therefore, that we are justified". The Pope stressed that we justify ourselves as believers and even practising ones. Unfortunately, each of us looks a lot like a tree that, for years, has given much evidence of sterility. But luckily for us, Jesus is like the peasant farmer who, with limitless patience, still gives another deferment to the barren fig tree. 'Leave it for this year,' he says to the master. 'It may bear fruit in the future'".
"A 'year' of grace", he continued, "the time of Christ's ministry, the time of the Church before his glorious return, the time of our life punctuated by a number of Lents, which are offered to us as opportunities for repentance and salvation, the time of a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Jesus' invincible patience. Have you thought on God's patience? Have you thought about his unyielding concern for sinners as they should provoke impatience in how we see ourselves! It is never to late for us to convert, never! God's patience waits for us up till the last minute. Remember the the story of St. Therese of the Child Jesus when she prayed for the man condemned to death, a criminal, who did not want to receive the comfort of the Church. He declined a priest's visit, didn't want it. He wanted to die that way. And she prayed, in the convent. And exactly at the moment of his execution he turned to the priest, took the crucifix and kissed it. God's patience! He does the same with us, with all of us! How many times – we don't know. We will know in Heaven – how many times we are there [about to fall] and the Lord saves us. He saves us because he has great patience with us. And this is his mercy. It is never too late to repent but it is urgent, the time is now. Let us begin today".
Before finishing, Pope Francis called upon the Virgin Mary "to sustain us so that we may open our hearts to God's grace, to his mercy. And help us to never judge others but to let daily misfortunes be the opportunity to make a serious examination of conscience and repent".
Tragedy of refugees in Pope's prayers
Vatican City, 28 February 2016 (VIS) – Greeting the faithful after the Marian prayer, the Holy Father again noted the tragedy of those fleeing wars, emphasising that countries like Greece "on the front lines are giving generous aid, which requires the cooperation of all nations. A unified response can be effective and distribute the weight evenly. This is why we need to focus firmly and unreservedly on negotiations".
"At the same time." he added, "I have hopefully welcomed the news about the cessation of hostilities in Syria and I invite all to pray so that this window of opportunity can give relief to those suffering , encouraging the necessary humanitarian aid and opening the way to dialogue and a much desired peace".
Pope Francis also expressed his nearness to the people of Fiji, hard hit by a devastating cyclone. "I pray for the victims and for those who are committed to relief operations". Before leaving, the pontiff recalled that today marks "Rare Disease Day" and directed his special prayers and encouragement to all associations that offer help in this area.
Pope Francis receives president of the Argentine Republic
Vatican City, 27 February 2016 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience Mauricio Macri, president of the Argentine Republic, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, which demonstrated the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Argentine Republic, themes of common interest were considered, such as assistance for integral development, respect for human rights, the fight against poverty and drug trafficking, justice, peace and social reconciliation. In this context, the positive contribution of the episcopate and Catholic institutions in Argentine society was reiterated, especially in the fields of human promotion and the formation of the new generations, and particularly in the current economic climate.
Finally, reference was made to various issues of broader significance and interest at regional and global levels.
Pope to businesspeople: seek a new humanism of work
Vatican City, 27 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience seven thousand Italian members of Confindustria (the General Confederation of Italian Industry). It was the first encounter in the Vatican in the history of the association, and took place within the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Father observed that with this meeting, the men and women of Italian business confirm their commitment to contributing to a more just society, to reflecting together on the ethics of business, and to strengthening their attention to values, the "spinal column" of projects that offer a concrete alternative to the consumerist model of profit at any cost.
The theme "working together" inspires collaboration, sharing and preparing the way for relations regulated by a sense of joint responsibility. "In the complex world of business, working together means investing in projects able to involve those who are often forgotten or neglected, especially families. … And, alongside them, we cannot forget the weakest and most marginalised categories, such as the elderly, who may still have the resources and energy for active collaboration, but are too often discarded as useless and unproductive. Then there are potential workers, especially the young who, imprisoned by uncertainty or long periods of unemployment, do not receive offers of work providing them with not only an honest salary but also the dignity that they are often deprived of".
Working together means "basing work not on the solitary genius of an individual, but on the collaboration of many. It means, in other words, building a network to bring to the fore the gifts of all, without however neglecting the unique qualities of each person. At the centre of every business, therefore, is the person: not abstract, ideal or theoretical, but a real person with dreams, needs, hopes and hardships. … Faced with the many barriers of injustice, solitude, distrust and suspicion that continue to be built in our times, the world of work, in which you are on the front line, is required to take courageous steps so that encountering each other and working together is not merely a slogan, but rather a plan for the present and the future".
The Holy Father reminded those present of their "noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world", for which they are called to be builders of the common good and promoters of a "new humanism of work".
"You are called to safeguard professionalism, and at the same time to pay attention to the conditions in which work is carried out", he said. "May you always be guided by justice, which refuses the shortcuts of favouritism, and the dangerous deviations of dishonesty and easy compromise. May the supreme law always be attention to the dignity of others, an absolute and indispensable value. May this aim of altruism always distinguish your work: it will lead you to refuse categorically the infringement of the dignity of the person in the name of productive demands, which mask individualistic short-sightedness, sad selfishness and thirst for profit".
The Pope concluded by urging the members of Confindustria to represent, instead, a business open to the "broader meaning of life", allowing them "truly to serve the common good, by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all", so that it is "not insensitive to the gaze of those in need. This is truly possible, provided that the simple proclamation of economic freedom does not prevail over the real freedom of man and his rights, that the market is not absolute, but rather honours the needs of justice and, in the final analysis, of the dignity of the person. There is no freedom without justice and no justice without respect for the dignity of every person".
Friday of Mercy: Pope pays surprise visit to San Carlo drug rehabilitation community
Vatican City, 27 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Pope paid a surprise visit to the San Carlo rehabilitation centre, near Castel Gandolfo, which belongs to the Italian Solidarity Centre, founded by Fr. Mario Picchi to prevent and combat exclusion, especially of those affected by drug abuse. The visit forms part of the Holy Father's "Friday of mercy" programme, in which he performs one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy every Friday throughout the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The San Carlo Community houses 55 people, mostly young, following a rehabilitation programme to free themselves from drug dependency. Francis' visit was unannounced and was a great surprise to all present. He spoke to the guests and staff, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness, urging them not to let themselves be devoured by the "metastasis" of drugs. He embraced them and explained that the path they have undertaken in the centre will offer them a real possibility of starting a new life worthy of a human being. Francis emphasised the need always to trust in the strength of mercy that continues to sustain our pilgrimage and, accompanying us even in our darkest hours, lets us feel the warmth of His presence and clothes man in dignity.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, linked this "Friday of Mercy" to the Pope's recent trip to Mexico, characterised by his strong and unequivocal condemnation of drug trafficking. "It worries me greatly that, seduced by the empty power of the world, they exalt chimeras and don their macabre symbols to trade in death. … I implore you not to underestimate the ethical and anti-civic challenge that drug trafficking represents for young people and for society as a whole, including the Church", said Francis during the trip.
Just a few days after his return to Rome, added Archbishop Fisichella, the Pope has given a visible and concrete sign of the affirmation he made in the Cathedral of Mexico City regarding the need for pastors of the Church not to seek refuge in generic condemnations, but rather to reach out to the human and existential peripheries of the cities and to involve families, schools, institutions, the political community and the forces of order in a serious pastoral project aiming at the prevention of a phenomenon that destroys many lives.
IX World Day of Rare Diseases: Message of Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) – Today marks the IX World Day of Rare Diseases. On the occasion, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care) wrote a message entitled "The Patient's Voice at the Centre. Join Us in Making the Voice of Rare Diseases Heard". It emphasises how, for years, this dicastery has closely followed the various initiatives for those affected by such diseases, as well as focusing on their families, who are sometimes the only ones who give voice to a problem that should not be ignored by the various civil, scientific, and pastoral agencies.
"This global initiative", the prelate explained, "which aims to give proper emphasis to these diseases and to increase knowledge, also finds growing interest in the Church, so that those who, although suffering from diseases whose incidence is minimal or rare numerically, are not abandoned or isolated. They certainly cannot leave us indifferent. Indeed, their condition, as the theme chosen for this 9th day indicates, cannot but find echo in our hearts and in appropriate research and care".
"In particular", he specified, "this means making these persons more and more the protagonists, equipped with the necessary reference points and, at the same time, raising the awareness of the competent authorities, health professionals, pharmaceutical industry, and anyone who has a sincere interest in rare diseases. All in order to break the curtain of silence or exclusivity that is likely, in many cases, to hide a problem that, however, concerns the whole of society".
"The Church also feels involved in this commitment, constantly spurred by Pope Francis to grow and walk in solidarity. … By means of this dicastery, the Church, as the voice that can from many places have the leverage to achieve the common good and justice in the social and health care field, intends to bring the attention of its pastoral outreach in the area of rare and neglected diseases – defined as diseases that particularly call for solidarity – to this area and to the various scientific research institutions".
"This ecclesial attention will have a specific e_xpression at the next international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which will take place at the Vatican from 10 to 12 November, 2016. This initiative, almost at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, will be a further occasion for highlighting the work of corporal mercy that is assistance to the sick. It will be a sign of solidarity with persons affected by rare diseases as well as with the poor and vulnerable populations marked by neglected diseases, who usually live in the most remote rural areas of the world".
Vatican City, 29 February 2016 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father met separately with:
- three prelates from the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference: Archbishop Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves, O.F.M., of San Juan de Puerto Rico, president, accompanied by Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, S.J., of Tyler, vice president, and by Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales of Fajardo-Humacao, secretary general.
- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, USA,
- Bishop Paul Tighe, adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture with members of his family, and
- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
On Saturday 27 February the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, and
- Bishop Carlos Jose Tissera of Quilmes, Argentina.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 27 February 2016 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed:
- Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest emeritus of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, as his special envoy to the concluding celebration of the Innocentian Year, commemorating the fourth centenary of the birth of Pope Innocent XII, to be held in Spinazzola, Italy on 13 March.
- Msgr. Maurizio Bravi, nunciature counsellor, as Holy See Permanent Observer at the World Tourism Organisation.