February 15, 2012

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

Summary

- JESUS' PRAYER BEFORE DYING

- LARGE FAMILIES ARE WITNESSES OF FAITH, AND A SOURCE OF WEALTH FOR NATIONS

- HOLY SEE AND UK GOVERNMENT, UNITED IN THE STRUGGLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

- OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 

JESUS' PRAYER BEFORE DYING

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - For the second consecutive week the Holy Father focused his catechesis during his general audience on Jesus' prayer before dying, basing his remarks on three phrases Christ pronounced from the cross, as narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of some 6,000 pilgrims from all over the world.

Jesus' first phrase: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing", was pronounced as soon as He had been crucified and while the soldiers were dividing His garments. "This first prayer to the Father", the Pope explained, "was a request to forgive His executioners". At the same time, however, "it is an interpretation of what is happening. The men who crucified Him 'do not know what they are doing'. In other words, Christ presents ignorance, 'not knowing', as a reason for requesting forgiveness of the Father, because that ignorance opens the way to conversion".

The second phrase: "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise", addressed to the "good thief" crucified at Christ's side, is "a word of hope", the Holy Father said. Jesus thereby reaffirmed "that God's goodness can touch us even in the final instant of existence, and that sincere prayer, even after a misspent life, encounters the open arms of the good Father Who awaits the return of His child".

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", the last words Christ pronounced, are "a prayer of 'entrustment', full of faith in God's love. Jesus' prayer before dying is as dramatic as its is for all men and women but, at the same time, it is pervaded by that profound calm which arises from faith in the Father and the desire to entrust oneself to Him completely".

"When life was about to leave Him, He sealed His final decision in a prayer. Jesus allowed Himself to be consigned 'into human hands', but it was into the hands of the Father that He placed His spirit. Thus, as John the Evangelist says, all things were accomplished, the supreme act of love was carried to the end".

"Jesus' words on the cross in the final instants of His earthly existence provide binding guidelines for our own prayer, but they also open the way to serene trust and firm hope. By asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying Him, Jesus invites us to make the difficult gesture of praying for the people who do us wrong, ... that the light of God may illuminate their hearts. In other words, He invites us to adopt, in our prayer, the same attitude of mercy and love which God shows towards us", the Pope said.

"At the same time Jesus, at the extreme moment of death, entrusted Himself entirely into the hands of God the Father, communicating to us the certainty that, however difficult our trials ... or burdensome our suffering, we will never fall out of God’s hands, the hands which created us, and which support and accompany us on life’s journey".

 

LARGE FAMILIES ARE WITNESSES OF FAITH, AND A SOURCE OF WEALTH FOR NATIONS

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - "In today's social environment, families with many children are witnesses of faith, courage and optimism, because without children there is no future". The Pope addressed these words to representatives from the Italian National Association of Large Families who were attending his general audience this morning. "I hope", Benedict XVI went on, "that adequate social and legislative measures will continue to be promoted to support and protect larger families, who are a source of wealth and hope for the entire country".

Speaking to young people and the sick, Benedict XVI recalled the fact that yesterday marked the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who spread the faith among Slavic peoples. "May their witness also help you to be apostles of the Gospel, the leaven for authentic renewal in personal, family and social life", he said.

The general audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the apostolic blessing.

 

HOLY SEE AND UK GOVERNMENT, UNITED IN THE STRUGGLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language joint communique of the Holy See and the government of the United Kingdom concerning an official ministerial visit marking the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two States. The delegation, led by Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and was received by Pope Benedict XVI.

The communique states that the "Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government agreed on the urgent need for action to strengthen the universal commitment to religious freedom as a fundamental human right, and to its practical application with a view to promoting respect for all religions in all countries. The Holy See and the British government look forward to working together to combat intolerance and discrimination based on religion, wherever it is manifest.

"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government reaffirmed the need to promote integral and sustainable global development, based on the centrality of the human person and grounded in the principle of the inherent human dignity and worth of each person. Much progress has been made over the last decade in improving health and well-being for many people. However, there are still significant gaps and challenges in the long and complex path towards ensuring integral human development for everybody. Too many people are still hungry, too many people do not have access to education and to decent work, too many women die in childbirth. In view of these challenges we recognise a shared obligation to achieve a fair international financial and trade framework. And we will strive for a better future for all humanity, taking into particular account care for the poorest people in the world.

"Looking ahead to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio de Janeiro in June this year and to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change implementation process, we share the conviction that in order to take forward a human-centred and sustainable global development, there is a need to continue to strengthen the integration of its interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars: the economic, the social and the environmental, as well as the connection between combating poverty and tackling climate change.

"The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government share a commitment to work at the United Nations and other fora to strengthen the international focus on conflict prevention, disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, aimed at protecting human life and building a world more respectful of human dignity. As part of this effort, we look forward to positive outcomes in July to the final negotiations to agree upon a robust Arms Trade Treaty with a wide scope, and to the 2nd Review Conference of the UN Programme on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

"With regard to the changes which have occurred in North Africa and the Middle East, the Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government stressed the importance of undertaking real reforms in the political, economic and social realms, in order better to ensure the unity and development of each nation, in responding positively to the legitimate aspirations of many people for peace and stability. In this context, reference was made to the role which Christians can play and to the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Holy See and Her Majesty’s Government expressed the hope for a resumption of negotiations in good faith between Israelis and Palestinians so as to bring about a lasting peace. They renewed their appeal for an immediate end to violence in Syria and stressed the need for co-operation to overcome the present crisis and work towards a harmonious and united coexistence.

"As the London Conference on Somalia approaches, the Holy See and the British Government encourage the international community to support a coherent strategy on Somalia in order to end the crisis there, placing as a priority the protection and welfare of the people of the Horn of Africa.

"Her Majesty’s Government welcomed His Holiness Pope Benedict’s support for the ongoing process of reconciliation in Northern Ireland, the establishment of stable, inclusive political institutions, and efforts to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for all parts of the community. Her Majesty’s Government and the Holy See agreed that the use of violence for political ends is deplorable, and must be set aside in favour of constructive dialogue for the well-being of the whole community.

"As the United Kingdom prepares to host the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, both sides look forward to a year characterised by the spirit of the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Truce: at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

"There was in addition a good exchange of views on a wide range of social, economic, political and cultural issues, including on developing the UK’s collaboration with the Vatican Museums. Both sides recognised in particular the role of faith and education in the development of a culture of social responsibility and the underpinning of a healthy society. In this context, appreciation was expressed for the significant contribution which the Catholic Church, and Christians in general, have made and continue to make to the good of British society. The Holy See emphasised the need to ensure that institutions connected with the Catholic Church can act in accordance with their own principles and convictions and stressed the necessity of safeguarding the family based on marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Both sides look forward to further strengthening their relationship by working together through their respective networks and global partnerships, including the Commonwealth of Nations, to promote the common good".

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Airton Jose dos Santos of Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Campinas (area 2,133, population 1,789,000, Catholics 1,304,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 21, religious 484), Brazil.

- Bishop Jose Luiz Ferreira Salles C.Ss.R., auxiliary of Fortaleza, Brazil, as bishop of Pesqueira (area 10,065, population 441,000, Catholics 397,000, priests 40, permanent deacons 4, religious 43), Brazil.

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