September 16, 2012

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- MAY GOD BLESS THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY, SO SORELY TRIED DOWN THE AGES

- ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY CAN LIVE TOGETHER WITHOUT HATRED

- SERVING JUSTICE AND PEACE IS AN IMPERATIVE TASK OF THE CHURCH

- MAY THE GOSPEL CONTINUE TO RESONATE IN THE REGION WHICH SAW JESUS' ACTIONS AND HEARD HIS WORDS

- ANGELUS: WHY SO MUCH HORROR? WHY SO MANY DEAD?

 

MAY GOD BLESS THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY, SO SORELY TRIED DOWN THE AGES

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - At midday yesterday, before having lunch with patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon, and the members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, in the headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate at Bzommar, the Pope expressed his thanks for the invitation to His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, and to the superior of the Institute of the Patriarchal Clergy.

"Divine Providence has allowed our meeting to take place here in this convent of Bzommar, which is so emblematic for the Armenian Catholic Church. Its founder, the monk Hagop, more commonly known as Meghabarde - the sinner - is an example for us of prayer, of detachment from material things and of faithfulness to Christ the Redeemer. Five hundred years ago, he promoted the printing of the Friday Book, thus establishing a bridge between Christians of East and West. From his example, we can learn the meaning of mission, the courage of truth and the value of fraternity in unity. As we prepare to replenish our strength with this meal which has been lovingly prepared and generously offered, the monk Hagop also reminds us that the spiritual thirst and the quest for higher things must remain always alive in our hearts, for “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'".

"Dear friends", the Pope added, "through the intercession of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, and of St. Gregory the Illuminator, let us ask the Lord to bless the Armenian community, so sorely tried down through the ages, and to send to its harvest numerous saintly workers who, because of Christ, are enabled to change the face of our societies, to heal hearts that are broken and to offer courage, strength and hope to those who despair. Thank you!"

 

ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY CAN LIVE TOGETHER WITHOUT HATRED

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father paid a visit to the Maronite Patriarchate at Bkerke. Since 1832, Bkerke has been the winter residence of the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, while his summer residence is located at Dimane in northern Lebanon, The current Patriarch is His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M.

At Bkerke, which stands on the hillside of Harissa and is dominated by the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon, the Holy Father met with young people of the Middle East.

"You are living today in this part of the world which witnessed the birth of Jesus and the growth of Christianity", the Holy Father told his youthful audience. "It is a great honour! It is also a summons to fidelity, to love of this region and, above all, to your calling to be witnesses and messengers of the joy of Christ. ... Many of the Apostles and saints lived in troubled times and their faith was the source of their courage and their witness. Find in their example and intercession the inspiration and support that you need!

"I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins. In a constantly changing world you are faced with many serious challenges. But not even unemployment and uncertainty should lead you to taste the bitter sweetness of emigration, which involves an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future. You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future and to take your place in society and in the Church.

"You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you, ... (she) needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. ... Seek beauty and strive for goodness! ... Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ! ... Christ says to you: My peace I give to you! This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.

"The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! ... Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive".

"Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the Sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live rooted and built up in Christ. ... In Him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which He inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. “Love one another as I have loved you”. This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian".

"Christ asks you, then, to do as He did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. ... Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! ... Be heralds of the Gospel of life and life’s authentic values. Courageously resist everything opposed to life: abortion, violence, rejection of and contempt for others, injustice and war. In this way you will spread peace all around you. Are not “peacemakers” those whom in the end we admire the most? Is it not a world of peace that, deep down, we want for ourselves and for others? ... Truly discovering God’s forgiveness and mercy always enables us to begin a new life. It is not easy to forgive. But God’s forgiveness grants the power of conversion, and the joy of being able to forgive in turn. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths of peace; they open up a future".

"Young people of Lebanon, you are the hope and the future of your country. You are Lebanon, a land of welcome, of openness, with a remarkable power of adaptation. At this moment, we cannot forget those millions of individuals who make up the Lebanese diaspora and maintain solid bonds with their land of origin. Young people of Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and as your country teaches you.

"I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis.

It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.

"I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war".

At the conclusion of his meeting with the young people, the Pope greeted Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon in chapel of the Assumption inside the Patriarchal Palace.

 

SERVING JUSTICE AND PEACE IS AN IMPERATIVE TASK OF THE CHURCH

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - This morning in Beirut, Lebanon, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the City Centre Waterfront, a coastal area reclaimed from the sea using the debris of buildings in the old centre of Beirut, which were demolished at the end of the Civil War prior to the reconstruction.

The Holy Father travelled by car from the apostolic nunciature in Harissa, then covered the final stretch along the seafront from Jounieh in popemobile. He was greeted on arrival by the mayor of Beirut who presented him with the keys to the city. The Mass was attended by many thousands of faithful, the Lebanese authorities and 300 bishops from all over the Middle East. The liturgy was celebrated in Arabic, French and Latin.

In his homily the Pope commented on today's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the true identity of Jesus is revealed. In Mark's narrative, Jesus is walking with His disciples along the road leading to the villages in the region of Caesarea Philippi when He asks them: "Who do people say that I am?"

"The moment He chose to ask this question is not insignificant", the Holy Father explained. "Jesus was facing a decisive turning-point in His life. He was going up to Jerusalem, to the place where the central events of our salvation would take place: His crucifixion and resurrection. In Jerusalem too, following these events, the Church would be born".

In the episode, after Peter has proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, Christ tells the disciples that He must suffer and be put to death before rising again. "He realises that people could use this answer to advance agendas which are not His, to raise false temporal hopes in His regard. He does not let Himself be confined to the attributes of the human saviour which many were expecting", the Pope said.

"Jesus wants to make them understand His true identity. He is a Messiah Who suffers, a Messiah Who serves, and not some triumphant political saviour. He is the Servant Who obeys His Father’s will, even to giving up His life. ... Jesus thus contradicts the expectations of many. What He says is shocking and disturbing. We can understand the reaction of Peter who rebukes Him, refusing to accept that his Master should suffer and die! Jesus is stern with Peter; He makes him realise that anyone who would be His disciple must become a servant, just as He became Servant".

Therefore, the Pope went on, "following Jesus means taking up one’s cross and walking in His footsteps, along a difficult path which leads not to earthly power or glory but, if necessary, to self-abandonment, to losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to save it. We are assured that this is the way to the resurrection, to true and definitive life with God". In this context, Benedict pointed out that the Year of Faith, due to begin on 11 October is an invitation to "each member of the faithful to renew his or her commitment to undertaking this path of sincere conversion. Throughout this Year, then, I strongly encourage you to reflect more deeply on the faith, to appropriate it ever more consciously and to grow in fidelity to Christ Jesus and His Gospel.

"Brothers and sisters, the path on which Jesus wishes to guide us is a path of hope for all. Jesus’ glory was revealed at the very time when, in His humanity, He seemed weakest, particularly through the incarnation and on the cross. This is how God shows His love; He becomes our servant and gives Himself to us".

Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the second reading, in which St. James states that, if our adherence to Jesus is to be authentic, it requires "concrete actions. ... It is an imperative task of the Church to serve and of Christians to be true servants in the image of Jesus", he said. "Consequently, in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship! ... I pray in particular that the Lord will grant to this region of the Middle East servants of peace and reconciliation, so that all people can live in peace and with dignity. This is an essential testimony which Christians must render here, in cooperation with all people of good will. I appeal to all of you to be peacemakers, wherever you find yourselves".

Likewise, the Pope went on, "service must also be at the heart of the life of the Christian community itself. Every ministry, every position of responsibility in the Church, is first and foremost a service to God and to our brothers and sisters. This is the spirit which should guide the baptised among themselves, and find particular expression in an effective commitment to serving the poor, the outcast and the suffering, so that the inalienable dignity of each person may be safeguarded.

"Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually", the Holy Father added concluding his homily, "your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. ... Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of His loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!".

"May God bless Lebanon; may He bless all the peoples of this beloved region of the Middle East, and may He grant them the gift of His peace".

 

MAY THE GOSPEL CONTINUE TO RESONATE IN THE REGION WHICH SAW JESUS' ACTIONS AND HEARD HIS WORDS

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - At the end of today's Eucharistic celebration, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, arose and invited the Holy Father to consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Medio Oriente" to Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East, presidents of the episcopal conferences of Turkey and Iran, and a number of lay faithful. The Exhortation is the final document of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in October 2010 on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness. 'The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul'".

Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the Exhortation would be "be a guide to follow the various and complex paths where Christ goes before you. May communion in faith, hope and charity be strengthened in your countries and in every community so as to make credible your witness to the Triune God, Who has drawn close to each one of us", he said.

"Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord's call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the first born of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw His actions and heard His words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2000 years ago, and may it be lived today and forever!"

 

ANGELUS: WHY SO MUCH HORROR? WHY SO MANY DEAD?

Vatican City, 16 September 2012 (VIS) - Having consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father pronounced some words in which he called on "Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, around whom both Christians and Muslims gather", to intercede "for the people of Syria and the neighbouring countries, imploring the gift of peace".

Benedict XVI went on: "You know all too well the tragedy of the conflicts and the violence which generates so much suffering. Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! Those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated. It is not easy to see in the other a person to be respected and loved, and yet this is necessary if peace is to be built, if fraternity is desired.

"May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs. Together with the patriarchs and bishops present, I place the Middle East under her maternal protection. May we, with God’s help, be converted so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions".

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