March 28, 2014

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES THE PRESIDENT OF GREECE

- TO THE BISHOPS OF MADAGASCAR: THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN EVANGELISATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

- CONFESSION IS AN EXPERIENCE OF LOVE AND MERCY, NOT A SENTENCING COURT

- THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE'S JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD

- AUDIENCES

 

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES THE PRESIDENT OF GREECE

Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, an expression of the existing good relations between the Holy See and Greece, focused on issues of common interest, such as, in particular, the legal status of religious communities, the role of religion in society, and ecumenical collaboration.

Attention then turned to the social consequences of the worldwide economic crisis, as well as the contribution of Greece within the European Union. Finally, concern was expressed regarding the future presence of Christians in the Middle East, in relation to political instability and the situations of conflict that affect various regions of the world.

 

TO THE BISHOPS OF MADAGASCAR: THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN EVANGELISATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – The vitality of the Church in Madagascar despite the difficult circumstances in which this country finds itself and the commitment of the dioceses to human development were some of the central issues in the message Pope Francis addressed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the end of their five-yearly “ad limina” visit.

The Pope thanks the prelates for their “courageous and tenacious work of evangelisation” and acknowledged the serious socio-economic problems encountered in Madagascar, mentioning at the same time that the bishops have urged all of society to contribute to building a new future”. He encouraged them to take their rightful place in the “task of reconstruction, with respect for the rights and duties of each person”. He writes, “It is important to maintain constructive relationships with the authorities of your country. You must search for unity, justice and peace to better serve your people, refusing any involvement in political disputes at the expense of the common good”.

“In this context, I wish to acknowledge the invaluable commitment of your dioceses in social work”, he continues. “Indeed, there is an intimate connection between evangelisation and human development. ... I encourage you to persevere in your attention to the poor and materially and spiritually supporting those who devote themselves to them, especially religious congregations, whom I thank with all my heart for their dedication and for their authentic witness to Christ's love for all men. I also invite you to call out without fear to all Malagasy society, and especially its leaders, with regard to the issue of poverty, which is largely due to corruption and lack of attention to the common good”.

Education is field in which the Church is very active in Madagascar. Therefore, the Pope asks the prelates to do everything in their power to “ensure that the greatest number of children, including those from the poorest families, have access to education, since as a result of economic difficulties many parents no longer have the economic means”. He also urges them to guarantee a Christian presence in public schools, so that Christians occupied in the field of education may “contribute to forming the Gospel and human values in the young generations that will be the leaders of the society to come”.

He goes on to mention that in their message for the end of the Year of Faith the bishops complained of the loss of the true “fihavanana”, a way of life typical of Malgasy culture, which promotes harmony and solidarity, and in relation to this he affirms that “the values that the Creator has instilled in your culture must continue to be transmitted, illuminated from within by the message of the Gospel. The dignity of the human person and the culture of peace, dialogue and reconciliation will find their place in society, leading to a better future”.

The Pope praises the implementation in dioceses throughout Madagascar of “an ambitious and very dynamic programme of formation for life and love”, and emphasises that the family “needs to be protected and defended so that it so that it may offer society the service expected of it, that of providing men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony”. With regard to challenges in the field of interreligious dialogue, he repeats that it is “urgent to develop, and also at times to initiate, a lucid and constructive dialogue in order to maintain peace between communities and to promote the common good”. He urges the prelates “never to doubt the strength of the Gospel, nor its ability to convert hearts to the resurrected Christ”, reiterating that for this to happen, “it is necessary that Christians bear daily witness to the faith they proclaim”, and for this witness to be credible, “life must be consistent with faith”.

“This invitation”, he continues, “is directed mainly at the clergy and consecrated persons. The priesthood, like consecrated life, is not a means of social climbing, but rather a service to God and to man”. Likewise, he remarks that chastity and obedience are essential virtues for priests and concludes, “The same applies with respect to temporal goods and prudence in their management. Offering a poor example in this area is particularly disastrous because of the scandal it causes, especially before a population that lives in poverty”.

 

CONFESSION IS AN EXPERIENCE OF LOVE AND MERCY, NOT A SENTENCING COURT

Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Hall of Blessings Pope Francis received in audience the six hundred participants in the annual course of the internal forum of the Apostolic Penitentiary. For a quarter of a century this dicastery has offered the course, especially to recently ordained priests and deacons, to contribute to the formation of good confessors.

In his address, the Holy Father encouraged those present to “treasure the experience acquired with wise creativity, to further help the Church and confessors to perform their ministry of mercy, which is so important”, and reflected on three key points related to confession.

“Firstly, the agent of the ministry of Reconciliation is the Holy Spirit”, he said. “The forgiveness that the Sacrament confers is the new life transmitted by the Risen Lord by means of His Spirit. … Therefore, you are required always to be “men of the Holy Spirit”, witnesses and proclaimers, joyful and strong, of the resurrection of the Lord”. The Bishop of Rome encouraged them to welcome penitents “not with the attitude of a judge or even that of a mere friend, but with God's charity. … A priest's heart is a heart that is able to be touched. … If it is true that tradition suggests the dual role of doctor and judge for confessors, we must never forget that the doctor cures and the judge absolves”.

Moving on to the second aspect, he explained, “If Reconciliation transmits the new life of the Risen Lord and renews baptismal grace, then your task is to give this generously to your brethren. A priest who does not take care of this part of his ministry … is like a shepherd who does not take care of his lost sheep. … But mercy is at the heart of the Gospel! It is the good news that God loves us, that He always loves man the sinner, and with this love he draws man towards Him and invites him to convert. We must not forget that the faithful often struggle to receive this Sacrament, both for practical reasons and for the natural difficulty of confessing one's own sins to another man. Therefore, it is necessary to work hard upon ourselves, on our humanity, so as never to be an obstacle to but rather to facilitate an approach to mercy and forgiveness. … Confession is not a sentencing court, but rather an experience of forgiveness and mercy!”.

Finally, Pope Francis referred to the difficulties that may frequently be encountered in confession. “There are many reasons, both historical and spiritual. However, we know that the Lord wished to offer this immense gift to the Church, offering the baptised the security of the Father's forgiveness. For this reason, it is very important that particular care is taken in the celebration of this Sacrament of forgiveness and salvation in all dioceses and parish communities. It is essential that in every parish the faithful know when they can find available priests: when there is trust, the fruits can be seen”.

 

THE HISTORY OF THE BIBLE'S JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD

Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the exhibition Verbum Domini II: “God's Word goes out to the Nations” is an exhibition that gathers together more than 200 historical findings, texts and rare Bible artefacts that tell the story of the Bible's journey around the world. The exhibition is sponsored by the Museum of the Bible and will be held in the Vatican's Charlemagne Wing from 2 April to 22 June 2014.

The speakers in the conference were Cary Summers, Chief Operating Officer of the Museum of the Bible, Fr. Jose Maria Abrego de Lacy S.J., rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, deputy prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The works that make up the exhibition belong to the Green Collection, the Vatican Library, the Vatican Museums and other institutional and private collections in the United States and Europe, and include: a page of the Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV, a manuscript created around the year 200 which contains much of the text of the Gospels according to Luke and John; a double page of the famous Codex Vaticanus, a manuscipt on parchment from the first half of the fourth century; and the Codex Claromontanus of the fifth and seventh centuries, valuable evidence of the Gospels translated into Latin in the Vulgate of St. Jerome.

Entry to the museum is free, and allows the visitor to travel through time and space, discovering how the Word of God has gone out to the Nationals, being accessible to different cultures while remaining faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew.

 

AUDIENCES

Vatican City, 28 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Bishop emeritus Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Federal Republic of Germany.

- Eleven prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, on their “ad limina” visit:

- Bishop Fulgence Razakarivony of Ihosy;

- Bishop Jose Alfredo Caires de Nobrega of Mananjary;

- Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina;

- Bishop Antoine Scopelliti of Ambatondrazaka;

- Bishop Marcellin Randriamamonjy of Fenoarivo Antsinanana;

- Bishop Gaetano Di Pierro of Moramanga;

- Archbishop Fulgence Rabeony of Toliara;

- Bishop Zygmunt Robaszkiewicz of Morombe;

- Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilambonianina of Morondava, with his auxiliary, Bishop Donald Joseph Leo Pelletier;

- Bishop Vincent Rakotozafy of Tolagnaro.

Yesterday, Thursday 27 March, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

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