November 26, 2014

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- The Pope addresses press on the return flight from Strasbourg: “I never give up a cause for lost”

- General Audience: the Church on the path to the Kingdom of Heaven

- Francis asks for prayers for his trip to Turkey

- Pope Francis' message to the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities

- First International Prayer Day and reflection on human trafficking

- In brief

- Other Pontifical Acts

The Pope addresses press on the return flight from Strasbourg: “I never give up a cause for lost”

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – During his return journey from Strasbourg, where he addressed both the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis answered questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on the flight. The questions and the Holy Father's answers are published below.

Q: “Your Holiness addressed the European Parliament with pastoral works that may also be regarded as political words, and which may be linked, in my opinion, to a social-democratic stance - for example, when you say that we must ensure that the true expressive force of populations is not removed by multinational powers. Could we say that you are a social-democrat Pope?”

Pope Francis: “This would be reductive. It makes me feel as if I am part of a collection of insects: 'This is a social-democratic insect ...'. No, I would say not. I don't know if I am a social-democrat Pope or not. I would not dare to define myself as belonging to one side or another. I dare say that this comes from the Gospel: this is the message of the Gospel, taken up by the social doctrine of the Church. In reality, in this and in other things – social and political – that I have said, I have not detached myself from the social Doctrine of the Church. The social Doctrine of the Church comes from the Gospel and from Christian tradition. What I said – the identity of the people – is a Gospel value, is it not? In this sense, I say it. But you have made me laugh, thank you!”

Q: “There is almost no-one on the streets of Strasbourg this morning. The people say they are disappointed. Do you regret not visiting the Cathedral of Strasbourg, that celebrates is millennium this year? And when will you make your first trip to France, and where? Lisieux, perhaps?”

Pope Francis: “No, it is not yet planned, but one should certainly go to Paris. Then, there is a proposal to go to Lourdes. I have asked to visit a city where no Pope has yet been, to greet the citizens. But the plan has not yet been made. No, for Strasbourg, a visit to the cathedral was considered but it would have mean already making a visit to France, and this was the problem”.

Q: During your address to the Council of Europe I was struck by the concept of transversality, especially with reference to your meetings with young politicians in various countries, and indeed you spoke of the need for a sort of pact between generations, an intergenerational agreement at the margins of this transversality. Also, if I may ask, is it true that you are devoted to St. Joseph, and have a statue of him in your room?”

Pope Francis: “Yes, it is true. Whenever I have asked something of St. Joseph, he has granted it to me. The fact of 'transversality' is important. I have seen in dialogue with young politicians in the Vatican, from different parties and nations, that they speak with a differetn music, that tends towards transversality, and this is valuable. They are not afraid of coming out of their own territory, without denying it, but coming out in order to engage in dialogue. They are courageous! I believe that we must imitate this, along with intergenerational dialogue. This tendency to come out to find people of other origins and to engage in dialogue: Europe needs this today”.

Q: “In your second discourse, to the Council of Europe, you spoke about the sins of the sons of the Church. I would like to know if you have received the news on the events in Granada [alleged sexual abuse of minors by priests in the archdiocese, Ed.], that in a certain sense you brought to light...”

Pope Francis: “I received the news – it was sent to me, I read it, I called the person and I said, 'Tomorrow you must go to the bishop', and I wrote to the bishop asking him to begin work, to start the investigation and go ahead. How did I receive the news? With great pain, with very great sadness. But the truth is the truth, and we cannot hide it”.

Q: “In your addresses in Strasbourg, you spoke frequently of both the threat of terrorism and the threat of slavery: these are attitudes that are also typical of the Islamic State, which threatens much of the Mediterranean, which threatens Rome and also threatens you personally. Do you think it is possible to engage in dialogue with these extremists, or do you think this is a lost cause?”

Pope Francis: “I never give something up as a lost cause: never. Perhaps dialogue is not possible, but never close the door. It is difficult, one might say almost impossible, but the door is always open. You have used the word 'threaten' twice: it is true, terrorism is a threat. … But slavery is a real situation embedded in the today's social fabric, and has been for some time. Slave labour, human trafficking, the trade in children … it is a crisis! We must not close our eyes to this. Slavery, today, is a reality, the exploitation of people … And then there is the threat of these terrorists. But there is another threat, and it is State terrorism. When the situation becomes critical, and each State believes it has the right to massacre the terrorists, many who are innocent fall prey alongside the terrorists. This is a form of high-level anarchy that is very dangerous. It is necessary to fight terrorism, but I repeat what I said during my previous trip: when it is necessary to stop an unjust aggressor, it must be done with international consensus”.

Q: “In your heart, when you travel to Strasbourg, do you travel as Peter's Successor, as the bishop of Rome, or as the archbishop of Buenos Aires?”

Pope Francis: “As all three, I think. My memory is that of the archbishop of Buenos Aires, but I am no longer in that role. Now I am the bishop of Rome and Peter's Successor, and I think that I travel with this memory but with these realities; I travel with all these things. Europe worries me at the moment; it is good for me to go ahead in order to help, as the bishop of Rome and Peter's Successor; in this respect I am Roman”.

General Audience: the Church on the path to the Kingdom of Heaven

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated the catechesis of this morning's general audience to “a fundamental truth that Vatican Council II kept clearly in mind, and which must never be forgotten: the Church is not a static reality, still, an end in itself, but is instead continually in progress through history, towards the final, marvellous destination that is the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the earthly Church is the seed and the beginning”. He continued, “When we face this horizon, we realise that our imagination stops and discovers that it is only just able to intuit the splendour of the mystery that overcomes our senses. And certain questions arise spontaneously in us: when will this final passage take place? What will the new dimension in which the Church enters be like? What will become of humanity? And of the Creation that surrounds us? But these questions are not new; they had already been posed by Jesus' disciples in those times”.

Francis explained that, faced with these questions, the Council Constitution “Gaudium et spes” affirms that “we are unaware of when the earth and humanity will come to an end, and we do not know how the universe will be transformed. Certainly, the appearance of this world, deformed by sin, will pass away. However, we know from Revelation that God prepares a new home and a new land, in which justice will abide, and whose joy will superabundantly satiate all the desires for peace that arise from the heart of man. … We will finally be clothed in joy, peace and God's love, completely and without any limit, face to face with Him”.

In this way, the Pontiff emphasised that it is good to perceive that there is a basic continuity and communion between the Church in Heaven and the Church in her earthly path, without forgetting that we are always invited to offer good works, prayers and the Eucharist to alleviate the suffering of souls that still await endless beatitude. “From a Christian perspective the distinction is no longer between those who are already dead and those who are not, but between those who are with Christ and those who are not. This is the decisive element for our salvation and for our happiness”.

“At the same time, the Sacred Scripture teaches us that the fulfilment of this marvellous plan cannot but affect all that which surrounds us and which emerged from the thought and the heart of God. … What we expect, as the completion of a transformation that is in reality already in process ever since Christ's death and resurrection, is therefore a new creation; it is not, therefore, the annihilation of the cosmos and all that which surrounds us, but rather bringing everything to its fullness of being, of truth, of beauty. This is the plan that God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has always wished to fulfil, and is fulfilling”. He concluded, “when we think of these stupendous reality that awaits us, we realise the extent to which belonging to the Church is truly a wonderful gift, that leads towards the highest vocation”.

Francis asks for prayers for his trip to Turkey

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – Following today's catechesis, the Pope offered special greetings to the Arab-speaking faithful, in particular those from Iraq and the Middle East. “The violence, suffering and the seriousness of the sins committed must lead us to leave all to the justice of God, who will judge each one according to his works. Be strong and cling to the Church and to your faith, so as to purify the world with your confidence; transform with your hope and heal with your forgiveness, with the love and patience of your witness. May the Lord protect and support you”.

Finally, during his greetings in Italian, and recalled that tomorrow his three-day apostolic trip to Turkey will begin, he invited those present to pray that “Peter's visit to his brother Andrew may bring fruits of peace, sincere dialogue between religions and harmony in the Turkish nation”.

Pope Francis' message to the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father sent a message to Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain, on the occasion of the International Pastoral Congress on the World's Big Cities, held in the Catalan capital.

“I am glad to learn of the work accomplished and encourage all to continue to reflect creatively on the way to face the task of evangelising in great urban centres, in increasing expansion, and in which everyone needs to feel the closeness and mercy of God, who does not abandon”, writes the Pope.

“The Church has the mission of ensuring that the Good News of Jesus Christ and His salvific love reaches all environments, without fear of pluralism and without any form of discrimination. She does not consider it a loss to go out to the peripheries or to change the usual preconceptions, when necessary. Like a mother, whose primary concern is the wellbeing of her children, without sparing any effort or sacrifice, may she ensure they never lack the light of the Gospel that fills life with hope, joy and peace; that they never lack acceptance to feel integrated within a community, in circumstances of disintegration or in cold anonymity; that there grows in them the spirit of authentic solidarity with all, especially with those most in need”.

First International Prayer Day and reflection on human trafficking

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the international male and female Unions of Superior Generals (UISG and USG) have convoked an international conference for prayer and reflection on human trafficking, tobe held on 8 February 2015, feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese slave canonised in 2000.

According to a press release, “human trafficking is one of the worst examples of slavery in the XXI Century. This concerns the whole world. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) roughly 21 million people, often very poor and vulnerable, are victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour and begging, illegal organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriages, illegal adoption and other forms of exploitation. Each year around 2.5 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery: 60 are women and children. They often suffer abuse and unspeakable violence. On the other hand, for traffickers and pimps, this is one of the most lucrative illegal activities in the world, generating a total of 32 billion dollars a year. It is the third most profitable 'business' after drugs and arms trafficking”.

“The primary objective of the International Day is to create greater awareness on this phenomenon and to reflect on the overall situation of violence and injustice that affect so many people, who have no voice, do not count, and are no one: they are simply slaves. Another goal is to attempt to provide solutions to counter this modern form of slavery by taking concrete actions. For this, it is necessary to stress the need to ensure rights, freedom and dignity to all trafficked persons, reduced to slavery. On the other hand, we must denounce both the criminal organisations and those who use and abuse the poverty and vulnerability of victims to transform them into goods for pleasure and gain”.

In brief

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) –

CARDINAL JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR Interreligious Dialogue is participating in the 9th Colloquium between the aforementioned Pontifical Council and the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue (CID) of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation (ICRO), held in Teheran, Iran from 25 to 26 November on the theme “Christians and Muslims in constructive dialogue for the good of society”. In his address, the cardinal remarked that the term “construction” normally refers to the building of a house on strong foundations, and emphasised that “we need to be sure that we are doing good work, on solid foundations, to be sure of the hoped results for our present and our future”. Other themes to be considered during the meeting are spirituality, religious values as a response to extremism and violence, and the role of the media in promoting a culture of dialogue. Cardinal Tauran remarked that, when agreeing the sub-themes during the preparatory meeting, no-one imagined that extremism and violence would become as dramatic as they are today. “We cannot remain silent or indifferent to the extreme, inhuman and multi-form violence to which Christians and Yezedis have been subjected. Many of them, as we know, have preferred death to renouncing their faith. They are true martyrs. … Nothing can justify these heinous acts. Invoking religion to justify these crimes would be a crime against religion itself as well”.

ARCHBISHOP DOMINIQUE MAMBERTI, SECRETARY FOR RELATIONS WITH STATES yesterday addressed the plenary assembly of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in Sydney, in a discourse devoted to the diplomatic activity of the Holy See, with special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East. “The Holy See's diplomacy has various particular aims, which flow from its primarily spiritual mission. These include the defence of the Church's rights and freedom, and of religious liberty in general, the promotion of an ethical vision in the various questions which affect human life, society and development, the defence of human dignity and rights, the promotion of reconciliation and peace, the promotion of integral human development and humanitarian interests, the protection of the environment and, when requested, the mediation of disputes”.

The Holy See, he added, “is very concerned about the tragic situation currently unfolding in the Middle East. It does not propose technical solutions but it is tirelessly involved in raising international awareness and in appealing to the international community to intervene as a matter of urgency to stop the aggressor, provide humanitarian aid and address the root causes of the present crisis”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 26 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Celestin Hakizimana as bishop of Gikongoro (area 2,057, population 582,159, Catholics 248,471, priests 51, religious 70), Rwanda. The bishop-elect was born in Kigali, Rwanda in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1991. He holds a doctorate in theology from the San Tommaso Faculty of Theology in Naples, Italy, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar in Rutongo, diocesan representative for Catholic education, director of the St. Paul National Pastoral Centre in Kigali, and director of GEMECA-Rwanda. He is currently secretary general of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda.

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