January 16, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- The Pope speaks with journalists on the flight to Manila

- Francis praises the heroic strength of the Filipino people in the face of natural disasters

- Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Cathedral of Manila

- To families: be aware of your calling as Jesus' missionary disciples

- Conclusion of the meeting of presidents of Doctrinal Commissions

- Other Pontifical Acts

The Pope speaks with journalists on the flight to Manila

Vatican City, 15 January 2015 (VIS) – Following the first part of his seventh apostolic trip, on the flight from Colombo to Manila, Pope Francis spent forty minutes answering questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on a number of issues relating not only to his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but also the attacks in Paris, freedom of worship and expression, security on papal trips and his forthcoming encyclical. This latter, he said, is likely to be completed around the end of March and published in June or July.

The following is a summary of some of the Pope's answers.

On suicide and kamikaze attacks

“Behind every suicide attack there is an element of human imbalance; I do not know if this can be considered mental imbalance, but human. There is something that does not function in this person. He is not balanced in terms of the meaning of his life, of his own life and that of others. He gives his life, but he does not do so in the right way. Many people work – missionaries, for example – giving their own lives, but constructively. This, instead, is self-destruction in order to destroy”.

On security during papal trips and terrorist threats

“The best way to respond is with gentleness. To be gentle, humble. … I worry about the safety of the faithful, and have spoken about this with the Vatican security officials. … Am I afraid? I have a fault, a large dose of recklessness … but I know that it is necessary to take security measures, prudent but sure”.

On freedom of worship and expression

“I believe that these are both fundamental human rights. … We are talking about Paris, let''s be clear. Everyone has the right to practice their own religion freely, without offending. … One cannot offend, make war and kill in the name of their religion, that is, in God's name. What is happening shocks us. But let us think about how many wars there have been in the name of religion, throughout history. … We too are sinners in this respect. But we must not kill in the God's name. This is an aberration. … Every person has not only the freedom, the right, but also the duty to say what he or she thinks in aid of the common good … but without offending. It is true that one should not react violently, but if my friend insults my mother he can expect a punch! It is normal, one should not provoke, one should not insult other people's faith. There is a limit, and there are limits to the freedom of expression”.

Francis praises the heroic strength of the Filipino people in the face of natural disasters

Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning, local time, the Pope paid a visit to the Presidential Palace, where he signed the Golden Book and then proceeded to the Music Room, where he was received by Benigno Simeon Conjuangco Aquino III, president of the Republic of the Philippines and his family. Forty-five minutes later the Pope addressed the authorities and the diplomatic corps in the Rizal Ceremonial Hall.

“In a particular way, this visit is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured the suffering, loss and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda”, he began. “Together with many people throughout the world, I have admired the heroic strength, faith and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of this natural disaster, and so many others. Those virtues, rooted not least in the hope and solidarity instilled by Christian faith, gave rise to an outpouring of goodness and generosity, especially on the part of so many of the young. In that moment of national crisis, countless people came to the aid of their neighbours in need. At great sacrifice, they gave of their time and resources, creating networks of mutual help and working for the common good.

“This example of solidarity in the work of rebuilding teaches us an important lesson”, he continued. “Like a family, every society draws on its deepest resources in order to face new challenges. Today the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, faces the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights, and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions. As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace”.

Essential to the attainment of these national goals, he explained, “is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity. The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart. The bishops of the Philippines have asked that this year be set aside as the 'Year of the Poor'. I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and inspire concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community”.

A fundamental role in the renewal of society is played “by the family and especially by young people. A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with families and with young people here in Manila. Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others. But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support. We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm. For this reason, families and local communities must be encouraged and assisted in their efforts to transmit to our young the values and the vision which can help bring about a culture of integrity – one which honours goodness, truthfulness, fidelity and solidarity as the firm foundation and the moral glue which holds society together.

“Mr President, distinguished authorities, dear friends, as I begin my visit to this country, I cannot fail to mention the Philippines’ important role in fostering understanding and cooperation among the countries of Asia. I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live. It is precisely in the light of the rich cultural and religious heritage of which your country is proud that I leave you with a challenge and a word of prayerful encouragement. May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development. In this way, each person will be able to fulfil his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country. I am confident that the praiseworthy efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between the followers of the different religions will prove fruitful in the pursuit of this noble goal. In a particular way, I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities”.

Following his address, Pope Francis proceeded by car to the Cathedral of Manila.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Cathedral of Manila

Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father made the five-kilometre journey from the Presidential Palace to the Cathedral of Manila by car, arriving shortly before 11 a.m. The Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is considered the mother of all the churches of the Philippines. The current structure dates from the 1950s when the status of Minor Basilica was granted by St. John Paul II, but the Cathedral has been rebuilt eight times since its initial construction in 1581. It has been destroyed by a typhoon, a fire, various earthquakes, and bombing during the Second World War. It was rebuilt entirely as a result of private donations from major businesses and from the faithful. Closed since 2012, it reopened in April 2014 with a solemn celebration by Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, attended by senior state figures including the president of the Republic, Benigno Aquino III.

The Pope celebrated Mass with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians of the Philippines, during which he pronounced the following homily:

“'Do you love me? … Tend my sheep'. Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel are the first words I speak to you, dear brother bishops and priests, men and women religious, and young seminarians. These words remind us of something essential. All pastoral ministry is born of love. All pastoral ministry is born of love! All consecrated life is a sign of Christ’s reconciling love. Like St. Therese, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church.

“I greet all of you with great affection. And I ask you to bring my affection to all your elderly and infirm brothers and sisters, and to all those who cannot join us today. As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelisation, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations. They laboured not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good. Today you carry on that work of love. Like them, you are called to build bridges, to pasture Christ’s flock, and to prepare fresh paths for the Gospel in Asia at the dawn of a new age.

“'The love of Christ impels us'. In today’s first reading Saint Paul tells us that the love we are called to proclaim is a reconciling love, flowing from the heart of the crucified Saviour. We are called to be 'ambassadors for Christ'. Ours is a ministry of reconciliation. We proclaim the Good News of God’s infinite love, mercy and compassion. We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world. It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.

“To be an ambassador for Christ means above all to invite everyone to a renewed personal encounter with the Lord Jesus. Our personal encounter with Him. This invitation must be at the core of your commemoration of the evangelisation of the Philippines. But the Gospel is also a summons to conversion, to an examination of our consciences, as individuals and as a people. As the Bishops of the Philippines have rightly taught, the Church in the Philippines is called to acknowledge and combat the causes of the deeply rooted inequality and injustice which mar the face of Filipino society, plainly contradicting the teaching of Christ. The Gospel calls individual Christians to live lives of honesty, integrity and concern for the common good. But it also calls Christian communities to create 'circles of integrity', networks of solidarity which can expand to embrace and transform society by their prophetic witness.

“The poor. The poor are at the centre of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel, and if we take away the poor from the Gospel we cannot understand the whole message of Jesus Christ. As ambassadors for Christ, we, bishops, priests and religious, ought to be the first to welcome his reconciling grace into our hearts. St. Paul makes clear what this means. It means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ. It means being the first to examine our consciences, to acknowledge our failings and sins, and to embrace the path of constant conversion, every day conversion. How can we proclaim the newness and liberating power of the Cross to others, if we ourselves refuse to allow the word of God to shake our complacency, our fear of change, our petty compromises with the ways of this world, our 'spiritual worldliness'?

“For us, priests and consecrated persons, conversion to the newness of the Gospel entails a daily encounter with the Lord in prayer. The saints teach us that this is the source of all apostolic zeal. For religious, living the newness of the Gospel also means finding ever anew in community life and community apostolates the incentive for an ever closer union with the Lord in perfect charity. For all of us, it means living lives that reflect the poverty of Christ, whose entire life was focused on doing the will of the Father and serving others. The great danger to this, of course, is a certain materialism which can creep into our lives and compromise the witness we offer. Only by becoming poor ourselves, by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping away our complacency, will we be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sisters. We will see things in a new light and thus respond with honesty and integrity to the challenge of proclaiming the radicalism of the Gospel in a society which has grown comfortable with social exclusion, polarisation and scandalous inequality.

“Here I would like to say address a special word to the young priests, religious and seminarians among us. I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers. Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope. Be present to those who, living in the midst of a society burdened by poverty and corruption, are broken in spirit, tempted to give up, to leave school and to live on the streets. Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family. As you know, these realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.

“Filipino culture has, in fact, been shaped by the imagination of faith. Filipinos everywhere are known for their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary; their love of God, their fervent piety and their warm devotion to Our Lady and her rosary! This great heritage contains a powerful missionary potential. It is the way in which your people has inculturated the Gospel and continues to embrace its message. In your efforts to prepare for the fifth centenary, build on this solid foundation.

“Christ died for all so that, having died in him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for him. Dear brother bishops, priests and religious: I ask Mary, Mother of the Church, to obtain for all of you an outpouring of zeal, so that you may spend yourselves in selfless service to our brothers and sisters. In this way, may the reconciling love of Christ penetrate ever more fully into the fabric of Filipino society and, through you, to the farthest reaches of the world”.

Following the Mass Pope Francis visited a house belonging to the Tulay ny Kabataan Foundation, which provides assistance to street children. He conversed with around three hundred of the children during his twenty-minute visit, during which he was moved by their gifts and displays of affection. He then returned to the apostolic nunciature to dine and to take an hour's rest.

To families: be aware of your calling as Jesus' missionary disciples

Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – At 5 p.m. local time the Pope proceeded to the Mall of Asia Arena to meet with families, the third scheduled event in his visit to the Filipino capital. He made the six-kilometre journey in the Popemobile so as to be able to greet the multitude of faithful who lined the streets. The Mall of Asia Arena is an indoor sports stadium, opened in 2012 and able to hold twenty thousand people, and belongs to the SM chain of shopping centres which broadcast the meeting with the Pope live to all its cinemas. The songs, testimonies, readings and floral tributes to the Holy Father were the culminating moments of the event, during which he addressed a discourse to those present.

“Dear families, dear friends in Christ, I am grateful for your presence here this evening and for the witness of your love for Jesus and his Church. I thank Bishop Reyes, chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, for his words of welcome on your behalf. And, in a special way, I thank those who have presented testimonies and have shared their life of faith with us.

“The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams. In the Gospel passage we have just heard, we find Joseph resting not once, but twice. This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you, and to reflect with you on the gift of the family.

“Joseph’s rest revealed God’s will to him. In this moment of rest in the Lord, as we pause from our many daily obligations and activities, God is also speaking to us. He speaks to us in the reading we have just heard, in our prayer and witness, and in the quiet of our hearts. Let us reflect on what the Lord is saying to us, especially in this evening’s Gospel. There are three aspects of this passage which I would ask you to consider: resting in the Lord, rising with Jesus and Mary, and being a prophetic voice.

“Resting in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us. Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities.

“To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day for prayer. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.

“Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. There we come to know God, to grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God’s greater family, the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church!

“Next, rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like St. Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act. Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.

“Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God’s plan is entrusted to us. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm.

“The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines need holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as St. John Paul II often said, passes through the family. So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.

“Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace. When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.

“During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them. You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!

“Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always”.

Following the meeting, the Pope retired to the apostolic nunciature, where he dined privately and spent his second night in the Philippines.

Conclusion of the meeting of presidents of Doctrinal Commissions

Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – From 13 to 15 January the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the presidents or representatives of the Doctrinal Commissions of the European Episcopal Conferences at the St. Adalbert Centre in Esztergom, Hungary. It was attended by, among others, Cardinal Gerhard L. Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria S.J., secretary of the same dicastery, and representatives of the various doctrinal commissions.

The meeting began with the reading of a letter from Pope Francis addressed to the participants, in which he emphasised that the initiative sought to enhance the role of local Episcopates, and in particular their Doctrinal Commissions, “in their responsibility for the unity and integrity of the faith” and its transmission to the young. With reference his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, the Pope expresses in his letter his hope that the meeting will will contribute to finding a collegial solution to the many doctrinal and pastoral difficulties that exist in present-day Europe, and inspire in the faithful “a new missionary zeal and greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe risks losing the very 'humanistic spirit' that it loves and defends”.

During the three-day meeting, which was characterised by cordiality and a spirit of affective and effective collegiality, a number of issues were considered in relation to the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel as the primary task of the Church in Europe, questions posed by gender theory, Christian anthropology and religious freedom, and the practical issues linked to the new evangelisation, the sacrament of reconciliation and the functioning of the Doctrinal Commission.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 16 January 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. José Maria Balina as auxiliary of Buenos Aires (area 203, population 2,944,000, Catholics 2,696,000, priests 782, permanent deacons 10, religious 1,951), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1959, and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has served as parish vicar in the parishes of “Inmaculada Concepcion”, “San Pablo Apostol”, and “La Sagrada Eucaristia”, and parish priest of the parishes of “Resurreccion del Senor” and “San Isidro Labrador”. He is a member of the presbyteral council of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires,

- Bishop Nicholas James Samra of Newton of the Greek-Melkites, U.S.A., as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the eparchy of Nuestra Senora del Paraiso en Mexico of the Greek-Melkites.

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