February 5, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- Defence of the environment central to the Pope's audience with the president of Kiribati

- To the bishops of Greece: “Christian solidarity is a leaven for hope”

- Francis calls for collaboration of episcopal conferences and religious superiors with the Commission for the Protection of Minors

- Audiences

- Other Pontifical Acts

Defence of the environment central to the Pope's audience with the president of Kiribati

Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Independent and Sovereign Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, emphasis was placed on the importance of the protection of the environment and on matters of climate change, which has worrying negative effects on the country, as in other Pacific States. In this regard, the hope was expressed that on the occasion of the COP-21, to be held in Paris next December, the international Community may adopt concerted and effective measures to face this challenge.

To the bishops of Greece: “Christian solidarity is a leaven for hope”

Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) - “Faced with the economic and financial crisis that has hit your country particularly hard, do not tire of exhorting trust in the future to all, resisting the culture of pessimism. The spirit of solidarity, that every Christian is called upon to bear witness to in the reality of everyday life, constitutes a leaven of hope”, writes the Pope in the text he handed to the prelates of the Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece this morning, at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit. He emphasises, in this context, that it is important for the bishops “to maintain constructive relations with the authorities of the country, as well as with the various members of society, so as to spread this outlook of solidarity … favouring dialogue and collaboration also with the other European countries”.

A key theme of the Pope's text is the need for fraternal communion between the prelates and, in turn, with the faithful in a “diakonia of fraternity”. This diakonia “on the one hand, postulates the stewardship and strengthening of cultural traditions and the Christian roots of Greek society, and on the other, requires openness to the cultural and spiritual values brought by many migrants, with a spirit of sincere acceptance towards these brothers and sisters, without distinction on the basis of race, language or religious belief. Your Christian communities, showing themselves to be truly united and at the same time open to encounter and acceptance, especially in relation to the most disadvantaged, can make a real contribution to transforming society, with the aim of making it more closely resemble the Gospel ideal. I rejoice in the knowledge that you are already engaged in this pastoral and charitable action, above all in favour of immigrants including those who are undocumented, many of whom are Catholic”.

In the same spirit, Francis encourages the Greek bishops to continue in their interpersonal dialogue with their Orthodox brothers, “with the aim of nurturing the necessary ecumenical journey, an indispensable prospect for a future of serenity and spiritual fecundity for your entire nation”. He also remarks that, in order to carry out the mission of evangelisation and human development, which the Church in Greece is called upon to perform, a “generous and motivated clergy” is essential. He encourages the promotion of “vocational pastoral care”, to deal with the insufficient number of priests, and urges the bishops “to transmit to the priests in your dioceses, many of whom are elderly, all my affection and appreciation for their apostolic zeal despite their limited means”. Similarly, he mentions the valuable contribution made by consecrated persons, notwithstanding the difficulties they face, and emphasises that in order to revitalise Christian communities it is necessary to fully acknowledge and promote the role of laypersons and to increase “the presence of ecclesial movements and associations … always working in keeping with the guidelines of the particular Churches and well integrated in the dioceses and parishes”. With regard to the family, the Holy Father insists on the need for programmes in preparation for marriage and work on the Christian formation of the new generations. He indicates the importance of underlining, “with words and actions, that the presence and participation of the elderly in social life is indispensable for the good progress of a population”.

“Dear brothers in the episcopate”, he concludes, “I wish to express my acknowledgement of the work of evangelisation that, despite many difficulties, you are carrying out in Greece. The legal recognition of the Catholic Church on the part of the competent authorities is an event of great importance, that will help you to look to the future with greater serenity, making efforts today with trustful dynamism and the enthusiasm of those who are witnesses to the Risen Lord. I encourage you to persevere in your mission with evangelical joy”.

Francis calls for collaboration of episcopal conferences and religious superiors with the Commission for the Protection of Minors

Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and the superiors of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, in which he calls for collaboration with the Commission for the Protection of Minors, instituted in March 2014. The following is the full text of the letter, signed in the Vatican on 2 February, feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

“Last March I established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which had first been announced in December 2013, for the purpose of offering proposals and initiatives meant to improve the norms and procedures for protecting children and vulnerable adults. I then appointed to the Commission a number of highly qualified persons well-known for their work in this field.

At my meeting in July with persons who had suffered sexual abuse by priests, I was deeply moved by their witness to the depth of their sufferings and the strength of their faith. This experience reaffirmed my conviction that everything possible must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused.

For this reason, last December I added new members to the Commission, in order to represent the Particular Churches throughout the world. In just a few days, all the members will meet in Rome for the first time.

In light of the above, I believe that the Commission can be a new, important and effective means for helping me to encourage and advance the commitment of the Church at every level – Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and others – to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and to respond to their needs with fairness and mercy.

Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children. They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home. Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.

Every effort must also be made to ensure that the provisions of the Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 3 May 2011 are fully implemented. This document was issued to assist Episcopal Conferences in drawing up guidelines for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. It is likewise important that Episcopal Conferences establish a practical means for periodically reviewing their norms and verifying that they are being observed.

It is the responsibility of Diocesan Bishops and Major Superiors to ascertain that the safety of minors and vulnerable adults is assured in parishes and other Church institutions. As an expression of the Church’s duty to express the compassion of Jesus towards those who have suffered abuse and towards their families, the various Dioceses, Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are urged to identify programmes for pastoral care which include provisions for psychological assistance and spiritual care. Pastors and those in charge of religious communities should be available to meet with victims and their loved ones; such meetings are valuable opportunities for listening to those have greatly suffered and for asking their forgiveness.

For all of these reasons, I now ask for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors. The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your Conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programmes of education, training, and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse.

May the Lord Jesus instil in each of us, as ministers of the Church, the same love and affection for the little ones which characterised his own presence among us, and which in turn enjoins on us a particular responsibility for the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of tenderness and mercy, help us to carry out, generously and thoroughly, our duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices and to remain ever faithful in the work of protecting those closest to the heart of Jesus”.

Audiences

Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;

- Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, of Philadelphia, U.S.A.;

- Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio in Bolivia;

- Eight prelates of the Holy Synod of Catholic Bishops of Greece, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Sevastianos Rossolatos of Athens; apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Rhodes, with Archbishop emeritus Nikolaos Foskolos;

- Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris of Corfu, Zante and Kefalonia; apostolic administrator “ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the apostolic vicariate of Thessaloniki;

- Bishop Nikolaos Printezis of Naxos, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos; apostolic administrator “sede vacante” of Chios;

- Bishop Petros Stefanou of Syros, Milos and Santorini, with Bishop emeritus Frangkiskos Papamanolis;

- Bishop Dimitrios Salachas, apostolic esarch for Catholics of Byzantine rite resident in Greece;

- Archbishop Neshan Karakeheyan, apostolic administrator of the Ordinary for Catholics of Armenian rite resident in Greece.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 5 February 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Bruno Musaro as apostolic nuncio in the Arab Republic of Egypt and delegate at the League of Arab States. Archbishop Musaro is currently apostolic nuncio in Cuba.

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