February 20, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- To the bishops of Ukraine: indicate the values that bind Ukrainian society

- Communique from the Managing Board and the College of Auditors of the Vatican Pensions Fund

- The Holy See at the United Nations: social development policies must address the spiritual and ethical dimension of the human person

- Audiences

To the bishops of Ukraine: indicate the values that bind Ukrainian society

Vatican City, 20 February 2015 (VIS) - “I welcome you to this house, which is also yours. And you are well aware of this, as the Successor of Peter has always welcomed his brothers from Ukraine with fraternal friendship”, begins the Pope's written discourse to the bishops of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. The encounter takes place in the context of a serious and prolonged conflict within the country, which “continues to claim many innocent victims and to cause great suffering to the entire population”.

The Pope met with the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, the bishop of Mukachevo of Byzantine rite, and the bishops of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in separate audiences in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace. The signed discourse was handed to the representatives of each the three Ukrainian ecclesiastical jurisdictions.

“In this period”, continues Francis, “I am particularly close to you in my prayers for the deceased and for all those who have been afflicted by violence, with my plea that the Lord might grant peace soon, and with my appeal to all interested parties to implement joint agreements and to respect the principle of international law, and especially to observe the recently signed armistice and all other commitments that are conditions for avoiding a resumption of hostilities”.

“I know the historical events that have scarred your land and which are still present in your collective memory. These are issues that in part have a political basis, to which you are not required to respond directly; but there are also socio-cultural realities and human tragedies that await your direct and positive contribution. In such circumstances, it is important to listen attentively to the voices that come from the land, from the people entrusted to your pastoral care. Listening to your people, you are able to solicit those values that characterise them: encounter, collaboration, the capacity to resolve disagreements. In short: the search for a possible peace. You are able to nurture this ethical heritage with charity, the divine love that stems from the heart of Christ”.

The Holy Father acknowledges that, “at local level, there are specific and practical agreements between you, heirs to two legitimate spiritual traditions – Oriental and Latin – as well as the other Christians among you. This, as well as a duty, is also an honour that must be recognised”. He also reiterates that the bishops, at national level, are full citizens of their country and therefore have the right to express their thought, also jointly, regarding its destiny, “not in the sense of promoting concrete political action, but in the indication and reaffirmation of the values that constitute the binding element of Ukrainian society, persevering in the tireless search for harmony and the common good, even when faced with serious and complex difficulties”. He emphasises, “The Holy See is by your side, also in international forums, to ensure that your rights, concerns and the right Gospel values that inspire you are understood, and seeks also to help meet the pastoral needs of those ecclesiastical structures that also find themselves having to face new legal questions”.

The crisis unfolding in Ukraine has undoubtedly had “serious repercussions on family life. United with this is a misunderstood sense of economic freedom that has enabled a small group of people to become enormously rich at the expense of the great majority of citizens. The presence of this phenomenon has also contaminated public institutions, to varying degrees. It has generated an inequitable poverty in a generous and rich land”. Therefore, the Pope exhorts the bishops to tirelessly remind their fellow citizens of “the considerations that faith and pastoral responsibility suggest to you. The meaning of justice and truth is first moral rather than political, and this is incumbent upon you as pastors. How much freer you will be as ministers of Christ's Church, as, in spite of your poverty, you become defenders of families, of the poor, of the unemployed, of the weak, the sick, the elderly, invalids and displaced persons”.

After encouraging the Ukrainian bishops to renew their zeal for the constant announcement of the Gospel and to pray attention to vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, the Ponfiff then goes on to consider the rapport between bishops, while aware of the “complex historical factors that weigh upon your mutual relations, as well as aspects of personal character”.

“The fact that both episcopates are Catholic and Ukrainian remains indisputable, in spite of differences of rites and traditions. I am personally saddened to hear that there are incomprehensions and that harm has been done. There is a need for a doctor, and this doctor is Jesus Christ, whom you both serve with generosity and with all your hearts. You are a single body and, as both St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI have done in the past, I exhort you to find between you a way to accept each other and to support each other generously in your apostolic labours. The unity of the episcopate, aside from giving a good example to the People of God, represents an inestimable service to the nation at a cultural, social, and above all spiritual level”. You are united in fundamental values and have the most valuable treasure in common: faith and the People of God. Therefore, I regard joint meetings of the bishops of all the “sui iuris” Churches present in Ukraine to be of the highest importance”.

“Whether Greek-Catholics or Latins, you are sons of the Catholic Church, which has been subject to martyrdom in your land too”, remarks Francis. “May the blood of your witnesses, who intercede from Heaven on your behalf, be a further inspiration to a true communion of hearts. Unite your strength and support each other, transforming historical events into a reason for sharing and unity. Well-rooted in the Catholic community, you can also apply yourselves with faith and patience to ecumenism, so that all Christians may grow in unity and cooperation. I am sure that your decisions, in accordance with the Successor of Peter, will be able to take on board the expectations of all your People. I invite you all to govern the Communities entrusted to you ensuring as far as possible your presence and closeness to the priests and faithful. I hope that you may maintain respectful and fruitful relations with the public authorities”.

Finally, the Holy Father exhorts them to pay great attention to the poor. “They are your wealth”, he emphasises. “You are the pastors of a flock entrusted to you by Christ; always be clearly aware of this, even within your internal organs of self-governance, which must always be understood as instruments of communion and prophecy. In this sense, I hope that your intentions and your actions will always be oriented towards the overall good of the Churches entrusted to you. … I impart with affection a special apostolic blessing to you, your communities and the dear population of Ukraine”.

Communique from the Managing Board and the College of Auditors of the Vatican Pensions Fund

Vatican City, 20 February 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the communique issued today by the Managing Board and the College of Auditors of the Vatican Pension Fund:

“Since for some months, and amplified by press reports, alarming data has been circulating regarding the situation of the Vatican Pensions Fund and on the sustainability of honouring the commitments undertaken towards present and future subscribers, the Managing Board of the Fund and the College of Auditors consider it opportune to officially communicate the actuarial situation, assets and income of the aforementioned Fund, as it appears in the actuarial Technical Financial Statements drawn up by the actuary and the Financial Statements regularly approved by the Secretary of State.

With regard to the actuarial aspect, there is a substantial balance between available resources and commitments to current and future employees, due also to interventions (approved by the Secretary of State following proposals by the Managing Board) both in terms of contributions (increase of rates throughout the years up to the current rate of 26% on the total of taxable income) and in relation to performance (increase of two years of working life, raising the age of retirement to 67 for laypersons and 72 for clergy and persons religious.

The working Statements also show, throughout the years, the solidity of the assets and financial structure of the Fund itself. The funding ratio of the Pensions Fund is 0.95%. From a strictly income-based perspective, the economic and financial situation of the institution records a gradual increase of financial and real estate resources both in terms of capital resources which, from 1993 to 2013 increased on average from € 22,256,196 per year, and in terms of the upward trend in net profit, which during the last 6 years has passed from € 23,583,882 to € 26,866,657, sums sufficient to cover the current costs of pensions.

To complete the picture, the Fund’s assets on 31 December 2014 were recorded at € 477,668,000. Adding the budget surplus for 2015, estimated to be around € 27,140,000, a net worth by 31 December 2015 of over 504 million euros may be hypothesised, confirming the real solidity of the Fund, which has progressed from an initial budget of 10 billion of the old Italian lire in 1993 to over 500 million euros in little more than twenty years”.

The Holy See at the United Nations: social development policies must address the spiritual and ethical dimension of the human person

Vatican City, 20 February 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York addressed the 53rd Session of the Commission for Social Development on 10 February. He highlighted the Holy See's concerns regarding economic growth which has led to new challenges, but has not benefited everyone in society equally. Significant inequalities remain and many of the most vulnerable groups in society have been left behind. Without addressing these inequalities, especially as we transition into the post 2015 development agenda, we risk undermining the impact of economic growth on poverty and on the well-being of society as a whole.

“To be sustainable and beneficial for all, social development must be ethical, moral and person-centred”, he said. “We must be attentive to those indicators that give a complete picture of the well-being of every individual in society while promoting policies that encourage a truly integral approach to the development of the human person as a whole”.

He continued, “It is not enough to have gainful employment. Work must also be dignified and secure. Investments in education, access to basic health-care services, and the creation of social safety nets are primary, not secondary factors to improving a person’s quality of life, and ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth and resources in society. By placing the human person at the centre of development and encouraging investments and policies that meet real needs, the progress made towards eradicating poverty remains permanent and society more resilient in the face of potential crises”.

The archbishop reiterated that the market economy does not exist to serve itself, but rather to serve the common good of all of society, and therefore particular attention must be given to the welfare of the most vulnerable. He added that “the authentic integral development of the person and the eradication of poverty are achievable only by focusing on the tremendous value of the family to society”, and by adopting a strategic approach towards the eradication of poverty, “based on true social justice in order to help reduce the suffering of millions of our brothers and sisters. … Social development policies must address not only the economic and political needs, but also the spiritual and ethical dimension of each human person”.

Audiences

Vatican City, 20 February 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Prelates of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, accompanied by his auxiliaries, Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh and Bishop Yosyf Milan;

- Bishop Stepan Meniok, archiepiscopal exarch of Donetsk;

- Bishop Mykhaylo Bubniy, archiepiscopal exarch of Odessa;

- Bishop Josaphat Oleh Hovera, archiepiscopal exarch of Lutsk;

- Archbishop Volodymyr Viytyshyn of Ivano-Frankivsk, accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Yosafat Moshchych;

- Bishop Vasyl Ivasiuk, of Kololyia-Chernivtsi;

- Bishop Ihor Voznyak, archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk;

- Bishop Jaroslav Pryriz of Sambir-Drohobych, accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Hryhoriy Komar;

- Bishop Mykhaylo Koltun of Sokal-Zhovkva;

- Bishop Taras Senkiv of Stryi. accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Bohdan Manyshyn;

- Archbishop Vasyl Semeniuk of Ternopil-Zboriv;

- Bishop Dmytro Hryhorak, Vescovo di Buchach;

- Bishop Vasyl Tuchapets, archiepiscopal exarch of Kharkiv;

- Bishop Dionisio Lachovicz, apostolic visitator for the Ukrainian faithful of Byzantine Rite resident in Italy and Spain;

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- Bishop Milan Sasik of Mukachevo of Byzantine Rite, accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Nil Yuriy Lushchak:

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Prelates of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in Ukraine on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, of Lviv of the Latins;

- Bishop Leonid Dubrawski of Kamyanets-Podilskyi, accompanied by his auxiliary, Bishop Radoslaw Zmitrowicz;

- Bishop Stanislav Szyrokoradiuk of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Marian Buczek and his auxiliary, Bishop Jan Sobilo;

- Archbishop-Bishop Petro Herkulan Malchuk of Kyiv-Zhytomir;

- Bishop Vitaliy Skomarovskyi of Lutsk;

- Bishop Antal Majnek of Mukachevo of the Latins;

- Bishop Bronislaw Bernacki of Odessa-Simferopol, with his auxiliary Bishop Jacek Pyl.

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