April 24, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- The Pope receives the president of the Czech Republic: strengthen collaboration in areas of common interest

- “Ad Limina” visit of the bishops of Lesotho and Namibia: be generous in bringing Christ's tenderness to those who suffer

- The Holy See at the United Nations: condemnation of violence against women in armed conflict

- Audiences

- Other Pontifical Acts

The Pope receives the president of the Czech Republic: strengthen collaboration in areas of common interest

Vatican City, 24 April 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, who subsequently met with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, which took place on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the then-Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, which took place on 19 April 1990, mutual willingness to strengthen the good bilateral relations was confirmed, along with the hope of concluding negotiations with a view to stipulating a bilateral Agreement. The Parties expressed their wish to further develop cooperation between Church and State in sectors of mutual interest, especially in culture, education and social welfare, for the benefit of the entire nation.

Attention then turned to the current international context, with special attention to the situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

“Ad Limina” visit of the bishops of Lesotho and Namibia: be generous in bringing Christ's tenderness to those who suffer

Vatican City, 24 April 2015 (VIS) – Today Pope Francis received in audience the bishops of Lesotho and Namibia, “lands known for their flourishing Christian faith”, at the end of the “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he handed to the prelates, the Pope recalled the labours and sacrifices of many missionaries, who were supported by generations of indigenous companions in lands which have often presented great challenges, both environmental and social, but which are known for their churches and chapels, parishes, mission stations and outstations, “which draw many to a community life centred on prayer and work”.

“Renowned too are your numerous schools at every level, your clinics and hospitals, built with love and faithfulness from the materials of Namibia’s soil and Lesotho’s mountains. I encourage you to continue supporting and nurturing these great blessings, even when resources are sparse, for the Lord promises that he will not fail to bless us”.

He continued, “I know that your communities face many challenges daily, and I am sure that this weighs heavily on your hearts. Strengthen them in love to overcome selfishness in private or public life; be generous in bringing them the tenderness of Christ where threats to human life occur, from the womb to old age – and I think particularly of those suffering with HIV and AIDS”. He encouraged them to “not only win them to the cause of Christ but also make them protagonists of a renewed African society”.

The Pope goes on to mention Christian families that are fragmented due to employment far away from home, or because of separation or divorce and urged the bishops to continue offering them help and guidance, preparing couples for Christian marriage, and constantly sustaining families by offering generously the Church’s Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of mercy. “I thank you for your efforts in promoting healthy family life in the face of distorted views that emerge in contemporary society. … The family is the best setting for learning and applying the culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. … From healthy families will come numerous priestly vocations, families where men have learned to love inasmuch as they have been unconditionally loved ...having learned respect, justice, the role of authority expressed by parents and loving concern”.

“In a time of an apparent decrease in vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, it is important to speak openly about the fulfilling and joyful experience of offering one’s life to Christ”, continues the Holy Father. “For when your Christian communities are built up by your own continued example of 'living in truth and joy your priestly commitments, celibacy in chastity and detachment from material possessions', then vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life will most certainly abound”. He thanks God for “the continued witness and service of so many communities of religious brothers and sisters who are vital to the praying heart of the Church, along with the many committed sodalities and other lay associations of the Church in Lesotho and Namibia”. He also notes, when developing pastoral plans, in paying careful spiritual attention to the poorest in society. “I ask you to be particularly mindful of those most in need in your Churches, entrusting all your initiatives to God's care”.

Finally, he exhorts the bishops to “persevere as men of deep and constant prayer, in the way of Blessed Joseph Gerard, who listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in all matters. Prayer precedes and leads to authentic evangelisation. As you know from experience, when the Church summons all Christians to constantly take up anew the task of evangelising the world, 'she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment'; that is, she is showing us the path to our deepest happiness”.

The Holy See at the United Nations: condemnation of violence against women in armed conflict

Vatican City, 23 April 2015 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations, spoke during the Security Council open debate on “Women, peace security” in New York on 15 April 2015.

“Women are not spared any of the brutal consequences of war, and are additionally subject to uniquely degrading and traumatising attacks and long-term consequences”, said the prelate. “It is only just and reasonable that their voice should be present and influential in the work of preventing and resolving violence and war. It is well documented that sexual violence of many kinds accompanies modern warfare. We all know the awful litany: women are raped and trafficked, forced into prostitution to earn a living, and terrorised individually and in their roles as protectors of their children and other vulnerable family members. All violence against human life is terrible, but sexual violence is intended to debase, dehumanise, demoralise – in a unique way. The consequences are profound and long lasting – physical as well as psychological”.

The nuncio remarked that this last year has been notable for the “new and ongoing atrocities involving sexual violence in various conflicts and by groups such as Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Some are also attacks upon women and girls purely because of the faith they profess. Although this is of very serious concern today for Christians, surely this is a matter where our shared human nature, across all religions and cultures, cries out for common commitment of members of all faiths and governments, strongly to condemn and confront such heinous acts, and to step forward to protect those threatened”.

“It seems that, in the past several years, there has emerged a greater international consciousness of the scourge of human trafficking, and even increased responses” he continued. “It is to be hoped that there will be an ever greater appreciation of what Pope Francis has called the 'trauma', affecting both 'body and spirit', of rape as a tool of war. To adapt an observation made by His Holiness, a two point drop in the stock market is front page news, while the violation of hundreds or even thousands of women would go unreported”.

The Holy See delegation therefore supports the processes identified in successive reports issued by the Secretary General, as essential for ensuring justice to women assaulted in conflict: effective investigation and documentation; consistent and rigorous prosecution; and ongoing investigation and responsibility regarding the root causes of sexual and other violence in armed conflict. “We support efforts to bring adequate legal, medical and social services to the particular women affected, to witnesses and survivors, and to their family members. Because of the Catholic Church’s permanent local presence in the areas of the world most affected by disasters, a network of Catholic institutions and agencies respond rapidly and effectively to address the consequence of violence in armed conflict. It is always distressing, however, to see that some are still promoting the abortion of unborn children as part of the 'treatment' or response to the attack of their mothers. This contradicts the peace and security mission of the United Nations, and proposes to meet violence with more violence”.

Archbishop Auza concluded, “It has been observed many times at this body, and it is true, that women are not only victims but also necessary agents and contributors in the work of preventing and resolving conflicts. Without their contributions, government, negotiators and civil society groups can neither understand the problems, nor propose effective solutions. Moreover, it is important to continue in every Member State the steady and patient work of achieving structural justice for women in every sector of society. A proper vision of women’s roles in society, and an integration of women in every social sector, are crucial aspects of the prevention of violence”.

Audiences

Vatican City, 24 April 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

- Ana Maria Freire;

- Seven prelates of the Namibia and Lesotho Catholic Bishops' Conferences, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti Nashenda, O.M.I. of Windhoek, Namibia;

- Bishop Philipp Pollitzer, O.M.I., of Keetmanshoop, Namibia;

- Bishop Joseph Shipandeni Shikongo, O.M.I., apostolic vicar of Rundu, Namibia;

- Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi, O.M.I., of Maseru, Lesotho;

- Bishop Augustinus Tumaole Bane, O.M.I., of Leribe, Lesotho;

- Bishop John Joale Tlhomola, S.C.P., of Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho;

- Bishop Joseph Mopeli Sephamola, O.M.I., of Qacha's Nek, Lesotho.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 24 April 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Rev. Fr. Edward C. Malesic as bishop of Greensburg (area 8,632, population 704,000, Catholics 166,200, priests 205, permanent deacons 2, religious 350), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Harrisburg, U.S.A. in 1960, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Harrisburg, including deputy priest, chaplain of the York College and the Millersville University; auditor; defender of the bond and canonical consultor of the ecclesiastical tribunal; and adjunct judicial vicar. He is currently parish priest of the Holy Infant Parish in York Haven, and judicial vicar. He succeeds Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit has been accepted by the Holy Father.

- Bishop Josef Graf as auxiliary of the diocese of Regensburg (area 14,665, population 1,712,000, Catholics 1,207,706, priests 953, permanent deacons 108, religious 477), Germany. The bishop-elect was born in Riedenburg, Germany in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1983. He holds as doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and has served as parish vicar in Regensburg-Reinhausen. He is currently spiritual director of the major seminary of Regensburg. In 2007 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.

- Msgr. Piergiorgio Bertoldi, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Burkina Faso and Niger, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.

On Thursday, 23 April, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Fr. Brendan Cahill as bishop of Victoria in Texas (area 23,573, population 292,229, Catholics 119,600, priests 62, permanent deacons 39, religious 88), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in 1963 in Coral Gables, U.S.A., and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar, rector of the “St. Mary” seminary in Houston, archdiocesan director of the Secretariat for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services, head of the Priests Personnel Board, and member of the presbyteral council. He is currently vicar for the clergy of the same diocese. He succeeds Bishop David E. Fellhauer, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

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