May 25, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- Meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops

- Pentecost: the Holy Spirit makes us capable of dedicating ourselves to works of justice and peace

- Regina Coeli: the Church is not born isolated

- The Pope urges the international community to help refugees in the Bay of Bengal

- Message for World Missions Day: “There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”

- Francis prays with the Pentecostal evangelical pastors of Phoenix for the unity of the Church

- The Pope to Christian workers' association: fight for free, creative, participatory and fraternal work

- Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero: a martyr who knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock

- Pope's message for the Second International Conference on Women

- Audiences

- Other Pontifical Acts

Meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops

Vatican City, 25 May 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father chaired the meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Pentecost: the Holy Spirit makes us capable of dedicating ourselves to works of justice and peace

Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – “Strengthened by the Spirit – who guides, who guides us into the truth, who renews us and the whole earth, and who gives us his fruits – strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts, may we be able to battle uncompromisingly against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption, which continues to spread in the world day after day, by devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace”, said the Holy Father during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the solemnity of Pentecost.

Pope Francis repeated several times during his homily that the Holy Spirit, today as yesterday, guides, renews and bears fruit, acting through people and communities, and making them capable of receiving God, “capax Dei” the Holy Fathers have affirmed.

“On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit; on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages. ... Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple, there too as Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace, with her smile,with her maternity, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus”.

In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to “guide them into all the truth”, and explains to them that its action will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially with regard to his death and resurrection. “To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralysed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand 'all the truth': that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, the Lord of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all”.

The Holy Spirit also renews the earth. “Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the 'garden' in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect. Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator”.

“The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit”, exclaimed the Pope at the end of his homily. “Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as 'hypocrites'; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. However, the world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul lists them: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace”.

Regina Coeli: the Church is not born isolated

Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – As is usual on a Sunday, the Pope appeared at the window of his study at midday today to pray the Regina Coeli with the thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before the Marian prayer he again referred to the solemnity of Pentecost, which represents “the baptism of the Church, which thus begins her path through history, guided by the strength of the Holy Spirit”. He continued, “That event, which changes the heart and the life of the apostles and the other disciples, is immediately reflected outside the Cenacle. Indeed, the door that had been kept closed for fifty days is finally opened and the first Christian Community, no longer closed in on itself, begins to speak to the crowds of different origins of the great things that God has done. … And every person present hears the disciples speak in his own language. The gift of the Spirit re-establishes the harmony of language lost in Babel, and prefigures the universal dimension of the apostles' mission”.

The Church “is not born isolated: she is born universal, one, Catholic, with a precise identity but open to all, not closed, an identity that embraces the whole world, without exception. The Mother Church does not close her door to anyone! Not even the greatest sinner! And this is due to the strength and the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Mother Church throws her doors wide open to all, because she is a mother”.

Pentecost is also “the beginning of a new season: the season of witness and fraternity. It is a season that comes from above, that comes from God, like the flames of fire that came to rest of the head of each disciple. It was the flame of love that burned away all bitterness; it was the language of the Gospel that crosses the boundaries set by man and touches the hearts of the multitude, without distinction of language, race or nationality. As on that day of Pentecost, today too the Holy Spirit is continually poured onto the Church and on each one of us, so that we leave behind our mediocrity and narrow-mindedness, and communicate the merciful love of the Lord to all the world … so that as we announce Jesus, resurrected, living and present in our midst, we warm our own heart and the heart of peoples, drawing them close to Him, the path, the truth, and life”.

The Pope urges the international community to help refugees in the Bay of Bengal

Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Regina Coeli the Pope voiced his concern and suffering for the fate of the many refugees stranded at sea in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, expressing his appreciation for the efforts made by those countries which “have shown their willingness to welcome these people who face great suffering and danger”, and urged the international community to offer humanitarian aid.

He went on to recall that today marks the centenary of Italy's entry into the First World War, “that senseless slaughter”. “Let us pray for the victims”, he said, “asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace”.

He also mentioned the beatification yesterday of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and the Italian religious sister Irene Stefanini in Kenya. “The first was killed in hatred of the faith as he celebrated the Eucharist”, he remarked. “This zealous pastor, following Jesus' example, chose to stay among his people, especially the poor and oppressed, even at the cost of his own life. Sister Irene Stefanini, Missionary of Consolation, served the Kenyan population with joy, mercy and tender compassion. May the example of these blesseds inspire in every one of us the wish to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice”.

Finally, on the feast day of Mary Help of Christians, he greeted the Salesian community, asking that the Lord might give them the strength to continue in their work in the spirit of St. John Bosco.

Message for World Missions Day: “There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor”

Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's message for the 89th World Mission Day was published today. To be held on Sunday 18 October 2015, this year the Day will take place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life and will therefore highlight the bond between faith and mission.

The following is the full text of the message:

“The 2015 World Mission Sunday 2015 takes place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, which provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection. For if every baptised person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman. There is a clear connection between consecrated life and mission. The desire to follow Jesus closely, which led to the emergence of consecrated life in the Church, responds to his call to take up the cross and follow him, to imitate his dedication to the Father and his service and love, to lose our life so as to gain it. Since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality.

The missionary dimension, which belongs to the very nature of the Church, is also intrinsic to all forms of consecrated life, and cannot be neglected without detracting from and disfiguring its charism. Being a missionary is not about proselytising or mere strategy; mission is part of the 'grammar' of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers 'Come' and 'Go forth'. Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus 'walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise'.

Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realise that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realise once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people and all those who seek him with a sincere heart. In Jesus’ command to 'go forth', we see the scenarios and ever-present new challenges of the Church’s evangelising mission. 'l her members are called to proclaim the Gospel by their witness of life. In a particular way, consecrated men and women are asked to listen to the voice of the Spirit who calls them to go to the peripheries, to those to whom the Gospel has not yet been proclaimed.

The fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree Ad Gentes is an invitation to all of us to reread this document and to reflect on its contents. The Decree called for a powerful missionary impulse in Institutes of Consecrated Life. For contemplative communities, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Patroness of the Missions, appears in a new light; she speaks with renewed eloquence and inspires reflection upon the deep connection between contemplative life and mission. For many active religious communities, the missionary impulse which emerged from the Council was met with an extraordinary openness to the mission ad gentes, often accompanied by an openness to brothers and sisters from the lands and cultures encountered in evangelisation, to the point that today one can speak of a widespread 'interculturalism' in the consecrated life. Hence there is an urgent need to reaffirm that the central ideal of mission is Jesus Christ, and that this ideal demands the total gift of oneself to the proclamation of the Gospel. On this point there can be no compromise: those who by God’s grace accept the mission, are called to live the mission. For them, the proclamation of Christ in the many peripheries of the world becomes their way of following him, one which more than repays them for the many difficulties and sacrifices they make. Any tendency to deviate from this vocation, even if motivated by noble reasons due to countless pastoral, ecclesial or humanitarian needs, is not consistent with the Lord’s call to be personally at the service of the Gospel. In Missionary Institutes, formators are called to indicate clearly and frankly this plan of life and action, and to discern authentic missionary vocations. I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are countercultural: Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission, of fol lowing Jesus through the total gift of yourself. In the depths of your conscience, ask yourself why you chose the religious missionary life and take stock of your readiness to accept it for what it is: a gift of love at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that, even before being necessary for those who have not yet heard it, the proclamation of the Gospel is a necessity for those who love the Master.

Today, the Church’s mission is faced by the challenge of meeting the needs of all people to return to their roots and to protect the values of their respective cultures. This means knowing and respecting other traditions and philosophical systems, and realising that all peoples and cultures have the right to be helped from within their own traditions to enter into the mystery of God’s wisdom and to accept the Gospel of Jesus, who is light and transforming strength for all cultures.

Within this complex dynamic, we ask ourselves: 'Who are the first to whom the Gospel message must be proclaimed?'. The answer, found so often throughout the Gospel, is clear: it is the poor, the little ones and the sick, those who are often looked down upon or forgotten, those who cannot repay us. Evangelisation directed preferentially to the least among us is a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring: 'There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. May we never abandon them'. This must be clear above all to those who embrace the consecrated missionary life: by the vow of poverty, they choose to follow Christ in his preference for the poor, not ideologically, but in the same way that he identified himself with the poor: by living like them amid the uncertainties of everyday life and renouncing all claims to power, and in this way to become brothers and sisters of the poor, bringing them the witness of the joy of the Gospel and a sign of God’s love.

Living as Christian witnesses and as signs of the Father’s love among the poor and underprivileged, consecrated persons are called to promote the presence of the lay faithful in the service of Church’s mission. As the Second Vatican Council stated: 'The laity should cooperate in the Church's work of evangelisation; as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, they share in her saving mission'. Consecrated missionaries need to generously welcome those who are willing to work with them, even for a limited period of time, for an experience in the field. They are brothers and sisters who want to share the missionary vocation inherent in Baptism. The houses and structures of the missions are natural places to welcome them and to provide for their human, spiritual and apostolic support.

The Church’s Institutes and Missionary Congregations are completely at the service of those who do not know the Gospel of Jesus. This means that they need to count on the charisms and missionary commitment of their consecrated members. But consecrated men and women also need a structure of service, an expression of the concern of the Bishop of Rome, in order to ensure koinonia, for cooperation and synergy are an integral part of the missionary witness. Jesus made the unity of his disciples a condition so that the world may believe. This convergence is not the same as legalism or institutionalism, much less a stifling of the creativity of the Spirit, who inspires diversity. It is about giving a greater fruitfulness to the Gospel message and promoting that unity of purpose which is also the fruit of the Spirit.

The Missionary Societies of the Successor of Peter have a universal apostolic horizon. This is why they also need the many charisms of consecrated life, to address the vast horizons of evangelisation and to be able to ensure adequate presence in whatever lands they are sent.

Dear brothers and sisters, a true missionary is passionate for the Gospel. St. Paul said: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!'. The Gospel is the source of joy, liberation and salvation for all men and women. The Church is aware of this gift, and therefore she ceaselessly proclaims to everyone 'what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes'. The mission of the servants of the Word – bishops, priests, religious and laity – is to allow everyone, without exception, to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. In the full range of the Church’s missionary activity, all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each. A generous response to this universal vocation can be offered by consecrated men and women through an intense life of prayer and union with the Lord and his redeeming sacrifice.

To Mary, Mother of the Church and model of missionary outreach, I entrust all men and women who, in every state of life work to proclaim the Gospel, ad gentes or in their own lands. To all missionaries of the Gospel I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing”.

Francis prays with the Pentecostal evangelical pastors of Phoenix for the unity of the Church

Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) – The diocese of Phoenix, U.S.A., has organised a day of dialogue and prayer, on the eve of Pentecost, with a group of evangelical pastors of Pentecostal orientation, including the Italian Giovanni Traettino, whom Pope Francis visited during his trip to Caserta. The Holy Father participated with a video message, screened yesterday afternoon at the opening of the meeting (during the night in Europe), ample extracts of which are given below:

“'Father, may we be one so that the world may believe you sent me'. This is the slogan, the theme of the meeting: Christ’s prayer to the Father for the grace of unity. Today, Saturday … I will be with you spiritually and with all my heart. We will search together, we will pray together, for the grace of unity. The unity that is budding among us is that unity which begins under the seal of the one Baptism we have all received. It is the unity we are seeking along a common path. It is the spiritual unity of prayer for one another. It is the unity of our common labour on behalf of our brothers and sisters, and all those who believe in the sovereignty of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, division is a wound in the body of the Church of Christ. And we do not want this wound to remain open. Division is the work of the father of Lies, the father of Discord, who does everything possible to keep us divided.

“Together today, I here in Rome and you over there, we will ask our Father to send the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and to give us the grace to be one, 'so that the world may believe'. I wish to say something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps. But there is someone who 'knows' that, despite our differences, we are one. It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom. He knows that Christians are disciples of Christ: that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals, or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic … he doesn’t care! They are Christians. And that blood (of martyrdom) unites. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we are living an 'ecumenism of blood'. This must encourage us to do what we are doing today: to pray, to dialogue together, to shorten the distance between us, to strengthen our bonds of brotherhood.

“I am convinced it will not be theologians who bring about unity among us. Theologians help us, the science of the theologians will assist us, but if we hope that theologians will agree with one another, we will reach unity the day after Judgement Day. The Holy Spirit brings about unity. Theologians are helpful, but most helpful is the goodwill of us all who are on this journey with our hearts open to the Holy Spirit! In all humility, I join you as just another participant on this day of prayer, friendship, closeness and reflection. In the certainty that we have one Lord: Jesus is the Lord. In the certainty that this Lord is alive: Jesus is alive, the Lord lives in each one of us. In the certainty that He has sent the Spirit He promised us so that this 'harmony' among all His disciples might be realised”.

The Pope to Christian workers' association: fight for free, creative, participatory and fraternal work

Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) - “We must ensure that through work – free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive – human beings may express and increase the dignity of their lives”, said Pope Francis this morning as he received in audience the members of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI), who celebrate the 70th anniversary of their foundation this year.

The Holy Father took the opportunity to reflect on the scale and urgency of the employment problem in today's world and the need to propose equitable, fraternal and genuinely practicable solutions. “The spread of precariousness, illegal work and organised crime, especially among the younger generations, ensure that the lack of work robs dignity and obstructs the fullness of human life. This demands an immediate and vigorous response”, he said, then indicating the four features that should be present in all work.

Firstly, work must be free: the true freedom of work means that man, continuing the work of the Creator, ensures that the world reaches its objective. Too often, however, work is a vehicle for oppression at several levels: man against another man; new forms of organised slavery that oppress the poorest. “In particular, many children and women suffer as the result of an economy that obliges them to carry out undignified work that contradicts creation in its beauty and harmony. We must ensure that work is not a tool of alienation, but rather of hope and new life”.

Creative work allows one to use his or her unique and original abilities. This is achieved “when man is permitted to express with freedom and creativity in certain forms of activity, in collaborative work conducted in the community that enable full economic and social development to him and to others. We cannot clip the wings of those, especially the young, who have much to give with their intelligence and capacities; they must be freed of the burdens that oppress them and prevent them from fully entering the world of work as soon as possible”.

Participatory work corresponds to the relational dimension of the person, and involves the establishment of responsible bonds of collaboration. However, “when, due to an 'economistic' vision … others are regarded as a means and not an end, work loses its primary meaning as the continuation of God's work, a work destined for all humanity, so that all may benefit”.

Finally, mutually supportive work means responding to the many men and women who have lost their jobs or are seeking employment, above all with closeness and solidarity. Associations such as the ACLI, as places of welcome and encounter, must also identify opportunities for formation and professional training.

Francis went on to refer to some key aspects of the ACLI. The first is its presence outside Italy, which began with the phase of Italian emigration and continues to be valuable since many young people leave Italy to seek work pertinent to their studies or to enrich their professional experience. “Support them on their path”, he said. “In their eyes you may see the reflection of your parents or grandparents who travelled far to work”.

The Association is also engaged in the battle against poverty and that of the impoverishment of the middle classes. “Offering support, not only of an economic nature, to those below the poverty line, who have increased in number in Italy in recent years, can bring benefits to all of society. At the same time, those who yesterday lived a dignified life must be prevented from slipping into poverty. It takes very little these days to become poor: the loss of a job, an elderly relative who is no longer self-sufficient, sickness in the family, or even – think of this terrible paradox – the birth of a child. It is an important cultural battle, that of ensuring that welfare is considered to be the infrastructure of development rather than a cost. You can act as a coordinator and motor for the 'alliance against poverty', which proposes the development of a national plan for decent and dignified work”.

“Christian inspiration and the popular dimension determine that way of understanding and implementing the ACLI's historic triple fidelity to workers, democracy and the Church. In the current context, it may be said that these three attitudes may be summarised in one, new and simple: fidelity to the poor”.

Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero: a martyr who knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock

Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, president of the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador, for the beatification of Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez, former archbishop of the same archdiocese and martyr, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980. The the beatification Mass, celebrated in Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo in the Salvadoran capital, was attended by the Pope's special envoy Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The following is the full text of the letter:

“The beatification of Msgr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamex, who was the pastor of this beloved archdiocese, is a cause for great joy for Salvadorans and for those who rejoice in the example of the best sons of the Church. Msgr. Romero, who built peace with the strength of love, bore witness to faith, giving his life to the extreme.

The Lord never abandons His people in difficulties, and always shows solicitude to its needs. He sees oppression, He hears the cries of pain of His children, and he comes to their aid to free them from oppression and to lead them to a new land, of 'milk and honey', fertile and spacious. Just as He chose Moses to guide His people in His name, He continues to raise pastors after His own heart, who graze His flock with wisdom and prudence.

In this beautiful central American country, bathed by the Pacific Ocean, the Lord granted His Church a zealous bishop who, loving God and serving his brothers, converted himself in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. In times of difficult co-existence, Msgr. Romero knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock, remaining faithful to the Gospel and in communion with all the Church. His ministry was distinguished by his particular care for the poorest and most marginalised. And at the moment of his death, as he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of love and reconciliation, he received the grace of fully identifying himself with He Who gave His life for his flock.

On this day of celebration for the Salvadoran nation, and also for our brother countries in Latin America, let us give thanks to God for granting to the bishop martyr the capacity to see and hear the suffering of his people, and for forming his heart so that, in His name, he was guided and enlightened, and his work was filled with Christian charity.

The voice of the newly Blessed continues to resonate today, reminding us that the Church, a convocation of brothers around the Lord, is the family of God, in which there should be no division. Faith in Jesus Christ, when it is well understood and its full consequences are realised, generates communities that are builders of peace and solidarity. This is what the Church is called to do today in El Salvador, America and the world at large: to be rich in mercy, to convert into leaven for reconciliation for society.

Msgr. Romero invites us to good sense and reflection, respect for life and harmony. It is necessary to reject 'the violence of the sword, of hatred' and to live 'the violence of love, which caused Christ to be nailed to a cross, which enables us all to overcome our selfishness and ensures there may no longer be such cruel inequalities between us'. He was able to see and to experience in his own flesh 'the selfishness that lurks in those who do not wish to give what is theirs for the benefit of others'. And, with a father's heart, he cared for the 'poor majority', urging the powerful to transform their weapons into ploughshares.

May those who regard Msgr. Romero as a friend in faith, those who invoke him as a protector and intercessor, those who admire him, find in him the strength and encouragement to build the Kingdom of God, and to commit themselves to creating a more equitable and dignified social order.

It is the right time for true national reconciliation when faced with today's challenges. The Pope participates in your hopes, and unites himself to your prayers so that the seed of martyrdom may flourish and become entrenched in the true paths of the sons and daughters of that nation, which proudly bears the name of the divine Saviour of the World.

Dear brother, I ask you to pray and to ask for prayers for me, and I impart my apostolic blessing to all those who join in any way in the celebration of the new Blessed”.

Pope's message for the Second International Conference on Women

Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Pope has sent a message of greetings and encouragement to the participants in the Second International Conference on Women held in Rome, and which today comes to an end. The event was organised by the Pontifical Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, in cooperation with the World Union of Women’s Catholic Organisations and the World Women’s Alliance for Life and Family, on the theme “Women and the post-2015 development agenda: the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

“Women face a variety of challenges and difficulties in various parts of the world”, he writes. “In the West, at times they still experience discrimination in the workplace; they are often forced to choose between work and family; they not infrequently suffer violence in their lives as fiancees, wives, mothers, sisters and grandmothers. In poor and developing countries, women bear the heaviest burdens: it is they who travel many miles in search of water, who too often die in childbirth, who are kidnapped for sexual exploitation or forced into marriages at a young age or against their will. At times they are even denied the right to life simply for being female. All of these problems are reflected in the proposals for the post-2015 Development Agenda currently being discussed in the United Nations.

“Issues relating to life are intrinsically connected to social questions. When we defend the right to life, we do so in order that each life – from conception to its natural end – may be a dignified life, one free from the scourge of hunger and poverty, of violence and persecution. Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, highlighted how the Church 'forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics, fully aware that a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalised'.

“I encourage you, who are engaged in defending the dignity of women and promoting their rights, to allow yourselves to be constantly guided by the spirit of humanity and compassion in the service of your neighbour. May your work be marked first and foremost by professional competence, without self-interest or superficial activism, but with generous dedication. In this way you will manifest the countless God-given gifts which women have to offer, encouraging others to promote sensitivity, understanding and dialogue in settling conflicts big and small, in healing wounds, in nurturing all life at every level of society, and in embodying the mercy and tenderness which bring reconciliation and unity to our world. All this is part of that 'feminine genius' of which our society stands in such great need”.

Audiences

Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;

- Boyko Borissov, prime minister of Bulgaria, and entourage;

- Nikola Gruevski, president of the government of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with his wife and entourage.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 23 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria, as apostolic nuncio to Pakistan.

- Sergio Melillo as bishop of Ariano Irpino-Lacedonia (area 781, population 74,970, Catholics 74,270, priests 44, permanent deacons 8, religious 80), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1955 in Avellino, Italy and was ordained a priest in 1989. A licentiate in dogmatic theology, he has exercised his pastoral ministry in the diocese of Avellino in the roles of parish priest, vice director of diocesan Caritas and parish vicar of the Cathedral. He has also served as lecturer in dogmatic theology at the “San Giuseppe Moscati” Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, lecturer in religious culture the Avellino “Università della Terza Età”. He is currently vicar general and a member of the presbyteral council and college of consultors.

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