December 7, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- The Church, mother of vocations: theme of the Pope's message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations

- Angelus: break down the barriers and obstacles to our conversion

- There is no unity without forgiveness

- Francis lights up the Assisi Christmas tree

- Catholic schools, educating in the fullness of humanity

- Judges and lawyers in Vatican City State Tribunal: guaranteeing a fair trial

- New hearing in the trial for dissemination of reserved news and documents

- New external auditor for Consolidated Financial Statements

- Audiences

- Other Pontifical Acts

- Notice

The Church, mother of vocations: theme of the Pope's message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – “The Church, mother of vocations” is the theme of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on 17 April 2016, the fourth Sunday of Easter. In the text, signed in Vatican City on 29 November, first Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father comments that every vocation in the Church originates with Jesus' compassionate gaze, and he emphasised that the call of God is heard through community mediation. The vocational path

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, all the baptised may experience the joy of belonging to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particular vocation, is born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy. The Church is the house of mercy, and it is the 'soil' where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit.

“For this reason, on the occasion of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the community in each person’s vocational journey. In the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I recalled the words of the venerable Bede, describing the call of Saint Matthew: 'Miserando atque eligendo'. The Lord’s merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.

Blessed Paul VI, in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, described various steps in the process of evangelisation. One of these steps is belonging to the Christian community, that community from which we first received the witness of faith and the clear proclamation of the Lord’s mercy. This incorporation into the Christian community brings with it all the richness of ecclesial life, particularly the sacraments. Indeed, the Church is not only a place in which we believe, but it is also an object of our faith; it is for this reason that we profess in the Creed: 'I believe in the Church'.

The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, He bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God’s plan, embracing the historical circumstances of His holy people.

On this day dedicated to prayer for vocations, I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations. When the Apostles sought someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, St. Peter brought together one hundred and twenty of the brethren; and in order to chose seven deacons, a group of disciples was gathered. St. Paul gave Titus specific criteria for the selection of presbyters. Still today, the Christian community is always present in the discernment of vocations, in their formation and in their perseverance.

Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate 'sense' of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. 'A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all'. In responding to God’s call, young people see their own ecclesial horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.

Vocations grow within the Church. In the course of formation, candidates for various vocations need to grow in their knowledge of the ecclesial community, overcoming the limited perspectives that we all have at the beginning. To that end, it is helpful to undertake some apostolic experience together with other members of the community, for example: in the company of a good catechist, to communicate the Christian message; together with a religious community, to experience the evangelisation of the peripheries sharing in the life of the cloister, to discover the treasure of contemplation; in contact with missionaries, to know more closely the mission ad gentes; and in the company of diocesan priests, to deepen one’s experience of pastoral life in the parish and in the diocese. For those who are already in formation, the ecclesial community always remains the fundamental formational environment, towards which one should feel a sense of gratitude.

Vocations are sustained by the Church. After definitive commitment, our vocational journey within the Church does not come to an end, but it continues in our willingness to serve, our perseverance and our ongoing formation. The one who has consecrated his life to the Lord is willing to serve the Church wherever it has need. The mission of Paul and Barnabas is a good example of this readiness to serve the Church. Sent on mission by the Holy Spirit and by the community of Antioch, they returned to that same community and described what the Lord had worked through them. Missionaries are accompanied and sustained by the Christian community, which always remains a vital point of reference, just as a visible homeland offers security to all who are on pilgrimage towards eternal life.

Among those involved in pastoral activity, priests are especially important.In their ministry, they fulfil the words of Jesus, Who said: 'I am the gate of the sheepfold … I am the good shepherd'. The pastoral care of vocations is a fundamental part of their ministry. Priests accompany those who are discerning a vocation, as well as those who have already dedicated their lives to the service of God and of the community.

All the faithful are called to appreciate the ecclesial dynamism of vocations, so that communities of faith can become, after the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, like a mother’s womb which welcomes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The motherhood of the Church finds expression in constant prayer for vocations and in the work of educating and accompanying all those who perceive God’s call. This motherhood is also expressed through a careful selection of candidates for the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life. Finally, the Church is the mother of vocations in her continual support of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.

We ask the Lord to grant to all those who are on a vocational journey a deep sense of belonging to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit may strengthen among Pastors, and all of the faithful, a deeper sense of communion, discernment and spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.

Father of mercy, Who gave Your Son for our salvation and Who strengthens us always with the gifts of Your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to You and to the work of evangelisation. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of Your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God”.

Angelus: break down the barriers and obstacles to our conversion

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) - “'Why do we need to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer, or a sinner who becomes righteous. We do not need it, we are already Christian' we think,” said Pope Francis to the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, before today's Sunday Angelus prayer. “And this is not true”, he added. “If we think in this way, we do not realise that it is precisely because of this presumption – that we are Christians, good and doing the right thing – that we must convert from the supposition that all things considered, it is fine this way and we are not in need of any form of conversion”.

“The voice of the Baptist still cries in today's deserts of humanity … closed minds and hardened hearts. It causes us to ask ourselves if we actually are following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the prophet Isaiah: 'Prepare the way of the Lord!'. It is a pressing invitation to open our heart and receive the salvation that God incessantly, almost stubbornly offers, because he wants us all to be free of the slavery of sin. … And salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without excluding anyone, to each one of us. None of us can say, 'I am a saint; I am perfect; I am already saved'. No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that is the reason for the Year of Mercy: to advance further in this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus has taught us. God wants all mankind to be saved by the mediation of Jesus, the only mediator”.

The Pope recalled that “each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who still do not know Him. But this does not mean proselytising: no. It means opening a door. 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!', St. Paul declared. … I leave you with this question: Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation? And, if I am in love, I have to make Him known! But we should be courageous: level the the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the valleys of indifference and apathy; straighten the paths of our laziness and our comforts”.

There is no unity without forgiveness

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer the Pope greeted the pilgrims present in the Square and affirmed that he is following closely the work of the Climate Conference in Paris. “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”, he asked. For the good of our common home, for all of us and for the future generations, every effort should be directed toward mitigating the impact of climate change and, at the same time, curbing poverty and enabling human dignity to flourish”. He urged those present to pray that the Holy Spirit “enlighten all those who are called to make such important decisions and give them the courage always to let themselves be guided in their decisions by the criterion of the greater good of the human family”.

He recalled that 7 December marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Common Declaration of Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, in which the memory of the mutual sentences of excommunication exchanged between the Church of Rome and Constantinople in 1054 was eliminated. “There is no authentic path toward unity without a plea for forgiveness, to God and between us, for the sin of division” he said, asking for prayers for the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios and the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches so that “relations between Catholics and Orthodox always be inspired by fraternal love”.

He also mentioned that yesterday in Chimbote, Peru, the Conventual Franciscans Michael Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski and the priest Alessandro Dordi were beatified. “May the fidelity of these martyrs in following Jesus give all of us, especially Christians persecuted in different parts of the world, the strength to bear witness to the Gospel with courage”.

Francis lights up the Assisi Christmas tree

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – On Sunday afternoon, from the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father remotely lit up the Christmas tree installed by the Franciscans in the square in front of the lower Basilica of St. Francis in the Italian city of Assisi. “Jesus is always with us, even in difficult moments”, he said, also recalling the many migrants who have died in the sea. “They are with the Lord now. But He came to give us hope, and we must take this hope. He came to tell us that He is stronger than death, that He is greater than any evil. He came to tell us that He is merciful … and this Christmas I invite you to open your heart to mercy, to forgiveness”, even though, the Pope added, “it is not easy to forgive these tragedies”.

He thanked the Italian Coast Guard, praising the great example of solidarity given by the citizens of the south of Italy. To refugees, he said, “Raise your head, the Lord is near. And with Him there is strength, salvation, hope. The heart perhaps suffers; but keep your head high in the hope of the Lord”.

Catholic schools, educating in the fullness of humanity

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – An education in the fullness of humanity is should be the defining feature of Catholic schools, said Pope Francis this morning to the members of the Association of Catholic School Parents in Italy (AGESC), whom he received in audience in the Clementine Hall. “Speaking about a Catholic education is equivalent to speaking about the human, about humanism”, he emphasised. “An inclusive education finds a place for all and does not select in an elitist way the beneficiaries of its efforts”.

“Your association is at the service of the school and the family, contributing to the delicate task of building bridges between the school and the territory, between the school and the family, between the school and civil institutions. … As parents, you are the depositories of the primary and irrevocable duty and right to educate your children, in this way helping in a positive and constant way in the task of the school. You have the right to demand a suitable education for your children, an integral education open to the most authentic human and Christian values. However, it is also your responsibility to ensure that the school is up to the educational task entrusted to it, especially when the education it proposes is described as 'Catholic'. It pray to the Lord that the Catholic school never take for granted the meaning of this adjective”.

The Pope went on to list the prerequisites for a school to describe itself as truly Catholic. These included transmitting “an integral, not ideological culture” and “promoting harmony in diversity”. However, he said to the members of AGESC, “How can this be applied in practice? It is not an easy task”. To this end, he invited the parents of pupils in Catholic schools to build bridges between the school and society, and always to remember theneed to construct an educating community in which, along with the teachers, various workers and students, parents are able to be agents in the educational process”.

“Do not be extraneous to this world; live within it like leaven in the dough”, he said. “My invitation to you is simple but bold: know how to make the difference with a high quality formation. Find methods and ways of not passing unnoticed behind the scenes of society and culture, without arousing clamour, not with projects full of rhetoric. Know how to distinguish yourselves for your constant attention to the person, especially the least among us, those who are cast aside, denied and forgotten. Know how to be noticed not for your 'facade', but for educational coherence rooted in the Christian vision of humanity and society”. He also remarked that at a time when the economic crisis has led to the closure of many private schools, “the temptation of 'numbers' becomes increasingly insistent, and this leads to discouragement. But despite all this I repeat: it is the quality of your presence that makes the difference, not the quantity of resources you have at your disposal”.

“Never betray the human and Christian values you bear witness to in the family, in school and in society. Give generously your contribution so that the Catholic school never becomes a fall-back option or a meaningless alternative among the various educational institutions. Collaborate so that Catholic education has the face of new humanism. … Strive to make Catholic schools truly open to all”, concluded the Holy Father.

Judges and lawyers in Vatican City State Tribunal: guaranteeing a fair trial

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of a note from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., regarding the constitution of the Vatican City State Tribunal and the selection of lawyers and judges:

In recent weeks, since the opening of the trial for the dissemination of reserved documents commonly known as “Vatileaks 2”, many observations and evaluations have been written regarding the judicial system of Vatican City State and in particular on the Tribunal where this trial and its related procedures are taking place. Since many of these observations are inappropriate, or at times entirely unjustified, it would appear opportune to offer some considerations enabling a clearer view and a more just evaluation of this fundamental aspect of the situation.

Firstly, although this should be self-evident, it is necessary to recall that Vatican City State has its own legal order, entirely autonomous and separate from the Italian legal system, and has its own judicial bodies for the various levels of judgement and the necessary legislation in terms of criminal matters and procedure.

Within this latter there exist all the procedural guarantees characteristic of the most advanced contemporary legal systems. Indeed, all the fundamental principles are established and fully implemented: an independent and impartial tribunal constituted by law, the presumption of innocence, the right to a technical defence (by private or ex officio legal representation), and the freedom of the judicial college to form an opinion on the basis of evidence in public hearing and in debate between the prosecution and the defence, leading to the issuance of a sentence able to be substantiated and with the possibility of being contested by appeal and ultimately annulled.

All those engaged in judicial roles, both investigators and judges, are selected via co-optation; they may not be recruited by way of a public selection procedure open to the citizens of the State, as normally occurs in other States. They are selected from among professionals of the highest level, with consolidated experience and a recognised reputation (as may be seen in their curricula vitae, which can be consulted via internet). Indeed, they are all professors in Italian universities.

With regard to the lawyers, a violation of the right to a defence has been hypothesised. In this respect it is necessary to avoid a basic mistake: the current Vatican legislation, applied by the legal authorities, is perfectly in line with procedural law in the majority of jurisdictions throughout the world, where a specific qualification is required for admission to practice in the courts; this is issued subject to certain prerequisites and the possession of specified qualifications. It is therefore unsurprising that a lawyer able to practice in Italy may not be able to do so in Vatican City State, just as he or she would not be able to practice in Germany or France. Arguments to the contrary would imply that a foreign defendant would be able to claim to be represented in Italy by a foreign private lawyer, which is not permitted. Such conditions do not constitute a limit imposed by the Vatican legal order, but rather a further confirmation of its autonomy and completeness.

All lawyers are enrolled on an easily consulted professional register of lawyers with right of audience before the Vatican City State Tribunal. Ex officio or private lawyers may be selected from the professionals on this register.

These are lawyers qualified not only at the Tribunals of the Church and the Holy See, but also in the Italian courts, as they are all registered in the respective councils of the Order of Italian lawyers. In addition, they also possess a second degree in canon law and a further diploma conferred following a three-year specialist course at the Roman Rota. Therefore, they are professionals who, aside from being in authorised to practise in Italy, are also in possession of further knowledge rendering them eligible for practice in a jurisdiction in which a knowledge of canon law is necessary.

These are prerequisites necessary to guarantee the professionalism and competence of those who are entrusted with ensuring the proper conduct of a trial which, for various reasons, attracts broad attention.

New hearing in the trial for dissemination of reserved news and documents

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique:

“This morning at 9.30, in the Vatican City State Tribunal, a further hearing was held in the criminal trial for the dissemination of confidential news and documents.

The defendants were all present, accompanied by their respective lawyers (all five of whom are currently recognised as 'private' lawyers: E. Bellardini for Msgr. L.A. Vallejo Balda, L. Sgrò for F. I. Chaouqui, R.C. Baffioni for N. Maio, L. Musso for E. Fittipaldi and R. Palombi for G. Nuzzi).

The College of judges (President Prof. Giuseppe Dalla Torre, and the members Prof. Piero Antonio Bonnet, Prof. Paolo Papanti-Pellettier and Prof. Venerando Marano) heard the oral presentation from the defence, along with the objections and demands already submitted in writing prior to the established deadline (Saturday 5 December).

With regard to each objection and demand submitted, the opinion of the Promoter of Justice represented by Prof. Milano and Prof. Zannotti was heard.

The College therefore retired to the Counsel Chamber shortly before 10.30 for around one hour. Finally, it communicated its decisions, providing the proper detailed motivations. The hearing concluded before midday.

The objection presented by Chaouqui’s defence regarded the presumed lack of jurisdiction of the Tribunal given that the events took place in Italy and were carried out by a person declared a 'political refugee' in Italy. The objection was rejected, and the College clarified that the current law attributes without doubt the jurisdiction of the Vatican City State Tribunal, and observed that Chaouqui, by appearing before the investigators and the Tribunal, had in practice recognised such jurisdiction.

The demand presented by the Msgr. Vallejo Balda’s counsel for the defence for a psychological evaluation of the defendant was rejected. The Promoter of Justice explained that the Vatican legal system admits requests for a 'psychiatric evaluation' but not for a 'psychological evaluation', and that aspects of the personality and behaviour of the defendant can emerge adequately during the proceedings.

Practically all the other demands were admitted, in particular:

- A technical evaluation requested by Chaouqui’s counsel for the defence regarding the documentation available via PC and telephones, to be carried out by an expert designated by the Tribunal accompanied by an expert selected by the defence. The Promoter of Justice approved this request.

- The acquisition of various further elements of documentation and evidence required by various counsels for the defence (texts of email messages referenced in the investigation, text messages, articles published in various newspapers, and a 'psychiatric evaluation' of Msgr. Vallejo Balda previously carried out and conserved in his home). The Promoter of Justice was in favour of all the above.

- The College considered it suitable to admit the requests for further witnesses, presented by various counsels for the defence and for different reasons (including clergy such as Cardinals Santos Abril and Parolin, Archbishop Krajewski and Msgr. Abbondi, and figures from the worlds of journalism and communications, such as Mario Benotti, Paolo Mieli, Paolo Mondani, Paola Brazzale and Marco Bernardi), although the Promoter of Justice had expressed a contrary opinion in some cases”.

New external auditor for Consolidated Financial Statements

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – The Council for the Economy, continuing the implementation of new financial management policies and practices in line with international standards, took an important step this week by appointing a new international auditing firm.

The Council accepted a recommendation from its Audit Committee and appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers “PwC”, one of the major international firms, as the external auditor for the consolidated financial statements.

PwC will work closely with the staff of the Secretariat of the Economy, and the 2015 audit will commence immediately.

Audiences

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presenting a gift on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios;

- Maria Elvira Velasquez Rivas-Plata, ambassador of Perù at the Holy See, presenting her credential letters;

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;

- Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India;

- Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, apostolic nuncio in Ghana;

- Eduard Habsburg-Lothringen, ambassador of Hungary at the Holy See;

- Nadège Védie, president of the World Conference of Secular Institutes (CMIS), and entourage.

On Saturday 5 December the Holy Father received in audience:

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

- Eduardo Felix Valdes, ambassador of Argentina, on his farewell visit;

- Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Luciano Suriani, delegate for papal diplomatic representations, as apostolic nuncio in Serbia.

- Archbishop Romeo Pawlowski, apostolic nuncio in Congo and Gabon, as delegate for papal diplomatic representations.

On Saturday 5 December the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia as apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Notice

Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – There will be no Vatican Information Service bulletin tomorrow, Tuesday 8 December, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day and a holiday in the Vatican. Service will resume on Wednesday 9 December.

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