December 9, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- Shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world

- Francis opens the Holy Door: mercy must precede judgement

- Angelus: the Solemnity of the Immaculate reminds us that mercy is all

- Homage to Mary Immaculate: I come on behalf of families, the elderly, the incarcerated, and those from faraway lands

- Adoption by Moneyval of Second Progress Report of the Holy See and Vatican City State

- Other Pontifical Acts

Shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world

Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated today's general audience, the first of the Holy Year, to explaining why he convoked a Jubilee of Mercy. “The Church needs this extraordinary moment”, he explained. “In our time of profound change, the Church is called upon to offer her special contribution, making visible the signs of God's presence and closeness. And the Jubilee is a propitious time for all, as contemplating Divine Mercy, that exceeds all human limits and shines onto the darkness of sin, we can be surer and more effective witnesses”.

“Celebrating a Jubilee of Mercy means restoring the specifics of Christian faith to the centre of our personal life and of our communities. … This Holy Year is offered to us so that we are able to experience in our life the sweet and gentle touch of God's forgiveness, His presence next to us and His closeness, especially in our moments of greatest need. … This Jubilee is therefore a special moment for the Church to learn to choose solely 'what God likes the most'. … Forgiving His children, having mercy on them, so that they can in turn forgive their brethren, to shine like beacons of God's mercy in the world. … The Jubilee will be a propitious moment for the Church if we learn to choose what God likes the most, without giving in to the temptation to think that there is something else more important or that takes priority. Nothing is more important than choosing what God likes most, His mercy”.

“The necessary work of renewing institutions and structures of the Church is also a way that can lead us to a more lively and life-giving experience of God's mercy that alone can ensure that the Church is that city on the mount that cannot remain hidden. If we should forget, even for just a moment, that mercy is what God likes the most, all our efforts would be in vain, as we would become slaves to our institutions and our structures, no matter how reformed they may be”.

The Pope emphasised that the Church's aim during this Holy Year is to “strongly feel the joy of being found by Jesus, Who like the Good Shepherd has come in search of us as we were lost. … In this way we strengthen in ourselves our certainty that mercy can truly contribute to building a more human world. Especially in these times of ours, in which forgiveness is a rare guest in the circles of human life, the call for mercy becomes more urgent, and this is true in all places: in society, in institutions, at work and in the family”.

Before concluding, he commented that while there appear to be many other needs more urgent than that of mercy, at the root of the negation of mercy there is always self-love, “which results in the pursuit of self-interest and the accumulation of honours, riches or worldliness. There are so many manifestations of self-love, “that make mercy foreign to the world” that often we are not even able to recognise them as limitations and sins. He concluded, “we must recognise that we are sinners, so as to strengthen our certainty of divine mercy”.

Francis opens the Holy Door: mercy must precede judgement

Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9.30, in the presence of 60 thousand faithful in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The celebration preceded the opening of the Holy Door, the gesture with which the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. In his homily the Pope spoke about the fullness of grace as revealed in Mary, which is capable of transforming the heart. He described the Holy Year as a gift of grace that leads us to discover the depth of the Father's mercy and, finally, he recalled the other door opened to the world by the Vatican Council II fifty years ago, allowing the Church to encounter the men and women of our time.

The following is the full text of the homily:

“In a few moments I will have the joy of opening the Holy Door of Mercy. We carry out this act – as I did in Bangui – so simple yet so highly symbolic, in the light of the word of God which we have just heard. That word highlights the primacy of grace. Again and again these readings make us think of the words by which the angel Gabriel told an astonished young girl of the mystery which was about to enfold her: 'Hail, full of grace'.

The Virgin Mary was called to rejoice above all because of what the Lord accomplished in her. God’s grace enfolded her and made her worthy of becoming the Mother of Christ. When Gabriel entered her home, even the most profound and impenetrable of mysteries became for her a cause for joy, a cause for faith, a cause for abandonment to the message revealed to her. The fullness of grace can transform the human heart and enable it to do something so great as to change the course of human history.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception expresses the grandeur of God’s love. Not only does he forgive sin, but in Mary he even averts the original sin present in every man and woman who comes into this world. This is the love of God which precedes, anticipates and saves. The beginning of the history of sin in the Garden of Eden yields to a plan of saving love. The words of Genesis reflect our own daily experience: we are constantly tempted to disobedience, a disobedience expressed in wanting to go about our lives without regard for God’s will. This is the enmity which keeps striking at people’s lives, setting them in opposition to God’s plan. Yet the history of sin can only be understood in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. Sin can only be understood in this light. Were sin the only thing that mattered, we would be the most desperate of creatures. But the promised triumph of Christ’s love enfolds everything in the Father’s mercy. The word of God which we have just heard leaves no doubt about this. The Immaculate Virgin stands before us as a privileged witness of this promise and its fulfilment.

This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgement before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgement, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things.

Today, here in Rome and in all the dioceses of the world, as we pass through the Holy Door, we also want to remember another door, which fifty years ago the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council opened to the world. This anniversary cannot be remembered only for the legacy of the Council’s documents, which testify to a great advance in faith. Before all else, the Council was an encounter. A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel, and the mercy and forgiveness of God. After these decades, we again take up this missionary drive with the same power and enthusiasm. The Jubilee challenges us to this openness, and demands that we not neglect the spirit which emerged from Vatican II, the spirit of the Samaritan, as Blessed Paul VI expressed it at the conclusion of the Council. May our passing through the Holy Door today commit us to making our own the mercy of the Good Samaritan”.

Following the Holy Mass, the Pope, followed by the cardinals, bishops and priests who participated in the rite, proceeded to the vestibule of the Basilica to open the Holy Door. First, he greeted and embraced Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and then walked alone to the Door where he recited the words of Psalm 118: “Open to me the gates of justice”.

Francis pushed against the Door with his hands until it opens and then prayed a moment before entering the Basilica. The Pope emeritus then entered, followed by the cardinals, bishops, religious and laypeople, including some of Italy's most prominent political figures.

The Jubilee of Mercy is the first extraordinary Jubilee of the 21st century. In the 20th century Pius XI proclaimed a Holy Year in 1933 to commemorate the nineteenth centenary of the death of Christ, and Paul VI inaugurated another in 1966 that lasted five months, dedicated to the closure shortly beforehand of Vatican Council II. St. John Paul II convoked a Jubilee with the Bull “Aperite Portas Redemptori” the Holy Year of Redemption in 1983, for the 1950th anniversary of the Redemption.

Angelus: the Solemnity of the Immaculate reminds us that mercy is all

Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – After the opening of the Holy Door, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that Holy Father recalled that Mary is our sister in suffering, but not in evil or in sin, which were defeated in her befor they even touched her, since God had filled her with grace.

“The Immaculate Conception means that Mary was the first to have been saved by the Father's infinite mercy, as a preview of the salvation that God intended for every man and woman in Christ. Therefore Mary Immaculate has become the sublime icon of divine mercy that defeats sin, and in her we are invited to recognise the dawn of a new world, transformed by the salvific work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The dawn of a new creation put into effect by divine mercy”.

“Celebrating this feast day means two things”, he continued. “Firstly, it means fully welcoming God and His merciful grace in our life; secondly, it means in turn becoming makers of mercy through the path of the Gospel. The feast of the Immaculate Conception becomes a feast for all of us if, by our daily 'yes', we manage to vanquish our selfishness and make the lives of our brothers and sisters happier, bringing them hope, drying their tears and giving them joy. In imitation of Mary, we are called upon to become bearers of Christ and witnesses of His love, looking first to those who are privileged in Jesus' eyes”.

The feast of the Immaculate Conception also bears a specific message for us: it reminds us that our life is a gift, that all is mercy. “May the Holy Virgin, first among the saved, model of the Church, holy and immaculate bride, beloved of the Lord, help us increasingly rediscover divine mercy as the distinctive sign of the Christian!” exclaimed Francis. “It is impossible to conceive of a true Christian who is not merciful, just as it is impossible to understand God without His mercy. It is the key word of the Gospel: mercy. It is the fundamental feature of Christ's face: that face we recognise in the various aspects of its existence: when He goes towards the people, when He heals the sick, when He sits at the table with sinners, and above all, when nailed on the Cross, He forgives. There we see the face of divine mercy. Let us not be afraid: let us be embraced by the mercy of God, Who awaits and forgives all. Nothing is sweeter than His mercy”.

Homage to Mary Immaculate: I come on behalf of families, the elderly, the incarcerated, and those from faraway lands

Vatican City, 8 December 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father went to Piazza di Spagna where he performed the traditional act of veneration below the statue of Mary Immaculate crowning the Roman marble column commemorating the proclamation of the dogma by Pope Pius IX on 8 December 1854.

Continuing a tradition established by St. John XXIII in 1958, Francis left a floral tribute at the foot of the column and, accompanied by thousands of faithful led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, recited a prayer to the Virgin that he had composed himself, the full text of which is published below:

“Virgin Mother, on this day, the feast of your Immaculate Conception, I pay homage to you in faith and love on behalf of God’s holy people who live in this city and diocese. I come before you in the name of families, with their joys and troubles; on behalf of children and young people, exposed to life’s challenges; on behalf of the elderly, laden with age and years of experience. I come especially on behalf of the sick, the imprisoned, and those who struggle. As a leader I also come here for the sake of all those who have come from faraway lands in search of peace and work”.

There is space for everyone beneath your mantel, because you are the Mother of Mercy. Your heart is full of tenderness towards all your children: the tenderness of God, who, by you, became incarnate and became our brother, Jesus, Saviour of every man and every woman. Looking at you, Our Immaculate Mother, ee see the victory of divine mercy over sin and all its consequences; and hope for a better life is reignited within us, free from slavery, rancour and fear.

Here, today, in the heart of Rome, we hear your motherly voice calling all of us to walk towards that door, which represents Christ. You say to everyone: “Come, come closer, faithful ones; enter and receive the gift of mercy; do not be afraid, do not be ashamed: the Father awaits you with open arms. He will forgive and welcome you into his house. Come, all those in search of peace and joy”.

“We thank you, Immaculate Mother, because you do not make us walk along this path alone; you guide us, you are near us and help us through every difficulty. May God bless you, now and forever. Amen”.

After his homage to the statue of Mary Immaculate, the Pope greeted those present and, as his final act on the first day of the Holy Year of Mercy, he transferred to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of Mary “Salus Populi Romani”, where he was awaited by a large crowd. As he left for the Vatican, the bells of the Basilica, whose Holy Door he will open on 1 January 2016, rang in celebration.

Adoption by Moneyval of Second Progress Report of the Holy See and Vatican City State

Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique:

“Yesterday in Strasbourg, the Plenary Meeting of Moneyval (the 'Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism' of the Council of Europe) approved the Second Progress Report of the Holy See/Vatican City State. The approval of this latest Report, which follows on the Mutual Evaluation Report of 4 July 2012 and on the Progress Report of 9 December 2013, is part of the ordinary reporting process foreseen in the Rules of Procedure of Moneyval for all member States.

The Moneyval Committee has welcomed the outcome of the continued efforts by the Holy See and the Vatican City State to further strengthen their institutional, legal and operational framework for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

'The latest Progress Report confirms that the Holy See has established a functional, sustainable and effective system, aiming at preventing and fighting financial crimes', said Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States, and Head of Delegation of the Holy See and Vatican City State to the Moneyval Plenary”.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 9 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Aachen, Germany, presented by Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff upon reaching the age limit.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Garissa, Kenya by Bishop Paul Darmanin, O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Joseph Alessandro, O.F.M. Cap., coadjutor of the same diocese.

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