December 30, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- General audience: we learn by observing the life of children

- Francis: pray for the victims of natural disasters

- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January

- Participation of the faithful in encounters with Pope Francis during 2015

- Other Pontifical Acts

- Notice

General audience: we learn by observing the life of children

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this year's final general audience to the widespread devotion to the Baby Jesus, which is keenly felt during these days. This tradition, he explained, can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi and “keeps alive in our hearts the mystery of God made man”. He also mentioned St. Therese of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took on the name of Therese of the Child Jesus and “knew how to live and bear witness to that 'spiritual infancy' that is assimilated by meditating, in the school of the Virgin Mary, on the humility of God Who made Himself small for us”.

“There was a time when in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have a special meaning for our faith. It is true that His death on the Cross and His resurrection are the greatest expression of His redeeming love, but let us not forget that all His earthly life is revelation and teaching. In the Christmas period we remember His infancy. To grow in faith we need to contemplate the Baby Jesus more often. … We know little of Jesus as a child, but we can learn much about Him if we look at the life of children”.

“We discover, first of all, that children want our attention”, continued the Holy Father. “Why do they wish to be at the centre of attention? Because they like to show off? No! Because they need to feel protected. We too need to place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, although it may seem paradoxical, that we have the responsibility of protecting Him … and of making the Baby Jesus smile to show Him our love and our joy that He is in our midst. His smile is a sign of the love, that gives us the certainty of being loved”.

Francis also emphasised that children love to play, and commented that playing with a child means setting aside our logic as adults and entering into that of a child. “If we want the child to have fun, we must understand what he likes, without being selfish and making them do things that we like instead. This is a teaching for us. Before Jesus we are called upon to abandon our claims to autonomy, to instead welcome the true form of freedom, which consists in knowing Who is before us and serving Him. He, a child, is the Son of God, Who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father, full of love and mercy. Let us therefore hold the Baby Jesus in our arms and put ourselves in His service: He is the source of love and serenity”.

Francis: pray for the victims of natural disasters

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – Following today's general audience, the Pope appealed for prayers for the victims of the natural disasters that have afflicted the United States, Great Britain and South America, especially Paraguay in recent days, causing fatalities, loss of homes and major material damage.

“May the Lord console these populations and may fraternal solidarity come to their aid”, he added.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for January

Vatican City, 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for January 2016 is: “That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions”.

Participation of the faithful in encounters with Pope Francis during 2015

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – The Prefecture of the Papal Household today published a communique reporting that during the year 2015 a total of 3,210,860 faithful attended the various encounters with Pope Francis: general audiences (704,100), special audiences (408,760), liturgical celebrations in the Vatican Basilica and in St. Peter's Square (513,000), and the Angelus and Regina Coeli prayers (1,585,000). These data refer only to events held in the Vatican and do not include others attended often by large numbers of faithful, for instance during the apostolic trips to Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Sarajevo, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, the United States of America, Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, or during trips within Italy and pastoral visits in the diocese of Rome.

These are approximate data calculated on the basis of requests to participate in encounters with the Pope and invitations distributed by the Prefecture, which also specifies that estimates are given for attendance at events such as the Angelus or Regina Coeli and for celebrations in St. Peter's Square.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Fr. Jose Fortunato Alvarez Valdez as bishop of Gomez Palacio (area 27,405, population 585,000, Catholics 468,000, priests 51, religious 76) Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexicali, Mexico in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a degree in theology and patristic sciences from the Agostinian Patristic Institute, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Mexicali, including diocesan coordinator of vocational pastoral ministry, vicar of the cathedral, chancellor, parish priest and dean. He is currently pastor of the Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro, defender of the bond of the diocesan tribunal, and member of the presbyteral college, the college of consultors and the economic board.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia presented by Bishop Brian Finnegan upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Fr. Aparecido Donizete de Souza as auxiliary of Porto Alegre (area 13,530, population 3,395,000, Catholics 2,527,000, priests 362, permanent deacons 58, religious 1,487), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Primeiro de Maio, Brazil in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a licentiate in spirituality from the “Teresianum” Pontifical Institute of Spirituality and has served as parish in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Cornelio Procopio, Brazil, including parish vicar of the cathedral, parish priest, rector of the “Menino Deus” seminary and of the “Sao Jose” major seminary. He is currently pastor of the “Sao Francisco de Assis” parish, spiritual director of the seminary and diocesan assessor for liturgical pastoral ministry.

Notice

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) - The Vatican Information Service wishes all its readers a Happy New Year. The next VIS bulletin will be transmitted on Monday 4 January 2016.

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