February 2, 2016

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- Francis wishes a happy New Year to China: may dialogue between peoples contribute to peace and development

- The Pope: consecrated life must be close to the people

- Other Pontifical Acts

Francis wishes a happy New Year to China: may dialogue between peoples contribute to peace and development

Vatican City, February 2016 (VIS) - To mark the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year, the Holy Father Francis has granted an extensive interview to the online daily Asia Times, Hong Kong. The Pope took the opportunity to express his wishes to President Xi Jinping and all the Chinese people, and his high esteem for the Chinese people and their culture, in the hope that the Chinese contribution to dialogue between peoples may contribute to peace and the integral development of the human family.

The original text can be found on the Asia Times website at atimes.com.; an abridged version is published below.

Asia Times: "What is China for you? How did you imagine China to be as a young man, given that China, for Argentina, is not the East but the far West? What does Matteo Ricci mean to you?"

Pope Francis: "For me, China has always been a reference point of greatness. A great country. But more than a country, a great culture, with an inexhaustible wisdom. For me, as a boy, whenever I read anything about China, it had the capacity to inspire my admiration. ... Later I looked into Matteo Ricci’s life and I saw how this man felt the same thing in the exact way I did, admiration, and how he was able to enter into dialogue with this great culture, with this age-old wisdom. He was able to “encounter” it. … Ricci’s experience teaches us that it is necessary to enter into dialogue with China, because it is an accumulation of wisdom and history. It is a land blessed with many things. And the Catholic Church, one of whose duties is to respect all civilisations, before this civilisation, I would say, has the duty to respect it with a capital “R”. The Church has great potential to receive culture".

Asia Times: "China, for the first time in its thousands of years of history, is emerging from its own environment and opening to the world, creating unprecedented challenges for itself and for the world. You have spoken of a third world war that is furtively advancing: what challenges does this present in the quest for peace?"

Pope Francis: "Being afraid is never a good counsellor. … And it is obvious that so much culture and so much wisdom, and in addition, so much technical knowledge – we have only to think of age-old medicinal techniques – cannot remain enclosed within a country; they tend to expand, to spread, to communicate. Man tends to communicate, a civilisation tends to communicate. It is evident that when communication happens in an aggressive tone to defend oneself, then wars result. But I would not be fearful. It is a great challenge to keep the balance of peace. … The Western world, the Eastern world and China all have the capacity to maintain the balance of peace and the strength to do so. We must find the way, always through dialogue; there is no other way. Encounter is achieved through dialogue. The true balance of peace is realised through dialogue. Dialogue does not mean that we end up with a compromise, half the cake for you and the other half for me. This is what happened in Yalta and we saw the results. No, dialogue means: look, we have got to this point, I may or may not agree, but let us walk together; this is what it means to build. And the cake stays whole, walking together. The cake belongs to everyone, it is humanity, culture. Carving up the cake, as in Yalta, means dividing humanity and culture into small pieces. And culture and humanity cannot be carved into small pieces".

Asia Times: "China has experienced over the last few decades tragedies without comparison. Since 1980 the Chinese have sacrificed that which has always been most dear to them, their children. For the Chinese these are very serious wounds. Among other things, this has left enormous emptiness in their consciences and somehow an extremely deep need to be reconciled with themselves and to forgive themselves. In the Year of Mercy what message can you offer the Chinese people?"

Pope Francis: "The aging of a population ... is happening in many places. … Perhaps behind this there is the fear you are alluding to, the mistaken perception, not that we will simply fall behind, but that we will fall into misery, so therefore, let’s not have children. There are other societies that have opted for the contrary. For example, during my trip to Albania, I was astonished to discover that the average age of the population is approximately 40 years. … Countries that have suffered and opt for youth. Then there is the problem of work. Something that China does not have, because it has the capacity to offer work both in the countryside and in the city. And it is true, the problem for China of not having children must be very painful; because the pyramid is then inverted and a child has to bear the burden of his father, mother, grandfather and grandmother. And this is exhausting, demanding, disorientating. It is not the natural way. I understand that China has opened up possibilities on this front".

Asia Times: "How should these challenges of families in China be faced, given that they find themselves in a process of profound change and no longer correspond to the traditional Chinese model of the family?"

Pope Francis: "The history of a people is always a path. A people at times walks more quickly, at times more slowly, at times it pauses, at times it makes a mistake and goes backwards a little, or takes the wrong path and has to retrace its steps to follow the right way. But when a people moves forward, this does not worry me because it means they are making history. And I believe that the Chinese people are moving forward and this is their greatness. … And I would go further: do not be bitter, but be at peace with your own path, even if you have made mistakes. I cannot say my history was bad, that I hate my history.

No, every people must be reconciled with its history as its own path, with its successes and its mistakes. And this reconciliation with one’s own history brings much maturity, much growth. … When one takes responsibility for one’s own path, accepting it for what it was, this allows one’s historical and cultural richness to emerge, even in difficult moments. And how can it be allowed to emerge? Here we return to the first question: in dialogue with today’s world. To dialogue does not mean that I surrender myself, because at times there is the danger, in the dialogue between different countries, of hidden agendas, namely, cultural colonisations. It is necessary to recognise the greatness of the Chinese people, who have always maintained their culture. And their culture – I am not speaking about ideologies that there may have been in the past – their culture was not imposed".

Asia Times: "The country’s economic growth proceeded at an overwhelming pace but this has also brought with it human and environmental disasters which Beijing is striving to confront and resolve. At the same time, the pursuit of work efficiency is burdening families with new costs: sometimes children and parents are separated due to the demands of work. What message can you give them?"

Pope Francis: "I would suggest a healthy realism; reality must be accepted from wherever it comes. … First, I must be reconciled with reality. I don’t like it, I am against it, it makes me suffer, but if I don’t come to terms with it, I won’t be able to do anything. The second step is to work to improve reality and to change its direction. … If this happens to a company which has worked for twenty years and there is a business crisis, then there are few avenues of creativity to improve it. On the contrary, when it happens in an age-old country, with its age-old history, its age-old wisdom, its age-old creativity, then tension is created between the present problem and this past of ancient richness. And this tension brings fruitfulness as it looks to the future. I believe that the great richness of China today lies in looking to the future from a present that is sustained by the memory of its cultural past".

Asia Times: "On the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Monkey, would you like to send a greeting to the Chinese people, to the Authorities and to President Xi Jinping?"

Pope Francis: "On the eve of the New Year, I wish to convey my best wishes and greetings to President Xi Jinping and to all the Chinese people. And I wish to express my hope that they never lose their historical awareness of being a great people, with a great history of wisdom, and that they have much to offer to the world. The world looks to this great wisdom of yours. In this New Year, with this awareness, may you continue to go forward in order to help and cooperate with everyone in caring for our common home and our common peoples".

The Pope: consecrated life must be close to the people

Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The following are extensive extracts of the Holy Father's extemporaneous address to the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, which took place yesterday in the Paul VI Hall. This afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica he will celebrate the Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life.

"I have prepared a text for this occasion regarding the themes of consecrated life and three of its most important pillars: prophecy, closeness and hope.

"Men and women religious – that is, men and women consecrated to the service of the Lord who follow in the Church this road of poverty and of chaste love that leads to a paternity and maternity for all the Church, an obedience … that is not military, no; that is discipline, it is something else. It is the obedience of giving one's heart. And this is prophecy. 'But don't you want to do something else?' 'Yes, but according to the rules I must do this. … And if something isn't clear to me, I speak with the superior, and after dialogue, I obey'. This is prophecy, against the seed of anarchy, that the devil sows. … Prophecy means telling people that there is a road of happiness, greatness, a road that fills you with joy, that is indeed Jesus' way. It is the road of being close to Jesus. Prophecy is a gift, it is a charism that must be asked for from the Holy Spirit: that I might know how to say that word, at the right moment; that I do the right thing at the right moment; that all my life may be a prophecy".

The other word is closeness. Men and women are consecrated, not to distance themselves from people and to live in comfort; no, to become closer to and to understand the life of Christians and non-Christians, their suffering, their problems, the many things that can be understood only if a consecrated man or woman is close to them. … Consecrated life is not a status that allows us to watch others from a distance. Consecrated life must lead us to closeness to the people: physical and spiritual closeness, knowing the people. … Who is the person closest to a consecrated man or woman? His brother or her sister in the community. And also a pleasant, a good closeness, with love. … One way of alienating people is to gossip … the terrorism of gossip. A person who gossips is a terrorist in his or her own community, who throws words against others like a bomb, and then moves on. … The apostle James said that the most difficult virtue, the most difficult human and spiritual virtue to have, is that of controlling one's tongue. … 'But Father, if there is something, a defect, something to be corrected?'. You say it directly to the person: you have this attitude that bothers me, or is not good. Or if this would not be appropriate – because at times it is not prudent – then you can say it to the person who can remedy the situation, who can resolve the problem, and to no-one else. 'What? In the chapter?' Yes! In public, all that you feel you must say, because there is the temptation not to say things there, and then outside: 'Have you seen the superior? Than why didn't you say it there, in the chapter? Is this clear? These are virtues of closeness".

"And then, hope. I confess that it troubles me greatly when I see the decline in vocations, when I receive bishops and ask them, 'How many seminarians do you have?', and they tell me, 'Four or five...'. When, in your religious communities – male or female – you have one or two novices, and the community is ageing … When there are monasteries, great monasteries … that are kept going by four or five elderly nuns … Faced with all this, I am tempted to ask, against hope, 'Lord, what is happening? Why has the womb of consecrated life become so barren? Some congregations have experimented … what do they do? They welcome, 'Come, come, come!'. And then there are problems inside. No. It is necessary to welcome in a serious way. We must discern well if this is a true vocation and help it to grow. And I think that, counter to the temptation to lose hope, that leads us to this barrenness, we must pray more, and pray tirelessly. ...'Our congregation needs sons, daughters …': the Lord Who has been so generous will not fail to keep His promise. But we must ask Him. We must knock on the door of His heart. Because there is a danger – it is unpleasant, but I have to say it – when a religious Congregation sees that it has no sons and starts to become increasingly small, it becomes attached to money. And you know that money is the dung of the devil. When they cannot have the grace of vocations and sons, they think that money will save their lives, and they think about their old age; that they may not lack this or that. And this is not hope! Hope comes only from the Lord! Money will never give you this".

"I thank you for what you do. Consecrated persons, each one with his or her own charism. And I would like to underline what women religious and nuns do. What would the Church be without nuns? I have said this before: when you go to hospital, to colleges, parishes, neighbourhoods, missions, there are men and women who have given their lives. ...When you go to a cemetery and see the many missionaries and nuns who died at the age of forty, from sicknesses, from the fevers they caught, who burned their lives. These are saints, these are seeds! We must ask the Lord to look to these cemeteries and to see what our antecedents did, and to give us more vocations, because we need them".

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Robert Bourgon as bishop of Hearst (area 799, population 139,977, Catholics 138,000, priests 89, permanent deacons 7, religious 104), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Sudbury, Canada in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 181. He holds a doctorate in canon law and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish vicar, parish priest, judge of the ecclesiastical tribunal and diocesan chancellor. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of Sault Saint Marie. He succeeds Bishop Vincent Cadieux, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Robert Bourgon, bishop-elect of Hearst, Canada, as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Moosonee, Canada, united in persona episcopi with that of Hearst, under the pastoral care of Bishop Cadieux.

- Archimandrite Manuel Nin, O.S.B., as apostolic exarch for the faithful of Byzantine Rite in Greece (Catholics 6,000, priests 6, religious 11). The bishop-elect was born in El Vendrell, Spain in 1956, gave his religious vows in 1980 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a degree in theology and has served as spiritual father and rector of the Pontifical Greek College, first assistant to the president of the Sublacense Cassinese Congregation. He is currently consultor in the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and member of the Liturgical Commission of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He succeeds Bishop Dimitrios Salachas, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same exarchate in accordance with canons 201 and 1 of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches.

- Rev. Christudas Rajappan as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Trivandrum of the Latins (area 686, population 368,000, Catholics 261,220, priests 230, religious 891). The bishop-elect was born in 1971 in India and was ordained in 1998. He holds a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urbanian University, and has served as parish administrator, director of the KCYM in Trivandrum, chaplain of the Catholic Hostel, and spiritual director and professor at St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Alwaye. He is currently rector of St. Vincent's Seminary in Menankulam, director of the Board of Clergy and Religious, and pastor of the St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Kochuthura.

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