February 25, 2016

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- "Love before the world": the Pope answers questions from children

- Francis to meet the Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia

- Religious and migrations: perspectives, response and challenges

- Audiences

- Notice to VIS subscribers

"Love before the world": the Pope answers questions from children

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – "L'amore prima del mondo" ("Love before the world") is the title of a book published by Rizzoli, in the form of 31 letters and drawings sent to the Holy Father by children from various Jesuit institutions from all five continents, asking for advice and explanations, and Francis' replies.

The title is drawn from the Pope's answer to the question, "What did God do before the world was made?". The eighty pages of the volume consist of a dialogue between Francis and the Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica, who took the children's letters and drawings the Domus Sanctae Marthae last summer and to ask for a response. The Pope accepted the proposal and the resulting book has been released in Italian bookshops today. It will shortly be available in other languages.

Francis answers questions on a wide variety of issues, such as how Jesus managed to walk on water: "God doesn't sink", and why He created us if He knew we were going to sin against Him: Because God created us like Him. Free. And being free includes the possibility of sinning. … Freedom can be frightening because it cannot be planned. But it is beautiful and it is the greatest gift". In response to questions from the youngest children regarding the devil and guardian angels, the Pope recalls the importance of liturgy of prayer, or evokes the fantastic imagination of the young: "God defeated the devil on the cross. The devil is like the big scary dragons who are defeated and killed. They have a very long tail which, even if they are beaten and killed, continues to move".

There are also questions regarding war and atrocities; for instance, a child from Nigeria asks how these conflicts could be resolved. "It is necessary to encourage people of good will to speak against war. I cannot solve the conflicts in the world, but you and I can try to make this a better world. We need to convince everyone that the best way to win a war is not to enter into one. It is not easy, I know. But I try. You can try too".

A child from China wants to know why the Pope likes football. "I have never learned well the techniques of the game", admits Francis. "I don't have agile feet. But I like to see the team on the field because it is a game of solidarity". In response to a boy from the United Kingdom asks, "What was your hardest choice in your mission for faith?", the Holy Father replies, "There are many hard choices, but I have to say that the type of decision that is most difficult for me is to remove someone from a responsible job or a position of trust, or a path they are following, for reasons of unsuitability".

Francis to meet the Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – On Monday, 29 February, the Holy Father Francis will meet with His Holiness Abuna Mathias, Patriarch of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia, who will be present in Rome from Friday 26 to Monday 29. During his stay the Patriarch will visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the tomb of the apostle Peter, and will celebrate Holy Mass with the Ethiopian community of Rome on Sunday 28 February in the chapel of the Urbanian College.

The Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Ethiopia currently consists of 35 million faithful, and a large community exists in Rome. It enjoys cordial and increasingly close relations with the Catholic Church, especially following the first visit in 1993 of the then-Patriarch Abuna Paulos to Pope John Paul II.

Religious and migrations: perspectives, response and challenges

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – The international conference "The religious and migrations in the 21 st century: perspectives, response and challenges", organised by the representation before the United Nations of the Passionists International, the Congregation of St. Joseph, Augustinians International and the Vincentians, yesterday concluded two days of intense work.

The aim of the meeting, attended by around a hundred men and women religious, as well as laypersons and experts in the sector, was to understand more fully the phenomenon of migration and its repercussions in today's world, especially in the context of the current European situation. It also considered the identification of more effective and shared forms of solidarity. A strong appeal was launched for intensified network-building among congregations, associations and other organisations in countries of origin, transit and destination. The network represents one of the most efficient ways of using energy, skills and resources, to give greater impetus to the already extraordinary work that these entities carry out. In Italy alone, some 23 million people (almost a quarter of the refugees present in the country) are received by parishes, religious communities, monasteries and sanctuaries.

The participants expressed major concerns regarding the large number of often unaccompanied minors involved in migratory flows, as well as the many young women, especially from Nigeria (more than four thousand in 2015) who risk falling into the trap of exploitation and prostitution.

Fr. Emela Xris Obiezu, representative of Augustinians International before the United Nations, emphasised that "In this complex world, and faced with the challenge of migration, it is increasingly necessary to think globally and act locally, also in terms of lobbying and advocacy, to take the voice of the victims and those who work alongside them to every level of attention, from local administrations to the United Nations, so as to influence working decisions, always placing at the centre of attention the person and respect for his or her freedom and dignity".

Audiences

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Notice to VIS subscribers

Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – From Tuesday 1 March 2016, the Vatican Information Service newsletter will not be transmitted, but subscribers will instead receive a link via which they may consult the web page including a synthesis in English of the official Holy See Press Office Bulletin, the summary hitherto provided by the Vatican Information Service.

The newsletter service is expected to resume within a few weeks.

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