Thursday, April 18, 2013


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) – The German multinational financial services company Allianz Group, present in over 70 countries and with over 78 million clients worldwide, has awarded the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., as their Communicator of the Year.

The prize was awarded this morning during a meeting of the company's communications directors who meet once a year in a European capital to analyse themes and strategies tied to the world of communications with the assistance of experts in the field.

Among the reasons for this year's award, Allianz notes that Fr. Lombardi “represents the key to understanding and interpreting the Holy See with great refinement and experience, without seeking to make himself the protagonist.” The text of the award adds that the Press Office Director has always been “at the service of information, from both the side of the one who has it as well as that of the one who seeks it.”

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano 


Vatican City, 18 April 2013 (VIS) - “The Holy Father shares your sorrow, and that of the many mothers and families who have and are suffering the tragic loss of their loved ones at this moment in Argentina's history.” These are the words that the Pope addressed to Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in a letter dated 10 April and signed by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States.

The Bishop of Rome thus responded to the letter that Hebe de Bonafini sent to him this past 21 March, gladdened by Cardinal Bergoglio's commitment in the “slums” of Buenos Aires and asking him to join with “all those in this unjust world who are fighting for an end to poverty.”

The Pope, writes Msgr. Camilleri, expresses his gratitude for the letter and responds to “your kindness, asking God for the strength for the fight, in the ministry that he has just accepted, for the eradication of poverty in the world, so that the suffering of so many who are in need might cease. His Holiness appreciates and highly esteems those who are close to the most disadvantaged and who make the effort to assist them, understand them, and meet their aspirations. In his prayers, he also asks that those responsible for the common good be enlightened so that they might fight the scourge of poverty with effective, equable, and caring means.”

The letter concludes with the Pope's blessing “as a sign of hope and support, at the same time asking the favour that they pray for and have prayers said for him.”

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo is an association of Argentinian mothers created in 1977 to denounce the disappearance of their children during the time of the Military Junta that controlled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Since 1977 they have assembled every Thursday in the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa Rosada (the “Pink House”, seat of the Argentinian government) to protest for the crimes committed during that era and to keep alive the memory of the desaparecidos.

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano       

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Vatican City, 17 April 2013 (VIS) – The meaning of the Ascension, the event culminating Jesus' earthly life, was the central theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during the Wednesday general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square and attended by over 50,000 people.

“In the Creed,” noted the pontiff, “we confess our faith in Christ who 'ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father'. … What does this mean for our lives? While he 'ascends' to [Jerusalem], where his 'exodus' from this life will take place, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but he knows well that the path that will take him back to the Father's glory passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity. … We also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into God's glory demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans.”

The Pope explained the Ascension in light of St. Luke's Gospel, which gives a short version of it. “Jesus led his disciples 'as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven'. .. This is the first important point: Jesus is the only and eternal Priest who, by his passion, has traversed death and the grave and is risen and ascended into Heaven. He is with God the Father, where he always intercedes in our favour. As St. John affirms in his First Letter: He is our Advocate.”

He then added: “How wonderful it is to hear this! When someone is called in front of a judge or goes to court, the first he does is look for a lawyer to defend him. We've got one who always defends us, who defends us from the devil's snares, defends us from ourselves, from our sins! Dear brothers and sisters, we have this Advocate. Let us not be afraid to go to him and ask forgiveness, to ask for blessing, to ask for mercy. He always forgives us. He is our Advocate. He defends us always. Never forget this!”

“Jesus' Ascension into Heaven thus allows us to know this reality that is so consoling on our journey: in Christ, true God and true man, our humanity has been brought to God. He has opened the way. He is like the leader of a mountain climbing party that is roped together. He has reached the summit and pulls us to himself, leading us to God. If we entrust our lives to him, if we let ourselves be guided by him, we are certain of being in safe hands.”

St. Luke mentions that the Apostles, after seeing Jesus ascend into Heaven, return to Jerusalem 'with great joy'. This seems a little strange to us,” the Pope said. “Usually, when we are separated from our family members, from our friends, definitively, and especially when caused by death, we are naturally sad because … we can no longer enjoy … their presence. Instead, the Evangelist emphasizes the Apostles' profound joy. Why? Precisely because, with the gaze of faith, they understand that, even if they gone from view, Jesus remains always with them. He does not abandon them and, in the Father's glory, He sustains them, guides them, and intercedes for them.”

The Evangelist also tells of the Ascension at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles “to underline that this event is like the link that connects and unites Jesus' earthly life to that of the Church.” He also mentions that, after a cloud takes him from sight of the Apostles, they remain looking at the sky until two men dressed in white garments invite them not to stay fixed there, looked at the sky, but “to nourish their lives and witness with the certainty that Jesus will return in the same way they saw him ascend to Heaven. It is an invitation to step forth from the contemplation of Jesus' Lordship and to receive from him the strength to carry forth and witness to the Gospel in their everyday lives: to contemplate and to act, 'ora et labora', St. Benedict teaches, are both necessary in our Christian life.”

“The Ascension,” Francis concluded, “doesn't indicate Jesus' absence, but rather it tells us that He is living among us in a new way. He is no longer in a particular place in the world as He was before the Ascension. Now He is in the Lordship of God, present in every space and time, close to each of us. In our lives we are never alone: we have this Advocate who awaits us and defends us. We are never alone. The crucified and risen Lord guides us. With us there are many brothers and sisters who, in their family life and their work, in their problems and difficulties, in their joys and hopes, daily live the faith and bring, together with us, the Lordship of God's love to the world. In Jesus Christ, risen and ascended into Heaven, we have an Advocate.”

At the end of his catechesis, the Pope greeted, among others, the prelates of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and Polish pilgrims from the Shrine of St. Andrew Bobola—one of the Patron Saints of Poland, a Jesuit and martyr—in Warsaw who had come to Rome for the 75th anniversary of the saint's canonization. “He gave his life for the faith, the reconciliation of his brothers, and the unity of the Church. May his intercession before God bring the gift of unity and peace to the Church,” the Holy Father exclaimed.

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Vatican City, 12 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Press Office of the Holy See, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Dr. Salvatore Martinez, national president of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, presented the Vatican Foundation “International Family Centre in Nazareth”, which will be erected on the outskirts of that city above the hill that dominates the city centre and the Basilica of the Annunciation. The press conference also included Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, auxiliary of Jerusalem of the Latins and patriarchal vicar for Israel in Nazareth.

Archbishop Paglia briefly outlined the history of the Centre's creation, noting that it was John Paul II, who wanted to be remembered as “the Pope of the family”, who, as a result of the World Encounter of Families in Rio de Janeiro in 1997, announced the idea of an International Centre for the Family in Nazareth. On the way to the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II considered the construction of this centre as a sign of encouragement for families around the world.” However, realization of the idea was delayed until 2009, shortly before Pope Benedict XVI's pastoral visit of the Holy Land, when “the Secretary of State and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family at the time, decided to recover the initiative and checked if the ecclesial movement Renewal in the Holy Spirit was available to undertake the project.”

After long negotiations with the ecclesiastical, civil, and political authorities in Israel an executive plan was approved. In 2012, during the World Encounter of Families in Milan, the “International Family Centre in Nazareth” was presented as a “working sign” of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In October of that same year, Benedict XVI gave “proper legal form to the project, ordering the erection of the Vatican Foundation “International Family Centre in Nazareth” with public and civil Vatican juridical personality, as well as the the 'ad experimentum' approval of its Statute.” The Foundation was officially established this past 18 January, and is based at the Pontifical Council for the Family and presided over by Dr. Salvatore Martinez, national president of Renewal in the Holy Spirit.

Referring to the project's deep feeling, Archbishop Paglia noted Benedict XVI's words during the blessing of the Centre's first stone on Mount Precipice in Nazareth in 2009: “We pray that this will promote strong family life in this region, will offer support and assistance to families everywhere, and encourage them in their irreplaceable mission to society.”

He continued, outlining the tasks that the International Centre will perform. “It will be a centre for spirituality of the family, for formation in parental and familiar life, of pastoral care for for workers, of preparation for the new evangelization, and activities founded in the ecclesial and social subjectivity of the family. It will be a permanent observatory of study on family ministry in the world, especially in the Holy Land and the Middle East. … And it will be a material support to families in need, especially in the Holy Land, through international fund raising projects.”

“There are places,” the archbishop concluded, “endowed with an extraordinary evocative and symbolic strength. Nazareth is one of those. It is the place where Jesus grew up, where his house was, … his family. … It is a land—today even more than at his time—full of tension and pain. But perhaps precisely because of this, it is a land that more than any other claims the right to peace and universal brotherhood. … Christian families can become co-authors of this dream.”

For his part, Dr. Martinez expressed the desire that it “become a privileged place for spreading the 'Gospel of the Family', a 'showcase' of all the beautiful, the good, the true, and the just that the family offers and witnesses to in the world.” He also noted that the Centre, built upon property held by the Holy See as neighbouring property, will be divided into two buildings on a one hectare area. Once fully operational it will consist of a 500 seat auditorium, a diocesan pastoral centre, meeting and study rooms, a 500 seat church, lodging for a residential community, a 100 room hotel with restaurant designed to accommodate families, a play area and outdoor children's entertainment areas, and exterior passages, car parks, and leisure areas. The total cost of the work will be approximately 12 million euro and the property will always belong to the Holy See.

Dr. Martinez announced the launch of the “Portal of the Family”. “It is a unique proposition in the international scene. It was created with the aim of ensuring all families, under a 'horizontal subsidiarity' and in the name of a 'gift economy', with a wide range of free services to support the choices and needs that grandparents, parents, and children encounter everyday in their life journeys. … The portal, initially only online in Italian, is intended to have analogous realisations in the world's other countries and languages … In it, doctors, psychologists, economists, lawyers, educators, and priests will interact with families.”

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano       


Vatican City, 16 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning, on the occasion of the birthday of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, the Holy Father Francis began the celebration of Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, inviting all those present to pray with these words: “Today is Benedict XVI's birthday. We offer the Mass for him, so that the Lord be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation.”

During the morning, Pope Francis then made friendly a phone call to Benedict XVI to wish him a happy birthday as well as to extend his greetings and best wishes to his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who has been at Castel Gandolfo for several days, staying precisely to celebrate in a familial and fraternal way, today's occasion and who will in turn celebrate his saint's day, St. George, this coming 23 April, just as Pope Francis will.

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte: 
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano 


Vatican City, 16 April 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., has sent a telegram to Cardinal Sean O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap, archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts, USA in response to the attack that took place yesterday afternoon in that city during its annual marathon causing three deaths and leaving over 100 wounded.

“Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of violence perpetrated last evening in Boston, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to assure you of his sympathy and closeness in prayer. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, His Holiness invokes God’s peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering, and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come.”

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Commentary: A Poor Church for the Poor

The following commentary is taken from the blog of the Patriarch of St. Stephen.

Sub Tuum. 

In His Holiness's first meeting with the press after his election, Pope Francis stated that he would like a poor church for the poor. It was not surprising that the first instinctive response from some people was to question how a church with no money could help the poor or anyone else. And, I'm sure that the modernists and liberals hearing that statement thought it provided a further justification for the destruction of the Church's traditions, while the radical traditionalists no doubt were highly concerned that more modernist changes were on the way. I will not presume to state definitively what the Holy Father meant by his comment. However, I will provide my own interpretation as to what I believe he meant.

Dear friends in Christ, let's consider the group I just mentioned: modernists, liberals, and radical traditionalists. If we follow the notion of a poor church, those labels become irrelevant. I will return to this later. First let us consider what a "poor church" means. Does it necessarily mean a church with no money? No. The amount of money in the treasury of the church is irrelevant. With money and other resources, the church can accomplish a lot of good for the world. Hospitals, schools, shelters, and other humanitarian facilities may be built through the help of those material resources entrusted to the church's care. Ah! Now we are getting at the root of the definition. "Entrusted to the church's care" is the key phrase. You see, it is no sin to be rich. It is a sin to place money on the altar and worship it in place of Christ. When a rich man or a church or an organization with a lot of money views that money as nothing but a tool to do good in the world in the Name of Christ, then they are on the road to a true, spiritual poverty. A poor church is one that views its resources, however great or small, as being merely in her care for the benefit of humanity.

But the Church is not an esoteric construct merely for philosophical discussion. She is a living thing comprised of the clergy and faithful. Therefore, the people of the Church must order their own lives so that God is their primary focus and their resources are directed towards the common good. This does not mean people cannot take vacations, buy jewelry, etc., but rather that such purchases must be done in terms of Christian modesty and not at the expense of the work of the Church. Everything must be done in moderation and kept in perspective. If someone is buying new cars and jewelry, but doesn't even donate a single dime to to help the poor, then there is indeed a problem. There must never be arrogance that says those with more money are inherently better or harder-working than or superior to those without money. A Church that views the faithful only in terms of how much money they can donate has forgotten the great words of Saint Lawrence the Deacon and Martyr: The poor are the true treasure of the Church.

A poor person is not one who has no money. There are plenty of people with limited financial resources whose main focus is getting more material things. These people may be financially poor, but are spiritually devoid. There are also some rich people who, despite their vast resources, are primarily oriented towards God and have a sense of responsible use of what has been entrusted to them. They may be financially wealthy, but that wealth has little importance to them other than what it can do for others. From those to whom much is given, much is expected. How few people remember that!

Let us now turn to the poverty of the Church in terms of visible expression. Are we building grand buildings and chapels for the glory of God and for the edification of the people? That is the only reason to build them. Are we building our facilities to suit our own modern whims and the trends of society, or do we seek to build something beautiful as a testament to the majesty and power of our Lord? A poor church builds what it can to the best of its ability to offer the best possible for God.

And what of the liturgy? Does one who prefers the Tridentine (Latin) mass simply like the pageantry and show, or is it because it is God-centered and all the visual display is oriented entirely to the total worship of God? In the latter case, one completely surrenders to God and forgets everything else. That is poverty. And what of liturgical changes to suit the times? What of the notion that the clergy should dress like the people? Here we depart from the notion of poverty. Here we seek to suit ourselves. The moment we do that, we cease to live in poverty. The moment we do that, we collectively cease to be a poor church. So you see, if we do our best in human frailty to be poor, our focus becomes on God. There are no more radical traditionalists, liberals, or modernists. The focus is on God and helping the people of God. That, I believe, is the poor church the Holy Father wants. This is a task of building, not tearing down. It is a mission of growth, not of destruction. What a glorious goal this is!

Let us all remember that the clergy and people, though in different ways, are caretakers of what has been entrusted to us as individuals and to the Church as a whole. Those with more resources have more responsibility to use those resources for the greater good. Those with higher rank in the clergy have greater responsibility. We do not ordain men to the priesthood so that they may Lord it over others, but so that they may, like Christ, die to the world and offer the Sacrifice upon the altar for the souls of everyone around the world. A church for the poor helps everyone, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they have done. Some Christian sects are well-known as "churches for the rich." Sunday services are more a fashion show in the pews than an act of worship. At a poor Catholic mass, the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, the infirmed, the disfigured, the oppressed, and all who suffer around the world are there touching the chasuble of the priest. They are lifted up as the poor priest lifts up the Body and Blood. No one is forgotten at a mass said in poverty. The splendor of God is reflected through the beauty of the liturgy the same for the most humble of humanity as for the most rich and powerful. The glory of the courts of our Lord is not limited to the rich, the powerful, and the social elite, but is available to all who approach in humility and say "O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." This is a poor church for the poor!


Vatican City, 15 April 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis presided over Mass at Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls on his first visit to that basilica as Bishop of Rome. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of the basilica, and Abbot Edmund Power, O.S.B., of the St. Paul Outside-the-Walls Abbey.

In his homily, the Holy Father recalled that the basilica is built above the tomb of St. Paul, “a great yet humble Apostle of the Lord, who proclaimed him by word, bore witness to him by martyrdom and worshipped him with all his heart.” He added that these were the three words—proclamation, witness, worship—that he wanted to reflect upon in light of the Word of God in the liturgy's readings.
Commenting on the first reading, in which the Apostles are imprisoned for preaching of the Risen Christ, the Pope observed that Peter and the Twelve “proclaim courageously, fearlessly, what they have received: the Gospel of Jesus. And we? Are we capable of bringing the word of God into the environment in which we live? Do we know how to speak of Christ, of what He represents for us, in our families, among the people who form part of our daily lives? Faith is born from listening, and is strengthened by proclamation.”

“The proclamation made by Peter and the Apostles,” he emphasized, “does not merely consist of words: fidelity to Christ affects their whole lives, which are changed, given a new direction, and it is through their lives that they bear witness to the faith and to the proclamation of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter three times to feed his flock, to feed it with his love, and He prophesies to him: 'When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go'. These words are addressed first and foremost to those of us who are pastors: we cannot feed God’s flock unless we let ourselves be carried by God’s will even where we would rather not go, unless we are prepared to bear witness to Christ with the gift of ourselves, unreservedly, not in a calculating way, sometimes even at the cost of our lives.”

“But this also applies to everyone: we all have to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel. … In God’s great plan, every detail is important, even yours, even my humble little witness, even the hidden witness of those who live their faith with simplicity in everyday family relationships, work relationships, friendships. There are the saints of every day, the 'hidden' saints, a sort of 'middle class of holiness', as a French author said, that 'middle class of holiness' to which we can all belong.”

“But in different parts of the world, there are also those who suffer ... on account of the Gospel; there are those who give their lives in order to remain faithful to Christ ... Let us all remember this: one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life. I am thinking now of some advice that Saint Francis of Assisi gave his brothers: 'Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words'. Preaching with your life, with your witness. Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility.”

“All this is possible only if we recognize Jesus Christ, because it is He who has called us, He who has invited us to travel his path, He who has chosen us. Proclamation and witness are only possible if we are close to him, just as Peter, John and the other disciples in today’s Gospel passage were gathered around the Risen Jesus. … And this is important for us: living an intense relationship with Jesus, an intimacy of dialogue and of life, in such a way as to recognize him as 'the Lord'. Worshipping him!”

“I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: [ask yourself, ask myself] Do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? … All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that He must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing—not only by our words—that He alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that He is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.”

“This has a consequence in our lives,” the pontiff noted. “We have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge and upon which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in each of your hearts, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the privileged path of our lives.”

“The Lord,” concluded the Bishop of Rome, “calls us each day to follow him with courage and fidelity. He has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples. He invites us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but He asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and He invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. To proclaim, to witness, to worship.”

Le notizie contenute nei servizi del Vatican Information Service possono essere riprodotte parzialmente o totalmente citando la fonte:
V.I. S. - Vatican Information Service -
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service - 00120 Città del Vaticano