Tag Archives: vatican

Pope writes preface for diaconate book

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has written the preface to a new book that contains his various pronouncements on the vocation to the diaconate which he says is “primarily realised in the service of the poor.”

The book by the Reverend Enzo Petrolino, a deacon from the diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova in Italy, brings together the Pope’s statements about the permanent diaconate from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires with his most recent ones as Bishop of Rome.

In his preface to the book entitled “The Diaconate in the thought of Pope Francis: A Poor Church for the Poor,” the Pontiff acknowledges that the roots of the permanent diaconate have been rediscovered in the period following the Second Vatican Council.

Writing in the forward, Pope Francis says: “The Church finds in the permanent diaconate the expression and at the same time the impulse to become itself a visible sign of the diaconia of Christ the Servant in the history of mankind.”

“Diakonia” is a Greek term in the Gospels which refers to the exercise of charity towards the poor.

The Pope writes: “The sensitivity to the formation of a ‘diaconal conscience’ can be considered the basic motive that must permeate Christian communities.”

He adds that all diaconia in the Church “has its beating heart in the Eucharistic Ministry and is primarily realised in the service of the poor who bear in themselves the face of the suffering Christ.”

The Pope recalls the moment when he was elected in the conclave and Cardinal Claudio Hummes turned to him saying: “Do not forget the poor.” It was then that in his heart he heard the name Saint Francis of Assisi, who tradition tells us was a deacon.

“He is for me,” Pope Francis writes, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and guards creation. He is the man from whom deacons must be inspired.” – vatican radio

Vatican extends deadline for Synod’s youth survey

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican’s online survey aims to reach a maximum number of young people in preparation for the Synod of Bishop’s assembly next year on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment by extending its deadline, La Croix International posted on 21 Nov 2017.

The Vatican is giving 16- to 29-year-olds one more month to fill out its online survey in preparation for the Synod of Bishop’s next gathering on “Young people, faith and vocational discernment.”  The bishops will hold their meeting from 3-28 October 2018 in Rome.

The online survey which began in June was originally set to close on November 30. But Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Synod secretary general, announced on Tuesday, Nov 21,  that the questionnaire will continue to be accessible until December 31.

The responses, which will be analysed and synthesised, will provide a basis for the drafting of the Instrumentum Laboris or “working document,” the roadmap that which the Synod Fathers will work from.

This online survey is unprecedented both in its form and as a method of preparing for a Synod gathering.

It is also the first time that the Vatican has organised its own direct consultation with the faithful in parallel with the discourses normally carried out in the dioceses.

The latter is used to prepare national summaries which also serve in the drafting of the Instrumentum Laboris.

The French Bishops Conference submitted their synthesis to Rome in October. It was made public at the beginning of November during the autumn assembly of the bishops at Lourdes.

The survey was clearly an unprecedented initiative. The question is whether it was a success. At the end of October, Cardinal Baldisseri said the questionnaire had received 65,000 responses.

This is, in fact, a low response rate considering that the Vatican aimed to address young people from the whole world regardless of their religion.

It now appears that many countries failed to adequately promote the survey. A series of criticisms have also emerged regarding its length, poor translation and confusing questions.

While the final number of responses remains to be seen, it can be expected that the number will rise as the new deadline approaches and social media efforts to canvas responses multiply.

Other countries are also endeavouring to mobilise young people during these final days as illustrated by a message from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference:

“Have you given your opinion? The Vatican is preparing the 2018 Synod on young people. Take a few minutes to share your ideas.” – la croix international

Pope Francis establishes third section for diplomatic staff at Secretariat of State

Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski has been appointed by Pope Francis to helm the third section in October 2017.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has established a third section, or department, of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, which reportedly began its operations on 9 Nov 2017. The new section is named “Section for the Diplomatic Staff,” and is tasked with overseeing the Holy See’s diplomatic corps, stationed around the world.

Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski has been appointed to helm the third section. Previously the apostolic nuncio to Gabon, in 2015 Archbishop Pawlowski was appointed head of the Office for Pontifical Representations, a sort of “human resources office” within the Secretariat of State.

That office has been now elevated into an independent department, alongside the two sections that already constitute the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

The First Section of the Secretariat of State oversees the general affairs of the Roman Curia, and is led by the Secretariat’s “substitute,” currently Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu.

The second section, the “Section for the Relations with States,” is entrusted with the diplomatic activity of the Holy See. At the helm of the office is the Secretary for Relations with States, often described as the Vatican “foreign minister.”  Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, of Great Britain, holds the post.

The Pope established the third section via a letter sent in October to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and delivered to the Apostolic Nunciatures, the embassies of the Holy See, around over the world.

In his letter, the Pope expressed that he had “great care for those who assist the ministry of Rome,” both “those who work in the Holy See, and in the Vatican City State, and in the Apostolic See” and its related institutions.

The Pope recalled his address to the Roman Curia for the 2013 Christmas greeting and said that “since the beginning” he proposed the criteria of “professionalism, service, and holiness of life” in order to be a good Vatican official.

Pope Francis also underscored that he expressed “vivid appreciation” for the work of “pontifical representatives,” an “important work, that undergoes peculiar difficulties.”

He then explained that his decision was motivated by the need to provide “more human, priestly, spiritual and professional accompaniment” to those who are “in the diplomatic service of the Holy See,” whether they are heads of mission or even students at the Ecclesiastical Academy, where young priests are trained for diplomatic service.

The letter says that “the Office of the Delegate for the Pontifical Representation is strengthened into a Third Section, with the name of Section for the Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See”; the office “will depend on the Secretary of State,” will be given  “a proper number of officials” and will demonstrate “the Pope’s attention to the diplomatic staff.”

The Pope’s letter also says that the delegate “will be able to regularly visit pontifical representatives” and will oversee the “permanent selection” of staff as well of “career advancement” for diplomatic personnel.

According to a source within the Secretariat of State, this reform is just one step toward a general reorganisation of the Secretariat of State.

The Council of Cardinals has discussed several times the importance of clarifying and supporting the role of nuncios and diplomatic staff. – CNA/EWTN News

Pope calls for common good, ethical responsibility in science, technology

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis called for the common good and ethical responsibility in science and technology in his meeting with the participants of the Pontifical Council for Culture on 18 Nov 2017.

“Science, like any other human activity, has its limits which should be observed for the ‎good of ‎humanity itself and requires a sense of ethical responsibility. The true measure of progress, as ‎Blessed ‎Paul VI recalled, is that which is aimed at the good of each man and the whole man,” the Pope told some 83 participants at the conclusion of their 15-18 Nov 2017 assembly which discussed the theme, “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.”

The Pope said, the Church wants to give the correct direction to man at the dawn of a new era marked by incredible advances in medicine, genetics, neuroscience and “autonomous” machines.

Speaking about the incredible advances in genetics, he noted that diseases that were considered incurable until recently have been eradicated, and new possibilities have opened up to “programme” human beings with certain “qualities.”

The Pope said that “science and technology have helped us to further the boundaries of knowledge of nature, especially of the human being,” but they alone are not enough to give all the answers.

‎“Today,” he said, “we ‎increasingly realise that it is necessary to draw from the treasures of wisdom of religious ‎traditions, popular wisdom, literature and the arts that touch the depths of the mystery of ‎human ‎existence, without forgetting, but rather by rediscovering those contained in philosophy and ‎theology.‎”

In this regard, the Pope pointed to two principles of the Church’s  teaching. The first is the “centrality of the human person, which is to be considered an end and not a means.”  Man must be in harmony ‎with creation, not as a despot about God’s inheritance, but as a loving guardian of the work ‎of the Creator.‎

The second principle is the universal destination of goods, including that of ‎knowledge and technology. Scientific and technological progress, the Pope said, should serve the good of all humanity, and ‎not just a few, and this will help avoid new inequalities in the future based on knowledge and prevent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor.

The pope insisted that great decisions regarding the direction scientific research should take, and investment in it, should be taken together by the whole of society and should not be ‎dictated solely by market rules or by the interests of a few.‎

And finally, the Pope said, one must keep in mind that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is ethically acceptable. – vatican radio

The poor open for us the way to heaven, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis eats lunch with the poor in the Paul VI hall after celebrating Mass marking the first World Day of the Poor at the Vatican, 19 Nov 2017. Some 1,200 poor people joined the pope for the meal. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday, 19 Nov 2017 – the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first World Day of the Poor – in St Peter’s Basilica here.

“If in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

He added, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.  When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.”

The pope noted that it is an “evangelical duty” to care for the poor, as real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them.

The pontiff announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (2016), and entrusted its organisation and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation.

There were some 4000 needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall.

Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.”

The Holy Father went on to ask God’s blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.”

The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

“To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.” – vatican radio

Pope addresses end-of-life issues


VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis addressed end-of-life issues in his letter to the participants of a World Medical Association meeting on 16 Nov 2017.

“The anguish associated with conditions that bring us to the threshold of human mortality, and the difficulty of the decision we have to make, may tempt us to step back from the patient.  Yet this is where, more than anything else, we are called to show love and closeness, recognising the limit that we all share and showing our solidarity,” he said to the delegates of the European Regional Meeting.

In his message, the pope called for “greater wisdom” in striking a balance between medical efforts to prolong life, and the responsible decision to withhold treatment when death becomes inevitable.

“It is clear that not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment,” the pope said. “From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong, in that the intent of euthanasia is to end life and cause death.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that it is often difficult to determine the proper course of action in increasingly complex cases.

“There needs to be a careful discernment of the moral object, the attending circumstances, and the intentions of those involved,” he said, pointing to the traditional criteria of moral theology for evaluating human actions. But in this process, he insisted “the patient has the primary role.”

The pontiff also raised the issue of “a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” both globally – especially between different continents – and within individual, especially wealthy countries, where options for health care often depend more on “economic resources,” than the “actual need for treatment.”

It is important, Pope Francis said, to find agreed solutions to “these sensitive issues.” He emphasised the need to recognise different worldviews and ethical systems, but also noted the duty of the state to protect the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable. – vatican radio

Mass is a time for silence and prayer, not idle chitchat, pope says

Pope Francis looks on during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 15 Nov 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY – Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk, Pope Francis said.

At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing “to meet with Jesus” instead of engaging in “chitchat,” the pope said on 15 Nov 2017 during his weekly general audience.

“Silence is so important,” he said. “Remember what I told you last time: we are not going to a show. Silence prepares us and accompanies us.”

The pope continued his new series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is “the highest, the most sublime and, at the same time, the most concrete” way of encountering God’s love.

“This is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

In the Gospels, he continued, Jesus teaches his disciples that the first thing needed to pray “is to know how to say ‘father'” and to trust in God with the humility of a child.

Christians also must allow themselves to be “surprised by the living encounter with the Lord,” he said, and not simply “talk to God like a parrot,” repeating the words of prayers without thinking.

“The encounter with God is a living encounter,” the pope said departing from his prepared remarks. “It is not an encounter of a museum, it is a living encounter. And we go to Mass, not a museum! We go to a living encounter with the Lord.”

Pope Francis said the Mass is also a gift and a consolation where Christians discover that God’s greatest surprise is that he “loves us even in our weakness.”

“The Lord encounters our frailty,” the pope said. “This is the environment of the Eucharist. This is prayer.” – CNS

Pope discusses priestly formation with dicastery heads

VATICAN CITY –  Vocations, formation in the seminaries and permanent training of the clergy were discussed on 13 November 2017 in the Bologna Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where Pope Francis presided over a meeting of the heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.

It was the so-called “interdicasterial” meeting, which takes place at least twice a year, with cardinals, bishops and prelates at the head of Congregations and Pontifical Councils.

The meeting discussed the formation of new priests according to the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, a document published by the Congregation of the Clergy in December 2016.

The document takes into account the papal magisterium and insists on the importance of integral human formation, and not only academic formation.

It emphasises the goal of becoming “missionary disciples and pastors” in the three phases of vocational pastoral work, formation of seminarians and permanent training for priests.

Discipleship and mission concern all baptised people while being pastors is specific to the priesthood.

It highlights the importance of integral human formation including affective formation so as to form shepherds capable of living among the people and sharing their expectations, joys and wounds.

The document, in the wake of Francis’ Magisterium – and in particular of the great responsibility that the exhortation Amoris laetitia brings upon the shoulders of priests, especially in accompanying the increasingly frequent difficult marriage situations – insists on the importance of discernment and formation for discernment.

In fact, there is a lack of adequate preparation for this accompaniment to married persons and the formators of future priests must verify whether seminarians are able to assume these responsibilities, as they require commitment, sharing and the ability to identify themselves in situations that are always different from one another.

Paragraph 120 of the document discussed by the Pope with his collaborators reads, “The call to be pastors of the people of God requires a formation that makes future priests experts in the art of pastoral discernment, that is to say, able to listen deeply to real situations and capable of good judgment in making choices and decisions. To make pastoral discernment effective, the evangelical style of listening must take central place. This frees the pastor from the temptation of abstraction, to self-promotion, to excessive self-assurances and to that aloofness that would make him a ’spiritual accountant’ instead of a good Samaritan.” – vaticaninsider

Vatican announces initiatives for first World Day of the Poor

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican has announced on Tuesday that it will have several initiatives to mark the first Day of the Poor here on 19 Nov 2017.

Pope Francis has called for a day for the poor at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in November 2016.

The Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation announced a number of special events that are taking place throughout the week to highlight this annual initiative.

On Sunday morning in St Peter’s Basilica, some four thousand poor and needy people, accompanied by volunteers from Italy, France, Spain, Brussels, Luxembourg and Poland will take part in a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

Following the Eucharist, 1.500 of the visitors will be invited to lunch in the adjacent Paul VI Hall, while the other 2.500 guests will be taken to lunch in some of the Catholic colleges, seminaries and charitable organisations in the vicinity of the Vatican.

Those dining in the Paul VI Hall will be served a meal of gnocchi with tomato sauce and veal stew with vegetables, plus tiramisu and coffee for dessert, all prepared by papal chef Sergio Dussin from Bassano del Grappa in Italy’s northern Veneto region.

The Vatican police band and a children’s choir will provide background music for the festive lunch, which has been organised in collaboration with a number of local charity organisations and parishes.

On  Saturday, Nov 18, at 8 pm, there will be a prayer vigil in the ancient Rome Basilica of St Lawrence to remember volunteers all over the world who offer their services in support of the poor and marginalised.

Throughout the week of Nov 13 – 19, a mobile clinic has been set up just in front of St Peter’s Square offering free specialised medical services between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm.

A special booklet marking this first World Day of the Poor has also been published in six languages as a pastoral aid for dioceses and parishes worldwide who wish to take part in this important initiative. –  Vatican Radio

Couples need help forming, following their consciences, pope says

Twenty-one couples celebrate their convalidation ceremony at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va, 24 June 2017. The Catholic Church must strengthen its programmes “to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations” and to help couples once they are married, Pope Francis said on 11 Nov 2017 in Rome. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

VATICAN CITY — Marriage and family life are blessings for individuals and for society, but both are filled with difficult choices that Catholic couples must be helped to face prayerfully and in the light of their consciences, Pope Francis said.

Unfortunately, too many people today confuse a rightly formed conscience with personal preferences dominated by selfishness, the pope said in a video message to an Italian meeting on “Amoris Laetitia,” his exhortation on the family.

“The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual” even when the individual’s decisions impact his or her marriage and family life, the pope said.

Repeating a remark he had made to the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis said, “There are those who even speak of ‘egolatry,’ that is, the true worship of the ego on whose altar everything, including the dearest affections, is sacrificed.”

Confusing conscience with selfishness “is not harmless,” the pope said. “This is a ‘pollution’ that corrodes souls and confounds minds and hearts, producing false illusions.”

The conference sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference was focused on “conscience and norm” in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation.

Diagnosing problems in the church’s outreach to married couples and families, Pope Francis had written, “We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.”

“We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations,” he wrote in “Amoris Laetitia.” “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”

In his message to the meeting on 11 Nov 2017 in Rome, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must strengthen its programmes “to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations” and to help couples once they are married.

“Love between a man and a woman is obviously among the most generative human experiences; it is the leaven of a culture of encounter, and introduces to the present world an injection of sociality,” he said.

Marriage and family life are “the most effective antidote against the individualism that currently runs rampant,” he said, but it does not do one any good to pretend that marriage and family life are free from situations requiring difficult choices.

“In the domestic reality, sometimes there are concrete knots to be addressed with prudent conscience on the part of each,” he said. “It is important that spouses, parents, not be left alone, but accompanied in their commitment to applying the Gospel to the concreteness of life.”

Conscience, he said, always has God’s desire for the human person as its ultimate reference point.

“In the very depths of each one of us, there is a place wherein the ‘Mystery’ reveals itself, and illuminates the person, making the person the protagonist of his story,” he said. “Conscience, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is this ‘most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.'”

Each Christian, the pope said, must be “vigilant so that in this kind of tabernacle there is no lack of divine grace, which illuminates and strengthens married love and the parental mission.” – NCR, CNS

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