- Year XXII - Num. 078
|- Queen Silvia of Sweden and her family visit the Pope|
|- The Pope praises the dynamism of the Church in Benin|
|- Ordination of nineteen new priests: imitate the Father, who never tires of forgiving|
|- Regina Coeli: contemplation and thanksgiving are not enough – we must follow the Good Shepherd|
|- Telegram for the earthquake in Nepal|
|- To the John Paul II Foundation: nurture solidarity with Christian fraternity|
|- Other Pontifical Acts|
|Queen Silvia of Sweden and her family visit the Pope|
Vatican City, (VIS) – At today, in the private Library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in private audience Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, accompanied by various family members and her entourage.
This afternoon, Her Majesty will participate in a workshop at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences organised by the Embassy of Sweden to the Holy See and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on the theme of the fight against human trafficking, with particular attention to children. She will subsequently visit the Vatican Apostolic Library for the inauguration of the “distribution desk” realised with the contribution of the King Gustaf VI Adolf Foundation.
During the conversation, which took place mostly in Spanish, a language the Queen knows well, she informed the Pope of the activities she promotes in Sweden, especially for the benefit of children, and the Pope took the opportunity the express his gratitude for the welcome extended by Sweden to refugees and displaced persons. Among the gifts from Queen Silvia, the Pope received three small Swedish prayer books, also adapted for children. The religious education of her children has been particularly close to the sovereign's heart, and the Pope expressed his lively appreciation.
Princess Madeleine, with her husband and one year-old daughter Leonore, were also present in the Queen’s entourage, and the Pope therefore received the young family with particular affection.
|The Pope praises the dynamism of the Church in Benin|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The vitality of the Church, the pastoral ministry of the family, attention to priests and persons religious, and relations with the civil authorities are the central themes of the written discourse that the Pope handed to the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Benin this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit.
The Holy Father begins by praising the dynamism of parish life, the extensive participation of the faithful in ceremonies and the increase of vocations to the priesthood, but he also echoed the prelates' reports that it is at times superficial and lacking in solidity and strength. “Therefore, it is important that the desire for a profound knowledge of the Christian mystery not be the prerogative of an elite, but instead must inspire all faithful, as everyone is called to holiness. It is imperative that the Church in Benin resists and defeats the winds to the contrary that are rising throughout the world and do not fail to blow upon you too. I know that you are vigilant in the face of numerous ideological and media attacks. The spirit of secularisation is at work in your country too, although it is not yet very visible. Only a faith profoundly rooted in the heart of the faithful, and lived in a concrete way, will enable you to face this”.
One of the challenges to the Church in Benin is family pastoral ministry, to which the upcoming Synod will seek to respond. The Pope thanks the prelates of Benin for their prayers for this assembly, and for their mobilisation of the dioceses to participate in such important event. “I can only encourage you to continue with determination in the efforts you have undertaken to support families, both in their faith and in their daily life. I know that the pastoral ministry of marriage remains difficult, considering the real social and cultural situation of the people. However, do not be discouraged, but persevere tirelessly as the family in defence of the Catholic Church is a reality willed by God; it is a gift of God that brings joy, stability and happiness to people and to societies. It is an important challenge since the family, as the basic unit of both society and of the Church, is the place where authentic human and Gospel values are transmitted”.
The bishop of Rome then turns to the theme of the education of the younger generations, who must bring solidarity, justice and mutual respect to the society of the future. “It is necessary to promote in your country – without of course renouncing any of the Truth as revealed by the Lord – the encounter between cultures and dialogue between religions, especially with Islam. It is well known that Benin offers an example of harmony between the religions present in her territory. It is however wise to be vigilant, considering the current world climate, in order to conserve this fragile heritage. I am particularly pleased that an international colloquium on interreligious dialogue has been held, under the presidency of Cardinal Tauran, which was widely appreciated”.
“Your local Churches have a key role in promoting harmony and justice in the progress of the country”, Pope Francis observes. “But it is a role they also play in healthcare and human development. How much work is carried out in the name of the Gospel in your dioceses! While the global crisis is affecting many countries, it is necessary to go against the grain with courage, fighting against the throwaway culture that reaches everywhere and spreading the Gospel values of hospitality and encounter. The service of charity is a constitutive dimension of the mission of the Church, and it is an expression of her essence. However, it should be borne in mind that the spirit of the works accomplished by the Church has a specific nature that must be clearly identified: she never acts as a form of simple social aid, but rather as the manifestation of the tenderness and mercy of Jesus Himself, who tends to the wounds and weaknesses of His brothers. The joy of the Gospel is thus announced to humanity in the most effective way”.
The Pope thanks the priests of Benin for their generous service into the Gospel and mentions again the great number of vocations, a blessing from the Lord, and encourages the Church in Benin to share her resources with the Churches of other regions which are lacking. However, he writes, “when you send your priests to study or on missions elsewhere, do so with judgement, without forgetting the needs of your own Churches”.
The final paragraphs of the text are dedicated to the good relationship between the Church and the civil authorities in the country. “The voice of the Church is listened to and her action is appreciated. I invite you to continue to take your place fully in the public life of the country, especially in these times. I know you are engaged in constant work to encourage relations between the different components of society. I invite you to continue along this path, taking care not to enter directly into the political arena or party disputes. The conduct of public affairs remains the duty of the laity, whom you have the important duty of ceaselessly educating and encouraging”.
|Ordination of nineteen new priests: imitate the Father, who never tires of forgiving|
Vatican City, 26 April 2015 (VIS) – On the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis conferred priestly ordination to nineteen deacons: thirteen from the Roman diocesan seminaries (Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, “Redemptoris Mater” Diocesan College, Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love) and six from other colleges. The Mass was concelebrated by the Holy Father and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, vicegerent, the auxiliary bishops, the superiors of the seminaries involved, and the deacons' parish priests.
During the liturgy of ordination, the Pope pronounced the homily for this rite, improvising some paragraphs. “These sons of ours are called to the order of the presbytery. It is good for us to reflect a little on the ministry to which they will be elevated within the Church. As you well know, the Lord Jesus is the sole Supreme Priest of the New Testament, but in Him also all the holy people of God is constituted as a priestly people. All of us! Nonetheless, among all His disciples, Jesus wishes to choose some in particular to publicly exercise priestly office on behalf of all mankind, thus continuing His personal mission as teacher, priest and pastor. … They have reflected on this, their vocation, and now they are to receive the ordination to the priesthood. And the bishop risks – risks! - and chooses them, just as the Father risked for each one of us”.
“And to you, who are about to be raised to the order of the presbytery, consider that by exercising the ministry of the Holy Doctrine you will participate in the mission of Christ, the sole master. Dispense to all that Word of God, that you yourselves have received with joy. Read and meditate diligently on the Word of the Lord so as to believe in what you have read, to teach what you have learnt in faith, to live what you have taught. And may this be the nourishment of the People of God; may your homilies never be dull; may your homilies arrive straight to the heart of the people as they come from your heart: what you say to them is what you have in your heart. In this way one offers the Word of the Lord, and in this way your doctrine will be joy and sustenance to Christ's faithful; the aroma of your life will be witness, as example edifies, whereas words without example are empty. They are ideas that never reach the heart and may even do harm; they do not do good”.
“When you celebrate Mass, acknowledge then what you are doing. Do not be hasty! Imitate what you celebrate – it is not an artificial rite. … With Baptism, you will add new faithful to the People of God. You must never refuse Baptism to those who ask for it. With the Sacrament of Penance you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and of the Church. And I, in the name of the Jesus Christ, the Lord, and His spouse, the Holy Church, I ask you never to tire of being merciful. You will be in the confessional to forgive, not to condemn! Imitate the Father, Who never tires of forgiving. With the holy oils you will bring relief to the sick. By celebrating the holy rites and raise at the different times of the day the prayers of praise and supplication, you will become the voice of the People of God and of the whole of humanity. Aware of having been chosen among men and constituted for their benefit to attend to matters of God, exercise Christ's priestly work with joy and sincere charity, intent solely on pleasing God and not yourselves. A priest who lives to please himself, who acts like a peacock, is unpleasant”.
“Finally, participating in Christ's mission as Head and Pastor in filial communion with your bishop, make efforts to unite the faithful in a single family – you are ministers of unity in the Church and in the family – to lead them to God the Father by means of Christ in the Holy Spirit”, he concluded, adding. “and always keep before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, Who did not come to be served, but to serve; not to remain in comfort, but to reach out to seek and save what was lost”.
|Regina Coeli: contemplation and thanksgiving are not enough – we must follow the Good Shepherd|
Vatican City, 26 April 2015 (VIS) – At the end of the celebration of Holy Mass for new vocations, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in the square. Beforehand the Holy Father spoke about the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd in Whom we contemplate God's Providence.
“The Father gave us the greatest and most precious gift He could give. It is the highest and purest love, as it is not motivated by any need, it is not conditioned by any calculation, it is not attracted by any interest to receive in exchange. Before this love of God, we experience immense joy and open ourselves up to the the acknowledgement of what we have freely received. But contemplating and giving thanks are not enough. We must also follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those who have the mission of guides in the Church – priests, bishops, popes – are called upon to assume not the mentality of a manager but rather that of a servant, in imitation of Jesus Who, despoiling Himself, saved us with His mercy. The new priests of the diocese of Rome, whom I have had the joy of ordaining this morning in St. Peter's Basilica, are also called to this style of pastoral life”.
The Pope invited two of the newly ordained priests to appear at the window to greet the people and to thank the faithful for their ordination, and he asked that Our Lady might obtain for him, for the bishops and the priests of all the world the grace of serving the holy people of God through the joyful preaching of the Gospel, heartfelt celebration of the Sacraments and patient and gentle pastoral guidance”.
Following the Marian prayer, the Pope assured his closeness to those affected by the powerful earthquake in Nepal and neighbouring countries. “I pray for the victims, for the injured, and for all those who suffer as a result of this disaster”, he said. “May they have the support of fraternal solidarity. And let us pray to Our Lady to be close to them”.
|Telegram for the earthquake in Nepal|
Vatican City, 26 April 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Holy Father to Bishop Paul Simick, of the apostolic vicariate of Nepal, for the victims of the earthquake that struck the country and neighbouring India, Tibet and Bangladesh.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the earthquake and the resultant loss of many hundreds of lives in Nepal, as well as in neighbouring countries. He expresses his solidarity with all affected by this disaster and assures those who grieve for deceased family members of his closeness in prayer. His Holiness commends the souls of the victims to the loving mercy of the Almighty and he offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they continue their rescue efforts and assistance to those touched by this tragedy. Upon them all he invokes the blessings of the Almighty as a pledge of healing and consolation”.
|To the John Paul II Foundation: nurture solidarity with Christian fraternity|
Vatican City, 25 April 2015 (VIS) - “The canonisation of John Paul II has given a new impulse to your work in the service of the Church and evangelisation. It has rendered it, if possible, even more universal. And you offer a valuable contribution to ensuring that the spiritual legacy of this Pope saint may continue to make fertile the great field of the Church and to support her path through history”, said the Pope this morning to the members of the John Paul II Foundation, whom he received in audience in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace.
Francis thanked them for their initiatives in the educational field, recalling John Paul II's great love for the young. “You contribute to ensuring that his charism and his paternity continue to bear fruit”, he remarked, also emphasising the valuable opportunities they offer to priests and laypeople to enhance their formation, to be better prepared and to accompany communities in facing the cultural and pastoral challenges of our times.
“It is enough to think of one of the key words of his teaching, 'solidarity': a word that some people thought ought to become obsolete, but which in reality still retains all its prophetic force”, he continued. “Therefore, it is important that you, first of all, in your 'network' of the Circles of Friends of the Foundation, live this solidarity among yourselves, nurturing it continually with Christian fraternity, inspired in turn by prayer and obedience to the Word of God”.
Vatican City, (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Professor Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome;
- Archbishop Bruno Musaro, apostolic nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt and Holy See delegate at the League of Arab States;
- Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, apostolic nuncio to Cuba;
- Ten prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Benin, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Antoine Ganye of Cotonou;
- Bishop Eugene Cyrille Houndekon of Abomey;
- Bishop Francois Gnonhossou, S.M.A., of Dassa-Zoume;
- Bishop Victor Agbanou of Lokossa;
- Archbishop Pascal N'Koue of Parakou;
- Bishop Paul Kouassivi Vieira of Djougou;
- Bishop Clet Feliho of Kandi;
- Bishop Antoine Sabi Bio of Natitingou;
- Bishop Martin Adjou Moumouni of N'Dali;
- Rev. Jean-Benoit Gnambode, diocesan administrator of Porto Novo.
On Saturday, 25 April, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Guillermo Leon Escobar Herran, new ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See, presenting his letters of credence;
- Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines;
- Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, Holy See permanent observer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.), International Fund for Agricultural Development (I.F.A.D.), and World Food Programme (W.F.P.);
- Bishop Antonio Augusto dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal.
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Sante Fe (area 158,296, population 1,473,000, Catholics 328,850, priests 207, permanent deacons 215, religious 269), U.S.A. He succeeds Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.