BENEDICT XVI ANNOUNCES THE "YEAR OF FAITH"VIS REPORTS - During Mass this morning in the Vatican Basilica, celebrated to mark the end of an international meeting on new evangelisation organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, Benedict XVI announced that he was calling a forthcoming "Year of Faith". (IMAGE RADIO VATICANA)
The Year will begin on 11 October 2012, fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and will come to an end on 24 November 2013, Feast of Christ the King. Its aim "is to give renewed energy to the Church's mission to lead men and women out of the desert in which they so often find themselves, and towards the place of life, towards friendship with Christ Who gives us life in all its fullness". The Year will likewise be an opportunity "to strengthen our faith in Christ and joyfully to announce Him to the men and women of our time", the Pope said.
Commenting on this Sunday's readings, the Holy Father explained that the mission of the Church must be considered in the light of "the theological meaning of history. Epoch-making events, the rise and fall of great powers, all lie under the supreme dominion of God. No earthly power can take His place. The theology of history is an essential aspect of the new evangelisation, because the men and women of our time, following the tragic period of the totalitarian empires of the twentieth century, need to rediscover a global vision of the world and history. They need a truly free and peaceful vision, the vision which Vatican Council II transmitted in its documents and which my predecessors, Servant of God Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II, illustrated with their Magisterium".
"In order to be effective evangelisation needs the strength of the Spirit, which enlivens the message and infuses the person who bears it with the 'full conviction' of which St. Paul speaks. ... New evangelisers are called to be the first to walk along the Path which is Christ, in order to lead others to the beauty of the life-giving Gospel. On this Path we are never alone, but always in company; it is an experience of communion and fraternity which is offered to everyone we meet, bringing them to share in our experience of Christ and His Church. Thus, witness associated with announcement can open the hearts of those who seek the truth, helping them discover the meaning of their own lives".
Finally the Holy Father turned his attention to the Gospel episode of the tribute to be paid to the emperor. Jesus command to "give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's", he said, "is rich in anthropological significance and cannot be reduced only to the political sphere. The Church, then, does not limit herself to reminding men and women of the just distinction between the authority of Caesar and that of God, between the political and religious spheres. The mission of the Church, like that of Christ, is essentially that of speaking about God, evoking His sovereignty, calling everyone - and especially Christians who have lost their identity - of God's rights over that which belongs to Him: our lives".
VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass for the closure of an international meeting on the new evangelisation, Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. In his remarks he recalled how Blessed John Paul II had been "both a strong supporter of the mission 'ad gentes' (that is, the mission to peoples and lands where the Gospel has not yet put down firm roots), and a herald of the new evangelisation. These are both aspects of the one mission of the Church and it is important to consider them together during this month of October, characterised by the celebration of World Mission Day which falls next Sunday".
The Holy Father then went on to speak of the "Year of Faith" he had announced during his homily this morning, the motivations, goals and guiding principles of which are to be announced in a forthcoming Apostolic Letter. "Paul VI also called a 'Year of Faith'", he said, "to mark the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul in 1967, a period of great cultural upheaval. Half a century after the opening of Vatican Council II, associated with the happy memory of Blessed John XXIII, I feel it is appropriate to recall the beauty and importance of the faith, and the need to strengthen and intensify in individuals and communities; and to do this not so much in a perspective of celebration as of mission, in the perspective of the mission 'ad gentes' and of the new evangelisation".
VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was "Porta fidei", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" with which Benedict XVI proclaims a "Year of Faith", to begin on 11 October 2012, fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and due to end on 24 November 2013, Feast of Christ the King. Extracts from the English-language version of the Letter are given below:
"The 'door of faith' is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into His Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace".
"Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ. ... Whereas in the past it was possible to recognise a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people".
"In the light of all this, I have decided to announce a Year of Faith. It will begin on 11 October 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and it will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on 24 November 2013. The starting date of 11 October 2012 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by my Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, with a view to illustrating for all the faithful the power and beauty of the faith".
"Moreover, the theme of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that I have convoked for October 2012 is 'The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith'. This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith. It is not the first time that the Church has been called to celebrate a Year of Faith. My venerable Predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI announced one in 1967. ... It concluded with the Credo of the People of God, intended to show how much the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past".
"It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers. ... I would also like to emphasise strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: 'if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church'.
"The renewal of the Church is also achieved through the witness offered by the lives of believers: by their very existence in the world, Christians are called to radiate the word of truth that the Lord Jesus has left us. The Council itself, in the Dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen Gentium', said this: ... the Church ... clasping sinners to her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification".
The Year of Faith, from this perspective, is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of His death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins. For St. Paul, this Love ushers us into a new life. ... Through faith, this new life shapes the whole of human existence according to the radical new reality of the resurrection. ... 'Faith working through love' becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man's life".
"Through His love, Jesus Christ attracts to Himself the people of every generation: in every age He convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. Today too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelisation in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering His love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy".
"Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one's life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God".
"We want to celebrate this Year in a worthy and fruitful manner. Reflection on the faith will have to be intensified, so as to help all believers in Christ to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing. We will have the opportunity to profess our faith in the Risen Lord in our cathedrals and in the churches of the whole world; in our homes and among our families, so that everyone may feel a strong need to know better and to transmit to future generations the faith of all times. Religious communities as well as parish communities, and all ecclesial bodies old and new, are to find a way, during this Year, to make a public profession of the Credo.
"We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. It will also be a good opportunity to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is 'the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; ... and also the source from which all its power flows.' At the same time, we make it our prayer that believers' witness of life may grow in credibility. To rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed, and to reflect on the act of faith, is a task that every believer must make his own, especially in the course of this Year".
"A Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with Him. This 'standing with Him' points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. ... Profession of faith is an act both personal and communitarian. It is the Church that is the primary subject of faith. In the faith of the Christian community, each individual receives Baptism, an effective sign of entry into the people of believers in order to obtain salvation".
"Evidently, knowledge of the content of faith is essential for giving one's own assent, that is to say for adhering fully with intellect and will to what the Church proposes. Knowledge of faith opens a door into the fullness of the saving mystery revealed by God. The giving of assent implies that, when we believe, we freely accept the whole mystery of faith, because the guarantor of its truth is God who reveals Himself and allows us to know His mystery of love.
"On the other hand, we must not forget that in our cultural context, very many people, while not claiming to have the gift of faith, are nevertheless sincerely searching for the ultimate meaning and definitive truth of their lives and of the world. This search is an authentic 'preamble' to the faith, because it guides people onto the path that leads to the mystery of God. Human reason, in fact, bears within itself a demand for 'what is perennially valid and lasting'. This demand constitutes a permanent summons, indelibly written into the human heart, to set out to find the One Whom we would not be seeking had He not already set out to meet us. To this encounter, faith invites us and it opens us in fullness.
"In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of Vatican Council II. ... It is in this sense that that the Year of Faith will have to see a concerted effort to rediscover and study the fundamental content of the faith that receives its systematic and organic synthesis in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. ... The Catechism provides a permanent record of the many ways in which the Church has meditated on the faith and made progress in doctrine so as to offer certitude to believers in their lives of faith".
"In this Year, then, the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as a tool providing real support for the faith, especially for those concerned with the formation of Christians, so crucial in our cultural context. To this end, I have invited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by agreement with the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See, to draw up a note, providing the Church and individual believers with some guidelines on how to live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelisation.
"To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and technological discoveries. Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.
"One thing that will be of decisive importance in this Year is retracing the history of our faith, marked as it is by the unfathomable mystery of the interweaving of holiness and sin. While the former highlights the great contribution that men and women have made to the growth and development of the community through the witness of their lives, the latter must provoke in each person a sincere and continuing work of conversion in order to experience the mercy of the Father which is held out to everyone".
"The Year of Faith will also be a good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity. ... Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path. Indeed, many Christians dedicate their lives with love to those who are lonely, marginalised or excluded, as to those who are the first with a claim on our attention and the most important for us to support, because it is in them that the reflection of Christ's own face is seen. Through faith, we can recognise the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love".
"Having reached the end of his life, St. Paul asks his disciple Timothy to 'aim at faith' with the same constancy as when he was a boy. We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end".
THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH
VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "Over the last 120 years, during which the social doctrine of the Church has developed, many great changes have taken place which were not even imaginable at the time of Leo XIII's historic Encyclical 'Rerum novarum'. Nonetheless, the alteration in external circumstances has not changed the inner richness of the social Magisterium, which always promotes human beings and the family in their life context, including that of business".
These words were addressed by the Pope this morning to participants in the annual congress of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" foundation, who are focusing their reflections on the relationship between families and business. The 2011 congress coincides with the twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Encyclical "Centesimus annus" (published 100 years after "Rerum novarum"), and with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio".
"Vatican Council II spoke of families as a 'domestic Church', an inviolable sanctuary", said the Pope, "and economic laws must always take account of the interests and the protection of this fundamental cell of society". He then went on to recall how John Paul II, in his "Familiaris consortio", identified four tasks for the family: forming a community of persons; serving life; participating in the development of society, and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. "All four of these functions are founded on love, which is the goal of all education and formation in the family. ... It is first and foremost in the family that we learn that, in order to live well in society (including the world of work, economy and business), we must be guided by 'caritas', following a logic of gratuitousness, solidarity and mutual responsibility".
"In our own difficult times we are unfortunately witnessing a crisis in work and the economy which is associated with a crisis in families. ... What we need, therefore, is a new and harmonious relationship between family and work, to which the social doctrine of the Church can make an important contribution". In this context, the Pope referred to his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" saying that :"Commutative justice - 'giving in order to acquire' - and distributive justice - 'giving through duty' - are not sufficient in the life of society. In order for true justice to exist, it is necessary to add gratuitousness and solidarity. 'Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State'".
"Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself", said Benedict XVI.
"It is not the task of the Church to find ways to face the current crisis", he concluded. "Nonetheless, Christians have the duty to denounce evils, and to foment and bear witness to the values upon which the dignity of the person is founded, promoting forms of solidarity which favour the common good, so that humankind may increasingly become the family of God".
VATICAN CITY, 15 OCT 2011 (VIS) - "During the entrance procession from the sacristy to the main altar at tomorrow's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father will use the mobile platform previously adopted by John Paul II", said Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today.
"The purpose is exclusively to alleviate the efforts of the Holy Father, as already happens with his use of the Popemobile during entrance processions in outdoor ceremonies and in St. Peter's Square".
VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, president of Mongolia. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
"The cordial discussions provided an opportunity to reflect upon the good relations that exist between Mongolia and the Holy See, as well as the understanding and co-operation between Church and State in the fields of education and social care.
"Attention also turned to the political situation in Asia, with particular reference to the importance of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for the promotion of peace and justice".
THE HOLY FATHER has sent a message to Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, for the occasion of World Food Day 2011. In the text Benedict XVI makes particular mention of the dramatic situation in the Horn on Africa, affirming that "immediate aid is essential, but it is also necessary to prepare medium- and long-term projects so that international activity is not reduced merely to responding to emergencies. ... Feelings of compassion and humanity towards others, accompanied by the duty to show solidarity and ensure justice, must be reinstated as the foundation for all activities, including those of the international community".
MEMBERS OF THE PERMANENT SYNOD OF THE SYRO-MALABARCHURCH, led by His Beatitude George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India, were received in audience by the Pope on Monday 17 October. The Holy Father noted that "the Syro-MalabarChurch in Kerala continues to enjoy the respect of the local community for its work in education and for its social and charitable institutions at the service of the whole community. I know that life for Christians has been complicated by sectarian mistrust and even violence, but I would urge you to continue to work with people of good will of all religions in the area, in order to maintain the peace and harmony of the region, for the good of the Church and that of all citizens".
THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING NEW EVANGELISATION has held a meeting on the theme: "The Word of God grows and spreads". On the evening of Saturday 15 October participants were received in audience by the Pope who told them that "the world today needs people who announce and bear witness to the fact that it is Christ Who teaches us the art of living, Who shows us the path to true happiness, because He Himself is the path of life. It needs people who first and foremost keep their own gaze fixed on Jesus, Son of God. Announcement must always be immersed ... in an intense life of prayer. The world today needs people who speak to God in order to be able to speak of God".
BENEDICT XVI has written a message marking the fiftieth anniversary of "Adveniat" Episcopal Action. The message was addressed to Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, Germany, president of "Adveniat". "Thanks to their generous donations and their disinterested commitment in the field", the Pope writes, "German Catholics have been able to implement many ecclesial aid projects in Latin American countries. This generous expression of Christian charity merits sincere recognition". He also invites "Adveniat" Episcopal Action to "care for men and women in their totality, with a view to their natural and their supernatural needs. If we do this, the Kingdom of God will truly grow among us".
THE VATICAN MUSEUMS, as it has in previous years, participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, which took place from 12 to 16 October and brought together 7,500 exhibitors from 111 countries. The "Edizioni Musei Vaticani" presented a number of new books including an important historical-artistic work in four volumes: "The Sistine Chapel. The Word of God in Human Images" by Timothy Verdon. The catalogue of the "Edizioni Musei Vaticani" includes academic, instructional and popular works, both series and monographs, all featuring high-quality text and images, and many available in various languages.
VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
- His Beatitude George Alencherry, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Siro-Malabars, India.
- Archbishop Joseph Chennoth, apostolic nuncio to Japan.
On Saturday 15 October he received in separate audiences:
- Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, apostolic nuncio in Slovenia, with the role of apostolic delegate to Kosovo.
- Ten prelates from the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:
- Bishop Brian Heenan of Rockhampton.
- Bishop Brian Vincent Finngan, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Toowoomba.
- Bishop Michael Ernest Putney of Townsville.
- Archbishop Denis James Hart of Melbourne, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Leslie Rogers Tomlinson, Timothy Costelloe S.D.B. and Peter John Elliott.
- Bishop 'Ad Abikaram of Saint Maron of Sydney of the Maronites.
- Bishop Christopher Charles Prowse of Sale.
- Msgr. Francis Marriott, diocesan administrator of Sandhurst.
VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Drazen Kutlesa, official of the Congregation for Bishops, as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Porec i Pula (area 2,839, population 218,125, Catholics 185,472, priests 116, permanent deacons 1, religious 83), Croatia. The bishop-elect was born in Tomislavgrad, Bosnia Herzegovina in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. Msgr. Kutlesa has worked as parish administrator, professor of canon law and vice chancellor of the diocesan Curia.
On Saturday 15 October it was made public that he appointed Archbishop James Patrick Green, apostolic nuncio to Peru, as apostolic nuncio to South Africa,Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.