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-Francis receives the participants in the International Conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”

-Statistics of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic

-General audience: the Holy Door is the door of God's mercy

-Protecting children is a duty

-Holy Father's calendar for December 2015 and January 2016

-“Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of Mercy

-Other Pontifical Acts

Francis receives the participants in the International Conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”


Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”, organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), currently being held in the Vatican, which coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the dicastery and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of St. John Paul II's encyclical letter “Evangelium vitae”.

In this document, said the Holy Father, we find “the constitutive elements of the 'culture of salus': hospitality, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. They are Jesus' habitual attitudes towards the many people in need He encounters every day: people suffering sicknesses of every type, public sinners, the possessed, the marginalised, the poor and outsiders. … These attitudes are those that the encyclical calls the 'positive requirements' of the commandment regarding the inviolability of life, which with Jesus are revealed in all their breadth and depth, and today can, or indeed must characterise pastoral care in relation to health: 'they range from caring for the life of one's brother (whether a blood brother, someone belonging to the same people, or a foreigner living in the land of Israel) to showing concern for the stranger, even to the point of loving one's enemy'”.

“This closeness to the other, to the point of feeling that he is someone who belongs to me, overcomes every barrier of nationality, social extraction and religion … as the good Samaritan of the Gospel parable teaches us. It also overcomes that culture in a negative sense in which, both in rich and poor countries, human beings are accepted or refused according to utilitarian criteria, especially in terms of social or economic utility. This mentality is the parent of the so-called 'medicine of desires': an increasingly widespread custom in rich countries, characterised by the search for physical perfection at all costs, in the illusion of eternal youth; a custom that leads indeed to the rejection and marginalisation of all that is not 'efficient', that is seen as a burden or a hindrance, or is simply ugly”.

Similarly, being a neighbour to others, as Francis mentions in his encyclical “Laudato si'”, means also taking on binding responsibilities towards creation and our common home, which belongs to all and is entrusted to the care of all, also for generations to come. … This conversion … to the 'Gospel of creation” requires us to “make our own and become interpreters of the cry for human dignity, raised above all by by poorest and the excluded, as those who are sick and who suffer so often are”.

“I hope that in these days of study and debate, in which you also consider the environmental aspect in its aspects most closely linked to physical, mental, spiritual and social health of the person, you may contribute to a new development of the culture of salus, understood in its fullest sense. I encourage you, in this regard, always to keep in mind, in your work, the real situations faced by those populations who suffer as a result of the damages caused by environmental degradation, whose impact on health is often serious and permanent”, concluded the Pope.


Statistics of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic


Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – In view of Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic (25-30 November), the Central Church Statistics Office has published the statistics relating to the Catholic Church in the three countries, current as of 31 December 2014.

Kenya has a surface area of 580,367 km2 and a population of 42,961 .000 inhabitants, of whom 13,862,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 32.3% of the population. There are 26 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 925 parishes and 6,542 pastoral centres. There are currently 38 bishops, 2,744 priests, 6303 religious (798 male and 5,505 female), and 11,343 catechists. There are 5,501 seminarians. The Church has 12,195 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in Kenya there are 513 hospitals and clinics, 21 leper colonies, 117 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 1,173 orphanages and nurseries, 110 family advisory centres, 11 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 203 institutions of other types.

Uganda has a surface area of 241,038 km2 and a population of 36,497,000 inhabitants, of whom 17,148,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 47% of the population. There are 20 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 540 parishes and 6.900 pastoral centres. There are currently 32 bishops, 2180 priests, 4,266 religious (567 male and 3,699 female), and 15,864 catechists. There are 6.984 seminarians. The Church has 7,050 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in Uganda there are 298 hospitals and clinics, one leper colony, 16 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 62 orphanages and nurseries, 130 family advisory centres and other centres for the protection of life, 8 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 56 institutions of other types.

The Central African Republic has a surface area of 622,984 km2 and a population of 4.621.000 inhabitants, of whom 1,724,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 37.3% of the population. There are 9 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 119 parishes and 2,017 pastoral centres. There are currently 16 bishops, 350 priests, 387 religious (44 male and 343 female), and 6,279 catechists. There are 379 seminarians. The Church has 305 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to secondary level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in the Central African Republic there are 52 hospitals and clinics, 10 leper colonies, 11 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 18 orphanages and nurseries, 8 family advisory centres, 2 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 17 institutions of other types.



Audiences


Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Federal Republic of Germany, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Bishop Herwig Gossl, auxiliary of Bamberg;

- Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke, O.S.B., of Eichstatt;

- Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, with his auxiliary, Bishop Otto Georgens;

- Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Wurzburg, with his auxiliary Bishop Ulrich Boom;

- Bishop Matthias Konig and Bishop Hubert Berenbrinker, auxiliaries of Paderborn;

- Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt, with his auxiliary, Bishop Reinhard Hauke;

- Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen of Fulda, with his auxiliary, Bishop Karl Heinz Diez;

- Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg;

- Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg im Breisgau, with his auxiliaries Bishop Bernt Joachim Uhl and Bishop Michael Gerber;

- Cardinal Karl Lehmann, bishop of Mainz, with his auxiliary Bishop Udo Bentz;

- Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, with his auxiliaries Bishop Johannes Kreidler and Bishop Thomas Maria Renz;

- Bishop Manfred Grothe, apostolic administrator of Limburg;

- Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, with his auxiliary, Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke;

- Bishop Norbert Trelle of Hildesheim, with his auxiliaries Bishop Nikolaus Schwerdtfeger and Bishop Heinz-Gunter Bongartz;

- Bishop Franz-Josef Hermann Bode of Osnabruck, with his auxiliary, Bishop Johannes Wubbe;

- Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munchen und Freising, with his auxiliaries Bishop Bernhard Hasslberger and Bishop Wolfgang Bischof;

- Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, with his auxiliaries Bishop Anton Losinger and Bishop Florian Worner;

- Bishop Stefan Oster, S.D.B., of Passau;

- Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg;

- Archbishop Heiner Koch, archbishop of Berlin, with his auxiliary Bishop Matthias Heinrich; and

- Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Gorlitz;

- Msgr. Andreas Kutschke, diocesan administrator of Dresden.



Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Anthony Bernard Paul as bishop of Melaka-Johor (area 20,364, population 3,696,000, Catholics 39,537, priests 36, permanent deacons 9, religious 45), Malaysia. The bishop-elect was born in Alor Star, Malaysia in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has served in a number of role in the diocese of Penang, including parish vicar, pastor of various parishes, diocesan head of vocations and parish administrator. He is currently pastor of the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Penang and vicar for pastoral ministry. He succeeds Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.


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General audience: the Holy Door is the door of God's mercy


Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – As we approach the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of today's Wednesday general audience to the meaning of the “Holy Door”, which he will open on 8 December in St. Peter's Basilica. This great door is that of God's mercy, which welcomes our repentance and offers us the grace of forgiveness; a door which is opened generously but whose threshold must be crossed with courage.


Francis referred to the recent Synod of Bishops, “which gave all families and all the Church as strong impetus to meet at the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go forth with the Lord towards His sons and daughters who walk together, at times uncertain, at times lost, in these difficult times. Christian families, in particular, have been encouraged to open the door to the Lord Who waits to enter, bringing His blessing. But the Lord never forces the door; He asks permission to enter through ours, although His doors are always open”.

“There are still places in the world where doors are not locked, but there are also many where reinforced doors have become normal. We must not accept the idea of having to apply this system to our whole life, to life within the family, in the city, in society, and far less so in the life of the Church. … An inhospitable Church, like a family closed in on itself, mortifies the Gospel and makes the world arid. No more reinforced doors in the Church!” he exclaimed.

“The symbolic management of doors – thresholds, passages, frontiers – has become crucial. The door must protect, certainly, but not repudiate. The door must not be forced: on the contrary, it is necessary to ask permission to enter, as hospitality shines in the freedom of welcome, and darkens in the arrogance of invasion. The door is opened frequently, to see if there is anyone waiting outside, who perhaps does not have the courage or even the strength to knock. How many people no longer trust … to knock on the door of our Christian heart, at the doors of our Churches. … We have lost their trust; please, we must not let this happen. The door says many things about the house, and also the Church”.

“We ourselves are the guardians and servants of the Door of God, Who is Jesus”, affirmed Francis. “Jesus is the door that lets us enter and leave. Because God's flock is a refuge, not a prison. … We must pass by the door and listen to Jesus' voice; if we hear His tone of voice, we are safe and sound. … If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens, and he lets in all the sheep that the Shepherd brings, all of them, including those lost in the woods, that the Good Shepherd has gone to find. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, but rather by the Good Shepherd. The guardian too obeys the voice of the Shepherd. The Church is the door to the house of the Lord but she is not the proprietor of the house of the Lord”.

The Pope concluded his catechesis by reiterating that the Holy Family of Nazareth knew well what was meant by an open or closed door for someone awaiting the birth of a child, for those who do not have shelter, and for those who must flee danger. May Christian families make the threshold of their home a little sign of the great Door of God's mercy and welcome. It is precisely in this way that the Church must be recognised, in every corner of the earth, “as the guardian of a God Who knocks to enter, with the welcome of a God Who does not close the door in your face with the excuse that you do not belong to the household”.

“With this spirit”, he concluded, “we approach the Jubilee: there will be the Holy Door, but it is the door of God's great mercy. There will also be the door of our heart, to receive all God's forgiveness and to give ours in turn, welcoming all those who knock on our door”.


Protecting children is a duty


Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis the Pope recalled that Thursday 20 November will be the Universal Children's Day. “It is a duty of all to protect children and to place their well-being before any other criterion, so that they are never subjected to forms of servitude or mistreatment”, he said. “I hope that the international community may keep careful watch over the living conditions of children, especially where they are at risk of recruitment by armed groups, and may help families guarantee to every boy and girl the right to schooling and education”.

He also mentioned that on 21 November the Church commemorates the Presentation of Mary in the Temple and therefore asks the grace of the gift of the vocation of men and women who, in monasteries and hermitages, have dedicated their lives to God. So that cloistered communities may fulfil their important mission, in prayer and in active silence, let us ensure they do not lack our spiritual and material closeness”.

Francis cordially welcomed pilgrims from Poland, especially the representatives of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarnosc”. “For thirty-five years your union has been engaged in the world of work, both physical and intellectual, as well as in the protection of the fundamental rights of the person and society. Be faithful to this commitment, so that political or economic interests do not prevail over the values that constitute the essence of human solidarity. I entrust you and all the members of the Union to the protection of your patron, Blessed Don Jerzy Popieluszko, and I impart to you my heartfelt blessing”.




Holy Father's calendar for December 2015 and January 2016


Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside in the months of December 2015 and January 2016:

DECEMBER

Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate.

Saturday 12: Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 9.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 10.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door, presided by Cardinal James Harvey.

Thursday 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At 9.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12 p.m., “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

Sunday 27: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for Families.

Thursday 31: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and Te Deum, in Thanksgiving for the past year.

JANUARY

Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. 49th World Peace Day. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Wednesday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Sunday 10: Sunday after the Epiphany: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel. Holy Mass and baptism of babies.




“Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of Mercy


Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon at 6.30 p.m. the ceremony was held for the “Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica. After a prayer, the cardinal archpriest Angelo Comastri, who led the procession of the Basilica Chapter, and the admonition of the Master of Ceremonies, four workers broke down the wall sealing the Holy Door inside the Basilica, extracting the metal chest held since the moment of closing the door during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and containing the “documents” of the last Holy Year, including the key to the Holy Door, the handles, the parchments, the paving stones and commemorative medals.


After praying at the Altar of Confession, the procession reached the chapter house where the metal chest extracted from the door was opened using a blowtorch, in the presence of the Master of liturgical ceremonies of His Holiness, Msgr. Guido Marini, who took delivery of the documents and the objects of the “Recognitio”, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

On Monday 16 November the same ceremony was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and it will take place tomorrow in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and on Monday 23 November in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.





Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Feira de Santana, Brazil, presented by Archbishop Itamar Vian, O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Msgr. Zanoni Demettino Castro, coadjutor archbishop of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Bishop Juan Antonio Menendez Fernandez, auxiliary of Oviedo, Spain, as bishop of Astorga (area 11,535, population 262,741, Catholics 253,178, priests 214, religious 293), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Camilo Lorenzo Iglesias, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Manfred Scheuer of Innsbruck, Austria, as bishop of Linz (area 8,261, population 307,500, Catholics 224,800, priests 52, permanent deacons 13, religious 49), Austria. He succeeds Bishop Ludwig Schwarz, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Msgr. Nelio Domingos Zortea as bishop of Jatai, (area 38,997, population 598,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 38, permanent deacons 14, religious 79), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Irai, Brazil in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including bursar and rector of the minor seminary, member of the Presbytery and director of an interdiocesan centre of theology. He is currently parish priest in the Cathedral of the same diocese.

Pope Francis to visit the Synagogue of Rome


Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today announced that, following an invitation from the Chief Rabbi and Jewish Community of Rome, Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Great Synagogue in the afternoon of Sunday 17 January 2016. It will be the third visit by a Pope to the Great Synagogue of Rome, following John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The visit will take the form of a personal encounter between the Pope and the representatives of Judaism and the members of the Community. A more detailed programme of the visit will be published in due course.


The culture of Salus and welcome at the service of man and the planet


Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the 30th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Pastoral on the theme “The culture of Salus and welcome at the service of man and the planet” (Vatican City, 19-21 November).

The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery; Dr. Antonio Maria Pasciuto, president of the Italian Association for Environmental Medicine and Health, Italy; and Dr. Lilian Corra, president of the Argentine Association of Doctors for the Environment, Argentina.

Archbishop Zimowski explained that the Conference is inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical “Laudato si'”, and seeks to identify methods and indications for a pastoral response to the needs, in many cases urgent, expressed in the document. He also noted the event's proximity to the climate conference in Paris and the opening of the Jubilee Year, which will offer an opportunity to reflect on love for others and for the Lord's work. In addition, this year the Pontifical Council celebrates the 30th anniversary of its establishment and the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

The profound bond between the world of sickness and healthcare with the Mother of Jesus, as shown in the celebration of World Day of the Sick on 11 February, the liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, also inspires the theme of this Day in 2016, to be celebrated in Nazareth on the theme “Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like Mary: do whatever he tells you”.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (Health Pastoral Care) reported that the 30th International Conference will be attended by 500 people from around 60 countries of the five continents: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe. The event will also involve contributions from theologians, biblical scholars, doctors, scientists, diplomats and legal experts of international standing.

The conference will begin with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, presided by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and on the same morning Pope Francis will receive in audience all the participants.

Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu explained that the Conference, taking as its starting point the encyclical “Laudato si'”, will consider climate change and the defence of biodiversity, information and technological pollution, animal experimentation and genetic modification, environmental stress and working medicine, pathologies linked to climate change and international legislation on environmental issues.

He continued, “Special attention will be dedicated to the theme of the challenges to be faced nowadays at world summits: the right of access to clean drinking water, denied to many; sanitation problems in urban areas and especially on the outskirts of cities. Projects for development and business initiatives, particularly in poor countries, have an impact on the environment that is not infrequently neglected or underestimated. It is therefore urgent to ensure that development plans respect life and the environment, and are therefore far from the devastating aims of mere profit”.

“Finally”, he added, “reflection on the anthropological roots of the ecological crisis would be timely in view of a hoped-for ecological conversion, deriving from an increased awareness of the responsibilities of each person, in order to inspire change in the direction of a rediscovered harmony between man and the environment”.

Dr. Corra commented that a recent press release from the World Health Organisation indicates that “few risks affect health as much as air contamination, which poses by far the most serious danger to health. It is responsible for one in every eight deaths, is the cause of more than 80% of mortality in countries with medium to low income, and has particularly worrying effects on fertility and neurological development, which can manifest themselves as behavioural disorders and impaired intellectual performance”.




Audiences


Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Nunzio Galantino, general secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference.




Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Jorge Carlo Patron Wong, archbishop-bishop emeritus of Papantla, Mexico, as secretary for seminaries of the Congregation for the Clergy.

- Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, as member of the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

- Professor Stefania Nanni, associate lecturer in modern history at the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, as consultor of the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

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