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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pope Francis: the shadow of Cain looms over history from 1914 to the present

Vatican City, 13 September 2014 (VIS) – Today, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (13 September 1914), Pope Francis chose to celebrate Mass at the Military Monument of Redipuglia, in the Italian province of Gorizia.

The Holy Father left the Vatican by air at 8 a.m. and landed shortly before 9 a.m. at the airport of Ronchi dei Legionari, where he was received by the archbishop of Gorizia, Carlo Alberto Maria Redaelli. He transferred by car to the Austro-Hungarian cemetery of Fogliano di Redipuglia, the resting place of 14,550 soldiers who fell in this area. At the entrance there is the phrase “Im Leben und im Tode vereint” (“United in Life and Death”). The Pope placed a floral wreath at the central monument to 7000 unknown soldiers.

The Pope subsequently proceeded to the Military Monument, a large cemetery dedicated to the memory of the more than one hundred thousand Italian soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War, in foothills of Mount Sei Busi, a contested territory in the early phases of the conflict and where the tomb of Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia Aosta, commander of the Third Army, is located. The monument was designed by the architect Giovanni Greppi and the sculptor Giannino Castiglioni, and building work commenced in 1933; it was inaugurated by the then head of government, Benito Mussolini, in 1938, in the presence of more than 50,000 First World War veterans.

The first reading narrated the story of Cain and Abel, and in his homily the Holy Father commented on the murder of Abel to condemn indifference in the face of war.

“After experiencing the beauty of travelling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream, I now find myself here, in this place, near this cemetery, able to say only one thing: War is madness. Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also ruins the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying.

“Greed, intolerance, the lust for power … are the motives underlying the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: 'What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?'. War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers. 'What does it matter to me?'

“Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hang in the air those ironic words of war, 'What does it matter to me?' All of the dead who repose here had their own plans, they had their own dreams, but their lives were cut short. Why? Because humanity said, 'What does it matter to me?'. Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, 'What does it matter to me?'. Cain would say, 'Am I my brother’s keeper?'.

“This attitude is the exact opposite of what Jesus asks of us in the Gospel. We have heard: He is in the least of his brothers; He, the King, the Judge of the world, He is the one who hungers, who thirsts, He is the stranger, the one who is sick, the prisoner. Those who care for their brother or sister enter into the joy of the Lord; those who do not do so, however, who by their omission say, 'What does it matter to me?', remain excluded.

“Here, and in the other cemetery, lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is mourning, there is grief. From this place we remember all the victims of every war. Today, too, there are many victims … How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important! And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, 'What does it matter to me?'

“It is the task of the wise to recognise errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry. With this 'What does it matter to me?' in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to weep. Cain did not weep. He was not able to weep. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It has been seen from 1914 right up to our own time.

“With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart: to move on from 'What does it matter to me?', to shed tears: for each one of the fallen of this 'senseless massacre', for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age. Brothers, humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep”.

Following Mass and after greetings from the military archbishop for Italy, Santo Marciano and the Chiefs of Staff and General Commanders, the bishop of Rome presented to those in attendance the “Light of St. Francis” Lamp, which will be lit in the respective dioceses during the events commemorating the First World War. The lamp was donated by the Holy Convent of Assisi and the oil was given by the “Libera” Association of the priest Don Luigi Ciotti.

The Pope subsequently bade farewell to those present and transferred to Ronchi dei Legionari airport, where he departed for the Vatican.

The Pope to visit Turkey at the end of November

Vatican City, 13 September 2014 (VIS) – Late yesterday afternoon, in response to questions from journalists, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., gave the following declaration:

“This morning the Holy See has received a letter with an official invitation from the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to visit the country. Preparations will therefore be made for a trip to take place in the final days of November, although the length and programme of the visit are yet to be confirmed”.

Cardinal Antonelli, Pope's special envoy to the consecration of the new Shrine to St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Vatican City, 13 September 2014 (VIS) – In a letter made public today, written in Latin and dated 29 July, the Holy Father nominated Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family, as his special envoy to the consecration of the new Shrine to St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows in Teramo, Italy, scheduled to take place on 21 September.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 13 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed the following as members of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, U.S.A.; Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, archbishop of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire; Cardinal Orani Joao Tempesta, archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops; Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, apostolic nuncio to the Principality of Monaco, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations Organisations and Organisms for Food and Agriculture; Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, Indonesia; Archbishop Patrick Christopher Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas; Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic; Archbishop Giampiero Gloder, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy; Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Bishop Tarcisius Isai Kikuchi of Niigata, Japan; Bishop Celmo Lazzari, apostolic vicar of San Miguel de Sucumbios, Ecuador; Fr. Michael Anthony Perry, O.F.M., minister general of the Order of Friars Minor; Fr. Louis Lougen, O.M.I., superior general of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate; Socrates Mesiona, director general of the PP.OO.MM. In the Philippines; Sister Luzia Premoli, S.M.C., superior general of the Combonian Missionaries,

- appointed the following as consultors of the same Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patron Wong, bishop emeritus of Paplanta, Mexico, secretary for seminaries of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

To the bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo: work for a society based on respect for the dignity of the person

Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – The education of young people in order to overcome violence and inequality, the participation of the Church in building society and the consolidation of peace and her mission in aid of “those whom life has wounded” were the main issues in the discourse Pope Francis handed to the bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit.

“The Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a young Church”, writes the Holy Father. “However, it is also a Church of youth. Children and adolescents, in particular, need God's strength to help them resist the many temptations of a precarious life in which they are unable to study or find work. I am sympathetic to their plight, and I know you share their sorrows, their joys and hopes. I think with horror especially of those children and young people conscripted into militias and forced to kill their own countrymen. I encourage you, therefore, to pursue the pastoral care of youth. By providing the greatest assistance possible, especially through the creation of spaces for human, spiritual and professional formation, you can help them discover their deepest vocation that predisposes them to encounter the Lord”.

“The most effective way to overcome violence, inequality and ethnic divisions is to equip the young with a critical mind and to offer them the opportunity to mature an understanding of Gospel values. It is also necessary to strengthen pastoral care in universities and in Catholic and public schools, combining education with the clear proclamation of the Gospel. ... Similarly, to face the problem of family breakdown, caused in particular by war and poverty, it is essential to promote and encourage all initiatives to strengthen the family, the source of brotherhood and the foundation and first road to peace”.

“Fidelity to the Gospel also implies that the Church participates in the construction of the city. One of the most valuable contributions that the local church can offer your country is to help people rediscover the relevance of faith in daily life and the need to promote the common good. Similarly, leading figures in the nation, enlightened by pastors and in relation to their skills, can also be supported in incorporating Christian teachings in their personal lives and in the exercise of their duties in the service of the state and society. In this sense, the Magisterium of the Church, especially the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation “Africae munus” and the recent apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”, are invaluable tools”.

The Pope urges the Congolese bishops to “work tirelessly for the establishment of a just and lasting peace through a pastoral of dialogue and reconciliation among the various sectors of society, supporting the process of disarmament, and promoting effective collaboration with other religious denominations”. He emphasises that at this time, when the country is currently experiencing political events that are important for the future, “it is necessary for the Church to make her contribution, avoiding the risk of becoming substitute for political institutions and temporal realities that must retain their autonomy”. In particular, pastors must be careful not to take on roles that rightfully belong to the lay faithful, whose mission is justly that of bearing witness to Christ and the Gospel in politics and in all other areas of their activities”.

After highlighting the need for collaboration between all pastoral workers in the various fields of the apostolate, especially in education, health and charitable aid, Francis reminds the prelates that there are high expectations of them “in defence of spiritual and social values”, and he urges them to “provide guidance and solutions for the promotion of a society based on respect for the dignity of the human person”. In this regard, “attention to the poor and needy, as well as the elderly, the sick and disabled, should be the subject of adequate pastoral care under constant review”. Indeed, “the Church is called to be concerned with the wellbeing of these people and to bring the attention of society and public authorities to their situation”.

The Holy Father concludes by encouraging the bishops to be “men of hope for the people” and gave thanks for the work of all missionaries, priests, religious and other pastoral workers dedicated to the service of “those who have been wounded by life, the victims of violence, especially in the most isolated and remote areas of the country”, and reserved special mention for “the internally displaced and the many people who come from neighbouring countries”.

The exegete perceives the Divine Word through a fervent spiritual life

Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father met with the participants in the 43rd National Biblical Week, organised by the Italian Biblical Association, a meeting that inaugurated the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican Council II on the Divine Revelation “Dei Verbum”, promulgated on 18 November 1965.

“Faith, to respond, and so as not to be suffocated, must be constantly nurtured by the Word of God”, said the Pope, expressing his esteem and acknowledgement of the “valuable work” that the Association has carried out through the teachings of its lecturers and Bible scholars. He continued, “God has made the most of all the possibilities of human language, but at the same time He has had to submit His Word to the limitations of this language. True respect for the inspired Scriptures requires us to make all the efforts necessary to fully grasp their meaning”. As it is not possible for every Christian personally to carry out the research of every type necessary to arrive at a good understanding of Biblical texts, he added, “this task is entrusted to exegetes, those who are responsible in this sector for the good of all. ... Therefore, alongside academic competence, the Catholic exegete needs above all, faith: received from and shared with all believers who, in their entirety, cannot be mistaken”.

Pope Francis recalled the words of St. John Paul II: “to respect the coherence of the faith of the Church and the inspiration of the Scripture, Catholic exegesis must be careful not merely to comply with the human aspects of biblical texts. First and foremost, exegesis must help Christian people to perceive more clearly the Word of God in these texts, so as to accept it better, to live fully in communion with God. … Naturally it is necessary for the exegete to know how to perceive the Divine Word in the texts, and this is possible only if his spiritual life is fervent, rich in dialogue with the Lord; otherwise exegetic research remains incomplete, and the main objective is lost from sight”.

Returning to the words of St. John Paul II, Francis remarked, “To arrive at a fully valid interpretation of the words inspired by the Holy Spirit, we ourselves must be guided by the Holy Spirit; and for this we must pray, and ask in prayer for the inner light of the Spirit and accept this light with docility; we must ask for love, as love alone makes us able to understand the language of God, which is love”. He added, “Our Lady teaches us to fully welcome the Word of God, not only through intellectual research, but in all our life”, and concluded by giving his blessing to those present.

Catholics and Orthodox in Amman on “Synodality and the Primate”

Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – The eighth plenary session of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will take place in Amman, Jordan from 15 to 23 September, following the invitation from the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III.

The session will be co-chaired by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Metropolitan of Pergamon Ioannis (Zizioulas) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As on previous occasions, the meeting will be attended by two representatives of each of the fourteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches and many other Catholic representatives. The plenary session will examine a draft document entitled “Synodality and the Primate”, drawn up by the Co-ordinating Committee of the Commission during the two meetings held in Rome in 2011 and in Paris in 2012.

The study of the theological and anthropological relationship between the primate and synodality in the life of the Church in local, regional and universal contexts should offer a framework for reference for considering the crucial question of the role of the bishop of Rome in the universal Church. In Amman, the members of the Commission will be required to evaluate whether the draft prepared by the Co-ordinating Committee adequately reflects the currently existing consensus on this delicate issue or if it will be necessary to explore the theme in further depth.

The plenary session will also offer participants the opportunity to share moments of prayer with the local Christian communities and to express their closeness to those who suffer as a result of ongoing conflicts in the region.

Archbishop Tomasi: human trafficking is not confined to poor and developing countries

Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – The fight against contemporary forms of slavery was the theme of the address given by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations, during the 27th Ordinary Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The archbishop referred to a number of tragic forms of contemporary slavery that have recently attracted the attention of the media and the international community, such as “massive kidnappings and sale of young girls under the false premises of religious teachings as is done, for example, by Boko Haram in Nigeria or by the so-called Islamic State group in northern Iraq”.

“Some 250,000 children are forcibly conscripted and even used as “human shields” in the front lines of armed conflicts”, he continued. However, there are “other, subtler forms of slavery that deserve specific attention, including the 5.7 million children who are victims of forced and bonded labour, domestic servitude, early, forced and servile marriage … and caste-based forms of slavery, which affect the lives of so many and are not confined to developing and poor countries”. Factors that may contribute to the promotion of all forms of slavery include “the increasing incidence of absolute poverty among many families affected by the economic crises, the lack of education and illiteracy, long-term and apparently irreversible unemployment which force people into the informal-sector work without adequate pay or social protection, involuntary migration, and human trafficking”.

Although the international community has already developed international conventions and agreements to protect against contemporary forms of slavery, the Holy See observer remarked that greater political will is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of such instruments and to increase public awareness. “We need to break the silence about this 'open wound on the body of contemporary society' and motivate 'men and women of good will who want to cry out, Enough!'” he continued, noting that Pope Francis takes every opportunity to denounce the “many abominable forms of slavery [that] persist in today’s world” and has “joined with leaders from other major religious traditions to promote the ideals of faith and of shared human values in order to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking ... for all time”.


Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience twenty-one prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani;

- Bishop Etienne Ung’eyowun Bediwegi of Bondo;

- Bishop Dieudonne Uringi Uuci of Bunia;

- Bishop Joseph Banga Bane of Buta;

- Bishop Julien Andavo Mbia of Isiro-Niangara;

- Bishop Sosthene Ayikuli Adjuwa of Mahagi-Nioka;

- Bishop Janvier Kataka Luvete of Wamba;

- Archbishop Jean-Pierre Tafunga Mbayo, S.D.B., of Lubumbashi;

- Bishop Jean-Anatole Kalala Kaseba of Kamina;

- Bishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu of Kilwa-Kasenga;

- Bishop Nestor Ngoy Katahwa of Kolwezi;

- Bishop Oscar Ngoy wa Mpanga, C.S.Sp., of Kongolo;

- Bishop Vincent de Paul Kwanga Ndjibu of Manono;

- Bishop Gaston Kashala Ruwezi, S.D.B., of Sakania-Kipushi;

- Archbishop Joseph Kumuondala Mbimba of Mbandaka-Bikoro;

- Bishop Joseph Mokobe Ndjoku of Basankusu;

- Bishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, O.F.M. Cap., of Bokungu-Ikela;

- Bishop Philibert Tembo Nlandu, C.I.C.M., of Budjala;

- Bishop Louis Nkinga Bondala, C.I.C.M., of Lisala;

- Bishop Ferdinand Maemba Liwoke of Lolo;

- Bishop Dominique Bulamatari of Molegbe.

This afternoon, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, apostolic nuncio in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary, as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


Vatican City, 12 September 2014 (VIS) – We inform our readers that tomorrow, Saturday 13 September, an extraordinary edition of the Vatican Information Service will be transmitted on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit to Redipuglia, Italy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dialogue, religious freedom and rejection of extremism and violence at the centre of the Pope's meeting with the president of Tunisia

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father Francis received in audience Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, president of the Tunisian Republic, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, various themes of common interest were reviewed, such as the promotion of peace, interreligious dialogue and human rights, with particular reference to the defence of freedom of conscience and religious freedom, as well as the refusal of every form of extremism or violence. The Parties noted the commitment of the Catholic Church in social issues and the fields of health and education, in the service of all Tunisian citizens, especially the poorest and most in need.

Finally, various questions of an international and regional nature were examined, paying special attention to the situation in the Mediterranean Basin.

Pope Francis to visit the European Parliament

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the communique issued this morning in Strasbourg by the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, that Pope Francis has accepted the invitation to visit the European Parliament and to address its members during a solemn session. The visit will take place on 25 November.

The Pope's message to the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a message on behalf of the Holy Father to the participants in the meeting of the Ecclesial Pan-Amazonian Network in Brasilia, Brazil, which concludes tomorrow. The message is addressed to Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno S.J., of Huancayo, Colombia, president of the Department of Justice and Solidarity of the CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Council).

The Pope, referring to his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium”, remarks that the participants in the meeting respond to the crucial challenge of “living together, of mingling, of meeting, of taking each other's hands, of supporting each other, of participating in this chaotic and high tide so that it may be transformed into a true experience of fraternity, a cavalcade of solidarity, a holy pilgrimage. In this way, the great potential of communication translates into greater possibilities for encounter and solidarity”.

Francis expresses his joy at seeing the results of his appeal for the creation of an innovative network dedicated specifically to ecological matters related to the Amazon and his hopes for the outcome of the initiative. He also takes the opportunity to remind those present that the network must be rich in humanity – a network not of threads, but of people. “It is not enough to circulate on digital 'paths'”, he writes. “It is necessary for this connection to be accompanied by true encounter: we cannot live alone, closed up in ourselves; we need to love and be loved, and we need tenderness. Only in this way can Christian witness, thanks to this network, reach the existential peripheries of humanity, facilitating the work of Christian leaven and bringing progress to the living cultures of Amazonia and their values”.

Satisfactory meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – The Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group held its fifth meeting in Hanoi from 10 to 11 September, co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, deputy minister for foreign affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and Msgr. Antoine Camilleri of the Holy See Secretariat for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.

According to a press release published at the end of the meeting, the Holy See delegation “appreciated the support given by the competent authorities at all levels to the Catholic Church in Vietnam for the accomplishment of her mission. It also took note of the development in the religious policies of Vietnam, reflected in the 2013 Amended Constitution. The Vietnamese State has facilitated working visits to Vietnam by the non-resident special envoy of the Holy See to Vietnam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See delegation reaffirmed that it attached great importance to the development of relations with Vietnam in particular and Asia in general, as evidenced by the recent and upcoming papal trips to the continent. The Holy See reaffirmed its commitment towards the goal of establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and, together with the Catholic Church in the country, wishes to make more active contributions to the country’s development where the Catholic Church is strong, for example in health care, education, charity and humanitarian works. The Vietnamese side reiterated the consistent policy of the State and Party in respecting freedom of religion and belief of all people and supporting the Catholic Church in Vietnam to actively participate in national social and economic development”.

“Both Parties emphasised again the underlying principles of 'living the Gospel within the Nation' and that 'being a good Catholic means being a good citizen'. The Holy See delegation stressed that Pope Francis had followed with interest recent developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, and encouraged the Catholic Community in Vietnam to continue contributing towards the country’s major goals. Both Parties noted with satisfaction the positive developments in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, as shown by increased exchanges and contacts at all levels, meetings of the Joint Working Group and working visits of the non-resident special envoy in Vietnam. They agreed on maintaining dialogue and contacts while creating favourable conditions for his mission, as he helps the Catholic Church in Vietnam to implement papal teaching”.

“The meeting took place in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere. The Parties agreed to convene the 6th meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican, at a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels”.

“On this occasion, the Holy See delegation paid a courtesy visit to the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Pham Binh Minh, and met with the deputy minister of of the interior and Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Pham Dung. The delegation also took the opportunity to visit some Catholic institutions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City”.

Cardinal Sandri: educate so as not to fall prey to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions

Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, addressed the Permanent Council of the United States Episcopal Conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday 9 September. The prelate declared that after his trips to Syria in January 2011 and Iraq in December 2012, he “never would have imagined that we would find ourselves in the present situation”. He added, “Still in the twenty-first century, as if history has taught nothing, we must witness barbarities and atrocities which strike above all the weakest: the elderly, women and children. Along with my preoccupations for the thousands of refugees … I have ever in mind the bishops and priests still in the hands of kidnappers in Syria, and I cannot forget the journalists so brutally killed”.

Cardinal Sandri remarked that, “On the one hand, the action of the Holy Spirit continues to make the Church fertile in every part of the world, manifesting its characteristic maternity. Yet, on the other hand, it must be recognised that the Churches, which gave rise in great part to the diffusion of the Gospel in the Apostolic era, are now shaken at their foundations and threatened in their very existence”. He also referred to the difficulties experienced by the Church in Jerusalem, reiterating his conviction that “a durable peace in the Holy Land would contribute significantly to the stability of the whole Middle East”, also highlighting “the drama of the Church in Antioch”. He emphasised, “If these Churches, the historic mothers of the evangelising mission, are struck at their foundations, we, as their children, cannot be silent. … God chose that part of the world as 'the cradle of a universal plan of salvation in love'”, adding that “for nearly two thousand years these Christians have kept alive the flame of the first Pentecost in those lands”.

Cardinal Sandri repeated the words of Pope Francis to the members of the Oriental Congregation at the end of their Plenary Session last November: “Every Catholic owes a debt of thanks to the Churches that live in that region. From these Churches we may learn, among other things, the effort of the daily exercise of the spirit of ecumenism and of interreligious dialogue. The geographical, historical and cultural context in which they have lived for centuries has indeed made them natural interlocutors with numerous other Christian confessions and with other religions”.

He thanked the American Episcopal Conference for the “constant and generous attention” shown to the Oriental Churches, especially in relation to efforts to raise the awareness of the political authorities. He also thanked the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) for the work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, as well as Aid to the Church in Need and Catholic Relief Services, and highlighted the “great hospitality the United States has given over the decades to all of the Eastern Churches in the diaspora”.

He mentioned the situation “of extreme urgency” in Iraq, and remarked that “in dialogue both clarity and fraternal respect are needed. … We have the responsibility of educating our faithful lest they yield to a vision of conflict between civilisations or religions. We must recall that it has taken Catholic theological and biblical reflection centuries to arrive at its present capacity for interpreting our sacred texts without undue fear of violating the depositum fidei”.

He concluded by encouraging those present to follow with attention the interventions of the Holy See in its various modes and the representatives of the Holy See in various international organisations, and to support the role of the United Nations, an “effective forum through which to prevent the repetition of violence and injustice”.


Vatican City, 11 September 2014 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Archbishop Santo Gangemi, apostolic nuncio in Guinea and Mali

- Twenty-four prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Congo, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Francois Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu;

- Bishop Melchisedech Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni;

.- Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma;

- Bishop Placide Lubamba Ndjibu, M. Afr., of Kasongo;

- Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele, M. Afr., of Kindu;

- Bishop Sebastien Muyengo Mulombe of Uvira;

- Archbishop Marcel Madila Basanguka of Kananga

- Bishop Valentin Masengo Nkinda of Kabinda;

- Bishop Pierre-Celestin Tshitoko Mamba of Luebo;

- Bishop Felicien Mwanama Galumbulula of Luiza;

- Bishop Bernard-Emmanuel Kasanda Mulenga of Mbujimayi;

- Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba of Mweka;

- Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe;

- Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Edouard Kisonga Ndinga, S.S.S., and Bishop Timothee Bodika Mansiyai, P.S.S.;

- Bishop Cyprien Mbuka, C.I.C.M., of Boma;

- Bishop Jose Moko Ekanga, P.S.S., of Idiofa;

- Bishop Philippe Nkiere Kena, C.I.C.M., of Inongo;

- Bishop Jean Gaspard Mudiso Mund’la, S.V.D., of Kenge;

- Bishop Edouard Mununu Kasiala of Kikwit;

- Bishop Fidele Nsielele Zi Mputu of Kisantu;

- Bishop Daniel Nlandu Mayi of Matadi; and

- Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka.

- Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio in Argentina.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – A special aspect of the “maternity” of the Church is education through mercy, and this was the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Like a good mother and educator, the Church focuses on the essential, and the essential, according to the Gospel, is mercy, as Jesus clearly tells his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your father is”. “Is it possible for a Christian not to be merciful?” asked Pope Francis. “No. The Christian must necessarily be merciful, because this is at the centre of the Gospel. And so the Church behaves like Jesus. She does not give theoretical lessons on love or on mercy. She does not spread throughout the world a philosophy or a path to wisdom. Certainly, Christianity is all of this too”, the Pope remarked, “but as a consequence, a reflection. The mother Church, like Jesus, teaches by example, and words serve to cast light on the meaning of her gestures”.

Therefore, “the Mother Church teaches us to give food and drink to those who hunger and thirst, and to clothe those who are naked. And how does she do this? She does it through the example of many saints who have done it in an exemplary fashion, but she also does it through the example of many fathers and mothers, who teach their children that what we have left over is for those who are in need of basic necessities. In the most humble Christian families, the rule of hospitality is always sacred: there is always a dish of food and a place to sleep for those in need”. And to those who say they have nothing to spare, Francis gave the example of a family in his former diocese who shared half of what they had to eat with a poor man who knocked at their door. “Learning to share what we have is important”.

The mother Church teaches us to be close to those who are sick. Like the saints who have served Jesus in this way, there are many people who practise this work of mercy every day in hospitals, rest homes, or in their own homes, providing assistance for the sick.

The mother Church also teaches us to be close to those who are imprisoned. “'But Father', some will say, 'This is dangerous. These are bad people'. Listen carefully: any one of us is capable of doing what these men and women in prison have done. We all sin and make mistakes in life. They are not worse than you or me. Mercy overcomes any wall or barrier, and leads us always to seek the face of the human being. And it is mercy that changes hearts and lives, that is able to regenerate a person or enable him to be newly reintegrated in society”.

“The mother Church teaches us to be close to those who have been abandoned and who die lonely. This is what Mother Teresa did in the streets of Calcutta and it is what many Christians, those who are not afraid to take the hand of those who are about to leave this world, have done and continue to do. And here too, mercy offers peace to those who depart and to those who remain, making us aware that God is greater than death, and that by staying with Him, even the final separation is only 'until we meet again'”.

“The Church is a mother”, he continued, “teaching her children the works of mercy. She has learned this path from Jesus; she has learned that this is essential for salvation. It is not enough to love those who love us. It is not enough to do good to those who do good to us in return. To change the world for the better is it necessary to do good to those who are not able to do the same for us, as our Father did for us, in giving us Jesus. How much have we paid for our redemption? Nothing. It was all free. Doing good without expecting anything in return – this is what our Father did for us and what we too must do”. For this reason, he concluded, “let us give thanks to the Lord, who has given us the grace of having the Church as a mother who teaches us the way of mercy, the way of life”.


Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – In his greetings in various languages following the catechesis of today's general audience, the Pope addressed, among others, the Arab-speaking faithful and in particular those from Syria and the Middle East, to remind them that the Church, following the example of her Master, excels in mercy: “she faces hatred with love, vanquishes violence with forgiveness, and responds to weapons with prayer”.

He added, “May the Lord reward your faithfulness, inspire you with courage in the struggle against the forces of evil, and open the eyes of those who have been blinded by evil, so that they may soon see the light of truth and repent for the mistakes they have made. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”.

He also greeted the officers and members of the Italian naval forces who participate in the operation “Mare Nostrum”, assisting migrants and refugees who attempt to cross the Mediterranean. “I give thanks for your admirable work in the aid of so many of our brethren in search of hope”, he said.

Before the general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father greeted a group of sick people, mostly children, who were not able to attend the audience in St. Peter's Square. He thanked them all for their visit and asked them to pray for him. “I ask you to pray for me. Don't forget! Pray so that I can continue my work. I will pray for all of you and for the children. And so, together, let us pray to the Virgin to bless us”, he exclaimed. After praying a Hail Mary with those present, Francis wished them a good day and encouraged them to persevere with hope.


Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that this coming Sunday, 14 September, at 12.15 p.m., Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will take possession of the diaconate of Sant'Agnese in Agone, Via di Santa Maria dell'Anima, 30/A.


Vatican City, 10 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Luigi Bianco, apostolic nuncio in Ethiopia, as apostolic nuncio in Djibouti and apostolic delegate in Somalia.

- Rev. Fr. Robert J. Geisinger, S.J., (U.S.A.), as procurer general of the Society of Jesus.

- Msgr. Robert W. Oliver of the clergy of the archdiocese of Boston, as secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Msgr. Oliver was formerly promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the presentation by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, of the participants in the upcoming Synod in October 2014:

“Why are two full pages of names being published today in the Osservatore Romano? Because these names correspond to people from all over the world, who will take part in the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (5-19 October) on the theme: “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”. The aim of the meeting is to propose to today's world the beauty and the values of the family, which emerge from the proclamation of Jesus Christ Who disperses fear and supports hope.

Synodus – which means 'taking a path together' – is the expression that indicates the eccesial space in which we convene in order to meet and to reflect – in the dual faith in God and man – before today's challenges to the family. The list that follows is made up of representatives from the five continents, subdivided as follows: 114 presidents of Episcopal Conferences, 13 heads of the 'sui iuris' Eastern Catholic Churches, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, 9 members of the Ordinary Council of the Secretariat, the secretary general, the under-secretary, 3 nominees from the Union of Superior Generals, and 26 pontifical nominees. Other participants include 8 fraternal delegates, 38 auditors, including 13 married couples, and 16 experts. The total number of participants in the Synod Assembly is 253.

In the dynamic of the renewal of the Church ordered by Pope Francis, the updating of the institution of the Synod is explained in particular in the preparatory process and in the process of the Assemblies themselves. This project, initiated with the convocation of the Synod Assembly, is developing in a new and renewed way, with concrete actions. The criterion for renewal is that of first painting the picture and then adding the frame. The rules in force provide the track along which the train of renewal proceeds. As we go ahead, the steps necessary for changing the rules or eventually setting about a full reconstruction of the Synod as an entity will become evident.

The itinerary of the next Synod will be divided into two phases: the Extraordinary General Assembly of 2014 and the Ordinary General Assembly of 2015. A new working methodology will be applied, rendering the process more dynamic and participatory, with speeches and testimonials, always with a view to continuity towards the second stage, after which the Synod document will be published”.


Vatican City, 9 September 2014 (VIS) – The following is a list of participants in the Third General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”:


I. President

FRANCESCO, Supreme Pontiff

II. Secretary GENERAL

- Cardinal Lorenzo BALDISSERI

III. DELEGATE presidentS

Cardinals André VINGT-TROIS, archbishop of Paris, France, Luis Antonio G. TAGLE, archbishop of Manila, Philippines, Raymundo Damasceno ASSIS, archbishop of Aparecida, president of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil.


Cardinal Péter ERDŐ, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Hungary, president of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (C.C.E.E.)


- Archbishop Bruno FORTE of Chieti-Vasto, Italy


- Cardinal Gianfranco RAVASI, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Vatican City

Vice president
- Archbishop Victor Manuel FERNÁNDEZ, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Argentina


Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church

His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac SIDRAK, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Head of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church

Synod of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church

His Beatitude Grégoire III LAHAM, B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church

Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church

His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III YOUNAN, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Head of the Synod of the Syriac Catholic Church

Synod of the Maronite Catholic Church

His Beatitude Cardinal Bechara Boutros RAÏ, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Head of the Synod of the Maronite Catholic Church

Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church

His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I SAKO, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Head of the Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church

Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church

His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX TARMOUNI, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, Head of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church

Synod of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church

His Beatitude Sviatoslav SHEVCHUK, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church

Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church

His Beatitude Cardinal George ALENCHERRY, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, resident of the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church

Synod of the Syro-Malankars

His Beatitude, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis THOTTUNKAL, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, president of the Synod of the Syro-Malankar Church, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (C.B.C.I.)

Synod of the Romanian Church

His Beatitud, Cardinal Lucian MUREŞAN, major archbishop of Făgăras şi Alba Iulia of the Romanians, Head of the Synod of the Romanian Church

Council of the Ethiopian Church

- Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, C.M. of Addis Abeba, president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, president of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs of Ethiopia and Eritrea

Council of the Ruthenian Catholic Church, U.S.A.

Archbishop William Charles SKURLA, metropolitan of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines, president of the Council of the Ruthenian Catholic Church

Council of the Council of the Slovak Church

Archbishop Jan BABJAK, S.J., metropolitan of Prešov for Catholics of Byzantine rite, president of the Council of the Slovak Church




Archbishop Gabriel MBILINGI, C.S.SP., of Lubango, Angola, president of the Symposium des Conférences Episcopales d'Afrique et de Madagascar (S.C.E.A.M.)

Bishop Eugéne Cyrille HOUNDÉKON of Abomey, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Stephen BRISLIN of Cape Town, Kaapstad, South Africa

Archbishop Paul Yembuado OUÉDRAOGO of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Bishop Gervais BANSHIMIYUBUSA of Ngozi

Archbishop Samuel KLEDA of Douala

Archbishop Dieudonné NZAPALAINGA, C.S.SP., of Bangui

Bishop Jean-Claude BOUCHARD, O.M.I., of Pala

CONGO (Republic of)
Bishop Louis PORTELLA MBUYU of Kinkala

CONGO (Rep. Democrática del)
Bishop Nicolas DJOMO LOLA of Tshumbe

Archbishop Alexis TOUABLI YOULO of Agboville

Bishop Juan MATOGO OYANA, C.M.F., of Bata, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew SOURAPHIEL, C.M., of Addis Abeba, president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church

Bishop Mathieu MADEGA LEBOUAKEHAN of Mouila

Bishop Patrick Daniel KOROMA of Kenema

Bishop Joseph OSEI-BONSU of Konongo-Mampong

Bishop Emmanuel FÉLÉMOU of Kankan

Bishop Maurice PIAT, C.S.SP., of Port-Louis, Seychelles

Cardinal John NJUE, archbishop of Nairobi

Archbishop Gerard Tlali LEROTHOLI, O.M.I., of Maseru

Bishop Anthony Fallah BORWAH of Gbarnga, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Desire TSARAHAZANA of Toamasina

Bishop Joseph Mukasa ZUZA of Mzuzu

Bishop Jean-Baptiste TIAMA of Sikasso

Bishop Lúcio Andrice MUANDULA of Xai-Xai

Archbishop Liborius Ndumbukuti NASHENDA, O.M.I., of Windhoek

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau KAIGAMA of Jos

Archbishop Vincent LANDEL, S.C.I. of Béth., of Rabat, Morocco

Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE of Kabgayi

Bishop Benjamin NDIAYE of Kaolack, Senegal

Cardinal Gabriel ZUBEIR WAKO, archbishop of Khartoum

Bishop Tarcisius NGALALEKUMTWA of Iringa

Bishop Benoit Comlan M. ALOWONOU of Kpalime

Archbishop John Baptist ODAMA of Gulu

Archbishop Ignatius CHAMA of Kasama, apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Mpika

Bishop Michael Dixon BHASERA of Masvingo


Archbishop Patrick Christopher PINDER of Nassau, Trinidad and Tobago

Archbishop José María ARANCEDO of Santa Fe da la Vera Cruz

Archbishop Oscar Omar APARICIO CÉSPEDES, Military Ordinary of Bolivia

Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno ASSIS, archbishop of Aparecida

Archbishop Paul-André DUROCHER Gatineau

Cardinal Ricardo EZZATI ANDRELLO, S.D.B., archbishop of Santiago de Chile

Archbishop Luis Augusto CASTRO QUIROGA, I.M.C., Tunja

Bishop Oscar Gerardo FERNÁNDEZ GUILLÉN of Puntarenas

Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo GARCÍA IBÁÑEZ, of Santiago de Cuba

Archbishop Fausto Gabriel TRÁVEZ TRÁVEZ, O.F.M., of Quito

Archbishop Jose Luis ESCOBAR ALAS of San Salvador

Bishop Rodolfo VALENZUELA NÚÑEZ of Vera Paz

Cardinal Chibly LANGLOIS, bishop of Les Cayes

Cardinal Oscar A. RODRÍGUEZ MARADIAGA, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa

Cardinal Francisco ROBLES ORTEGA, archbishop of Guadalajara

Bishop Sócrates René SÁNDIGO JIRÓN, of Juigalpa

Archbishop José Domingo ULLOA MENDIETA, O.S.A., of Panamá

Bishop Catalino Claudio GIMÉNEZ MEDINA, of the Schoenstatt Fathers, bishop of Caacupe

Archbishop Salvador PIÑEIRO GARCÍA-CALDERÓN of Ayacucho

Archbishop Roberto Octavio GONZÁLEZ NIEVES, O.F.M., of San Juan de Puerto Rico

Bishop Gregorio Nicanor PEÑA RODRÍGUEZ of Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia en Higüey

Archbishop Joseph Edward KURTZ of Louisville

Bishop Rodolfo Pedro WIRZ KRAEMER of Maldonado-Punta del Este

Archbishop Diego R. PADRÓN SÁNCHEZ of Cumaná


His Beatitude Fouad TWAL, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins

Archbishop Patrick D'ROZARIO, C.S.C., of Dhaka

Archbishop John HUNG SHAN-CHUAN, S.V.D., of Taipei

Bishop Basílio DO NASCIMENTO of Baucau

Cardinal Oswald GRACIAS, Archbishop of Bombay, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (F.A.B.C.)

Archbishop Ignatius SUHARYO HARDJOATMODJO of Jakarta

Archbishop Thomas MERAM of Urmyā, Urmia, Rezayeh of the Chaldeans, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Peter Takeo OKADA of Tokyo

Archbishop Tomash PETA of Mary Most Holy in Astana

Bishop Peter KANG U-IL of Cheju

Bishop Louis-Marie Ling MANGKHANEKHOUN, Apostolic Vicar of Paksé (Laos)

Archbishop John HA TIONG HOCK of Kuching, Malaysia

Bishop Felix LIAN KHEN THANG of Kalay

Archbishop Joseph COUTTS of Karachi

Archbishop Socrates B. VILLEGAS of Lingayen-Dagupan

Cardinal Albert Malcom Ranjith PATABENDIGE DON of Colombo

Archbishop Louis CHAMNIERN SANTISUKNIRAN of Thare and Nonseng

Mons. Paul BÙI VĂN ĐOC, archbishop coadjutor of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh


Archbishop Angelo MASSAFRA, O.F.M., of Shkodrë-Pult

Cardinal Christoph SCHÖNBORN, O.P., archbishop of Vienna

Archbishop André LÉONARD of Mechelen-Brussels

Archbishop Tadeusz KONDRUSIEWICZ of Minsk-Mohilev, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Bishop Franjo KOMARICA of Banja Luka

Bishop Christo PROYKOV, apostolic exarch of Sofia for Catholics of Byzantine Rite resident in Bulgaria

Cardinal Josip BOZANIĆ, archbishop of Zagreb, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Jan GRAUBNER of Olomouc, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Archbishop Paolo PEZZI, F.S.C.B., of Mother of God at Moscow

Archbishop Georges PONTIER of Marseilles

Cardinal Reinhard MARX, archbishop of Munich and Freising


Cardinal Vincent Gerard NICHOLS, archbishop of Westminster, England

Archbishop Philip TARTAGLIA of Glasgow

Bishop Franghískos PAPAMANÓLIS, O.F.M. Cap., emeritus of Syros and Milos and of Santorini

Cardinal Péter ERDŐ, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (C.C.E.E.)

Archbishop Zef GASHI, S.D.B., of Bar, Serbia

Archbishop Diarmuid MARTIN of Dublin, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Cardinal Angelo BAGNASCO, archbishop of Genoa

Archbishop Zbigņev STANKEVIČS of Riga, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Bishop Rimantas NORVILA of Vilkaviškis, deputy president of the Episcopal Conference

Bishop Mario GRECH of Gozo

Cardinal Willem Jacobus EIJK, archbishop of Utrecht

Archbishop Stanisław GĄDECKI, archbishop of Poznań

Msgr. Manuel José MACÁRIO DO Nascimento CLEMENTE, Patriarch of Lisbon

Archbishop Ioan ROBU of Bucureşti, Bucharest

Bishop Anders ARBORELIUS, O.C.D., of Stockholm, Sweden

Archbishop Stanislav ZVOLENSKÝ of Bratislava

Bishop Andrej GLAVAN of Novo Mesto

Archbishop Ricardo BLÁZQUEZ PÉREZ of Valladolid

Bishop Markus BÜCHEL of Sankt Gallen

Archbishop Ruggero FRANCESCHINI, O.F.M. CAP., of Izmir

Archbishop Mieczysław MOKRZYCKI of Lviv of the Latins


Archbishop Denis James HART of Melbourne

Archbishop John Atcherley DEW of Wellington, president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania (F.C.B.C.O)

Bishop Soane Patita Paini MAFI of Tonga, Fiji

Bishop Arnold OROWAE of Wabag, Papua New Guinea


Rev. Fr. Adolfo NICOLÁS PACHÓN, S.J., prepositor general of the Society of Jesus

Rev. Fr. Mauro JÖHRI, O.F.M. Cap., minister general of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin

Rev. Fr. Mario ALDEGANI, C.S.I., father general of the Congregation of St. Joseph (Josephites of Murialdo)


Cardinal Pietro PAROLIN, Secretary of State

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig MÜLLER, prefect of the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith

Cardinal Leonardo SANDRI, prefect of the Congregration for the Oriental Churches

Cardinal Angelo AMATO, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregration for the Causes of Saints

Cardinal Marc OUELLET, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregration for Bishops

Cardinal Fernando FILONI, prefect of the Congregration for the Evangelisation of Peoples

Cardinal Beniamino STELLA, prefect of the Congregration for the Clergy

Cardinal João Braz de AVIZ, prefect of the Congregration for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life

Cardinal Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI, prefect of the Congregration for Catholic Education

Cardinal Mauro PIACENZA, major penitentiary

Cardinal Raymond Leo BURKE, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Cardinal Stanisław RYŁKO, prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Laity

Cardinal Kurt KOCH, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

Archbishop Vincenzo PAGLIA, bishop emeritus of Terni-Narni-Amelia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, prefect of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”

Cardinal Robert SARAH, prefect of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”

Cardinal Antonio Maria VEGLIÒ, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples

Archbishop Zygmunt ZIMOWSKI, bishop emeritus of Radom, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers

Cardinal Francesco COCCOPALMERIO, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Cardinal Jean-Louis TAURAN, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Cardinal Gianfranco RAVASI, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture

Archbishop Claudio Maria CELLI, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications

Archbishop Salvatore FISICHELLA, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation

Cardinal Domenico CALCAGNO, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See

Cardinal Giuseppe VERSALDI, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See


Cardinal Timothy Michael DOLAN, archbishop of New York, U.S.A.

Cardinal Péter ERDŐ, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, president of the Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae (C.C.E.E.)

Msgr. Bruno FORTE, archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy

Cardinal Oswald GRACIAS, archbishop of Bombay, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (F.A.B.C.), India

Cardinal Laurent MONSENGWO PASINYA, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox NAPIER, O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa

Cardinal George PELL, prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, Vatican City

Cardinal Odilo Pedro SCHERER, archbishop of São Paulo, Brazil

Cardinal Christoph SCHÖNBORN, O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria

His Beatitude Sviatoslav SHEVCHUK, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, Ukraine

Bishop Santiago Jaime SILVA RETAMALES, auxiliary of Valparaíso, Chile, secretary general of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences (C.E.L.AM.)

Cardinal Luis Antonio G. TAGLE, archbishop of Manila, Philippines

Cardinal Donald William WUERL, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, Vatican City

Archbishop Salvatore FISICHELLA, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, Vatican City


Cardinal Angelo SODANO, dean of the College of Cardinals, Vatican City

Cardinal Godfried DANNEELS, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium

Cardinal Walter KASPER, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City

Cardinal Angelo SCOLA, archbishop of Milan, Italy

Cardinal Carlo CAFFARRA, archbishop of Bologna, Italy

Cardinal Lluís MARTÍNEZ SISTACH, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain

Cardinal André VINGT-TROIS, archbishop of Paris, France

Cardinal John TONG HON, bishop of Hong Kong (Xianggang), China

Cardinal Orani João TEMPESTA, O. Cist., archbishop of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Cardinal Andrew YEOM SOO-JUNG, archbishop of Seoul, Korea

Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba OUÉDRAOGO, archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Cardinal Fernando SEBASTIÁN AGUILAR, C.M.F., archbishop emeritus of Pamplona and Tudela, Spain

Cardinal Elio SGRECCIA, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Italy

Cardinal Giuseppe BERTELLO, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Vatican City

Archbishop Giovanni TONUCCI of Loreto, Italy

Archbishop Edoardo MENICHELLI of Ancona-Osimo, Italy

Archbishop Carlos AGUIAR RETES of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, president of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences (C.E.L.AM.)

Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas COUTO of Delhi, India

Archbishop Victor Manuel FERNÁNDEZ, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, Argentina

Bishop Alonso Gerardo GARZA TREVIÑO of Piedras Negras, Mexico

Bishop Edgard Amine MADI of Nossa Senhora do Líbano em São Paulo de los Maronitas, Brazil

Bishop Enrico SOLMI of Parma, president of the Commission for Life and the Family of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Italy

Bishop Pio Vito PINTO, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, Vatican City

Rev. Fr. François-Xavier DUMORTIER, S.J., rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, Italy

Rev. Fr. Antonio SPADARO, S.J., Director of the journal “La Civiltà Católica”, Italy

Rev. Fr. Manuel Jesús ARROBA CONDE, C.M.F., professor of canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome, Italy


Bishop Fabio FABENE, Vatican City



Msgr.Tony ANATRELLA, psychoanalyst, specialist in social psychiatry, consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Family, consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, France

Rev. Gérard BERLIET, professor of Sacred Scriptures in the provincial seminary of Lyons, head of pastoral care of divorced and remarried faithful for the diocese of Dijon, France

Rev. Fr. Bruno ESPOSITO. O.P., professor and ordinary in canon law at the Pontifical University St. Thomas Aquinas, Italy

Rev. Fr. Alfonso FERNÁNDEZ BENITO, professor of moral theology and the sacrament of marriage in the “San Ildefonso” Higher Institute for Theological Studies, director of the Institute for Religious Sciences of Santa Maria de Toledo, Spain

Rev. Fr. Arul Raj GALI, C.S.C., national director of the “Holy Cross Family Ministries in India”, India

Jeffrey GOH, professor of systematic theology in the Archdiocesan Seminary of Kuching, Malaysia; judge of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Kuching, Malaysia

Rev. Maurizio GRONCHI, professor and ordinary in dogmatic theology at the Urbanian Pontifical University of Rome; consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Italy

Rodrigo GUERRA LÓPEZ, director general of the Centro de Investigación Social Avanzada [CISAV], Mexico

Jocelyne KHOUEIRY, member of the Episcopal Commission for the Family and Life, APECL, Lebanon

Helen Kyung Soo KWON, member of the executive committee of the “Helen Kim Scholarship Foundation” at Ewha Women's University, Korea

Rev. Fr. Sabatino MAJORANO, C.SS.R., professor of systematic moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy, Rome, Italy

Christopher Laurence MENEY, director of the Centre for Life, Marriage and the Family of the archdiocese of Sydney, Australia


Giuseppina DE SIMONE in MIANO, extraordinary professor of philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in Naples, Italy

Francesco MIANO, professor and ordinary in moral philosophy at the “Tor Vergata” University of Rome and ex-president of Italian Catholic Action, Italy

Carmen PEÑA GARCÍA, specialist in marriage, professor in the faculty of canon law at the Pontifical University of Comillas, defender of the bond and promotor of justice of the Metropolitan Tribunal of Madrid, Spain

Rev. Fr. George Henri RUYSSEN, S.J., professor in the faculty of Oriental canon law in the Oriental Pontifical Institute of Rome, Belgium



Arturo and Hermelinda AS ZAMBERLINE, heads of the “Équipe Notre-Dame” for the super-region of Brazil, Brazil

Messrs AZZO and HABEEB

Riyadh Albeer Naoom AZZO and Sanaa Namir Ibrahim HABEEB, witnesses of Christian family life in an Islamic context, Iraq


León BOTOLO and Marie Valentine KISANGA SOSAWE, founders of the Communauté Famille Chrétienne, Democratic Republic of Congo

Zelmira María BOTTINI DE REY, director of the institute for Couples and Families of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina; president of the Latin-American Network of Institutes for the Family in Catholic Universities, Argentina


George CAMPOS, director of Couples for Christ, Philippines, and Cynthia CAMPOS, member of Couples for Christ, Philippines

Inácio Amândio CHAÚQUE, formator of young couples, Mozambique

Joan CLEMENTS, director of the managing board of the World Organisation Ovulation Method Billings (WOOMB), Australia


Stephen and Sandra CONWAY, regional heads for Africa de Retrouvailles, South Africa

Dr. Ute EBERL, head of family and matrimonial pastoral in Berlin, Germany


Ms Pilar ESCUDERO DE JENSEN, member of the vicariate general for Pastoral Care of the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile; member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; member of the Schoenstatt Institute for Families, Chile

Luis JENSEN ACUÑA, member of the Bioethical Centre of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; president of the “Fundación Médico Cultural Porta Vitae”; member of the Schoenstatt Institute for Families, Chile

Dr Jean Dieudonné GATSINGA and Emerthe GATSINGA TUMUHAYIMPUNDU, responsible for young families in the Focolari movement for Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda (Rwanda)

Mr Jeffrey HEINZEN, director of Natural Family Planning in the diocese of La Crosse, U.S.A. Mrs Alice HEINZEN, member of the Natural Family Planning Advisory Board of the Episcopal Conference (U.S.A.)

Dr Ilva Myriam HOYOS CASTAÑEDA, delegate procurator for the Defence of the Rights of Childhood, Adolescence and the Family, Colombia


Sélim and Rita KHOURY, heads of the Office for Family Pastoral Care in the Patriarchal Curia of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon

María LACALLE NORIEGA, director of the Francisco de Vitoria Centre for Family Studies and Social and Economic Studies; secretary general of the Spanish Society for Bioethics and Biojustice, Spain

Rev. Cajetan MENEZES, director of the Apostolate for the Family in Bombay, India


Giuseppe PETRACCA CIAVARELLA and Lucia MIGLIONICO in PETRACCA CIAVARELLA, medical doctors, members of the National Advisory Council for Family Pastoral Care, Italy

Sister Margaret MULDOON, ex superior general of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Burdeos, Ireland

Francisco PADILLA, head of the Couples for Christ Movement Foundation for family and life, Philippines

Algirdas PETRONIS, deputy president of the International Federation for Catholic Families. Director of the Family Centre of the archdiocese of Vilnius, Lithuania


Romano and Mavis PIROLA, directors of Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, Australia


Olivier and Xristilla ROUSSY, heads of the apostolic branch of Amour et Vérité, France


Steve and Claudia SCHULTZ, members of the International Catholic Engaged Encounter (U.S.A.)

Michèle TAUPIN, president of the Espérance et Vie movement, France

Jeannette TOURÉ, national president of the Association of Catholic Women in Cote d'Ivoire [AFEC], Cote d'Ivoire.


Ecumenical Patriarchate

His Eminence ATHENAGORAS, metropolitan of Belgium

Patriarchate of Moscow

His Eminence HILARION, president of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Russian Federation

Coptic Orthodox Church

His Eminence BISHOY, metropolitan of Damietta, Kafr Elsheikh and Elbarari, Egypt

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch

His Eminence Mar YOSTINOS, archbishop of Zhale and Bekau, Lebanon

Anglican Communion

His Grace Paul BUTLER, bishop of Durham, England, Great Britain

Lutheran World Federation

Mr Ndanganeni Petrus PHASWAHA, president of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in South Africa

World Communion of Reformed Churches

Rev. Benebo FUBARA-MANUEL, president of the Nigerian Communion of Reformed Churches, Nigeria

Baptist World Alliance

Valérie DUVAL-POUJOL, professor of biblical exegesis at the Catholic Institute of Paris, France.
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