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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pope's letter on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy


Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, regarding the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in which he reaffirms his hope that the jubilee indulgence will lead every person to a “genuine experience of God's mercy” and explains that it can also be obtained by incarcerated persons. In addition, he grants to all priests, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the faculty to absolve from sin those who have resorted to abortion, repenting and asking forgiveness with a sincere heart, and establishes that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach the priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins. The following is the full text of the letter:

“With the approach of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy I would like to focus on several points which I believe require attention to enable the celebration of the Holy Year to be for all believers a true moment of encounter with the mercy of God. It is indeed my wish that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.

“My thought first of all goes to all the faithful who, whether in individual Dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world.

“Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence. My thoughts also turn to those incarcerated, whose freedom is limited. The Jubilee Year has always constituted an opportunity for great amnesty, which is intended to include the many people who, despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they worked and sincerely wish to re-enter society and make their honest contribution to it. May they all be touched in a tangible way by the mercy of the Father who wants to be close to those who have the greatest need of his forgiveness. They may obtain the Indulgence in the chapels of the prisons. May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.

“I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence. Hence the commitment to live by mercy so as to obtain the grace of complete and exhaustive forgiveness by the power of the love of the Father who excludes no one. The Jubilee Indulgence is thus full, the fruit of the very event which is to be celebrated and experienced with faith, hope and charity.

“Furthermore, the Jubilee Indulgence can also be obtained for the deceased. We are bound to them by the witness of faith and charity that they have left us. Thus, as we remember them in the Eucharistic celebration, thus we can, in the great mystery of the Communion of Saints, pray for them, that the merciful Face of the Father free them of every remnant of fault and strongly embrace them in the unending beatitude.

“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realising the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.

“A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.

“Trusting in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy, I entrust the preparations for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year to her protection”.

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for September


Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for September is: “That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim”.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 1 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has renewed the Special Commission for the Liturgy in the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, composed as follows:

- Archbishop Piero Marini, president;

- Fr. McLean Cummings, secretary;

- Fr. Tedros Abraha, O.F.M. Cap., member;

- Fr. Cesare Giraudo, S.J., member;

- Fr. Thomas Pott, O.S.B., member;

- Archimandrite Fr. Manuel Nin, O.S.B., member;

- Fr. Rinaldo Iacopino, S.M., member;

- Msgr. Paul Pallath, member.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pope Francis' prayer intentions for August


Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for August is: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society”.

Notice


Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS)- We inform our readers that during the month of August, the Vatican Information Service will remain closed. Service will resume on Tuesday 1 September.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jubilee for the young


Vatican City, 30 July 2015 (VIS) – The Jubilee for young boys and girls from 13 to 16 years of age will take place in Rome from 23 to 25 April 2016, within the broader framework of the Jubilee of Mercy convoked by Pope Francis. The event is being organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation in collaboration with the Italian national service for youth pastoral ministry.

The first day, 23 April, will be dedicated to mercy. Various groups of young people will depart from Castel Sant'Angelo and will proceed along Via della Conciliazione on a penitential journey, reading the Word of God and meditating. Upon arrival at St. Peter's Square, they will be able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confessing to the priests available under the Colonnade. They will then enter the basilica via the Holy Door for the profession of faith at the Altar of Confession at St. Peter's tomb.

During the Jubilee, in the squares and most important locations in Rome, a series of installations will be prepared, explaining the seven works of corporal mercy and the seven works of spiritual mercy. A number of witnesses to charity will be present to explain to the young people how mercy can be translated into concrete gestures.

The climax of the event will be participation in the Holy Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday 24 in St. Peter's Square.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Year of Reconciliation begins in Africa


Vatican City, 29 July 2015 (VIS) – The African Year of Reconciliation, convoked by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), opens today with a solemn celebration in Accra, Ghana. It will focus on the theme “A Reconciled Africa for Peaceful Co-existence”, and will conclude on 29 July 2016 during the SECAM 17th Plenary Assembly, to be held in Angola. The SECAM was instituted by Blessed Paul VI in 1969 during his pastoral visit to Uganda, and comprises 37 national episcopal conferences and eight regional conferences.

The initiative responds to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's 2011 invitation to the African episcopates in his post-Synodal apostolic exhortation “Africae Munus” to “promote a continent-wide Year of Reconciliation to beg of God special forgiveness for all the evils and injuries mutually inflicted in Africa, and for the reconciliation of persons and groups who have been hurt in the Church and in the whole of society”. This would be “an extraordinary Jubilee Year during which the Church in Africa and in the neighbouring islands gives thanks with the universal Church and implores the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of reconciliation, justice and peace”. The exhortation, signed by Benedict XVI on 19 November in Cotonou, Benin, during his apostolic trip to the country, followed the Second Extraordinary Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops held in the Vatican in 2009 on the theme “The Church in Africa in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace”.

The archbishop of Accra, Charles Palmer Buckle, on behalf of the president of SECAM, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi, C.S.Sp., of Lubango, Angola, has sent a letter to all the African episcopal conferences, inviting them to organise programmes and initiatives on reconciliation throughout the year, in collaboration with the commissions of Justice and Peace in their countries. He also encouraged the bishops of the continent to carry out a special collection on a Sunday of their choice for the second SECAM Day. The Day was instituted two years ago by the association's 16th Assembly in order to finance evangelisation projects, the promotion of justice and peace, and the Catholic media.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A blessing to one another: John Paul II and the Jewish People


Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – “A blessing to one another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” is the title of an exhibition opening today in the Vatican (Charlemagne Wing, 29 July to 17 September), previously displayed in a number of state capitals in the U.S.A., where it received more than a million visitors.

The exhibition, presented as a gift to John Paul II for his 85th birthday, was inaugurated at the Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio, on 18 May 2005, just a month after the Pope's death. It then arrived in Rome, and while in Europe its organisers wanted it to visit Krakow, the Polish city where Karol Wojtyla was archbishop.

“A blessing to one another” describes the steps the Pontiff took to improve the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and reflects the continuing relevance of the conciliar declaration “Nostra Aetate”, issued fifty years ago, in which the Catholic Church expresses her appreciation for other religions and reaffirms the principals of universal fraternity, love and non-discrimination.

Funded by various universities and private individuals and bodies who see interreligious dialogue as a source of progress for humanity, the exhibition narrates John Paul II's relations with those whom he defined during his historic visit to the synagogue of Rome on 13 April 1986 as “our elder brothers”. It is divided into four sections and consists of photographs, videos, recordings and other interactive sources.

The first section illustrates Karol Wojtyla's early years in his birthplace Wadowice, what would become a lifelong friendship with the young Jew Jerzy Kluger, and the relations between Catholics and Jews in Poland during the decade 1920 to 1930. The second section is dedicated to the Pope's university years in Krakow, and his work not far from his friends in the Ghetto who knew the horrors of the Shoah. The third describes his priestly and episcopal life, Vatican Council II and the change of direction it represented in relations between Jews and Christians, and the close link between the cardinal archbishop of Krakow and the Jewish community in his archdiocese.

The final section considers the figure of Wojtyla as the Successor of Peter, his visit to the Synagogue of Rome, and his trip to Israel in the year 2000 when he left a prayer in the Western Wall asking for divine forgiveness for the treatment that Jews had received in the past and reaffirming the Church's commitment to a path of fraternal continuity with the People of the Covenant. Visitors to “A blessing to one another” are invited to write a prayer to be placed in a reproduction of the Wall. They will be gathered and deposited in the Western Wall without being read.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 28 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Salvador Gimenez Valls of Menorca, Spain, as bishop of Lleida (area 2,977, population 233,531, Catholics 207,167, priests 131, permanent deacons 5, religious 195), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Joan Piris Frigola, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchal Maronite Church, of Rev. Paul Abdel Sater as bishop of the patriarchal curia. The bishop-elect was born in 1962 in Ain El Remmaneh, Lebanon, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He studied moral theology and science of education in Boston, U.S.A., and since returning to Lebanon has served as deputy priest, parish priest, school director, and eparchial bursar. He is currently syncellus for economic affairs and parish priest of the “Saint Jean” parish in Beirut.
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