PRAYER, COMMITMENT AND FRATERNITY FOR SYRIA
This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organizations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO).
In his remarks to the group Benedict XVI mentioned the social and economic crisis which, “due to the global dimension it has taken on, does not spare the more economically developed parts of the world and, even more worryingly, also affects the most disadvantaged areas.” Above all in the East, “homeland to ancient Christian traditions,” this process “generates insecurity and instability also at the ecclesial level, and in the ecumenical and inter-religious fields. These factors nourish endemic wounds of history and make dialogue, peace, coexistence among peoples and authentic respect for human rights even more fragile, especially the right to religious freedom for individuals and communities.”
In this year’s meeting, representatives form the Holy Land were joined by prelates from the Syro-Malabar Church in India, the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, the apostolic nuncio to Syria and the president of Caritas in Syria.
“This,” the Holy Father said, “is an occasion to reaffirm my closeness to the great suffering of our brothers and sister in Syria, in particular the young innocents and those most defenceless. May our prayers, our commitment and our concrete fraternity in Christ . . . help them not to lose the light of hope at this moment of darkness; and may God give wisdom of heart to those in positions of responsibility, that all violence and bloodshed may cease.”
The Pope went on: “May the international community spare no effort to help Syria emerge from its current situation of violence and crisis, which has already gone on a long time and risks becoming a generalized conflict which would have highly negative consequences for the country and the entire region. I also make an urgent and heartfelt appeal that, in the face of the dire need of the population, the necessary humanitarian assistance be guaranteed, also to the many people who have had to abandon their homes, some of whom have taken shelter in neighboring countries. Human life is a precious gift which must always be protected.”
In closing Benedict XVI called on the members of ROACO to be “eloquent signs of the charity that pours from Christ’s heart” and to “present the Church to the world in her most authentic identity and mission”. He concluded by expressing the hope that the Virgin would give them hope and watch over his own forthcoming trip to Lebanon.
AUDIENCE WITH PRESIDENT OF MONTENEGRO AND RATIFICATION OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN HOLY SEE AND MONTENEGRO
The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
“This morning 21 June 2012 the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Filip Vujanovic, president of Montenegro. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
“The principal reason for the visit was to exchange the instruments of ratification of the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and Montenegro, something the cardinal secretary of State and the president of Montenegro duly did at the end of their meeting. With that exchange the Agreement comes into force, pursuant to article 21.
“The Agreement was signed in 2011 and is the result of the excellent relations between the Holy See and Montenegro, which have been established ever since the country gained its independence. The document recognises the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her principal institutions in civil society, her liberty and independence in apostolic activity and in regulating matters that specifically concern the Church, as well as freedom of worship, and freedom of action in the fields of culture, education, pastoral care and charity.
“During the cordial discussions it was noted that the Agreement represents a positive development in the consolidation of the rule of law and democratic principles, upon which Montenegro wishes to base its future. Moreover, a fruitful exchange of opinions took place on current international issues and the regional situation. with particular appreciation being expressed for the way in which the Holy See is following Montenegro’s journey towards full European integration. Finally the parties stated their desire to keep the spirit of collaboration alive through constructive dialogue on areas of mutual interest for the Church and State.”
PRESENTATION OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office for the presentation of the Year of Faith which is due to last from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. The conference was presented by Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Msgr. Graham Bell, respectively president and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
Archbishop Fisichella also presented the website and logo of the Year of Faith, and outlined the calendar of events due to take place in Rome during that period.
“In his Apostolic Letter ‘Porta fidei’ Benedict XVI speaks . . . of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ,” the archbishop said. “For this reason he called the Year of Faith, which will also coincide with two anniversaries: the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . . The Year of Faith aims, above all, to support the faith of believers who, in their daily trials, never cease to entrust to entrust their lives to the Lord Jesus, with courage and conviction. Their precious testimony, which does not make the news, . . . is what enables the Church to present herself to the world today, as she did in the past, supported by the strength of the faith and the enthusiasm of ordinary people.
“The Year of Faith,” Archbishop Fisichella added, “falls into a broader context which is characterized by a generalized crisis that also touches the faith. . . . The crisis of faith is a dramatic expression of an anthropological crisis which has abandoned man to his own devices. We must overcome the spiritual poverty affecting so many of our contemporaries who do no longer perceive the absence of God from their lives as a void that needs to be filled. The Year of Faith, then, is an opportunity which the Christian community offers to the many people who feel nostalgia for God and who desire to rediscover Him.”
The programe of events for the Year “touches the daily life of all believers and the ordinary pastoral care of the Christian community, in order to rediscover that genuine missionary spirit which we need in order to give life to the new evangelization.” In this context, the archbishop announced that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has approved the formula for a special “Mass for New Evangelization.” This, he said, is a sign that during the Year of Faith “priority will be given to prayer, and especially to the Eucharist as source and summit of all Christian life.”
The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization then went on to present the logo of the Year of Faith in which the image of a ship symbolizes the Church. The mast of the vessel is a cross with full-blown sails which form the monogram of Christ (IHS) and in the background is a sun representing the Eucharist. The website of the event (www.annusfidei.va) is available in various languages and can be consulted by smartphone and tablet. The Year also has an official hymn entitled: “Credo, Domine, adauge nobis fidem”. A multilingual pastoral guide entitled “Living the Year of Faith” is due to be published in early September and pilgrims will receive an image of the Christ from the cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily, with the Creed written on the back.
Finally Archbishop Fisichella turned his attention to the most important events of the Year of Faith, those to be celebrated in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father: They include the opening, which “will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday 11 October, fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II. There will be a solemn Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by the Synod Fathers, the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences and by Council Fathers who are still alive.”
Sunday 21 October will see the canonization of seven martyrs: Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Maria del Carmen (born Maria Salles y Barangueras), Kateri Tekakwitha, Maria Anna Cope, and Anna Schaffer. On 25 January 2013, during the traditional ecumenical celebration at the Roman basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls, participants will pray that, “through their joint profession of the Symbol, Christians . . . may not forget the path of unity.” On 28 April the Holy Father will impart the Sacrament of Confirmation to a group of young people, while 5 May will be dedicated to expressions of popular piety.
On 18 May, the eve of Pentecost, Catholic movements, both old and new, will gather in St. Peter’s Square. On 2 June, Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world. Sunday 16 June will be dedicated to the Gospel of Life. On 7 July seminarians and novices from all over the world will conclude their pilgrimage by gathering in St. Peter’s Square. The 29 September will be dedicated to catechists on the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and 13 October will focus on the presence of Mary in the Church. Finally, the closing celebration of the Year of Faith will take place on 24 November 2013.
The Year of Faith will also include a number of cultural events including an exhibition on St. Peter to be held at Castel Sant’Angelo from 7 February 2013 to 1 May 2013 and a concert in St. Peter’s Square on 22 June 2013.
CARDINAL WOELKI TO TAKE POSSESSION OF HIS TITULAR CHURCH
The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 7 p.m. on Saturday 30 June Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Berlin, Germany, will take possession of the title of St. John Mary Vianney in Via Lentini 6, Rome.
The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.