Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – At the end of this morning's general audience, the Holy Father—noting that this Friday, 24 May, is the day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the National Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, China—launched an appeal, inviting “Catholics around the world to join in prayer with our brothers and sisters in China; to implore of God the grace to proclaim Christ, dead and risen, with humility and joy; to be faithful to his Church and the Successor of Peter; and to live their everyday lives in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a manner consistent with the faith they profess.”
Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon in the Press Office of the Holy See, Rene Brulhart, director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority (L’Autorità di Informazione Finanziara, AIF), presented the AIF's first annual report, which examines their activities and statistics from 2012. The AIF is the competent authority of the Holy See and the Vatican City State for financial intelligence and for supervision and regulation in the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism. It was established in 2010 and became operational in April of 2011.
“Over the course of the year,” reads a press release accompanying the conference, “AIF reported the submission of six Suspicious Transaction Reports, up from only one in the previous year. AIF itself forwarded two Suspicious Transaction Reports to the Vatican Promoter of Justice for further investigation.”
"The statistics and trends from 2012 are encouraging and indicates that the system is consistently improving," said Dr. Brulhart. In 2012, AIF also initiated the systematic screening and analysis of Cash Transaction Reports submitted by the obliged entities.
Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – “My presence here this afternoon represents, first of all, a heartfelt 'thank you' to the Missionaries of Charity founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who have worked here for 25 years, with many volunteers, for the many people who are in need of assistance. Thank you! All of you make the Church's love for the poor visible … and with your daily service you are—as the Psalm says—'You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing'. … How many people have you fed in these years; how many wounded, above all wounded spiritually, have you cared for!”
With these words Pope Francis addressed the missionaries, volunteers, and residents in the Gift of Mary Hospitality House located within Vatican City, just outside St. Peter's Square. He visited the community yesterday, Tuesday 21 May, at around 5:30pm in the afternoon, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II's placing the house under the care of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Pope was welcomed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City, and the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sr. Mary Prema Pierick, M.C., and the sisters placed a garland of flowers around the pontiff's neck, in a gesture from Hindu tradition. The house accommodates around 25 women and feeds around 60 people on a daily basis.
In his brief speech to the community, the Pope focused on three words: house, gift, and Mary.
Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father sent a message, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., to Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, for the tornado that devastated the city and suburbs, causing numerous victims and wounded on Monday, 20 May.
“The Holy Father,” reads the text, “has followed with deep concern the aftermath of the devastating tornado which has struck Oklahoma and he asks you convey to the entire community the assurance of his solidarity and closeness in prayer. Conscious of the tragic loss of life and the immensity of the work of rebuilding that lies ahead, he asks Almighty God to grant eternal rest to the departed, comfort to the afflicted, and strength and hope to the homeless and the injured. In a particular way he commends to the Father of mercies the many young children among the victims and their grieving families. Upon the local civil and religious leaders, and upon all involved in the relief efforts, His Holiness invokes the Risen Lord’s gifts of consolation, strength, and perseverance in every good.”
Vatican City, 21 May 2013 (VIS) – “Let us pray for the victims and those who are missing, especially children, affected by the violent tornado that hit Oklahoma City yesterday. Hear us, O Lord,” said Pope Francis this morning during daily Mass celebrated in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel.
Subsequently, Pope Francis launched a tweet from his @Pontifex account: “I am close to the families of all who died in the Oklahoma tornado, especially those who lost young children. Join me in praying for them.”
The tornado that struck the state of Oklahoma, USA, yesterday has caused 91 deaths, 20 of whom were children, and destroyed over 7,000 buildings. Entire neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Oklahoma City were destroyed. There are over a hundred wounded and still missing persons.
Vatican City, 21 May 2013 (VIS) – In response to questions from reporters about an alleged exorcism performed by the Holy Father Francis in St. Peter’s Square after last Sunday’s Mass, the Director of the Holy See Press Office Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., said: “The Holy Father had no intention to perform any exorcism. Instead, as he frequently does for the sick and suffering persons who approach him, he simply meant to pray for a suffering person who was presented to him.”
Vatican City, 21 May 2013 (VIS) – On 21 May 1972, Michelangelo's Pieta, exhibited to the public in St. Peter's Basilica, was attacked by a hammer-wielding tourist who had managed to elude the sanctuary's guards. Hungarian-born Australian geologist Laszlo Toth, who suffered from sever mental problems, threw himself at the sculpture shouting, “I am Jesus Christ, risen from the dead!” and he struck the Pieta 15 times destroying the Madonna's nose, breaking off her left forearm, and smashing that arm's elbow into over 50 pieces.
Today, 41 years later, the Vatican Museums are dedicating a study day to the sculpture's reconstruction entitled: “Michelangelo's Pieta: In Memory of 21 May 1972 – A Restoration Story”. During the course of the day's planned events, the complex and delicate task of restoration that took place between 1972 and 1973 in the Vatican Museums under the care of then-director, the Brazilian Deoclecio Redig de Campos, will be analysed. Thanks to the existence of numerous casts, the skill of several specialists, and reusing original fragments as well as a paste made of glue and marble dust, it was possible to faithfully restore the work.
Vatican City, 19 May 2013 (VIS) – The Mass that Pope Francis celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square in front of over 200,000 people was the concluding event of the two days of pilgrimage for the ecclesial movements, communities, and lay associations to Rome as part of the Year of Faith celebrations. In his homily, Francis noted that, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, “we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the Risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.”
“Newness,” he said, “always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme, and plan our lives ... This is also the case when it comes to God. ... It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives ... We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, He brings newness—God always brings newness—and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel.
Vatican City, 19 May 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost for the movements, new communities, and lay associations, the Holy Father prayed the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
This “renewed Pentecost,” the Pope said, “has transformed St. Peter's Square into an Upper Room under the heavens. We have re-lived the experience of the nascent Church, praying with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In the diversity of these charisms we have experienced the beauty of unity, of being one. This is the work of the Holy Spirit who always creates unity in the Church anew.”
Vatican City, 18 May 2013 (VIS) – Today and yesterday, events for ecclesial movements of new lay communities and associations to reflect on the theme “I Believe! Increase our Faith!” were held in Rome as part of the Year of Faith. Over 120,000 people were gathered in St. Peter's Square this afternoon when the Pope arrived at 5:30pm and, after greeting the pilgrims, initiated the Pentecost Vigil.
After the opening welcome by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the image of the Virgin Mary Salus Populi Romani was brought in a procession to the centre of the square and then enthroned. After a series of readings, songs, and testimonials, Pope Francis answered four questions asked by representatives of the movements. Following are the questions with a summary of the Holy Father's answers.
Vatican City, 18 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Saturday 18 May 2013, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Her Excellency Ms. Angela Merkel, was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. Chancellor Merkel then went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial conversations, the long history of relations between the Holy See and Germany was recalled and topics of common interest were focused on, including the socio-political, economic, and religious situation in Europe and the World. In particular, the protection of human rights, the persecution of Christians, religious freedom, and international collaboration for the promotion of peace were discussed.
Vatican City, 20 May 2013 (VIS) – “Inner Peace, Peace Among Peoples” was the theme of the fourth Buddhist-Christian Colloquium held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in collaboration with the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Italy. The participants, coming from Italy, Japan, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India, reaffirmed the need of mutual responsibility to maintain or to restore peace and to contribute to friendship and solidarity among persons and peoples.
Vatican City, 20 May 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye as archbishop of Singapore, (area 639, population 5,076,700, Catholics 189,094, priests 144, religious 417). Archbishop Goh, previously coadjutor of that same archdiocese, succeeds Archbishop Nicholas Chia Yeck Joo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
Vatican City, 17 May 2013 (VIS) – The Pontifical Missionary Works (POM) are “entirely relevant, even more, they are still necessary today because there are so many peoples who have still not known and met Christ and it is urgent to find new forms and new ways that God's grace might touch the heart of each man and each woman and bring them to him.” With these words, Pope Francis greeted the national directors of the POM for the first time, thanking them because they help him “keep evangelization, the paradigm of every act of the Church, alive.”
The Holy Father noted that the Missionary Works are also called “pontifical” because “they are at the Bishop of Rome's direct disposal, with the specific purpose of acting so that the precious gift of the Gospel might be offered to all.” “Certainly,” he said, “the mission that awaits us is difficult but, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it becomes an exciting mission. … This is what we should always draw courage from: knowing that the strength of evangelization comes from God, belongs to him. We are called to open ourselves more and more to the Holy Spirit's work … to be instruments of God's mercy, his tenderness, his love for every man and woman, and especially for the poor, the excluded and the marginalized. And this holds for every Christian, for the whole Church. It isn't an optional mission but an essential one.”