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.”
Vatican City, 17 May 2013 (VIS) - Given below is the calendar of the Holy Father Francis' liturgical celebrations and activities scheduled for the months of May, June, and July.
23 May, Thursday: 6:00pm, Profession of Faith with the Bishops of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
26 May, Sunday, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity: Pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Sts. Elizabeth and Zechariah. 9:30am, Mass.
30 May, Thursday, Solemnity of Corpus Cristi: 7:00pm, Mass in Piazza St. John Lateran. Procession to St. Mary Major and Eucharistic Blessing.
31 May, Friday: 8:00pm, Pope closes month of May, dedicated to the Virgin, with the Rosary prayed with the faithful in St. Peter's Square.
Vatican City, 17 May 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, Thursday 16 May, in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel, there was a meeting on new religious movements organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue that, together with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity and for Culture, have been studying these phenomena for some time.
In 1986, for the first time, a brief provisional report was published entitled: “The Phenomenon of Sects and the New Religious Movements: Pastoral Challenge”, the result of a questionnaire sent out to the Episcopal Conferences two years prior. Since that time, the aforementioned dicasteries have continued their task of reflection, publishing an anthology of texts entitled: “Sects and New Religious Movements: Texts of the Catholic Church (1986-1994)”.
In 2003, “Jesus Christ, Bearer of Living Water. A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age',” was published by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue following an International Conference on the New Age.
Vatican City, 16 May 2013 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the credential letters of four new ambassadors to the Holy See: Mr. Bolot Iskovich Otunbaev from Kyrgyzstan; Mr. David Shoul from Antigua and Barbuda; Mr. Jean-Paul Senninger from Luxembourg; and Mr. Lameck Nthekela from Botswana. In the address he gave them, the pontiff urged them not to forget the predominance of ethics in the economy and in social life, emphasizing the value of solidarity and the centrality of the human being.
“Our human family,” the Pope said, “is presently experiencing something of a turning point in its own history, if we consider the advances made in various areas. We can only praise the positive achievements which contribute to the authentic welfare of mankind, in fields such as those of health, education and communications. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that the majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences. Certain pathologies are increasing, with their psychological consequences; fear and desperation grip the hearts of many people, even in the so-called rich countries; the joy of life is diminishing; indecency and violence are on the rise; poverty is becoming more and more evident. People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way. One cause of this situation, in my opinion, is in the our relationship with money, and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society. Consequently the financial crisis which we are experiencing makes us forget that its ultimate origin is to be found in a profound human crisis. In the denial of the primacy of human beings! We have created new idols. The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”
Vatican City, 16 May 2013 (VIS) – This morning, after celebrating Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel, Pope Francis met with the Executive Committee of Caritas Internationalis, with their president, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for a presentation of their Campaign Against Hunger, which will be launched soon.
Vatican City, 16 May 2013 (VIS) – The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, is visiting Milan, on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, signed by Constantine and Licinius, respectively the emperors of the western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire, in 313. The treaty granted freedom of worship to Christians throughout the Roman Empire, putting an end to religious persecution.
For his visit, Pope Francis, yesterday afternoon, sent a message—through Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., to Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, with greetings to the Patriarch, the participants in the commemoration, as well as to the entire city, “for the importance given to the memory of the historic decision that, decreeing religious freedom for Christians, opened new paths to the Gospel and decisively contributed to the birth of European civilization.”