VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father presided at first Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles.

The ceremony was attended by a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by His Holiness Bartholomew I and composed of His Eminence Gennadios (Limouris), metropolitan of Sassima; His Eminence Bartholomaios (Ioannis Kessidis), bishop of Arianzos and assistant to the metropolitan of Germany, and Deacon Theodoros Meimaris of the patriarchal see of Fanar.

In his homily the Pope reflected on the Church's missionary vocation. He began by recalling how Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini, when elected as Peter's Successor, "chose the name of the Apostle of the Gentiles". In the year 1974 "he called an assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme of evangelisation in the modern world, and about a year later published the Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii nuntiandi'".

Turning then to consider the figure of the Venerable John Paul II, Benedict XVI highlighted how, "with his apostolic trips and the insistence of his Magisterium on the urgent need for a 'new evangelisation', he was the living embodiment of the missionary nature of the Church. ... It is obvious to everyone that my predecessor gave extraordinary impulse to the mission of the Church, not only because of the distances he covered, but above all because of the genuine missionary spirit that moved him and that he left us as inheritance at the dawn of the third millennium.

"Taking up this inheritance", the Pope added, "at the beginning of my Petrine ministry I affirmed that the Church is young, she is open to the future. And I repeat as much today at the tomb of St. Paul: the Church is an immense force for renewal in the world, not by her own power but by the power of the Gospel".

"The challenges of the present are certainly beyond human capacities", said the Holy Father. "Not only is there physical hunger, there is also a more profound hunger which only God can satisfy. Man in the third millennium also seeks an authentic and full life; he needs truth, profound freedom and gratuitous love. Even in the deserts of the secularised world man's soul thirsts for God, for the living God".

Benedict XVI pointed out that "there are regions of the world that still await their first evangelization while others have already received it but need more profound attention. In others again, the Gospel has long standing roots and has given rise to an authentic Christian tradition but - over recent centuries and following complex dynamics - the process of secularisation has led to a serious crisis of meaning in Christian faith and in membership of the Church".

And he went on: "It is in this perspective that I have decided to create a new organisation, in the form of a Pontifical Council, with the fundamental task of promoting renewed evangelization in countries where the first announcement of the faith has already been heard and where there are Churches of ancient foundation, but where a progressive secularisation of society is being experienced, a kind of 'eclipse of the meaning of God'". These countries, he said, "are a challenge to us to find the adequate means to re-present the perennial truth of the Gospel of Christ".

The Holy Father concluded by affirming that "the challenge of the new evangelization calls to the universal Church, it asks us to remain committed to the search for full unity among Christians. In this context, one eloquent sign of hope are the reciprocal visits between the Churches of Rome and of Constantinople on the feasts of their respective patrons. For this reason we today welcome, with renewed joy and recognition, the delegation sent by Patriarch Bartholomew I".

Freedom and Love


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Pope focused his remarks prior to praying the Angelus on this last Sunday of June to the theme of the call of Christ and the requirements it brings.

Addressing thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said that "a young man or young woman who leave their family, their studies or their work to consecrate themselves to God" represent "a living example of the radical response to the divine vocation".

"One of the most beautiful experiences a person can have in the Church is that of being able to see and touch the work of the Lord in people's lives, of experiencing the fact that God is not some abstract entity, but a reality so great and strong as to fill man's heart to overflowing; a living Person Who is close to us, Who loves us and asks to be loved".
Benedict XVI highlighted how the requirements for following Christ "may seem very harsh, but in reality they express the novelty and absolute priority of the Kingdom of God which is present in the Person of Jesus Christ. They are, in the final analysis, the radical commitment that is due to the Love of God, which Jesus Himself was the first to obey".

"A person who renounces everything in order to follow Christ enters a new dimension of freedom", he continued. "Freedom and love are the same thing, while obeying one's own egoism leads to rivality and conflict".

The Holy Father concluded by inviting everyone "to contemplate the mystery of the divine-human Heart of the Lord Jesus. ... People who fix their gaze on that Heart, pierced and ever open with Love for us, feel the truth of the following invocation: 'Be you, my Lord, my only good', and are ready to abandon everything in order to follow the Lord".

After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled how in Lebanon this morning a beatification ceremony was held for Etienne (ne Joseph) Nehme, religious of the Lebanese Maronite Order who lived in Lebanon between the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. "My heartfelt congratulations go to our Lebanese brothers and sisters", he said, "and with great affection I commend them to the protection of the new blessed".

"On this Sunday which precedes the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles", the Holy Father concluded, "Italy and other countries are celebrating the Day of the Pope's Charity. I express my gratitude to people who, with prayer and offerings, support the apostolic and charitable activity of Peter's Successor, in favour of the universal Church and of so many of our brothers and sisters, both near and far".

Scripture and Eucharist

Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist: -life-blood of Christian life
The initiative of encouraging “Regular reading of Holy Scripture and devout Eucharistic Adoration” was launched at the beginning of this year 2010 in the parish of Xiao Dian, diocese of Tai Yuan, Shan Xi province. According to a report sent to Fides Agency, on Sundays before Mass priests help the faithful to read the Scripture readings of the day, share impressions, while the priests explain the meaning and answer questions. On every important Liturgical feast day the parish community participates in Eucharistic Adoration for an hour before a solemn Mass. The parish priest said this “is a way of living the life of faith, fostering deeper devotion and respect for the Holy Eucharist and learning to put total trust in the Lord Jesus”. In fact “Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist are the life-blood of our Christian life ”. Every liturgical solemnity is an opportunity for the parish to organise community adoration and a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. Our faithful have adopted the good habit of reading the Bible together also before week day Mass. In this way, the parish priest concluded, “we help those who have little time for reading the Bible alone, to become more familiar with Holy Scripture, to reflect more deeply and grow ever closer to the Lord”. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides)

Personal Gospel: Jesus

VATICAN - The true meaning and purpose of any genuine missionary journey: to give people the living and personal Gospel, the Lord Jesus Himself

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – "In the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her relative Elizabeth, we recognize the clearest example and the truest meaning of our way as believers and the way of the Church herself. The Church is missionary by nature, called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always, to transmit the faith to every man and woman, and in every culture." These were the words spoken by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI on the evening of May 31, before the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens, at the end of the celebration held for the closing of the Month of May. Referring to the liturgy of the day, the feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, the Pope said that "Mary's is a true missionary journey. It is a journey that leads her far from home, leading her into the world, in places foreign to her daily activities; it makes her reach, in a sense, to the very ends of where she can reach. It is precisely here, for ourselves as well, wherein lies the secret of our lives as mankind and as Christians. Our existence, as individuals and as a Church, is a life that is projected outside of us. As was the case with Abraham, we are asked to come out of ourselves, emerge from the places wherein lies our security, to go towards others, into diverse places and environments. It is the Lord who asks us... It is always the Lord who, on this path, places Mary beside us as a traveling companion and caring mother."

According to St. Luke the Evangelist, Mary stayed with Elizabeth, now elderly, for nearly three months, "in order to offer her an affectionate assistance, a concrete help and all those daily services she needed. Elizabeth became the symbol of so many elderly and sick, indeed, of all people in need of help and love," said the Holy Father. However, Mary's love "reaches its highest point in giving Jesus Himself, as Luke points out: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb" (Lk 1:41). The Pope then continued: "We thus arrive at the heart and summit of the mission of evangelization. We have reached the truest meaning and the most genuine purpose of any missionary journey: to give people the living and personal Gospel, the Lord Jesus Himself. This is implies a communication and a donation which, as evidenced by Elizabeth, fills the heart with joy ... Jesus is the true and only treasure that we must give humanity. It is for Him that the men and women of our time have a deep longing, even when they seem to ignore or reject Him. He is the one that the society in which we live, Europe, and the entire world have such a great need of.”

Benedict XVI concluded his speech by stressing that "we are entrusted with this extraordinary responsibility" and urging all to live it “with joy and commitment, so that our civilization is really a civilization in which truth, justice, freedom, and love reign as the fundamental and indispensable pillars of a truly orderly and peaceful coexistence." (SL) (Agenzia Fides 01/06/2010)

Painting by (c) Sr Julia Mary, fsp

Conference on Migration

Migrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking: people like ourselves, human beings with a name, hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments

Washington (Agenzia Fides) - “The starting point for ministering to migrants, refugees, trafficked persons is to understand their situation and all its components, personal, social, economic, political in the light of God’s Word and to recognize its commitment to get involved. Naturally it also has to address those factors that cause their uprootedness. In this commitment the Church is guided by the 'permanent principles' of its 'social doctrine [that] constitute the very heart of Catholic social teaching.'” This was affirmed today by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, in his opening speech at the Regional Consultation of the American Bishops' Conferences on Migration being held in Washington, DC, June 2-4, on the theme: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.” The Consultation is focusing on responding better to the needs of migrants and refugees in the Americas, confronting the deeper causes of migration through a more efficient coordination of services, pastoral care, and advocacy policies.

Archbishop Veglio pointed out that the United States is home to 38 million immigrants and “the USA has been shaped by the efforts of migrants, in former days but also nowadays. Many immigrants arrive to the U.S. with economic goals, expectations and their contribution. Migrants have become essential for the US economy. They make up a large part of the national workforce.” However the changes seen in society – the rapid growth in the Spanish language spoken in the churches, pastoral work that largely depends on foreign priests, the concentration of ethnic restaurants in a given area - “do not reflect an increased acceptance of “otherness” and a willingness to a mutual - reciprocal change. A change in the person arriving, but also a modification in the receiving society.”

Referring to the issue of “undocumented immigrants,” the Archbishop explained that many of them “have been living in the country for years, working and contributing to the economy and the social security system.” The number of deportations in 2008 surpassed 350,000 people, and “one of the not foreseen results in Central America has been the increase of gang-based violence by youngsters.” The children of immigrants, who have been raised in the USA, the only country they really know, see their future threatened by not being able to continue their studies. The Church supports them through the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), working for the regularization of the approximately 12 million undocumented migrants. However, Archbishop Veglio said, this should be united to immigration reform and “in order to achieve this, the necessary political will is required to address humanely undocumented migration.” Over the last thirty years more than 2 million refugees were allowed to settle, spontaneously or in a resettlement process, in the USA. “The Reception and Placement Programs of the Department of State supports them for a relatively short time, with a one-time grant,” the Archbishop said. After this period they are considered to have become sufficiently integrated to take care of themselves and be self-sufficient. It is more than evident that this does not work. They lack sufficient support. Many end up with hardly any money left after paying their rent and will join the American poor and end up in the same situation. “One has to note that the process of resettlement cannot be the same for each individual or for each community. In order to be realistic, one has to take into account the unique needs and experiences of the individual, which will result in different programmes, also with a request for a different and, most probably, a longer period of support. This should lead to self-sufficiency, employment and in the end integration in the country to become participants in society.”

The drama of human trafficking is present in almost every country, “whether it is sexual exploitation, forced labour or bonded labour, child soldiers, or abusive ways of adoption.” The Archbishop continued: “The root causes of trafficking are not just poverty and unemployment in developing countries. The demand for cheap labour, low priced products or 'exotic or unusual sex' is also a root cause of trafficking than must be addressed. The different forms of trafficking constitute human rights violations, which demand distinct approaches and measures in order to restore the dignity of the victims.”

A new form of displacement is now on its way, the President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants said: “People are moving away, since they can no longer make a living as a results of desertification and growing water scarcity, increasing sea-levels and 'salinisation' of agricultural land. Climate change is also increasingly causing natural disasters, like flooding and storms. As a result conflicts about resources increase. This new form of displacement will have enormous consequences for decades to come. The frequently cited and accepted estimates of 200 million24 climate induced displaced persons by 2050 indicate the gigantic dimension of the problem. Human migration will undoubtedly be one of the most significant consequences of the change in climate.”

In concluding his address, Archbishop Veglio recalled how the Church and dioceses have been active in this area, promoting a series of projects, activities, etc. This is why “the risk exists that we are so much taken up by our involvement that we just perceive those in migration as work, cases or a job.

Hospitality can protect us from such behavior. Hospitality is not so much a task as a way of living our lives and of sharing...Welcome, compassion and equal treatment are all part of an appropriate Christian response, which will break down social barriers. It is a response to the needs of persons, but also a recognition of their worth and common humanity.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 2/06/2010)


Complete text of the address, in English

Complete text of the address, in Spanish