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EXCLUSIVE: Pope Francis ‘pleased’ with Card Parolin’s ‘constructive’ visit to Russia

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 20:38
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, is just returned from a 4-day state visit to Russia, with which he says Pope Francis is “pleased”. In an exclusive interview with Vatican media on Friday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin reviewed his state visit to Russia this week, pointing out its highlights and the issues as yet unresolved between the Holy See and the Russian Federation. Pope Francis ‘pleased’ with Parolin’s visit Cardinal Parolin said he briefed Pope Francis immediately upon his return to the Vatican on Thursday. He said the Pope “was pleased with the impressions and positive results which I shared with him.” “The Pope as we know – and as he repeated also in this instance – is very, very attentive to all possible occasions for dialogue. He is very attentive to evaluating all existing occasions for dialogue, and he is very happy when steps forward are made in this direction,” he said. Cardinal Parolin said he relayed the many greetings he was asked to give the Pope “from all the people I met, including the warmth and closeness of the Catholic community… and the fraternal greetings of Patriarch Kirill.” ‘Constructive, positive visit’ The Vatican Secretary of State said he thought the outcome of the trip was “substantially positive”. Cardinal Parolin met with civil authorities, including President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, as well as with Russian Orthodox leaders Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion. These meetings, he said, “were truly characterized by a cordial, listening, and respectful climate. I would define them as important and constructive encounters.” During his meeting with Mr. Lavrov , Cardinal Parolin brought up the needs of the local Catholic Church, especially the need for several churches confiscated by the Communist regime to be returned. He said the local Catholic community needs these churches in order to provide “adequate places of worship”. Relations with Russian Orthodox Church Cardinal Parolin told Vatican media his meeting with Patriarch Kirill took place in “the new climate established in recent years”, beginning with the 2016 meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. “We spoke a little about this new climate or atmosphere, which permeates the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” he said. Cardinal Parolin said his Orthodox interlocutors were “touched by the faith and religiosity of the people” on display as the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra visited Moscow and St. Petersburg . Some 2.5 million people visited the relics before they were returned to Bari in Italy. “It was underlined how even many Russians, who belong to the Orthodox tradition but do not practice, in this occasion have moved closer to the Church.” Other topics discussed, he said, were ways of taking advantage of this new climate to further improve relations and collaborate on cultural, academic, and humanitarian issues. He said both parties greatly insisted on the need for the two Churches to carry out “incisive and efficacious humanitarian works” in the many situations of conflict around the world. “Slightly thorny issues were also touched, respectfully and at the same time frankly, regarding relations between the two Churches. But, we tried to give them – at least in my opinion, what I was able to glean – a positive sense, that is, to explore common paths for dealing with and for seeking to give birth to a solution to these problems.” Situation in Ukraine Turning to the situation in Ukraine, Cardinal Parolin said that, “for now, there is no news; perhaps, it is premature”. “If there are seeds of good, which we have sought to sow,” he said, “we hope the Lord will make them sprout and bring them to fruition.” He said the “Ukrainian question” is of “great concern for the Holy See”. “The Pope has pronounced on this theme several times. It’s obvious that it could not be ignored, this theme; it couldn’t be forgotten in that circumstance. Above all, I would [speak] of the need to try to see and to evaluate if there were some concrete steps that could be made towards a durable and just solution to the conflict, within the instruments currently available, which are practically the Agreement between the two Parties. It has been noted that the Holy See has insisted above all on the humanitarian aspects, beginning with the important initiative of the Pope for Ukraine. In this sense, for example, one theme is that of the liberation of prisoners. This is one humanitarian theme that could be truly important to giving a little impetus to the whole process, even the political one, in order to get out of this situation of stasis and to advance – for example –the theme of a truce or ceasefire, the theme of security conditions in the territory, and the theme of the political conditions necessary to make progress on a global solution.” Meeting with President Putin Cardinal Parolin said his meeting with President Putin in Sochi on Wednesday was “a cordial encounter”. He said the two men discussed the conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Syria, and the presence of Christians there. Both Russia and the Holy See, he said, are particularly interested in the theme of persecution of Christians and other minorities. They also discussed the situations in Ukraine and Venezuela, both of which Cardinal Parolin also discussed with Foreign Minister Lavrov on Tuesday. Cardinal Parolin said he presented the Russian president with “several situations of some difficulty for the Catholic community.” His main point, he said, was the desire to transmit the important role Russia has to play in promoting peace. “Russia, for its geographical position, its history, its culture, and its past, present, and future, has an important role to play in the international community and in the world. Therefore, it has a particular responsibility regarding peace: both the country and its leaders have a great responsibility to build peace, and they must truly strive to put the higher interests of peace above all other interests.” Highlights of visit Finally, Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin highlighted three moments, which he found especially touching. The first, he said, “was the beautiful moment of the Mass celebrated with the Catholic community. The Cathedral was packed full of people, and that was somewhat of a surprise since it was a weekday”. He also said he was touched “by the faith and devotion” of the people and by their “attachment to the Pope”. Second was his brief visit to the sisters of Mother Teresa in Moscow. “We were able to meet and greet all the people they assist, and even there the warmth they have the for the Pope was evident.” Lastly, he mentioned his visit to the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow one evening. “The cathedral had been blown up during the Communist regime. So it was also a moment to recall this painful history, during which some people wanted completely to uproot the faith from the heart of the people and eliminate any sign of the presence of God and the Church in that land.” This attempt, he said, “did not succeed, because God is greater than the projects of men.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: video message to Ezeiza student-inmates

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 00:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday sent a video message to the student-inmates of the Centro de estudiantes universitarios de Ezeiza , a higher education initiative attached to the Ezeiza prison complex. The university centre, which began in 1994 in connection with a project of the University of Buenos Aires , teaches primarily sociology and applied sciences, including computer science and information technology. Pope Francis has made regular phone calls to the inmates who study in the centre, which is beginning a new music programme . Remarks to student-inmates In his message, Pope Francis says, “The inmates are serving a penal sentence – a sentence for errors they have committed. Let us not forget, however, that, for punishment to be fruitful, it must have a horizon of hope, otherwise it remains locked in itself and is only an instrument of torture, it is not fruitful.” The Holy Father goes on to say that what is needed is specifically the hope for social reintegration, for which social formation is a necessary ingredient. Click below to hear our report “That,” he says, addressing himself directly to the student-inmates, “is what you are doing,” i.e. looking to the future with hope. “With this new music course you are looking toward social reintegration, [and] you are already reintegrating yourselves through your studies with the University of Buenos Aires.” Punishment with a horizon of hope “This,” he continues, “is a punishment with hope, a punishment with a horizon. Let me say once again: problems are there and will be there, but the horizon is bigger than the problems. Hope goes beyond all problems.” The Holy Father also thanked the founders, directors, faculty and staff of the Ezeiza university centre, and asked the students to remember him in their prayers. Below, the full video in the original Spanish   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Liturgical reform is irreversible

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 20:40
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis gave an important address on the liturgical reform on Thursday, speaking to participants of the 68 th Italian National Liturgical Week. The liturgical reform, he said, did not “flourish suddenly,” but was the result of a long preparation. It was brought to maturity by the Second Vatican Council with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium , “whose lines of general reform respond to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; it desired a living liturgy for a Church completely vivified by the mysteries celebrated.” The direction marked out by the Council, the Pope continued, found expression in the revised liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI. But “it is not enough to reform the liturgical books; the mentality of the people must be reformed as well.” The reformation of the liturgical books was the first step in a process, he said, “that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise implementation” on the part first of the ordained ministers, but also of the other ministers, and indeed, of all who take part in the liturgy. Today, Pope Francis said, “there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it.” He said that this is not a question “of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons [for it]… [and] of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.” The Supreme Pontiff insisted, “After this magisterial, and after this long journey, we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” Reflecting on the theme of this year’s Liturgy Week – “A living Liturgy for a living Church” – Pope Francis dwelt on three points: 1)The liturgy is “living” in virtue of the living presence of Christ; Christ is at the heart of the liturgical action. 2)The liturgy is life through the whole people of God. By its nature, the liturgy is “popular” rather than clerical; it is an action for the people, but also by the people. 3) The liturgy is life, and not an idea to be understood. It brings us to live an initiatory experience, a transformative experience that changes how we think and act; it is not simply a means of enriching our own set of ideas about God. The Church, Pope Francis said, “is truly living if, forming one single living being with Christ, it is a bearer of life, it is maternal, it is missionary, going out to encounter the neighbour, careful to serve without pursuing worldly powers that render it sterile.” The Holy Father concluded his reflection by noting that the Church in prayer, insofar as it is catholic, “goes beyond the Roman Rite” which, although it is the largest, is by no means the only Rite within the Church. “The harmony of the ritual traditions, of the East and of the West,” by means of the same Spirit, gives voice to the one only Church  praying through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, to the glory of the Father, and for the salvation of the world.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Card Parolin meets with Russian President Putin

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 14:00
(Vatican Radio) Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin yesterday met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the presidential residence in Sochi. According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office the meeting lasted for about an hour and was held in a positive, friendly, and respectful atmosphere with an open exchange of views on various themes including international and bilateral relations. At the end of the talks, the Secretary of State gave President Putin a bronze representation of an olive branch, a symbol of peace. The Russian President returned the gesture with the gift of a collection of coins dedicated to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Cardinal Parolin was expected to celebrate a private Mass this morning at the Nunciature in Moscow before returning to Rome.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays for Ischia quake victims

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 19:06
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis during his General Audience on Wednesday expressed his closeness to those affected by a magnitude 4.0 earthquake that hit the IItalian island of Ischia on Monday night. At least two people were killed and three young children, including a 7 month old baby were pulled from the rubble by firefighters. One of the victims was an elderly woman who was in a church that crumbled in the disaster. Dozens of people were injured when the quake struck and around 2,600 people were left homeless. The Holy Father prayed for the dead, and injured. He also prayed for their families, and all those who lost their homes. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Audience: Christian hope is God's heavenly welcome

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 19:03
(Vatican Radio) During his General Audience on Wednesday the Pope continued his catechesis on Christian hope reflecting on the hope contained in our ultimate destination, the heavenly Kingdom of God. Listen to our report: Pope Francis explained that on life’s pilgrimage “we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey. “ He went on to say that, even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering, such as people haunted by violence and war, there is still “a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.” He noted in particular the recent attacks in Barcelona, and sad news coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo that made headline news. Among those present in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday were many English speaking pilgrims. The Holy Father had a special greeting pilgrims from the Cardjin Community International on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis General Audience: English summary

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 16:19
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience in the Paul VI Hall. Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue to explore the virtue of Christian hope, we discover in the final pages of the Bible that the ultimate destination of our Christian pilgrimage will be the heavenly Jerusalem.  And on this pilgrimage we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey.  Even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering – think of the fearful faces of those haunted by violence and war – still there is a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a very different future.  We believe that neither death nor hatred have the last word, for we Christians see, with great hope, a larger horizon: the Kingdom of God, where all evil is banished forever.  It is Jesus himself who is the light of this new future, and who even now accompanies us on our way.  Creation did not stop on the sixth day of Genesis, because God is continually looking after us, always ready to pronounce his blessing: “Behold, I make all things new! (Rev 21:5)”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican, Russia agree visa-free diplomatic travel, need for dialogue in Venezuela

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 21:09
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov for talks on Tuesday, during which they discussed issues of international concern and agreed to visa-free diplomatic travel. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: During the press conference following their talks, the Holy See and the Russian Federation signed an Agreement waiving visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports. Cardinal Parolin and Foreign Minister Lavrov called this a sign of the two countries’ desire to continue to work together on bilateral relations and issues of international concern. Cardinal Parolin said he raised questions regarding the Catholic Church’s life and activity in Russia with his counterpart. He said difficulties remaining between the Vatican and Russia include “working residency permits for non-Russian personnel and the restitution of several churches necessary for the pastoral care of Catholics in the country.” Christians in Middle East Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov evoked the need for solutions for Christians living in the Middle East. “We need to find similar solutions that would provide proper balance between different ethnic and religious groups in Yemen, Libya, and Iraq, where state building processes are underway,” Mr. Lavrov said. Cardinal Parolin said he recognized the difference in approach between Russia and the Holy See on these issues. But he said the two share a “strong concern for the situation of Christians in several countries of the Middle East and the African continent”. “The Holy See nourishes constant concern that religious liberty be preserved in all States and in all political situations,” Cardinal Parolin said. Dialogue in Venezuela Responding to a question about the situation in Venezuela, Cardinal Parolin said he believes Russia can help to overcome this very difficult moment.” He said Russia can promote the Vatican’s efforts to create dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition. “This is the only solution the Holy See sees for an exit to this situation.” Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. (from Vatican Radio)...

Parolin describes meeting with Hilarion as 'very constructive'

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 01:33
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State on Monday described the tone of his two-hour meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion , chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow,  as “very constructive”. Cardinal Pietro Parolin is on a four-day visit to Russia during which he is scheduled to meet the Russian Patriarch Kirill and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday before holding talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday. The website of the Moscow Patriarchate showed a picture of Parolin clasping hands with Hilarion and holding talks in a room decorated with Orthodox icons. It said the two men discussed "key topics of bilateral relations... in the context of the current international situation." Answering journalists’ questions after the Monday meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State said that a good part of the conversation touched on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as well as on the Holy See's concern for the situation in Venezuela. The Russian news agency Tass highlighted the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See reportedly share the same position regarding “the need for a peaceful solution for the middle-eastern region and in particular for Syria” and that a return to normality in that country will be possible only after the total expulsion of IS militants from the occupied territories.” Cardinal Parolin reportedly noted that Christians are beginning to return to the areas that have been taken back from the so-called Islamic State, but said that notwithstanding some positive developments, the general situation remains very difficult, especially from a humanitarian point of view.     (from Vatican Radio)...

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