Pope Francis prays for success of Ordinariate’s Exploration Day

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has said he is praying for the success of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's forthcoming "Called To Be One" exploration day, which it has planned with the aim of increasing understanding of the Ordinariate's purpose and reaching out to those who may feel called to join it.

The endorsement was delivered in a letter from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, to Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate.

The full text of Archbishop Mennini's letter reads as follows: "At the request of the Secretariat of State, I have been asked to inform you that the Holy Father Francis, on learning of the national day of exploration entitled "Called to be One", organised by the various Groups of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and due to take place on Saturday 6 September 2014, wishes to convey his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring event. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion and presentation of the Catholic Faith and the Gospel in Great Britain".

The Ordinariate was set up by Pope Benedict in 2011 to make it possible for Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church to do so, bringing with them much of the heritage and traditions of Anglicanism. Pope Benedict described these as "treasures to be shared". On the exploration day, each of the 50 or so Ordinariate groups across the country will host a different event, with the common theme of the vision for Christian unity which is at the heart of the Ordinariate.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

A coin to commemorate Pope’s first Asian trip

(Vatican Radio) South Korea's central bank said Thursday it will release a set of commemorative coins to celebrate Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the country next month.

The Pope is scheduled to visit South Korea on Aug. 14-18, during which he will conduct four Masses, including one for the beatification of 124 Korean Catholic martyrs and another for a gathering of Catholic youths in Asia.

It is his first visit to Asia.

The Bank of Korea said it will issue 90,000 silver and brass coins to "spread the message of reconciliation and peace, the key purpose of the pope's visit."

The two coin designs have incorporated both Catholic symbols of peace and Korea's traditional symbols, it said.

The 30,000 silver coins, with a denomination of 50,000 won (US$48), will carry the "taegeuk" symbol, a hallmark of South Korea's national flag, with crosses and a dove bearing an olive branch.

A cross adorned with symbols like lily, olive branch, dove and rose of Sharon, the country's national flower, will be engraved on the 60,000 brass coins, with a denomination of 10,000 won.

A total of 81,000 coins will be available for sale in Korea via reservations at Woori and Nonghyup banks. The remaining volume will be sold to overseas collectors, according to the central bank. 

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim meets Pope Francis

(Vatican Radio) Meriam Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived Thursday in Italy and met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. During the meeting, she was accompanied by her family: Husband Daniel Wani,  Martin (a year and a half), and Maya, born in prison two months ago.

Her family was accompanied by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped negotiate and arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy. Pistelli spoke to Susy Hodges after the meeting with the Pope about the successful outcome of his government's mission. 

Listen to the full interview with Italian Vice Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli: 

The Minister spoke of his joy and satisfaction for all concerned about Meriam and her family's departure from Sudan and the meeting with Pope Francis.  Pistelli said during his talks with the Sudanese Foreign Ministry he was told that the Khartoum government was considering "a rethink" of their penal code and that the current law on apostasy could be "modified or deleted."  

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the meetingbetween the Pope and Meriam and her family  took place in a “very serene and affectionate”  environment, and Pope Francis thanked Meriam for her "courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith."

Fr. Lombardi said Meriam thanked the Pope for his prayers, saying they provided great support and encouragement.

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier welcomed Meriam and her family at Rome's Ciampino airport, calling it ``a day of celebration.''

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, since her father was a Muslim.  She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011. She was told if she accepted Islam she would be freed, but she told the court she would never apostatize from her Christian faith. Her death sentence was overturned in June, but she was then stopped at the airport and blocked from leaving the country by Sudanese officials who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Fr. Lombardi said Pope Francis met with Meriam’s family to show” his closeness, concern and prayers” for all those who suffer for their faith, and especially for Christians who suffer persecution or restrictions on their religious freedom.

Meriam and her family will settle in the United States.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis sends telegram of condolence for Taiwan air disaster victims

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to the families of victims of an air disaster in Taiwan.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed into houses on the Penghu island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday, authorities said. The plane was on a flight from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

Below the text of the papal telegram:

The Most Reverend John Hung Shan-chuan

Archbishop of Taipei


Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference

The Holy Father learned with sadness of the air accident near Magong Airport and he asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the assurance of his prayers for all affected by this tragedy. Upon all he invokes God’s blessings of consolation, strength and peace.

Cardinal Piero Parolin

Secretary of State

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Vatican rep to UN addresses rights situation in Palestine

(Vatican Radio) The Permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations organs in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, delivered a statement during a special session of the UN's Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Below, please find the full text of his remarks in English.


Statement by H.E. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Representative of the Holy See

to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation

in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem

Geneva, 23 July 2014



Mr. President,


As the number of people killed, wounded, uprooted from their homes, continues to increase in the conflict between Israel and some Palestinian groups, particularly in the Gaza Strip, the voice of reason seems submerged by the blast of arms. Violence will lead nowhere either now or in the future. The perpetration of injustices and the violation of human rights, especially the right to life and to live in peace and security, sow fresh seeds of hatred and resentment. A culture of violence is being consolidated, the fruits of which are destruction and death. In the long run, there can be no winners in the current tragedy, only more suffering.  Most of the victims are civilians, who by international humanitarian law, should be protected. The United Nations estimates that approximately seventy percent of Palestinians killed have been innocent civilians. This is just as intolerable as the rockets missiles directed indiscriminately toward civilian targets in Israel. Consciences are paralyzed by a climate of protracted violence, which seeks to impose solution through the annihilation of the other. Demonizing others, however, does not eliminate their rights. Instead, the way to the future, lies in recognizing our common humanity.

In his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis demanded that the present unacceptable situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be brought to an end.[1] “For the good of all,” he said, “there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security. The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”[2] The legitimate aspiration to security, on one side, and to decent living conditions, on the other, with access to the normal means of existence like medicines, water and jobs, for example, reflects a fundamental human right, without which peace is very difficult to preserve.

The worsening situation in Gaza is an incessant reminder of the necessity to arrive at a cease-fire immediately and to start negotiating a lasting peace. “Peace will bring countless benefits for the peoples of this region and for the world as a whole,” adds Pope Francis, “and so it must resolutely be pursued, even if each side has to make certain sacrifices.” It becomes a responsibility of the international community to engage in earnest in the pursuit of peace and to help the parties in this horrible conflict reach some understanding in order to stop the violence and look to the future with mutual trust.

Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Holy See reiterates its view that violence never pays. Violence will only lead to more suffering, devastation and death, and will prevent peace from becoming a reality. The strategy of violence can be contagious and become uncontrollable. To combat violence and its detrimental consequences we must avoid becoming accustomed to killing. At a time where brutality is common and human rights violations are ubiquitous, we must not become indifferent but respond positively in order to attenuate the conflict which concerns us all.

The media should report in a fair and unbiased manner the tragedy of all who are suffering because of the conflict, in order to facilitate the development of an impartial dialogue that acknowledges the rights of everyone, respects the just concerns of the international community, and benefits from the solidarity of the international community in supporting a serious effort to attain peace. With an eye to the future, the vicious circle of retribution and retaliation must cease. With violence, men and women will continue to live as enemies and adversaries, but with peace they can live as brothers and sisters.[3]

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] Address of Pope Francis in Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Words of Pope Francis, Vatican Gardens,  8 June 2014.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Cardinal Filoni sends a message to the bishops of AMECEA


Dear Brothers and sisters in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,

On behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I greet all of you, members of Association of Member Episcopal Conference in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), with the peace and joy of Our Lord. The growth and achievements of the Church in your jurisdiction are largely due to the heroic and selfless dedication of the many generations of missionaries, who came there in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Mt 28:19-20).

It is within this missionary spirit that I would like to invite you, members of this Conference, to reflect on the teachings of Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”, the document which programmatically presents his Ecclesiastical vision, that of promoting a Church which goes forth, an eminently Missionary attitude. Also in our days, Jesus continues to command us to “go and make disciples”. Everyone is highly encouraged to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. The Holy Father insists that “each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG 20).

The AMECEA, inspired by its vision, “Holy Spirit-filled family of God”, must continue to preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel, as the Holy Father teaches, is for all people, no one is excluded (EG 23).

I would like to call your attention to the forthcoming Synod in Rome in which the Holy Father has asked us, through prayers and reflection, to discover the fundamental Christian values of the Family. This Missionary Dicastery will continue to support you in your efforts to strengthen and enrich those to whom marriage and family life have been entrusted. The Second Vatican Council in its solicitude for the family reminds us: “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children…” (Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11).

Dear Brother Bishops, as the first agents of the New Evangelization in the midst of the challenges that now face us, allow me to take this opportunity as well to thank each of you for the pastoral, apostolic, and social activities that you have undertaken in order to build up the Church in this Region, making every Effort to assure that she is a real and effective instrument of salvation for the people who benefit from her services, and salt and light to the African continent.

Even as we talk of greater zeal for evangelization, we should not forget that there are countries in the Region that are still suffering from conflicts and wars which hinder missionary activities and the promotion of human development. My heart goes out to them with special sentiment and prayer, asking the Risen Lord that peace, justice, understanding and fraternal communion may reign. Continue to be instruments of peace in communion and mission.

Finally, I entrust the Catholic community under the care of AMECEA to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Missions and Queen of Evangelization. I pray that she may obtain for you the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your missio ad gentes for the good of the Church.

Fernando Cardinal FILONI, the Prefect

Archbishop Savio HON TAI FAI, the Secretary

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis calls Patriarch in solidarity with Iraqi Christians

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief.  Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years;  there are few, if any, left now in Mosul. 

The Patriarch told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR (Religious Information Service), that Pope Francis called him Sunday 20 July to express his solidarity with Iraqi Christians.  During the 9 minute phone call, the Patriarch thanked the Pope and asked him to intensify his efforts to engage world leaders, putting them face to face with the facts on the ground: that in the province of Nineveh a massive religious “cleansing” campaign is underway to rid the region of those who do not share the beliefs of the new occupiers.

At the end of the call, Pope Francis bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon all the eastern Christians with the assurance that he “will always keep them in his prayers for peace and security.”  At his traditional Angelus blessing also on Sunday, the Pope offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who `'are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything'' with them” and called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts.

Just recently, Patriarch Younan had denounced an arson attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) militants on the Episcopal headquarters of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Mosul.


(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Telegram for the aviation accident in Magong

Vatican City, 24 July 2014 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis to the archbishop of Taipei and president of the regional Conference of bishops of China, John Huong Shan-chuan, with reference to the accident that occurred at Magong airport, Taiwan, in which a TransAsia Airways aircraft had to make an emergency landing, resulting in 48 deaths and leaving 10 injured.

In the text, the Holy Father expresses his sadness for the accident, as well as his closeness to the relatives of the victims, and assures them of his prayers for all those affected by the tragedy, asking God to grant them consolation, strength and peace.

Pope’s friendship with late Evangelical leader Tony Palmer

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity has sent a message of condolences following the sudden death of an Evangelical leader with whom Pope Francis became friends during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bishop Tony Palmer, the international ecumenical officer of the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches and founder of the online Ark Community, died on Sunday following a motorbike accident near his home in the south of England.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:

In the message to his widow, Council President Cardinal Kurt Koch says Bishop Palmer’s meetings with Pope Francis over recent months “have given great impetus to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians.” His strong faith and his passion for unity, the Cardinal says, “reached a global audience of Christians with the message that there is no time to be wasted in division, the time for unity is now.”

During one of his visits to the Vatican in February this year, Bishop Palmer recorded an iphone message that Pope Francis wished to send to a Pentecostal group meeting in the United States. In that off-the-cuff video message, the Pope speaks frankly of his longing for unity and reconciliation, saying that all Christians share the blame for the sins of division.

Mgr Juan Usma Gomez heads the Pontifical Council desk for relations with Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Charismatic groups. He talked to us about the significant impact that Bishop Palmer’s friendship with Pope Francis has had on the worldwide ecumenical movement, saying that they first met in Argentina when Tony Palmer was part of a delegation of Pentecostals and Evangelicals that was holding talks with the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires....."when Tony Palmer was ordained bishop in the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches, they received greetings from the then archbishop Bergoglio...."

Mgr Usma Gomez says Pope Francis teaches us that "to work for Christian unity you need brotherhood....and you realise that all the friends he had in Argentina continue to be his friends.......he's trying to build up not only relations of friendship but also relations of churches trying to look for the promotion of Christian unity..."

He says that the iphone message recorded by Bishop Palmer for the Pentecostal community "opened a door because it reached a really significant number of people...it's an adventure that Pope Francis is asking us to establish.....he started it, he's way ahead of us and we're trying to follow this pattern!"

(From archive of Vatican Radio)

Preparations for November Congress of Lay Ecclesial Movements, new communities

(Vatican Radio) Preparations are underway for the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities to be held in Rome from 20 to 22 November 2014.   The Congress, whose theme will be “The joy of the Gospel: a missionary joy…” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 21), is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and will be held at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae.  The Council for the Laity has invited members of large, officially recognized international associations and others involved “in ongoing dialogue” with the Dicastery to participate.

Under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, previous editions of the World Congress (1998 and 2006) brought together ecclesial movements and new communities to discuss issues such as the identity and mission of associations of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that the November Congress “will encourage the joyous adherence of ecclesial movements and new communities to answering the pressing invitation of the pope to enter into a ‘dynamism of missionary outreach’”.

Delegates from more than eighty ecclesial movements and new communities are expected to attend as well as a number of bishops coming from dioceses and Holy See offices.

Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, explains that the character of the meeting will be that of mutual listening, sharing and dialogue. The gathering will not be a special academic meeting where speakers demonstrate their knowledge to an audience, but rather a meeting where the reflections and experiences of the participants will be the core of the event.

For more information from the Pontifical Council for the Laity website click here

(From archive of Vatican Radio)