(Vatican Radio) A two day conference marking the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel opened on Thursday in Rome.
The event organised by the Vatican Museums is entitled “The Sistine Chapel 20 years later: New breath, new light.”
The conference will examine the current state of frescoes, as well as new methods being taken to protect the priceless artistic treasure.
On Wednesday evening in the Sistine Chapel the world’s media was invited to view the new lighting and air systems that have been installed, in order show the frescos off to their best advantage and protect the Chapel against humidity.
Lydia O'Kane was in the Sistine Chapel to see the result and spoke to Michel Grabon, Director of AdvanTE3C SC, Carrier HVAC Europe. Listen
According to the Director of the Vatican Museums the new lighting system is meant to provide a gentle but total illumination to the frescos but at the same time is non-invasive thus respecting the stylistic and historic reality of the Sistine Chapel.
The US-based company CARRIER has provided a state-of-the-art heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for the Chapel, specially designed to address the challenges of protecting Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration.
“…the system was extremely advanced, advanced in the sense that we have applied very very advanced technology, we have invented some of the technology to be able to fulfill very very complex requirements”, said Michel Grabon, Director of AdvanTE3C SC, Carrier HVAC Europe, who was in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday evening and who worked on the project.
He went on to stress the importance on maintaining stable operating conditions inside the Chapel. “You can have 100 people, 2000 people inside, you know in a few minutes it can change, so it is extremely important to be able to respond to the change of the load in a very very quick time.”
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican and the Italian Ministry of Defense on Wednesday afternoon signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a plan of cooperation to enhance the values of sports as a “cultural and educational phenomenon.”
The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and the Italian Defense Minister, Roberta Pinotti, signed the agreement at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See.
The agreement recognizes the value of sports for civil society, in terms of health, integration of young people from different cultural and geographic backgrounds, and social inclusion.
"The defense world has always had strong bonds with the sports world," said Minister Pinotti, noting the role played by military athletes in promoting the growth of sport in Italy in general. She also mentioned the role played by the military in establishing sports for those with disabilities.
The agreement calls on the Defense Ministry and the Pontifical Council for Culture to collaborate in the use of facilities and personnel for joint initiatives aimed at promoting and preserving the true nature of sport, which focuses on the value of the human person.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011. The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009.
The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received from Nicolas Ollivant, the chairman of the Friends of the Ordinariate, a charity set up to support the Ordinariate's work.
Mr. Ollivant’s letter also included information on the Ordinariate's central church in London, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, on Warwick Street. It is the site of the former chapel to the Bavarian embassy to England, which greatly pleased the Pope Emeritus.
The full text of the letter (translated into English on the Ordinariate’s website) is below
Since I know that you read the German language without difficulty, I may answer your friendly letter of 1 September in my mother tongue, since my English would not quite suffice to do so.
Your thanks for the establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has greatly moved me, and I ask you to convey my thanks to all its members. Naturally, I am particularly glad that the former Bavarian Chapel has now become your Ordinariate's church, and serves such an important role in the whole Church of God. It has been a long time since I have heard news of this holy place, and it was therefore with all the more interest and gratitude that I read the description with which you accompanied your letter.
Once more, many thanks, and may God bless you all.
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has told the United Nations that the right to life is at the foundation of human rights.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, was speaking on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly Committee Meeting on Human Rights in New York.
“The right to life as enshrined in natural law and protected by international human rights laws lies at the foundation of all human rights,” he said. “The Holy See reaffirms that all life must be fully protected in all its stages from conception until natural death.”
Archbishop Auza added with the right to life, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion continues to face serious challenges around the world.
“In some regions, violations against religious freedom have multiplied and intensified in their brutality, in particular against religious minorities,” he said. “My delegation insists that these ruthless violations must not only be seen as violence against ethnic and religious minorities, but first and foremost must be condemned as blatant violations of fundamental human rights, and must be dealt with accordingly.”
The full text of Archbishop Auza’s remarks are below:
Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Third Committee, Agenda Item 68 (b and c): Human Rights
New York, 29 October 2014
I would like to thank the various Special Rapporteurs and Special Mandate holders for their reports and work during the past year. Today’s discussion brings to light a great number of serious challenges to human rights around the world, and reminds us of the need to rebuild trust in the human rights system in upholding fundamental human rights.
The right to life as enshrined in natural law and protected by international human rights laws lies at the foundation of all human rights. The Holy See reaffirms that all life must be fully protected in all its stages from conception until natural death.
In this regard, my delegation welcomes the reduction in the last two years of the recourse to the death penalty around the globe. As Pope Francis affirmed before representatives of the Association of International Penal Law, received in the Vatican last October 23, “it is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggression." The Pope also recommends the abolition of life imprisonment, which he defines as “a hidden death penalty” because, like the death penalty, it excludes all possibilities of redemption and recuperation. He warned against “penal populism” that privileges punishment to solve society’s ills, rather than a more rigorous pursuit of social justice and preventative measures. This is especially important when it comes to juvenile delinquency and crimes committed by the elderly. Pope Francis called on all people of goodwill to struggle also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of prisoners, so many of whom, in so many countries of the world, have been detained for long periods without trial.
Along with the right to life, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion continues to face serious challenges around the world. In some regions, violations against religious freedom have multiplied and intensified in their brutality, in particular against religious minorities. My delegation insists that these ruthless violations must not only be seen as violence against ethnic and religious minorities, but first and foremost must be condemned as blatant violations of fundamental human rights, and must be dealt with accordingly.
In other parts of the world, religious freedom faces legal barriers put by public authorities and experiences condescending if not outright discriminatory behavior of some in society. Some authorities seek to restrict religious observance to the private realm and impose legal obligations that conflict with personal conscience and religious beliefs. Given this misconstrued understanding of religious freedom and similar misconceptions still existing today, my delegation wishes to note that the struggle for religious freedom was at the origins of certain nations. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is an inalienable fundamental human right; thus, it has always been and will always be at the core of the struggle for the recognition and free exercise of fundamental human rights.
In this context, my delegation welcomes the Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief (A/69/261), which, inter alia, identifies measures of “reasonable accommodation” to overcome discrimination and violation of this fundamental human right in the workplace. Indeed, a world that truly respects religious freedom must move beyond mere toleration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights instruments explicitly affirm that the right to freedom of religion or belief includes the right of all to practice their faith alone or in community, in public or private, and the right to change his or her religion or belief.
In order to address these challenges, we must strengthen the international human rights system. My delegation hopes that the resolution on Strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system (A/RES/68/268) translates into meaningful reform towards greater observance of treaties (Pacta sunt servanda) and their faithful and objective, not political or ideological, monitoring.
With lessons learned from our failure to stop massive violations of fundamental human rights – including and most especially religious freedom- and of international humanitarian law, the time is for courageous decisions. My delegation looks forward to working with all delegations during this session to reinvigorate respect and appreciation for fundamental human rights around the world.
(Vatican Radio) In greeting Spanish speaking pilgrims at the general Audience Wednesday, Pope Francs spoke of the 43 Mexican students who disappeared on September 26 in Iguala, in the Southern State of Guerrero, and were burned alive by drug traffickers.
The Pope said : "I would like to raise a prayer and draw close in our hearts to the people of Mexico, who are suffering from the loss of these students and many similar problems. May our hearts be close to them, in prayer at this time".
The Archdiocese of Mexico City has issued a statement in response to the disappearance of 43 trainee teachers. An editorial published in the archdiocesan newspaper Desde la Fe reads: “The evil that Mexico suffers is a true decomposition of the social fabric, an evil from which no sector of the country escapes”.
“The seriousness of the crisis demands a deep replanting of our morals, our laws and the social and political organization of our homeland”.
“It is necessary to reconstruct the country. It is urgent that there be a commitment from all sectors of society to combat the immorality, impunity, corruption and cynicism that has our nation on its knees and covered in shame. The political class has showed itself to be unworthy and their parties have shown themselves to be totally incompetent for such a large task”.
Catholic News Service reports that the trainee teachers went missing on September 26 in Iguala, 120 miles south of Mexico City. Classmates and authorities said the students went to collect money for a trip to the capital, but were pulled over, shot at by police, detained and turned over to a criminal group known as Guerrero Unidos.
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said the attack was ordered by Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, in order to prevent the students from protesting an event organized by Pineda.
Authorities said organised crime paid the mayor of Iguala and his wife — whose whereabouts remain unknown — more than $200,000 per month and plied the police with more money. Political observers say the collusion is unsurprising and increasing in some places as politicians on the local level are often unaccountable and feel free to act with impunity and without oversight.
(Vatican Radio) At his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis once again spoke of his concern for those affected by Ebola. “In the face of the worsening Ebola epidemic, I wish to express my deep concern about this relentless disease that is spreading especially in the African continent, above all among the most disadvantaged population.”
The Holy Father expressed his closeness to all those suffering from Ebola, “as well as to the doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious institutes and associations, who are working heroically to help our brothers and sisters who are sick,” and assured them of his affection and prayers.
Pope Francis renewed his appeal “that the international community will make all necessary efforts to eradicate this virus, effectively relieving the hardships and sufferings of those who are so sorely tried,” and invited everyone “to pray for them and for those who have lost their lives.”
(Vatican Radio) “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”.
This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ general audience Wednesday, which he dedicated to the relationship between the visible and spiritual reality of the Church.
Listen to the report by Emer McCarthy:
The Pope observed that the Church represents the Body of Jesus, and that its visible dimension- that is the structures and people who make up the Church – are at the service of its spiritual reality, witnessing to God’s love for all mankind.
He underlined that the Church visible is not just the priests, bishops or Popes. It is made up of Baptized men and women all over the world who carry out immeasurable acts of love. Families who are firm in the faith, parents who give their all to transmit the faith to their children, the sick who offer their suffering to the Lord.
Pope Francis noted that often as a Church we experience our fragility and our limitations, which rightly provoke profound displeasure, especially when we give bad example and become a source of scandal, “because people go by our witness” as Christians.
“Through her Sacraments and her witness to Christ in our world, the Church seeks to proclaim and bring God’s merciful love to all, particularly the poor and those in need”.
Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis [Original text: Italian]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
in the previous catechesis we highlighted how the Church is spiritual in nature: it is the Body of Christ, built in the Holy Spirit. When we refer to the Church, however, our thoughts turn immediately to our communities, our parishes, our diocese, to the structures in which we usually gather together and, of course, of the component and institutional figures which guide and govern it. This is the visible reality of the Church. We must ask, then: Are they two different things or the One Church? And, if it is the One Church, how can we understand the relationship between its visible and spiritual reality?
1. First, when we speak of the visible reality of the Church we said there are two- the visible reality which we see and the spiritual one - we must not think only of the Pope, Bishops, priests and consecrated persons. The visible reality of the Church is made up of the many baptized brothers and sisters around the world who believe, hope and love. [Moving from the prepared text] “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”.
Of all those who follow the Lord Jesus and, in His name, are close to the poor and the suffering, trying to offer some relief, comfort and peace. [Moving from the prepared text ] “All of those who do these things, which the Lord sent us to do are the Church”. Thus we understand that the visible reality of the Church cannot be measured, it cannot be known in all its fullness: how can one know of all the good that is done? [Moving from the prepared text ] “So many acts of love, so much faithfulness in families, so much work in educating children, to carry on, to transmit the faith, so much suffering in the sick who offer their suffering to the Lord. We cannot measure this! It is so great, so great!” How can one know of all the wonderful things that, through us, Christ is able to operate in the hearts and lives of each person? You see: the reality of the visible Church goes beyond our control, beyond our strength, and it is a mysterious reality because it comes from God.
2. To understand the relationship, in the Church, between her visible and spiritual reality, there is no other way but to look to Christ, whose Body is the Church and from which the Church is generated, in an act of infinite love . Even in Christ, in fact, through the mystery of the Incarnation, we recognize a human nature and a divine nature, united in the same person in a wonderful and indissoluble way. This applies in a similar manner to the Church. Just as in Christ, human nature serves the divine in accordance with the fulfillment of Salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible reality serve the spiritual reality of the Church. The Church, therefore, is also a mystery, in which what is not seen is more important than what is seen, and can only be recognized with the eyes of faith (cf. Const. Dogmatic Constitution. On the Church Lumen Gentium, 8).
3. In the case of the Church, however, we must ask ourselves: How can the visible reality can be at the service of the spiritual? Again, we can understand it by looking to Christ. [Moving from the prepared text ] “But Christ is the model and the Church is His Body, He is the model for all Christians, all of us! Look to Christ, you can’t go wrong!”. The Gospel of Luke tells how Jesus came to Nazareth, where he grew up, went into the synagogue and read, referring to himself, the passage from the prophet Isaiah where it is written:"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free "(4,18-19). Look, how Christ used his humanity – because he was also a man - to announce and carry out God's plan of Redemption and Salvation, so it must be for the Church. Through its visible reality – everything we see - , the Sacraments and testimony – of all of us Christians - it is called every day to draw closer to every person, starting with the poor, those who suffer and those who are marginalized, in order to continue to help all feel the compassionate and merciful gaze of Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, often as a Church we experience our fragility and our limitations, all of us, we all have them. We are all sinners, no one can say I am not a sinner. And this fragility, these limitations, these our sins, it is right that these should provoke in us a profound displeasure, especially when we give bad example and we realize we are becoming a source of scandal. How often have we heard, in our neighborhoods: “That person there is always in Church but gossips about everyone, denigrates others – what a bad example! This is not Christian! This is a bad example. So people say: ‘If this is a Christian, I prefer to be an atheist! Because people go by our witness”.
Then, let us ask for the gift of faith, so that we can understand how, despite our smallness and our poverty, the Lord has really made us means of grace and a visible sign of His love for all mankind. Yes, we can become a source of scandal but we can also be a source of hope through our lives our witness, just as Jesus wants! Thank you.
Below the English language summary of the catechesis.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Church, we have seen that the Church is a spiritual reality, the mystical Body of Christ. Yet we know that the Church is also a visible reality, expressed in our parishes and communities, and in her institutional structures. This visible reality is itself mysterious, for it embraces the countless and often hidden works of charity carried out by believers throughout the world. To understand the relationship between the visible and the spiritual dimensions of Christ’s Body, the Church, we need to look to Jesus himself, both God and man. Just as Christ’s humanity serves his divine mission of salvation, so too, with the eyes of faith, we can understand how the Church’s visible dimension is at the service of her deepest spiritual reality. Through her sacraments and her witness to Christ in our world, the Church seeks to proclaim and bring God’s merciful love to all, particularly the poor and those in need. Let us ask the Lord to enable us to grow in holiness and to be an ever more visible sign of his love for all mankind.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the various groups from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Nigeria, India, Canada and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements which is holding a conference here in Rome to discuss problems facing the poor, the unemployed and those who’ve lost their land. The group chose to hold their three-day conference here because of Pope Francis’ particular attention to the struggles of the poor.
Listen to our report:
“This meeting of Popular Movements is a sign, a great sign,” Pope Francis told his audience. “You came to be in the presence of God, of the church… [to speak about] a reality that is often silenced. The poor not only suffer from injustice, but they also fight against it.”
The Holy Father also emphasized that it is not sufficient to be content with “illusory promises,” and that anesthetizing or taming problems at hand does not solve them. He called for solidarity amidst trying times. “Solidarity is a word that…means more than some generous, sporadic acts. It is to think and act in terms of the community…It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, unemployment, and [loss of] land, housing, and social and labour rights. It is to confront the destructive effects of the ‘Empire of Money:’ forcible displacements and migrations, human and drug trafficking, war, violence, and all of these realities that many of you suffer and that we all are called to address and transform. Solidarity, understood in its most profound sense, is a way of making history, and that is what the Popular Movements movement is doing,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke about the monopolization of land, deforestation, appropriation of water, and inadequate agrochemicals, which have deprived many farmers of sufficient land. He pointed out that in rural communities, land is ingrained in lifestyle and culture. For these afflicted farmers, separation from land is not purely physical, it is also “existential and spiritual,” he said. Additionally, the Pope said the need for agricultural reform is ingrained in the Church’s social doctrine. “Please,” he urged, “continue to fight for the dignity of rural families, for water, for life and for all that can benefit from the fruits of land.”
Also on the agenda were the problems of housing and employment. Insisting that every family has a right to a home, the Pope said, “Today there are many families without housing, either because they never had it or because they lost it for various reasons.” The Holy Father stressed that this was unacceptable; that in neighbourhoods families grow and plant their foundations. It is a shame, he said, that in large cities there is an abundance of neglect in regards to housing “millions of our brothers and neighbours, including children.”
The Pope went on to renounce the use of euphemisms to soften the harsh realities that plague society today. Specifically, he referred to the use of the term, “street situation,” which is used to describe the homeless. “We live in cities that build towers, malls, and businesses, but abandon the parts where the marginalized reside – the peripheries.”
Lastly, the Pope spoke about the growing problem of unemployment in Europe and around the world. “Today, the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression has taken on a new dimension,” he said. “The centre of our whole social and economic system needs to be about the person, the image of God, created for the universe.” Instead, we live in a world that is largely infatuated with the attainment of wealth, and that the economy is prioritized over the human person. He pointed out that the unemployment of the youth in Italy has reached 40%; and that in some parts of Europe, that number is even higher. “We need to change this,” he said. “We need to return to making human dignity the centre [of society]… and we need to create the alternative societal structures that we need.”
“I want to unite my voice with yours in this fight,” Pope Francis said to the group. “I know that among you are persons of different religions, professions, ideas, cultures, and continents. We are practicing here a culture of meeting that is removed from xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance that we so often see.”
(Vatican Radio) In a private meeting with leaders of the inter-denominational Ark Community, Pope Francis said Christians should not wait for theologians to reach agreement, but should walk, pray and work together now. His words came during an October 10th encounter at the Casa Santa Marta with members of the community founded by Evangelical leader Tony Palmer who was killed in a road accident last July. Palmer became friends with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio when he worked in Buenos Aires as international ecumenical officer of the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches, a growing movement of charismatic and evangelical Christians seeking reconciliation between their divided communities.
Philippa Hitchen reports:
In an i-phone recording of the meeting, published on the Ark Community website, Pope Francis thanks Palmer’s widow and the new leader of the community, Archbishop Robert Wise, for carrying forward the dream of walking together in communion. “We are sinning against Christ’s will” the Pope says, “because we continue to focus on our differences,” but “our shared baptism is more important than our differences.”
While the devil, the “father of lies” divides us, the Pope continues, we are called to preach the Gospel in every corner of the earth, with the certainty that He is with us. “We each have in our Churches excellent theologians,” the Pope says, “but we shouldn’t wait for them to reach agreement.”
The Pope goes on to talk about spiritual ecumenism where Christians are being persecuted and killed in the Middle East, Africa or elsewhere, not because they are Pentecostal, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic or Orthodox but “because they believe in Jesus Christ.” He mentions also a Catholic priest and a Lutheran pastor who were killed on the same day by the Nazis for teaching the Catechism to children.
The Pope concludes his off-the-cuff remarks by recalling the vision of Tony Palmer to achieve his desire of walking together “so we can eat together at the banquet of the Lord.”
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday exhorted Christians to feel they are an integral part of the Church. Speaking during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta, the Pope said that Jesus does not seek out man’s sins, but looks to his heart, and he invited all believers not to hover on the threshold of the Church, but to come right in.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Jesus did the “work” 2000 years ago when he chose twelve pillars upon which to build His Church, and positioned himself as the basis and the corner stone.
Jesus, Pope Francis said, opened the doors of that Church to all, without distinction, because Christ is interested in loving and in healing the hearts of men, not in weighing up their sins.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day that tells of the birth of the Church “built upon the foundation of the Apostles with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone” through whom the whole structure is held together, the Pope recalled the “actions” carried out by Jesus when he founded the Church: retiring in prayer, choosing his disciples and simultaneously welcoming and healing the crowd:
“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church. As St Paul says, this Church is built on the foundations of the Apostles; he chose twelve of them. All of them sinners. Judas was not the one who sinned the most: I don’t know who sinned the most… Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But He chose”.
Jesus – Pope Francis said – wants us “inside” the Church. Not like guests or strangers, but with the “rights of a citizen”. We are not just passing through – he continued – it is where we have our roots. It is where our life is:
“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not Church. We are on the threshold and look inside: “How lovely… yes this is beautiful…” Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door…’ Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic…”
This is an attitude that has no sense in respect to the total love and mercy that Jesus has for every person. Proof of this is in Christ’s attitude towards Peter, who had been put at the head of the Church. Even though the first pillar was to betrays Jesus, Jesus responds with forgiveness, keeping it in its place:
“For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at his heart. To be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed. Jesus who prays and Jesus who heals. It is something he does for each of us. We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals. May the Holy Spirit help us understand that this Church has its strength in Jesus’s prayer that can heal us all”.