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Friday, September 18, 2015

Pope's video message for Cuba: I will be among you as a missionary of mercy

Vatican City, 18 September 2015 (VIS) – In view of his imminent trip to Cuba, the Pope has sent a message to the country, to be broadcast on television at 8.30 p.m. local time (2.30 in Rome), the full text of which is reproduced below:

“There are only a few days remaining before my trip to Cuba. For this reason, I wish to send a fraternal greeting before we meet in person. I will visit you to share faith and hope, so that we can strengthen each other in following Jesus. It is very good for me and of great help to me to think of your faithfulness to the Lord, of the spirit in which you face everyday difficulties, of the love with which you help and support each other on the path of life. Thank you for this very valuable witness.

For my part, I wish to convey a very simple message, but one that I think is important and necessary. Jesus loves you very much. Jesus loves you truly. And He always carries you in His heart; He knows better than anyone what each person needs, what he yearns for, his deepest desire; He knows our heart. He never abandons anyone; when we do not behave as He would hope, He is always ready to welcome us, to console us, to give us new hope, a new chance, a new life. He is always there.

I know that you are preparing for this visit with a prayer. I thank you infinitely. We need to pray, we need prayer, this contact with Jesus and Mary. And it gives me great joy to know that, following the advice of my brother bishops of Cuba, you are repeating several times a day the prayer we learned as children. Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours. It is beautiful to have a heart like Jesus', so as to know how to love like Him, to forgive, to give hope and to accompany.

I wish to be among you as a missionary of God's mercy and tenderness, but allow me to encourage you too to be missionaries of God's infinite love. May no-one lack the witness of our faith and our love. May all the world know that God always forgives, that God always stays by our side, that God loves us.

I will go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Cobre as a pilgrim, as a child who looks forward to arriving at his mother's house. To her I entrust this trip and also all Cubans. And please, I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin care for you. Thank you”.

The Pope praises the work of the Vatican Observatory

Vatican City, 18 September 2015 (VIS) – The Vatican Observatory is holding an international symposium to celebrate the eightieth anniversary of its transfer to Castel Gandolfo at the behest of Pope Pius XI, who decided upon the move since the lights of the city of Rome made it impossible for astronomers to study the less bright stars. The observatory is one of the oldest in the world, established in the second half of the sixteenth century when Gregory XIII erected in the Vatican the Tower of the Winds and invited the the Jesuits, astronomers and mathematicians of the Roman College to prepare the reform of the calendar promulgated in 1582.

Today the Pope received in audience the participants in this meeting, affirming that “the universe is more than a scientific problem to be solved: it is a joyful mystery that we contemplate with wonder and praise”. He added, “St. Ignatius of Loyola understood this language well. He himself said that his greatest consolation was to look at the sky and the stars, as when he did so he felt a great desire to serve the Lord”.

Francis recalled that throughout the years the astronomers of the Observatory have undertaken paths of research, creative paths following in the wake of the astronomers and Jesuits of the Roman College, from Fr. Christoph Clavius (celebrated for his contribution to the creation of the Gregorian calendar) to Fr. Angelo Secchi (pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy), by way of Fr. Matteo Ricci and many others.

“On this anniversary, I wish to recall Benedict XVI's address to the Fathers of the last General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, in which he remarked that the Church urgently needed consecrated persons to dedicate their lives to the frontier between faith and human knowledge, between faith and modern science. … In the context of interreligious dialogue, more urgent today than ever before, scientific research into the universe can offer a unique perspective, shared by believers and non-believers alike, to help achieve a better religious understanding of creation. In this respect the Schools of Astrophysics that the Observatory has organised in the last thirty years represent a valuable opportunity for young astronomers throughout the world to engage in dialogue and to collaborate in the search for truth”.

Francis also mentioned that during the symposium the members of the Observatory discussed the importance of communicating that the Church and her pastors embrace, encourage and promote genuine science. “It is very important that you share the gift of your scientific knowledge of the universe with the people, freely giving what you have freely received”, he said.

“In the spirit of gratitude to the Lord for the witness of science and faith that the members of the Observatory have given in these decades, I encourage you to continue on your path … with those who share the enthusiasm and effort of the exploration of the universe”, he concluded.

The Apostolic Almoner assists refugees

Vatican City, 18 September 2015 (VIS) – According to a press release issued today by the Apostolic Almoner, the parish community of St. Anna in the Vatican has received a family of refugees, consisting of a father, mother and two children. They are Syrian, Christians of Catholic Greek-Melkite rite, and fled from their war-torn home city of Damascus, arriving in the Vatican on Sunday 6 September, when during the Angelus the Pope launched an appeal to each parish, religious community, monastery and shrine to offer shelter to a family.

The four members of the family will stay in an apartment in the Vatican, near St. Peter's. The procedures for requesting international protection were initiated immediately. According to the law, for the first six months after presenting the request for asylum, applicants may not accept paid work. In this period they will be assisted and accompanied by the St. Anna parish community. Until the decision is made in Italy as to whether or not their status of refugee will be granted, further information regarding this family cannot be given. Furthermore, to protect them during this phase it would be appropriate for the mass media to respect their wish not to be sought or interviewed.

With regard to the accommodation of a second family in the Vatican parish of St. Peter, the Almoner is not currently able to provide further information.

In this context of Christian charity towards those who flee war and famine, it is worth highlighting that for many years the Popes, through the Apostolic Almoner, have contributed to the payment of taxes for the issue of stay permits for refugees through the Centro Astalli, directed by the Jesuits (since 2014, 50,000 euros have been disbursed for this purpose). In addition, the Almoner, again on behalf of the Pope, helps many individuals and families of refugees on a daily basis, as well as meeting needs, including healthcare, for many reception centres located in Rome.

Furthermore, for some days a modern mobile clinic, donated to the Pope a few years ago and so far reserved solely for events at which he presides, was made available several times a week to assist refugees in reception centres, including irregular ones, situated in the outskirts of Rome. The volunteers, who are doctors, nurses and Swiss Guards, are employees of Vatican City State institutions, the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and members of the Association of the “Medicina Solidale Onlus” Institute.


Vatican City, 18 September 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Anne Brasseur, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 18 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. David Tencer, O.F.M. Cap., as bishop of Reykjavik (area 103,000, population 325,671, Catholics 11,454, priests 15, religious 37), Iceland. The bishop-elect was born in Nova Bana, Slovakia in 1963 was ordained a priest in 1986. He gave his solemn vows in 1994. He holds a licentiate in theology and has served as pastor in Holic, rector of the convent of Hrinova, and superior of the convent in Zilina. He transferred to Iceland in 2004 where he has served as vicar of Stella Maris in Reykjavik, and is currently pastor of the parish of St. Þórlákur (Thorlak) in Reyðarfjörður. He succeeds Bishop Peter Burcher, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law was accepted by the Holy Father.
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