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Pope Francis gives print of obelisk to UN offices

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presented the offices of the United Nations in Nairobi, Kenya, with a gift on Thursday: a print showing the raising of the obelisk that stands in the middle of St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father presented the gift during the course of his visit to the offices on Thursday, November 26, 2015, the first full day of his three-country visit to Africa.

Please find a description of the article, below


Natale Bonifacio (Sebenico 1538 – 1592) Engraver

Giovanni Guerra (Modena 1540 – 1618) Inventor

Erection of the Vatican Obelisk




Inscriptions: in the lower left: Disegno nel quale si rappresenta l’ordine tenuto in alzar la Guglia il di ultimo d’Aprile MDLXXXVI (…) sopra: DOMENICO FONTANA DA MILI DIOCESI DI COMO ARCHIT. E CONDUTTORE / In Roma Natal Bonifacio de Sebenicco Fece. D’Agosto 1586. In basso al centro: 10 GVERRA MVT. LINEAVIT ET IMPRIMI. CURAVIT.

In the Spring of 1586, Sixtus V taking advantage of the genius and organizational qualities of Domenico Fontana (1543 – 1607)  undertook the moving of the Egyptian granite obelisk, that was situated on the southern side of the Basilica, and relocated it to the center of the square in front of the Basilica itself. Among the tallest of the Roman obelisks, second only to that of the Lateran, it was brought from Egypt at the time of the Emperor Caligula and raised in the circus of Caligula and Nero across the Tiber, where St. Peter was martyred. Other pontiffs had yearned to tackle the challenge, but it had never been undertaken because it was thought  to be impossible. Sixtus V invited architects, engineers, artists and scientists to present a project, but in the end decided on his own to assign his trusted architect, Domenico Fontana.

The endeavor lasted from Spring to September of that year, and involved the demolition of some apartment buildings for the transport of the monolith from the place where it was to the center of the square, and the implementation of 38 pulleys, 900 men and 75 horses.

The enterprise is documented by two large and beautiful prints, including the one under observation, published in August of 1586, when the operations were still underway, and then successively, in 1590, in the volume “Della Trasportatione dell’Obelisco Vaticano e delle Fabbriche di Nostro Signore Papa Sisto V…(Of the Transportation of the Vatican Obelisk and of the Factories of Our Lord Pope Sixtus V) published by the Vatican Typography directed by Domenico Basa.

The print shows the status of the operations in the month of August but above all, it is an ample representation of the state of the Basilica and of the surrounding areas at that date. The richness of the details and the numerous captions and inscriptions make of it a work of much artistic value but at the same time descriptive and celebratory of the event. The print bears the crest of Sixtus V, the portrait of the author of the famous translation, the architect Domenico Fontana, and many other details.

The authors of the large engraving, in three tables, are Giovanni Guerra, who is responsible for the invention of the composition (as well as for the realization of a fresco on the same theme in the Sistine hall of the Vatican Library) and the engraver Natale Bonifacio. The first is counted among the protagonists of that “Sistine” style that in the years of the pontificate of Pope Peretti decorated the immense architectural works built. Natale Bonifacio instead was a Dalmatian engraver who worked between Venice and Rome, achieving recognition as a vedutista but above all as a cartographer.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope in Kenya: we must choose to improve or destroy the environment

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the United Nations family in Nairobi encouraging its staff to pursue its work for human development and protection of the environment for the common good.

He urged them to listen to “the cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, a cry that needs to be heard by the international community.

In Nairobi, Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni reports:

Even before crossing the threshold of the United Nations Office at Nairobi headquarters on Thursday, Pope Francis planted a tree in the UN Compound garden.

A simple, symbolic act, so meaningful in many cultures.

And that’s exactly how the Pope set the tone for his eagerly awaited address to the UN and its Agencies that are entrusted to work for a better human future and to care for the environment.

Singled out as one of the highlights of Pope Francis’ Kenya visit just days before Climate Change talks in Paris, and just as a new report warns that 2015 could be the hottest year on record, those present knew Francis was not going to mince his words.

“In this international context – he said – we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment”.

Quoting frequently from his encyclical “Laudato Sì". On Care for our Common Home”, Francis immediately shone the light on the need for leaders and policymakers to urgently reach “a global and transformational agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation”.

“An agreement – he continued – which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity”.

And in hard hitting words the Pope went on to speak of how economy and politics need to be placed at the service of peoples, not for profit and to the detriment of the poor.

He called for an adoption of a culture of care as opposed to the current “throwaway” culture of waste where – he said – “people use and discard themselves, others and the environment” with far reaching consequences especially on the weakest members of our one human family.

And forgetting nothing and no one Pope Francis reminded his listeners of the rising numbers of migrants fleeing from growing poverty aggravated by environmental degradation.

He spoke of the effects of social breakdown in urban settlements: violence, drug abuse and trafficking, loss of identity.

He shone the light on the exploitation and illegal trade of natural resources – specifically mentioning ivory trafficking and the killing of elephants!

Pope Francis full heartedly decried the fact we are growing accustomed to the suffering of others, and said: “We have no right”.

“We are faced – he said - with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development”.

But it wasn’t all darkness. “Human beings – the Pope said – while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start”.

“May humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century – Pope Francis appealed - be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.”

And coming back to the tree, as Francis mentioned at the very beginning: it’s a simple gesture and a powerful invitation to continue the battle against deforestation and desertification as well as an incentive to keep trusting, hoping and working to reverse situations of injustice and deterioration”.

In Nairobi with Pope Francis, I’m Linda Bordoni


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: speech to UN officials in Nairobi

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday afternoon spoke about the importance of safeguarding the environment and ensuring a just distribution of the earth’s wealth as he address directors and staff of the United Nations Offices in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The Pope said Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator. This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind, he said “is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion”. 

In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, he continued “we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.  Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism”.  This situation, Pope Francis said, “is a cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community”.

On his way to the meeting, the Pope symbolically planted a tree, which he described as “an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification” in order to safeguard the future of humanity. He also highlighted the importance of the upcoming international conference in Paris on climate change which he said is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations Office at Nairobi


I would like to thank Madame Sahle-Work Zewde, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, for her kind invitation and words of welcome, as well as Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Mr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.  I take this occasion to greet the personnel and all those associated with the institutions who are here present.

On my way to this hall, I was asked to plant a tree in the park of the United Nations Centre.  I was happy to carry out this simple symbolic act, which is so meaningful in many cultures.

Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification.  It reminds us of the importance of safeguarding and responsibly administering those “richly biodiverse lungs of our planet”, which include, on this continent, “the Congo basins”, a place essential “for the entire earth and for the future of humanity”.  It also points to the need to appreciate and encourage “the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests” (Laudato Si’, 38).

Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.

In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues.  It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.

In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.  Every step we take, whether large or small, individual or collective, in caring for creation opens a sure path for that “generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings” (ibid., 211).

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”; “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (ibid., 23 and 25).  Our response to this challenge “needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged” (ibid., 93).  For “the misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion” (Address to the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.  We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.

The Paris Agreement can give a clear signal in this direction, provided that, as I stated before the UN General Assembly, we avoid “every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences.  We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective” (ibid.).  For this reason, I express my hope that COP21 will achieve a global and “transformational” agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation; an agreement which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.

For all the difficulties involved, there is a growing “conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home” (Laudato Si’, 164).  No country “can act independently of a common responsibility.  If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence” (Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).  The problem arises whenever we think of interdependence as a synonym for domination, or the subjection of some to the interests of others, of the powerless to the powerful.

What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society.  Positive examples are not lacking; they demonstrate that a genuine cooperation between politics, science and business can achieve significant results.

At the same time we believe that “human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start” (Laudato Si’, 205).  This conviction leads us to hope that, whereas the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, “humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (ibid., 165).  If this is to happen, the economy and politics need to be placed at the service of peoples, with the result that “human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life”.  Far from an idealistic utopia, this is a realistic prospect which makes the human person and human dignity the point of departure and the goal of everything (cf. Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).

This much-needed change of course cannot take place without a substantial commitment to education and training.  Nothing will happen unless political and technical solutions are accompanied by a process of education which proposes new ways of living.  A new culture.  This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care – care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment – in place of a culture of waste, a “throw-away culture” where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment.  By promoting an “awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of the future to be shared with everyone”, we will favour the development of new convictions, attitudes and lifestyles.  “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (Laudato Si’, 202).  We still have time.

Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of persons whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption.  We need to be alert to one sad sign of the “globalization of indifference”: the fact that we are gradually growing accustomed to the suffering of others, as if it were something normal (cf. Message for World Food Day, 16 October 2013, 2), or even worse, becoming resigned to such extreme and scandalous kinds of “using and discarding” and social exclusion as new forms of slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and trafficking in organs.  “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty aggravated by environmental degradation.  They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever” (Laudato Si’, 25).  Many lives, many stories, many dreams have been shipwrecked in our day.  We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this.  We have no right.

Together with neglect of the environment, we have witnessed for some time now a rapid process of urbanization, which in many cases has unfortunately led to a “disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities which have become unhealthy to live in [and] inefficient” (ibid., 44).  There we increasingly see the troubling symptoms of a social breakdown which spawns “increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, loss of identity” (ibid., 46), a lack of rootedness and social anonymity (cf. ibid., 149).

Here I would offer a word of encouragement to all those working on the local and international levels to ensure that the process of urbanization becomes an effective means for development and integration.  This means working to guarantee for everyone, especially those living in outlying neighbourhoods, the basic rights to dignified living conditions and to land, lodging and labour.  There is a need to promote projects of city planning and maintenance of public areas which move in this direction and take into consideration the views of local residents; this will help to eliminate the many instances of inequality and pockets of urban poverty which are not simply economic but also, and above all, social and environmental.  The forthcoming Habitat-III Conference, planned for Quito in October 2016, could be a significant occasion for identifying ways of responding to these issues.

In a few days, Nairobi will host the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.  In 1967, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, contemplating an increasingly interdependent world and foreseeing the current reality of globalization, reflected on how commercial relationships between States could prove a fundamental element for the development of peoples or, on the other hand, a cause of extreme poverty and exclusion (Populorum Progressio, 56-62).  While recognizing that much has been done in this area, it seems that we have yet to attain an international system of commerce which is equitable and completely at the service of the battle against poverty and exclusion.  Commercial relationships between States, as an indispensable part of relations between peoples, can do as much to harm the environment as to renew it and preserve it for future generations.

It is my hope that the deliberations of the forthcoming Nairobi Conference will not be a simple balancing of conflicting interests, but a genuine service to care of our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in greatest need.  I would especially like to echo the concern of all those groups engaged in projects of development and health care – including those religious congregations which serve the poor and those most excluded – with regard to agreements on intellectual property and access to medicines and essential health care.  Regional free trade treaties dealing with the protection of intellectual property, particularly in the areas of pharmaceutics and biotechnology, should not only maintain intact the powers already granted to States by multilateral agreements, but should also be a means for ensuring a minimum of health care and access to basic treatment for all.  Multilateral discussions, for their part, should allow poorer countries the time, the flexibility and the exceptions needed for them to comply with trade regulations in an orderly and relatively smooth manner.  Interdependence and the integration of economies should not bear the least detriment to existing systems of health care and social security; instead, they should promote their creation and good functioning.  Certain health issues, like the elimination of malaria and tuberculosis, treatment of so-called orphan diseases, and neglected sectors of tropical medicine, require urgent political attention, above and beyond all other commercial or political interests.

Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator.  This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion.  In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.  Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.  This situation too is a cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community.

In my recent visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I expressed the desire and hope that the work of the United Nations and of all its multilateral activities may be “the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations.  And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good” (Address to the UN, 25 September 2015).

Once again I express the support of the Catholic community, and my own, to continue to pray and work that the fruits of regional cooperation, expressed today in the African Union and the many African agreements on commerce, cooperation and development, may be vigorously pursued and always take into account the common good of the sons and daughters of this land.

May the blessing of the Most High be with each of you and your peoples.  Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to Kenya's clergy: the joy of service

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a special meeting with clergy, religious men and women, and seminarians at St. Mary's School in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday. Putting aside his prepared text, the Holy Father spoke of the joy of a life of radical service to the Gospel and of the radical faithfulness to Christ that is the guarantee of happiness and success in ordained ministry and consecrated discipleship.

An official transcript of the Pope Francis' extemporaneous remarks is being prepared.

In the meantime, we offer you the integral audio recording of the Holy Father's address, with side-by-side English translation provided by the Holy Father's official translator, Msgr. Mark Miles. 

Click below to hear the Holy Father's remarks in Spanish, with side-by-side translation into English by Msgr. Mark Miles

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Mass in Kenya: Stand firm in faith

(Vatican Radio) On the first full day of his visit to Kenya, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Nairobi University. During his homily, which he gave on a specially constructed alter on the campus grounds, the Pope stressed the importance of the family noting that, "Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children.  The health of any society depends on the health of its families."

The Holy Father also had a special appeal for the young people of Kenya, saying, " I appeal in a special way to the young people of the nation.  Let the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity.  May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God."

The Pope urged the those gathered at the Mass, to  “Stand strong in faith! and not to be afraid, telling them that the Lord "asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel."  

The head of Vatican Radio's English Africa section, Fr. Paul Samasumo is with Pope Francis in Africa and sent this report on the Mass.


Not even the rains could dampen the mood of Kenyans. Throngs of Catholics and non-Catholics started gathering at the Nairobi university Campus as early as 3 am in the morning, in order to have a good view of proceedings. The Mass started at 10 am and lasted roughly an hour and forty five minutes.

Pope Francis looked mesmerised by the energetic choreography of the children as they performed  the liturgical dance at various parts of the Mass. The choir was on its feet throughout the Mass. It was a choir of children, the youth and elderly.

Kenyan media said that the three hundred thousand capacity Nairobi University campus grounds was filled and overflowing.  Thousands other Kenyans lined up the streets in the vicinity awaiting a glimpse of Pope Francis. In a country where one out of every three persons is a baptised Catholic, this is understandable. The Government honoured the day by declaring a public holiday.

During the Mass, Pope Francis demonstrated a certain proficiency in the English language never before witnessed. He confidently celebrated the entire Mass with little hesitation. At the end of the homily, Pope Francis even blessed Kenyans in KiSwahili telling Kenyans not to be afraid. “Stand strong in faith. Do not to fear anything… Mungu abariki Kenya,” May God bless Kenya, he said.

Travelling on the Apostolic journey with Pope Francis in Africa, I am Fr. Paul Samasumo.   

(from Vatican Radio)

Address of Pope Francis to religious leaders

Pope Francis met Thursday with the leaders of various fairth groups in Nairobi as part of his pastoral visit to Africa.

Please find below the full English text of the address which was delivered in Italian:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis at the Ecumenical and Interreligious Meeting Apostolic Nunciature, Nairobi

Thursday 26 November 2015

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for your presence this morning and for the opportunity to share these moments of reflection with you.  In a particular way, I wish to thank Archbishop Wabukala and Professor El-Busaidy for their words of welcome offered on your behalf, and on behalf of their communities.  It is always important to me that, when I come to visit the Catholic faithful of a local Church, I have an occasion to meet the leaders of other Christian communities and religious traditions.  It is my hope that our time together may be a sign of the Church’s esteem for the followers of all religions; may it strengthen the bonds of friendship which we already enjoy.

To be honest, this relationship is challenging; it makes demands of us.  Yet ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury.  It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs. 

Indeed, religious beliefs and practice condition who we are and how we understand the world around us.  They are for us a source of enlightenment, wisdom and solidarity, and thus enrich the societies in which we live.  By caring for the spiritual growth of our communities, by forming minds and hearts in the truths and values taught by our religious traditions, we become a blessing to the communities in which our people live.  In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good.

In this light, and in an increasingly interdependent world, we see ever more clearly the need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness.  By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain.

Here I think of the importance of our common conviction that the God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace.  His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence.  I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds.  All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.  How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!  May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant his peace to our families and communities.

Dear friends, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, at which the Catholic Church committed herself to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.  I wish to reaffirm this commitment, which is born of our conviction of the universality of God’s love and the salvation which he offers to all.  The world rightly expects believers to work together with people of good will in facing the many problems affecting our human family.  As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences.  Let us pray for peace!

I thank you for your attention, and I ask Almighty God to grant to you and your communities his abundant blessings.

(from Vatican Radio)

In Kenya, Pope calls for peace, reconciliation

(Vatican Radio) After a brief but vibrant welcome ceremony at the airport and a private colloquium with Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Pope Francis immediately delivered a wide ranging and hard-hitting discourse to political and civil authorities and to members of the diplomatic corps, a discourse that – as Holy See Press Office Director Father Lombardi pointed out during the evening media briefing – was really a discourse to all the people of Kenya.

It contained many of the themes that he is expected to address during this 6-day African journey. It featured his concern for the youth who represent the future and are – he said – the most valuable resource of the nation; it highlighted his belief that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration; it voiced his appeal to men and women of goodwill and to political leaders to work for reconciliation, peace, forgiveness and healing; and - above all – it spoke of the grave environmental crisis facing our world and of the urgent need to take responsibility for creation and to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received.

Afterwards, as he travelled in an open pope-mobile to the Nairobi Nunciature to rest for the night, he was blessed by the opening of the African skies and a downpour fit for a Pope.

His first appointment on Thursday morning was an ecumenical and interreligious meeting. It was a particularly important moment in a nation as multi-cultural as is Kenya and where different religious communities and religions play a pivotal role in shaping a peaceful, free and democratic society. To the leaders of different Christian confessions and other faiths he reiterated his firm belief that religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling profound spiritual values and training good citizens dedicated to the common good.

He also recalled the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.

"As we look to the future," Pope Francis concluded, "let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences."

“Let us pray for peace!”


(Linda Bordoni is reporting from Nairobi.)


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis addresses Kenya's leaders

(Vatican Radio) Following a twenty-one gun salute, Pope Francis addressed the President of Kenya and other authorities at Nairobi State House on Wednesday afternoon. The Holy Father said he was looking forward to his stay, especially meeting the young people of Kenya and “encouraging their hopes and aspirations for the future”.

Click below to hear the Holy Father's address, delivered in English

The Pope proceeded to urge the entire Kenyan people to “work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society”, asking them to hold particular concern for the poor, the young and to handle their natural and human resources responsibly. He concluded by speaking about a Kenyan tradition where young children plant trees for posterity: “may this eloquent sign of hope in the future… sustain all of you…”.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for his address to the authorities and the Diplomatic Corps at the State House in Nairobi on Wednesday 25th November 2015


Mr President,

Honourable Government and Civil Leaders,

Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

My Brother Bishops,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

            I am most grateful for your warm welcome on this, my first visit to Africa.  I thank you, Mr President, for your kind words in the name of the Kenyan people, and I look forward to my stay among you.  Kenya is a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society which plays a significant role in the region.  In many ways your experience of shaping a democracy is one shared by many other African nations.  Like Kenya, they too are working to build, on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multiethnic society which is truly harmonious, just and inclusive.

            Yours too is a nation of young people.  In these days, I look forward to meeting many of them, speaking with them, and encouraging their hopes and aspirations for the future.  The young are any nation’s most valuable resource.  To protect them, to invest in them and to offer them a helping hand, is the best way we can ensure a future worthy of the wisdom and spiritual values dear to their elders, values which are the very heart and soul of a people.

            Kenya has been blessed not only with immense beauty, in its mountains, rivers and lakes, its forests, savannahs and semi-deserts, but also by an abundance of natural resources.  The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation which does you honour.  The grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature.  We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations, and an obligation to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received.  These values are deeply rooted in the African soul.  In a world which continues to exploit rather than protect our common home, they must inspire the efforts of national leaders to promote responsible models of economic development.

            In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order.  There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself (cf. Laudato Si’, 118).  To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing.  In the work of building a sound democratic order, strengthening cohesion and integration, tolerance and respect for others, the pursuit of the common good must be a primary goal.  Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration.  Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation.

            Ladies and Gentlemen, the advancement and preservation of these great values is entrusted in a special way to you, the leaders of your country’s political, cultural and economic life.  This is a great responsibility, a true calling, in the service of the entire Kenyan people.  The Gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (Lk 12:48).  In that spirit, I encourage you to work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society.  I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country.  I assure you of the continued efforts of the Catholic community, through its educational and charitable works, to offer its specific contribution in these areas.

            Dear friends, I am told that here in Kenya it is a tradition for young schoolchildren to plant trees for posterity.  May this eloquent sign of hope in the future, and trust in the growth which God gives, sustain all of you in your efforts to cultivate a society of solidarity, justice and peace on the soil of this country and throughout the great African continent.  I thank you once more for your warm welcome, and upon you and your families, and all the beloved Kenyan people, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings.

            Mungu abariki Kenya!          

            God bless Kenya!


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: gift of Bernini drawing to Kenya's President

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis gave a drawing by architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, of the project for the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, on Wednesday. The Holy Father conveyed the present during the course of his meeting with Kenyatta in Kenya, at the beginning of a three-country visit to the continent of Africa that is to include Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic.

Below, please find the official description of the drawing


Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Naples 1598 – Rome 1680)

Project for the Bell towers of St. Peter’s Basilica

Pen and wash drawing in brown and gray on ivory paper


The accurate drawing, identified as an autograph of Bernini by Brauer and Wittkower in 1931, depicts the project for the façade of the Basilica of St. Peter according to the idea of Carlo Maderno, but with the variation of two tall bell towers that departed directly from the ground.

The final project by Maderno called for two bell towers at the two extremities of the façade, but positioned at the height of the base of the drum of the dome.

The execution of the work was assigned to Bernini who began around 1637. In 1641, upon completion of the first bell tower, it was necessary to partially demolish it for reasons of statics. The artist was bitterly criticized for having underestimated the risks and endangering the entire Basilica. The disappointment was such that he fell ill, also for fear of losing the trust of the Pontiff.

In 1646, under Pope Innocent X Pamphili, a special Congregation of Cardinals was instituted to face the problem of the façade, and the greatest architects present in Rome were called upon to present their proposals. In spite of the efforts undertaken, the graphic documentation and the engravings that pictured the façade with the bell towers, these were no longer executed and, in 1646, with the parts of Bernini’s first bell tower extant, they were completely demolished.

These projects are for the most part today kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library, under the codice from which this present sheet was drawn.

(from Vatican Radio)

Kenyans await Pope's message of peace and reconciliation

(Vatican Radio) “It is quite an exciting moment for us. The Holy Father is coming for the first time to Africa, and he chose Kenya as his entrance door.” Ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kenyans shared their hopes and expectations for the papal visit.

Lily Mugombozi is a journalist working for New City Africa, the magazine of the Focolare movement, and will be following every moment of the Pope’s journey.  Just like any other person in this country, I really feel blessed and privileged. She spoke with Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni.


“I think God has great things for us,” she said. “First of all, we see Pope Francis as a leader of the world, not only for Catholics, and this is really striking. Last Saturday I participated in a radio program, where some youth were introducing what they are doing, what their preparations for the Holy Father entail. And during the call-in program I was very struck by non-Catholics who were calling in the studio to assure their support for the Holy Father, their joy, and some were saying the Holy Father is a Father to everyone, not only to Catholics.”

Another issue, she said is reconciliation. Mugombozi noted that Pope Francis emphasized the message of reconciliation in his video message to the people of Kenya and Uganda. “I watched his message on Youtube, and he really stresses this, that he hopes that his presence among us will also be a sign of reconciliation. He will speak of reconciliation, and we really do need this in Kenya.” She said she expects the Pope’s message of reconciliation and peace will remain even after Pope Francis concludes his visit. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope off-the-cuff to priests, religious: indifference makes God vomit

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 08:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis tossed his prepared remarks aside for a meeting with Kenyan priests, religious and seminarians, telling them that if anything disgusts God, it’s the attitude of indifference. He also gave some practical advice, such as keeping the Lord at the center of their lives through prayer and the sacraments, and stressed that the Church is not a business, but rather a mystery intended to serve others. “Remember Jesus Christ crucified. When a priest or religious forgets Christ crucified, poor person. He has fallen in an ugly sin, a sin which God detests, which makes the Lord vomit,” the Pope said Nov. 26. “He has fallen into the sin of indifference, of luke-warmness. Dear priests and religious men and women, be careful not to fall into the sin of indifference.” Francis met with Kenyan priests, religious men and women, and seminarians from every diocese in Kenya on the sports field of St. Mary’s School in Nairobi Nov. 26, his first full day in the country. His Nov. 25-27 visit to Kenya is part of a larger African tour that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic. Before giving his speech, Pope Francis heard from Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo, I.M.C., Apostolic Vicar of Isiolo and Chairman for the Commission for Clergy and Religious of the Kenyan bishops conference, as well as Sr. Michael Marie Rottinghaus from the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK). Both Bishop Mukobo and Sr. Rottinghaus thanked Pope Francis for the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened Nov. 30, 2014, and closes Feb. 2, 2016. After setting his prepared remarks aside, Francis spoke freely in Spanish, with his official translator Msgr. Mark Miles giving simultaneous translation into English. The Pope began his reflections by noting how “the Lord has chosen all of you, he has chosen all of us," and that he began his work "the day he saw us in baptism.” He noted how in the Gospel there were some who wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus said no. Following the Lord on the path of priesthood or consecrated life means “you have to go through the door, and the door is Christ,” he said, adding that Jesus is the one who calls and does the work. When people try to go “through the window” like those in the Gospel, this “isn’t useful,” Francis continued, and asked that if anyone sees someone who's trying to live a consecrated vocation but doesn't have one, “embrace him and explain that it’s better for them to go.” “It’s better for them to go because that work that didn’t begin with the Lord Jesus through the doorway will not end well." Doing this, he said, helps us to understand what it means to be called and chosen by God. Pope Francis then noted that there are some who don’t know why God calls them, but feel it in their heart. These people, he said, “should be at peace because the Lord will make them understand why.” He cautioned against those who have a true call, but are influenced by the desire for power. He pointed to the mother of James and John as an example, when she asked for them to have positions at his right and left hand. “There is the temptation to follow the Lord out of ambition, ambition of money, ambition for power,” he said, noting that each person can probably say this thought has crossed their minds. For others, however, “it took seed in the heart as a weed,” he said, adding that in following Jesus, “there is no place for ambition or richness or to be a really important person in the world.” “I tell you this seriously, because in the Church we know it’s not a business, it’s not an NGO. The Church is a mystery, the mystery of Christ’s gaze upon each one of us, who says follow,” he said. The Pope then noted that Jesus calls, “he doesn’t canonize us,” but asks us to serve as the sinners we are. Pointing to the apostles, Francis observed how the Gospel only tells us of one that cried: Peter, who realized he was a sinner who had betrayed the Lord. “But then Jesus made him a pope. Who understands Jesus?! He’s a mystery. Never stop weeping,” he said, adding that when the tears of a priest or religious run dry “then something is wrong.” Francis then turned to the importance of prayer in the life of a priest or religious, explaining that when a consecrated person stops praying, their “soul becomes shriveled and dry like those dried figs. They’re ugly. They’re not attractive.” “The soul of a priest or religious who doesn’t pray is an ugly soul. I ask forgiveness but that’s how it is.” He also stressed the importance of having an attitude of service, particularly toward the poor, children and the elderly, as well as “those who are not even aware of their own pride in themselves.” Pope Francis said he’s impressed whenever he meets a priest or consecrated person who has spent their life working in a hospital or mission. These people, he said, “serve others and don’t allow themselves to be served by others.” He closed by thanking those present “for following Jesus, for every time you feel sinners, for every caress of tenderness you show others who need it.” “Thanks for all the times you helped a person to die in peace. Thank you for giving hope in life. Thanks for letting yourselves be forgiven, to be helped and corrected,” he said, and asked for their prayers.

Pope in Kenya: Interreligious dialogue not an option, but a necessity

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 02:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In light of recent terror attacks in Kenya and abroad, Pope Francis began the second day of his trip to Africa stressing the need for interreligious leaders to work together for peace. In a morning meeting on Nov. 26 with interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi, Kenya, Pope Francis said while ecumenical relationships can be demanding, they are not optional. “…ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs,” the Pope said. Not only is it essential for peace, he added, but interreligious dialogue can be a rich source of enlightenment and becomes an “important service to the common good.” His comments come just two weeks after six coordinated attacks in Paris, perpetrated by ISIS, left at least 128 people dead. The Pope’s address also falls seven months after terrorists killed 147 students at Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya, and four months after gunmen killed 14 quarry workers in Mandera. In 2013, 67 people were killed when terrorists attacked shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.Each of these attacks were carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate operating out of the neighboring country of Somalia. “I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds,” he said. “All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.” “How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!” The Holy Father also stressed the importance of never committing violence in the name of God, and prayed for the conversion of heart of all those who perpetrated violence in the name of religion. He closed his address recalling the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council, saying that he hoped the Church continued her commitment to ecumenical dialogue and friendship. “As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace!” This story is according to Pope Francis’ prepared remarks to interreligious leaders.

Pope to Kenyan families: 'radiate God’s love'

Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 26, 2015 / 12:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday praised Kenya’s traditional family values, particularly their respect for children and the elderly. He also made an appeal for the youth to use these values as a guide to ending discrimination and injustice in the future. “The health of any society depends on the health of its families,” the Pope told Mass attendees at Kenya’s Nairobi University Nov. 26. “Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children,” he said, and noted that families are important in the plan of God. It’s for the sake of our families and the good of society that children must be welcomed “as a blessing for our world,” and that the dignity of every man and woman must be defended, since we are all part of one human family, he said. “We are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, and threaten the life of the innocent unborn.” While everyone is called to respect others and reach out to those in need, Francis said that Christian families have a special task: “to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his Spirit.” This is especially important today, he said, when the growth of materialism and indifference are “new deserts” growing in society. Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the University of Nairobi on the second day of his Nov. 25-30 African tour, which includes stops in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Before heading to the university campus, he met with Kenya’s interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature. After the Mass, he will meet with the country’s priests, religious and seminarians before closing the day at the office of the United Nations in Nairobi. In his homily, Francis focused on the promises offered by God in the day’s readings, namely, Isaiah’s assurance that God will give the people his blessing, give water to the thirsty, and make their people flourish. This promise is fulfilled not only with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but also whenever the Gospel is preached, “and new peoples become members of God’s family, the Church.” “Today we rejoice that it was fulfilled in this land. Through the preaching of the Gospel, you too became part of the great Christian family,” the Pope said, explaining that Christian families play a special role in spreading God’s word. He then pointed to another promise God made in Psalm 23, that we will dwell in the house of the Lord for eternity. God also fulfills this promise in the life of the Church, particularly through the sacraments. “They make us more faithful disciples of the divine Master, vessels of mercy and loving kindness in a world wounded by selfishness, sin and division.” Francis said that it is with the gift of the sacraments that Kenya’s men and women can continue building their country in civil harmony and brotherly solidarity. He stressed that the sacraments must be shared with the youth in particular, who are the future of society. The Pope then made an appeal to Kenya’s youth, asking that “the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity.” He asked that they always be aware of the needs of the poor, and work to “reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God.” Jesus gives us the foundation to be able to construct this society, which begins by building our personal lives on the Word of God, Pope Francis said. He pointed to Jesus’ “missionary mandate” after the Resurrection to make disciples of all nations, explaining that this “that is the charge which the Lord gives to each of us.” “He asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel. Men and women who are channels of God’s grace, who enable his mercy, kindness and truth to become the building blocks of a house that stands firm.” Francis closed by praying that the Lord would guide those present and their families on the path of goodness and mercy, and that they would be blessed with peace. Before leaving, he offered a brief prayer for them in Swahili: “Mungu awabariki! Mungu abariki Kenya!” meaning “God bless you! God bless you Kenya!”

Trial begins for five accused in second 'Vatileaks' case

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2015 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday a preliminary hearing of the five individuals accused of leaking and disseminating confidential financial documents was held in the Vatican, with the next hearing set to begin Nov. 30. The defendants are Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Italian PR woman Francesca Chaouqui, Nicola Maio (Vallejo’s secretary), and journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. The Nov. 24 preliminary hearing for what has been dubbed by media as “Vatileaks 2.0” began at 10:30 a.m. and lasted just over an hour. On Nov. 21 the Vatican announced that it would officially be pressing charges against the five for their role in obtaining, leaking and publishing private information and documents regarding Holy See finances. Msgr. Vallejo, Chaouqui and Maio have been accused of working together to form “an organized criminal association” with the intention of “disclosing information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the (Vatican City) State.” On Nov. 2 Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui were arrested in connection with the leaks, and are believed to have passed the documents on to Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, who published separate books on the information earlier this month. Both are former members of the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). The commission was established by the Pope July 18, 2013, as part of his plan to reform the Vatican’s finances. It was dissolved after completing its mandate. For their part, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi have been charged with illegally procuring and subsequently releasing the private information and documents. Specifically, they are accused of “urging and exerting pressure, particularly on Msgr. Vallejo,” to obtain the private documents and then publish books on the content. The leaking of documents was officially criminalized by the Vatican in 2013, when Nuzzi published a book containing confidential information given to him by Pope Benedict XVI’s butler in what came to be known as the first “Vatileaks” scandal. All defendants were present inside the courtroom for the Nov. 24 hearing with lawyers “dall’ufficio,” referring to legal representation given to those who don’t already have it.    The court consisted of Giuseppe Della Torre, President of the Vatican tribunal; Judges Piero Antonio Bonne and Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, as well as Alternate judge Venerando Marano.   The prosecution, the Office of the Promoter of Justice, was represented by Promoter of Justice Gian Piero Milano, and Adjutant-promoter Roberto Zannotti. After the accusations were read aloud, Della Torre announced that Nuzzi and Vallejo had each requested an additional, hand-picked lawyer, and that the request would be forwarded to President of the Court of Appeals. According to Nuzzi’s twitter account, his request to be represented by his usual lawyer has already been denied. Two objections were then raised in the court, one by Vallejo’s lawyer that the time needed to prepare evidence for the defense was insufficient. Fittipaldi himself asked to make a statement in which he protested the charges brought against him, saying they violated his freedom as a journalist to publish news. His lawyer then requested that his indictment be reconsidered for lacking a clear statement on his alleged crimes. Zannotti responded immediately to the second objection by saying that the intention of the charge is not to violate Fittipaldi’s freedom as a journalist, but rather to hold him accountable for the means in which he obtained the documents and information, which was stated in his indictment. After a 45 minute deliberation of the objections the court reconvened, and rejected them both. They announced that the next hearing will take place Monday, Nov. 30, at 9:30 a.m., with several other hearings set to take place throughout the week. It was noted that all hearings will take place in the morning, and that afternoon sessions would be called only if needed. During Monday’s hearing the defendants will give their testimonies, beginning with Msgr. Vallejo and Chaouqui. The testimonies of Maio, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi will be given later. Journalists present inside the courtroom reported that both Nuzzi and Fittipaldi seemed to be more at ease during today's hearing, whereas Vallejo, Maio and Chaouqui were described as being “agitated” and “tense,” particularly the latter two.

Pope names first Catholic bishop to oversee Anglican ordinariate

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2015 / 07:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes, a Catholic priest from California, as the new bishop who will head the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States and Canada. Bishop-elect Lopes, 40, is originally from the Archdiocese of San Francisco in the United States, and currently serves as an official for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He will be taking over for Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop appointed by Benedict XVI in 2012 to shepherd the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a special diocese-like structure that allows entire Anglican communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining certain elements of the liturgy and other customs. Ordinariates are similar to dioceses but typically national in scope. Pope Benedict authorized the creation of ordinariates for Anglican communities seeking to enter the Catholic Church in his 2009 apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus.” Based in Houston, Texas, the Ordinariate has more than 40 Roman Catholic parishes and communities across the United States and Canada. A married Anglican priest can be ordained a Catholic priest but not a bishop. Instead, as in the case of Msgr. Steenson, they become an “ordinary,” who carries all the authority of a bishop except that of being able to ordain priests. Msgr. Lopes’ appointment, then, marks the first time a Roman Catholic bishop has been named for any of the worlds’ three Personal Ordinariates: Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom; the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States and Canada; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia. The announcement that bishop-elect Lopes will be taking over for the retiring Msgr. Steenson came in a Nov. 24 communique from the Vatican. In a press release shortly after the announcement, Msgr. Steenson said that he had asked the Vatican last year that a bishop be appointed to replace him in leading the Ordinariate. “I welcome this news with all my heart, for the Ordinariate has now progressed to the point where a bishop is much needed for our life and mission,” he said. “A bishop will help to give the Ordinariate the stability and permanence necessary to fulfil its mission to be a work of Catholic unity, whose roots are to be found in the great texts of the Second Vatican Council.” From the creation of the Ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson continued, the ultimate goal was that a bishop would eventually be the head. “It is indeed an encouraging sign that we have reached that goal,” he said. Born and raised in Fremont, Calif., Msgr. Lopes attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood, as well as the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. He entered seminary in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He studied theology at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif. and later in Rome, at the Pontifical North American College. After being ordained a priest June 23, 2001, and serving in various pastoral assignments Msgr. Lopes went on to obtain both licentiate and doctoral degrees in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Since Sept. 1, 2005, the bishop-elect has served as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has also taught theology at the Gregorian University. He was named a monsignor in 2010. Msgr. Lopes’ ordination to the episcopate is scheduled to take place Feb. 2, 2016, in Houston. Though Msgr. Steenson’s retirement is effective immediately, he will serve as the Ordinariate’s administrator until Lopes officially takes canonical possession in February. A Nov. 24 press release from the Ordinariate explained that with bishop-elect Lopes’ appointment, Pope Francis “affirms and amplifies Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.” “By naming Bishop-elect Lopes, the Pope has confirmed that the Ordinariate is a permanent, enduring part of the Catholic Church, like any other diocese – one that is now given a bishop so that it may deepen its contribution to the life of the Church and the world.” The press released also noted that Msgr. Lopes’ appointment falls just five days before the Ordinariate will begin using a new book of liturgical texts titled “Divine Worship: The Missal,” which will be used for the celebration of Mass in personal ordinariates throughout the world. The texts in the missal have been approved by the Vatican and will be used for the first time Nov. 20, 2015, the First Sunday of Advent. Msgr. Lopes was deeply involved in developing the text, and since 2011 has served as the executive coordinator of the Vatican commission “Anglicanae Traditiones,” which produced the new texts. In the press release, the Ordinariate called the new missal as “a milestone,” and praised both Benedict XVI’s vision for unity as well as how Pope Francis is concretely implementing it. Both of these together “demonstrate that unity in faith allows for a vibrant diversity in the expression of that faith. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture for the Catholic Church and a concrete example of this unity in diversity.” The new bishop-elect will be introduced by Msgr. Steenson at a live news conference in Houston at 10:30 a.m. local time inside the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate. After celebrating the Mass on the first Sunday of Advent in Houston with the new missal, Msgr. Lopes will return to Rome to finish to finish his work at the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. He will then then return to Texas at the end of the calendar year.

Pope Francis sends greetings to Africa ahead of this week's trip

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2015 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent two video messages Monday ahead of his tri-nation visit to Africa, speaking his intent to bring “consolation and hope” to the region while serving as a “minister of the Gospel.” In the message sent to the people of the Central African Republic, Pope Francis – speaking in French – referenced the “joy which pervades me” on the occasion of the visit, while acknowledging the ongoing violence which has brought suffering to the war-torn nation. “Your dear country has for too long been affected by a violent situation and by insecurity of which many of you have been innocent victims,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio's translation. The CAR is currently in the midst of of an ongoing conflict. The majority of tensions began in late 2012 when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. Since then, fear, uncertainty and violence have swept over the country in a conflict that has so far left some 6,000 people dead. The scheduled Nov. 29-30 trip to the CAR would mark Pope Francis' first time in an active war zone, with new deaths reported daily. “The goal of my visit is, above all, to bring you, in the name of Christ, the comfort of consolation and hope,” the pontiff said in the message. “I hope with all my heart that my visit may contribute, in one way or another, to alleviate your wounds and to favor conditions for a better, more serene future for Central Africa and all its inhabitants.” Pope Francis is set to begin his tri-nation African tour from Nov. 25-30, with scheduled visits to Kenya, Uganda, and finally the CAR. The journey marks the pontiff's first trip to the continent since his election to the papacy. “Let us pass to the other side” is the theme of the visit, the Pope observed in the CAR video message. This theme, he continued, theme invites Christian communities “to look ahead with determination,” while encouraging “each person to renew their own relationship with God and with their brothers and sisters to build a new, more just and fraternal world.” Earlier this month, Pope Francis said that he would open the diocese of Bangui's Holy Door while in the Central African Republic ahead of the Year of Mercy, which officially starts Dec. 8, as a sign of prayer and solidarity for the conflict-ridden nation. Francis announced the jubilee during a March 13 penitential service, the second anniversary of his papal election. It will open Dec. 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – and will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The last pontiff to visit the CAR was St. John Paul II in 1985, as part of a larger trip to Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire and Kenya. Pope Francis also issued a joint video message to the people of Kenya and Uganda, in which expressed his hope that the visit will “confirm” the Catholic communities of the region as they testify to the Gospel. “I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace,” the Pope said. Speaking in English, the pontiff said the aim of his visit will be “to confirm the Catholic community in its worship of God and witness of the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and commands us to open our hearts to others, especially the poor and those in need.” Expressing his desire to encounter and offer a “word of encouragement” the Kenyan and Ugandan people, the Pope noted the need for today's people of faith and good will to support one another as children of God. “We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect, and to support each other as members of our one human family,” he said, “for all of us are God's children.” Pope Francis cited his planned visit with young people as one of the highlights of his visit to the region. Young people, he said, “are your greatest resource and our most promising hope for a future of solidarity, peace and progress.” The Pope concluded by acknowledging the hard work involved in the preparations for his visit, and offered his thanks. He asked everyone to pray that his visit to Kenya and Uganda would “be a source of hope and encouragement to all.” “Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!”

The Pope in a war zone – what his visit means to Central African Republic

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis' visit to the Central African Republic next week will be the first time he steps into an active war zone. It is a meaningful visit for locals which portrays the image of father coming to console his suffering children. “In the minds and hearts of the people (Pope Francis) is a great figure,” Fr. Herv Hubert Koyassambia-Kozondo said in an interview with CNA. So to hear his message from within the borders of their own country “is very, very meaningful.” Even a month ago images of Francis could be seen throughout the country through TV and the media, he said, explaining that the Pope is being talked about daily, so he's “already there in reality.” To see the Pope in person in their own community isn't something that happens every day for citizens of the Central African Republic, he said, but for many will only happen “once in their lives.” “So they are waiting for him and they will welcome him as a true pastor of the universal Church. I like to say father, as a father, truly.” Francis' words will be welcomed especially by the country's Christian population, the Catholics in particular. “What the Pope says in favor of peace will have a lot of weight,” he said, but stressed that this peace must also be worked for. Fr. Kozondo is from the archdiocese of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, and is currently studying in Rome. He spoke with journalists ahead of Pope Francis’ Nov. 29-30 visit to the country, as part of a wider visit to the African continent. Pope Francis will be in Africa Nov. 25-30, and is scheduled to make stops in three countries. He will set foot in Kenya first, where he will stay from Nov. 25-27, before moving on to Uganda Nov. 27-29. His last stop will be the Central African Republic, from Nov. 29-30. The last pontiff to visit the CAR was St. John Paul II in 1985, as part of a larger trip to Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire and Kenya. Likely the greatest challenge Francis will face in the Central African Republic is the fact that the visit marks the first time he will be stepping into an active war zone, with new deaths reported daily. The majority of tensions began in late 2012 when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. Since then, fear, uncertainty and violence have swept over the country in a conflict that has so far left some 6,000 people dead. The country will hold both presidential and parliamentary elections Dec. 27, after they were postponed in October due to violence and instability. Interim president Catherine Samba-Panza, who has so far struggled to keep peace, will not be a candidate. In his comments to journalists, Fr. Kozondo remarked that the greatest challenge the Church faces is “the deplorable situation of the country,” as well as the grave lack of security. “There are many armed people, and (the government forces) still haven't been able to disarm them,” he said, adding that “armed people with bad intentions can’t be something stable in terms of peace.” “Disarmament is needed, but the country doesn't have the means to disarm. So it must count on foreign or external help to act.” Though the country has seen coups throughout their history, the priest explained that this one is different due the fact it is fueled by arms from foreigners, and because Christians are being targeted. With a population of just over 1 million, roughly 36 percent are Catholic and 44 percent are Protestants, with the remaining 20 percent divided evenly among Muslims and local religions. Fr.Kozondosaid the rebels launched their attacks in part due to the ethnic exclusivity of the former government, as the country has always had ethnic divisions, and politicians usually represent certain ones. However, when the various Muslim rebel groups banded together in 2012, foreign mercenaries helped in seizing weapons, many of whom were from Chad and Sudan. Therefore, many of the fighters are foreigners who don't speak the local Sango language. This detail compounded with the fact that attacks targeted cities that weren't strategically useful in conquering the country – as well as innocent civilians, state structures and symbols representing the nation’s patrimony – made the people wonder their intentions were for “something more, not only a desire to conquer the power,” the priest said. A second characteristic which has made this conflict unusual compared to those of the past is that amid the various rebellions, it was obvious attacks were “directed toward Christians, against churches and religious structures, against the social Christian structures.” The systematic violence toward Christian persons and the destruction of Church properties is what fueled the current anti-Muslim sentiments, he said, because what people saw is that “it wasn't just a rebellion that sought to conquer the country, but also sought to destroy everything that was Christian.” Before the conflict erupted in 2012 relations with Islam had been relatively peaceful, Fr. Kozondo said, explaining that though they are a minority, Muslims in CAR have always been well integrated and economically powerful because of their savvy in negotiating different affairs. Fr. Kozondo said that another challenge is to re-establish the authority of the State, because they have lost control of the situation since the radicals began their offensive, leading ordinary citizens to take up arms. Once citizens saw that the country's army was ineffective against the rebels, they formed a resistance group, known as anti-balaka, because there was “no one to defend the population.” The population feels that they don't have any protection, “so they organize on their own to defend themselves,” the priest observed. However, he clarified what he referred to as a media farce depicting the “anti-balaka” resistance group as radical Christians who have taken up arms against the Muslims. Though the group is depicted as being exclusively Christian, Fr. Kozondo said he believes this image was “created by the media to imprint in the mind of the people.” He told CNA that while there are certainly Christians, Catholics and Protestants included, who have taken up arms, “They don’t do it in the name of Christianity.” “They don’t do it with means that come from the Church or something organized by the Church. They don’t do it from a Christian push, something that comes in the name of the Christian faith, this no. It’s not a Christian group that goes around in a sullen way against Muslims.” Fr. Kozondo explained that the bishops and the episcopal conference have repeatedly denounced the idea that the “anti-balaka” group is being pushed by Christians. In fact, Catholic and Protestant leaders in CAR have joined forces alongside moderate Muslims to give a concrete, pastoral response to the situation, particularly regarding the large number of refugees and those internally displaced by the fighting. “There are many people whose homes were destroyed or who don't find themselves in safety,” the priest said, noting that many have either fled to nearby countries or are even taking refuge “in the forests.” Fighting now includes the element of revenge-killings, the priest said, explaining that in the capital, Bangui, there is a Muslim quarter entirely closed off to Christians which is particularly dangerous. Inside, there is “a strong presence of jihadists and extremists” who have killed either non-Muslims or moderate Muslims seeking to enter and offer assistance to those inside, as well as to help those who want to leave get out. “What happens is if they kill someone there, there is also a revenge to kill a Muslim in another area. If a Muslim is killed, there is also a revenge on their part,” Fr. Kozondo observed. “The things are also a situation of uncertainty. Today everything is ok. Tomorrow if someone is killed, something could erupt. This is what it’s becoming. Then, the civil population is in the middle.” Pope Francis himself is scheduled to visit the quarter Nov. 30, his last day in Africa, for a meeting with CAR's Muslim community at the central Mosque of Koudoukou. Though many have advised against the decision, as of now it’s still on the Pope's slate. Additionally, the Pope is also scheduled to visit a refugee camp that houses 1000-2000 people the same day he lands in Bangui, Nov. 29, after meeting with the country's authorities and interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza. During a Nov. 19 press briefing, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that Francis is visiting CAR precisely “to show that he's close to the people who suffer. So that's why it's his first stop after meeting the authorities.” After visiting the refugee camp, the Pope is slated to meet with the different Evangelical communities in CAR at the FATEB Headquarters (Evangelical Faculty of Theology of Bangui). It's a meeting, Fr. Lombardi said, directed “against the violence,” and will therefore draw together major Church leaders from the Catholic and Evangelical communities, as well as an imam, “seeking to build dialogue and peace.” In recent weeks speculation has arisen as to whether Pope Francis will decide to call off his visit to CAR completely due to the ongoing violence. On Nov. 16, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, suggested that while the plan as of now remains the same, the days in CAR could be cut off at the last minute. Speaking with journalists after a conference in Rome organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (Rome Pilgrim Office), Cardinal Parolin said that as far as Africa goes “the three stops remain, but we'll see depending on the situation on the ground.” In a Nov. 11 article, French newspaper Le Monde reported that officials at the French Ministry of Defense said the 900 French troops on the ground in CAR wouldn’t be able to guarantee the Pope’s safety, and would only be able to protect him at the airport. The head of the Vatican's security forces, Domenico Giani, is currently in CAR for a final assessment of the situation ahead of the Pope's arrival in Africa next week. However, instead of flying back to Rome and traveling with Francis on board the papal plane as usual, he will stay, and meet the Pope directly in Kenya. Fr. Lombardi stressed that Giani's presence doesn't signify anything new, and that as of now “nothing has changed.” “We're monitoring,” he said, adding that final decisions will be made “as the trip continues.” The spokesman also announced that Cardinal Parolin will not be with the Pope in CAR, but will leave after Uganda in order to go to Paris for the launch of the Nov. 30-Dec. 11 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Fr. Kozondo said that people are very enthusiastic for the Pope’s visit, and many believe it will be “a turning point” for the country. “They are preparing a lot every day,” he said, explaining that there is also an effort to quell the violence, so that Francis finds “a better situation” when he arrives. He told CNA that he believes the first step to working for lasting peace is “disarmament,” which is something that so far the country has been unable to achieve. “Without this, there will be people who don't feel safe,” he said, explaining that when people don't feel safe, they will continue to organize in an autonomous way to defend themselves. “It's very dangerous, very harmful when you can no longer protect the people, and the people organize themselves on their own. That is what we’re living.”

Pope sends condolences after deadly terrorist attack in Mali

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 11:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis condemned the “senseless violence” of Friday’s terrorist attack on a hotel which killed at least 22 people in Mali, and prayed for the “conversion of hearts.” The Pope was “appalled by this senseless violence,” and “strongly condemns it,” reads the telegram, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, according to Vatican Radio’s translation from French. “The Pope implores God for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace, and invokes abundance of Divine blessings on all those affected by this tragedy.” The Nov. 20 attack saw gunmen enter the Radisson Blu Hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. 22 people were killed in the attack, according to a statement Sunday by the UN’s Mali mission. CNN reports that witnesses say the terrorists shouted "Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great.” Two attackers are dead, but it is unclear if they were killed by security forces or by suicide bombs, CNN reports. “Pope Francis unites himself in prayer to the pain of bereaved families and the sadness of all Malians,” reads the telegram, which was released by the Holy See Press Office Nov. 22. The Pope “recommends all the victims to the mercy of God, praying that the Almighty welcome them into His light. He expresses his deepest sympathy with the injured and their families, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in their ordeal.” The attacks in Mali came just one week after 137 people, including seven perpetrators, were killed in widespread terrorist attacks in the center of Paris.

Pope Francis: While worldly kingdoms dominate, Christ’s kingdom liberates

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 09:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a world which employs “weapons of fear” and manipulation, the strength of Christ’s kingdom is founded in truth and love, Pope Francis said in his Sunday angelus address, during which he also remembered today’s persecuted Christians. “The strength of Christ’s reign is love,” the pontiff said Nov. 22, centering his reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Rather than oppressing us, Jesus’ Kingship “frees us from our weaknesses and miseries,” and encourages us on the path of “reconciliation and forgiveness.” “Christ is not a king who dominates us, who treats us as like subjects, but who elevates us to his own dignity.” Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis took a look at the account in John’s Gospel in which Jesus tells Pontius Pilate of his kingdom which is “not of this world.” There are two logics here which are juxtaposed to each other, the Pope said: the logic of the world, and the logic of the Gospel. Worldly logic is rooted on “ambition and competition,” he said, and “fights with weapons of fear, blackmail, and manipulation of conscience.” In contrast, the logic of the Gospel expresses itself “in humility and gratitude, silently yet effectively with the strength of the truth.” The Pope observed that Jesus’ kingship is revealed on the Cross. “In speaking of power and strength, for the Christian, means to refer to the power of the Cross and the strength of Jesus’ love.” This love, Pope Francis continued, “remains resolute and complete, even in the face of rejection, and which stands out as the achievement of a life spent in the total offering of self on behalf of humanity.” The pontiff recalled the passage from the Gospel of Mark which recounts how passersby on Calvary mockingly told Jesus to save himself and come down from the Cross. “If Jesus had descended from the Cross, he would have fallen to the temptation of the world’s princes,” the Pope said. Rather, in not saving himself, he was able to save “every one of us from our sins.” The pontiff spoke on the “good thief” who, crucified next to Jesus, says to him “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” With many wounds having been made in the world and “in the flesh of men,” the Pope asked for Mary’s intercession to help us imitate Jesus, our king, who “makes his kingdom present with his acts of tenderness, understanding, and mercy.” Following the recitation of the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis recalled Saturday’s beatification of Federico da Berga and his twenty-five companions, martyred in 1936 amid the persecution of the Church in Spain. The pontiff observed that these martyrs included priests, young friars awaiting ordination, as well as lay brothers of the Franciscan Capuchin Order of Friars Minor. “We entrust to their intercession our many brothers and sisters who, sadly, even today, in various parts of the world, are persecuted because of their faith in Christ.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks asking for prayers for his scheduled visit to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. “I ask all of you to pray for this journey, in order that it may be for all these brothers and sisters, as well as for me, a sign of closeness and love,” the Pope said. The pontiff then asked everyone to recite the Hail Mary, in order to intercede to Our Lady “to bless these beloved lands, in order that they may be in peace and prosperity.” Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Africa from Nov. 25-30, with his first stop in Kenya from Nov. 25-27, followed by Uganda Nov. 27-29, and finally the Central African Republic Nov. 29-30.

Priests aren't mushrooms: Pope Francis' reflection on priestly ministry, formation

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2015 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Friday spoke to a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II's decrees on the ministry and life of priests and on priestly training, noting priests' role as coming from the community and being for the community. The conference on Presbyterorum ordinis and Optatam totius was organized by the Congregation for the Clergy, and Pope Francis began his Nov. 20 address calling the two decrees “a seed, which the Council sowed in the life of the Church,” and which have “become a vigorous plant.” He noted the importance of the Congregation for the Clergy having competence over seminary formation (an innovation of Benedict XVI), because “in this way the dicastery can start to deal with the live and ministry of priests from the moment of their entrance into seminary, working to ensure that vocations are promoted and cared for, and may blossom into the lives of holy priests. The path of sanctity of a priest begins in seminary!” Pope Francis began his address, delivered in the Vatican's Sala Regia, from “ the relationship between priests and other people … given that the vocation to the priesthood is a gift that God gives to some for the good of all.” He reflected on Presbyterorum ordinis' use of a text from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Priests, who are taken from among men and ordained for men in the things that belong to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, nevertheless live on earth with other men as brothers amid brothers,” and urged: “Let us consider these three moments: 'taken from among men', 'ordained for men', and 'present among other men'.” A priest, Pope Francis said, “is a man who is born in a certain human context: there he learns the primary values, absorbs the spirituality of the people, grows accustomed to relations.” “Priests also have a history, they are not 'mushrooms' which sprout up suddenly in the cathedral on the day of their ordination.” “It is important for formators and priests themselves to remember this and to know how to take into account this personal history along the path of formation … this means that one cannot become a priest, believing that one has been formed in a laboratory, no; he starts in the family with the 'handing on' of the faith and with all the experiences of the family.” He added that each vocation is personalized, “because it is the concrete person who is called to discipleship and the priesthood.” The Pope added that the family, the domestic Church, is the “center of pastoral work” and the “firest and fundamental place of human formation, which can germinate in young people the desire for a life concieved as a vocational path, to be trod with commitment and generosity.” “A good priest, therefore, is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history, with its riches and its wounds, who has learned to make peace with this, achieving the fundamental serenity proper to one of the Lord's disciples. Human formation is therefore a necessity for priests, so that they learn not to be dominate by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use.” A priest is “a man at peace” who diffuses serenity, “even at strenuous moments, transmitting the beauty of a relationship with the Lord.” “We priests are apostles of joy: we announce the Gospel, which is the quintessential 'good news'; we certainly do not give strength to the Gospel … but we can favour or hinder the encounter between the Gospel and people. Our humanity is the 'earthen vessel' in which we conserve God's treasure, a vessel we must take care of, so as to transmit well its precious contents.” The Pope urged priests against “loosing their roots”: a priest “always remains a man of the people and the culture that have produced him; our roots help us to remember who we are and to where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from above but are instead called by God, who takes us 'from among men', to 'ordain us for men'.” The second point, Pope Francis stated, is 'for men': “This is fundamental point in the life and ministry of priests. Responding to God's call, we become priests to serve our brothers and sisters. The images of Christ we take as a point of reference for our ministry as priests are clear: he is the 'high priest', at the same time close to God and close to man; he is the 'servant', who washes the feet and makes himself close to the weakest; and he is the 'good shepherd', who always cares for his flock.” These three images, the Pope reflected, show that “we are not priests for ourselves, and our own sanctification is closely linked to that of our people, our anointment with theirs. You have been anointed for your people. Knowing and remembering that we are ordained for the people, the holy people of God, helps priests not to think of themselves, to be authoritative, not authoritarian; firm but not hard; joyful but not superficial: in short, pastors, not functionaries.” He recalled that “St. Ambrose, in the fourth century, said: 'Where there is mercy, there is the spirit of the Lord; where there is rigidity there are only his ministers'. The minister without the Lord becomes rigid, and this is a peril for the people of God. Pastors, not functionaries.” The mission of priests benefit “the people of God and all humanity,” Pope Francis said, adding that “human formation, as well as intellectual and spiritual formation, flow naturally into pastoral formation, providing tools, virtues, and personal dispositions. When all this harmonizes and blends with a genuine missionary zeal, along the path of a lifetime, the priest can fulfil the mission entrusted by Christ to his Church.” “Finally, what is born with the people must stay with the people. The priests is always 'among other men': he is not a professional of pastoral ministry or evangelisation, who arrives and does what he has to do – perhaps well, but as if it were a profession like any other – before then going away and living a life apart. One becomes a priest in order to stay in the midst of the people,” he said. Pope Francis then reflected on the particular ministry of bishops, saying that one can often hear priests complaining that he called his bishop with a problem, and “the secretary, the secretary told me he is very busy … he cannot see me for three months.” In response to such a situation, Pope Francis had two pieces of advice for bishops: have time for your priests, and spend time in your diocese. “A bishop is always busy, thanks be to God, but if you, a bishop, receive a call from a priest and cannot take it because you have so much work, at least pick up the phone and call him and say: 'Is it urgent? Not urgent? Well, come this day …', so that you feel close. There are bishops who seem to move away from priests … Proximity, at least one phone call! This is the love of a father, fraternity.” His second point for bishops, spend time in your diocese, he demonstrated by caricaturing a bishop saying, “No, I have a conference in that city and then I have a trip to America, and then …” But Pope Francis reminded them that “look, the decree of residence of Trent is still valid! And if you do not like to remain in the diocese, resign, and travel the world doing another very good apostolate. But if you're the bishop of that diocese, have residence there. These two things, proximity and residence. But this is for us bishops! One becomes a priest in order to say in the midst of the people.” “The good that priests can do arises above all from their closeness and their tender love for people. They are not philanthropists or functionaries, but fathers and brothers. The fatherhood of a priest does so much good,” Pope Francis said. He reflected on how priests are called to make concrete God's love for the people, and turned to Confession. “Always you can find ways to give absolution. This is good. But sometimes, you cannot absolve. There are priests who say: 'No, this I cannot absolve, go away'. This is not the way. If you cannot give absolution, explain and say: 'God loves you very much, God wishes you well. To come to God there are so many ways. I cannot give you absolution, but I give you a blessing. But return, always return here, for whenever you return I will give you a blessing as a sign that God loves you'. And the man or the woman goes away full of joy because they have found an icon of the Father, who never refuses; in one way or another, they have been embraced.” The Pope then offered as an examination of conscience for priests, to ask “Where is my heart? Among the people, praying with and for the people, involved in their joys and sufferings, or rather among the things of the world, worldly affairs, my private space?” He concluded his address by calling the conference to offer its work to the Church as a useful reflection on Vatican II's words on the priesthood, “contributing to the formation of priests … configured always to the Lord.”