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Today’s News Dispatch: Dec. 14, 2015

Pope at Morning Mass: Don’t Panic, God Is Greater Than Our Sins

At Casa Santa Marta, Tells Faithful Hope Allows Us to See Beyond All Problems, Pain

“Hope is a Christian virtue that is a great gift from God and that allows us to see beyond problems, pain, difficulties, beyond our sins. It allows us to see the beauty of God”.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at his residence Casa Santa Marta, underscoring that those who have hope have the freedom and strength to see beyond the bad times, as well as opens up horizons and gives us freedom.

Reflecting on today’s Gospel, in which the chief priests question Jesus and ask with which authority does He act, the Pope said: “They have no horizons, they are men who are locked in their calculations, they are slaves to their rigidity”

“Human calculations,”  the Pontiff warned, “close hearts and shut out freedom”, while “hope gives us levity.”

Drawing inspiration from today’s first reading from the Book of Numbers, which tells of Balaam, a prophet hired by a king to curse Israel, the Pope observed that Balaam “had his faults, and he had sins as well, because we all have sins. We are all sinners”.

Don’t Panic

Pope Francis told those gathered not to panic, and reminded them, “God is greater than our sins”.

The Holy Father noted that at a certain point, Balaam meets the angel of the Lord and has a change of heart, and understands what his error is. Balaam opens his heart, repents and sees the truth, Francis noted, because “with good will one always sees the truth. Truth that gives hope.”

While Francis reflected on the beauty of freedom, of the hope of men and women of the Church, he also criticized the rigidity of others in the Church and “that clerical stiffness that contains no hope.”

2 Paths

“In this Year of Mercy,” the Pope said, “there are these two paths: one of those who hope in God’s mercy and know that God is the Father; and then there are those who take refuge in the slavery of rigidity and know nothing of God’s mercy.”

Before concluding, Pope Francis recalled an event that occurred during a Mass for the ill, in Buenos Aires in 1992. He recalled that he had been confessing for many hours when he received a very old woman “with eyes that were full of hope.

“I said: ‘Grandma, are you coming to confession?’ Because I was about to leave. ‘Yes’ she answered and I said: ‘you have not sinned’.  She said: ‘Father: we have all sinned – But God forgives all’. ‘How do you know?’ I asked, and she said: ‘Because if God did not forgive all, the world would not exist.’”

Therefore, Pope Francis highlighted, before these two types of people, “the free one, the one with hope who brings God’s mercy,”  and “the closed, legalistic slave of his own rigidity,” we are to “remember the words of the old lady and the lesson she gave me: ‘God  forgives all, He is  just waiting for you to get close to Him.'”

***

Pope Meets President of Sri Lanka

During Cordial Discussions Recalling Pontiff’s Visit to Buddhist Nation, Attention Drawn to Importance of Interreligious Dialogue

This morning, Pope Francis received the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, in the Vatican.

According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the discussions were cordial and began with a recollection of the Holy Father’s visit to Sri Lanka last January. Marking his second Apostolic Visit to Asia after having visited South Korea in August 2014, Pope Francis visited the Philippines and Sri Lanka, Jan. 12-19, 2015.

The talks, the statement noted, “focused on certain aspects of the country’s recent history and the process of peace and reconciliation that is underway, with the hope that it may contribute to promoting stable social harmony,” and underscored “the contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of society and the importance of interreligious dialogue.”

There was also an exchange of opinions on the theme of the environment and an evaluation of the results of the conference on climate change, which recently concluded in Paris.

After meeting with the Holy Father, the Sri Lankan president subsequently met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Sri Lanka is officially Buddhist, with about 70% of the population professing that religion. Another 12.6% are Hindu and 9.7% are Muslim. Catholics make up about 6% of the population and another 1% profess other Christian creeds. 

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, though a small minority, has a unique role in the country, since Catholics come from both the main ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and Tamils. Most Sinhalese are Buddhist, while most Tamils are Muslim and Hindu, but the Sinhalese and Tamils who are Catholic worship together. (D.C.L.)

Pope’s Homily for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

‘“The Lord is near,” says the Apostle Paul, and nothing should make us anguished.’
Below is an unofficial Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis’ homily delivered Saturday evening when celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

***

“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” (Zep 3:17-18). These words of the prophet Zephaniah, addressed to Israel, may also be referred to Mary, the Church, and every person, all of whom are loved by God’s merciful love. Yes, God loves us so much that he even rejoices and takes pleasure in us. He loves us with gratuitous love, love without limits, and without expecting anything in return. This merciful love is the most striking attribute of God, the synthesis of which is condensed the Gospel message, the faith of the Church.

The word “mercy” – misericordia – is composed of two words: misery and heart. The heart indicates the capacity to love; mercy is that love, which embraces the misery of the human person. It is a love that “feels” our poverty as its own, with a view to freeing us of it. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:9-10). “The Word became flesh,” with the intention of sharing all our frailties – with the intention of experiencing our human condition, even unto taking upon himself the Cross, with all the pain of human existence. Such is the abyss of compassion and mercy: a fusion, in order to make himself company, and to place himself in the service of a wounded humanity. No sin can cancel his merciful closeness or prevent him from unleashing the grace of conversion, provided we invoke it.

Indeed, sin itself makes more radiant the love of God who, to ransom a slave, sacrificed his Son. That mercy of God comes to us with the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, enables, generates and nourishes the new life of his disciples. For, howsoever great and grave the sins of the world, the Spirit, who renews the face of the earth, makes possible the miracle of a life that is more human, more full of joy and hope. Let us, too, shout with jubilation: “The Lord is my God and Savior!”

“The Lord is near,” says the apostle Paul, and nothing should make us anguished. The greatest mercy lies in his being in our midst, in our being in his presence and company. He walks with us, he shows us the path of love, lifts us up in our falls, holds us to our labors, accompanies us in all circumstances of our existence. He opens our eyes to see themselves and the world miseries, but also fills us with hope. “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7). This is the source of our life made peaceful and happy; nothing can steal this peace and joy, despite the sufferings and trials of life. Let us cultivate this experience of mercy, peace and hope during Advent, through which we are making our way in light of the Jubilee year. Announcing the Good News to the poor, as John the Baptist, performing works of mercy, is a good way to look for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

In Mary, God rejoices and is especially pleased. In one of the prayers most cherished by Christians, the Salve Regina, we call Mary “mother of mercy.” She has experienced the divine mercy, and has hosted the very source of this mercy in her womb: Jesus Christ. She, who has always lived intimately united with her Son, knows better than anyone what he wants: that all men be saved, and that God’s tenderness and consolation will not fail anyone. May Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us to understand how much God loves us.

To Blessed Mary we entrust the sufferings and joys of people throughout the Americas, who love her as a mother and recognize her as Patroness under the beloved title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That “the sweetness of her gaze be with us in this Holy Year, so that we might rediscover the joy of the tenderness of God” (Cf. Bull Misericordiae vultus, 24). We ask her that this jubilee year will be a planting of merciful love in the hearts of individuals, families and nations. Let us convert and become merciful people, and may all Christian communities be oases and sources of mercy, witnesses to a charity that does not allow exclusions. Let us implore her to guide the footsteps of the American people, a pilgrim people looking for the Mother of mercy and asks her to show them her Son Jesus.

[Original Text: Italian] [Unofficial translation by Vatican Radio]

***

Pope Francis Confirms February Visit to Mexico

Vatican Has Released Feb. 12-18 Trip’s Full Schedule

On Saturday, Pope Francis confirmed that he will visit Mexico, Feb. 12-18, and the Vatican has released the full schedule which can be found below. This visit marks the Argentine Pope’s fourth visit to Latin America. During his intense itinerary, the Pope will meet with youth, prisoners, sick children, and will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City .

***
Friday 12 February 2016

12:30     Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for Mexico City

19:30     Arrival at “Benito Juárez” International Airport in Mexico City

             Official Reception

Saturday 13 February 2016

09:30     Welcoming ceremony at the National Palace            

             Courtesy Visit to the President of the Republic

10:15     Meeting with Civil Authorities and Diplomatic Corps (Discourse by the Holy Father)

11:30     Meeting with the Bishops of Mexico in the Cathedral (Discourse by the Holy Father)

17:00     Holy Mass in the Basilica of Guadalupe (Homily by the Holy Father)

Sunday 14 February 2016

09:20     Transfer by helicopter to Ecatepec

10:30     Holy Mass in the area of the Study Centre of Ecatepec (Homily/Angelus by the Holy Father)

12:50     Transfer by helicopter to Mexico City   

13:10     Arrival in Mexico City    

16:30     Visit to the Pediatric Hospital “Federico Gómez”  (Greetings by the Holy Father)

18:00     Meeting with the World of Culture in the National Auditorium (Discourse by the Holy Father)

Monday 15 February 2016

07:30     Departure by plane for Tuxtla Gutiérrez             

09:15     Transfer by helicopter to San Cristóbal de Las Casas      

10:15     Holy Mass with the indigenous community of Chiapas at the Municipal Sports (Homily by the Holy Father)

13:00     Lunch with indigenous representatives and the Papal entourage

15:00     Visit to the Cathedral of San Cristòbal de las Casas    

15:35     Transfer by helicopter to Tuxtla Gutiérrez         

16:15     Meeting with Families in “Víctor Manuel Reyna” Stadium at Tuxtla Gutiérrez (Discourse by the Holy Father)

18:10     Departure by plane for Mexico City      

20:00     Arrival at the airport in Mexico City       

Tuesday 16 February 2016

07:50     Departure by airplane for Morelia         

10:00     Holy Mass with priests, religious, consecrated persons, and seminarians (Homily by the Holy Father)

15:15     Visit to the Cathedral

16:30     Meeting with Young People at “José María Morelos y Pavón” Stadium (Discourse by the Holy Father)

18:55     Departure by plane for Mexico City

20:00     Arrival in Mexico City    

Wednesday 17 February 2016

08:35     Departure by plane for Ciudad Juárez  

10:00     Arrival at “Abraham González” International Airport in Ciudad Juárez  

10:30     Visit to a prison (CeReSo n.3) (Discourse by the Holy Father)

12:00     Meeting with the World of Work at the Colegio de Bachilleres dello Stato of Chihuahua (Discourse by the Holy Father)

16:00     Holy Mass at the fairgrounds of Ciudad Juárez  (Homily + greeting by the Holy Father)

19:00     Departure Ceremony at Ciudad Juárez International Airport               

19:15     Departure by plane for Rome (Ciampino Airport)

Thursday 18 February 2016

14:45     Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino Airport         

***

Pope’s Address to “Policoro Project” of Italian Episcopal Conference

How many young people today are victims of unemployment! And when there is no work, dignity is at risk, because the lack of work not only does not enable one to bring the bread home, but it does not make one feel worthy of earning one’s life! Young people are victims of this today.”

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address to the groups of the “Policoro Project” of the Italian Episcopal Conference in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall this morning:

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I give you my cordial welcome. Thank you for having come in such numbers!

Born twenty years ago was the Policoro Project, fruit of the Ecclesiastical Congress of Palermo. The project came to light for a specific purpose: to single out answers to the existential question of so many young people that risk passing from work unemployment to life unemployment.

In its attempt to combine the Gospel with the concreteness of life, this project represented immediately a great initiative of youthful promotion, a real occasion of local development of a national dimension. Its forceful ideas marked its success: the formation of young people, the launching of cooperatives, the creation of mediation figures,  such as the “community animators,” and a long series of concrete gestures, a visible sign of the commitment to active presence over these twenty years.

With its concrete attention to the territory and to the search for shared solutions, the Policoro Project has demonstrated how the quality of “free, creative. participative and solidaristic” work expresses and always makes the dignity of human life itself grow (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 192). We must not lose sight of the urgency to reaffirm this dignity! It is proper to each and all. Every worker has the right to see him protected, and in particular, young people must be able to cultivate the confidence that their efforts, their enthusiasm, the investment of their energies and their resources will not be futile.

How many young people today are victims of unemployment! And when there is no work, dignity is at risk, because the lack of work not only does not enable one to bring the bread home, but it does not make one feel worthy of earning one’s life! Young people are victims of this today. How many of them have by now stopped looking for work, resigned to the continuous rejections or indifference of a society that prizes only the privileged – even if they are corrupt – and impedes those who merit affirming themselves. The prize seems to go to those who are sure of themselves, although this security was acquired by corruption. Work is not a gift kindly granted to a few that are recommended: it is the right of all!

You certainly represent a concrete sign of hope for the many that are not resigned, but who have decided to commit themselves with courage to create or improve their own work possibilities. My invitation is that you continue to promote initiatives of youth involvement in a communal and participative way. There is often so much solitude behind a work project: sometimes our young people find themselves having to face a thousand difficulties without any help. The families themselves, which also support them,  — often also economically – cannot do so much, and many are constrained to give up, discouraged.

You can do your part here. To the question, “What has the Church to do with my situation” – which you have said and felt so many times – the answer has been “testimony.” And here you can come in with your testimony, body to body, with those in need of courage, of support. To support new energies often for work; to promote a style of creativity that puts minds and arms around the same table; to think together, to plan together, to receive together and to give help: these are the most effective ways to express solidarity as gift. And here the Church comes in, because she is Mother of all! The Church brings everyone around the table.

Thus, young people rediscover the “vocation” to work – the vocation to work, which is one of the traits of human dignity; there is no vocation to laziness, but to work –, the lofty sense of a commitment that also goes beyond its economic result, to become the building of the world, of the society and of life. Often the idea of work as “fulfilment” of the person has been confused with a certain model of wealth and wellbeing, which pushes one to inhuman rhythms. Let it not be so for you: it is better to educate young generations to seek the just measure. One learns what is truly necessary in the school of the Gospel, so that our life does not slip from our hands, following the idols of a false wellbeing.

Therefore, the correct life is found in the school of the Gospel. It’s true, Jesus did not teach directly how to invent work possibilities for ourselves, but His word does not cease to be timely, concrete, alive, capable of touching the whole man and all men. It speaks to us also today: it exhorts us to make of our ideas, of our plans, of our desire to do and to create happy news for the world.

Your task is not simply to help young people to find an occupation: it is also the responsibility to evangelize, through the sanctifying value of work. Not of any work! Not of work that exploits, that crushes, that humiliates, that mortifies, but of work that renders man truly free, in keeping with his noble dignity.

Thank you for your commitment. I entrust you to the intercession of Saint Joseph the Worker. May the Face of God’s mercy, which always illumined the Holy Family entrusted to him in custody, shine on your path and indicate ways of creativity and hope. I have your work much at heart, because I suffer when I see so many young without work, unemployed. To think that here in Italy, from 25 years down almost 40% of youths are unemployed! What does a youth without work do? He gets sick and has to go to the psychiatrist, or he falls into addictions or commits suicide – the statistics of youth suicides are not published – or he seeks something that gives him an ideal and becomes a guerrilla. Think: these young people are our flesh, they are the flesh of Christ and therefore our work must go forward to support them and suffer in ourselves their hidden, silent suffering, which so anguishes their heart. I assure you of my prayer, I am close to you: count on me for this, because this touches me so much. And please, do not forget to pray for me, because I am also in need of prayers.

Our Lady looked at Saint Joseph, as he taught Jesus to work. Let us pray to Our Lady to teach us how to help to find work, work for so many young people.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

***

Briefing: Council of Cardinals Continues Curia Reform Efforts

At Conclusion of C9’s 12th Meeting, Fr. Lombardi Speaks on Cardinals’ Commitment to 2 New Dicasteries, Financial Transparency, Protecting Minors

The Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, has taken Pope Francis’ words about a ‘health decentralization’ within the Church seriously, and is moving ahead with reforming the Roman Curia.
 
During a briefing held this Saturday on the twelfth meeting of the C9, Dec. 10-12, Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, expressed this.

The Council had begun its work on Thursday morning, after concelebrating Mass with the Holy Father at Santa Marta, and finished Saturday morning. Pope Francis and all Council members attended all the meetings.

 
In its reflections, Fr. Lombardi recalled, the Council members emphasized the importance of the Holy Father’s Oct. 17 discourse, on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synod of Bishops, where he extensively developed the theme of ‘synodality,’ but also recalled the importance of proceeding with a healthy decentralization.
 
At this week’s meeting, the Vatican spokesman noted, the Council remarked on “the need to further explore the meaning of this discourse and its importance in the work of reforming the Curia, and agreed to dedicate a specific session to this during the next meeting in February 2016.”
 
The Council, he added, resumed its work on the two new dicasteries, mentioned several times previously. “The dicastery dedicated to the ‘Laity, Family and Life’, whose institution was announced by the Pope during the Synod on Oct. 22, was the subject of a proposal formulated by the Council and presented to the Pope, which will now provide the apposite path for reaching the final decisions of the Holy Father.” 
 
He also noted that the dicastery concerned with “Justice, peace and migrations” was the subject of further consideration, with a view to arriving at conclusive proposals to be presented to the Holy Father.”
 

On Thursday, during the first meeting, the Council heard Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and reflected on the congregation, its activities, its competencies and its role also in the field of ecumenical relations.

Transparency

On Friday, the C9 heard two reports regarding reform of the economy from Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Council for the Economy, and from Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, who referred to the activity of and results achieved by the two institutions.
 
“Cardinal Marx also reported on the choice of the external auditor for the consolidated financial statements – the company PricewaterhouseCooper “PwC”, recently made public. Cardinal Pell spoke about the constitution of a working group to consider the future of the economy of the Holy City and Vatican City State, on the progress and overall control of income and spending. The group, composed of representatives from the Secretariat for the Economy, the Secretariat of State, the Governorate, APSA, Propaganda Fide, the Secretariat for Communication and the IOR, has already commenced work with a first meeting.”
 
The Council of Cardinals acknowledged the positive nature and importance of the work carried out by the Council for the Economy and the Secretariat, and encouraged its further progress. “Cardinal Sean O’Malley,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and its specific working groups, for instance on the development of education and formation programs, assistance to episcopal conferences for the drafting of guidelines at local level, and so on.”
 
On Saturday morning, the council established the calendar for forthcoming meetings and a provisional agenda for the meeting to take place in February next year. The meetings in 2016 will take place on: February 8-9, April 11-13, June 6-8, Sept. 12-14, and Dec. 12-14.
 
***

Text of Pope’s Rescriptum Ex Audientia on Implementing New Law on Annulment Proceedings

“The laws that now come into effect are intended precisely to show the Church’s closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many who experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ’s healing work through ecclesiastical structures, in the hope that they may again discover themselves to be God’s missionaries to their brethren, for the good of the institution of the family.”

Pope Francis signed the following Rescriptum ex audientia on the implementation of and compliance with the new law on procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage on the afternoon of December 7, 2015:
***

“The entry into force – which happily coincides with the Jubilee of Mercy – of the Apostolic Letters in the form of Motu proprio ‘Mitis Iudex Dominus’ and ‘Mitis et Misericors Iesus’ of 15 August 2015, given to bring justice and mercy on the truth of the bond to those who have experienced the failure of their marriage, necessitates among other things the need to harmonise the renewed procedures for marriage annulment with the regulations of the Roman Rota, awaiting their reform.
 
The recently concluded Synod of Bishops strongly exhorted the Church to stoop to the ‘most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love’, restoring trust and hope.
 
The laws that now come into effect are intended precisely to show the Church’s closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many who experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ’s healing work through ecclesiastical structures, in the hope that they may again discover themselves to be God’s missionaries to their brethren, for the good of the institution of the family.
 
Acknowledging the jurisdiction of the Roman Rota as the ordinary court of appeal of the Apostolic See, and also its office in safeguarding the unity of the jurisprudence (art. 126 para. 1 Pastor bonus) and contributing to the continuing formation of pastoral workers in the Tribunals of the local Churches, I decree the following:
 
I. The aforementioned laws for the reform of marriage annulment procedures repeal or waive any contrary law or regulation currently in force – general, particular or special – eventually also approved in a specific form (such as, for example, the Motu proprio ‘Qua cura’ given by my predecessor Pius IX in times very different from the present).
 
II.
 
1. In marriage annulment cases before the Roman Rota, doubt must be cast according to the long-standing formula: An constet de matrimonii nullitate, in casu.
 
2. There shall be no appeal against the decisions of the Rota in matters of the nullity of sentences or decrees.
 
3 Appeal for the N.C.P. (nova causae propositio) is not permitted before the Roman Rota after one of the parties has contracted a new canonical marriage, unless the decision can be demonstrated to be manifestly unjust.
 
4. The Dean of the Roman Rota has the authority to dispense with the Normae Romanae Rotae Tribunalis in procedural matters for a serious cause.
 
5. As wished by the Patriarchs of the Oriental Churches, the territorial tribunals shall have jurisdiction over the iurium cases connected with marriage annulment cases submitted to the judgement of the Roman Rota at appeal.
 
6. The Roman Rota shall decide cases according to the principle of evangelical gratuity, that is by ex officio patronage, notwithstanding the moral obligation of the more affluent faithful to offer a just contribution towards the causes of the poor.
 
May the faithful, especially the wounded and unhappy, look to the new Jerusalem that is the Church as ‘the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship’ and may it be granted to them, finding again the open arms of the Body of Christ, to sing the Psalm of the Exiles: ‘When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy’”.
 
[Courtesy of Vatican Information Service]

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Explanation of ‘Rescriptum’ on Annulment Procedures

“Because every epoch-making law, such as the law to reform the procedures for marriage annulment, meets understandable resistance, the Pope wished to emphasise, as St. John Paul II did with the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law of 1983, that the law has been promulgated and must be complied with”

Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, explained the Holy Father’s Rescriptum ex audientia on the new law for marriage annulment procedures in an article published Friday in “L’Osservatore Romano,” and made available via the Vatican Information Service:

“In the introductory report at the opening of the Ordinary Synod, Cardinal Erdo outlined one of the chief aims of the synodal meeting. Indeed, the general rapporteur stated that by virtue of the sacrament of marriage, the Christian family becomes an asset for the Church, but its inclusion in the context of the Church is also beneficial to the family, which is helped spiritually and community even in difficulties, and it helps to protect the marriage union and discern the respective obligations or eventual shortcomings.

The reality and the mission of the Church as defined by her divine founder, Jesus, therefore become clear to the Synod Fathers. The Church in via is not the Church of the perfect, but the community of the faithful who acknowledge themselves daily as sinners and therefore in need of conversion, which is the strength of Pope Francis’ ecclesiology.

The Synod thus showed that the large number of faithful who are wounded or in an uneasy relationship in terms of their adherence – in the practice of the faith – with the truth of the Gospel, are not a burden, but an opportunity, that may drive many of these ‘wounded’ to become, once reconciled and healed, true missionaries of the beauty of the sacrament of marriage and the Christian family. Again, with reference to Cardinal Erdo’s report, the organic integration of the marriage and the family of Christians in the reality of the Church also requires that the ecclesial community pay merciful and realistic attention to the faithful who live together or live in civil marriage only since they do not feel prepared to celebrate the sacrament, given the difficulties that such a choice may result in today. If the community can prove itself to be welcoming to these people, in various situations of life, and clearly present the truth about marriage, it will help these faithful to come to a decision in favour of sacramental marriage.

The Rescriptum signed by Pope Francis on the reform process, introduced by the two Apostolic Letters issued Motu Proprio on 15 August 2015, clearly shows that legal reform is perfectly consistent with the ecclesiological vision characteristic of his papacy as gradually outlined in his teaching from the beginning, and which he himself has clearly confirmed in the acts of these recent weeks.

In the homily of Mass for the opening of the Jubilee year on 8 December, the Pontiff described the fulfilment of Vatican Council II: ‘A genuine encounter between the Church and the men and women of our time. An encounter marked by the power of the Spirit, who impelled the Church to emerge from the shoals which for years had kept her self-enclosed so as to set out once again, with enthusiasm, on her missionary journey. It was the resumption of a journey of encountering people where they live: in their cities and homes, in their workplaces. Wherever there are people, the Church is called to reach out to them and to bring the joy of the Gospel’.

Earlier still, in his important discourse commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis offered a summary of conciliar ecclesiology, showing how the hierarchical role of the Roman Pontiff is dedicated to service, presenting him as the supreme witness of the fides totius Ecclesiae, guarantor of the obedience to and compliance of the Church with the will of God, Christ’s Gospel and the Tradition of the Church.

The papal Rescript published today rests on these ecclesiological bases. It is divided into two parts, for the interpretation and integration of the two Motu Proprio. 

In the first, because every epoch-making law, such as the law to reform the procedures for marriage annulment, meets understandable resistance, the Pope wished to emphasise, as St. John Paul II did with the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law of 1983, that the law has been promulgated and must be complied with (see the apostolic constitution ‘Sacrae disciplinae leges’). The rescript of Pope Francis today, like the promulgation of the Code of St. John Paul II, obeys the lex suprema, the salus animarum, of which the successor of Peter is the first teacher and servant.

The second part of the Rescript specifically relates to the Roman Rota as the apostolic Tribunal, which has always been distinguished by wisdom in its legal decisions, of which it is an expression of the generic doubt (whereas in the lower courts there remains the obligation of the specific doubt, such as for example the exclusion of offspring); expressing, from the perspective of ecclesial diakonia, the concern for justice in its dual sacredness: on the one hand, the defence of the truth itself of the marriage bond, and on the other the right of the baptised to receive from the Church the prompt and free declaration of this truth of the bond itself”.

 

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