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Day: October 17, 2015

Schedule for Apostolic Voyage in Africa

(Vatican Radio) The program for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic was released on Saturday. The November 25-30 journey will be Pope Francis’ first visit to Africa as Pope.
The five day visit will include a visit to a poor neighbourhood in Nairobi, Kenya; a visit to the Anglican and Catholic martyrs’ shrines in Namugongo, Uganda; and a visit to a refugee camp in the Central African Republic.
Below, please find the program for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic:
Wednesday 25 November 2015
07:45     Departure from Rome Fiumicino to Nairobi, Kenya
17:00     Arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi
Welcome ceremony at the State House
18:00     Courtesy visit to the President of the Republic at the State House in Nairobi
18:30     Meeting with the civil authorities of Kenya and with the diplomatic corps
Thursday 26 November 2015
08:15     Interreligious and Ecumenical Meeting in the Salon of the Apostolic Nunciature in Nairobi
10:00     Holy Mass on the Campus of the University of Nairobi
15:45     Meeting with clergy, religious men and women, and seminarians, at the athletic field of St Mary’s  School
17:30     Visit to the United Nations Office in Nairobi (U.N.O.N.)
Friday 27 November 2015
08:30     Visit to the poor neighbourhood of Kangemi in Nairobi
10:00     Meeting with young people in Kasarani Stadium
11:15     Meeting with the Bishops of Kenya in the VIP room of the Stadium
15:10     Farewell ceremony at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi
15:15     Departure by air from Nairobi for Entebbe
16:50     Arrival at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda
Saturday 28 November 2015
08:30     Visit to the Anglican Sanctuary of the Martyrs at Namugongo
09:00     Visit to the Catholic Sanctuary of the Martyrs at Namugongo
09:30     Holy Mass for the Martyrs of Uganda in the area of the Catholic Sanctuary
15:15     Meeting with yout at Kololo Air Strip in Kampala
17:00     Visit to the House of Charity of Nalukolongo
18:00     Meeting with the Bishops of Uganda in the Residence of the Archbishop
19:00     Meeting with priests, religious men and women, and seminarians in the Cathedral
Sunday 29 November 2015
09:00     Farewell ceremony at the Airport of Entebbe
09:15     Departure by air from Entebbe for Bangui in the Central African Republic
10:00     Arrival at M’Poko International Airport of Bangui
Welcome ceremony
11:00     Courtesy visit to the president of the state of transition in the Presidential Palace “de la Renaissance”
11:30     Meeting with civic leaders and with the diplomatic corps
12:15     Visit to a refugee camp
13:00     Meeting with the Bishops of the Central African Republic
16:00     Meeting with the Evangelical Community at the headquarters of FATEB (the Faculty of Evangelical Theology of Bangui)
17:00     Holy Mass with priests, religious men and women, catechists, and young people at the Cathedral of Bangui
19:00     Confessions of some young people; and the beginning of the Vigil of Prayer in front of the Cathedral
Monday 30 November 2015
08:15     Meeting with the Muslim community in the central Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui
09:30     Holy Mass in the Stadium at the Barthélémy Boganda Sports Complex
12:15     Departure ceremony at M’Poko International Airport of Bangui
12:30     Departure by air for Rome
18:45     Arrival at Rome/Ciampino Airport
(from Vatican Radio)…

Card Nichols on the 50th Anniversary of the Synod of Bishops

(Vatican Radio) The Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome took the opportunity on Saturday of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Synod of Bishops by Pope Paul VI. The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, was among the Synod Fathers speaking on the event. Cardinal Nichols spoke on the “Importance and Influence of the Synod of Bishops on the Life and Mission of the Church in Europe.”
Below, please find the full text of Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ address: 
Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary
of the Creation of the Synod of Bishops
17 October 2015,Aula Paolo VI
Importance and influence of the Synod of Bishops in the life and mission of the Church in Europe
Reflections of H.E. Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
Most Holy Father, Your Eminences, your Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, Sisters, Ladies and Gentlemen; brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is an honour to speak to you about the Synod of Bishops from a European perspective and in relation to the impact of the Synod of Bishops on Europe. Some of you may well be asking, ‘Why is someone from that offshore island speaking on behalf of this great continent?’ For an answer you have to ask His Eminence Cardinal Baldisseri.
i)  Collegialitas Affectiva
I will begin in a very personal manner. I started my seminary formation in 1963. In September of that year, at the age of 17, I arrived in the Venerable English College, here in Rome,shortly before the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council. For these meetings of the Council all the bishops of England and Wales resided in the English College. For a young 17 year old, the sight of so many bishops was a wonder to behold! I had never seen anything like it. I have become more accustomed to it now! But it was there that I learned my first lesson in the meaning of Episcopal Collegiality, ‘ collegialitas affectiva ‘.
If I remember correctly, during that second session, each morning the bishops came down the College staircase, one by one, and were collected at the door, individually, and brought by car to St Peter’s Basilica for the day’s proceedings of the Council. It was the prince bishop escorted fittingly to his important task.
By the third and fourth sessions of the Council, however, the scene had changed. Now the bishops came down the stairs together, walking out of the doors of the College and on into the Piazza Farnese where they all entered a bus and travelled together for their day’s work. Now they were brothers in the Lord, bound together in the challenge of a shared task, being fashioned into an affective college in a new spirit flowing through the Church. The Synod of Bishops, created in 1965, was a key way in which that spirit was to be expressed and strengthened. Without doubt, it has fashioned strong and enriching relationships between bishops and between bishops and the Holy Father which would have been unimaginable before the Council.
ii) Eurocentrism
My task however is to reflect on the Synod and Europe. In doing so, I ask you to remember that in the course of the 20th Century, Europe was possibly the most clearly divided of all the continents. Two great wars and a long period of ‘cold war’, two powerful atheistic ideologies, had rendered the continent and its people into powerful warring factions, wars that had cost millions of lives and fashioned inflexible attitudes and stereotypes in the minds of all. Europe was not only deeply divided but also absorbed within itself.
Slowly, the meetings and the work of the Synod of Bishops have contributed to the dissolving of our Euro-centric vision not only of the world but also of the Church. Some may speak of it as the internationalisation of the Curia. But it goes deeper than that.
It has been to do with the profound discovery that the riches of the Church are to be found well beyond its European heartland and the European-led missionary endeavours of the last century and before. For example, here in this Aula, I first came to appreciate the perseverance of the missionary endeavour of the Church in Japan which over a hundred years has born little explicit fruit and yet is continued to this day. The struggles and heroism of the Church in China have been eloquently expressed here simply by the enforced absence of Chinese bishops from this hall. The conflicts faced by the Church in parts of Africa and the vitality of the theological traditions of the Church in South America have all been presented here and shared with us European bishops. We now appreciate particularly that the ‘resourcing’ of the life and thought of the Church comes from many places, thanks be to God.
For me, one of the most exhilarating moments was during the 1998 Special Assembly of the Synod for Oceania. Mass was celebrated in the St Peter’s Basilica to the sound of conch shell horns and enriched processions and great garlands of flowers evoking the space, beauty and freshness of remote Pacific islands where Christianity was still in its first generation of disciples. How well I remember the joy of bishops from those islands, some of whom had travelled for a week in order to arrive in Rome. They had never imagined that such an embrace awaited them here in Rome. I thank God for the rich variety of Catholic life that the Synods have brought to us all, dissolving for ever the Europe-centred imaging of the Church which can so inhibit our discussions.
iii) Synods of European Bishops
The contribution made to Europe by the institution of the Synod of Bishops is, I suppose, most clearly seen in the two Special Assemblies for Europe of the Synod of Bishops which have been held, the first in 1991 and the second in 1999. The memory of these two Synods brings to mind some of the great figures who have held leading roles here: in 1991 Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, Cardinal Glemp from Krakow, Cardinal Vlk from Prague and Cardinal Ruini as Relator. In their lives they embodied some of the great themes of the Church in Europe: relations with Judaism in the light of the Holocaust; the battle for hearts and minds of the Church in Poland; the virtual imprisonment of the Church in Czechoslovakia where for so many years Cardinal Tomasek, Cardinal Vlk’s predecessor, had his every move monitored by government observers, both through the windows of his residence and from within. Yet, he was a rock, or, as was told to a friend of mine, he was held by the people, living under the hammer of communism, to be, and I quote, ‘the father of our nation.’
That first Synod was intended in the mind of Pope St John Paul II to get the Church breathing with both lungs, both Catholic and Orthodox, even though the first attempt that was needed was to get West and East to breath together. I have to say that, from many points of view, this Special Assembly did not fully live up to those expectations. Suspicions ran too deeply. The language that was used was that of the ‘exchange of gifts’, the East having the gifts of strong tested faith and martyrdom and the West being seen as decadent and affluent. For some the ‘exchange of gifts’ became a request for financial support in return for the holiness of heroic faith. The level of self-criticism among us all was not profound. We, from the West, knew something of the challenges we were facing, of secularism, humanism and a culture of indifference, but were still far from facing its depth. Some from the East, in 1991, were looking for a return to a past position of social strength, if not dominance.
There was no final document from this Synod. The distance between East and West was greater than had been realised and the wounds from seventy years of submission to the Soviet Union still hurt too much.
Eight years later the Second European Special Assembly of the Synod contributed to a fine Papal Exhortation, ‘ Ecclesia in Europa ‘ (28 June 2003). At this Synod there was much more mutuality. In the West we were learning about the real depth and radical nature of the challenges we were facing and were beginning to find a focus on the task of the New Evangelisation, in countries in which socialisation had been accepted as also providing essential Evangelisation. But culture and Gospel were pulling apart rapidly. And the Churches of the East were finding that with their new openness what flooded in most powerfully were the materialistic centred philosophies and cultures of the West, dissolving the religious resolve of many, which for some had been intertwined with heroic resistance to a foreign occupier. Our problems were finding common ground and our encouragement and inspiration, one for another, becoming much more mutual. Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, as envisaged by Pope St John Paul II, was becoming more of a reality, but not a Christian or Catholic reality as might have been hoped.
iv) Other expressions of Collegiality in Europe
It would be amiss of me not to include in this reflection the emergence and work of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences. Although there have been times of tension around the institution it has, without doubt, continued and complemented the work of the European Synods of Bishops and effectively served the collegiality enjoyed in this continent. Its Presidents have included some of the great leaders of European Catholic life: Cardinal Martini, Cardinal Hume, Cardinal Vlk and its present President, Cardinal Erdö. The annual meetings of the Presidents of every Bishops’ Conference in Europe, which have taken place every year since 1996, are vital exchanges of the joys and trials in which both common ground and differences of perspectives are now more easily understood and readily embraced. So too the three great European Ecumenical Assemblies organised by CCEE have made a significant contribution especially to the faith and enthusiasm of the many young people who attended them.
In these ways the work of the Synod of Bishops has been carried forward in Europe.
v) Challenges
There are, of course, challenges facing the Synod itself:
* It is difficult to measure the impact of the Post-Synodal documents. Some stand out:Familiaris Consortio; Christifiledes Laici, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Sacramentum Caritatisand Evangelii Gaudium.Others have had less impact.
* Relationships with the media, especially in western European countries, are always delicate, as a free, investigative press and a desire to control the flow of information are always going to clash.
* Patterns of consultation prior to these  Synods on the Family have been invigorating but also frustrating, partly because the questions were fashioned in a manner not conducive to a widespread response and partly because a public consultation carries with it responsibilities of accountability which we have been asked not to fulfil.
* Also, I must confess, that the methodology of the Synod meeting itself demands much stamina! But despite shortfalls, the Synod of Bishops is a transforming gift in the Church, with even more potential yet to be realised.
vi) The present moment
Now the world has changed. Europe is not what it was even in 1999. Any parish in the Diocese of Westminster, for example, will have parishioners from 30 or 40 different nations. As we know too well, the migration towards Europe of peoples from wars, violence and poverty in Arab States and from elsewhere is challenging our European sense of presence and status in the world. The European Union is facing critical questions and tensions, especially the temptation to remain a fortress, protecting itself and its material benefits and comforts, which, of course, have been drawn from the world over. Each country has its own challenges and difficulties. Europe has its enemies and must act with vigilance. But, and I quote, ‘It is right that we should be silent when children sleep, but not when they die.’
The last meeting of the Presidents of European Bishops’ Conference took place a few weeks ago, in Jerusalem, in the presence of the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Not only were we able to give encouragement to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, but we could also see some of our common challenges. Among them, perhaps first among them, were the challenges facing the family today and the strength which the family brings. We spoke of the cultural tsunami of ‘gender theories’ sweeping through sections of our societies. At the same time, we recognised together that the family is the first witness to the faith in society, the first workshop in the faith and the backbone of every parish, the first tutoring in humanity for every person. Europe knows clearly now this challenge and the need to find ways of holding before people the full invitation of marriage in the Lord, its faithfulness, its fruitfulness and its witness. We bishops of Europe, now together, are ready to play our part in this Synod. We thank God with full hearts for all that we have received in this Aula since the institution of the Synod of Bishops fifty years ago and all that we are receiving in these days and those still to come.
Dixi. Gratias.  
+ Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis marks 50th anniversary of Synod’s institution

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday morning marked the 50 th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops as a permanent body. Gathered with the Fathers of the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – who are currently meeting in Rome to discuss the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in contemporary society – Pope Francis spoke of both the process and the substance of the Synod as constitutive and expressive of the Church’s own nature and mission.
Click below to hear our report

“Journeying together,” said Pope Francis in an enlargement on the Greek words from which the English word ‘synod’ is derived, “laity, pastors, and the Bishop of Rome, is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.”
The Holy Father went on to say that each and everyone has a place in the Church, and that the key to journeying well together is listening. “A synodal Church is a Church of listening,” said Pope Francis. “It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn: the faithful, the College of Bishops, [and the] Bishop of Rome; each listening to the others; and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14, 17), to know what he ‘says to the Churches’ (Rev 2: 7).”
“The Synod of Bishops,” continued Pope Francis, “is the convergence point of this dynamism – this listening conducted at all levels of Church life,” starting with the people, who “also participate in Christ’s prophetic office” and who have a right and a duty to be heard on topics that touch the common life of the Church. Then come the Synod Fathers, through whom, “[T]he bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, which [they] must be able carefully to distinguish from often shifting public opinion.” In all this, the Successor to Peter is fundamental. “Finally,” explained Pope Francis, “the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called upon to speak authoritatively [It. pronunciare ] as ‘Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians’: not on the basis of his personal beliefs, but as the supreme witness of the Faith of the whole Church, the guarantor of the Church’s conformity with and obedience to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and the Tradition of the Church.”
The Holy Father went on to explain that the Synod always always acts cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – a fact that does not constitute a restriction of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. “In fact,” he said, “the Pope is, by the will of the Lord, ‘the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful’.” 
(from Vatican Radio)…

World Mission Day: Catholic Church Statistics 2015

Vatican City – As every year, in view of World Mission Day, this year celebrated on Sunday, October 18, Fides News Service offers some statistics chosen to give a panorama of the missionary Church all over the world. The tables are taken from the latest edition of the “Church’s Book of Statistics” published regarding members of the Church, church structures, healthcare, welfare and education. Please note that variations, increase or decrease, emerging from our own comparison with last year’s figures, are marked increase + or decrease – in brackets World population To 31 December 2013 the world population was 7.093.798.000 with an increase of 70.421.000 units compared with the previous year. Population growth was registered on every continent above all in Asia and Africa followed by America ; Europe and Oceania . Catholics On the same date Catholics in the world numbered 1.253.926,000 units with an overall increase of 25.305.000 more than the previous year. The increase affects all continents especially America and Africa followed by Asia ; Europe and Oceania . The world percentage of Catholics increased by 0.09 %, settling at 17.68%. By continent: increases were registered in Africa , America , Asia , Europe . A slight decrease was shown in Oceania . Persons and Catholics per priest This year the number of persons per priest in the world increased by 180 units, average 13.752. The distribution by continent: increase in America ; Europe and Oceania ; decrease in Africa ; Asia . The number of Catholics per priest in the world increased by 54 units, average 3.019. There are increases in America ; Europe and Oceania ; decrease in Asia and Africa . Ecclesiastical circumscriptions and mission stations The number of ecclesiastical circumscriptions are 8 more than the previous year to 2.989 with new circumscriptions created in: Africa , America , Asia , Europe and Oceania . Mission stations with a resident priest number 1.871 and increases registered in Africa , Asia and Oceania . Decreases in America and Europe . Mission Stations without a resident priest increased in number by 3.074 units, to 133.869. Compared to the previous year, increase is registered in Africa , America , Asia and Oceania . The number dropped only in Europe . Bishops The total number of Bishops in the world increased by 40 units, to 5.173. Contrary to previous years where Diocesan Bishops increased in numbers, while Religious Bishops decreased, this year they both increased. Diocesan Bishops number 3.945 , whilw Religious Bishops number 1.228 . The increase in diocesan Bishops is registered in all continents except Oceania : in America ; Asia , Africa and Europe . The number of religious Bishops increased on every continent: Africa , America , Asia , Europe , while Oceania unvaried. Priests The total number of priests in the world increased by 1.035 units, to 415.348. The only continents which registered a decrease was again Europe and a slight decrease in Oceania , whereas figures grew in Africa , America and Asia . Diocesan priests increased by 917 units, reaching a total of 280.532 with increases in Africa ; America and Asia and Oceania . A drop in Europe The number of Religious priests increased by 64 units to a total 134,816. Increases were registered as in recent years in Africa and Asia , whereas numbers dropped in America , Europe and Oceania . Permanent Deacons Permanent deacons in the world increased by 1,091 units to 43.195. The highest increase was registered again in America and in Europe and an increase in Africa , Asia and Oceania . Permanent Diocesan deacons in the world are 42.650, with an overall increase of 1.084 units. They increased on every continent: Africa , America , Asia , Europe and Oceania . Religious permanent deacons number 545, increased by 7 units compared to the previous year, with increases on every continent: Africa , America and Oceania and a decrease in Asia and Europe . Men and women religious The number of non-religious priests decreased by 61 units to 55.253. Situation: increase in America , Asia and Oceania , decrease was registered in Africa and Europe . Even this year there is an overall decrease in the number of women religious by 8.954 units to 693.575. An increase was registered in Africa and Asia , decrease in America , Europe and Oceania . Members of secular institutes, male and female Members of male secular institutes number 712 with an overall decrease of 59 units. At a continental level there is an increase only in Africa while a decrease was registered in America , Asia , Europe , Oceania unvaried. The members of female secular institutes decreased this year, by 747 units to a total of 23.955 members. Increase in Africa and Asia while a decrease was registered in America , Europe and Oceania . Lay missionaries and catechists The number of lay missionaries in the world is 367.679 units, with an overall increase of 5.191 units. Numbers increase on every continent: Africa , America , Asia and Europe . A slight decrease was registered in Oceania . Catechists in the world decreased by 13.075 units to a total of 3.157.568. A significant increase was registered in Africa and Asia , but numbers dropped in: America , Europe and Oceania . Major seminarians The number of major seminarians, diocesan and religious decreased this year, they are globally 1.800 units, reaching a total of 118.251. Increases occured only in Africa , while even this year a decrease in America , Asia , Europe and Oceania . Major diocesan seminarians number 71.537 and Religious major seminarians 46.714 . Diocesan seminarians increased in Africa and Asia , while decreases are in America , Europe and Oceania . Religious Seminarians decreased on every continent: in Africa , America , Asia , Europe and Oceania . Minor seminarians The number of minor seminarians, diocesan and religious decreased by 775 units to 101.928. Overall increase in America , Asia and Oceania , decreased in Africa and Europe . Minor diocesan seminarians number 78.556 , whereas religious seminarians number 23.372 . The number of diocesan minor seminarians has decreased on every continent except Asia : Africa , America , Europe , Oceania . Religious minor seminarians increased in number in Africa , America and Oceania and decreased in Asia and Europe . Catholic schools and Education In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 73.263 kindergartens with 6.963.669 pupils; 96.822 primary schools with 32.254.204 pupils; 45.699 secondary schools with 19.407.417 pupils. The Church also cares for 2.309.797 high school pupils, and 2.727.940 university students. Catholic charity and healthcare centres Charity and healthcare centres run in the world by the Church include: 5.034 hospitals, most of them in America and Africa ; 16.627 dispensaries, mainly in Africa ; America and Asia ; 611 Care Homes for people with Leprosy, mainly in Asia and Africa ; 15.518 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability, mainly in Europe and America ; 9.770 orphanages, mainly in Asia ; 12.082 creches, mainly in Asia and America ; 14.391 marriage counselling centres, mainly in America and Europe ; 3.896 social rehabilitation centres and 38.256 other kinds of institutions. Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples The ecclesiastical Circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to 13 October 2015 are 1.111 with an increase of 2 circumscription compared to the previous year. Most of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions are mainly in Africa and in Asia . Followed by America and Oceania . Link correlati : Catholic Church Statistics 2015…