(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard, on Saturday morning in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
A communiqué from the Press Office of the Holy See says the Pope and the President held cordial discussions, during which the parties emphasized the mutual wish to strengthen the already good relations between the Holy See and Switzerland, and to intensify cooperation between the Catholic Church and the State.
The statement from the Press Office goes on to say Pope Francis and President Leuthard discussed various themes of common interest, including the reception of migrants, the challenge of the world of work for the young, the fight against terrorism and commitment to the protection of the environment, as well as the future of Europe.
The visit of the President of the Swiss Confederation coincided with the swearing-in of new soldiers of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of the Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude Gregory II Laham, from his pastoral office. A letter from the Holy Father to the Patriarch-emeritus and all the Melkite bishops explains that His Beatitude presented his resignation during the course of a special audience with the Holy Father in February, and that the Holy Father has decided to accept the resignation.
In the letter, Pope Francis thanks the 83 year-old Patriarch-emeritus, “a zealous servant of the People of God, for the generous service to his Church and for keeping the international community’s attention focused on the tragedy of Syria.”
The Holy Father goes on to write, “I invoke upon you all the intercession of The Holy Mother of God and willingly give the Apostolic Blessing to our dear Greco-Melkite Church as a sign of grace and encouragement for the future of communion and witness of the Gospel.”
Below, please find the full text of the letter, in the original French
À Sa Béatitude Grégoire III Laham
Patriarche d’Antioche des Gréco-melkites
et à tous les Évêques de cette Église
Béatitude et Vénérables Frères dans le Christ,
Dans ma sollicitude pour toutes les Églises, je m’adresse à vous, reconnaissant pour votre service auprès du Peuple de Dieu et conscient de votre responsabilité de Pasteurs.
Depuis la réunion du Synode des Évêques du mois de février dernier, Sa Béatitude, lors de l’audience que je lui ai accordée, m’a présenté spontanément sa renonciation à la charge patriarcale, en me demandant de décider du moment le plus favorable pour l’accepter. Après avoir prié et réfléchi attentivement, je retiens opportun et nécessaire pour le bien de l’Église gréco-melkite d’accueillir aujourd’hui sa renonciation.
En remerciant Sa Béatitude, serviteur zélé du Peuple de Dieu, pour les années de service généreux de son Église et pour avoir entretenu l’attention de la communauté internationale sur le drame vécu par la Syrie, j’invoque sur vous tous l’intercession da la Sainte Mère de Dieu et donne volontiers la Bénédiction apostolique à notre chère Église gréco-melkite, comme signe de grâce et d’encouragement pour l’avenir de communion et de témoignage de l’Évangile.
Du Vatican, le 6 mai 2017
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received the president of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard , in audience at the Vatican. President Leuthard subsequently met with Abp Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
A communique from the Holy See Press Office said, “During the cordial discussions, aside from mentioning the generous service of the Pontifical Swiss Guard on the day of the swearing in of new members, the parties emphasized the mutual wish to further strengthen the existing good relations between the Holy See and Switzerland , and to intensify collaboration between the Catholic Church and the State.”
The statement continued, “Various themes of common interest were then considered, such as the future of the European continent, the reception of migrants, the challenge of the world of work for the young, the fight against terrorism and commitment to the protection of the environment.”
The Swiss president will be present on Saturday evening at the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which will take place in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Each year on May 6, the new recruits for the Pontifical Swiss Guard are sworn in at an impressive, and ancient, ceremony in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. The forty new Swiss Guards are the first group of recruits to go through the new model of training, which includes a month of instruction at the famous Swiss Guards’ school at Isone in the canton of Ticino before beginning their courses at the Vatican .
Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, the new recruits, with their families and friends, and the other members of the Swiss Guard, were received by Pope Francis at an audience in the Sala Clementina.
The presence of so many visitors from Switzerland, the Pope said, “manifests the affection of Swiss Catholics for the Holy See, Christian education, and the good example through which the parents have transmitted to their children the faith, the value of pertaining to the Christian community, and the significance of ecclesial service.”
Pope Francis recalled that the ceremony takes place on the anniversary of the Sack of Rome, when 147 Swiss Guards gave their lives to defend the Pope. Today, the Holy Father said, the Swiss Guards “are not called to this heroic offering of your physical life, but to another sacrifice no less arduous: to serve, that is, the power of the faith.” This, he continued, “is an effective barrier to resist the various forces and powers of this world, and above all he who is ‘the prince of this world,’ ‘the father of lies,’ who ‘goes about like a lion, seeking someone to devour.’”
The Pope emphasized the importance of spiritual growth for the new Guards during their time in Rome. He invited them to pass their time in the Eternal City “with sincere fraternity, supporting one another in leading an exemplary Christian life that is motivated and sustained by your faith.” He encouraged them to consider themselves “an active part of the great people of God, missionary disciples committed to bearing witness to the Gospel” both in their work and in their free time in Rome.
Rome, the Pope said, offers many opportunities for spiritual and cultural growth, which he encouraged the new recruits to take advantage of. He spoke of the example of St Philip Neri, who would help the children he cared for to discover “the traces of the ancient Christian community.” Taking the time “to follow in the footsteps of so many saints who have lived in the City,” Pope Francis said, “will make your time in Rome even more unforgettable and rich in fruit.”
(from Vatican Radio)…