Posts Tagged ‘vatican’

Vatican releases official English translation of synod’s final report

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2014 / 03:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Now released in English, the Synod of Bishop’s final relatio reveals a more positive tone regarding the family called for by the synod’s small groups, as well as greater clarity on phrases that generated confusion in the midterm relatio.

The Oct. 5-19 extraordinary synod of bishops on the family reflected on “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

At the close of the 10-day meeting, which gathered together 253 bishops from around the world, a final document was issued which summed up key points of the discussion that took place, and which serves as the official “working document” for next year’s ordinary synod on the family.

With substantial changes made in comparison to the much discussed midterm synod report, particularly surrounding the topics of both homosexual, and divorced and remarried persons, the final document, the English translation of which was released Oct. 30, offers a more positive tone, more references to scripture, and clearer language.

On the topic of homosexuality, the final report noted how some families have some members who are homosexually oriented, and said that there had been significant discussion surrounding the appropriate pastoral response in accord with Catholic teaching.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family,” the report read in paragraph 55.

However, it also emphasized that “men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

In the following paragraph the report condemned international organizations that link their financial assistance to poor countries with the acceptance of laws supporting the establishment of same-sex “marriage.”

On the topic of divorced and re-married Catholics, the final report emphasized that these situations require “careful discernment and an accompaniment of great respect.”

“Language or behavior which might make them feel an object of discrimination should be avoided, all the while encouraging them to participate in the life of the community,” the document read, pointing out how the synod fathers discussed the possibility of giving persons in this state access to Confession and Communion.

Although there were divergent opinions on the issue, with some advocating for current practice to remain the same and others promoting a more personalized approach that would give access in certain situations, there final word in the closing report said that the topic still “needs to be thoroughly examined.”

Discussion also touched on the topic of spiritual communion for the divorced and remarried, which is a topic the synod fathers also said needed “further theological study” of spiritual communion in light of the sacrament of marriage.

Persons who are divorced and who have not remarried often bear witness to their promise to a faithful marriage, the report continued, saying that these persons “ought to be encouraged to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life.”

Significant discussion also surrounded the topic of streamlining the annulment process, and the report observed how many synod fathers had stressed the need for making process “more accessible and less time-consuming.”

Among the proposals offered was the establishment of an administrative process under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, as well as a “simple” process to be used when the case of nullity is clearly evident.

Others who opposed to these suggestions said that there would be no assurance of a reliable judgement, however the report revealed that there was a consensus in all the cases for the need to make the attainment of the truth and the validity of the marriage bond the “primary character” of the process.

Among other proposals, the role of faith in the lives of persons who marry “could possibly be examined in ascertaining the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage, all the while maintaining that the marriage of two baptized Christians is always a sacrament,” the document explained.

Paragraph 49 also touched on the procedure of marriage cases, saying that numerous synod fathers requested that a group of persons, both lay and clerical, be completely dedicated to this particular work, which would require greater responsibility from the diocesan bishop.

In regards to mixed marriages, the final relatio explained that there were frequent interventions expressing concerns on the topic, and that differences with Orthodox Churches in terms of marital regulations can in some cases create “serious problems.”

Although media headlines have been swirling since the end of the synod, with many saying that the Church had finally opened the doors to without discrimination to homosexuals and remarried divorcees only to close them again, the synod fathers have been outspoken in saying that all reports published during the synod are still a work in progress, with no official weight attached.

In his concluding speech for the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis himself explained that “we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas.”

He encouraged that this spiritual discernment be used to “find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.”

The Pope also prayed that the Lord would accompany and guide the synod fathers as they prepare for next year’s ordinary synod, which will reflect on the theme “Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family.”

A (literal) breath of fresh air for the Sistine Chapel’s frescos

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2014 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The first major makeover the Sistine Chapel has had since 1994 brings with it a completely new LED lighting system and high-tech sensors that automatically measure and adjust the chapel’s oxygen levels.

“If you look at this art in the Sistine Chapel it is breathtaking,” said John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer for UTC Building & Industrial Systems which has overseen the project.

“But ironically it is the act of breathing or exhaling carbon-dioxide that was destroying the frescoes.”

He told CNA that the new technology will preserve the treasured frescoes – painted by Michelangelo 500 years ago – with the guarantee of future protection through adaptable technology.

“We have the ability to keep with the technology as technology advances and evolves over time,” Mandyck said. “We expect it to last a long time.”

The highly anticipated new ventilation systems were presented to journalists at an Oct. 29 press conference, which was part of a two-day event put on by the Vatican called “The Sistine Chapel 20 years later: New breath, New light” in honor of their official installment.

Created by Carrier, the U.S.-based pioneer of modern heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the company has specially designed the new lighting, air-quality and temperature control system to fit the unique needs of the Sistine Chapel.

The company also designed and installed the chapel’s first air-conditioning system in 1993 to accommodate a maximum load of 700 at once.

However with the current number of daily visitors to the chapel hitting close to 20,000, the new system is designed to accommodate up to 2,000 simultaneous visitors in nearly any weather condition, the company revealed.

Landing at $3.8 million dollars in improvements, the state-of-the-art systems have a custom LED lighting system which uses 7,000 lights in order to maximize illumination of the frescoes, giving them a softer, brighter look.

Scientists have run numerous tests on the more than 250 original colors present in the chapel’s ancient frescos, attempting to see how the light would react with each.

Designed to be “imperceptible,” the lights are completely hidden from sight, and are only seen when additional lighting is turned on for conclaves, concerts or other special events.

The lights themselves, according to designer LED4Art, a European Union-led project in collaboration with universities, will drastically save on energy in the chapel, and are expected to save roughly 60 percent on costs.

Along with the lights there are two cameras and 70 sensors placed throughout the chapel in order to register the environment inside and react to it. With the cameras estimating the number of people in the room, the purification and air-conditioning units adjust according to what the cameras register.

Completely silent, the units are designed to maintain a temperature of 20-25 degrees Celsius and 50-60 percent humidity within the chapel. They also guarantee that the number of dust particles remain at a level of 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air, and that the levels of CO2 levels are kept to a minimum.

Michel Grabon, Director of Carrier’s AdvanTEC program in Europe, said that the new systems focus on three key aspects, which are advanced design, efficiency and intelligence.

The system, he explained to EWTN News on Oct. 29, “is particularly advanced (and) a very high technology level of the system that has been developed.”

In reference to the system’s efficiency, Grabon pointed out its particular quality in being energy efficient, “which is extremely important in our days – to have a system that is green and energy -efficient.”

A third important element to note is that the new system is “extremely intelligent,” he said, with for this type of system means that it’s the first time a camera they’ve used a camera to count the people inside the chapel “and adjust air flow and the other system parameters just to meet the number of people inside.”

Because it counts the number of people inside, the camera is also able to register the level of CO2 due to the amount that each person generates, Grabon noted.

“So if you know exactly how many people you have inside the chapel you know how much fresh air you need to bring to the chapel in order to bring down the CO2 level,” he said, observing that the new systems are able to do this “very quickly.”

Director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci told CNA in an interview over the summer that the chapel has had more than 5 million visitors per year since the number of visitors hit that mark for the first time in 2011.

In the Oct. 29 press conference, he said that their new aim with this innovation “is not restoration, but conservation.”

This is, the director explained, “is why we have chosen Carrier, because a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel needs a comparable masterpiece of technology.”

It’s not the law that saves you – it’s Christ, Pope reflects

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2014 / 01:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians who cling to the law and not to love are like the hypocrite Pharisees in the Gospel, Pope Francis said in today’s homily.

After Jesus meets a sick person in a Pharisee’s home on the Sabbath day in Luke 14:1-6, he asks the Pharisees and scholars of the Jewish law present: “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?”

Receiving only silent stares, Jesus heals the man and then tells the Pharisees: “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

Jesus’ actions show that love and justice, not an excessive attachment to the laws, are the path to holiness, Pope Francis said.

“This way of life of being attached to the laws, distanced (the Pharisees) from love and from justice.  They followed the laws and they neglected justice,” he said. “They followed the laws and they neglected love.”

“And for these people Jesus had only one word (to describe them): hypocrites,” the Pope continued.

“Closed-minded men, men who are so attached to the laws, to the letter of the law that they were always closing the doorway to hope, love and salvation… Men who only knew how to close (doors).”

Throughout the New Testament, one of the most difficult things for some of the Jews to accept is the abolition of the old law, which bound the Jews to 613 commandments, or Mitzvot. Because Christ establishes a new covenant between God and man, the old law is fulfilled and no longer necessary. St. Paul spends a great deal of time in his letters chiding new Christians for clinging to the old law as well.

The new covenant of love established through the incarnation of Jesus is the true path to God and eternal life, Pope Francis said.

“Jesus draws close to us: his closeness is the real proof that we are proceeding along the true path.  That’s because it’s the path which God has chosen to save us: through his closeness.  He draws close to us and was made man.  His flesh, the flesh of God is the sign; God’s flesh is the sign of true justice.”

Christ’s flesh, not the old law, is the bridge from man to God, he said. Pope Francis concluded by saying that he hoped the examples of Jesus’ love and closeness in the Gospel can help modern-day Christians from sliding into hypocrisy.

The devil is no myth – he’s real and we must fight him, Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 30, 2014 / 08:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said that the devil is more than an idea, and in order to fight him, we must follow St. Paul’s instructions and put on the armor of God which protects…

Are an atheist journalist’s papal interviews reliable?

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2014 / 07:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the publication of a new text by Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari in ‘La Repubblica’ suggesting that Pope Francis believes in relativism, the Holy See spokesman has questioned whether Scalfari is advancing his own views.

In a recent op-ed in the leftist Italian newspaper, Scalfari mentioned one of his recent conversations with Pope Francis, saying the Pope had acknowledged that truth is relative; and he used this comment to support the idea that the Gospels do not tell the whole truth.

According to Scalfari, “the Pope refuses the word ‘relativism,’ i.e. a real movement with aspects of religious politics; but he does not refuse the word ‘relative’. No to relativism, but that truth is relative is a matter of fact that Pope Francis acknowledges.”

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, told CNA Oct. 28 that “Scalfari pursues his own discourse” and, “if there are no words published by the Holy See press office and not officially confirmed, the writer takes full responsibility for what he has written.”

The founder of ‘La Repubblica’ and a self-proclaimed atheist, Scalfari has made it understood that he often has private conversations with the Pope, saying “these conversations started eight months ago” and that “the last of our meetings took place in September.”

Scalfari had already published two of his conversations with Pope Francis, on Oct. 1, 2013 and July 13, 2014; both of those texts were dismissed by Fr. Lombardi.

While not denying the meetings, Fr. Lombardi had stressed that the meetings were private and that the words of Pope Francis had been biased by the interviewer.

Shortly after the publication of the first conversation, Scalfari himself admitted that he never uses a recording devices nor takes notes, and that he writes by memory, also sometimes putting within quotes words that the interviewed had not said, but that in Scalfari’s view better explain their thought.

This third round of excerpts of the Scalfari-Bergoglio conversations have not been presented as an interview, but are inserted in a wider comment on a lecture given by the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.

In his lecture, Bauman claimed that “truth is an agnostic idea for origins and for nature,” since it can emerge “only from a meeting with its contrary,” and this is the reason why “using the word ‘truth’ in singular mode in a polyphonic world is like applauding with one only hand.”

According to Bauman, “Pope Francis not only preaches the need for dialogue, but he practices it,” and proof of this is that he had granted his first interview to Scalfari.

Scalfari takes the moves from this to comment that “Pope Francis is one of the very few (Popes), in my view the only one, in fact, who faces the quest for truth this way” – that is, in the way Bauman put it.

For this purpose, Scalfari reported he had asked Pope Francis what a missionary Church is in his view.
Pope Francis replied, underscoring his full belonging to the Society of Jesus, and that despite this he had chosen the papal name of Francis.

Scalfari reportedly objected that the Pope chose the name of Francis because “Francis was a mystic; and you love mystics, though you are not a mystic.”

“This is certainly one of the reasons, but it is not the only reason,” Pope Francis reportedly responded.
The Pope stressed that St. Francis “loved a travelling brotherhood that had renounced all the pleasures of life, but did not renounce joy, or love. Some of them, especially Francis, were profoundly mystic in every moment of their life, since they identified with the Lord and forgot their ego.”

However, St. Francis also took care of “practical matters,” and wrote a rule for his order, that “the then Pope approved many years later.” But – Pope Francis reportedly said – “the Pope approved the rules under a condition: a portion of the Franciscans had to live in convents, while only a portion could be missionary and travelling. Francis accepted. The friars in the convents rediscovered St. Benedict, and  study, work, begging; but the real Franciscan and missionary Church is the travelling one.”

Scalfari wrote that he asked the Pope “why the Church must be above all travelling and missionary,” and Pope Francis responded: “We have to speak the ‘languages’ of all the world, which does not necessarily mean the real language – consider that in China there are some 50,000 different languages.”

“A missionary Church must above all understand the people it meets, their way of thinking… this is the premise, that is at once Franciscan and Jesuit, as our Society has always done: understand the other, whether they are socially miserable and culturally poor, or cultivated, remarkable in social life and important for the public life of people, but not for religion.”

Pope Francis also reportedly underscored that “religion abhors political language, which must not be our thing. If we intend with politics a vision of the common good that for us is that of our religion, yes, politics becomes important, and institutions become important for everyone’s good. People should commit to and realize these institution, but not elevating them to the name of a god. No one can appropriate the name of a god that is ecumenical and creator.”

In the end, Scalfari underscored that Pope Francis wants to get in touch with the modern world, and “this means, if I understood well, that the Church must be in harmony with it.”

And what about the truth? “The Pope refuses the word “relativism,” i.e. a real movement with aspects of religious politics; but he does not refuse the word ‘relative’. No to relativism, but that truth is relative is a matter of fact that Pope Francis acknowledges.”

This reasoning brings Scalfari to stress that doctrine was elaborate by “religious thinkers” in the course of centuries, on the basis of the preaching of St. Paul and the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem.

Scalfari also dismissed the Gospels, saying “they are the narrations written by people who had never met or seen Jesus of Nazareth … second or third-hand narrations which provided a doctrinal structure.”

Likewise – Scalfari says – “monotheistic religions were born of stories,” because “God has no voice, and no imaginable figure,” while “the Son has, and this is the reason why Christians invented it.”

This is how the culture of encounter pursued by Pope Francis has been completely overturned.

How much Scalfari’s words and reports are reliable, one cannot assess: no proofs are provided that Pope Francis has worded his thoughts the way Scalfari wrote them down.

Pope: Fighting for the poor doesn’t make me Communist – it makes me Catholic

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2014 / 12:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke out against oppression of the poor due to greed and warned again of the growing presence of a “globalization of indifference” – a warning, he said, which has wrongly type-casted him.  

“It is not possible to tackle poverty by promoting containment strategies to merely reassure, rendering the poor ‘domesticated,’ harmless and passive,” the Pope told those gathered for his Oct. 28 encounter with leaders of various Church movements.

He called the basic needs for land, housing and work an “aspiration that should be within the reach of all but which we sadly see is increasingly unavailable to the majority.”  

“It’s strange, but if I talk about this, there are those who think that the Pope is Communist,” he said.

“The fact that the love for the poor is in the center of the gospel is misunderstood,” the Pope added. “Those (values) for which you’re fighting for are sacred rights. It’s the Church’s social doctrine.”

Held in the Vatican’s Old Synod Hall, where previous synods took place before the construction of the Paul VI Hall, the meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, along with the leaders of various movements.

Solidarity, the Pope observed in his speech, is a word that is often forgotten in today’s society, and which extends far beyond sporadic acts of generosity.

Instead it requires thinking in communal terms, and includes fighting structural causes of poverty such as inequality, unemployment, lack of land and housing, and the denial of social and labor rights, he said. It also requires facing the destructive effects of the “empire of money” such as forced displacement, painful migration, human trafficking, drugs, war and violence.

“Today the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression assumes a new dimension, a graphical and hard edge of social injustice,” the Pope noted, explaining that this “throwaway culture” makes it so that those who are unable to integrate are marginalized and discarded as “cast-offs.”

Situations such as this arise when economic systems make money their god and put it at the heart of their work rather than centering on the human person, created in the image of God, the pontiff continued.

He then turned his attention to the phenomenon of unemployment, saying that each person who works, whether part of the formal system of paid work or not, “has the right to fair remuneration, social security and a pension.”

These people, the pontiff noted, include those who recycle waste, street vendors, garment makers, craftsmen, fishermen, farmers, builders, miners, workers in companies in receivership, cooperatives and common trades which are often excluded from employment rights and denied the option of forming trades unions, as well as those who don’t receive a stable or sufficient income.

“I wish to unite my voice to theirs and to accompany them in their struggle,” Pope Francis said.

On the theme of peace and ecology, the Pope said that it is not possible to pursue land, housing or work if we can’t maintain the planet, or if we destroy it.

“Creation is not our property which we may exploit as we please, (and) even less so the property of the few,” he explained, saying that instead creation is a gift from God that we must care for and use for the good of all humanity with respect and gratitude.

Pope Francis went on to question those present in the audience, asking why, instead of viewing the world as our gift and fighting for justice, do we instead see work taken away, families evicted, peasants expelled from their land, war and harm done to nature.

“Because this system has removed humanity from the center and replaced it with something else! Because of the idolatrous worship of money! Because of the globalization of indifference – ‘what does it matter to me what happens to others, I’ll defend myself,’” the Pope explained.

The world, said the pontiff, has forgotten God and so become “an orphan” because it has turned away from him.

However, Christians have been given a strong guide and “revolutionary program” for how to act, which can be found in the Beatitudes, the Bishop of Rome noted, and encouraged all to read them.

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of walking together, saying that popular movements express urgent need of revitalizing our democracies, which “so often (are) hijacked by many factors.”

“It is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of the majority, and this role extends beyond the logical procedures of formal democracy,” he said.

The Church’s mystery: it’s both visible and spiritual, Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2014 / 09:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his weekly general audience Pope Francis spoke of the visible actions carried out by the Church, explaining that they are an expression of her deeper spiritual reality rooted in the two natures…

Are you Catholic? Then stay in the Church, Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2014 / 10:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church which Jesus established and on whom it is built.

“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.

Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: ‘Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.’”

The Pope centered his reflections on both the day’s first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel, taken from Luke, Chapter 6.

In the first reading St. Paul explains to the Christians of Ephesus that they are no longer strangers, but have become fellow members of the house of God, which is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and has Jesus himself as the “capstone.”

The Gospel reading recounts how Jesus, after spending the night in prayer, comes down from the mountain and calls the Twelve Apostles by name.

By reflecting on the gospel reading, there are three clear actions that Jesus carried out when founding the Church, the Pope observed, saying that the first action is prayer, the second was choosing his disciples, and the third was welcoming and healing the crowds.

“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church,” the pontiff noted, explaining that the Church is built on the apostles.

However, despite the fact that the Twelve were chosen by Jesus, they were all still sinners, the Pope said, explaining that although no one knows who sinned the most, there could have been one that sinned more than Judas did.

“Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But (Jesus) chose (regardless).”

And Jesus, the Pope added, wants everyone to be inside of the Church he founded, not as strangers passing through, but rather with the “rights of a citizen” where they have roots.

The person who stands at the threshold of the Church looking in but not entering has no sense of the full love and mercy that Jesus gives to every person, Francis said, adding that proof of this can be seen in Jesus’ relationship with Peter.

Even though Peter denies the Lord he is still the first pillar of the Church, the pontiff explained. “For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at (Peter’s) heart. But to be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed.”

It is Jesus who prays and heals, Pope Francis noted, saying that it is something he does for each one of us.

“We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals,” he said, praying that the Holy Spirit would help all to understand that the Church draws her strength from Jesus’ prayer which can heal us all.

Asia Bibi to Pope Francis: Pray for me, your daughter

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2014 / 10:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic woman condemned to death in Pakistan for allegedly violating the country’s blasphemy law has asked Pope Francis for his prayers, saying that she trusts in God’s plan for her life.

“Pope Francis, I am your daughter, Asia Bibi. I implore you: pray for me, for my salvation and for my freedom. At this point I can only entrust (myself) to God Almighty who can do anything for me.”

In a letter to the Holy Father, which was obtained and made public by Vatican Insider, Bibi offered a heartfelt plea for prayer, while voicing her trust in God.

On Oct. 16, the Lahore High Court rejected Bibi’s appeal against her death sentence. Bibi had been convicted under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws in 2010. She allegedly made derogatory comments against Muhammad while arguing with a Muslim woman.

She has denied the allegations, and says the case stems from an argument she had with a Muslim woman over a pot of water. During his Nov. 17, 2010 General Audience address, Benedict XVI urged that she be granted “complete freedom … as soon as possible.”

The lawyers defending Bibi had warned that local influential Muslims were pressuring the court to uphold the death sentence. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are said to be often used to settle scores or to persecute minorities.

Her lawyers now intend to submit her case to Pakistan’s Supreme Court within the allotted 30 days.

“I am holding tightly onto my Christian faith and trust that God my Father will defend me and give me back my freedom,” Bibi said in her letter. “I also trust in you, Holy Father Francis, and in your prayers.”

“Pope Francis,” she continued, “I know you are praying for me with all your heart. I know that thanks to your prayer, I could be set free. In the name of the Almighty Father and his glory, I thank you for your support in this moment of suffering and disappointment.”

“My only hope is that I will one day be able to see my family reunited and happy again. I believe that God will not abandon me and that he has a plan of happiness and wellbeing for me which will come into being very soon. I am grateful to all Christians across the world who are praying for me and doing everything to help me.”

Bibi also expressed her gratitude to the Renaissance Education Foundation in Lahore which is providing support to her husband and family.

“May God illuminate and bring wisdom to all those who are working on my case,” she wrote.

Francis inaugurates bust of Benedict, emphasizes unity of faith, science

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2014 / 12:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday, Pope Francis unveiled a bust of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, lauding his predecessor, and stressed the uniqueness of humanity among the created world.

Benedict’s spirit, Pope Francis said, “far from crumbling over the course of time, will emerge from generation to generation always greater and more powerful. Benedict XVI: a great Pope. Great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love for the Church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.”

The Pope’s Oct. 27 address at Casina Pio IV came in the midst of the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which commissioned Fernando Delia to produce a bust of the Pope Emeritus for its halls.

“As you know, (Benedict’s) love of truth is not limited to theology and philosophy, but is open to science,” Pope Francis reminded the group, adding that Benedict had been appointed to the academy and had invited its president to attend the 2012 synod on the new evangelization, “aware of the importance of science in modern culture. Surely we could never say of him that study and the science have withered his person and his love for God and neighbor, but on the contrary, that science, wisdom, and prayer have enlarged his heart and his spirit. We give thanks to God for the gift that he has given to the Church and to the world with the presence and the pontificate of Pope Benedict.”

Turning to the topic of the assembly – the evolution of the concept of nature – Pope Francis encouraged the academy “to pursue scientific progress and to improve the living conditions of the peoples, especially the poorest.”

The Pope said he wanted to point out that “God and Christ walk with us and are also present in nature.”

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a wand able to make everything. But it is not so,” the Bishop of Rome affirmed.

“He created beings and allowed them to develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one, so that they were able to develop and to arrive and their fullness of being. He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality. And so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.”

Pope Francis said that “the beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a Supreme Principle who creates out of love.”

“The Big Bang, which nowadays is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it. The evolution of nature does not contrast with the notion of creation, as evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

“With regard to man, however, there is a change and something new.”

“When, on the sixth day of the account in Genesis, man is created, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy that is different from that of nature, which is freedom,” Pope Francis said.

When God tells man “to name everything and to go ahead through history,” he stated, “this makes him responsible for creation, so that he might steward it in order to develop it until the end of time.”

“Therefore the scientist, and above all the Christian scientist, must adopt the approach of posing questions regarding the future of humanity and of the earth, and, of being free and responsible, helping to prepare it and preserve it, to eliminate risks to the environment of both a natural and human nature. But, at the same time, the scientist must be motivated by the confidence that nature hides, in her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities for intelligence and freedom to discover and realize, to achieve the development that is in the plan of the creator.”

Pope Francis called human acts a “participation in God’s power,” adding that humanity is “able to build a world suited to his dual corporal and spiritual life; to build a human world for all human beings and not for a group or a class of privileged persons.

“This hope and trust in God, the creator of nature, and in the capacity of the human spirit can offer the researcher a new energy and profound serenity,” said the Roman Pontiff.

“But it is also true that the action of humanity – when freedom becomes autonomy – which is not freedom, but autonomy – destroys creation and man takes the place of the creator. And this is the grave sin against God the creator.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged the members of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences to continue their work and their initiatives for the benefit of human beings.

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