FRANCIS TO FUTURE DIPLOMATS: “NEVER FORGET YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS SERVICE TO THE GOSPEL, TO THE CHURCH” – PHILADELPHIA WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IS FOCUS OF PRESS CONFERENCE

FRANCIS TO FUTURE DIPLOMATS: “NEVER FORGET YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS SERVICE TO THE GOSPEL, TO THE CHURCH”

Pope Francis Thursday addressed members of the Pontifical Eccesiastical Academy, the Church institution responsible for preparing priests for the diplomatic service of the Holy See, telling them, “Your whole life is at the service of the Gospel and of the Church. Never forget it!”

The Academy, formerly called the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobility, was founded by Pope Clement XI in 1701 with the scope of preparing, through special studies, young ecclesiastics to the Holy See’s diplomatic service. Candidates must be nominated by their bishops. Holy See ambassadors, called apostolic nuncios, are always archbishops (if not so when they are named, they are ordained to the episcopacy).

pontifical ecclesiastical academy

The Cardinal Protector of the Academy is always the Secretary of State, today Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The future diplomats spend four years at the Academy; two years earning a licentiate in canon law, a JCL, from a Roman university, followed by two years of studies for a doctorate in canon law (JCD). If the students that have been recruited already have a J.C.D. then their time is shortened to two years. Courses include studies in diplomatic history, languages and diplomatic writing and are considered not to be academic, but rather focus on the practical skills needed to serve as a diplomat.

It has happened that a small number of diplomats represent the Holy See who have not been through the formal academic and practical training of the Academy.

The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 180 States, with the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and relations of a special nature with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

In his talk to the diplomats-in-training, Pope Francis said it is only the charity of Christ that makes the Church of Rome “universal and credible” to human beings and to the world. This “is the heart of its truth, which does not build walls of division and exclusion, but makes bridges that build communion and recall the whole human race to unity; this is its secret power, which nourishes its unshakable hope, invincible despite momentary defeats.”

Your service, he said, will be to defend the liberty of the Apostolic See, “in order not to betray its mission before God and for the true good of men.” It must not get caught up in factions or “allow itself to be colonized by the popular thoughts of the day, or by the illusory hegemony of the ‘mainstream’.”

Don’t expect “the ground to be ready,” said Francis. Be prepared to “plow it with your hands… in order to prepare it for the seed” in hopeful expectation of a harvest which they, perhaps, may never see. Don’t “fish in aquariums or fish farms,” rather have the courage to go to the margins, to cast “nets and fishing poles” in lesser known areas, without getting used to “eating fish that others have prepared.”

In particular the Holy Father reminded them that their mission will take them all over the world: “To Europe, needing to be awakened; to Africa, thirsty for reconciliation; to Latin America starving for nourishment and interiority; to North America, intent upon rediscovering the roots of an identity that does not define itself in terms of exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity of fermenting in diaspora and dialogue with the vastness of ancestral culture.”

PHILADELPHIA WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IS FOCUS OF PRESS CONFERENCE

This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Eighth World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., from September 22 to 27 on the theme “Love is our mission. The family fully alive.”

World Meerting of Families

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, emphasised that the Meeting is a valuable opportunity to place the family at the center of the Church and of civil society. “The family builds the Church and sustains society. … During the days of the conference, we will present the results of some international research that has scientifically studied this positive influence. The family constantly asks for help and support in the entire ecclesial community – and in the next few days I will write to all the monasteries of the world to ask them to accompany these very important days with their prayers – and from civil society as a whole, which cannot remain indifferent to such beauty and goodness that is so effective and so viable.”

He stressed that “The family is the heritage of all humanity, at every latitude, in every culture; it is blessed by all religions. That is why we wanted a significant presence of other Christian denominations and of major world religious traditions. … We are working so that delegations from around the globe and especially from the world’s poorest local Churches will be present.”

This universality will be enshrined in the final gesture of the meeting, according to Archbishop Paglia who explained that, at the end of Mass on Sunday, September 27, Pope Francis will give the Gospel of Luke, “the Good News of God’s mercy, which is Jesus, to families from big cities on the five continents: Kinshasa, Africa; Havana, America; Hanoi, Asia; Sydney, Australia; and Marseilles, Europe. This is a symbolic gesture that will announce the sending of a million copies of this book to the five cities involved. We want the Gospel of Mercy to be announced in the great cities of the world so that they may build bonds of love between them, in the Church and in society.”

Presenters today also included Bishop John J. McIntyre and Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a couple from the archdiocese, married for fifty years.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia noted that more than a million people are expected to attend, adding that representatives of more than a hundred nations have registered. So far 6,100 volunteers have offered assistance of various types and the event organisers intend to make more than 5,000 buses available. More than 1,600 people have signed up to the “Host a Family” program.

For more information on the events linked to the meeting, visit: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/

(Vatican Radio) During the course of the conference this morning, journalists learned that the week of festivities will include ecumenical, interreligious, and multicultural celebrations of the family involving an expected 15,000 participants from more than a dozen countries around the globe. For the Holy Father’s public engagements on September 26 and 27, between 1 and 2 million people are expected to take part.

In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio following the press conference, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. spoke of the irreplacable contribution the Church has to make to the ongoing discussion of the place of the family in society. “The only unique thing that the Church brings to a discussion of family life is the teaching of Jesus Christ,” he said, “and so it seems to me that the most important contribution we make, is to make that teaching very clear, announcing it in a joyful and positive way.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Vatican Radio his city and its people are ready to welcome Pope Francis.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the host city for the World Meeting of Families,” said Nutter, “and of course, for the visit of Pope Francis.” The mayor went on to say, “Our plans are basically in place: to anticipate over a million people, perhaps as many as 1.5 million,” adding, “the logistics, the security, the transportation,” are all going very well. “We’re very excited,” said Mayor Nutter, “we’re ready.”