VATICAN MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VATICAN COUNCIL II DECLARATION, “NOSTRA AETATE” – PAPAL CHIROGRAPH ESTABLISHES GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS FOUNDATION

POPE FRANCIS’ TWEET FOR PARENTS: Parents, can you “waste time” with your children? It is one of the most important things that you can do each day.

VATICAN MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF VATICAN COUNCIL II DECLARATION, “NOSTRA AETATE”

The faithful received a special treat today at the weekly general audience as the gathering was dedicated to marking the 50th anniversary of a celebrated Vatican document, “Nostra Aetate,” on the relations between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions. Representatives of various religions, as well as the participants in an international congress that commemorated this document, were at the papal audience and later spoke at the Holy See Press Office.

My photo of a photo of a Vatican Council II session given to a cousin of mine who attended the Council, and who gave it to me:

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The congress was organized by several Vatican offices, including the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Gregorian University. “Nostra Aetate” is Latin for “In Our Time.”

Pope Francis explained today’s anniversary to the pilgrims in the rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square, first noting that he had greeted the sick and elderly who, due to the weather conditions, were participating in the audience via giant screens in the Paul VI Hall.

Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, began the celebrations with brief remarks, after which a short excerpt from “Nostra Aetete” was read in the languages traditionally used at the weekly papal audience.

In his greetings to the pilgrims, the Pope had special words of appreciation for those from other religions who were present at today’s audience, and he noted that this is the case every Wednesday. Summaries of today’s catechesis in Italian were later given in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, German and Polish.

“Vatican Council II was an extraordinary moment of reflection, dialogue and prayer to renew the gaze of the Catholic Church upon herself and the world,” began Pope Framcis. The Council was “a reading of the signs of the times in order to bring her up to date, guided by a dual fidelity: fidelity to the ecclesial tradition and fidelity to the history of the men and women of our time.”

He stressed that the message of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” remains valid today, and then listed its key points: the growing interdependence of peoples; the human search for meaning in life, suffering and death, questions that always accompany our journey; the common origin and common destiny of humanity; the unity of the human family; religions as the search for God or the Absolute, within the various ethnic groups and cultures; the Church’s benevolent and careful view of all religions, which does not reject anything good or true in them; the Church’s esteem for all believers of all religions, appreciating their spiritual and moral commitment; and finally, the Church’s openness to dialogue with all, while remaining at the same time faithful to the truth in which she believes, starting from the salvation offered to all that has its origin in Jesus, the sole saviour, and that is worked by the Holy Spirit, as the source of peace and love.”

Noting the many initiatives and examples of institutional or personal relations with non-Christian religions since the publication on October 28, 1965. of “Nostra Aetate,” the Pope said, “the most significant among them include the meeting in Assisi on October 27, 1986, promoted by St. John Paul II.” He also praised the great transformation over 50 years in the relationship between Christians and Jews. “Indifference and opposition have turned into cooperation and benevolence, From enemies and strangers, we have become friends and brothers!”

This was a point that Francis stressed today: men and women of faith, of different faiths, even of no faith, are all brothers and sisters.

He explained that, “mutual knowledge, respect and esteem constitute the way that, valid for relations with Jews, is similarly relevant to relations with other religions. I think in particular of Muslims who, as the Council states, ‘adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of Heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men’. They refer to the paternity of Abraham, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, they honour His virgin Mother Mary, they await the day of judgement, and practise prayer, charity and fasting.”

“Open and respectful dialogue, respecting the rights of others to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms: that is, freedom of conscience, thought, expression and religion,” said the Pope, must mark our relationships.

“The world looks to us as believers,” underscored the Holy Father, and it “exhorts us to collaborate among ourselves and with men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, and asks us for effective answers on several issues: peace, hunger, the poverty that afflicts millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, especially that committed in the name of religion, corruption, moral degradation, the crisis of the family, the economy and finance, and above all, hope.

“We believers do not have solutions for these problems, but we have a great resource: prayer. We must pray. Prayer is our treasury, which we draw from according to our respective traditions, to ask for the gifts humanity yearns for.”

The Pope conceded that violence and terrorism have given rise to “an attitude of suspicion and indeed condemnation with regard to religions. In reality, since no religion is immune to the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations by individuals or groups, it is necessary to look instead to the positive values they embody and promote, and which are a wellspring of hope.”

Francis stated that the upcoming extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will offer an opportunity for collaboration in charitable works. “In this field, where compassion is most important, we can join with many people who do not consider themselves to be believers or who are in search of God and truth, people who place the face of others at the centee especially their brothers and sisters in need.”

Let us all pray for the future of interreligious dialogue, concluded Francis, “And pray for each other, as we are brothers! Without the Lord, nothing is possible; with Him, everything is possible.”

PAPAL CHIROGRAPH ESTABLISHES GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS FOUNDATION

With a chirograph dated today and made public this morning, Pope Francis instituted the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, marking yet another Vatican document anniversary. He expressed his gratitude to the Congregation for Catholic Education for its initiatives to mark the 50th anniversary of the Declaration “Gravissimum educationis” on Christian education, promulgated by Vatican Council II on October 28, 1965.

A chirograph is a hand-signed papal document, usually limited to members of or some aspect of the Roman Curia. Interestingly enough, chirograph has its roots in medieval law where it referred to a kind of document written in duplicate (or more) on a single piece of parchment and then cut across a single word, so that each bearer of a portion could prove it matched the others.

“I am likewise pleased,” says Francis in the chirograph, “to learn that the same dicastery wishes to constitute on this occasion a Foundation entitled Gravissimum Educationis, with the aim of pursuing “scientific and cultural ends, intended to promote Catholic education in the world. The Church recognizes the ‘extreme importance of education in the life of man and how its influence ever grows in the social progress of this age’, (and how they) are profoundly linked to the fulfilment of ‘the mandate she has received from her divine founder of proclaiming the mystery of salvation to all men and of restoring all things in Christ’.”

The Holy Father also instituted the new foundation, with prenises in Vatican City, as public canonical and civil juridical persons, saying it will be subject to current canon law and current civil law in Vatican City.