Archive for the ‘Vatican’ Category

Vatican Council and Papal Statements on Islam

Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964

But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankinds judge on the last day.

The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 1:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2Co 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life.

The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.

The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to Gods plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.

Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.

Therefore, the Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their race, color, condition in life or religion. Accordingly, following the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the sacred Council earnestly begs the Christian faithful to conduct themselves well among the Gentiles (1P 2:12) and if possible, as far as depends on them, to be at peace with all men (cf. Rm 12:18), and in that way to be true sons of the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt 5:45).

Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God.

We address this reverent greeting in particular to those who profess monotheism and with us direct their religious workshop to the one true God, most high and living, the God of Abraham, the supreme God whom Melchizedek, a mysterious person about whose genealogy and end Scripture tells us nothing, and by whose regal priesthood Christ himself wishes to be characterized, one day, distinct in the past but recalled in the Bible and in the Missal, celebrated as God Most High, maker of heaven and earth (cf. Gn 14:19; Heb 7; Ps 76:3; 110:4).

We Christians, informed by revelation, understand God as existing in the three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; however, we celebrate the divine nature as one, as the living and true God. May these peoples, worshipers of the one God, also welcome our best wishes for peace in justice.

Our greeting is also being addressed to all peoples wherever Our Catholic missions carry the Gospel, and with it an invitation to its universality and a working towards its realization.

In our prayers, we always remember the peoples of Africa. The common belief in the Almighty professed by millions calls down upon this continent the graces of his Providence and love, most of all, peace and unity among all its sons. We feel sure that as representatives of Islam, you join in our prayers to the Almighty, that he may grant all African believers the desire for pardon and reconciliation so often commended in the Gospels and in the Quran.

Our pilgrimage to these holy places is not for purposes of prestige or power. It is a humble and ardent prayer for peace, through the intercession of the glorious protectors of Africa, who gave up their lives for love and for their belief. In recall the Catholic and Anglican Martyrs, We gladly recall also those confessors of the Muslim faith who were the first to suffer death, in the year 1848, for refusing to transgress the precepts of their religion.

After quoting Nostra Aetate 3, as given above, he says: My brothers, when I think of this spiritual heritage (Islam) and the value it has for man and for society, its capacity of offering, particularly in the young, guidance for life, filing the gap left by materialism, and giving a reliable foundation to social and juridical organization, I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together for the benefit of all men, peace, liberty, social justice and moral values as the Council calls upon us to do (Nostra Aetate 3).

Faith in God, professed by the spiritual descendants of AbrahamChristians, Muslims and Jewswhen it is lived sincerely, when it penetrates life, is a certain foundation of the dignity, brotherhood and freedom of men and a principle of uprightness for moral conduct and life in society. And there is more: as a result of this faith in God the Creator and transcendent, one man finds himself at the summit of creation. He was created, the Bible teaches, in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:27); for the Quran, the sacred book of the Muslims, although man is made of dust, God breathed into him his spirit and endowed him with hearing, sight and heart, that is, intelligence (Surah 32.8).

For the Muslims, the universe is destined to be subject to man as the representative of God: the Bible affirms that God ordered man to subdue the earth, but also to till it and keep it (Gen. 2:15). As Gods creature, man has rights which cannot be violated, but he is equally bound by the law of good and evil which is based on the order established by God. Thanks to this law, man will never submit to any idol. The Christian keeps to the solemn commandment: You shall keep no other gods before me (Ex 20:30). On his side, the Muslim will always say: God is the greatest.

I would like to take advantage of this meeting and the opportunity offered to me by the words that St. Peter wrote to your predecessors to invite you to consider every day the deep roots of faith in God in whom also your Muslim fellow citizens believe, in order to draw from this the principle of a collaboration with a view to the progress of man, emulation in good, and the extension of peace and brotherhood in free profession of the faith peculiar to each one.

I deliberately address you as brothers: that is certainly what we are, because we are members of the same human family, whose efforts, whether people realize it or not, tend toward God and the truth that comes from him. But we are especially brothers in God, who created us and whom we are trying to reach, in our own ways, through faith, prayer and worship, through the keeping of his law and through submission to his designs.

But are you not, above all, brothers of the Christians of this great country, through the bonds of nationality, history, geography, culture, and hope for a better future, a future that you are building together? Is it not right to think that in the Philippines, the Muslims and the Christians are really traveling on the same ship, for better or for worse, and that in the storms that sweep across the world the safety of each individual depends upon the efforts and cooperation of all?…

I salute all this efforts [of civic and political cooperation] with great satisfaction, and I earnestly encourage their extension. Society cannot bring citizens the happiness that they expect from it unless society itself is built upon dialogue. Dialogue in turn is built upon trust, and trust presupposes not only justice but mercy. Without any doubt, equality and freedom, which are at the foundation of every society, require law and justice. But as I said in a recent letter addressed to the whole Catholic Church, justice by itself is not enough: The equality brought by justice is limited to the realms of objective and extrinsic goods, while love and mercy bring it about that people meet one another in that value which is man himself, with the dignity that is proper to him (Dives in misericordia, encyclical letter On the Mercy of God).

Dear Muslims, my brothers: I would like to add that we Christians, just like you, seek the basis and model of mercy in God himself, the God to whom your Book gives the very beautiful name of al-Rahman, while the Bible calls him al-Rahum, the Merciful One.

One of the essential characteristics of the life of the Church in Maghreb is, in fact, to be invited to enter upon a constructive Islamic-Christian dialogue. I am anxious to encourage you along this difficult way, where failure may occur, but where hope is even stronger. To maintain it, strong Christian convictions are necessary. More than elsewhere, it is highly desirable that Christians should take part, as you encourage them to do, in a permanent catechesis which completes a biblical renewal course, or more exactly a reading of the Word of God in the Church, with the help of theologians and truly competent spiritual teachers.

But it can never be said enough that such a dialogue is in the first place a question of friendship; one must know how to give dialogue the time for progress and discernment. That is why it is surrounded by discretion out of a concern to be considerate with regard to the slowness of the evolution of mentalities. The seriousness of commitment in this dialogue is measured by that of the witness lived and borne to the values in which one believes, and, for the Christian, to him who is their foundation, Jesus Christ. That is why it conceals an inevitable tension between the deep respect which is due to the person and the convictions of the one with whom we are speaking, and an unshakeable attachment to ones faith. This sincere dialogue and this demanding witness involve a part of spiritual abnegation: how can we fail to proclaim the hope that we have received of taking part in this wedding feast of the Lamb at which the whole of mankind will be gathered one day?

It is also necessary – among other things, in order to preserve this dialogue in its truth – for this deep hope to remain without yielding to any faintheartedness born of uncertain doctrine. Such a spirit is embodied in the first place in disinterested service with a view to fraternity participating in the development of these countries and to sharing the aspirations of their people. I am anxious to stress here the quality of the work carried out by so many of those cooperators in the discretion and dedication, and by those who supported them.

In this country, which is mainly Muslim, you take care to keep alive in Christians the sense of friendship, a friendship whose sincerity is measured by the effectiveness of the actions it inspires. I do not want to dwell here on this important question of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, with which I quite recently dealt in my conversations with your confreres in North Africa. But I am anxious to point out the importance of the initiative you have taken in common in this field, in the framework of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa, by creating a special commission to promote such a dialogue.

I know you are beginning to perceive the fruits of this mutually agreed upon decision; it gradually makes possible a real renewal of mentalities, which facilitates the beneficial transition from ignorance to knowledge of the Muslim faith, from indifference to opening, from rejection to dialogue.

All true holiness comes from God, who is called The Holy One in the sacred books of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Your holy Quran calls God Al-Quddus, as in the verse: He is God, besides whom there is no other, the Sovereign, the Holy, the (source of) Peace (Quran 59, 23). The prophet Hosea links Gods holiness with his forgiving love for mankind, a love which surpasses our ability to comprehend: I am God, not man; I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy (Ho 11:9). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his disciples that holiness consists in assuming, in our human way, the qualities of Gods own holiness which he has revealed to mankind: Be holy, even as your heavenly Father is holy (Mt 5:48).

Thus the Quran calls you to uprightness (al-salah), to conscientious devotion (al-taqwa), to goodness (al-husn), and to virtue (al-birr), which is described as believing in God, giving ones wealth to the needy, freeing captives, being constant in prayer, keeping ones word, and being patient in times of suffering, hardship and violence (Quran 2:177). Similarly, St. Paul stresses the love we must show toward all, and the duty to lead a blameless life in the sight of God: May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints (1 Th 3:12-13).

It is a joy for me to have this occasion to meet with you. As the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, I have had many other opportunities both to welcome Muslims in Rome and to visit them in various countries in the course of my travels.

As Christians and Muslims, we encounter one another in faith in the one God, our Creator and guide, our just and merciful judge. In our daily lives we strive to put into practice Gods will according to the teaching of our respective Scriptures. We believe that God transcends our thoughts and our universe and that his loving presence accompanies us throughout each day. In prayer, we place ourselves in the presence of God to offer him our worship and thanksgiving, to ask forgiveness for our faults, and to seek his help and blessing.

Today we are meeting in Belgium, a country with a long tradition of hospitality toward persons of diverse religious adherence, whose legislation guarantees the freedom of worship and education. We know that this does not resolve all the problems which are common to the plight of immigrants. Nevertheless, these very difficulties ought to be an incentive to all believers, Christian and Muslim, to come to know one another better, to engage in dialogue in order to find peaceful ways of living together and mutually enriching one another.

It is a good thing to come to understand each other by learning to accept differences, by overcoming prejudices in mutual respect, and by working together for reconciliation and service to the lowliest. This is a fundamental dialogue which must be practiced in neighborhoods, in places of work, in schools. This is the dialogue which is proper to believers who live together in a modern and pluralistic society.

It has not been granted to us that we form a single community; this is, rather, a test which has been imposed upon us. In confronting this situation, allow me to repeat the advice of the Apostle Paul: Those who have placed their faith in God should set their hearts on the practice of what is good (Tt 3:8). This type of mutual emulation can benefit the whole society, especially those who find themselves most in need of justice, consolation, hope – in a word, those in need of reasons for living. We know that by working together fraternally, we will thus be carrying out the will of God.

Christians and Muslims have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection. . . .

God asks that we should listen to His voice. He expects from us obedience to His holy will in a free consent of mind and heart.

It is therefore toward this God that my thought goes and that my heart rises. It is of God himself that, above all, I wish to speak with you; of him, because it is in him that we believe, you Muslims and we Catholics. I wish also to speak with you about human values, which have their basis in God, these values which concern the blossoming of our person, as also that of our families and our societies, as well as that of the international community. The mystery of God – is it not the highest reality from which depends the very meaning which man gives to his life? And is it not the first problem that presents itself to a young person, when he reflects upon the mystery of his own existence and on the values which he intends to choose in order to build his growing personality? . . .

First of all, I invoke the Most High, the all-powerful God who is our Creator. He is the origin of all life, as he is at the source of all that is good, of all that is beautiful, of all that is holy. . . .

He made us, us men, and we are from him. His holy law guides our life. It is the light of God which orients our destiny and enlightens our conscience. . . .

Yes, God asks that we should listen to his voice. He expects from us obedience to his holy will in a free consent of mind and of heart.

That is why we are accountable before him. It is He, God, who is our judge; He who alone is truly just. We know, however, that his mercy is inseparable from His justice. When man returns to Him, repentant and contrite, after having strayed into the disorder of sin and the works of death, God then reveals Himself as the one who pardons and shows mercy.

To Him, therefore, our love and our adoration! For His blessing and His mercy, we thank Him, at all times and in all places. . . .

Man is a spiritual being. We believers know that we do not live in a closed world. We believe in God. We are worshipers of God. We are seekers of God.

The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the equality of your religious progress, the richness of your spiritual tradition. . . .

I believe that we, Christians and Muslims, must recognize with joy the religious values that we have in common, and give thanks to God for them. Both of us believe in one God, the only God, who is all justice and all mercy; we believe in the importance of prayer, of fasting, of almsgiving, of repentance and of pardon; we believe that God will be a merciful judge to us all at the end of time, and we hope that after the resurrection He will be satisfied with us and we know that we will be satisfied with him.Loyalty demands also that we should recognize and respect our differences. Obviously the most fundamental is the view that we hold onto the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You know that, for Christians, Jesus causes them to enter into an intimate knowledge of the mystery of God and into the filial communion by His gifts, so that they recognize Him and proclaim Him Lord and Savior.

Those are the important differences which we can accept with humility and respect, in mutual tolerance; this is a mystery about which, I am certain, God will one day enlighten us.

Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and often exhausted each other in polemics and in wars.

I believe that today, God invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and we must stimulate each other in good works on the path of God.

With me, you know the reward of spiritual values. Ideologies and slogans cannot satisfy you nor can they solve the problems of your life. Only spiritual and moral values can do it, and they have God at their foundation.

Dear young people, I wish that you may be able to help in building a world where God may have first place in order to aid and to save mankind. On this path, you are assured, of the esteem and the collaboration of your Catholic brothers and sisters whom I represent among you this evening.

Both the Bible and the Quran teach that mercy and justice are two attributes most characteristic of God. He, the Just One, the Merciful, the Compassionate, can bring about these same qualities in mankind, if only we open our hearts to allow him to do so. He wants us to be merciful toward each other. Along this path there are new solutions to be found to the political, racial and confessional conflicts which have plagued the human family throughout history.

You come from a city that has so much meaning for all of us: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem, the city of David, the place of Jesus death and resurrection, the site of Muhammads night journey to God: this city must be a living symbol that Gods will for us is to live in peace and mutual respect!

I wish to encourage you in your efforts. In todays world, it is more important than ever that people of faith place at the service of humanity their religious conviction, founded on the daily practice of listening to Gods message and encountering him in prayerful worship. My prayers and hopes are with you as you pursue your reflection on the God of mercy and justice, the God of peace and reconciliation!

You must try to show your Muslim brethren and the followers of other religious traditions that your Christian faith, far from weakening your sense of pride in your homeland and your love for her, helps you to prize and respect the culture and heritage of Bangladesh. It inspires you to face the challenges of the present day with love and responsibility. . . .

The Catholic Church is committed to a path of dialogue and collaboration with the men and women of goodwill of every religious tradition. We have many spiritual resources in common which we must share with one another as we work for a more human world. Young people especially know how to be open with each other and they want a world in which all the basic freedoms, including the freedom of religious belief, will be respected.

Sometimes Christians and Muslims fear and distrust one another as a result of past misunderstanding and conflict. This is also true in Bangladesh. Everyone, especially the young, must learn to always respect one anothers religious beliefs and to defend freedom of religion, which is the right of every human being.

The topic of your discussion is a timely one. Since we are believers in God – who is goodness and perfection – all our activities must reflect the holy and upright nature of the one whom we worship and seek to obey. For this reason, also in the works of mission and dawah, our action must be founded upon a respect for the inalienable dignity and freedom of the human person created and loved by God. Both Christians and Muslims are called to defend the inviolable right of each individual to freedom of religious belief and practice. There have been in the past, and there continue to be in the present, unfortunate instances of misunderstanding, intolerance and conflict between Christians and Muslims, especially in circumstances where either Muslims or Christians are a minority or are guest workers in a given country. It is our challenge as religious leaders to find ways to overcome such difficulties in a spirit of justice, brotherhood and mutual respect. Hence, by considering the proper means of carrying out mission and dawah you are dealing with an issue which is important both for religious and for social harmony.

You have also been addressing the difficulties faced today by those who believe in God in their efforts to proclaim his presence and his will for mankind. As believers, we do not deny or reject any of the real benefits which modern developments have brought, but we are convinced nevertheless that without reference to God modern society is unable to lead men and women to the goal for which they have been created. It is here too that Christians and Muslims can work together, bearing witness before modern civilization to the divine presence and loving Providence which guide our steps. Together we can proclaim that he who has made us has called us to live in harmony and justice. May the blessing of the Most High accompany you in your endeavors on behalf of dialogue and peace.

To all Muslims throughout the world, I wish to express the readiness of the Catholic Church to work together with you and all the people of good will to aid the victims of the war and to build structures of a lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. This cooperation in solidarity towards the most afflicted can form the concrete basis for a sincere, profound and constant dialogue between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which there can arise a strengthened mutual knowledge and trust, and the assurance that each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically his or her own faith.

Injustice, oppression, aggression, greed, failure to forgive, desire for revenge, and unwillingness to enter into dialogue and negotiate: these are merely some of the factors which lead people to depart from the way in which God desires us to live on this planet. We must all learn to recognize these elements in our own lives and societies, and find ways to overcome them. Only when individuals and groups undertake this education for peace can we build a fraternal and united world, freed from war and violence.

I close my greeting to you with the words of one of my predecessors, Pope Gregory VII who in 1076 wrote to Al-Nasir, the Muslim Ruler of Bijaya, present day Algeria: Almighty God, who wishes that all should be saved and none lost, approves nothing in so much as that after loving Him one should love his fellow man, and that one should not do to others, what one does not want done to oneself. You and we owe this charity to ourselves especially because we believe in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way, and daily praise and venerate him, the creator of the world and ruler of this world.

These words, written almost a thousand years ago, express my feelings to you today as you celebrate Id al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast. May the Most High God fill us with all His merciful love and peace.

It is natural that believers in God should meet in friendship and sharing. Christians and Muslims, together with the followers of the Jewish religion, belong to what can be called the tradition of Abraham. In our respective traditions Abraham is called the intimate friend of God (in Arabic, Al-Khalil). He receives this title because of his flawless faith in God. . . .

As two religious communities who strive to submit ourselves without reserve to the will of God, we Christians and Muslims should live together in peace, friendship and cooperation. I am happy to note that, since the arrival of the first Christians in this land, the people of Senegal have given the world a good example of this sharing life.

In May 1991, in a joint message to their fellow Christians, the Catholic bishops of Senegal called attention to the real efforts at understanding and dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the meeting between religious leaders which have been undertaken in your country. They noted that the young people have worked together to build cemeteries, mosques and churches; that school children engage in healthy emulation to make their schools places of peace, forgiveness and fraternity; that adults work together to improve the life of the community spirit of the country. I would like to support and encourage all these efforts at building a harmonious society because I am convinced that this is the way of God. Our Creator and our final judge desires that we live together. Our God is a God of peace, who desires peace among those who live according to His commandments. Our God is the holy God who desires that those who call upon Him live in ways that are holy and upright. He is a God of dialogue who has been engaged from the very beginning of history in a dialogue of salvation with the humanity which He created. This dialogue continues in the present day, and will go on until the end of time.

We Christians and Muslims must be people of dialogue. As I have often said, and as the bishops of Senegal have repeated, this commitment to dialogue means, first of all, a dialogue of life, a positive acceptance, interaction and cooperation by which we bear active witness, as believers, to the ideals to which God has called us.

It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of Gods Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions.

In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirits constitutive openness to Gods action of urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person (John Paul IIs address to the Members of the Roman Curia, December 22, 1986, n. 11; LOsservatore Romano English edition, January 5, 1987, p. 7).

. . . The Christian doctrine on the Trinity, confirmed by the Councils, explicitly rejects any form of tritheism or polytheism. In this sense, i.e., with reference to the one divine substance, there is significant correspondence between Christianity and Islam.

However, this correspondence must not let us forget the difference between the two religions. We know that the unity of God is expressed in the mystery of the three divine Persons. Indeed, since he is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), God has always been a Father who gives his whole self in begetting the Son, and both are united in a communion of love which is the Holy Spirit. This distinction and co-penetration (perichoresis) of the three divine Persons is not something added to their unity but is its most profound and characteristic expression. . . .

In todays world where God is tragically forgotten, Christians and Muslims are called in one spirit of love to defend and always promote human dignity, moral values and freedom. The common pilgrimage to eternity must be expressed in prayer, fasting and charity, but also in joint efforts for peace and justice, for human advancement and the protection of the environment. By walking together on the path of reconciliation and renouncing in humble submission to the divine will any form of violence as a means of resolving differences, the two religions will be able to offer a sign of hope, radiating in the world the wisdom and mercy of that one God who created and governs the human family.

Thank you for your kind words. Permit me to continue with your ideas. God created human beings, man and woman, and gave to them the world, the earth to cultivate. There is a strict connection between religions, religious faith and culture. Islam is a religion. Christianity is a religion. Islam has become also a culture. Christianity has become also a culture. So it is very important to meet personalities representing Islamic culture in Egypt.

I express my great gratitude for this opportunity and I greet all the eminent scholars gathered here. I am convinced that the future of the world depends on the various cultures and on interreligious dialogue. For it is as St. Thomas Aquinas said: Genus humanum arte et ratione vivit. The life of the human race consists in culture and the future of the human race consists in culture. I thank your university, the biggest centre of Islamic culture. I thank those who are developing Islamic culture and I am grateful for what you are doing to maintain the dialogue with Christian culture. All this I say in the name of the future of our communities, not only of our communities but also of the nations and of the humanity represented in Islam and in Christianity. Thank you very much.

Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God, who in his merciful love has produced in the church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbor, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken toward the followers of other religions.

Let us confess, even more, our responsibilities as Christians for the evils of today. We must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are regarding atheism, religious indifference, secularism, ethical relativism, the violations of the right to life, disregard for the poor in many countries.

We humbly ask forgiveness for the part which each of us has had in these evils by our own actions, thus helping to disfigure the face of the church.

At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the sins committed by others against us. Countless times in the course of history Christians have suffered hardship, oppression and persecution because of their faith. Just as the victims of such abuses forgave them, so let us forgive as well. The church today feels and has always felt obliged to purify her memory of those sad events from every feeling of rancor or revenge. In this way the jubilee becomes for everyone a favorable opportunity for a profound conversion to the Gospel. The acceptance of Gods forgiveness leads to the commitment to forgive our brothers and sisters and to be reconciled with them.

Your Majesty, I know how deeply concerned you are for peace in your own land and in the entire region, and how important it is to you that all JordaniansMuslims and Christiansshould consider themselves as one people and one family. In this area of the world there are grave and urgent issues of justice, of the rights of peoples and nations, which have to be resolved for the good of all concerned and as a condition for lasting peace. No matter how difficult, no matter how long, the process of seeking peace must continue. Without peace, there can be no authentic development for this region, no better life for its peoples, no brighter future for its children. That is why Jordans proven commitment to securing the conditions necessary for peace is so important and praiseworthy.

Building a future of peace requires an ever more mature understanding and ever more practical cooperation among the peoples who acknowledge the one true, indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. The three historical monotheistic religions count peace, goodness and respect for the human person among the highest values. I earnestly hope that my visit will strengthen the already fruitful Christian-Muslim dialogue which is being conducted in Jordan, particularly through the Royal Interfaith Institute.

I have an especially warm recollection of my meeting with Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi. We both expressed the wish for a new era of religious and cultural dialogue between Islam and Christianity. It is in this context, Mr. Ambassador, that I am particularly pleased that you have spoken of Egypt as a land where unity and harmony are greatly valued and where differences of religion are seen not as barriers but as a means of mutual enrichment in rendering service to the nation. I trust most sincerely that this will always be the case, and that the difficulties that have arisen from time to time will be overcome, especially in view of the widespread willingness and positive conditions for interreligious dialogue and cooperation which can be found in Egypt.

In a world deeply marked by violence, it is bitterly ironic that even now some of the worst conflicts are between believers who worship the one God, who look to Abraham as a holy patriarch and who seek to follow the Law of Sinai. Each act of violence makes it more urgent for Muslims and Christians everywhere to recognize the things we have in common, to bear witness that we are all creatures of the one merciful God, and to agree once and for all that recourse to violence in the name of religion is completely unacceptable. Especially when religious identity coincides with cultural and ethnic identity it is a solemn duty of believers to ensure that religious sentiment is not used as an excuse for hatred and conflict. Religion is the enemy of exclusion and discrimination; it seeks the good of everyone and therefore ought to be a stimulus for solidarity and harmony between individuals and among peoples

It is in this context (of openness to Gods grace) also that we should consider the great challenge of interreligious dialogue to which we shall still be committed in the new millennium, in fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Cf. Second Vatican Council, declaration Nostra Aetate). . . . This dialogue must continue. In the climate of increased cultural and religious pluralism which is expected to mark the society of the new millennium, it is obvious that this dialogue will be especially important in establishing a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread specter of those wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history. The name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace.

I am thinking too of the great cultural influence of Syrian Islam, which under the Umayyad caliphs reached the farthest shores of the Mediterranean. Today, in a world that is increasingly complex and interdependent, there is a need for a new spirit of dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Together we acknowledge the one indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. Together we must proclaim to the world that the name of the one God is a name of peace and a summons to peace (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 55)!

As-salamu alaikum!

I give heartfelt praise to almighty God for the grace of this meeting. I am most grateful for your warm welcome in the tradition of hospitality so cherished by the people of this region. I thank especially the minister of the Waqf and the grand mufti for their gracious greetings, which put into words the great yearning for peace which fills the hearts of all people of good will. My jubilee pilgrimage has been marked by important meetings with Muslim leaders in Cairo and Jerusalem, and now I am deeply moved to be your guest here in the great Umayyad mosque, so rich in religious history. Your land is dear to Christians: Here our religion has known vital moments of its growth and doctrinal development, and here are found Christian communities which have lived in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbors for many centuries.

We are meeting close to what both Christians and Muslims regard as the tomb of John the Baptist, known as Yahya in the Muslim tradition. The son of Zechariah is a figure of prime importance in the history of Christianity, for he was the precursor who prepared the way for Christ. Johns life, wholly dedicated to God, was crowned by martyrdom. May his witness enlighten all who venerate his memory here, so that they – and we too – may understand that lifes great task is to seek Gods truth and justice.

The fact that we are meeting in this renowned place of prayer reminds us that man is a spiritual being, called to acknowledge and respect the absolute priority of God in all things. Christians and Muslims agree that the encounter with God in prayer is the necessary nourishment of our souls, without which our hearts wither and our will no longer strives for good but succumbs to evil.

Both Muslims and Christians prize their places of prayer as oases where they meet the all-merciful God on the journey to eternal life and where they meet their brothers and sisters in the bond of religion. When, on the occasion of weddings or funerals or other celebrations, Christians and Muslims remain in silent respect at the others prayer, they bear witness to what unites them without disguising or denying the things that separate.

It is in mosques and churches that the Muslim and Christian communities shape their religious identity, and it is there that the young receive a significant part of their religious education. What sense of identity is instilled in young Christians and young Muslims in our churches and mosques? It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue, never more as communities in conflict. It is crucial for the young to be taught the ways of respect and understanding, so that they will not be led to misuse religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence. Violence destroys the image of the Creator in his creatures and should never be considered as the fruit of religious conviction.

I truly hope that our meeting today in the Umayyad mosque will signal our determination to advance interreligious dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam. This dialogue has gained momentum in recent decades; and today we can be grateful for the road we have traveled together so far. At the highest level, the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue represents the Catholic Church in this task. For more than 30 years the council has sent a message to Muslims on the occasion of Id al-Fitr at the close of Ramadan, and I am very happy that this gesture has been welcomed by many Muslims as a sign of growing friendship between us. In recent years the council has established a liaison committee with international Islamic organizations and also with al-Athar in Egypt, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year.

It is important that Muslims and Christians continue to explore philosophical and theological questions together in order to come to a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each others religious beliefs. Better mutual understanding will surely lead at the practical level to a new way of presenting our two religions not in opposition, as has happened too often in the past, but in partnership for the good of the human family.

Interreligious dialogue is most effective when it springs from the experience of living with each other from day to day within the same community and culture. In Syria, Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, and a rich dialogue of life has gone on unceasingly. Every individual and every family knows moments of harmony and other moments when dialogue has broken down. The positive experiences must strengthen our communities in the hope of peace; and the negative experiences should not be allowed to undermine that hope. For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and offer each other forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that we must pardon others offenses if God is to pardon us our sins (cf. Mt. 6:14).

As members of the one human family and as believers, we have obligations to the common good, to justice and to solidarity. Interreligious dialogue will lead to many forms of cooperation, especially in responding to the duty to care for the poor and weak. These are the signs that our worship of God is genuine.

As we make our way through life toward our heavenly destiny, Christians feel the company of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Islam too pays tribute to Mary and hails her as chosen above the women of the world (Quran, 3:42). The virgin of Nazareth, the Lady of Saydnya, has taught us that God protects the humble and scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts (Lk. 1:51). May the hearts of Christians and Muslims turn to one another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give. To the one, merciful God be praise and glory forever. Amen.

From this city, from Kazakhstan, a country that is an example of harmony between men and women of different origins and beliefs, I wish to make an earnest call to everyone, Christians and the followers of other religions, to work together to build a world without violence, a world that loves life, and grows in justice and solidarity. We must not let what has happened lead to a deepening of divisions. Religion must never be used as a reason for conflict.

From this place, I invite both Christians and Muslims to raise an intense prayer to the One, Almighty God whose children we all are, that the supreme good of peace may reign in the world. May people everywhere, strengthened by divine wisdom, work for a civilization of love, in which there is no room for hatred, discrimination or violence.

With all my heart I beg God to keep the world in peace. Amen.

In this context, and precisely here in the land of encounter and dialogue, and before this distinguished audience, I wish to reaffirm the Catholic Churchs respect for Islam, for authentic Islam: the Islam that prays, that is concerned for those in need. Recalling the errors of the past, including the most recent past, all believers ought to unite their efforts to ensure that God is never made the hostage of human ambitions. Hatred, fanaticism and terrorism profane the name of God and disfigure the true image of man.

We know that prayer acquires power if it is joined with fasting and almsgiving. The Old Testament taught this, and from the earliest centuries Christians have accepted and applied this lesson, especially at the times of Advent and Lent. For their part, the Muslim faithful have just begun Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting and prayer. Soon, we Christians will begin Advent, to prepare ourselves in prayer, for the celebration of Christmas, the day of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

At this appropriate time, I ask Catholics to make next 14 December [the last Friday of Ramadan and the third Friday of Advent] a day of fasting, to pray fervently to God to grant to the world stable peace based on justice, and make it possible to find adequate solutions to the many conflicts that trouble the world. May what is saved by fasting be put at the disposal of the poor, especially those who at present suffer the consequences of terrorism and war.

I would also like to announce that it is my intention to invite the representatives of the world religions to come to Assisi on 24 January 2002, to pray for the overcoming of opposition and the promotion of authentic peace. In particular, we wish to bring Christians and Muslims together to proclaim to the world that religion must never be a reason for conflict, hatred and violence. In this historic moment, humanity needs to see gestures of peace and to hear words of hope.

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VHacks: Inside the Vatican’s First-Ever Hackathon | WIRED

This past weekend, tourists milled around St. Peters Basilica, one of the holiest sites in the world, snapping selfies and experiencing Michelangelo’s art through their phones camera lens. A few hundred meters away, in a 500-year-old palazzo, 120 students coded for 36 hours straight at the Vaticans first-ever hackathon. This, it would seem, is the Holy See of the 21st century.

When I heard about it, I thought it was a joke. Vatican, hackathonit didnt add up, says John Franklin, a senior at Northwestern University who found out about VHacks, the event’s official name, while participating in another hackathon in 2017. It wasnt until he saw the events themescreating technological solutions for encouraging social inclusion, promoting interfaith dialogue, and providing resources to migrants and refugeesthat he realized it was not only real, but something he wanted to take part in. I thought, This is unique, he says.

And, apart from the unusual experience of hacking inside a room that dates back to 1490, it did prove to be special for Franklin. At other hackathons, Im creating, like, a shopping API or something for social media, he says. Here, I felt like my pitch means something to people.

The Vatican’s first-ever codefest came together last year after Jakub Florkiewicz, an MBA student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, a founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology, during a Harvard leadership summit in Rome. He and Salobir, who had already organized hackathons through Optic, began talking about putting one together in Vatican City.

The two paired up with Monsignor Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, and with the support of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Holy See, received approval to organize the Hackathon on behalf of the Vatican. According to Ruiz, Pope Francis was excited by the idea from the start, saying Yes, we must do it!

While the events holy location is novel (and a bit of misnomer; it actually took place about 200 meters from the border of the city-state), the hackathon still went down the way most hackathons do. The studentsfueled by pasta, pastries, and lots of caffbrainstormed and coded during a 36-hour sprint, many of them pulling all-nighters to complete their projects. They received consultation from 40 on-site mentors, many of whom represented Microsoft, Google, and other corporate sponsors of the event who taught the participants how to use their companys tools and technologies (several of the projects included chatbots and virtual or augmented reality). The Wi-Fi proved to be a little sketchy, but thats to be expected when a network is overclocked in a place known as the Ancient City.

Yet there were some things that set this particular hackathon apart. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Culture, dropped in to speak to the studentsand tool around with VR goggles. The hacking space was in the Palazzo della Roveres, which also doubles as the headquarters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. (Other events took place at Palazzo della Cancelleria, the former Apostolic Chancery of the Pope, and at the headquarters of the Jesuit Order, in the room in which the members of the order choose their generals.) And Pope Francis mentioned the hackathon during his weekly Sunday Angelus, the papal blessing delivered to a crowd of thousands.

Cardinals dropped in to speak to the studentsand tool around with VR goggles.

The makeup of the attendees was also remarkable for a hackathon. The participants came from more than 30 countries, were nearly half-and-half male-female, and represented every major religion. Bob Schulz, a professor at the University of Calgary and the mentor for a team working on solutions for interfaith dialogue, pointed to the multi-faith background of his own students attending the event. The hackathon is supposed to be about diversity, getting people of different faiths to go work together and develop respect for each other he says, noting that his students represent Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Evangelical Christian backgrounds. This group actually exemplified that diversity in action.

Ultimately, judges winnowed down the 24 teams to a group of nine finalists. Judges awarded the top prize, $2,000 and mixed reality headsets from Microsoft, to three team representing each of the hackathon’s themes. The students tackling social inclusion created a web-based app called Co.unity that pairs local employers with homeless job seekers, reaching those populations through computer kiosks placed in at-risk areas. Five students from the University of Calgary attempted to foster interfaith dialogue through a social network called DUO Colleague (DUO being an acronym for do unto others, the Golden Rule), where organizations can tap into volunteer networks of any church or organization, syncing up potential volunteers with jobs that suit their personal preferences. And students from Georgetown University debuted an algorithmic system called Credit/Ability that attempts to help migrants and refugees build a safe and secure credit-type score.

VHacks organizers have set up a post-hackathon support program for the students. “Two weeks from now, we will collect more comprehensive presentations about the projects and submit them to our partners and mentors,” says Florkiewicz. “Selected partner organizations, like Google, Salesforce, and TIM [Vivendi], will revise the projects with the aim of accepting a few ideas into their incubation and acceleration programs.” And there’s already some interest from the Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Holy See. “They’re very interested in further cooperation with a few selected ideas in that field, to help the ventures come to life,” says Florkiewicz.

Pope Francis became leader of the Catholic Church on March 13, 2013, almost five years ago to the day VHacks took place, and the events three themes reflect priorities the pontiff has expressed during his tenure.

The problem of displacement seems particularly urgent for Francis. His first trip as Holy Father was in 2013 to Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Italy dealing with an influx of refugees. Hes released lengthy messages each year on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and his theme for 2018s World Day of Peace celebration was Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace. The pope has called protecting refugees a moral imperative (the UN estimates there are roughly 65 million displaced people in the world), and at his surprise TED talk last year, he implored technologists and entrepreneurs to apply innovation to solving the crisis. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion, he said. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.

This appeal to embrace technology and science is not new for the church. In case you think this Vatican Hackathon is an unusual invention, let me just mention that we Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans and others embraced the printing press in the 16th century, says the Reverend Michael Czerny, director of the Vaticans Migrants and Refugees Section.

“This event is a part of a long history of the relationship the Vatican has with science, technology, and faith.”

Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication

James Heft, a professor of religion at the University of Southern California, echoes this, pointing out the churchs history in studying astronomy and other fields. Besides agricultural technology (fostered by the monasteries, especially the Cistercians), the church made tremendous advances in architecture, he says via email. Johann Mendel, a 19th century Augustinian priest, is considered the father of genetics. Georges Lematre, a priest from Belgium, proposed the theory we now call the Big Bang. And of course there’s Guglielmo Marconi, “inventor of the radio,” who lived in Vatican City when he set up Vatican Radio in the 1930s.

Many people in the church want to do things using technology, says Salobir. The point is not only to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society.

With more than 200,000 parishes and 1.25 billion members, the Catholic Church is also an excellent, to borrow a phrase, social network. The churches have the world’s most extensive distribution network, which can be further improved to do good, says Florkiewiez. We think that technology could improve the scale and efficiency with which those organizations offer support and help to those in need.

To that end, church representatives say the Vatican will host more hackathons in the future.

For this first group of participants, it remains to be seen if theyll continue to work on the projects they started in Rome. But some are hopeful. Mike Swift, the CEO and co-founder of Major League Hacking, an organization that helped provide support during VHacks, said that at typical hackathons, only about 15 percent of participants continue working on the projects they pitch. Because VHacks set an impact-driven theme, he says, “we wouldnt be surprised if this results in many more people continuing their work beyond the hackathon, potentially as high as 50 percent.”

As for Franklin, the Northwestern student, I can see myself not only working on this project, but other projects like it,” he says. “Id like to actually try to translate what I learned at this hackathon to other hackathons, to try to hit people emotionally like we did here.

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The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon | WIRED

In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It’s hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn’t been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City.

The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. Salobir had helped organize hackathons through Optic before, in San Francisco and Paris, but he was thinking of coordinating one at the church’s enclave in Rome. “In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media,” Salobir says. “This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic.”

In his tenure, Francis has embraced social mediahe has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagramand even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists. But hes also openly discussed the peril of technology. In his second encyclical, Laudato Si, released in 2015, Francis directly addressed technologys influence and implications in a lengthy chapter titled, “The roots of the ecological crisis.” In it, he asked that the church focus on the “dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world” and examine the globalization of that paradigm.

Because technological applications can have international impacts, the organizers of the hackathon focused on soliciting participants from universities and programs around the world, looking for candidates from different backgrounds and faiths. “A key message on this event is collaboration and working together on the issues we all experience,” Florkiewicz says. “Even if its facilitated by the Vatican as a religious institution, its a completely non-religious event.”

Salobir agrees. “The point is not just to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society,” he says, noting the church also works with institutions like schools and hospitals to bring aid to as large a constituency as possible.

But as society continues to question whether technology is the problem or the solution, the participants of VHacks have a big task ahead of them.

“We dont expect anyone to solve such difficult issues,” says Florkiewicz, “but I hope we can inspire both clerics and lay people to see this as an innovative model for engaging the younger generation with the problems.”

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St. Peter’s Basilica – Wikipedia

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply St. Peter’s Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.

Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture[2] and the largest church in the world.[3] While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world”[4] and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.[2][5]

Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.[6]

St. Peter’s is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter’s Square.[7] St. Peter’s has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age.[8] St. Peter’s is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

St. Peter’s is a church built in the Renaissance style located in the Vatican City west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Its central dome dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter’s Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The faade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres (18.2ft) statues of the 1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul.[9][10]

The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through a narthex, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees.[9]

The interior is of vast dimensions when compared with other churches.[6] One author wrote: “Only gradually does it dawn upon us as we watch people draw near to this or that monument, strangely they appear to shrink; they are, of course, dwarfed by the scale of everything in the building. This in its turn overwhelms us.”[11]

The nave which leads to the central dome is in three bays, with piers supporting a barrel-vault, the highest of any church. The nave is framed by wide aisles which have a number of chapels off them. There are also chapels surrounding the dome. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are: The Baptistery, the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin, the larger Choir Chapel, the Clementine Chapel with the altar of Saint Gregory, the Sacristy Entrance, the left transept with altars to the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas, the altar of the Sacred Heart, the Chapel of the Madonna of Colonna, the altar of Saint Peter and the Paralytic, the apse with the Chair of Saint Peter, the altar of Saint Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella, the right transept with altars of Saint Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, and Saint Wenceslas, the altar of Saint Basil, the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour, the larger Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Chapel of Saint Sebastian and the Chapel of the Piet.[9] At the heart of the basilica, beneath the high altar, is the Confessio or Chapel of the Confession, in reference to the confession of faith by St. Peter, which led to his martyrdom. Two curving marble staircases lead to this underground chapel at the level of the Constantinian church and immediately above the purported burial place of Saint Peter.

The entire interior of St. Peter’s is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are also a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo’s Piet. The central feature is a baldachin, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The sanctuary culminates in a sculptural ensemble, also by Bernini, and containing the symbolic Chair of Saint Peter.

One observer wrote: “St Peter’s Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best…”[12]

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described St. Peter’s as “an ornament of the earth… the sublime of the beautiful.”[13]

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the Papal Basilicas (previously styled “patriarchal basilicas”)[14] and one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome, the other Major Basilicas (all of which are also Papal Basilicas) being the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls. The rank of major basilica confers on St. Peter’s Basilica precedence before all minor basilicas worldwide. However, unlike all the other Papal Major Basilicas, it is wholly within the territory, and thus the sovereign jurisdiction, of the Vatican City State, and not that of Italy.[15]

It is the most prominent building in the Vatican City. Its dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Probably the largest church in Christendom,[3] it covers an area of 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres). One of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its titular, St. Peter, who was the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, the first Bishop of Antioch and later the first Bishop of Rome, rendering him the first Pope. Although the New Testament does not mention St. Peter’s martyrdom in Rome, tradition, based on the writings of the Fathers of the Church,[clarification needed] holds that his tomb is below the baldachin and altar of the Basilica in the “Confession”. For this reason, many Popes have, from the early years of the Church, been buried near Pope St. Peter in the necropolis beneath the Basilica. Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and finished in 1615. At length, on 18 November 1626 Pope Urban VIII solemnly dedicated the Basilica.[6]

St. Peter’s Basilica is neither the Pope’s official seat nor first in rank among the Major Basilicas of Rome. This honour is held by the Pope’s cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran which is the mother church of all churches in communion with the Catholic Church. However, St. Peter’s is certainly the Pope’s principal church in terms of use because most Papal liturgies and ceremonies take place there due to its size, proximity to the Papal residence, and location within the Vatican City proper. The “Chair of Saint Peter”, or cathedra, an ancient chair sometimes presumed to have been used by St. Peter himself, but which was a gift from Charles the Bald and used by many popes, symbolises the continuing line of apostolic succession from St. Peter to the reigning Pope. It occupies an elevated position in the apse of the Basilica, supported symbolically by the Doctors of the Church and enlightened symbolically by the Holy Spirit.[16]

As one of the constituent structures of the historically and architecturally significant Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 under criteria (i), (ii), (iv), and (vi).[17] With an exterior area of 21,095 square metres (227,060sqft),[18] an interior area of 15,160 square metres (163,200sqft),[19] and a volume of 5,000,000 cubic metres (180,000,000cuft),[20] St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest Christian church building in the world by the two latter metrics and the second largest by the first as of 2016[update]. The top of its dome, at 448.1 feet (136.6m), also places it as the second tallest building in Rome as of 2016[update].[21] The dome’s soaring height placed it among the tallest buildings of the Old World, and it continues to hold the title of tallest dome in the world. Though the largest dome in the world by diameter at the time of its completion, it no longer holds this distinction.[22]

After the crucifixion of Jesus, it is recorded in the Biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles that one of his twelve disciples, Simon known as Saint Peter, a fisherman from Galilee, took a leadership position among Jesus’ followers and was of great importance in the founding of the Christian Church. The name Peter is “Petrus” in Latin and “Petros” in Greek, deriving from “petra” which means “stone” or “rock” in Greek, and is the literal translation of the Aramaic “Kepa”, the name given to Simon by Jesus. (John 1:42, and see Matthew 16:18)

Catholic tradition holds that Peter, after a ministry of thirty-four years, traveled to Rome and met his martyrdom there along with Paul on 13 October, 64 CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. His execution was one of the many martyrdoms of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome. According to Origen, Peter was crucified head downwards, by his own request because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.[23] The crucifixion took place near an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the Circus of Nero.[24] The obelisk now stands in St. Peter’s Square and is revered as a “witness” to Peter’s death. It is one of several ancient Obelisks of Rome.[25]

According to tradition, Peter’s remains were buried just outside the Circus, on the Mons Vaticanus across the Via Cornelia from the Circus, less than 150 metres (490ft) from his place of death. The Via Cornelia was a road which ran east-to-west along the north wall of the Circus on land now covered by the southern portions of the Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. A shrine was built on this site some years later. Almost three hundred years later, Old St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed over this site.[24]

The area now covered by the Vatican City had been a cemetery for some years before the Circus of Nero was built. It was a burial ground for the numerous executions in the Circus and contained many Christian burials, because for many years after the burial of Saint Peter many Christians chose to be buried near Peter.

In 1939, in the reign of Pope Pius XII, 10 years of archaeological research began, under the crypt of the basilica, an area inaccessible since the 9th century. The excavations revealed the remains of shrines of different periods at different levels, from Clement VIII (1594) to Callixtus II (1123) and Gregory I (590604), built over an aedicula containing fragments of bones that were folded in a tissue with gold decorations, tinted with the precious murex purple. Although it could not be determined with certainty that the bones were those of Peter, the rare vestments suggested a burial of great importance. On 23 December 1950, in his pre-Christmas radio broadcast to the world, Pope Pius XII announced the discovery of Saint Peter’s tomb.[26]

Old St. Peter’s Basilica was the 4th-century church begun by the Emperor Constantine the Great between 319 and 333 CE.[27] It was of typical basilical form, a wide nave and two aisles on each side and an apsidal end, with the addition of a transept or bema, giving the building the shape of a tau cross. It was over 103.6 metres (340ft) long, and the entrance was preceded by a large colonnaded atrium. This church had been built over the small shrine believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. It contained a very large number of burials and memorials, including those of most of the popes from St. Peter to the 15th century. Like all of the earliest churches in Rome, both this church and its successor had the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building.[28] Since the construction of the current basilica, the name Old St. Peter’s Basilica has been used for its predecessor to distinguish the two buildings.[29]

By the end of the 15th century, having been neglected during the period of the Avignon Papacy, the old basilica had fallen into disrepair. It appears that the first pope to consider rebuilding, or at least making radical changes was Pope Nicholas V (144755). He commissioned work on the old building from Leone Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino and also had Rossellino design a plan for an entirely new basilica, or an extreme modification of the old. His reign was frustrated by political problems and when he died, little had been achieved.[24] He had, however, ordered the demolition of the Colosseum and by the time of his death, 2,522 cartloads of stone had been transported for use in the new building.[24][30] The foundations were completed for a new transept and choir to form a domed Latin cross with the preserved nave and side aisles of the old basilica. Some walls for the choir had also been built.[31]

Pope Julius II planned far more for St Peter’s than Nicholas V’s program of repair or modification. Julius was at that time planning his own tomb, which was to be designed and adorned with sculpture by Michelangelo and placed within St Peter’s.[32] In 1505 Julius made a decision to demolish the ancient basilica and replace it with a monumental structure to house his enormous tomb and “aggrandize himself in the popular imagination”.[8] A competition was held, and a number of the designs have survived at the Uffizi Gallery. A succession of popes and architects followed in the next 120 years, their combined efforts resulting in the present building. The scheme begun by Julius II continued through the reigns of Leo X (15131521), Hadrian VI (15221523). Clement VII (15231534), Paul III (15341549), Julius III (15501555), Marcellus II (1555), Paul IV (15551559), Pius IV (15591565), Pius V (saint) (15651572), Gregory XIII (15721585), Sixtus V (15851590), Urban VII (1590), Gregory XIV (15901591), Innocent IX (1591), Clement VIII (15921605), Leo XI (1605), Paul V (16051621), Gregory XV (16211623), Urban VIII (16231644) and Innocent X (16441655).

One method employed to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica was the granting of indulgences in return for contributions. A major promoter of this method of fund-raising was Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, who had to clear debts owed to the Roman Curia by contributing to the rebuilding program. To facilitate this, he appointed the German Dominican preacher Johann Tetzel, whose salesmanship provoked a scandal.[33]

A German Augustinian priest, Martin Luther, wrote to Archbishop Albrecht arguing against this “selling of indulgences”. He also included his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, which came to be known as The 95 Theses.[34] This became a factor in starting the Reformation, the birth of Protestantism.

Pope Julius’ scheme for the grandest building in Christendom[8] was the subject of a competition for which a number of entries remain intact in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. It was the design of Donato Bramante that was selected, and for which the foundation stone was laid in 1506. This plan was in the form of an enormous Greek Cross with a dome inspired by that of the huge circular Roman temple, the Pantheon.[8] The main difference between Bramante’s design and that of the Pantheon is that where the dome of the Pantheon is supported by a continuous wall, that of the new basilica was to be supported only on four large piers. This feature was maintained in the ultimate design. Bramante’s dome was to be surmounted by a lantern with its own small dome but otherwise very similar in form to the Early Renaissance lantern of Florence Cathedral designed for Brunelleschi’s dome by Michelozzo.[35]

Bramante had envisioned that the central dome would be surrounded by four lower domes at the diagonal axes. The equal chancel, nave and transept arms were each to be of two bays ending in an apse. At each corner of the building was to stand a tower, so that the overall plan was square, with the apses projecting at the cardinal points. Each apse had two large radial buttresses, which squared off its semi-circular shape.[36]

When Pope Julius died in 1513, Bramante was replaced with Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo and Raphael. Sangallo and Fra Giocondo both died in 1515, Bramante himself having died the previous year. The main change in Raphael’s plan is the nave of five bays, with a row of complex apsidal chapels off the aisles on either side. Raphael’s plan for the chancel and transepts made the squareness of the exterior walls more definite by reducing the size of the towers, and the semi-circular apses more clearly defined by encircling each with an ambulatory.[37]

In 1520 Raphael also died, aged 37, and his successor Baldassare Peruzzi maintained changes that Raphael had proposed to the internal arrangement of the three main apses, but otherwise reverted to the Greek Cross plan and other features of Bramante.[38] This plan did not go ahead because of various difficulties of both Church and state. In 1527 Rome was sacked and plundered by Emperor Charles V. Peruzzi died in 1536 without his plan being realized.[8]

At this point Antonio da Sangallo the Younger submitted a plan which combines features of Peruzzi, Raphael and Bramante in its design and extends the building into a short nave with a wide faade and portico of dynamic projection. His proposal for the dome was much more elaborate of both structure and decoration than that of Bramante and included ribs on the exterior. Like Bramante, Sangallo proposed that the dome be surmounted by a lantern which he redesigned to a larger and much more elaborate form.[39] Sangallo’s main practical contribution was to strengthen Bramante’s piers which had begun to crack.[24]

On 1 January 1547 in the reign of Pope Paul III, Michelangelo, then in his seventies, succeeded Sangallo the Younger as “Capomaestro”, the superintendent of the building program at St Peter’s.[40] He is to be regarded as the principal designer of a large part of the building as it stands today, and as bringing the construction to a point where it could be carried through. He did not take on the job with pleasure; it was forced upon him by Pope Paul, frustrated at the death of his chosen candidate, Giulio Romano and the refusal of Jacopo Sansovino to leave Venice. Michelangelo wrote “I undertake this only for the love of God and in honour of the Apostle.” He insisted that he should be given a free hand to achieve the ultimate aim by whatever means he saw fit.[24]

Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since ancient Roman times, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the 16th century. There were certain common elements in these schemes. They all called for a dome to equal that engineered by Brunelleschi a century earlier and which has since dominated the skyline of Renaissance Florence, and they all called for a strongly symmetrical plan of either Greek Cross form, like the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, or of a Latin Cross with the transepts of identical form to the chancel, as at Florence Cathedral.

Even though the work had progressed only a little in 40 years, Michelangelo did not simply dismiss the ideas of the previous architects. He drew on them in developing a grand vision. Above all, Michelangelo recognized the essential quality of Bramante’s original design. He reverted to the Greek Cross and, as Helen Gardner expresses it: “Without destroying the centralising features of Bramante’s plan, Michelangelo, with a few strokes of the pen converted its snowflake complexity into massive, cohesive unity.”[41]

As it stands today, St. Peter’s has been extended with a nave by Carlo Maderno. It is the chancel end (the ecclesiastical “Eastern end”) with its huge centrally placed dome that is the work of Michelangelo. Because of its location within the Vatican State and because the projection of the nave screens the dome from sight when the building is approached from the square in front of it, the work of Michelangelo is best appreciated from a distance. What becomes apparent is that the architect has greatly reduced the clearly defined geometric forms of Bramante’s plan of a square with square projections, and also of Raphael’s plan of a square with semi-circular projections.[42] Michelangelo has blurred the definition of the geometry by making the external masonry of massive proportions and filling in every corner with a small vestry or stairwell. The effect created is of a continuous wall-surface that is folded or fractured at different angles, but lacks the right-angles which usually define change of direction at the corners of a building. This exterior is surrounded by a giant order of Corinthian pilasters all set at slightly different angles to each other, in keeping with the ever-changing angles of the wall’s surface. Above them the huge cornice ripples in a continuous band, giving the appearance of keeping the whole building in a state of compression.[43]

The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136.57 metres (448.1ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world.[44] Its internal diameter is 41.47 metres (136.1ft), slightly smaller than two of the three other huge domes that preceded it, those of the Pantheon of Ancient Rome, 43.3 metres (142ft), and Florence Cathedral of the Early Renaissance, 44 metres (144ft). It has a greater diameter by approximately 30 feet (9.1m) than Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia church, completed in 537. It was to the domes of the Pantheon and Florence duomo that the architects of St. Peter’s looked for solutions as to how to go about building what was conceived, from the outset, as the greatest dome of Christendom.

The dome of the Pantheon stands on a circular wall with no entrances or windows except a single door. The whole building is as high as it is wide. Its dome is constructed in a single shell of concrete, made light by the inclusion of a large amount of the volcanic stones tuff and pumice. The inner surface of the dome is deeply coffered which has the effect of creating both vertical and horizontal ribs, while lightening the overall load. At the summit is an ocular opening 8 metres (26ft) across which provides light to the interior.[8]

Bramante’s plan for the dome of St. Peter’s (1506) follows that of the Pantheon very closely, and like that of the Pantheon, was designed to be constructed in Tufa Concrete for which he had rediscovered a formula. With the exception of the lantern that surmounts it, the profile is very similar, except that in this case the supporting wall becomes a drum raised high above ground level on four massive piers. The solid wall, as used at the Pantheon, is lightened at St. Peter’s by Bramante piercing it with windows and encircling it with a peristyle.

In the case of Florence Cathedral, the desired visual appearance of the pointed dome existed for many years before Brunelleschi made its construction feasible.[45] Its double-shell construction of bricks locked together in herringbone pattern (re-introduced from Byzantine architecture), and the gentle upward slope of its eight stone ribs made it possible for the construction to take place without the massive wooden formwork necessary to construct hemispherical arches. While its appearance, with the exception of the details of the lantern, is entirely Gothic, its engineering was highly innovative, and the product of a mind that had studied the huge vaults and remaining dome of Ancient Rome.[35]

Sangallo’s plan (1513), of which a large wooden model still exists, looks to both these predecessors. He realised the value of both the coffering at the Pantheon and the outer stone ribs at Florence Cathedral. He strengthened and extended the peristyle of Bramante into a series of arched and ordered openings around the base, with a second such arcade set back in a tier above the first. In his hands, the rather delicate form of the lantern, based closely on that in Florence, became a massive structure, surrounded by a projecting base, a peristyle and surmounted by a spire of conic form.[39] According to James Lees-Milne the design was “too eclectic, too pernickety and too tasteless to have been a success”.[24]

Michelangelo redesigned the dome in 1547, taking into account all that had gone before. His dome, like that of Florence, is constructed of two shells of brick, the outer one having 16 stone ribs, twice the number at Florence but far fewer than in Sangallo’s design. As with the designs of Bramante and Sangallo, the dome is raised from the piers on a drum. The encircling peristyle of Bramante and the arcade of Sangallo are reduced to 16 pairs of Corinthian columns, each of 15 metres (49ft) high which stand proud of the building, connected by an arch. Visually they appear to buttress each of the ribs, but structurally they are probably quite redundant. The reason for this is that the dome is ovoid in shape, rising steeply as does the dome of Florence Cathedral, and therefore exerting less outward thrust than does a hemispherical dome, such as that of the Pantheon, which, although it is not buttressed, is countered by the downward thrust of heavy masonry which extends above the circling wall.[8][24]

The ovoid profile of the dome has been the subject of much speculation and scholarship over the past century. Michelangelo died in 1564, leaving the drum of the dome complete, and Bramante’s piers much bulkier than originally designed, each 18 metres (59ft) across. Following his death, the work continued under his assistant Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola with Giorgio Vasari appointed by Pope Pius V as a watchdog to make sure that Michelangelo’s plans were carried out exactly. Despite Vignola’s knowledge of Michelangelo’s intentions, little happened in this period. In 1585 the energetic Pope Sixtus appointed Giacomo della Porta who was to be assisted by Domenico Fontana. The five-year reign of Sixtus was to see the building advance at a great rate.[24]

Michelangelo left a few drawings, including an early drawing of the dome, and some drawings of details. There were also detailed engravings published in 1569 by Stefan du Prac who claimed that they were the master’s final solution. Michelangelo, like Sangallo before him, also left a large wooden model. Giacomo della Porta subsequently altered this model in several ways, in keeping with changes that he made to the design. Most of these changes were of a cosmetic nature, such as the adding of lion’s masks over the swags on the drum in honour of Pope Sixtus and adding a circlet of finials around the spire at the top of the lantern, as proposed by Sangallo. The major change that was made to the model, either by della Porta, or Michelangelo himself before his death, was to raise the outer dome higher above the inner one.[24]

A drawing by Michelangelo indicates that his early intentions were towards an ovoid dome, rather than a hemispherical one.[41] In an engraving in Galasso Alghisi’ treatise (1563), the dome may be represented as ovoid, but the perspective is ambiguous.[46] Stefan du Prac’s engraving (1569) shows a hemispherical dome, but this was perhaps an inaccuracy of the engraver. The profile of the wooden model is more ovoid than that of the engravings, but less so than the finished product. It has been suggested that Michelangelo on his death bed reverted to the more pointed shape. However Lees-Milne cites Giacomo della Porta as taking full responsibility for the change and as indicating to Pope Sixtus that Michelangelo was lacking in the scientific understanding of which he himself was capable.[24]

Helen Gardner suggests that Michelangelo made the change to the hemispherical dome of lower profile in order to establish a balance between the dynamic vertical elements of the encircling giant order of pilasters and a more static and reposeful dome. Gardner also comments “The sculpturing of architecture [by Michelangelo]… here extends itself up from the ground through the attic stories and moves on into the drum and dome, the whole building being pulled together into a unity from base to summit.”[41]

It is this sense of the building being sculptured, unified and “pulled together” by the encircling band of the deep cornice that led Eneide Mignacca to conclude that the ovoid profile, seen now in the end product, was an essential part of Michelangelo’s first (and last) concept. The sculptor/architect has, figuratively speaking, taken all the previous designs in hand and compressed their contours as if the building were a lump of clay. The dome must appear to thrust upwards because of the apparent pressure created by flattening the building’s angles and restraining its projections.[43] If this explanation is the correct one, then the profile of the dome is not merely a structural solution, as perceived by Giacomo della Porta; it is part of the integrated design solution that is about visual tension and compression. In one sense, Michelangelo’s dome may appear to look backward to the Gothic profile of Florence Cathedral and ignore the Classicism of the Renaissance, but on the other hand, perhaps more than any other building of the 16th century, it prefigures the architecture of the Baroque.[43]

Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana brought the dome to completion in 1590, the last year of the reign of Sixtus V. His successor, Gregory XIV, saw Fontana complete the lantern and had an inscription to the honour of Sixtus V placed around its inner opening. The next pope, Clement VIII, had the cross raised into place, an event which took all day, and was accompanied by the ringing of the bells of all the city’s churches. In the arms of the cross are set two lead caskets, one containing a fragment of the True Cross and a relic of St. Andrew and the other containing medallions of the Holy Lamb.[24]

In the mid 18th century, cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. As many as ten chains have been installed at various times, the earliest possibly planned by Michelangelo himself as a precaution, as Brunelleschi did at Florence Cathedral.

Around the inside of the dome is written, in letters 1.4 metres (4.6ft) high:

TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM(…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven… Vulgate, Matthew 16:1819.)

Beneath the lantern is the inscription:

S. PETRI GLORIAE SIXTVS PP. V. A. M. D. XC. PONTIF. V.(To the glory of St Peter; Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590, the fifth of his pontificate.)

On 7 December 2007, a fragment of a red chalk drawing of a section of the dome of the basilica, almost certainly by the hand of Michelangelo, was discovered in the Vatican archives.[47] The drawing shows a small precisely drafted section of the plan of the entabulature above two of the radial columns of the cupola drum. Michelangelo is known to have destroyed thousands of his drawings before his death.[48] The rare survival of this example is probably due to its fragmentary state and the fact that detailed mathematical calculations had been made over the top of the drawing.[47]

On 18 February 1606, under Pope Paul V, the dismantling of the remaining parts of the Constantinian basilica began.[24] The marble cross that had been set at the top of the pediment by Pope Sylvester and Constantine the Great was lowered to the ground. The timbers were salvaged for the roof of the Borghese Palace and two rare black marble columns, the largest of their kind, were carefully stored and later used in the narthex. The tombs of various popes were opened, treasures removed and plans made for re-interment in the new basilica.[24]

The Pope had appointed Carlo Maderno in 1602. He was a nephew of Domenico Fontana and had demonstrated himself as a dynamic architect. Maderno’s idea was to ring Michelangelo’s building with chapels, but the Pope was hesitant about deviating from the master’s plan, even though he had been dead for forty years. The Fabbrica or building committee, a group drawn from various nationalities and generally despised by the Curia who viewed the basilica as belonging to Rome rather than Christendom, were in a quandary as to how the building should proceed. One of the matters that influenced their thinking was the Counter-Reformation which increasingly associated a Greek Cross plan with paganism and saw the Latin Cross as truly symbolic of Christianity.[24]

Another influence on the thinking of both the Fabbrica and the Curia was a certain guilt at the demolition of the ancient building. The ground on which it and its various associated chapels, vestries and sacristies had stood for so long was hallowed. The only solution was to build a nave that encompassed the whole space. In 1607 a committee of ten architects was called together, and a decision was made to extend Michelangelo’s building into a nave. Maderno’s plans for both the nave and the facade were accepted. The building began on 7 May 1607, and proceeded at a great rate, with an army of 700 labourers being employed. The following year, the faade was begun, in December 1614 the final touches were added to the stucco decoration of the vault and early in 1615 the partition wall between the two sections was pulled down. All the rubble was carted away, and the nave was ready for use by Palm Sunday.[24]

The facade designed by Maderno, is 114.69 metres (376.3ft) wide and 45.55 metres (149.4ft) high and is built of travertine stone, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic surmounted by thirteen statues: Christ flanked by eleven of the Apostles (except Saint Peter, whose statue is left of the stairs) and John the Baptist. [49] The inscription below the cornice on the 1 metre (3.3ft) tall frieze reads:

IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII(In honour of the Prince of Apostles, Paul V Borghese, a Roman, Supreme Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate)

(Paul V (Camillo Borghese), born in Rome but of a Sienese family, liked to emphasize his “Romanness.”)

The facade is often cited as the least satisfactory part of the design of St. Peter’s. The reasons for this, according to James Lees-Milne, are that it was not given enough consideration by the Pope and committee because of the desire to get the building completed quickly, coupled with the fact that Maderno was hesitant to deviate from the pattern set by Michelangelo at the other end of the building. Lees-Milne describes the problems of the faade as being too broad for its height, too cramped in its details and too heavy in the attic story. The breadth is caused by modifying the plan to have towers on either side. These towers were never executed above the line of the facade because it was discovered that the ground was not sufficiently stable to bear the weight. One effect of the facade and lengthened nave is to screen the view of the dome, so that the building, from the front, has no vertical feature, except from a distance.[24]

Behind the faade of St. Peter’s stretches a long portico or “narthex” such as was occasionally found in Italian Romanesque churches. This is the part of Maderno’s design with which he was most satisfied. Its long barrel vault is decorated with ornate stucco and gilt, and successfully illuminated by small windows between pendentives, while the ornate marble floor is beamed with light reflected in from the piazza. At each end of the narthex is a theatrical space framed by ionic columns and within each is set a statue, an equestrian figure of Charlemagne by Cornacchini (18th century) in the south end and Constantine the Great by Bernini (1670) in the north end.

Five portals, of which three are framed by huge salvaged antique columns, lead into the basilica. The central portal has a bronze door created by Antonio Averulino in 1455 for the old basilica and somewhat enlarged to fit the new space.

To the single bay of Michelangelo’s Greek Cross, Maderno added a further three bays. He made the dimensions slightly different from Michelangelo’s bay, thus defining where the two architectural works meet. Maderno also tilted the axis of the nave slightly. This was not by accident, as suggested by his critics. An ancient Egyptian obelisk had been erected in the square outside, but had not been quite aligned with Michelangelo’s building, so Maderno compensated, in order that it should, at least, align with the Basilica’s faade.[24]

The nave has huge paired pilasters, in keeping with Michelangelo’s work. The size of the interior is so “stupendously large” that it is hard to get a sense of scale within the building.[24][50] The four cherubs who flutter against the first piers of the nave, carrying between them two holy water basins, appear of quite normal cherubic size, until approached. Then it becomes apparent that each one is over 2 metres high and that real children cannot reach the basins unless they scramble up the marble draperies. The aisles each have two smaller chapels and a larger rectangular chapel, the Chapel of the Sacrament and the Choir Chapel. These are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco, gilt, sculpture and mosaic. Remarkably, there are very few paintings, although some, such as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna have been reproduced in mosaic. The most precious painting is a small icon of the Madonna, removed from the old basilica.[24]

Maderno’s last work at St. Peter’s was to design a crypt-like space or “Confessio” under the dome, where the cardinals and other privileged persons could descend in order to be nearer to the burial place of the apostle. Its marble steps are remnants of the old basilica and around its balustrade are 95 bronze lamps.

The design of St. Peter’s Basilica, and in particular its dome, has greatly influenced church architecture in Western Christendom. Within Rome, the huge domed church of Sant’Andrea della Valle was designed by Giacomo della Porta before the completion of St Peter’s Basilica, and subsequently worked on by Carlo Maderno. This was followed by the domes of San Carlo ai Catinari, Sant’Agnese in Agone, and many others. Christopher Wren’s dome at St Paul’s Cathedral (London, England), the domes of Karlskirche (Vienna, Austria), St. Nicholas Church (Prague, Czech Republic), and the Pantheon (Paris, France) all pay homage to St Peter’s Basilica.

The 19th and early-20th-century architectural revivals brought about the building of a great number of churches that imitate elements of St Peter’s to a greater or lesser degree, including St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, St. Josaphat’s Basilica in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh and Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, which replicates many aspects of St Peter’s on a smaller scale. Post-Modernism has seen free adaptations of St Peter’s in the Basilica of Our Lady of Liche, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.

As a young boy Gian Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) visited St. Peter’s with the painter Annibale Carracci and stated his wish to build “a mighty throne for the apostle”. His wish came true. As a young man, in 1626, he received the patronage of Pope Urban VIII and worked on the embellishment of the Basilica for 50 years. Appointed as Maderno’s successor in 1629, he was to become regarded as the greatest architect and sculptor of the Baroque period. Bernini’s works at St. Peter’s include the baldachin (baldaquin, from Italian: baldacchino), the Chapel of the Sacrament, the plan for the niches and loggias in the piers of the dome and the chair of St. Peter.[24][41]

Bernini’s first work at St. Peter’s was to design the baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 28.74 metres (94.3ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar. Its design is based on the ciborium, of which there are many in the churches of Rome, serving to create a sort of holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist and emphasizing the significance of this ritual. These ciboria are generally of white marble, with inlaid coloured stone. Bernini’s concept was for something very different. He took his inspiration in part from the baldachin or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from eight ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as they were modeled on those of the Temple of Jerusalem and donated by the Emperor Constantine. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with laurel leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban.

The baldacchino is surmounted not with an architectural pediment, like most baldacchini, but with curved Baroque brackets supporting a draped canopy, like the brocade canopies carried in processions above precious iconic images. In this case, the draped canopy is of bronze, and all the details, including the olive leaves, bees, and the portrait heads of Urban’s niece in childbirth and her newborn son, are picked out in gold leaf. The baldacchino stands as a vast free-standing sculptural object, central to and framed by the largest space within the building. It is so large that the visual effect is to create a link between the enormous dome which appears to float above it, and the congregation at floor level of the basilica. It is penetrated visually from every direction, and is visually linked to the Cathedra Petri in the apse behind it and to the four piers containing large statues that are at each diagonal.[24][41]

As part of the scheme for the central space of the church, Bernini had the huge piers, begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo, hollowed out into niches, and had staircases made inside them, leading to four balconies. There was much dismay from those who thought that the dome might fall, but it did not. On the balconies Bernini created showcases, framed by the eight ancient twisted columns, to display the four most precious relics of the basilica: the spear of Longinus, said to have pierced the side of Christ, the veil of Veronica, with the miraculous image of the face of Christ, a fragment of the True Cross discovered in Jerusalem by Constantine’s mother, Helena, and a relic of Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter. In each of the niches that surround the central space of the basilica was placed a huge statue of the saint associated with the relic above. Only Saint Longinus is the work of Bernini.[24] (See below)

Urban had long been a critic of Bernini’s predecessor, Carlo Maderno. His disapproval of the architect’s work stemmed largely from the Maderno’s design for the longitudinal nave of St. Peters, which was widely condemned for obscuring Michelangelo’s dome. When the Pope gave the commission to Bernini he therefore requested that a new design for the facade’s bell towers to be submitted for consideration. Baldinucci describes Bernini’s tower as consisting of “two orders of columns and pilasters, the first order being Corinthian” and “a third or attic story formed of pilasters and two columns on either side of the open archway in the center”.

Urban desired the towers to be completed by a very specific date: 29 June 1641, the feast day dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. To this end an order was issued which stated that “all work should take a second seat to that of the campanile.” The south tower was completed on time even in spite of these issues, but records show that in the wake of the unveiling the Pope was not content with what he saw and he ordered the top level of Bernini’s tower removed so that the structure could be made even grander. The tower continued to grow, and as the construction began to settle the first cracks started to appear followed by Urban’s infamous public admonishment of his architect.

In 1642 all work on both towers came to a halt. Bernini had to pay the cost for the demolition; eventually the idea of completing the bell towers was abandoned.

Bernini then turned his attention to another precious relic, the so-called Cathedra Petri or “throne of St. Peter” a chair which was often claimed to have been used by the apostle, but appears to date from the 12th century. As the chair itself was fast deteriorating and was no longer serviceable, Pope Alexander VII determined to enshrine it in suitable splendor as the object upon which the line of successors to Peter was based. Bernini created a large bronze throne in which it was housed, raised high on four looping supports held effortlessly by massive bronze statues of four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose and Augustine representing the Latin Church and Athanasius and John Chrysostom, the Greek Church. The four figures are dynamic with sweeping robes and expressions of adoration and ecstasy. Behind and above the Cathedra, a blaze of light comes in through a window of yellow alabaster, illuminating, at its center, the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The elderly painter, Andrea Sacchi, had urged Bernini to make the figures large, so that they would be seen well from the central portal of the nave. The chair was enshrined in its new home with great celebration of 16 January 1666.[24][41]

Bernini’s final work for St. Peter’s, undertaken in 1676, was the decoration of the Chapel of the Sacrament.[51] To hold the sacramental Host, he designed a miniature version in gilt bronze of Bramante’s Tempietto, the little chapel that marks the place of the death of St. Peter. On either side is an angel, one gazing in rapt adoration and the other looking towards the viewer in welcome. Bernini died in 1680 in his 82nd year.[24]

To the east of the basilica is the Piazza di San Pietro, (St. Peter’s Square). The present arrangement, constructed between 1656 and 1667, is the Baroque inspiration of Bernini who inherited a location already occupied by an Egyptian obelisk which was centrally placed, (with some contrivance) to Maderno’s facade.[52] The obelisk, known as “The Witness”, at 25.31 metres (83.0ft) and a total height, including base and the cross on top, of 40 metres (130ft), is the second largest standing obelisk, and the only one to remain standing since its removal from Egypt and re-erection at the Circus of Nero in 37AD, where it is thought to have stood witness to the crucifixion of Saint Peter.[53] Its removal to its present location by order of Pope Sixtus V and engineered by Domenico Fontana on 28 September 1586, was an operation fraught with difficulties and nearly ending in disaster when the ropes holding the obelisk began to smoke from the friction. Fortunately this problem was noticed by Benedetto Bresca, a sailor of Sanremo, and for his swift intervention, his town was granted the privilege of providing the palms that are used at the basilica each Palm Sunday.[24]

The other object in the old square with which Bernini had to contend was a large fountain designed by Maderno in 1613 and set to one side of the obelisk, making a line parallel with the facade. Bernini’s plan uses this horizontal axis as a major feature of his unique, spatially dynamic and highly symbolic design. The most obvious solutions were either a rectangular piazza of vast proportions so that the obelisk stood centrally and the fountain (and a matching companion) could be included, or a trapezoid piazza which fanned out from the facade of the basilica like that in front of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The problems of the square plan are that the necessary width to include the fountain would entail the demolition of numerous buildings, including some of the Vatican, and would minimize the effect of the facade. The trapezoid plan, on the other hand, would maximize the apparent width of the facade, which was already perceived as a fault of the design.[41]

Bernini’s ingenious solution was to create a piazza in two sections. That part which is nearest the basilica is trapezoid, but rather than fanning out from the facade, it narrows. This gives the effect of countering the visual perspective. It means that from the second part of the piazza, the building looks nearer than it is, the breadth of the facade is minimized and its height appears greater in proportion to its width. The second section of the piazza is a huge elliptical circus which gently slopes downwards to the obelisk at its center. The two distinct areas are framed by a colonnade formed by doubled pairs of columns supporting an entablature of the simple Tuscan Order.

The part of the colonnade that is around the ellipse does not entirely encircle it, but reaches out in two arcs, symbolic of the arms of “the Catholic Church reaching out to welcome its communicants”.[41] The obelisk and Maderno’s fountain mark the widest axis of the ellipse. Bernini balanced the scheme with another fountain in 1675. The approach to the square used to be through a jumble of old buildings, which added an element of surprise to the vista that opened up upon passing through the colonnade. Nowadays a long wide street, the Via della Conciliazione, built by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaties, leads from the River Tiber to the piazza and gives distant views of St. Peter’s as the visitor approaches, with the basilica acting as a terminating vista.[24]

Bernini’s transformation of the site is entirely Baroque in concept. Where Bramante and Michelangelo conceived a building that stood in “self-sufficient isolation”, Bernini made the whole complex “expansively relate to its environment”.[41] Banister Fletcher says “No other city has afforded such a wide-swept approach to its cathedral church, no other architect could have conceived a design of greater nobility… (it is) the greatest of all atriums before the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”[8]

There are over 100 tombs within St. Peter’s Basilica (extant to various extents), many located beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. Also buried here are Maria Clementina Sobieska, wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated her throne in order to convert to Catholicism, and Countess Matilda of Tuscany, supporter of the Papacy during the Investiture Controversy. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on 8 April 2005. Beneath, near the crypt, is the recently discovered vaulted 4th-century “Tomb of the Julii”. (See below for some descriptions of tombs).

Recently installed commemorative plaques read as follows:

PAVLVS VI PONT MAX HVIVS PATRIARCALIS VATICANAE BASILICAE PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVPaul VI, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed the holy door of this patriarchal Vatican basilica in the jubilee year of 1975.

IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVI A PAVLO PP VI RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB HVMANE REDEMP MCMLXXXIII MCMLXXXIVJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope Paul VI in 1976 in the jubilee year of human redemption 19834.

IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. ITERVM PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO MAGNI IVBILAEI AB INCARNATIONE DOMINI MM-MMIJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, again opened and closed the holy door in the year of the great jubilee, from the incarnation of the Lord 20002001.

FRANCISCVS PP PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO MAGNI IVB MM- MMI A IOANNES PAVLVS PP II RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB MISERICORDIAE MMXV- MMXVIPope Francis opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope John Paul II in the year of the great jubilee 2000-2001, in the jubilee year of Mercy 2015-2016.

Saint Helenaby Andrea Bolgi

Saint Andrewby Francois Duquesnoy

Saint Veronicaby Francesco Mochi

Pilgrim touching the foot of Saint Peter Enthroned

The Holy Door is opened only for great celebrations.

The tomb of Alexander VII.[55]

The bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.

List of archpriests of the Vatican Basilica:[56]

Sculptures

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February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Whispers in the Loggia

And just like that, Christmas at the Vatican is over with this morning’s traditional New Year “greeting” to the diplomatic corps (long dubbed the Pope’s “State of the World” speech), the Curia’s work-cycle kicks back into gear after the holiday break.

As the ramp-up begins toward Francis’ fifth anniversary in March, today’s address to the representatives of 183 nations underscores one of this pontificate’s key accomplishments. While the deep charitable and humanitarian presence of a 1.2 billion-member church spread throughout the globe above all in areas torn by war or catastrophe has historically made the Holy See a critical “listening post” on the geopolitical scene, Papa Bergoglio has made a concerted effort to reamplify the Vatican’s “soft power” as a moral arbiter for peace and its ability to focus the world’s attention on the plight of afflicted peoples.

From afull-on mobilizationof efforts on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority to victims of the “modern slavery” of human trafficking, background interventions to secure a historic thaw in US-Cuba relations as well as the passage of the Paris climate accords, and above all Francis’ signature concern for migrant and refugee populations amid the world’s most significant patterns of movement since World War II, the return of the papacy’s secular bully pulpit has been bolstered by the pontiff’s assembling of a formidable diplomatic A-team, led by his Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin who, over an earlier stint as deputy foreign minister, had already distinguished himself as the Roman negotiator of his generation and the Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the first native English-speaker ever to occupy the centuries-old post of Secretary for Relations with States. (Indeed, as a sign of how crowded the Holy See’s diplomatic plate has become, Francis recently signed off on the establishment of a third section of the Secretariat of State to deal exclusively with the oversight of the world’s Nunciatures and their personnel, freeing up Gallagher’s team to devote their attention solely to the nuts and bolts of global relations at its topmost level.)

All that said, though today’s speech featured a listing of the standard hotspots on the Vatican’s radar, as well as yet another highlight of the latest pressing concern maintaining the “status quo” of Jerusalem following last month’s US move (in defiance of international convention) to recognize the city as Israel’s capital the one piece conspicuous by its absence was arguably Francis’ keenest geopolitical challenge: China, which remains the looming holdout from Vatican relations due to the latter’s longtime maintenance of its diplomatic outpost in Taipei (Taiwan), not Beijing, not to mention the enduring hurdle of the extent of the church’s freedoms on the Mainland.

Despite its omission today, a Francis-chartered effort continues sporadic high-level talks with an eye to a breakthrough on both critical fronts, as well as eventually paving the way toward a moment the Pope views as something akin to his Holy Grail: the first-ever papal visit to the world’s largest country, whose permission for him to merely use its airspace is currently enough on its own to make sizable news. (And speaking of the Papal Road Show, Francis embarks next week on his 22nd overseas tour yet another return to his native Latin America, this time a week in Chile and Peru.)

As for its scripted context, however, in a veiled yet nonetheless pointed tweak at American foreign policy under the Trump administration, this year’s address took its springboard from the today’s (fully coincidental) centenary of then-President Woodrow Wilson’s call for the establishment of the League of Nations. The precursor to the modern UN, the venture’s effectiveness was undermined from its inception due to the isolationism of an earlier generation of Republicans, who famously prevented the US’ entry into the League by blocking Senate passage of its governing treaty.

* * *

Our meeting today is a welcome tradition that allows me, in the enduring joy of the Christmas season, to offer you my personal best wishes for the New Year just begun, and to express my closeness and affection to the peoples you represent. I thank the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Armindo Fernandes do Esprito Santo Vieira, Ambassador of Angola, for his respectful greeting on behalf of the entire Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I offer a particular welcome to the non-resident Ambassadors, whose numbers have increased following the establishment last May of diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. I likewise greet the growing number of Ambassadors resident in Rome, which now includes the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. I would like in a special way to remember the late Ambassador of Colombia, Guillermo Len Escobar-Herrn, who passed away just a few days before Christmas. I thank all of you for your continuing helpful contacts with the Secretariat of State and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which testify to the interest of the international community in the Holy Sees mission and the work of the Catholic Church in your respective countries. This is also the context for the Holy Sees pactional activities, which last year saw the signing, in February, of the Framework Agreement with the Republic of the Congo, and, in August, of the Agreement between the Secretariat of State and the Government of the Russian Federation enabling the holders of diplomatic passports to travel without a visa.

In its relations with civil authorities, the Holy See seeks only to promote the spiritual and material well-being of the human person and to pursue the common good. The Apostolic Journeys that I made during the course of the past year to Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, Myanmar and Bangladesh were expressions of this concern. I travelled as a pilgrim to Portugal on the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, to celebrate the canonization of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto. There I witnessed the enthusiastic and joyful faith that the Virgin Mary roused in the many pilgrims assembled for the occasion. In Egypt, Myanmar and Bangladesh too, I was able to meet the local Christian communities that, though small in number, are appreciated for their contribution to development and fraternal coexistence in those countries. Naturally, I also had meetings with representatives of other religions, as a sign that our differences are not an obstacle to dialogue, but rather a vital source of encouragement in our common desire to know the truth and to practise justice. Finally, in Colombia I wished to bless the efforts and the courage of that beloved people, marked by a lively desire for peace after more than half a century of internal conflict.

Dear Ambassadors,

This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, a conflict that reconfigured the face of Europe and the entire world with the emergence of new states in place of ancient empires. From the ashes of the Great War, we can learn two lessons that, sad to say, humanity did not immediately grasp, leading within the space of twenty years to a new and even more devastating conflict. The first lesson is that victory never means humiliating a defeated foe. Peace is not built by vaunting the power of the victor over the vanquished. Future acts of aggression are not deterred by the law of fear, but rather by the power of calm reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding as a means of resolving differences.[1] This leads to a second lesson: peace is consolidated when nations can discuss matters on equal terms. This was grasped a hundred years ago on this very date by the then President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, who proposed the establishment of a general league of nations with the aim of promoting for all states, great and small alike, mutual guarantees of independence and territorial integrity. This laid the theoretical basis for that multilateral diplomacy, which has gradually acquired over time an increased role and influence in the international community as a whole.

Relations between nations, like all human relationships, must likewise be harmonized in accordance with the dictates of truth, justice, willing cooperation, and freedom.[2] This entails the principle that all states are by nature equal in dignity,[3] as well as the acknowledgment of one anothers rights and the fulfilment of their respective duties.[4] The basic premise of this approach is the recognition of the dignity of the human person, since disregard and contempt for that dignity resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind.[5] Indeed, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.[6]

I would like to devote our meeting today to this important document, seventy years after its adoption on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. For the Holy See, to speak of human rights means above all to restate the centrality of the human person, willed and created by God in his image and likeness. The Lord Jesus himself, by healing the leper, restoring sight to the blind man, speaking with the publican, saving the life of the woman caught in adultery and demanding that the injured wayfarer be cared for, makes us understand that every human being, independent of his or her physical, spiritual or social condition, is worthy of respect and consideration. From a Christian perspective, there is a significant relation between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Those rights are premised on the nature objectively shared by the human race. They were proclaimed in order to remove the barriers that divide the human family and to favour what the Churchs social doctrine calls integral human development, since it entails fostering the development of each man and of the whole man and humanity as a whole.[7] A reductive vision of the human person, on the other hand, opens the way to the growth of injustice, social inequality and corruption.

It should be noted, however, that over the years, particularly in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the interpretation of some rights has progressively changed, with the inclusion of a number of new rights that not infrequently conflict with one another. This has not always helped the promotion of friendly relations between nations,[8] since debatable notions of human rights have been advanced that are at odds with the culture of many countries; the latter feel that they are not respected in their social and cultural traditions, and instead neglected with regard to the real needs they have to face. Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable. At the same time, it should be recalled that the traditions of individual peoples cannot be invoked as a pretext for disregarding the due respect for the fundamental rights proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At a distance of seventy years, it is painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today. First among all of these is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.[9] It is not only war or violence that infringes these rights. In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults. I think of the elderly, who are often cast aside, especially when infirm and viewed as a burden. I think of women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families. I think too of the victims of human trafficking, which violates the prohibition of every form of slavery. How many persons, especially those fleeing from poverty and war, have fallen prey to such commerce perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals?

Defending the right to life and physical integrity also means safeguarding the right to health on the part of individuals and their families. Today this right has assumed implications beyond the original intentions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sought to affirm the right of every individual to receive medical care and necessary social services.[10] In this regard, it is my hope that efforts will be made within the appropriate international forums to facilitate, in the first place, ready access to medical care and treatment on the part of all. It is important to join forces in order to implement policies that ensure, at affordable costs, the provision of medicines essential for the survival of those in need, without neglecting the area of research and the development of treatments that, albeit not financially profitable, are essential for saving human lives.

Defending the right to life also entails actively striving for peace, universally recognized as one of the supreme values to be sought and defended. Yet serious local conflicts continue to flare up in various parts of the world. The collective efforts of the international community, the humanitarian activities of international organizations and the constant pleas for peace rising from lands rent by violence seem to be less and less effective in the face of wars perverse logic. This scenario cannot be allowed to diminish our desire and our efforts for peace. For without peace, integral human development becomes unattainable.

Integral disarmament and integral development are intertwined. Indeed, the quest for peace as a precondition for development requires battling injustice and eliminating, in a non-violent way, the causes of discord that lead to wars. The proliferation of weapons clearly aggravates situations of conflict and entails enormous human and material costs that undermine development and the search for lasting peace. The historic result achieved last year with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference for negotiating a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear arms, shows how lively the desire for peace continues to be. The promotion of a culture of peace for integral development calls for unremitting efforts in favour of disarmament and the reduction of recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs. I would therefore like to encourage a serene and wide-ranging debate on the subject, one that avoids polarizing the international community on such a sensitive issue. Every effort in this direction, however modest, represents an important step for mankind.

For its part, the Holy See signed and ratified, also in the name of and on behalf of Vatican City State, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It did so in the belief, expressed by Saint John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, that justice, right reason, and the recognition of mans dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned.[11] Indeed, even if it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.[12]

The Holy See therefore reiterates the firm conviction that any disputes which may arise between nations must be resolved by negotiation and agreement, not by recourse to arms.[13] The constant production of ever more advanced and refined weaponry, and dragging on of numerous conflicts what I have referred to as a third world war fought piecemeal lead us to reaffirm Pope Johns statement that in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice Nevertheless, we are hopeful that, by establishing contact with one another and by a policy of negotiation, nations will come to a better recognition of the natural ties that bind them together as men. We are hopeful, too, that they will come to a fairer realization of one of the cardinal duties deriving from our common nature: namely, that love, not fear, must dominate the relationships between individuals and between nations. It is principally characteristic of love that it draws men together in all sorts of ways, sincerely united in the bonds of mind and matter; and this is a union from which countless blessings can flow.[14]

In this regard, it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world.

It is also important for the various peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria to continue, in a constructive climate of growing trust between the parties, so that the lengthy conflict that has caused such immense suffering can finally come to an end. Our shared hope is that, after so much destruction, the time for rebuilding has now come. Yet even more than rebuilding material structures, it is necessary to rebuild hearts, to re-establish the fabric of mutual trust, which is the essential prerequisite for the flourishing of any society. There is a need, then, to promote the legal, political and security conditions that restore a social life where every citizen, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can take part in the development of the country. In this regard, it is vital that religious minorities be protected, including Christians, who for centuries have made an active contribution to Syrias history.

It is likewise important that the many refugees who have found shelter and refuge in neighbouring countries, especially in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, be able to return home. The commitment and efforts made by these countries in this difficult situation deserve the appreciation and support of the entire international community, which is also called upon to create the conditions for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. This effort must concretely start with Lebanon, so that that beloved country can continue to be a message of respect and coexistence, and a model to imitate, for the whole region and for the entire world.

The desire for dialogue is also necessary in beloved Iraq, to enable its various ethnic and religious groups to rediscover the path of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence and cooperation. Such is the case too in Yemen and other parts of the region, and in Afghanistan.

I think in particular of Israelis and Palestinians, in the wake of the tensions of recent weeks. The Holy See, while expressing sorrow for the loss of life in recent clashes, renews its pressing appeal that every initiative be carefully weighed so as to avoid exacerbating hostilities, and calls for a common commitment to respect, in conformity with the relevant United Nations Resolutions, the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognized borders. Despite the difficulties, a willingness to engage in dialogue and to resume negotiations remains the clearest way to achieving at last a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples.

In national contexts, too, openness and availability to encounter are essential. I think especially of Venezuela, which is experiencing an increasingly dramatic and unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis. The Holy See, while urging an immediate response to the primary needs of the population, expresses the hope that conditions will be created so that the elections scheduled for this year can resolve the existing conflicts, and enable people to look to the future with newfound serenity.

Nor can the international community overlook the suffering of many parts of the African continent, especially in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, where the right to life is threatened by the indiscriminate exploitation of resources, terrorism, the proliferation of armed groups and protracted conflicts. It is not enough to be appalled at such violence. Rather, everyone, in his or her own situation, should work actively to eliminate the causes of misery and build bridges of fraternity, the fundamental premise for authentic human development.

A shared commitment to rebuilding bridges is also urgent in Ukraine. The year just ended reaped new victims in the conflict that afflicts the country, continuing to bring great suffering to the population, particularly to families who live in areas affected by the war and have lost their loved ones, not infrequently the elderly and children.

I would like to devote a special thought to families. The right to form a family, as a natural and fundamental group unit of society is entitled to protection by society and the state,[15] and is recognized by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it is a fact that, especially in the West, the family is considered an obsolete institution. Today fleeting relationships are preferred to the stability of a definitive life project. But a house built on the sand of frail and fickle relationships cannot stand. What is needed instead is a rock on which to build solid foundations. And this rock is precisely that faithful and indissoluble communion of love that joins man and woman, a communion that has an austere and simple beauty, a sacred and inviolable character and a natural role in the social order.[16] I consider it urgent, then, that genuine policies be adopted to support the family, on which the future and the development of states depend. Without this, it is not possible to create societies capable of meeting the challenges of the future. Disregard for families has another dramatic effect particularly present in some parts of the world namely, a decline in the birth rate. We are experiencing a true demographic winter! This is a sign of societies that struggle to face the challenges of the present, and thus become ever more fearful of the future, with the result that they close in on themselves.

At the same time, we cannot forget the situation of families torn apart by poverty, war and migration. All too often, we see with our own eyes the tragedy of children who, unaccompanied, cross the borders between the south and the north of our world, and often fall victim to human trafficking.

Today there is much talk about migrants and migration, at times only for the sake of stirring up primal fears. It must not be forgotten that migration has always existed. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the history of salvation is essentially a history of migration. Nor should we forget that freedom of movement, for example, the ability to leave ones own country and to return there, is a fundamental human right.[17] There is a need, then, to abandon the familiar rhetoric and start from the essential consideration that we are dealing, above all, with persons.

This is what I sought to reiterate in my Message for the World Day of Peace celebrated on 1 January last, whose theme this year is: Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace. While acknowledging that not everyone is always guided by the best of intentions, we must not forget that the majority of migrants would prefer to remain in their homeland. Instead, they find themselves forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave it behind Welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and good will, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited. By practising the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society (Pacem in Terris, 57). Leaders have a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct (cf. Lk 14:28-30).[18]

I would like once more to thank the authorities of those states who have spared no effort in recent years to assist the many migrants arriving at their borders. I think above all of the efforts made by more than a few countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas that welcome and assist numerous persons. I cherish vivid memories of my meeting in Dhaka with some members of the Rohingya people, and I renew my sentiments of gratitude to the Bangladeshi authorities for the assistance provided to them on their own territory.

I would also like to express particular gratitude to Italy, which in these years has shown an open and generous heart and offered positive examples of integration. It is my hope that the difficulties that the country has experienced in these years, and whose effects are still felt, will not lead to forms of refusal and obstruction, but instead to a rediscovery of those roots and traditions that have nourished the rich history of the nation and constitute a priceless treasure offered to the whole world. I likewise express my appreciation for the efforts made by other European states, particularly Greece and Germany. Nor must it be forgotten that many refugees and migrants seek to reach Europe because they know that there they will find peace and security, which for that matter are the fruit of a lengthy process born of the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the European project in the aftermath of the Second World War. Europe should be proud of this legacy, grounded on certain principles and a vision of man rooted in its millenary history, inspired by the Christian conception of the human person. The arrival of migrants should spur Europe to recover its cultural and religious heritage, so that, with a renewed consciousness of the values on which the continent was built, it can keep alive her own tradition while continuing to be a place of welcome, a herald of peace and of development.

In the past year, governments, international organizations and civil society have engaged in discussions about the basic principles, priorities and most suitable means for responding to movements of migration and the enduring situations involving refugees. The United Nations, following the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, has initiated important preparations for the adoption of the two Global Compacts for refugees and for safe, orderly and regular migration respectively.

The Holy See trusts that these efforts, with the negotiations soon to begin, will lead to results worthy of a world community growing ever more independent and grounded in the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance. In the current international situation, ways and means are not lacking to ensure that every man and every woman on earth can enjoy living conditions worthy of the human person.

In the Message for this years World Day of Peace, I suggested four mileposts for action: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.[19] I would like to dwell particularly on the last of these, which has given rise to various opposed positions in the light of varying evaluations, experiences, concerns and convictions. Integration is a two-way process, entailing reciprocal rights and duties. Those who welcome are called to promote integral human development, while those who are welcomed must necessarily conform to the rules of the country offering them hospitality, with respect for its identity and values. Processes of integration must always keep the protection and advancement of persons, especially those in situations of vulnerability, at the centre of the rules governing various aspects of political and social life.

The Holy See has no intention of interfering in decisions that fall to states, which, in the light of their respective political, social and economic situations, and their capacities and possibilities for receiving and integrating, have the primary responsibility for accepting newcomers. Nonetheless, the Holy See does consider it its role to appeal to the principles of humanity and fraternity at the basis of every cohesive and harmonious society. In this regard, its interaction with religious communities, on the level of institutions and associations, should not be forgotten, since these can play a valuable supportive role in assisting and protecting, in social and cultural mediation, and in pacification and integration.

Among the human rights that I would also like to mention today is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and of religion, including the freedom to change religion.[20] Sad to say, it is well-known that the right to religious freedom is often disregarded, and not infrequently religion becomes either an occasion for the ideological justification of new forms of extremism or a pretext for the social marginalization of believers, if not their downright persecution. The condition for building inclusive societies is the integral comprehension of the human person, who can feel himself or herself truly accepted when recognized and accepted in all the dimensions that constitute his or her identity, including the religious dimension.

Finally, I wish to recall the importance of the right to employment. There can be no peace or development if individuals are not given the chance to contribute personally by their own labour to the growth of the common good. Regrettably, in many parts of the world, employment is scarcely available. At times, few opportunities exist, especially for young people, to find work. Often it is easily lost not only due to the effects of alternating economic cycles, but to the increasing use of ever more perfect and precise technologies and tools that can replace human beings. On the one hand, we note an inequitable distribution of the work opportunities, while on the other, a tendency to demand of labourers an ever more pressing pace. The demands of profit, dictated by globalization, have led to a progressive reduction of times and days of rest, with the result that a fundamental dimension of life has been lost that of rest which serves to regenerate persons not only physically but also spiritually. God himself rested on the seventh day; he blessed and consecrated that day because on it he rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Gen 2:3). In the alternation of exertion and repose, human beings share in the sanctification of time laid down by God and ennoble their work, saving it from constant repetition and dull daily routine.

A cause for particular concern are the data recently published by the International Labour Organization regarding the increase of child labourers and victims of the new forms of slavery. The scourge of juvenile employment continues to compromise gravely the physical and psychological development of young people, depriving them of the joys of childhood and reaping innocent victims. We cannot think of planning a better future, or hope to build more inclusive societies, if we continue to maintain economic models directed to profit alone and the exploitation of those who are most vulnerable, such as children. Eliminating the structural causes of this scourge should be a priority of governments and international organizations, which are called to intensify efforts to adopt integrated strategies and coordinated policies aimed at putting an end to child labour in all its forms.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In recalling some of the rights contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration, I do not mean to overlook one of its important aspects, namely, the recognition that every individual also has duties towards the community, for the sake of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.[21] The just appeal to the rights of each human being must take into account the fact that every individual is part of a greater body. Our societies too, like every human body, enjoy good health if each member makes his or her own contribution in the awareness that it is at the service of the common good.

Among todays particularly pressing duties is that of caring for our earth. We know that nature can itself be cruel, even apart from human responsibility. We saw this in the past year with the earthquakes that struck different parts of our world, especially those of recent months in Mexico and in Iran, with their high toll of victims, and with the powerful hurricanes that struck different countries of the Caribbean, also reaching the coast of the United States, and, more recently, the Philippines. Even so, one must not downplay the importance of our own responsibility in interaction with nature. Climate changes, with the global rise in temperatures and their devastating effects, are also a consequence of human activity. Hence there is a need to take up, in a united effort, the responsibility of leaving to coming generations a more beautiful and livable world, and to work, in the light of the commitments agreed upon in Paris in 2015, for the reduction of gas emissions that harm the atmosphere and human health.

The spirit that must guide individuals and nations in this effort can be compared to that of the builders of the medieval cathedrals that dot the landscape of Europe. These impressive buildings show the importance of each individual taking part in a work that transcends the limits of time. The builders of the cathedrals knew that they would not see the completion of their work. Yet they worked diligently, in the knowledge that they were part of a project that would be left to their children to enjoy. These, in turn, would embellish and expand it for their own children. Each man and woman in this world particularly those with governmental responsibilities is called to cultivate the same spirit of service and intergenerational solidarity, and in this way to be a sign of hope for our troubled world.

With these thoughts, I renew to each of you, to your families and to your peoples, my prayerful good wishes for a year filled with joy, hope and peace. Thank you.

_____________[1] Cf. JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, 90.[2] Ibid., 80.[3] Ibid., 86.[4] Ibid., 91.[5] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948.[6] Ibid. Preamble.[7] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 26 March 1967, 14.[8] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble.[9] Cf. ibid., Art.3.[10] Cf. ibid., Art. 25.[11] Pacem in Terris, 112.[12] Ibid., 111.[13] Ibid., 126.[14] Ibid., 127 and 129.[15] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16.[16] Cf. PAUL VI, Address in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, 5 January 1964.[17] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 13.[18] FRANCIS, Message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, 13 November 2017, 1.[19] Ibid., 4.[20] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 18.[21] Ibid., Art. 29.

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Topless protester tries to grab baby Jesus figure at Vatican

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Vatican – National Catholic Register

Vatican

Joseph Pronechen

From The Ark and the Dove in Pittsburgh, where it began, to the Circus Maximus in Rome, where they will gather for Pentecost 2017, Charsimatics reflect on the Holy Spirits work.

Vatican

Peter Jesserer Smith

The Churchs sainthood process is peeling back myths and revealing the truth of Blessed Oscar Romeros holiness unto death.

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John Power

Some Australian bishops have offered different opinions about how broadly the seal applies, as the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse focuses attention on the matter.

Vatican

Edward Pentin

This is the latest effort by the Church to bring the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X into full communion.

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Joan Frawley Desmond

The Power of Silence, co-written with Nicolas Diat, was inspired by the Carthusian monastery at La Grande Chartreuse.

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Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

Feb. 26 event was first time a Roman pontiff has set foot in an Anglican parish inside his own Diocese of Rome.

Vatican

Edward Pentin

Msgr. Fernando Ocriz Braa is a founding professor of Romes Santa Croce University and has served as a consultor to several Vatican offices.

Vatican

Michele Chabin

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Pope Francis his people are very grateful for the Churchs efforts to assist peace in the Holy Land.

Vatican

Elisabeth Deffner

Theological commission requests papal acknowledgement of Mary as Co-Redemptrix.

Culture of Life

CNA/EWTN News

His Holiness is profoundly grateful for this impressive testimony to the sacredness of every human life, read the papal telegram.

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Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

Annual message to journalists released Jan. 24, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press.

Vatican

CNA/EWTN News

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra explains in new interview that ongoing confusion prompted call for clarification of Amoris Laetitia.

Vatican

Joan Frawley Desmond

The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith defends its role as a source of unity for the universal Church, and its expertise in the prosecution of clergy sexual abuse cases.

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Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

The Holy Father said Jan. 15 that her witness can help us learn to take care of our foreign brother, in whom Jesus is present, often suffering.

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Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

Boston shepherds appointment to the CDF was announced in a Jan. 14 communiqu from the Vatican.

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Edward Pentin

In a Register interview, the Vaticans foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, discusses the Holy Fathers distinctive approach to international issues.

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The Editors

St. Teresa, Mother Angelica and Donald Trump top the Registers headlines

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Father Raymond J. de Souza

NEWS ANALYSIS

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Edward Pentin

As head of the Congregation for Promoting Integral Human Development, the cardinal from Ghana will oversee a body that once comprised four pontifical councils.

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John M. Grondelski

COMMENTARY: Introducing Leonia Nasta

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Edward Pentin

An Estimated 10,000 Pilgrims Expected for Midnight Mass

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Filip Mazurczak

Retired Polish prelate speaks to the Register about the enduring importance of the Fatima message ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in 2017, as well as the lesser-known 1982 assassination attempt on John Pauls life at Fatima.

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Father Raymond J. de Souza

COMMENTARY: The Polish cardinal retired last week at the age of 77.

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Daniel Blackman

Gary Krupp tells the Register why he changed his opinion about the wartime pope.

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Edward Pentin

While Pope Francis has declined to reply to the formal request for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, some cardinals and bishops have responded publicly.

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Christmas … is primarily a religious event for which spiritual preparation is needed, the Holy Father said Dec. 4.

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Pope Francis has granted the opportunity throughout the entire jubilee year.

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The Holy Father will have a busy schedule during December and January for Christmas and the new year.

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Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News

We must pray so that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy become increasingly the style of our lives, Holy Father said Nov. 30.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Father Lucio Zappatore speaks about a special papal surprise among the elderly of Torre Spaccata, Italy.

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Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Tickets 2018 – Rome

Your Vatican experience starts in Vatican City, where youll meet your host and walk to your reserved doorway that provides you with the fastest skip-the-line entrance at the Vatican Museums, avoiding the other priority queues. Just show your ticket to the guard, and your host will leave you to explore the museum complexs 9 miles (15 km) of rooms and galleries at your leisure. You may stay as long as you wish.

The most popular spaces include Raphaels Rooms, a series of four connecting rooms adorned with Renaissance works by Raphael and his students; the Gallery of the Candelabra, home to carved marble candelabras and sculptures; and the Gallery of Maps, where you can marvel at dozens of intricate maps of Italy from the 16th century. Most explorations of the Vatican Museums end at the crown jewel, the Sistine Chapel, a particularly sacred site, as its where new popes are elected. Of course, youre there to see Michelangelos legendary frescoes, The Creation of Adam on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on on the wall.

Optional tour:If youd prefer to explore the Vatican Museums with a knowledgeable guide instead of on your own, upgrade when booking to include a tour limited to 20 people. Youll see the highlights of the complex, including the Sistine Chapel, as well as neighboring St Peters Basilica, one of the worlds largest churches and home to more Renaissance works. From your guide, hear about the history of the Vatican, from art to power to treachery.

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Latest News: Vatican :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Nov 17, 2017 – 03:00 pm .- For years now, I have been bemoaning the growing number of so-called progressive Catholic figures, in academia, the media and the outer curial orbit, who fancy themselves to be the Popes ideological vanguard, amidst what they have taken to calling their intra-ecclesial battle.

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Vatican Council and Papal Statements on Islam

Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964 But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankinds judge on the last day. The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 1:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2Co 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture. The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to Gods plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting. Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values. Therefore, the Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their race, color, condition in life or religion. Accordingly, following the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the sacred Council earnestly begs the Christian faithful to conduct themselves well among the Gentiles (1P 2:12) and if possible, as far as depends on them, to be at peace with all men (cf. Rm 12:18), and in that way to be true sons of the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt 5:45). Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God. We address this reverent greeting in particular to those who profess monotheism and with us direct their religious workshop to the one true God, most high and living, the God of Abraham, the supreme God whom Melchizedek, a mysterious person about whose genealogy and end Scripture tells us nothing, and by whose regal priesthood Christ himself wishes to be characterized, one day, distinct in the past but recalled in the Bible and in the Missal, celebrated as God Most High, maker of heaven and earth (cf. Gn 14:19; Heb 7; Ps 76:3; 110:4). We Christians, informed by revelation, understand God as existing in the three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; however, we celebrate the divine nature as one, as the living and true God. May these peoples, worshipers of the one God, also welcome our best wishes for peace in justice. Our greeting is also being addressed to all peoples wherever Our Catholic missions carry the Gospel, and with it an invitation to its universality and a working towards its realization. In our prayers, we always remember the peoples of Africa. The common belief in the Almighty professed by millions calls down upon this continent the graces of his Providence and love, most of all, peace and unity among all its sons. We feel sure that as representatives of Islam, you join in our prayers to the Almighty, that he may grant all African believers the desire for pardon and reconciliation so often commended in the Gospels and in the Quran. Our pilgrimage to these holy places is not for purposes of prestige or power. It is a humble and ardent prayer for peace, through the intercession of the glorious protectors of Africa, who gave up their lives for love and for their belief. In recall the Catholic and Anglican Martyrs, We gladly recall also those confessors of the Muslim faith who were the first to suffer death, in the year 1848, for refusing to transgress the precepts of their religion. After quoting Nostra Aetate 3, as given above, he says: My brothers, when I think of this spiritual heritage (Islam) and the value it has for man and for society, its capacity of offering, particularly in the young, guidance for life, filing the gap left by materialism, and giving a reliable foundation to social and juridical organization, I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together for the benefit of all men, peace, liberty, social justice and moral values as the Council calls upon us to do (Nostra Aetate 3). Faith in God, professed by the spiritual descendants of AbrahamChristians, Muslims and Jewswhen it is lived sincerely, when it penetrates life, is a certain foundation of the dignity, brotherhood and freedom of men and a principle of uprightness for moral conduct and life in society. And there is more: as a result of this faith in God the Creator and transcendent, one man finds himself at the summit of creation. He was created, the Bible teaches, in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:27); for the Quran, the sacred book of the Muslims, although man is made of dust, God breathed into him his spirit and endowed him with hearing, sight and heart, that is, intelligence (Surah 32.8). For the Muslims, the universe is destined to be subject to man as the representative of God: the Bible affirms that God ordered man to subdue the earth, but also to till it and keep it (Gen. 2:15). As Gods creature, man has rights which cannot be violated, but he is equally bound by the law of good and evil which is based on the order established by God. Thanks to this law, man will never submit to any idol. The Christian keeps to the solemn commandment: You shall keep no other gods before me (Ex 20:30). On his side, the Muslim will always say: God is the greatest. I would like to take advantage of this meeting and the opportunity offered to me by the words that St. Peter wrote to your predecessors to invite you to consider every day the deep roots of faith in God in whom also your Muslim fellow citizens believe, in order to draw from this the principle of a collaboration with a view to the progress of man, emulation in good, and the extension of peace and brotherhood in free profession of the faith peculiar to each one. I deliberately address you as brothers: that is certainly what we are, because we are members of the same human family, whose efforts, whether people realize it or not, tend toward God and the truth that comes from him. But we are especially brothers in God, who created us and whom we are trying to reach, in our own ways, through faith, prayer and worship, through the keeping of his law and through submission to his designs. But are you not, above all, brothers of the Christians of this great country, through the bonds of nationality, history, geography, culture, and hope for a better future, a future that you are building together? Is it not right to think that in the Philippines, the Muslims and the Christians are really traveling on the same ship, for better or for worse, and that in the storms that sweep across the world the safety of each individual depends upon the efforts and cooperation of all?… I salute all this efforts [of civic and political cooperation] with great satisfaction, and I earnestly encourage their extension. Society cannot bring citizens the happiness that they expect from it unless society itself is built upon dialogue. Dialogue in turn is built upon trust, and trust presupposes not only justice but mercy. Without any doubt, equality and freedom, which are at the foundation of every society, require law and justice. But as I said in a recent letter addressed to the whole Catholic Church, justice by itself is not enough: The equality brought by justice is limited to the realms of objective and extrinsic goods, while love and mercy bring it about that people meet one another in that value which is man himself, with the dignity that is proper to him (Dives in misericordia, encyclical letter On the Mercy of God). Dear Muslims, my brothers: I would like to add that we Christians, just like you, seek the basis and model of mercy in God himself, the God to whom your Book gives the very beautiful name of al-Rahman, while the Bible calls him al-Rahum, the Merciful One. One of the essential characteristics of the life of the Church in Maghreb is, in fact, to be invited to enter upon a constructive Islamic-Christian dialogue. I am anxious to encourage you along this difficult way, where failure may occur, but where hope is even stronger. To maintain it, strong Christian convictions are necessary. More than elsewhere, it is highly desirable that Christians should take part, as you encourage them to do, in a permanent catechesis which completes a biblical renewal course, or more exactly a reading of the Word of God in the Church, with the help of theologians and truly competent spiritual teachers. But it can never be said enough that such a dialogue is in the first place a question of friendship; one must know how to give dialogue the time for progress and discernment. That is why it is surrounded by discretion out of a concern to be considerate with regard to the slowness of the evolution of mentalities. The seriousness of commitment in this dialogue is measured by that of the witness lived and borne to the values in which one believes, and, for the Christian, to him who is their foundation, Jesus Christ. That is why it conceals an inevitable tension between the deep respect which is due to the person and the convictions of the one with whom we are speaking, and an unshakeable attachment to ones faith. This sincere dialogue and this demanding witness involve a part of spiritual abnegation: how can we fail to proclaim the hope that we have received of taking part in this wedding feast of the Lamb at which the whole of mankind will be gathered one day? It is also necessary – among other things, in order to preserve this dialogue in its truth – for this deep hope to remain without yielding to any faintheartedness born of uncertain doctrine. Such a spirit is embodied in the first place in disinterested service with a view to fraternity participating in the development of these countries and to sharing the aspirations of their people. I am anxious to stress here the quality of the work carried out by so many of those cooperators in the discretion and dedication, and by those who supported them. In this country, which is mainly Muslim, you take care to keep alive in Christians the sense of friendship, a friendship whose sincerity is measured by the effectiveness of the actions it inspires. I do not want to dwell here on this important question of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims, with which I quite recently dealt in my conversations with your confreres in North Africa. But I am anxious to point out the importance of the initiative you have taken in common in this field, in the framework of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa, by creating a special commission to promote such a dialogue. I know you are beginning to perceive the fruits of this mutually agreed upon decision; it gradually makes possible a real renewal of mentalities, which facilitates the beneficial transition from ignorance to knowledge of the Muslim faith, from indifference to opening, from rejection to dialogue. All true holiness comes from God, who is called The Holy One in the sacred books of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Your holy Quran calls God Al-Quddus, as in the verse: He is God, besides whom there is no other, the Sovereign, the Holy, the (source of) Peace (Quran 59, 23). The prophet Hosea links Gods holiness with his forgiving love for mankind, a love which surpasses our ability to comprehend: I am God, not man; I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy (Ho 11:9). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his disciples that holiness consists in assuming, in our human way, the qualities of Gods own holiness which he has revealed to mankind: Be holy, even as your heavenly Father is holy (Mt 5:48). Thus the Quran calls you to uprightness (al-salah), to conscientious devotion (al-taqwa), to goodness (al-husn), and to virtue (al-birr), which is described as believing in God, giving ones wealth to the needy, freeing captives, being constant in prayer, keeping ones word, and being patient in times of suffering, hardship and violence (Quran 2:177). Similarly, St. Paul stresses the love we must show toward all, and the duty to lead a blameless life in the sight of God: May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints (1 Th 3:12-13). It is a joy for me to have this occasion to meet with you. As the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, I have had many other opportunities both to welcome Muslims in Rome and to visit them in various countries in the course of my travels. As Christians and Muslims, we encounter one another in faith in the one God, our Creator and guide, our just and merciful judge. In our daily lives we strive to put into practice Gods will according to the teaching of our respective Scriptures. We believe that God transcends our thoughts and our universe and that his loving presence accompanies us throughout each day. In prayer, we place ourselves in the presence of God to offer him our worship and thanksgiving, to ask forgiveness for our faults, and to seek his help and blessing. Today we are meeting in Belgium, a country with a long tradition of hospitality toward persons of diverse religious adherence, whose legislation guarantees the freedom of worship and education. We know that this does not resolve all the problems which are common to the plight of immigrants. Nevertheless, these very difficulties ought to be an incentive to all believers, Christian and Muslim, to come to know one another better, to engage in dialogue in order to find peaceful ways of living together and mutually enriching one another. It is a good thing to come to understand each other by learning to accept differences, by overcoming prejudices in mutual respect, and by working together for reconciliation and service to the lowliest. This is a fundamental dialogue which must be practiced in neighborhoods, in places of work, in schools. This is the dialogue which is proper to believers who live together in a modern and pluralistic society. It has not been granted to us that we form a single community; this is, rather, a test which has been imposed upon us. In confronting this situation, allow me to repeat the advice of the Apostle Paul: Those who have placed their faith in God should set their hearts on the practice of what is good (Tt 3:8). This type of mutual emulation can benefit the whole society, especially those who find themselves most in need of justice, consolation, hope – in a word, those in need of reasons for living. We know that by working together fraternally, we will thus be carrying out the will of God. Christians and Muslims have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection. . . . God asks that we should listen to His voice. He expects from us obedience to His holy will in a free consent of mind and heart. It is therefore toward this God that my thought goes and that my heart rises. It is of God himself that, above all, I wish to speak with you; of him, because it is in him that we believe, you Muslims and we Catholics. I wish also to speak with you about human values, which have their basis in God, these values which concern the blossoming of our person, as also that of our families and our societies, as well as that of the international community. The mystery of God – is it not the highest reality from which depends the very meaning which man gives to his life? And is it not the first problem that presents itself to a young person, when he reflects upon the mystery of his own existence and on the values which he intends to choose in order to build his growing personality? . . . First of all, I invoke the Most High, the all-powerful God who is our Creator. He is the origin of all life, as he is at the source of all that is good, of all that is beautiful, of all that is holy. . . . He made us, us men, and we are from him. His holy law guides our life. It is the light of God which orients our destiny and enlightens our conscience. . . . Yes, God asks that we should listen to his voice. He expects from us obedience to his holy will in a free consent of mind and of heart. That is why we are accountable before him. It is He, God, who is our judge; He who alone is truly just. We know, however, that his mercy is inseparable from His justice. When man returns to Him, repentant and contrite, after having strayed into the disorder of sin and the works of death, God then reveals Himself as the one who pardons and shows mercy. To Him, therefore, our love and our adoration! For His blessing and His mercy, we thank Him, at all times and in all places. . . . Man is a spiritual being. We believers know that we do not live in a closed world. We believe in God. We are worshipers of God. We are seekers of God. The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the equality of your religious progress, the richness of your spiritual tradition. . . . I believe that we, Christians and Muslims, must recognize with joy the religious values that we have in common, and give thanks to God for them. Both of us believe in one God, the only God, who is all justice and all mercy; we believe in the importance of prayer, of fasting, of almsgiving, of repentance and of pardon; we believe that God will be a merciful judge to us all at the end of time, and we hope that after the resurrection He will be satisfied with us and we know that we will be satisfied with him.Loyalty demands also that we should recognize and respect our differences. Obviously the most fundamental is the view that we hold onto the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You know that, for Christians, Jesus causes them to enter into an intimate knowledge of the mystery of God and into the filial communion by His gifts, so that they recognize Him and proclaim Him Lord and Savior. Those are the important differences which we can accept with humility and respect, in mutual tolerance; this is a mystery about which, I am certain, God will one day enlighten us. Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and often exhausted each other in polemics and in wars. I believe that today, God invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and we must stimulate each other in good works on the path of God. With me, you know the reward of spiritual values. Ideologies and slogans cannot satisfy you nor can they solve the problems of your life. Only spiritual and moral values can do it, and they have God at their foundation. Dear young people, I wish that you may be able to help in building a world where God may have first place in order to aid and to save mankind. On this path, you are assured, of the esteem and the collaboration of your Catholic brothers and sisters whom I represent among you this evening. Both the Bible and the Quran teach that mercy and justice are two attributes most characteristic of God. He, the Just One, the Merciful, the Compassionate, can bring about these same qualities in mankind, if only we open our hearts to allow him to do so. He wants us to be merciful toward each other. Along this path there are new solutions to be found to the political, racial and confessional conflicts which have plagued the human family throughout history. You come from a city that has so much meaning for all of us: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Jerusalem, the city of David, the place of Jesus death and resurrection, the site of Muhammads night journey to God: this city must be a living symbol that Gods will for us is to live in peace and mutual respect! I wish to encourage you in your efforts. In todays world, it is more important than ever that people of faith place at the service of humanity their religious conviction, founded on the daily practice of listening to Gods message and encountering him in prayerful worship. My prayers and hopes are with you as you pursue your reflection on the God of mercy and justice, the God of peace and reconciliation! You must try to show your Muslim brethren and the followers of other religious traditions that your Christian faith, far from weakening your sense of pride in your homeland and your love for her, helps you to prize and respect the culture and heritage of Bangladesh. It inspires you to face the challenges of the present day with love and responsibility. . . . The Catholic Church is committed to a path of dialogue and collaboration with the men and women of goodwill of every religious tradition. We have many spiritual resources in common which we must share with one another as we work for a more human world. Young people especially know how to be open with each other and they want a world in which all the basic freedoms, including the freedom of religious belief, will be respected. Sometimes Christians and Muslims fear and distrust one another as a result of past misunderstanding and conflict. This is also true in Bangladesh. Everyone, especially the young, must learn to always respect one anothers religious beliefs and to defend freedom of religion, which is the right of every human being. The topic of your discussion is a timely one. Since we are believers in God – who is goodness and perfection – all our activities must reflect the holy and upright nature of the one whom we worship and seek to obey. For this reason, also in the works of mission and dawah, our action must be founded upon a respect for the inalienable dignity and freedom of the human person created and loved by God. Both Christians and Muslims are called to defend the inviolable right of each individual to freedom of religious belief and practice. There have been in the past, and there continue to be in the present, unfortunate instances of misunderstanding, intolerance and conflict between Christians and Muslims, especially in circumstances where either Muslims or Christians are a minority or are guest workers in a given country. It is our challenge as religious leaders to find ways to overcome such difficulties in a spirit of justice, brotherhood and mutual respect. Hence, by considering the proper means of carrying out mission and dawah you are dealing with an issue which is important both for religious and for social harmony. You have also been addressing the difficulties faced today by those who believe in God in their efforts to proclaim his presence and his will for mankind. As believers, we do not deny or reject any of the real benefits which modern developments have brought, but we are convinced nevertheless that without reference to God modern society is unable to lead men and women to the goal for which they have been created. It is here too that Christians and Muslims can work together, bearing witness before modern civilization to the divine presence and loving Providence which guide our steps. Together we can proclaim that he who has made us has called us to live in harmony and justice. May the blessing of the Most High accompany you in your endeavors on behalf of dialogue and peace. To all Muslims throughout the world, I wish to express the readiness of the Catholic Church to work together with you and all the people of good will to aid the victims of the war and to build structures of a lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but everywhere. This cooperation in solidarity towards the most afflicted can form the concrete basis for a sincere, profound and constant dialogue between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which there can arise a strengthened mutual knowledge and trust, and the assurance that each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically his or her own faith. Injustice, oppression, aggression, greed, failure to forgive, desire for revenge, and unwillingness to enter into dialogue and negotiate: these are merely some of the factors which lead people to depart from the way in which God desires us to live on this planet. We must all learn to recognize these elements in our own lives and societies, and find ways to overcome them. Only when individuals and groups undertake this education for peace can we build a fraternal and united world, freed from war and violence. I close my greeting to you with the words of one of my predecessors, Pope Gregory VII who in 1076 wrote to Al-Nasir, the Muslim Ruler of Bijaya, present day Algeria: Almighty God, who wishes that all should be saved and none lost, approves nothing in so much as that after loving Him one should love his fellow man, and that one should not do to others, what one does not want done to oneself. You and we owe this charity to ourselves especially because we believe in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way, and daily praise and venerate him, the creator of the world and ruler of this world. These words, written almost a thousand years ago, express my feelings to you today as you celebrate Id al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast. May the Most High God fill us with all His merciful love and peace. It is natural that believers in God should meet in friendship and sharing. Christians and Muslims, together with the followers of the Jewish religion, belong to what can be called the tradition of Abraham. In our respective traditions Abraham is called the intimate friend of God (in Arabic, Al-Khalil). He receives this title because of his flawless faith in God. . . . As two religious communities who strive to submit ourselves without reserve to the will of God, we Christians and Muslims should live together in peace, friendship and cooperation. I am happy to note that, since the arrival of the first Christians in this land, the people of Senegal have given the world a good example of this sharing life. In May 1991, in a joint message to their fellow Christians, the Catholic bishops of Senegal called attention to the real efforts at understanding and dialogue between Christians and Muslims, the meeting between religious leaders which have been undertaken in your country. They noted that the young people have worked together to build cemeteries, mosques and churches; that school children engage in healthy emulation to make their schools places of peace, forgiveness and fraternity; that adults work together to improve the life of the community spirit of the country. I would like to support and encourage all these efforts at building a harmonious society because I am convinced that this is the way of God. Our Creator and our final judge desires that we live together. Our God is a God of peace, who desires peace among those who live according to His commandments. Our God is the holy God who desires that those who call upon Him live in ways that are holy and upright. He is a God of dialogue who has been engaged from the very beginning of history in a dialogue of salvation with the humanity which He created. This dialogue continues in the present day, and will go on until the end of time. We Christians and Muslims must be people of dialogue. As I have often said, and as the bishops of Senegal have repeated, this commitment to dialogue means, first of all, a dialogue of life, a positive acceptance, interaction and cooperation by which we bear active witness, as believers, to the ideals to which God has called us. It must first be kept in mind that every quest of the human spirit for truth and goodness, and in the last analysis for God, is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The various religions arose precisely from this primordial openness to God. At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of Gods Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions. In every authentic religious experience, the most characteristic expression is prayer. Because of the human spirits constitutive openness to Gods action of urging it to self-transcendence, we can hold that every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person (John Paul IIs address to the Members of the Roman Curia, December 22, 1986, n. 11; LOsservatore Romano English edition, January 5, 1987, p. 7). . . . The Christian doctrine on the Trinity, confirmed by the Councils, explicitly rejects any form of tritheism or polytheism. In this sense, i.e., with reference to the one divine substance, there is significant correspondence between Christianity and Islam. However, this correspondence must not let us forget the difference between the two religions. We know that the unity of God is expressed in the mystery of the three divine Persons. Indeed, since he is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), God has always been a Father who gives his whole self in begetting the Son, and both are united in a communion of love which is the Holy Spirit. This distinction and co-penetration (perichoresis) of the three divine Persons is not something added to their unity but is its most profound and characteristic expression. . . . In todays world where God is tragically forgotten, Christians and Muslims are called in one spirit of love to defend and always promote human dignity, moral values and freedom. The common pilgrimage to eternity must be expressed in prayer, fasting and charity, but also in joint efforts for peace and justice, for human advancement and the protection of the environment. By walking together on the path of reconciliation and renouncing in humble submission to the divine will any form of violence as a means of resolving differences, the two religions will be able to offer a sign of hope, radiating in the world the wisdom and mercy of that one God who created and governs the human family. Thank you for your kind words. Permit me to continue with your ideas. God created human beings, man and woman, and gave to them the world, the earth to cultivate. There is a strict connection between religions, religious faith and culture. Islam is a religion. Christianity is a religion. Islam has become also a culture. Christianity has become also a culture. So it is very important to meet personalities representing Islamic culture in Egypt. I express my great gratitude for this opportunity and I greet all the eminent scholars gathered here. I am convinced that the future of the world depends on the various cultures and on interreligious dialogue. For it is as St. Thomas Aquinas said: Genus humanum arte et ratione vivit. The life of the human race consists in culture and the future of the human race consists in culture. I thank your university, the biggest centre of Islamic culture. I thank those who are developing Islamic culture and I am grateful for what you are doing to maintain the dialogue with Christian culture. All this I say in the name of the future of our communities, not only of our communities but also of the nations and of the humanity represented in Islam and in Christianity. Thank you very much. Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God, who in his merciful love has produced in the church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbor, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken toward the followers of other religions. Let us confess, even more, our responsibilities as Christians for the evils of today. We must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are regarding atheism, religious indifference, secularism, ethical relativism, the violations of the right to life, disregard for the poor in many countries. We humbly ask forgiveness for the part which each of us has had in these evils by our own actions, thus helping to disfigure the face of the church. At the same time, as we confess our sins, let us forgive the sins committed by others against us. Countless times in the course of history Christians have suffered hardship, oppression and persecution because of their faith. Just as the victims of such abuses forgave them, so let us forgive as well. The church today feels and has always felt obliged to purify her memory of those sad events from every feeling of rancor or revenge. In this way the jubilee becomes for everyone a favorable opportunity for a profound conversion to the Gospel. The acceptance of Gods forgiveness leads to the commitment to forgive our brothers and sisters and to be reconciled with them. Your Majesty, I know how deeply concerned you are for peace in your own land and in the entire region, and how important it is to you that all JordaniansMuslims and Christiansshould consider themselves as one people and one family. In this area of the world there are grave and urgent issues of justice, of the rights of peoples and nations, which have to be resolved for the good of all concerned and as a condition for lasting peace. No matter how difficult, no matter how long, the process of seeking peace must continue. Without peace, there can be no authentic development for this region, no better life for its peoples, no brighter future for its children. That is why Jordans proven commitment to securing the conditions necessary for peace is so important and praiseworthy. Building a future of peace requires an ever more mature understanding and ever more practical cooperation among the peoples who acknowledge the one true, indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. The three historical monotheistic religions count peace, goodness and respect for the human person among the highest values. I earnestly hope that my visit will strengthen the already fruitful Christian-Muslim dialogue which is being conducted in Jordan, particularly through the Royal Interfaith Institute. I have an especially warm recollection of my meeting with Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi. We both expressed the wish for a new era of religious and cultural dialogue between Islam and Christianity. It is in this context, Mr. Ambassador, that I am particularly pleased that you have spoken of Egypt as a land where unity and harmony are greatly valued and where differences of religion are seen not as barriers but as a means of mutual enrichment in rendering service to the nation. I trust most sincerely that this will always be the case, and that the difficulties that have arisen from time to time will be overcome, especially in view of the widespread willingness and positive conditions for interreligious dialogue and cooperation which can be found in Egypt. In a world deeply marked by violence, it is bitterly ironic that even now some of the worst conflicts are between believers who worship the one God, who look to Abraham as a holy patriarch and who seek to follow the Law of Sinai. Each act of violence makes it more urgent for Muslims and Christians everywhere to recognize the things we have in common, to bear witness that we are all creatures of the one merciful God, and to agree once and for all that recourse to violence in the name of religion is completely unacceptable. Especially when religious identity coincides with cultural and ethnic identity it is a solemn duty of believers to ensure that religious sentiment is not used as an excuse for hatred and conflict. Religion is the enemy of exclusion and discrimination; it seeks the good of everyone and therefore ought to be a stimulus for solidarity and harmony between individuals and among peoples It is in this context (of openness to Gods grace) also that we should consider the great challenge of interreligious dialogue to which we shall still be committed in the new millennium, in fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (Cf. Second Vatican Council, declaration Nostra Aetate). . . . This dialogue must continue. In the climate of increased cultural and religious pluralism which is expected to mark the society of the new millennium, it is obvious that this dialogue will be especially important in establishing a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread specter of those wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history. The name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace. I am thinking too of the great cultural influence of Syrian Islam, which under the Umayyad caliphs reached the farthest shores of the Mediterranean. Today, in a world that is increasingly complex and interdependent, there is a need for a new spirit of dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Together we acknowledge the one indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. Together we must proclaim to the world that the name of the one God is a name of peace and a summons to peace (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 55)! As-salamu alaikum! I give heartfelt praise to almighty God for the grace of this meeting. I am most grateful for your warm welcome in the tradition of hospitality so cherished by the people of this region. I thank especially the minister of the Waqf and the grand mufti for their gracious greetings, which put into words the great yearning for peace which fills the hearts of all people of good will. My jubilee pilgrimage has been marked by important meetings with Muslim leaders in Cairo and Jerusalem, and now I am deeply moved to be your guest here in the great Umayyad mosque, so rich in religious history. Your land is dear to Christians: Here our religion has known vital moments of its growth and doctrinal development, and here are found Christian communities which have lived in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbors for many centuries. We are meeting close to what both Christians and Muslims regard as the tomb of John the Baptist, known as Yahya in the Muslim tradition. The son of Zechariah is a figure of prime importance in the history of Christianity, for he was the precursor who prepared the way for Christ. Johns life, wholly dedicated to God, was crowned by martyrdom. May his witness enlighten all who venerate his memory here, so that they – and we too – may understand that lifes great task is to seek Gods truth and justice. The fact that we are meeting in this renowned place of prayer reminds us that man is a spiritual being, called to acknowledge and respect the absolute priority of God in all things. Christians and Muslims agree that the encounter with God in prayer is the necessary nourishment of our souls, without which our hearts wither and our will no longer strives for good but succumbs to evil. Both Muslims and Christians prize their places of prayer as oases where they meet the all-merciful God on the journey to eternal life and where they meet their brothers and sisters in the bond of religion. When, on the occasion of weddings or funerals or other celebrations, Christians and Muslims remain in silent respect at the others prayer, they bear witness to what unites them without disguising or denying the things that separate. It is in mosques and churches that the Muslim and Christian communities shape their religious identity, and it is there that the young receive a significant part of their religious education. What sense of identity is instilled in young Christians and young Muslims in our churches and mosques? It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue, never more as communities in conflict. It is crucial for the young to be taught the ways of respect and understanding, so that they will not be led to misuse religion itself to promote or justify hatred and violence. Violence destroys the image of the Creator in his creatures and should never be considered as the fruit of religious conviction. I truly hope that our meeting today in the Umayyad mosque will signal our determination to advance interreligious dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam. This dialogue has gained momentum in recent decades; and today we can be grateful for the road we have traveled together so far. At the highest level, the Pontifical Council of Interreligious Dialogue represents the Catholic Church in this task. For more than 30 years the council has sent a message to Muslims on the occasion of Id al-Fitr at the close of Ramadan, and I am very happy that this gesture has been welcomed by many Muslims as a sign of growing friendship between us. In recent years the council has established a liaison committee with international Islamic organizations and also with al-Athar in Egypt, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year. It is important that Muslims and Christians continue to explore philosophical and theological questions together in order to come to a more objective and comprehensive knowledge of each others religious beliefs. Better mutual understanding will surely lead at the practical level to a new way of presenting our two religions not in opposition, as has happened too often in the past, but in partnership for the good of the human family. Interreligious dialogue is most effective when it springs from the experience of living with each other from day to day within the same community and culture. In Syria, Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries, and a rich dialogue of life has gone on unceasingly. Every individual and every family knows moments of harmony and other moments when dialogue has broken down. The positive experiences must strengthen our communities in the hope of peace; and the negative experiences should not be allowed to undermine that hope. For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and offer each other forgiveness. Jesus teaches us that we must pardon others offenses if God is to pardon us our sins (cf. Mt. 6:14). As members of the one human family and as believers, we have obligations to the common good, to justice and to solidarity. Interreligious dialogue will lead to many forms of cooperation, especially in responding to the duty to care for the poor and weak. These are the signs that our worship of God is genuine. As we make our way through life toward our heavenly destiny, Christians feel the company of Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Islam too pays tribute to Mary and hails her as chosen above the women of the world (Quran, 3:42). The virgin of Nazareth, the Lady of Saydnya, has taught us that God protects the humble and scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts (Lk. 1:51). May the hearts of Christians and Muslims turn to one another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give. To the one, merciful God be praise and glory forever. Amen. From this city, from Kazakhstan, a country that is an example of harmony between men and women of different origins and beliefs, I wish to make an earnest call to everyone, Christians and the followers of other religions, to work together to build a world without violence, a world that loves life, and grows in justice and solidarity. We must not let what has happened lead to a deepening of divisions. Religion must never be used as a reason for conflict. From this place, I invite both Christians and Muslims to raise an intense prayer to the One, Almighty God whose children we all are, that the supreme good of peace may reign in the world. May people everywhere, strengthened by divine wisdom, work for a civilization of love, in which there is no room for hatred, discrimination or violence. With all my heart I beg God to keep the world in peace. Amen. In this context, and precisely here in the land of encounter and dialogue, and before this distinguished audience, I wish to reaffirm the Catholic Churchs respect for Islam, for authentic Islam: the Islam that prays, that is concerned for those in need. Recalling the errors of the past, including the most recent past, all believers ought to unite their efforts to ensure that God is never made the hostage of human ambitions. Hatred, fanaticism and terrorism profane the name of God and disfigure the true image of man. We know that prayer acquires power if it is joined with fasting and almsgiving. The Old Testament taught this, and from the earliest centuries Christians have accepted and applied this lesson, especially at the times of Advent and Lent. For their part, the Muslim faithful have just begun Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting and prayer. Soon, we Christians will begin Advent, to prepare ourselves in prayer, for the celebration of Christmas, the day of the birth of the Prince of Peace. At this appropriate time, I ask Catholics to make next 14 December [the last Friday of Ramadan and the third Friday of Advent] a day of fasting, to pray fervently to God to grant to the world stable peace based on justice, and make it possible to find adequate solutions to the many conflicts that trouble the world. May what is saved by fasting be put at the disposal of the poor, especially those who at present suffer the consequences of terrorism and war. I would also like to announce that it is my intention to invite the representatives of the world religions to come to Assisi on 24 January 2002, to pray for the overcoming of opposition and the promotion of authentic peace. In particular, we wish to bring Christians and Muslims together to proclaim to the world that religion must never be a reason for conflict, hatred and violence. In this historic moment, humanity needs to see gestures of peace and to hear words of hope.

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June 2, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

VHacks: Inside the Vatican’s First-Ever Hackathon | WIRED

This past weekend, tourists milled around St. Peters Basilica, one of the holiest sites in the world, snapping selfies and experiencing Michelangelo’s art through their phones camera lens. A few hundred meters away, in a 500-year-old palazzo, 120 students coded for 36 hours straight at the Vaticans first-ever hackathon. This, it would seem, is the Holy See of the 21st century. When I heard about it, I thought it was a joke. Vatican, hackathonit didnt add up, says John Franklin, a senior at Northwestern University who found out about VHacks, the event’s official name, while participating in another hackathon in 2017. It wasnt until he saw the events themescreating technological solutions for encouraging social inclusion, promoting interfaith dialogue, and providing resources to migrants and refugeesthat he realized it was not only real, but something he wanted to take part in. I thought, This is unique, he says. And, apart from the unusual experience of hacking inside a room that dates back to 1490, it did prove to be special for Franklin. At other hackathons, Im creating, like, a shopping API or something for social media, he says. Here, I felt like my pitch means something to people. The Vatican’s first-ever codefest came together last year after Jakub Florkiewicz, an MBA student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, a founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology, during a Harvard leadership summit in Rome. He and Salobir, who had already organized hackathons through Optic, began talking about putting one together in Vatican City. The two paired up with Monsignor Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, and with the support of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Holy See, received approval to organize the Hackathon on behalf of the Vatican. According to Ruiz, Pope Francis was excited by the idea from the start, saying Yes, we must do it! While the events holy location is novel (and a bit of misnomer; it actually took place about 200 meters from the border of the city-state), the hackathon still went down the way most hackathons do. The studentsfueled by pasta, pastries, and lots of caffbrainstormed and coded during a 36-hour sprint, many of them pulling all-nighters to complete their projects. They received consultation from 40 on-site mentors, many of whom represented Microsoft, Google, and other corporate sponsors of the event who taught the participants how to use their companys tools and technologies (several of the projects included chatbots and virtual or augmented reality). The Wi-Fi proved to be a little sketchy, but thats to be expected when a network is overclocked in a place known as the Ancient City. Yet there were some things that set this particular hackathon apart. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Culture, dropped in to speak to the studentsand tool around with VR goggles. The hacking space was in the Palazzo della Roveres, which also doubles as the headquarters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. (Other events took place at Palazzo della Cancelleria, the former Apostolic Chancery of the Pope, and at the headquarters of the Jesuit Order, in the room in which the members of the order choose their generals.) And Pope Francis mentioned the hackathon during his weekly Sunday Angelus, the papal blessing delivered to a crowd of thousands. Cardinals dropped in to speak to the studentsand tool around with VR goggles. The makeup of the attendees was also remarkable for a hackathon. The participants came from more than 30 countries, were nearly half-and-half male-female, and represented every major religion. Bob Schulz, a professor at the University of Calgary and the mentor for a team working on solutions for interfaith dialogue, pointed to the multi-faith background of his own students attending the event. The hackathon is supposed to be about diversity, getting people of different faiths to go work together and develop respect for each other he says, noting that his students represent Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Evangelical Christian backgrounds. This group actually exemplified that diversity in action. Ultimately, judges winnowed down the 24 teams to a group of nine finalists. Judges awarded the top prize, $2,000 and mixed reality headsets from Microsoft, to three team representing each of the hackathon’s themes. The students tackling social inclusion created a web-based app called Co.unity that pairs local employers with homeless job seekers, reaching those populations through computer kiosks placed in at-risk areas. Five students from the University of Calgary attempted to foster interfaith dialogue through a social network called DUO Colleague (DUO being an acronym for do unto others, the Golden Rule), where organizations can tap into volunteer networks of any church or organization, syncing up potential volunteers with jobs that suit their personal preferences. And students from Georgetown University debuted an algorithmic system called Credit/Ability that attempts to help migrants and refugees build a safe and secure credit-type score. VHacks organizers have set up a post-hackathon support program for the students. “Two weeks from now, we will collect more comprehensive presentations about the projects and submit them to our partners and mentors,” says Florkiewicz. “Selected partner organizations, like Google, Salesforce, and TIM [Vivendi], will revise the projects with the aim of accepting a few ideas into their incubation and acceleration programs.” And there’s already some interest from the Section for Migrants and Refugees of the Holy See. “They’re very interested in further cooperation with a few selected ideas in that field, to help the ventures come to life,” says Florkiewicz. Pope Francis became leader of the Catholic Church on March 13, 2013, almost five years ago to the day VHacks took place, and the events three themes reflect priorities the pontiff has expressed during his tenure. The problem of displacement seems particularly urgent for Francis. His first trip as Holy Father was in 2013 to Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Italy dealing with an influx of refugees. Hes released lengthy messages each year on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and his theme for 2018s World Day of Peace celebration was Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace. The pope has called protecting refugees a moral imperative (the UN estimates there are roughly 65 million displaced people in the world), and at his surprise TED talk last year, he implored technologists and entrepreneurs to apply innovation to solving the crisis. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion, he said. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. This appeal to embrace technology and science is not new for the church. In case you think this Vatican Hackathon is an unusual invention, let me just mention that we Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans and others embraced the printing press in the 16th century, says the Reverend Michael Czerny, director of the Vaticans Migrants and Refugees Section. “This event is a part of a long history of the relationship the Vatican has with science, technology, and faith.” Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication James Heft, a professor of religion at the University of Southern California, echoes this, pointing out the churchs history in studying astronomy and other fields. Besides agricultural technology (fostered by the monasteries, especially the Cistercians), the church made tremendous advances in architecture, he says via email. Johann Mendel, a 19th century Augustinian priest, is considered the father of genetics. Georges Lematre, a priest from Belgium, proposed the theory we now call the Big Bang. And of course there’s Guglielmo Marconi, “inventor of the radio,” who lived in Vatican City when he set up Vatican Radio in the 1930s. Many people in the church want to do things using technology, says Salobir. The point is not only to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society. With more than 200,000 parishes and 1.25 billion members, the Catholic Church is also an excellent, to borrow a phrase, social network. The churches have the world’s most extensive distribution network, which can be further improved to do good, says Florkiewiez. We think that technology could improve the scale and efficiency with which those organizations offer support and help to those in need. To that end, church representatives say the Vatican will host more hackathons in the future. For this first group of participants, it remains to be seen if theyll continue to work on the projects they started in Rome. But some are hopeful. Mike Swift, the CEO and co-founder of Major League Hacking, an organization that helped provide support during VHacks, said that at typical hackathons, only about 15 percent of participants continue working on the projects they pitch. Because VHacks set an impact-driven theme, he says, “we wouldnt be surprised if this results in many more people continuing their work beyond the hackathon, potentially as high as 50 percent.” As for Franklin, the Northwestern student, I can see myself not only working on this project, but other projects like it,” he says. “Id like to actually try to translate what I learned at this hackathon to other hackathons, to try to hit people emotionally like we did here.

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March 14, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon | WIRED

In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It’s hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn’t been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City. The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees. The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. Salobir had helped organize hackathons through Optic before, in San Francisco and Paris, but he was thinking of coordinating one at the church’s enclave in Rome. “In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media,” Salobir says. “This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic.” In his tenure, Francis has embraced social mediahe has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagramand even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists. But hes also openly discussed the peril of technology. In his second encyclical, Laudato Si, released in 2015, Francis directly addressed technologys influence and implications in a lengthy chapter titled, “The roots of the ecological crisis.” In it, he asked that the church focus on the “dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world” and examine the globalization of that paradigm. Because technological applications can have international impacts, the organizers of the hackathon focused on soliciting participants from universities and programs around the world, looking for candidates from different backgrounds and faiths. “A key message on this event is collaboration and working together on the issues we all experience,” Florkiewicz says. “Even if its facilitated by the Vatican as a religious institution, its a completely non-religious event.” Salobir agrees. “The point is not just to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society,” he says, noting the church also works with institutions like schools and hospitals to bring aid to as large a constituency as possible. But as society continues to question whether technology is the problem or the solution, the participants of VHacks have a big task ahead of them. “We dont expect anyone to solve such difficult issues,” says Florkiewicz, “but I hope we can inspire both clerics and lay people to see this as an innovative model for engaging the younger generation with the problems.”

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March 9, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

St. Peter’s Basilica – Wikipedia

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply St. Peter’s Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture[2] and the largest church in the world.[3] While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world”[4] and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom”.[2][5] Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s Apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome. Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter’s Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.[6] St. Peter’s is famous as a place of pilgrimage and for its liturgical functions. The Pope presides at a number of liturgies throughout the year, drawing audiences of 15,000 to over 80,000 people, either within the Basilica or the adjoining St. Peter’s Square.[7] St. Peter’s has many historical associations, with the Early Christian Church, the Papacy, the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-reformation and numerous artists, especially Michelangelo. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age.[8] St. Peter’s is one of the four churches in the world that hold the rank of Major Basilica, all four of which are in Rome. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a cathedral because it is not the seat of a bishop; the Cathedra of the Pope as Bishop of Rome is in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. St. Peter’s is a church built in the Renaissance style located in the Vatican City west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian’s Mausoleum. Its central dome dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter’s Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The faade of the basilica, with a giant order of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres (18.2ft) statues of the 1st-century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter and Paul.[9][10] The basilica is cruciform in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through a narthex, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door, only opened during jubilees.[9] The interior is of vast dimensions when compared with other churches.[6] One author wrote: “Only gradually does it dawn upon us as we watch people draw near to this or that monument, strangely they appear to shrink; they are, of course, dwarfed by the scale of everything in the building. This in its turn overwhelms us.”[11] The nave which leads to the central dome is in three bays, with piers supporting a barrel-vault, the highest of any church. The nave is framed by wide aisles which have a number of chapels off them. There are also chapels surrounding the dome. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are: The Baptistery, the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin, the larger Choir Chapel, the Clementine Chapel with the altar of Saint Gregory, the Sacristy Entrance, the left transept with altars to the Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Saint Joseph and Saint Thomas, the altar of the Sacred Heart, the Chapel of the Madonna of Colonna, the altar of Saint Peter and the Paralytic, the apse with the Chair of Saint Peter, the altar of Saint Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella, the right transept with altars of Saint Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, and Saint Wenceslas, the altar of Saint Basil, the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour, the larger Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Chapel of Saint Sebastian and the Chapel of the Piet.[9] At the heart of the basilica, beneath the high altar, is the Confessio or Chapel of the Confession, in reference to the confession of faith by St. Peter, which led to his martyrdom. Two curving marble staircases lead to this underground chapel at the level of the Constantinian church and immediately above the purported burial place of Saint Peter. The entire interior of St. Peter’s is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are also a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo’s Piet. The central feature is a baldachin, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The sanctuary culminates in a sculptural ensemble, also by Bernini, and containing the symbolic Chair of Saint Peter. One observer wrote: “St Peter’s Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best…”[12] The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson described St. Peter’s as “an ornament of the earth… the sublime of the beautiful.”[13] St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the Papal Basilicas (previously styled “patriarchal basilicas”)[14] and one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome, the other Major Basilicas (all of which are also Papal Basilicas) being the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls. The rank of major basilica confers on St. Peter’s Basilica precedence before all minor basilicas worldwide. However, unlike all the other Papal Major Basilicas, it is wholly within the territory, and thus the sovereign jurisdiction, of the Vatican City State, and not that of Italy.[15] It is the most prominent building in the Vatican City. Its dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Probably the largest church in Christendom,[3] it covers an area of 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres). One of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its titular, St. Peter, who was the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, the first Bishop of Antioch and later the first Bishop of Rome, rendering him the first Pope. Although the New Testament does not mention St. Peter’s martyrdom in Rome, tradition, based on the writings of the Fathers of the Church,[clarification needed] holds that his tomb is below the baldachin and altar of the Basilica in the “Confession”. For this reason, many Popes have, from the early years of the Church, been buried near Pope St. Peter in the necropolis beneath the Basilica. Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and finished in 1615. At length, on 18 November 1626 Pope Urban VIII solemnly dedicated the Basilica.[6] St. Peter’s Basilica is neither the Pope’s official seat nor first in rank among the Major Basilicas of Rome. This honour is held by the Pope’s cathedral, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran which is the mother church of all churches in communion with the Catholic Church. However, St. Peter’s is certainly the Pope’s principal church in terms of use because most Papal liturgies and ceremonies take place there due to its size, proximity to the Papal residence, and location within the Vatican City proper. The “Chair of Saint Peter”, or cathedra, an ancient chair sometimes presumed to have been used by St. Peter himself, but which was a gift from Charles the Bald and used by many popes, symbolises the continuing line of apostolic succession from St. Peter to the reigning Pope. It occupies an elevated position in the apse of the Basilica, supported symbolically by the Doctors of the Church and enlightened symbolically by the Holy Spirit.[16] As one of the constituent structures of the historically and architecturally significant Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 under criteria (i), (ii), (iv), and (vi).[17] With an exterior area of 21,095 square metres (227,060sqft),[18] an interior area of 15,160 square metres (163,200sqft),[19] and a volume of 5,000,000 cubic metres (180,000,000cuft),[20] St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest Christian church building in the world by the two latter metrics and the second largest by the first as of 2016[update]. The top of its dome, at 448.1 feet (136.6m), also places it as the second tallest building in Rome as of 2016[update].[21] The dome’s soaring height placed it among the tallest buildings of the Old World, and it continues to hold the title of tallest dome in the world. Though the largest dome in the world by diameter at the time of its completion, it no longer holds this distinction.[22] After the crucifixion of Jesus, it is recorded in the Biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles that one of his twelve disciples, Simon known as Saint Peter, a fisherman from Galilee, took a leadership position among Jesus’ followers and was of great importance in the founding of the Christian Church. The name Peter is “Petrus” in Latin and “Petros” in Greek, deriving from “petra” which means “stone” or “rock” in Greek, and is the literal translation of the Aramaic “Kepa”, the name given to Simon by Jesus. (John 1:42, and see Matthew 16:18) Catholic tradition holds that Peter, after a ministry of thirty-four years, traveled to Rome and met his martyrdom there along with Paul on 13 October, 64 CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. His execution was one of the many martyrdoms of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome. According to Origen, Peter was crucified head downwards, by his own request because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.[23] The crucifixion took place near an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the Circus of Nero.[24] The obelisk now stands in St. Peter’s Square and is revered as a “witness” to Peter’s death. It is one of several ancient Obelisks of Rome.[25] According to tradition, Peter’s remains were buried just outside the Circus, on the Mons Vaticanus across the Via Cornelia from the Circus, less than 150 metres (490ft) from his place of death. The Via Cornelia was a road which ran east-to-west along the north wall of the Circus on land now covered by the southern portions of the Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. A shrine was built on this site some years later. Almost three hundred years later, Old St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed over this site.[24] The area now covered by the Vatican City had been a cemetery for some years before the Circus of Nero was built. It was a burial ground for the numerous executions in the Circus and contained many Christian burials, because for many years after the burial of Saint Peter many Christians chose to be buried near Peter. In 1939, in the reign of Pope Pius XII, 10 years of archaeological research began, under the crypt of the basilica, an area inaccessible since the 9th century. The excavations revealed the remains of shrines of different periods at different levels, from Clement VIII (1594) to Callixtus II (1123) and Gregory I (590604), built over an aedicula containing fragments of bones that were folded in a tissue with gold decorations, tinted with the precious murex purple. Although it could not be determined with certainty that the bones were those of Peter, the rare vestments suggested a burial of great importance. On 23 December 1950, in his pre-Christmas radio broadcast to the world, Pope Pius XII announced the discovery of Saint Peter’s tomb.[26] Old St. Peter’s Basilica was the 4th-century church begun by the Emperor Constantine the Great between 319 and 333 CE.[27] It was of typical basilical form, a wide nave and two aisles on each side and an apsidal end, with the addition of a transept or bema, giving the building the shape of a tau cross. It was over 103.6 metres (340ft) long, and the entrance was preceded by a large colonnaded atrium. This church had been built over the small shrine believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. It contained a very large number of burials and memorials, including those of most of the popes from St. Peter to the 15th century. Like all of the earliest churches in Rome, both this church and its successor had the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building.[28] Since the construction of the current basilica, the name Old St. Peter’s Basilica has been used for its predecessor to distinguish the two buildings.[29] By the end of the 15th century, having been neglected during the period of the Avignon Papacy, the old basilica had fallen into disrepair. It appears that the first pope to consider rebuilding, or at least making radical changes was Pope Nicholas V (144755). He commissioned work on the old building from Leone Battista Alberti and Bernardo Rossellino and also had Rossellino design a plan for an entirely new basilica, or an extreme modification of the old. His reign was frustrated by political problems and when he died, little had been achieved.[24] He had, however, ordered the demolition of the Colosseum and by the time of his death, 2,522 cartloads of stone had been transported for use in the new building.[24][30] The foundations were completed for a new transept and choir to form a domed Latin cross with the preserved nave and side aisles of the old basilica. Some walls for the choir had also been built.[31] Pope Julius II planned far more for St Peter’s than Nicholas V’s program of repair or modification. Julius was at that time planning his own tomb, which was to be designed and adorned with sculpture by Michelangelo and placed within St Peter’s.[32] In 1505 Julius made a decision to demolish the ancient basilica and replace it with a monumental structure to house his enormous tomb and “aggrandize himself in the popular imagination”.[8] A competition was held, and a number of the designs have survived at the Uffizi Gallery. A succession of popes and architects followed in the next 120 years, their combined efforts resulting in the present building. The scheme begun by Julius II continued through the reigns of Leo X (15131521), Hadrian VI (15221523). Clement VII (15231534), Paul III (15341549), Julius III (15501555), Marcellus II (1555), Paul IV (15551559), Pius IV (15591565), Pius V (saint) (15651572), Gregory XIII (15721585), Sixtus V (15851590), Urban VII (1590), Gregory XIV (15901591), Innocent IX (1591), Clement VIII (15921605), Leo XI (1605), Paul V (16051621), Gregory XV (16211623), Urban VIII (16231644) and Innocent X (16441655). One method employed to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica was the granting of indulgences in return for contributions. A major promoter of this method of fund-raising was Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, who had to clear debts owed to the Roman Curia by contributing to the rebuilding program. To facilitate this, he appointed the German Dominican preacher Johann Tetzel, whose salesmanship provoked a scandal.[33] A German Augustinian priest, Martin Luther, wrote to Archbishop Albrecht arguing against this “selling of indulgences”. He also included his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, which came to be known as The 95 Theses.[34] This became a factor in starting the Reformation, the birth of Protestantism. Pope Julius’ scheme for the grandest building in Christendom[8] was the subject of a competition for which a number of entries remain intact in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. It was the design of Donato Bramante that was selected, and for which the foundation stone was laid in 1506. This plan was in the form of an enormous Greek Cross with a dome inspired by that of the huge circular Roman temple, the Pantheon.[8] The main difference between Bramante’s design and that of the Pantheon is that where the dome of the Pantheon is supported by a continuous wall, that of the new basilica was to be supported only on four large piers. This feature was maintained in the ultimate design. Bramante’s dome was to be surmounted by a lantern with its own small dome but otherwise very similar in form to the Early Renaissance lantern of Florence Cathedral designed for Brunelleschi’s dome by Michelozzo.[35] Bramante had envisioned that the central dome would be surrounded by four lower domes at the diagonal axes. The equal chancel, nave and transept arms were each to be of two bays ending in an apse. At each corner of the building was to stand a tower, so that the overall plan was square, with the apses projecting at the cardinal points. Each apse had two large radial buttresses, which squared off its semi-circular shape.[36] When Pope Julius died in 1513, Bramante was replaced with Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo and Raphael. Sangallo and Fra Giocondo both died in 1515, Bramante himself having died the previous year. The main change in Raphael’s plan is the nave of five bays, with a row of complex apsidal chapels off the aisles on either side. Raphael’s plan for the chancel and transepts made the squareness of the exterior walls more definite by reducing the size of the towers, and the semi-circular apses more clearly defined by encircling each with an ambulatory.[37] In 1520 Raphael also died, aged 37, and his successor Baldassare Peruzzi maintained changes that Raphael had proposed to the internal arrangement of the three main apses, but otherwise reverted to the Greek Cross plan and other features of Bramante.[38] This plan did not go ahead because of various difficulties of both Church and state. In 1527 Rome was sacked and plundered by Emperor Charles V. Peruzzi died in 1536 without his plan being realized.[8] At this point Antonio da Sangallo the Younger submitted a plan which combines features of Peruzzi, Raphael and Bramante in its design and extends the building into a short nave with a wide faade and portico of dynamic projection. His proposal for the dome was much more elaborate of both structure and decoration than that of Bramante and included ribs on the exterior. Like Bramante, Sangallo proposed that the dome be surmounted by a lantern which he redesigned to a larger and much more elaborate form.[39] Sangallo’s main practical contribution was to strengthen Bramante’s piers which had begun to crack.[24] On 1 January 1547 in the reign of Pope Paul III, Michelangelo, then in his seventies, succeeded Sangallo the Younger as “Capomaestro”, the superintendent of the building program at St Peter’s.[40] He is to be regarded as the principal designer of a large part of the building as it stands today, and as bringing the construction to a point where it could be carried through. He did not take on the job with pleasure; it was forced upon him by Pope Paul, frustrated at the death of his chosen candidate, Giulio Romano and the refusal of Jacopo Sansovino to leave Venice. Michelangelo wrote “I undertake this only for the love of God and in honour of the Apostle.” He insisted that he should be given a free hand to achieve the ultimate aim by whatever means he saw fit.[24] Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since ancient Roman times, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the 16th century. There were certain common elements in these schemes. They all called for a dome to equal that engineered by Brunelleschi a century earlier and which has since dominated the skyline of Renaissance Florence, and they all called for a strongly symmetrical plan of either Greek Cross form, like the iconic St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, or of a Latin Cross with the transepts of identical form to the chancel, as at Florence Cathedral. Even though the work had progressed only a little in 40 years, Michelangelo did not simply dismiss the ideas of the previous architects. He drew on them in developing a grand vision. Above all, Michelangelo recognized the essential quality of Bramante’s original design. He reverted to the Greek Cross and, as Helen Gardner expresses it: “Without destroying the centralising features of Bramante’s plan, Michelangelo, with a few strokes of the pen converted its snowflake complexity into massive, cohesive unity.”[41] As it stands today, St. Peter’s has been extended with a nave by Carlo Maderno. It is the chancel end (the ecclesiastical “Eastern end”) with its huge centrally placed dome that is the work of Michelangelo. Because of its location within the Vatican State and because the projection of the nave screens the dome from sight when the building is approached from the square in front of it, the work of Michelangelo is best appreciated from a distance. What becomes apparent is that the architect has greatly reduced the clearly defined geometric forms of Bramante’s plan of a square with square projections, and also of Raphael’s plan of a square with semi-circular projections.[42] Michelangelo has blurred the definition of the geometry by making the external masonry of massive proportions and filling in every corner with a small vestry or stairwell. The effect created is of a continuous wall-surface that is folded or fractured at different angles, but lacks the right-angles which usually define change of direction at the corners of a building. This exterior is surrounded by a giant order of Corinthian pilasters all set at slightly different angles to each other, in keeping with the ever-changing angles of the wall’s surface. Above them the huge cornice ripples in a continuous band, giving the appearance of keeping the whole building in a state of compression.[43] The dome of St. Peter’s rises to a total height of 136.57 metres (448.1ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world.[44] Its internal diameter is 41.47 metres (136.1ft), slightly smaller than two of the three other huge domes that preceded it, those of the Pantheon of Ancient Rome, 43.3 metres (142ft), and Florence Cathedral of the Early Renaissance, 44 metres (144ft). It has a greater diameter by approximately 30 feet (9.1m) than Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia church, completed in 537. It was to the domes of the Pantheon and Florence duomo that the architects of St. Peter’s looked for solutions as to how to go about building what was conceived, from the outset, as the greatest dome of Christendom. The dome of the Pantheon stands on a circular wall with no entrances or windows except a single door. The whole building is as high as it is wide. Its dome is constructed in a single shell of concrete, made light by the inclusion of a large amount of the volcanic stones tuff and pumice. The inner surface of the dome is deeply coffered which has the effect of creating both vertical and horizontal ribs, while lightening the overall load. At the summit is an ocular opening 8 metres (26ft) across which provides light to the interior.[8] Bramante’s plan for the dome of St. Peter’s (1506) follows that of the Pantheon very closely, and like that of the Pantheon, was designed to be constructed in Tufa Concrete for which he had rediscovered a formula. With the exception of the lantern that surmounts it, the profile is very similar, except that in this case the supporting wall becomes a drum raised high above ground level on four massive piers. The solid wall, as used at the Pantheon, is lightened at St. Peter’s by Bramante piercing it with windows and encircling it with a peristyle. In the case of Florence Cathedral, the desired visual appearance of the pointed dome existed for many years before Brunelleschi made its construction feasible.[45] Its double-shell construction of bricks locked together in herringbone pattern (re-introduced from Byzantine architecture), and the gentle upward slope of its eight stone ribs made it possible for the construction to take place without the massive wooden formwork necessary to construct hemispherical arches. While its appearance, with the exception of the details of the lantern, is entirely Gothic, its engineering was highly innovative, and the product of a mind that had studied the huge vaults and remaining dome of Ancient Rome.[35] Sangallo’s plan (1513), of which a large wooden model still exists, looks to both these predecessors. He realised the value of both the coffering at the Pantheon and the outer stone ribs at Florence Cathedral. He strengthened and extended the peristyle of Bramante into a series of arched and ordered openings around the base, with a second such arcade set back in a tier above the first. In his hands, the rather delicate form of the lantern, based closely on that in Florence, became a massive structure, surrounded by a projecting base, a peristyle and surmounted by a spire of conic form.[39] According to James Lees-Milne the design was “too eclectic, too pernickety and too tasteless to have been a success”.[24] Michelangelo redesigned the dome in 1547, taking into account all that had gone before. His dome, like that of Florence, is constructed of two shells of brick, the outer one having 16 stone ribs, twice the number at Florence but far fewer than in Sangallo’s design. As with the designs of Bramante and Sangallo, the dome is raised from the piers on a drum. The encircling peristyle of Bramante and the arcade of Sangallo are reduced to 16 pairs of Corinthian columns, each of 15 metres (49ft) high which stand proud of the building, connected by an arch. Visually they appear to buttress each of the ribs, but structurally they are probably quite redundant. The reason for this is that the dome is ovoid in shape, rising steeply as does the dome of Florence Cathedral, and therefore exerting less outward thrust than does a hemispherical dome, such as that of the Pantheon, which, although it is not buttressed, is countered by the downward thrust of heavy masonry which extends above the circling wall.[8][24] The ovoid profile of the dome has been the subject of much speculation and scholarship over the past century. Michelangelo died in 1564, leaving the drum of the dome complete, and Bramante’s piers much bulkier than originally designed, each 18 metres (59ft) across. Following his death, the work continued under his assistant Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola with Giorgio Vasari appointed by Pope Pius V as a watchdog to make sure that Michelangelo’s plans were carried out exactly. Despite Vignola’s knowledge of Michelangelo’s intentions, little happened in this period. In 1585 the energetic Pope Sixtus appointed Giacomo della Porta who was to be assisted by Domenico Fontana. The five-year reign of Sixtus was to see the building advance at a great rate.[24] Michelangelo left a few drawings, including an early drawing of the dome, and some drawings of details. There were also detailed engravings published in 1569 by Stefan du Prac who claimed that they were the master’s final solution. Michelangelo, like Sangallo before him, also left a large wooden model. Giacomo della Porta subsequently altered this model in several ways, in keeping with changes that he made to the design. Most of these changes were of a cosmetic nature, such as the adding of lion’s masks over the swags on the drum in honour of Pope Sixtus and adding a circlet of finials around the spire at the top of the lantern, as proposed by Sangallo. The major change that was made to the model, either by della Porta, or Michelangelo himself before his death, was to raise the outer dome higher above the inner one.[24] A drawing by Michelangelo indicates that his early intentions were towards an ovoid dome, rather than a hemispherical one.[41] In an engraving in Galasso Alghisi’ treatise (1563), the dome may be represented as ovoid, but the perspective is ambiguous.[46] Stefan du Prac’s engraving (1569) shows a hemispherical dome, but this was perhaps an inaccuracy of the engraver. The profile of the wooden model is more ovoid than that of the engravings, but less so than the finished product. It has been suggested that Michelangelo on his death bed reverted to the more pointed shape. However Lees-Milne cites Giacomo della Porta as taking full responsibility for the change and as indicating to Pope Sixtus that Michelangelo was lacking in the scientific understanding of which he himself was capable.[24] Helen Gardner suggests that Michelangelo made the change to the hemispherical dome of lower profile in order to establish a balance between the dynamic vertical elements of the encircling giant order of pilasters and a more static and reposeful dome. Gardner also comments “The sculpturing of architecture [by Michelangelo]… here extends itself up from the ground through the attic stories and moves on into the drum and dome, the whole building being pulled together into a unity from base to summit.”[41] It is this sense of the building being sculptured, unified and “pulled together” by the encircling band of the deep cornice that led Eneide Mignacca to conclude that the ovoid profile, seen now in the end product, was an essential part of Michelangelo’s first (and last) concept. The sculptor/architect has, figuratively speaking, taken all the previous designs in hand and compressed their contours as if the building were a lump of clay. The dome must appear to thrust upwards because of the apparent pressure created by flattening the building’s angles and restraining its projections.[43] If this explanation is the correct one, then the profile of the dome is not merely a structural solution, as perceived by Giacomo della Porta; it is part of the integrated design solution that is about visual tension and compression. In one sense, Michelangelo’s dome may appear to look backward to the Gothic profile of Florence Cathedral and ignore the Classicism of the Renaissance, but on the other hand, perhaps more than any other building of the 16th century, it prefigures the architecture of the Baroque.[43] Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana brought the dome to completion in 1590, the last year of the reign of Sixtus V. His successor, Gregory XIV, saw Fontana complete the lantern and had an inscription to the honour of Sixtus V placed around its inner opening. The next pope, Clement VIII, had the cross raised into place, an event which took all day, and was accompanied by the ringing of the bells of all the city’s churches. In the arms of the cross are set two lead caskets, one containing a fragment of the True Cross and a relic of St. Andrew and the other containing medallions of the Holy Lamb.[24] In the mid 18th century, cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. As many as ten chains have been installed at various times, the earliest possibly planned by Michelangelo himself as a precaution, as Brunelleschi did at Florence Cathedral. Around the inside of the dome is written, in letters 1.4 metres (4.6ft) high: TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM AEDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CAELORVM(…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven… Vulgate, Matthew 16:1819.) Beneath the lantern is the inscription: S. PETRI GLORIAE SIXTVS PP. V. A. M. D. XC. PONTIF. V.(To the glory of St Peter; Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590, the fifth of his pontificate.) On 7 December 2007, a fragment of a red chalk drawing of a section of the dome of the basilica, almost certainly by the hand of Michelangelo, was discovered in the Vatican archives.[47] The drawing shows a small precisely drafted section of the plan of the entabulature above two of the radial columns of the cupola drum. Michelangelo is known to have destroyed thousands of his drawings before his death.[48] The rare survival of this example is probably due to its fragmentary state and the fact that detailed mathematical calculations had been made over the top of the drawing.[47] On 18 February 1606, under Pope Paul V, the dismantling of the remaining parts of the Constantinian basilica began.[24] The marble cross that had been set at the top of the pediment by Pope Sylvester and Constantine the Great was lowered to the ground. The timbers were salvaged for the roof of the Borghese Palace and two rare black marble columns, the largest of their kind, were carefully stored and later used in the narthex. The tombs of various popes were opened, treasures removed and plans made for re-interment in the new basilica.[24] The Pope had appointed Carlo Maderno in 1602. He was a nephew of Domenico Fontana and had demonstrated himself as a dynamic architect. Maderno’s idea was to ring Michelangelo’s building with chapels, but the Pope was hesitant about deviating from the master’s plan, even though he had been dead for forty years. The Fabbrica or building committee, a group drawn from various nationalities and generally despised by the Curia who viewed the basilica as belonging to Rome rather than Christendom, were in a quandary as to how the building should proceed. One of the matters that influenced their thinking was the Counter-Reformation which increasingly associated a Greek Cross plan with paganism and saw the Latin Cross as truly symbolic of Christianity.[24] Another influence on the thinking of both the Fabbrica and the Curia was a certain guilt at the demolition of the ancient building. The ground on which it and its various associated chapels, vestries and sacristies had stood for so long was hallowed. The only solution was to build a nave that encompassed the whole space. In 1607 a committee of ten architects was called together, and a decision was made to extend Michelangelo’s building into a nave. Maderno’s plans for both the nave and the facade were accepted. The building began on 7 May 1607, and proceeded at a great rate, with an army of 700 labourers being employed. The following year, the faade was begun, in December 1614 the final touches were added to the stucco decoration of the vault and early in 1615 the partition wall between the two sections was pulled down. All the rubble was carted away, and the nave was ready for use by Palm Sunday.[24] The facade designed by Maderno, is 114.69 metres (376.3ft) wide and 45.55 metres (149.4ft) high and is built of travertine stone, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic surmounted by thirteen statues: Christ flanked by eleven of the Apostles (except Saint Peter, whose statue is left of the stairs) and John the Baptist. [49] The inscription below the cornice on the 1 metre (3.3ft) tall frieze reads: IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII(In honour of the Prince of Apostles, Paul V Borghese, a Roman, Supreme Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate) (Paul V (Camillo Borghese), born in Rome but of a Sienese family, liked to emphasize his “Romanness.”) The facade is often cited as the least satisfactory part of the design of St. Peter’s. The reasons for this, according to James Lees-Milne, are that it was not given enough consideration by the Pope and committee because of the desire to get the building completed quickly, coupled with the fact that Maderno was hesitant to deviate from the pattern set by Michelangelo at the other end of the building. Lees-Milne describes the problems of the faade as being too broad for its height, too cramped in its details and too heavy in the attic story. The breadth is caused by modifying the plan to have towers on either side. These towers were never executed above the line of the facade because it was discovered that the ground was not sufficiently stable to bear the weight. One effect of the facade and lengthened nave is to screen the view of the dome, so that the building, from the front, has no vertical feature, except from a distance.[24] Behind the faade of St. Peter’s stretches a long portico or “narthex” such as was occasionally found in Italian Romanesque churches. This is the part of Maderno’s design with which he was most satisfied. Its long barrel vault is decorated with ornate stucco and gilt, and successfully illuminated by small windows between pendentives, while the ornate marble floor is beamed with light reflected in from the piazza. At each end of the narthex is a theatrical space framed by ionic columns and within each is set a statue, an equestrian figure of Charlemagne by Cornacchini (18th century) in the south end and Constantine the Great by Bernini (1670) in the north end. Five portals, of which three are framed by huge salvaged antique columns, lead into the basilica. The central portal has a bronze door created by Antonio Averulino in 1455 for the old basilica and somewhat enlarged to fit the new space. To the single bay of Michelangelo’s Greek Cross, Maderno added a further three bays. He made the dimensions slightly different from Michelangelo’s bay, thus defining where the two architectural works meet. Maderno also tilted the axis of the nave slightly. This was not by accident, as suggested by his critics. An ancient Egyptian obelisk had been erected in the square outside, but had not been quite aligned with Michelangelo’s building, so Maderno compensated, in order that it should, at least, align with the Basilica’s faade.[24] The nave has huge paired pilasters, in keeping with Michelangelo’s work. The size of the interior is so “stupendously large” that it is hard to get a sense of scale within the building.[24][50] The four cherubs who flutter against the first piers of the nave, carrying between them two holy water basins, appear of quite normal cherubic size, until approached. Then it becomes apparent that each one is over 2 metres high and that real children cannot reach the basins unless they scramble up the marble draperies. The aisles each have two smaller chapels and a larger rectangular chapel, the Chapel of the Sacrament and the Choir Chapel. These are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco, gilt, sculpture and mosaic. Remarkably, there are very few paintings, although some, such as Raphael’s Sistine Madonna have been reproduced in mosaic. The most precious painting is a small icon of the Madonna, removed from the old basilica.[24] Maderno’s last work at St. Peter’s was to design a crypt-like space or “Confessio” under the dome, where the cardinals and other privileged persons could descend in order to be nearer to the burial place of the apostle. Its marble steps are remnants of the old basilica and around its balustrade are 95 bronze lamps. The design of St. Peter’s Basilica, and in particular its dome, has greatly influenced church architecture in Western Christendom. Within Rome, the huge domed church of Sant’Andrea della Valle was designed by Giacomo della Porta before the completion of St Peter’s Basilica, and subsequently worked on by Carlo Maderno. This was followed by the domes of San Carlo ai Catinari, Sant’Agnese in Agone, and many others. Christopher Wren’s dome at St Paul’s Cathedral (London, England), the domes of Karlskirche (Vienna, Austria), St. Nicholas Church (Prague, Czech Republic), and the Pantheon (Paris, France) all pay homage to St Peter’s Basilica. The 19th and early-20th-century architectural revivals brought about the building of a great number of churches that imitate elements of St Peter’s to a greater or lesser degree, including St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago, St. Josaphat’s Basilica in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh and Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, which replicates many aspects of St Peter’s on a smaller scale. Post-Modernism has seen free adaptations of St Peter’s in the Basilica of Our Lady of Liche, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro. As a young boy Gian Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) visited St. Peter’s with the painter Annibale Carracci and stated his wish to build “a mighty throne for the apostle”. His wish came true. As a young man, in 1626, he received the patronage of Pope Urban VIII and worked on the embellishment of the Basilica for 50 years. Appointed as Maderno’s successor in 1629, he was to become regarded as the greatest architect and sculptor of the Baroque period. Bernini’s works at St. Peter’s include the baldachin (baldaquin, from Italian: baldacchino), the Chapel of the Sacrament, the plan for the niches and loggias in the piers of the dome and the chair of St. Peter.[24][41] Bernini’s first work at St. Peter’s was to design the baldacchino, a pavilion-like structure 28.74 metres (94.3ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar. Its design is based on the ciborium, of which there are many in the churches of Rome, serving to create a sort of holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist and emphasizing the significance of this ritual. These ciboria are generally of white marble, with inlaid coloured stone. Bernini’s concept was for something very different. He took his inspiration in part from the baldachin or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from eight ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as they were modeled on those of the Temple of Jerusalem and donated by the Emperor Constantine. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with laurel leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban. The baldacchino is surmounted not with an architectural pediment, like most baldacchini, but with curved Baroque brackets supporting a draped canopy, like the brocade canopies carried in processions above precious iconic images. In this case, the draped canopy is of bronze, and all the details, including the olive leaves, bees, and the portrait heads of Urban’s niece in childbirth and her newborn son, are picked out in gold leaf. The baldacchino stands as a vast free-standing sculptural object, central to and framed by the largest space within the building. It is so large that the visual effect is to create a link between the enormous dome which appears to float above it, and the congregation at floor level of the basilica. It is penetrated visually from every direction, and is visually linked to the Cathedra Petri in the apse behind it and to the four piers containing large statues that are at each diagonal.[24][41] As part of the scheme for the central space of the church, Bernini had the huge piers, begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo, hollowed out into niches, and had staircases made inside them, leading to four balconies. There was much dismay from those who thought that the dome might fall, but it did not. On the balconies Bernini created showcases, framed by the eight ancient twisted columns, to display the four most precious relics of the basilica: the spear of Longinus, said to have pierced the side of Christ, the veil of Veronica, with the miraculous image of the face of Christ, a fragment of the True Cross discovered in Jerusalem by Constantine’s mother, Helena, and a relic of Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter. In each of the niches that surround the central space of the basilica was placed a huge statue of the saint associated with the relic above. Only Saint Longinus is the work of Bernini.[24] (See below) Urban had long been a critic of Bernini’s predecessor, Carlo Maderno. His disapproval of the architect’s work stemmed largely from the Maderno’s design for the longitudinal nave of St. Peters, which was widely condemned for obscuring Michelangelo’s dome. When the Pope gave the commission to Bernini he therefore requested that a new design for the facade’s bell towers to be submitted for consideration. Baldinucci describes Bernini’s tower as consisting of “two orders of columns and pilasters, the first order being Corinthian” and “a third or attic story formed of pilasters and two columns on either side of the open archway in the center”. Urban desired the towers to be completed by a very specific date: 29 June 1641, the feast day dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. To this end an order was issued which stated that “all work should take a second seat to that of the campanile.” The south tower was completed on time even in spite of these issues, but records show that in the wake of the unveiling the Pope was not content with what he saw and he ordered the top level of Bernini’s tower removed so that the structure could be made even grander. The tower continued to grow, and as the construction began to settle the first cracks started to appear followed by Urban’s infamous public admonishment of his architect. In 1642 all work on both towers came to a halt. Bernini had to pay the cost for the demolition; eventually the idea of completing the bell towers was abandoned. Bernini then turned his attention to another precious relic, the so-called Cathedra Petri or “throne of St. Peter” a chair which was often claimed to have been used by the apostle, but appears to date from the 12th century. As the chair itself was fast deteriorating and was no longer serviceable, Pope Alexander VII determined to enshrine it in suitable splendor as the object upon which the line of successors to Peter was based. Bernini created a large bronze throne in which it was housed, raised high on four looping supports held effortlessly by massive bronze statues of four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose and Augustine representing the Latin Church and Athanasius and John Chrysostom, the Greek Church. The four figures are dynamic with sweeping robes and expressions of adoration and ecstasy. Behind and above the Cathedra, a blaze of light comes in through a window of yellow alabaster, illuminating, at its center, the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The elderly painter, Andrea Sacchi, had urged Bernini to make the figures large, so that they would be seen well from the central portal of the nave. The chair was enshrined in its new home with great celebration of 16 January 1666.[24][41] Bernini’s final work for St. Peter’s, undertaken in 1676, was the decoration of the Chapel of the Sacrament.[51] To hold the sacramental Host, he designed a miniature version in gilt bronze of Bramante’s Tempietto, the little chapel that marks the place of the death of St. Peter. On either side is an angel, one gazing in rapt adoration and the other looking towards the viewer in welcome. Bernini died in 1680 in his 82nd year.[24] To the east of the basilica is the Piazza di San Pietro, (St. Peter’s Square). The present arrangement, constructed between 1656 and 1667, is the Baroque inspiration of Bernini who inherited a location already occupied by an Egyptian obelisk which was centrally placed, (with some contrivance) to Maderno’s facade.[52] The obelisk, known as “The Witness”, at 25.31 metres (83.0ft) and a total height, including base and the cross on top, of 40 metres (130ft), is the second largest standing obelisk, and the only one to remain standing since its removal from Egypt and re-erection at the Circus of Nero in 37AD, where it is thought to have stood witness to the crucifixion of Saint Peter.[53] Its removal to its present location by order of Pope Sixtus V and engineered by Domenico Fontana on 28 September 1586, was an operation fraught with difficulties and nearly ending in disaster when the ropes holding the obelisk began to smoke from the friction. Fortunately this problem was noticed by Benedetto Bresca, a sailor of Sanremo, and for his swift intervention, his town was granted the privilege of providing the palms that are used at the basilica each Palm Sunday.[24] The other object in the old square with which Bernini had to contend was a large fountain designed by Maderno in 1613 and set to one side of the obelisk, making a line parallel with the facade. Bernini’s plan uses this horizontal axis as a major feature of his unique, spatially dynamic and highly symbolic design. The most obvious solutions were either a rectangular piazza of vast proportions so that the obelisk stood centrally and the fountain (and a matching companion) could be included, or a trapezoid piazza which fanned out from the facade of the basilica like that in front of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The problems of the square plan are that the necessary width to include the fountain would entail the demolition of numerous buildings, including some of the Vatican, and would minimize the effect of the facade. The trapezoid plan, on the other hand, would maximize the apparent width of the facade, which was already perceived as a fault of the design.[41] Bernini’s ingenious solution was to create a piazza in two sections. That part which is nearest the basilica is trapezoid, but rather than fanning out from the facade, it narrows. This gives the effect of countering the visual perspective. It means that from the second part of the piazza, the building looks nearer than it is, the breadth of the facade is minimized and its height appears greater in proportion to its width. The second section of the piazza is a huge elliptical circus which gently slopes downwards to the obelisk at its center. The two distinct areas are framed by a colonnade formed by doubled pairs of columns supporting an entablature of the simple Tuscan Order. The part of the colonnade that is around the ellipse does not entirely encircle it, but reaches out in two arcs, symbolic of the arms of “the Catholic Church reaching out to welcome its communicants”.[41] The obelisk and Maderno’s fountain mark the widest axis of the ellipse. Bernini balanced the scheme with another fountain in 1675. The approach to the square used to be through a jumble of old buildings, which added an element of surprise to the vista that opened up upon passing through the colonnade. Nowadays a long wide street, the Via della Conciliazione, built by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaties, leads from the River Tiber to the piazza and gives distant views of St. Peter’s as the visitor approaches, with the basilica acting as a terminating vista.[24] Bernini’s transformation of the site is entirely Baroque in concept. Where Bramante and Michelangelo conceived a building that stood in “self-sufficient isolation”, Bernini made the whole complex “expansively relate to its environment”.[41] Banister Fletcher says “No other city has afforded such a wide-swept approach to its cathedral church, no other architect could have conceived a design of greater nobility… (it is) the greatest of all atriums before the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”[8] There are over 100 tombs within St. Peter’s Basilica (extant to various extents), many located beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. Also buried here are Maria Clementina Sobieska, wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated her throne in order to convert to Catholicism, and Countess Matilda of Tuscany, supporter of the Papacy during the Investiture Controversy. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on 8 April 2005. Beneath, near the crypt, is the recently discovered vaulted 4th-century “Tomb of the Julii”. (See below for some descriptions of tombs). Recently installed commemorative plaques read as follows: PAVLVS VI PONT MAX HVIVS PATRIARCALIS VATICANAE BASILICAE PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVPaul VI, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed the holy door of this patriarchal Vatican basilica in the jubilee year of 1975. IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVI A PAVLO PP VI RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB HVMANE REDEMP MCMLXXXIII MCMLXXXIVJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope Paul VI in 1976 in the jubilee year of human redemption 19834. IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M. ITERVM PORTAM SANCTAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO MAGNI IVBILAEI AB INCARNATIONE DOMINI MM-MMIJohn Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, again opened and closed the holy door in the year of the great jubilee, from the incarnation of the Lord 20002001. FRANCISCVS PP PORTAM SANCTAM ANNO MAGNI IVB MM- MMI A IOANNES PAVLVS PP II RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM APERVIT ET CLAVSIT ANNO IVB MISERICORDIAE MMXV- MMXVIPope Francis opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Pope John Paul II in the year of the great jubilee 2000-2001, in the jubilee year of Mercy 2015-2016. Saint Helenaby Andrea Bolgi Saint Andrewby Francois Duquesnoy Saint Veronicaby Francesco Mochi Pilgrim touching the foot of Saint Peter Enthroned The Holy Door is opened only for great celebrations. The tomb of Alexander VII.[55] The bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio. List of archpriests of the Vatican Basilica:[56] Sculptures

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February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Whispers in the Loggia

And just like that, Christmas at the Vatican is over with this morning’s traditional New Year “greeting” to the diplomatic corps (long dubbed the Pope’s “State of the World” speech), the Curia’s work-cycle kicks back into gear after the holiday break. As the ramp-up begins toward Francis’ fifth anniversary in March, today’s address to the representatives of 183 nations underscores one of this pontificate’s key accomplishments. While the deep charitable and humanitarian presence of a 1.2 billion-member church spread throughout the globe above all in areas torn by war or catastrophe has historically made the Holy See a critical “listening post” on the geopolitical scene, Papa Bergoglio has made a concerted effort to reamplify the Vatican’s “soft power” as a moral arbiter for peace and its ability to focus the world’s attention on the plight of afflicted peoples. From afull-on mobilizationof efforts on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority to victims of the “modern slavery” of human trafficking, background interventions to secure a historic thaw in US-Cuba relations as well as the passage of the Paris climate accords, and above all Francis’ signature concern for migrant and refugee populations amid the world’s most significant patterns of movement since World War II, the return of the papacy’s secular bully pulpit has been bolstered by the pontiff’s assembling of a formidable diplomatic A-team, led by his Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin who, over an earlier stint as deputy foreign minister, had already distinguished himself as the Roman negotiator of his generation and the Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the first native English-speaker ever to occupy the centuries-old post of Secretary for Relations with States. (Indeed, as a sign of how crowded the Holy See’s diplomatic plate has become, Francis recently signed off on the establishment of a third section of the Secretariat of State to deal exclusively with the oversight of the world’s Nunciatures and their personnel, freeing up Gallagher’s team to devote their attention solely to the nuts and bolts of global relations at its topmost level.) All that said, though today’s speech featured a listing of the standard hotspots on the Vatican’s radar, as well as yet another highlight of the latest pressing concern maintaining the “status quo” of Jerusalem following last month’s US move (in defiance of international convention) to recognize the city as Israel’s capital the one piece conspicuous by its absence was arguably Francis’ keenest geopolitical challenge: China, which remains the looming holdout from Vatican relations due to the latter’s longtime maintenance of its diplomatic outpost in Taipei (Taiwan), not Beijing, not to mention the enduring hurdle of the extent of the church’s freedoms on the Mainland. Despite its omission today, a Francis-chartered effort continues sporadic high-level talks with an eye to a breakthrough on both critical fronts, as well as eventually paving the way toward a moment the Pope views as something akin to his Holy Grail: the first-ever papal visit to the world’s largest country, whose permission for him to merely use its airspace is currently enough on its own to make sizable news. (And speaking of the Papal Road Show, Francis embarks next week on his 22nd overseas tour yet another return to his native Latin America, this time a week in Chile and Peru.) As for its scripted context, however, in a veiled yet nonetheless pointed tweak at American foreign policy under the Trump administration, this year’s address took its springboard from the today’s (fully coincidental) centenary of then-President Woodrow Wilson’s call for the establishment of the League of Nations. The precursor to the modern UN, the venture’s effectiveness was undermined from its inception due to the isolationism of an earlier generation of Republicans, who famously prevented the US’ entry into the League by blocking Senate passage of its governing treaty. * * * Our meeting today is a welcome tradition that allows me, in the enduring joy of the Christmas season, to offer you my personal best wishes for the New Year just begun, and to express my closeness and affection to the peoples you represent. I thank the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Armindo Fernandes do Esprito Santo Vieira, Ambassador of Angola, for his respectful greeting on behalf of the entire Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. I offer a particular welcome to the non-resident Ambassadors, whose numbers have increased following the establishment last May of diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. I likewise greet the growing number of Ambassadors resident in Rome, which now includes the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa. I would like in a special way to remember the late Ambassador of Colombia, Guillermo Len Escobar-Herrn, who passed away just a few days before Christmas. I thank all of you for your continuing helpful contacts with the Secretariat of State and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which testify to the interest of the international community in the Holy Sees mission and the work of the Catholic Church in your respective countries. This is also the context for the Holy Sees pactional activities, which last year saw the signing, in February, of the Framework Agreement with the Republic of the Congo, and, in August, of the Agreement between the Secretariat of State and the Government of the Russian Federation enabling the holders of diplomatic passports to travel without a visa. In its relations with civil authorities, the Holy See seeks only to promote the spiritual and material well-being of the human person and to pursue the common good. The Apostolic Journeys that I made during the course of the past year to Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, Myanmar and Bangladesh were expressions of this concern. I travelled as a pilgrim to Portugal on the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, to celebrate the canonization of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto. There I witnessed the enthusiastic and joyful faith that the Virgin Mary roused in the many pilgrims assembled for the occasion. In Egypt, Myanmar and Bangladesh too, I was able to meet the local Christian communities that, though small in number, are appreciated for their contribution to development and fraternal coexistence in those countries. Naturally, I also had meetings with representatives of other religions, as a sign that our differences are not an obstacle to dialogue, but rather a vital source of encouragement in our common desire to know the truth and to practise justice. Finally, in Colombia I wished to bless the efforts and the courage of that beloved people, marked by a lively desire for peace after more than half a century of internal conflict. Dear Ambassadors, This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, a conflict that reconfigured the face of Europe and the entire world with the emergence of new states in place of ancient empires. From the ashes of the Great War, we can learn two lessons that, sad to say, humanity did not immediately grasp, leading within the space of twenty years to a new and even more devastating conflict. The first lesson is that victory never means humiliating a defeated foe. Peace is not built by vaunting the power of the victor over the vanquished. Future acts of aggression are not deterred by the law of fear, but rather by the power of calm reason that encourages dialogue and mutual understanding as a means of resolving differences.[1] This leads to a second lesson: peace is consolidated when nations can discuss matters on equal terms. This was grasped a hundred years ago on this very date by the then President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, who proposed the establishment of a general league of nations with the aim of promoting for all states, great and small alike, mutual guarantees of independence and territorial integrity. This laid the theoretical basis for that multilateral diplomacy, which has gradually acquired over time an increased role and influence in the international community as a whole. Relations between nations, like all human relationships, must likewise be harmonized in accordance with the dictates of truth, justice, willing cooperation, and freedom.[2] This entails the principle that all states are by nature equal in dignity,[3] as well as the acknowledgment of one anothers rights and the fulfilment of their respective duties.[4] The basic premise of this approach is the recognition of the dignity of the human person, since disregard and contempt for that dignity resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind.[5] Indeed, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms, recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.[6] I would like to devote our meeting today to this important document, seventy years after its adoption on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. For the Holy See, to speak of human rights means above all to restate the centrality of the human person, willed and created by God in his image and likeness. The Lord Jesus himself, by healing the leper, restoring sight to the blind man, speaking with the publican, saving the life of the woman caught in adultery and demanding that the injured wayfarer be cared for, makes us understand that every human being, independent of his or her physical, spiritual or social condition, is worthy of respect and consideration. From a Christian perspective, there is a significant relation between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Those rights are premised on the nature objectively shared by the human race. They were proclaimed in order to remove the barriers that divide the human family and to favour what the Churchs social doctrine calls integral human development, since it entails fostering the development of each man and of the whole man and humanity as a whole.[7] A reductive vision of the human person, on the other hand, opens the way to the growth of injustice, social inequality and corruption. It should be noted, however, that over the years, particularly in the wake of the social upheaval of the 1960s, the interpretation of some rights has progressively changed, with the inclusion of a number of new rights that not infrequently conflict with one another. This has not always helped the promotion of friendly relations between nations,[8] since debatable notions of human rights have been advanced that are at odds with the culture of many countries; the latter feel that they are not respected in their social and cultural traditions, and instead neglected with regard to the real needs they have to face. Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable. At the same time, it should be recalled that the traditions of individual peoples cannot be invoked as a pretext for disregarding the due respect for the fundamental rights proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At a distance of seventy years, it is painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today. First among all of these is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.[9] It is not only war or violence that infringes these rights. In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults. I think of the elderly, who are often cast aside, especially when infirm and viewed as a burden. I think of women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families. I think too of the victims of human trafficking, which violates the prohibition of every form of slavery. How many persons, especially those fleeing from poverty and war, have fallen prey to such commerce perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals? Defending the right to life and physical integrity also means safeguarding the right to health on the part of individuals and their families. Today this right has assumed implications beyond the original intentions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which sought to affirm the right of every individual to receive medical care and necessary social services.[10] In this regard, it is my hope that efforts will be made within the appropriate international forums to facilitate, in the first place, ready access to medical care and treatment on the part of all. It is important to join forces in order to implement policies that ensure, at affordable costs, the provision of medicines essential for the survival of those in need, without neglecting the area of research and the development of treatments that, albeit not financially profitable, are essential for saving human lives. Defending the right to life also entails actively striving for peace, universally recognized as one of the supreme values to be sought and defended. Yet serious local conflicts continue to flare up in various parts of the world. The collective efforts of the international community, the humanitarian activities of international organizations and the constant pleas for peace rising from lands rent by violence seem to be less and less effective in the face of wars perverse logic. This scenario cannot be allowed to diminish our desire and our efforts for peace. For without peace, integral human development becomes unattainable. Integral disarmament and integral development are intertwined. Indeed, the quest for peace as a precondition for development requires battling injustice and eliminating, in a non-violent way, the causes of discord that lead to wars. The proliferation of weapons clearly aggravates situations of conflict and entails enormous human and material costs that undermine development and the search for lasting peace. The historic result achieved last year with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference for negotiating a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear arms, shows how lively the desire for peace continues to be. The promotion of a culture of peace for integral development calls for unremitting efforts in favour of disarmament and the reduction of recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs. I would therefore like to encourage a serene and wide-ranging debate on the subject, one that avoids polarizing the international community on such a sensitive issue. Every effort in this direction, however modest, represents an important step for mankind. For its part, the Holy See signed and ratified, also in the name of and on behalf of Vatican City State, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It did so in the belief, expressed by Saint John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, that justice, right reason, and the recognition of mans dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned.[11] Indeed, even if it is difficult to believe that anyone would dare to assume responsibility for initiating the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake, there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.[12] The Holy See therefore reiterates the firm conviction that any disputes which may arise between nations must be resolved by negotiation and agreement, not by recourse to arms.[13] The constant production of ever more advanced and refined weaponry, and dragging on of numerous conflicts what I have referred to as a third world war fought piecemeal lead us to reaffirm Pope Johns statement that in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice Nevertheless, we are hopeful that, by establishing contact with one another and by a policy of negotiation, nations will come to a better recognition of the natural ties that bind them together as men. We are hopeful, too, that they will come to a fairer realization of one of the cardinal duties deriving from our common nature: namely, that love, not fear, must dominate the relationships between individuals and between nations. It is principally characteristic of love that it draws men together in all sorts of ways, sincerely united in the bonds of mind and matter; and this is a union from which countless blessings can flow.[14] In this regard, it is of paramount importance to support every effort at dialogue on the Korean peninsula, in order to find new ways of overcoming the current disputes, increasing mutual trust and ensuring a peaceful future for the Korean people and the entire world. It is also important for the various peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria to continue, in a constructive climate of growing trust between the parties, so that the lengthy conflict that has caused such immense suffering can finally come to an end. Our shared hope is that, after so much destruction, the time for rebuilding has now come. Yet even more than rebuilding material structures, it is necessary to rebuild hearts, to re-establish the fabric of mutual trust, which is the essential prerequisite for the flourishing of any society. There is a need, then, to promote the legal, political and security conditions that restore a social life where every citizen, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can take part in the development of the country. In this regard, it is vital that religious minorities be protected, including Christians, who for centuries have made an active contribution to Syrias history. It is likewise important that the many refugees who have found shelter and refuge in neighbouring countries, especially in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, be able to return home. The commitment and efforts made by these countries in this difficult situation deserve the appreciation and support of the entire international community, which is also called upon to create the conditions for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. This effort must concretely start with Lebanon, so that that beloved country can continue to be a message of respect and coexistence, and a model to imitate, for the whole region and for the entire world. The desire for dialogue is also necessary in beloved Iraq, to enable its various ethnic and religious groups to rediscover the path of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence and cooperation. Such is the case too in Yemen and other parts of the region, and in Afghanistan. I think in particular of Israelis and Palestinians, in the wake of the tensions of recent weeks. The Holy See, while expressing sorrow for the loss of life in recent clashes, renews its pressing appeal that every initiative be carefully weighed so as to avoid exacerbating hostilities, and calls for a common commitment to respect, in conformity with the relevant United Nations Resolutions, the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognized borders. Despite the difficulties, a willingness to engage in dialogue and to resume negotiations remains the clearest way to achieving at last a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples. In national contexts, too, openness and availability to encounter are essential. I think especially of Venezuela, which is experiencing an increasingly dramatic and unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis. The Holy See, while urging an immediate response to the primary needs of the population, expresses the hope that conditions will be created so that the elections scheduled for this year can resolve the existing conflicts, and enable people to look to the future with newfound serenity. Nor can the international community overlook the suffering of many parts of the African continent, especially in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, where the right to life is threatened by the indiscriminate exploitation of resources, terrorism, the proliferation of armed groups and protracted conflicts. It is not enough to be appalled at such violence. Rather, everyone, in his or her own situation, should work actively to eliminate the causes of misery and build bridges of fraternity, the fundamental premise for authentic human development. A shared commitment to rebuilding bridges is also urgent in Ukraine. The year just ended reaped new victims in the conflict that afflicts the country, continuing to bring great suffering to the population, particularly to families who live in areas affected by the war and have lost their loved ones, not infrequently the elderly and children. I would like to devote a special thought to families. The right to form a family, as a natural and fundamental group unit of society is entitled to protection by society and the state,[15] and is recognized by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, it is a fact that, especially in the West, the family is considered an obsolete institution. Today fleeting relationships are preferred to the stability of a definitive life project. But a house built on the sand of frail and fickle relationships cannot stand. What is needed instead is a rock on which to build solid foundations. And this rock is precisely that faithful and indissoluble communion of love that joins man and woman, a communion that has an austere and simple beauty, a sacred and inviolable character and a natural role in the social order.[16] I consider it urgent, then, that genuine policies be adopted to support the family, on which the future and the development of states depend. Without this, it is not possible to create societies capable of meeting the challenges of the future. Disregard for families has another dramatic effect particularly present in some parts of the world namely, a decline in the birth rate. We are experiencing a true demographic winter! This is a sign of societies that struggle to face the challenges of the present, and thus become ever more fearful of the future, with the result that they close in on themselves. At the same time, we cannot forget the situation of families torn apart by poverty, war and migration. All too often, we see with our own eyes the tragedy of children who, unaccompanied, cross the borders between the south and the north of our world, and often fall victim to human trafficking. Today there is much talk about migrants and migration, at times only for the sake of stirring up primal fears. It must not be forgotten that migration has always existed. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the history of salvation is essentially a history of migration. Nor should we forget that freedom of movement, for example, the ability to leave ones own country and to return there, is a fundamental human right.[17] There is a need, then, to abandon the familiar rhetoric and start from the essential consideration that we are dealing, above all, with persons. This is what I sought to reiterate in my Message for the World Day of Peace celebrated on 1 January last, whose theme this year is: Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace. While acknowledging that not everyone is always guided by the best of intentions, we must not forget that the majority of migrants would prefer to remain in their homeland. Instead, they find themselves forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave it behind Welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and good will, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited. By practising the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society (Pacem in Terris, 57). Leaders have a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct (cf. Lk 14:28-30).[18] I would like once more to thank the authorities of those states who have spared no effort in recent years to assist the many migrants arriving at their borders. I think above all of the efforts made by more than a few countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas that welcome and assist numerous persons. I cherish vivid memories of my meeting in Dhaka with some members of the Rohingya people, and I renew my sentiments of gratitude to the Bangladeshi authorities for the assistance provided to them on their own territory. I would also like to express particular gratitude to Italy, which in these years has shown an open and generous heart and offered positive examples of integration. It is my hope that the difficulties that the country has experienced in these years, and whose effects are still felt, will not lead to forms of refusal and obstruction, but instead to a rediscovery of those roots and traditions that have nourished the rich history of the nation and constitute a priceless treasure offered to the whole world. I likewise express my appreciation for the efforts made by other European states, particularly Greece and Germany. Nor must it be forgotten that many refugees and migrants seek to reach Europe because they know that there they will find peace and security, which for that matter are the fruit of a lengthy process born of the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the European project in the aftermath of the Second World War. Europe should be proud of this legacy, grounded on certain principles and a vision of man rooted in its millenary history, inspired by the Christian conception of the human person. The arrival of migrants should spur Europe to recover its cultural and religious heritage, so that, with a renewed consciousness of the values on which the continent was built, it can keep alive her own tradition while continuing to be a place of welcome, a herald of peace and of development. In the past year, governments, international organizations and civil society have engaged in discussions about the basic principles, priorities and most suitable means for responding to movements of migration and the enduring situations involving refugees. The United Nations, following the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, has initiated important preparations for the adoption of the two Global Compacts for refugees and for safe, orderly and regular migration respectively. The Holy See trusts that these efforts, with the negotiations soon to begin, will lead to results worthy of a world community growing ever more independent and grounded in the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance. In the current international situation, ways and means are not lacking to ensure that every man and every woman on earth can enjoy living conditions worthy of the human person. In the Message for this years World Day of Peace, I suggested four mileposts for action: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.[19] I would like to dwell particularly on the last of these, which has given rise to various opposed positions in the light of varying evaluations, experiences, concerns and convictions. Integration is a two-way process, entailing reciprocal rights and duties. Those who welcome are called to promote integral human development, while those who are welcomed must necessarily conform to the rules of the country offering them hospitality, with respect for its identity and values. Processes of integration must always keep the protection and advancement of persons, especially those in situations of vulnerability, at the centre of the rules governing various aspects of political and social life. The Holy See has no intention of interfering in decisions that fall to states, which, in the light of their respective political, social and economic situations, and their capacities and possibilities for receiving and integrating, have the primary responsibility for accepting newcomers. Nonetheless, the Holy See does consider it its role to appeal to the principles of humanity and fraternity at the basis of every cohesive and harmonious society. In this regard, its interaction with religious communities, on the level of institutions and associations, should not be forgotten, since these can play a valuable supportive role in assisting and protecting, in social and cultural mediation, and in pacification and integration. Among the human rights that I would also like to mention today is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and of religion, including the freedom to change religion.[20] Sad to say, it is well-known that the right to religious freedom is often disregarded, and not infrequently religion becomes either an occasion for the ideological justification of new forms of extremism or a pretext for the social marginalization of believers, if not their downright persecution. The condition for building inclusive societies is the integral comprehension of the human person, who can feel himself or herself truly accepted when recognized and accepted in all the dimensions that constitute his or her identity, including the religious dimension. Finally, I wish to recall the importance of the right to employment. There can be no peace or development if individuals are not given the chance to contribute personally by their own labour to the growth of the common good. Regrettably, in many parts of the world, employment is scarcely available. At times, few opportunities exist, especially for young people, to find work. Often it is easily lost not only due to the effects of alternating economic cycles, but to the increasing use of ever more perfect and precise technologies and tools that can replace human beings. On the one hand, we note an inequitable distribution of the work opportunities, while on the other, a tendency to demand of labourers an ever more pressing pace. The demands of profit, dictated by globalization, have led to a progressive reduction of times and days of rest, with the result that a fundamental dimension of life has been lost that of rest which serves to regenerate persons not only physically but also spiritually. God himself rested on the seventh day; he blessed and consecrated that day because on it he rested from all the work that he had done in creation (Gen 2:3). In the alternation of exertion and repose, human beings share in the sanctification of time laid down by God and ennoble their work, saving it from constant repetition and dull daily routine. A cause for particular concern are the data recently published by the International Labour Organization regarding the increase of child labourers and victims of the new forms of slavery. The scourge of juvenile employment continues to compromise gravely the physical and psychological development of young people, depriving them of the joys of childhood and reaping innocent victims. We cannot think of planning a better future, or hope to build more inclusive societies, if we continue to maintain economic models directed to profit alone and the exploitation of those who are most vulnerable, such as children. Eliminating the structural causes of this scourge should be a priority of governments and international organizations, which are called to intensify efforts to adopt integrated strategies and coordinated policies aimed at putting an end to child labour in all its forms. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, In recalling some of the rights contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration, I do not mean to overlook one of its important aspects, namely, the recognition that every individual also has duties towards the community, for the sake of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.[21] The just appeal to the rights of each human being must take into account the fact that every individual is part of a greater body. Our societies too, like every human body, enjoy good health if each member makes his or her own contribution in the awareness that it is at the service of the common good. Among todays particularly pressing duties is that of caring for our earth. We know that nature can itself be cruel, even apart from human responsibility. We saw this in the past year with the earthquakes that struck different parts of our world, especially those of recent months in Mexico and in Iran, with their high toll of victims, and with the powerful hurricanes that struck different countries of the Caribbean, also reaching the coast of the United States, and, more recently, the Philippines. Even so, one must not downplay the importance of our own responsibility in interaction with nature. Climate changes, with the global rise in temperatures and their devastating effects, are also a consequence of human activity. Hence there is a need to take up, in a united effort, the responsibility of leaving to coming generations a more beautiful and livable world, and to work, in the light of the commitments agreed upon in Paris in 2015, for the reduction of gas emissions that harm the atmosphere and human health. The spirit that must guide individuals and nations in this effort can be compared to that of the builders of the medieval cathedrals that dot the landscape of Europe. These impressive buildings show the importance of each individual taking part in a work that transcends the limits of time. The builders of the cathedrals knew that they would not see the completion of their work. Yet they worked diligently, in the knowledge that they were part of a project that would be left to their children to enjoy. These, in turn, would embellish and expand it for their own children. Each man and woman in this world particularly those with governmental responsibilities is called to cultivate the same spirit of service and intergenerational solidarity, and in this way to be a sign of hope for our troubled world. With these thoughts, I renew to each of you, to your families and to your peoples, my prayerful good wishes for a year filled with joy, hope and peace. Thank you. _____________[1] Cf. JOHN XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, 90.[2] Ibid., 80.[3] Ibid., 86.[4] Ibid., 91.[5] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948.[6] Ibid. Preamble.[7] PAUL VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 26 March 1967, 14.[8] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble.[9] Cf. ibid., Art.3.[10] Cf. ibid., Art. 25.[11] Pacem in Terris, 112.[12] Ibid., 111.[13] Ibid., 126.[14] Ibid., 127 and 129.[15] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 16.[16] Cf. PAUL VI, Address in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, 5 January 1964.[17] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 13.[18] FRANCIS, Message for the 2018 World Day of Peace, 13 November 2017, 1.[19] Ibid., 4.[20] Cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 18.[21] Ibid., Art. 29. -30-

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February 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Topless protester tries to grab baby Jesus figure at Vatican

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December 29, 2017   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Vatican – National Catholic Register

Vatican Joseph Pronechen From The Ark and the Dove in Pittsburgh, where it began, to the Circus Maximus in Rome, where they will gather for Pentecost 2017, Charsimatics reflect on the Holy Spirits work. Vatican Peter Jesserer Smith The Churchs sainthood process is peeling back myths and revealing the truth of Blessed Oscar Romeros holiness unto death. Vatican John Power Some Australian bishops have offered different opinions about how broadly the seal applies, as the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse focuses attention on the matter. Vatican Edward Pentin This is the latest effort by the Church to bring the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X into full communion. Vatican Joan Frawley Desmond The Power of Silence, co-written with Nicolas Diat, was inspired by the Carthusian monastery at La Grande Chartreuse. Vatican Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News Feb. 26 event was first time a Roman pontiff has set foot in an Anglican parish inside his own Diocese of Rome. Vatican Edward Pentin Msgr. Fernando Ocriz Braa is a founding professor of Romes Santa Croce University and has served as a consultor to several Vatican offices. Vatican Michele Chabin Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Pope Francis his people are very grateful for the Churchs efforts to assist peace in the Holy Land. Vatican Elisabeth Deffner Theological commission requests papal acknowledgement of Mary as Co-Redemptrix. Culture of Life CNA/EWTN News His Holiness is profoundly grateful for this impressive testimony to the sacredness of every human life, read the papal telegram. Vatican Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News Annual message to journalists released Jan. 24, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press. Vatican CNA/EWTN News Cardinal Carlo Caffarra explains in new interview that ongoing confusion prompted call for clarification of Amoris Laetitia. Vatican Joan Frawley Desmond The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith defends its role as a source of unity for the universal Church, and its expertise in the prosecution of clergy sexual abuse cases. Nation Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News The Holy Father said Jan. 15 that her witness can help us learn to take care of our foreign brother, in whom Jesus is present, often suffering. Vatican Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News Boston shepherds appointment to the CDF was announced in a Jan. 14 communiqu from the Vatican. Vatican Edward Pentin In a Register interview, the Vaticans foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, discusses the Holy Fathers distinctive approach to international issues. Nation The Editors St. Teresa, Mother Angelica and Donald Trump top the Registers headlines Vatican Father Raymond J. de Souza NEWS ANALYSIS Vatican Edward Pentin As head of the Congregation for Promoting Integral Human Development, the cardinal from Ghana will oversee a body that once comprised four pontifical councils. Vatican John M. Grondelski COMMENTARY: Introducing Leonia Nasta Vatican Edward Pentin An Estimated 10,000 Pilgrims Expected for Midnight Mass Vatican Filip Mazurczak Retired Polish prelate speaks to the Register about the enduring importance of the Fatima message ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in 2017, as well as the lesser-known 1982 assassination attempt on John Pauls life at Fatima. Vatican Father Raymond J. de Souza COMMENTARY: The Polish cardinal retired last week at the age of 77. Vatican Daniel Blackman Gary Krupp tells the Register why he changed his opinion about the wartime pope. Vatican Edward Pentin While Pope Francis has declined to reply to the formal request for clarification of Amoris Laetitia, some cardinals and bishops have responded publicly. Vatican CNA/EWTN News Christmas … is primarily a religious event for which spiritual preparation is needed, the Holy Father said Dec. 4. Vatican Maria Ximena Rondon/CNA Pope Francis has granted the opportunity throughout the entire jubilee year. Vatican Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News The Holy Father will have a busy schedule during December and January for Christmas and the new year. Vatican Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News We must pray so that the corporal and spiritual works of mercy become increasingly the style of our lives, Holy Father said Nov. 30. Vatican Deborah Castellano Lubov Father Lucio Zappatore speaks about a special papal surprise among the elderly of Torre Spaccata, Italy.

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December 12, 2017   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Skip the Line: Vatican Museums Tickets 2018 – Rome

Your Vatican experience starts in Vatican City, where youll meet your host and walk to your reserved doorway that provides you with the fastest skip-the-line entrance at the Vatican Museums, avoiding the other priority queues. Just show your ticket to the guard, and your host will leave you to explore the museum complexs 9 miles (15 km) of rooms and galleries at your leisure. You may stay as long as you wish. The most popular spaces include Raphaels Rooms, a series of four connecting rooms adorned with Renaissance works by Raphael and his students; the Gallery of the Candelabra, home to carved marble candelabras and sculptures; and the Gallery of Maps, where you can marvel at dozens of intricate maps of Italy from the 16th century. Most explorations of the Vatican Museums end at the crown jewel, the Sistine Chapel, a particularly sacred site, as its where new popes are elected. Of course, youre there to see Michelangelos legendary frescoes, The Creation of Adam on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on on the wall. Optional tour:If youd prefer to explore the Vatican Museums with a knowledgeable guide instead of on your own, upgrade when booking to include a tour limited to 20 people. Youll see the highlights of the complex, including the Sistine Chapel, as well as neighboring St Peters Basilica, one of the worlds largest churches and home to more Renaissance works. From your guide, hear about the history of the Vatican, from art to power to treachery.

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December 12, 2017   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed

Latest News: Vatican :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Nov 17, 2017 – 03:00 pm .- For years now, I have been bemoaning the growing number of so-called progressive Catholic figures, in academia, the media and the outer curial orbit, who fancy themselves to be the Popes ideological vanguard, amidst what they have taken to calling their intra-ecclesial battle.

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November 24, 2017   Posted in: Vatican  Comments Closed


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