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Pope Francis Calls Day of Prayer for the Middle East Next Weekend

Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the entire Mideast region, and throughout the whole world to be held this coming Saturday, September 7th, 2013.

Speaking ahead of the traditional Angelus prayer with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square this Sunday, Pope Francis said, “On [Saturday] the 7th of September, here [in St Peter’s Square], from 7 PM until midnight, we will gather together in prayer, in a spirit of penitence, to ask from God this great gift [of peace] for the beloved Syrian nation and for all the situations of conflict and violence in the world.” The pope also invited non-Catholic Christians and non-Christian believers to participate in ways they feel are appropriate. “Never again war!” said Pope Francis. “We want a peaceful world,” he said, “we want to be men and women of peace.”

Pope Francis also issued a forceful condemnation of the use of chemical weapons. “There is the judgment of God, and also the judgment of history, upon our actions – [judgments] from which there is no escaping.” He called on all parties to conflicts to pursue negotiations, and urged the international community to take concrete steps to end conflicts, especially the war in Syria. “Humanity needs to see gestures of peace,” said Pope Francis, “and to hear words of hope and of peace.”

New Vatican secretary of State:  Pietro Parolin climbs the Vatican power structure.

Pietro Parolin appears very lamb-like and is very publically appealing;  he could even become the next and final pope in a year or two.

Pope Francis has named as Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin. This morning, Saturday, 31 August, the Pontiff made public having accepted the resignation of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone –  who has held the position since 15 September 2006 – asking him to retain his responsibilities until 15 October, Archbishop Parolin will then take possession of his new office.

On that occasion the pope will receive the superiors and officials of the  Secretariat of State in order to thank Cardinal Bertone for the service he has rendered  in these years and to present his successor.

Pope Francis has also reconfirmed in their respective responsibilities the Substitute for General Affairs, the Secretary for Relations with States, the Prefect of the Papal Household,  the Assessor for General Affairs and the Undersecretary for Relations with States.

Archbishop Parolin is the 58-year-old native of Schiavon,  Vicenza, Italy, where he was born on 17 June 1955.

Archbishop Parolin has vast experience in  the Holy See’s diplomatic service, begun in 1986 as part the Pontifical representation in Nigeria and following that in 1989 in Mexico.  From 1992 he worked in the Secretariat of State for 17 years, before being sent in 2009 to Venezuela as Apostolic Nuncio.

“At this moment, in which my appointment as Secretary of State is made public,” he said in a statement released to the Holy See Press Office, “I desire to express deep and affectionate gratitude to the pope, Francis, for the unmerited trust he is showing me, and to make known to him once again my willingness and complete availability to work with him and under his guidance for the greater glory of God, the good of the Holy Church, and the progress and peace of humanity, that humanity might find reasons to live and to hope.”

 “I feel very strongly,” he continued,  “the grace of this call, which is yet another and the latest of God’s surprises in my life. Above all, I feel the full weight of the responsibility placed upon me:  this call entrusts to me a difficult and challenging mission, before which my powers are weak and my abilities poor. For this reason, I entrust myself to the merciful love of the Lord, from whom nothing and no one can ever separate me, and to the prayers of all. I thank all those who have shown and who, starting now, will show me understanding, as well as for any and all manner of help that anyone might desire to offer me in my new undertaking.

“My thoughts go to my family and to all the persons who have been part of my life: in the parishes into which I was born and in which I served; in the dear Diocese of Vicenza; at Rome; in the countries in which I have worked – from Nigeria, to Mexico, and most recently in Venezuela, which I am sorry to leave.

I think also of Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, who ordained me bishop, I think of the Secretariat of State, which was my home for many years, of His Eminence, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, of the other Superiors, colleagues and collaborators and of the whole Roman Curia, as well as of all those who represent the Holy Father and the Holy See diplomatically around the world. I owe a great debt to them all.

“It is with trepidation that I place myself in this new service to the Gospel, to the Church and to Pope Francis, but also with trust and serenity – disposed – as the pope has asked us from the beginning – to walk, to build and to profess.  May our Lady, whom I like to invoke under her titles as Our Lady of Monte Berico, Guadalupe and Coromoto, give us, ‘The courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.’


Peace and stability in the Middle East was the focus of Pope Francis’ meeting with the king of Jordan, Abdullah II. The pope on Thursday morning received in audience the Jordanian king and his wife, Queen Rania in the Vatican, along with a small delegation from Jordan. After exchanging cordial greetings with the king and queen, the pope met with them privately for about 20 minutes before greeting the rest of the delegation.

Following the meeting with the pope, King Abdullah and several members of his delegation sat down with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States. Several themes were touched upon throughout the morning, including the negotiations which have resumed between Israelis and Palestinians, and on the question of Jerusalem. Particular attention was given to the crisis in Syria. It was said that the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option for putting an end to the conflict and the violence which every day claims many lives, including the helpless civilian population.

Also during meetings, King Abdullah was commended for his commitment in the field of interreligious dialogue, including next month’s conference in Amman which will focus on the challenges Christians will have to face in the Middle East during this period of socio-political transformation. Finally, acknowledgement was given for the positive contribution that Christian communities bring to the local society, of which they are an integral part.


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