Vatican Round-up

Rome recognises Palestine

After 15 years of negotiations, the Holy See has formally recognised the “state of Palestine,” signing a treaty that Rome hopes will help build improved relations between Israel and Palestine.

The preamble to the ‘Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine’ recognises the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, the importance of Jerusalem and its sacred character for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the objective of a two-state solution, based on the borders that were in place in 1967.

In a statement, Rome said the agreement covers “essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine”. It assures the church “juridical recognition” and guarantees for its work and institutions in Palestine, with its second chapter focusing entirely on freedom of religion and conscience and includes the right to worship and practice one's faith, as well as the rights of Christian parents to give their children religious education, of Christians to take holy days off work, and of military personnel to have access to pastoral care.

The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said he hoped the accord would prove a “stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both parties.”


New communications secretariat established

Msgr Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Centre and auteur of the memorable footage show the departure of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from Rome to Castel Gondolfo in February 2013, has been appointed prefect of Rome’s new Secretariat for Communications.

The secretariat has been established, after much consultation, in an effort to render the Vatican more effective in today’s digital world.  Its aim is to coordinate and streamline the Holy See's nine media operations.

In a June 27 apostolic letter given motu proprio (‘on his own initiative’), Pope Francis wrote that the development of digital media, with its converging technologies and interactive capabilities, “requires a rethinking of the information system of the Holy See”. Rome’s communications reorganisation, he wrote, “must proceed decisively toward integration and a unified management” so that “the communication system of the Holy See will respond in an ever more efficacious manner to the needs of the mission of the Church”.

The Holy Father also appointed other officials to the secretariat, tapping Msgr Adrian Ruiz Lucio of the Vatican Internet and telecommunications offices to serve as secretary, Paulo Nusiner of the  Italian bishops’ conference daily newspaper to be general director, and Vatican Radio’s Giacomo Ghisani to be vice general director.


Plans unveiled for World Meeting of Families

A US delegation has presented plans in the Vatican for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Philadelphia from September 22 to 27, on the theme 'Love is our mission. The family fully alive'.

Speaking at the presentation was Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput with his auxiliary, Bishop John J McIntyre, Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a 5-years-married couple from the same archdiocese, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Dr Chaput said that than a million people from more than a hundred nations are expected to attend the meeting, with 6,100 volunteers so far having offered to help, and more than 5,000 buses being made available.

Dr Paglia emphasised that the meeting would be a valuable opportunity to place the family at the centre of the Church and of civil society.

“The family builds the Church and sustains society,” he said, adding that he hoped there would be a significant presence at the meeting from other Christian denominations and from major world religious traditions.

“Philadelphia will be a great worldwide celebration of families: in the spectacle, we will be able to get a glimpse, we will have to show the beauty and the possibility of all humanity becoming a single family of peoples. It is the dream of peace; it is God's dream,” he said.