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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Joercio Goncalves Pereira C.SS.R., rector of the national shrine of "Nossa Senhora Aparecida," Brazil, as coadjutor of the territorial prelature of Coari (area 135,442, population 195,306, Catholics 166,076, priests 11, religious 24), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Virginia, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1983.
NEC/.../GONCALVES                                VIS 20051130 (70)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio to Venezuela.
AP/.../...                                        VIS 20051130 (30)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration this morning:

  "Over these days, news agencies have reported two disconcerting events carried out against, respectively, the Franciscan Sisters in Xi'an and six priests in the diocese of Zhengding.

  "These news items, though it is not possible to verify the exact details of their circumstances, provoke pain and disapproval.

  "The violence practiced in Xi'an against a number of defenseless nuns cannot but be firmly condemned.

  "And the detention of six priests of Zhengding, like the earlier detentions of priests in other localities, is also a cause for grave concern. As on earlier occasions, the reasons for the coercive measures inflicted upon them are unknown."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - At midday yesterday, in the Town Hall of Hamburg, Germany, the signing took place of an Agreement between the Holy See and the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The accord regulates relations between the Catholic Church and this city "lande." On the part of the Holy See, the agreement was signed by Archbishop Erwin Josef Ender, apostolic nuncio to Germany, and on the part of the City of Hamburg, by Ole Von Beust, president of the senate.

  According to a communique, the agreement "consists of 23 articles and a final protocol regulating the juridical position of the Catholic Church in the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Among other things, it establishes norms concerning State recognition of Church-run schools, the teaching of the Catholic religion in State schools, Church activities in the fields of pastoral care and of social, healthcare and charitable work, the ecclesiastical levy, and the maintenance of Church buildings listed as monuments. Overall, the role of the Catholic Church is recognized in the society of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg."
OP/AGREEMENT HOLY SEE:HAMBURG/...                VIS 20051130 (190)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique concerning the ninth meeting of the Special Council of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, held in Rome on November 18 and 19, 2005.

  The meeting, which was presided by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, considered the theme of "the Eucharist and missions" and noted the positive impact of the recently-concluded Year of the Eucharist on ecclesial initiatives that aim to make that Sacrament more widely known.

  The communique also states that the members of the council noted how "the Catholic Church in Asia often undertakes her activities in an unfavorable social context, in certain nations in which religious freedom is not respected. ... The Church in Asia remains open to dialogue with the great religions of the continent, despite the difficulties provoked by fundamentalist groups in various countries."

  The next meeting of the council is scheduled to take place on November 17 and 18, 2006.
SE/SYNOD BISHOPS ASIA/ETEROVIC                    VIS 20051130 (180)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - A delegation from the Holy See, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is in Istanbul, Turkey for the liturgical celebrations of the Feast of St. Andrew, which is commemorated both in the East and West. St. Andrew is patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, which every year sends a delegation to Rome on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  This morning the delegation attended a solemn liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Church of St. George in Fanar. At the end of the ceremony, Cardinal Kasper delivered a special message to the ecumenical patriarch from Benedict XVI.

  In his English-language message, the Pope affirms:

  "This year we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of December 8, 1965, that day on which Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, dissatisfied with what had occurred in 1054, decided together at Rome and Constantinople 'to cancel from the Church's memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced.' That momentous event became the basis of a renewed relationship marked by reciprocal respect and reconciliation."

  "Indeed, this cancellation marked the beginning of a new season of ecclesial life, a season of dialogue, which has seen significant progress yet remains challenged to continue the rigorous pursuit of its much cherished goals.

  "In this regard, it is a source of great satisfaction to me that after a pause of some years our theological dialogue begins once again. I pray that it will indeed be fruitful and am confident that no effort will be spared to make it so. He who puts his hand to the plough must not turn back. Rather, he must persevere and bring his work to completion, sowing the seed and awaiting the abundant harvest that God in His goodness will provide."

  Benedict XVI concludes his message with assurances to the Patriarch Bartholomew, the holy synod and all the Orthodox Churches that "the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting all suitable and helpful initiatives to strengthen charity, solidarity and theological dialogue between us."

  According to a communique made public today, the members of the delegation sent by the Holy Father will meet members of the synodal commission for relations with the Catholic Church. For his part, Cardinal Kasper will visit the leaders of the Christian communities in Turkey, in particular the Armenian patriarch and the Syro-Orthodox patriarch, as well as representatives of the local Catholic community and the chief rabbi of Istanbul.

  This year, the communique says, the talks "are particularly important because they focus above all on preparations for the visit by Benedict XVI to the Church of St. George in Fanar." Other subjects under discussion include "the progress of Catholic - Orthodox relations, questions concerning the life and pastoral care of Orthodox faithful in Italy and, above all, following a break of five years, the resumption of official theological dialogue, as decided last September during a pan-Orthodox meeting held at the Fanar and presided by the Patriarch Bartholomew I."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - At the end of the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI recalled that tomorrow, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

  World AIDS Day, said the Holy Father, "is an initiative of the United Nations that aims to draw attention to the scourge of AIDS, and to invite the international community to a renewed commitment to prevent the disease and to assist those who suffer from it. The statistics are truly alarming!

  "Closely following Christ's example, the Church has always considered the cure of the sick as an integral part of her mission. Therefore I encourage the many initiatives promoted, especially by ecclesial communities, to eradicate this sickness, and I feel close to AIDS sufferers and their families, invoking upon them the help and comfort of the Lord."
AG/WORLD AIDS DAY/...                            VIS 20051130 (150)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - More than 23,000 people participated in the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, during which the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Psalms.

  "On this first Wednesday of Advent, the liturgical period of silence, vigil and prayer in preparation for Christmas, we consider Psalm 136 ... 'on the rivers of Babylon'," said the Pope. "It evokes the tragedy experienced by the Jewish people during the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and their deportation to Babylon."

  "This heartfelt invocation to the Lord to free His faithful from slavery," Benedict XVI continued, "also expresses the feelings of hope and expectation of salvation with which we began our Advent journey. The backdrop to the first part of the psalm is the land of exile with its rivers and canals, the rivers and canals that irrigated the Babylonian plain where the Jews had been deported; almost a symbolic foreshadowing of the death camps in which, last century, the Jewish people underwent the infamous operation of extermination that has remained as an indelible mark of shame in the history of humanity."

  "God, Who is the ultimate arbiter of history, will know how to understand and accept, according to His justice, the cries of the victims, despite the harsh tones they sometimes assume," he went on.

  In elucidating the psalm, the Pope also referred to a meditation on the subject by St. Augustine in which, he said, "the great Father of the Church introduces a surprising note: he knows that even among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people committed to peace and goodness, though without sharing the biblical faith. In the end, then, God will lead those people to the heavenly Jerusalem, rewarding them for their pure consciences."

  "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them as citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not promote its pride, its grandeur or its overweening arrogance."

  At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted a group of Italian prison chaplains, thanking them for the "valuable ministry" they carry out "with evangelical charity alongside those in prison; I give assurances of my prayers for each one of you, and for everyone in institutes of detention, to whom I send my most affectionate greetings."
AG/PSALM 136/...                                VIS 20051130 (400)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Norbert Trelle, auxiliary of Cologne, Germany, as bishop of Hildesheim (area 30,000, population 5,700,000, Catholics 659,500, priests 426, permanent deacons 81, religious 484), Germany.

- Fr. Pierre Nguyen Van De S.D.B., professor at the mayor seminary of Hanoi, Vietnam, as auxiliary of Bui Chu (area 1,350, population 1,336,400, Catholics 380,130, priests 58, religious 475), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Tri Buu, Vietnam in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the document: "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders." The document is dated November 4, memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, patron of seminaries, and bears the signatures of Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and of Archbishop Michael J. Miller C.S.B., respectively prefect and  secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. On August 31, 2005, Benedict XVI approved the Instruction and ordered its publication.

  Given below are some extracts from the document, which has been published in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese.


"In continuity with the teaching of Vatican Council II and, in particular, with the Decree 'Optatam Totius' on priestly formation, the Congregation for Catholic Education has published various documents with the aim or promoting a suitable, integral formation of future priests, by offering guidelines and precise norms regarding its diverse aspects. In the meantime, the 1990 Synod of Bishops also reflected on the formation of priests in the circumstances of the present day. ... Following this Synod, John Paul II published the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Pastores Dabo Vobis'."

  "The present Instruction does not intend to dwell on all questions in the area of affectivity and sexuality that require an attentive discernment during the entire period of formation. Rather, it contains norms concerning a specific question, made more urgent by the current situation, and that is: whether to admit to the seminary and to holy orders candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies."


  "According to the constant Tradition of the Church, only a baptized person of the  male sex validly receives sacred ordination. By means of the Sacrament of Orders, ... the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, the head, shepherd and spouse of the Church. Because of this configuration to Christ, the entire life of the sacred minister must be animated by the gift of his whole person to the Church and by an authentic pastoral charity.

  "The candidate to the ordained ministry, therefore, must reach affective maturity. Such maturity will allow him to relate correctly to both men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood towards the Church community that will be entrusted to him."


  "The Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstances can they be approved.

  "Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

  "In the light of such teaching, this dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture'."

  "One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

  "Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate."


  "The desire alone to become a priest is not sufficient, and there does not exist a right to receive sacred ordination. It belongs to the Church - in her responsibility to define the necessary requirements for receiving the Sacraments instituted by Christ - to discern the suitability of him who desires to enter the seminary, to accompany him during his years of formation, and to call him to holy orders if he is judged to possess the necessary qualities.

  "The formation of the future priest must distinctly articulate, in an essentially complementary manner, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is necessary to highlight the particular importance of human formation, as the necessary foundation of all formation."

  "Bearing in mind the opinion of those to whom he has entrusted the responsibility of formation, the bishop or major superior, before admitting the candidate to ordination, must arrive at a morally certain judgement on his qualities. In the case of a serious doubt in this regard, he must not admit him to ordination.

  "The discernment of a vocation and the maturity of the candidate is also a serious duty of the rector and of the other persons entrusted with the work of formation in the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his own judgment on whether the qualities required by the Church are present in the candidate."

  The spiritual director, though bound to secrecy, "represents the Church in the internal forum. In his discussions with the candidate, the spiritual director must especially point out the demands of the Church concerning priestly chastity and the affective maturity that is characteristic of the priest, as well as help him to discern whether he has the necessary qualities. The spiritual director has the obligation to evaluate all the qualities of the candidate's personality and to make sure that he does not present disturbances of a sexual nature, which are incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, as well as his confessor, have the duty to dissuade him in conscience from proceeding towards ordination.

  "It goes without saying that the candidate himself has the primary responsibility for his own formation. ... It would be gravely dishonest for a candidate to hide his own homosexuality in order to proceed, despite everything, towards ordination. Such a deceitful attitude does not correspond to the spirit of truth, loyalty and openness that must characterize the personality of him who believes he is called to serve Christ and His Church in the ministerial priesthood."


  "This Congregation reaffirms the need for bishops, major superiors, and all relevant authorities to carry out an attentive discernment concerning the suitability of candidates for holy orders, from the time of admission to the seminary until ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood that is in accordance with the teaching of the Church.

  "Let bishops, episcopal conferences and major superiors look to see that the constant norms of this Instruction be faithfully observed for the good of the candidates themselves, and to guarantee that the Church always has suitable priests who are true shepherds according to the heart of Christ."
CIC/PRIESTHOOD HOMOSEXUALITY/...                    VIS 20051129 (1180)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2005 (VIS) - According to a decree made public today, Benedict XVI will grant the faithful a Plenary Indulgence for the forthcoming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2005). The decree is signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Fr. John Francis Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  "December 8," the text reads, "will mark 40 years since Servant of God Paul VI, Supreme Pontiff, who had already proclaimed the Virgin Mary as Mother of the Church, in closing Vatican Council II dedicated great praise to the Virgin who, as Mother of Christ, is Mother of God and spiritual Mother to us all.

  "On this Solemnity, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, when he renders public homage of praise to Mary Immaculate, has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity. From here - as Vatican Council II very wisely taught - arise works of mercy towards the needy, observance of justice, and the defense of and search for peace."

  For this reason, the decree continues, the Holy Father "has kindly granted the gift of Plenary Indulgence which may be obtained under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff), with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, on the forthcoming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, by the faithful if they participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."

  The document concludes by recalling that faithful who "through illness or other just cause," are unable to participate in a public ceremony or to venerate an image of the Virgin, "may obtain a Plenary Indulgence in their own homes, or wherever they may be, if, with the soul completely removed from any form of sin, and with the intention of observing the aforesaid conditions as soon as possible, they unite themselves in spirit and in desire to the Supreme Pontiff's intentions in prayer to Mary Immaculate, and recite the Our Father and the Creed."
.../DECREE INDULGENCE/STAFFORD                    VIS 20051129 (420)

Monday, November 28, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Tula'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, prime minister of the Independent State of Samoa, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Seven prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak of Czestochowa, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jan Watroba.

    - Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski of Radom, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Stefan Siczek and Adam Odzimek.

    - Bishop Adam Smigielski S.D.B., of Sosnowiec, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Piotr Skucha.

  On Saturday, November 26, he received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Vsevolod of Skopelos of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America, accompanied by an entourage.

- Thirteen prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Jan Tyrawa of Bydgoszcz.

    - Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Grzegorz Balcerek, and by Archbishop emeritus Juliusz Paetz.

    - Bishop Stanislaw Napierala of Kalisz.

    - Archbishop Zygmunt Kaminski of Szczecin-Kamien, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jan Galecki and Marian Blazej Kruszylowicz O.F.M. Conv.

    - Bishop Kazimierz Nycz of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Pawel Cieslik and by Bishop emeritus Ignacy Jez.

    - Bishop Adam Dyczkowski of Zielona Gora-Gorzow accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Pawel Socha C.M.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
AP:AL/.../...                                    VIS 20051128 (230)


THIS MORNING, BENEDICT XVI RECEIVED PARTICIPANTS in the meeting of the Latinitas Foundation, which was founded by Paul VI in 1976. The foundation has the dual aim of promoting, on the one hand, the study of the Latin language, classical and Christian literature and medieval Latin, and on the other, the use and spread of Latin through the publication of books in that language. The foundation publishes a quarterly magazine "Latinatis" and every year celebrates the "Certamen Vaticanum," an international competition of Latin poetry and prose. The foundation has also published a dictionary, the "Lexicon recentis Latinitatis," containing more than 15,000 neologisms translated into Latin.

THE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION is celebrating its annual plenary session from November 28 to December 2, at the Vatican's Domus Sanctae Marthae, under the presidency of Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One of the subjects being considered is that of children who die without receiving Baptism, in the context of God's universal plan of salvation, the uniqueness of Christ's mediation and the sacramental nature of the Church. Attention will also be given to the identity of the nature and methods of theology as "scientia fidei" and to the foundations of natural moral law in keeping with the teaching of John Paul II's Encyclicals "Veritatis splendor" and "Fides et ratio."
.../IN BRIEF/...                                    VIS 20051128 (230)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to the young Dutch participants in the first National Day of Catholic Youth, celebrated in Nieuwegein, Netherlands, on November 27.

  After pointing out that many of the young people present at this event also participated in World Youth Day, held in August in Cologne, Germany, Benedict XVI writes: "Dear friends, Jesus is your true friend and Lord, enter into a relationship of true friendship with Him. He awaits you, and only in Him will you find happiness. How easy it is to content oneself with superficial pleasures, ... to live only for oneself in the apparent enjoyment of life. But sooner or later one becomes aware that this is not true happiness, because true happiness is much deeper and is only to be found in Jesus."

  "For this reason, I invite you to seek the Lord every day, He wants nothing other than your true happiness." On this subject, the Pope invites young people to dedicate moments of the day "to being exclusively in the company of the Lord. ... Recitation of the Rosary may help you to learn the art of praying with the simplicity and depth of Mary. It is important that participation in the Eucharist should be the center of your life. ... Adore God in church and remain kneeling before the tabernacle."

  In his Message to the young people the Holy Father writes that it is in the Sacrament of Penance that Jesus "awaits you to forgive your sins and reconcile yourselves with His love. ... What a great opportunity the Lord has given us with this Sacrament for interior renewal and for progress in our Christian lives. I recommend that you make good and constant use of it."

  "If you follow Jesus, you never feel alone because you are part of the Church, which is a great family in which you can grow in true friendship with so many brothers and sisters in the faith, scattered in every corner of the world. Jesus needs you to 'renew' modern society. Concern yourselves with increasing your knowledge of the faith, so as to be authentic witnesses thereof. Dedicate yourselves to an ever better understanding of Catholic doctrine," in which "the satisfying response to your deepest questions" is to be found.

  The Pope concludes his Message with assurances of his prayers for the young people meeting in Nieuwegein, in the hope that they "generously welcome the call of the Lord. ... Only by responding positively to His call, however demanding it may seem, is it possible to find happiness and peace of heart."
MESS/HAPPINESS/DUTCH YOUTH                        VIS 20051128 (460)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2005 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum, Sudan, accompanied by a group of Sudanese pilgrims. The Pope addressed some brief words to the group, expressing his concern for the situation in the country, which has recently emerged from a prolonged period of armed conflict.

  "It gives me great satisfaction to welcome you to the Vatican and through you to send heartfelt greetings to the people of your country. I very much appreciate the sentiments which have prompted your visit, and I wish to reassure you of my prayers and deep concern for the peaceful development of civil and ecclesial life in your nation.
  "The cessation of the civil war and the enactment of a new constitution have brought hope to the long-suffering people of Sudan. While there have been setbacks along the path of reconciliation, not least the tragic death of John Garang, there now exists an unprecedented opportunity and indeed duty for the Church to contribute significantly to the process of forgiveness and national reconstruction. Though a minority, Catholics have much to offer through inter-religious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services. I encourage you therefore to take the necessary initiatives to realize Christ's healing presence in these ways.

  "The horror of events unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights. Today, I add my voice to the cry of the suffering and assure you that the Holy See, together with the apostolic nuncio in Khartoum, will continue to do everything possible to end the cycle of violence and misery."
AC/SUDAN/WAKO                                VIS 20051128 (310)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI explained how this liturgical period "of great religious significance," is "permeated with hope and spiritual anticipation."

  The Pope explained how, during Advent, Christians experience a dual movement of the spirit: "On the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final goal of their pilgrimage in history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, recalling with emotion His birth in Bethlehem, they bow before the manager. The hope of Christians is directed to the future, but it always remains firmly rooted in an event from the past."

  After emphasizing that this is a time in which "Christians must reawaken in their hearts the hope of being able, with God's help, to renew the world," the Holy Father quoted the Vatican Council II Apostolic Constitution "Gaudium et spes" on the Church in the modern world, "a text profoundly imbed with Christian hope ... which reads: 'We are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart'."
ANG/ADVENT/...                                VIS 20051128 (220)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Mario Grech of the clergy of Gozo, Malta, judicial vicar and pastor, as bishop of the same diocese (area 67, population 32,335, Catholics 31,709, priests 189, religious 135). The bishop-elect was born in Qala, Malta in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1984. He succeeds Bishop Nikol Joseph Cauchi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Francisco Cases Andreu of Albacete, Spain, as bishop of the Canary Islands (area 4,106, population 979,606, Catholics 832,665, priests 256, permanent deacons 1, religious 593) Spain. He succeeds Bishop Ramon Echarren Ysturiz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Rafael Palmero Ramos of Palencia, Spain, as bishop of Orihuela-Alicante (area 4,415, population 1,260,000, Catholics 1,155,000, priests 401, religious 861) Spain. He succeeds Bishop Victorio Oliver Domingo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Benjamin Marc Ramaroson C.M., provincial superior of the Lazarist Fathers in Madagascar, as bishop of Farafangana (area 20,392, population 900,000, Catholics 70,000, priests 36, religious 103), Madagascar. The bishop-elect was born in Manakara, Madagascar in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1984.
NER:RE/.../...                                    VIS 20051128 (240)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2005 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of the first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent, which mark the opening of the new liturgical year.

  In his homily, the Holy Father commented on a passage from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (5, 23-24).

  The Apostle, said the Pope, hopes that "each individual will be sanctified by God and remain 'sound and blameless' in 'spirit and soul and body' until the final coming of the Lord Jesus."

  The Holy Father pointed out that the hope expressed by the Apostle "contains a fundamental truth, one he seeks to inculcate into the faithful of the community he founded, and that we can sum up like this: God calls us to communion with Him, communion which will be fully realized with the return of Christ, and He Himself undertakes to ensure that we are ready when we reach this final and decisive encounter."

  Pope Benedict went on: "The future is, so to say, contained in the present or, better still, in the presence of God Himself, in His indefectible love which does not leave us alone, does not abandon us even for an instant, just as fathers and mothers never cease to follow their children's development.

  "Faced with Christ who approaches, man feels called in all his being. ... Sanctification is a gift of God, it is His initiative, but human beings are called to correspond with all their being, leaving nothing of themselves excluded."

  "Just as at the center of human history is the first advent of Christ, and at the end His glorious return, so each individual existence is called to measure itself against Him in a mysterious and multifaceted way during the earthly journey, so as to be found 'in Him' at the moment of His return."

  "May Mary Most Holy, the faithful Virgin, guide us to make this period of Advent, and the whole of the new liturgical year, a journey of true sanctification, to the praise and glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
HML/VESPERS:ADVENT/...                            VIS 20051128 (370)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated November 8, in which he appoints Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, as his special envoy to the solemn jubilee celebrations due to take place at the Hungarian shrine of Mariapocs on December 3.

  The names of the two monsignors who will accompany the cardinal on his mission were also made public, they are: Msgrs. Istvan Pregun, protosincellus (vicar general) of the eparchy of Hajdudorog, and Miklos Beres, protosincellus of the apostolic exarchate of Miskolc.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the address delivered by Msgr. Renato Volante to the 33rd General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Msgr. Volante is the head of the Holy See delegation to the conference, which is being held at the organization's Rome headquarters from November 19 to 26.

  In his speech, which was delivered on November 22, the head of the Holy See delegation expressed his conviction that "food security remains the fruit of action inspired by a strong solidarity," not of action that is "limited to forms of assistance or to interventions that, despite being well organized, often fail to achieve their intended goals."

  Guaranteeing adequate food supplies, he went on, "is an essential component of that right to development intrinsic to each individual, people and nation, proclaimed by the international community but often overlooked, ... as the information presented to this conference shows."

  Msgr. Violante stressed that "guaranteeing access to agricultural and food resources, is an important way to eliminate poverty and, hence, to put planned strategies into effect."

  "It is the heartfelt wish of the Holy See delegation ... that support be given to the activities and practices of rural populations (in which the importance of the family cannot be overstressed). They constitute the basic economic foundation for most developing countries where monocultures and forest and marine resources represent an essential - and, unfortunately, at times unique - means of survival." In this context, Msgr. Volante called for the forthcoming conference on agrarian reform and rural development, due to be held in Brazil in March 2006, to "give 'voice' and support to those people who daily practice small-scale agriculture."

  The Holy See representative concluded his speech by referring to the "notable importance for the development of food and agriculture" of "questions concerning the trade in agricultural, forest and fisheries products."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2005 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received in audience the first group of prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  "I recall with emotion," said the Pope at the beginning of his address to the bishops, "the great prayer with which the Poles accompanied John Paul II throughout his pontificate, and in particular over the days of his passage to the glory of the Lord. I am grateful to be able to count upon the same prayerful support. It is something I greatly appreciate and constantly request."

  Among the themes he discussed with the Polish episcopate, Benedict XVI laid particular emphasis on the question of Christian education in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesai in Europa," where John Paul II called on the continent "to give greater attention to the training of young people in the faith."

  "The faithful and fruitful realization of the mission of education which the Church is facing today, calls for adequate evaluation of the situation of the young people towards whom it is directed," he said. "I am aware that economic difficulties, consistently high levels of unemployment, and concern over guaranteeing material existence all have an effect on the way of life of many Polish families. It is not possible to create truly authentic attitudes without bearing in mind these problems, which also affect young people."

  The Holy Father also noted the presence of "many positive phenomena that support and assist education in the faith," such as "a profound sensitivity towards the needs of others, especially those of the poor," and "a real interest for questions of faith and religion."

  "Education in faith," the Pope explained, "must consist in the first place of developing that which is good in man. ... In the Church's educational initiatives, it would also be appropriate ... to accustom children and young people to prayer. ... Among the various forms of prayer, a special place is reserved for the liturgy. In Poland, young people participate actively and in large numbers in Sunday Mass."

  Going on to refer to the enthusiastic participation of young Poles in Catholic groups, Benedict XVI made particular mention of the "Light and Life" movement. "The spirituality of this movement is focussed on the encounter with God in Holy Scripture and in the Eucharist," he said, calling on the prelates to support it "as being particularly effective in educating in the faith, though without, of course, overlooking other movements."

  The Holy Father then addressed the question of cooperation with families and lay associations, in the field of education. "The formation of young generations is the task of parents, of the Church and of the State," he said. "Therefore, ... the Church must collaborate very closely with schools, universities and other lay institutions."

  The teaching of religion in schools must "maintain its true evangelical dimension of transmitting and bearing witness to the faith," Pope Benedict observed. As for the catechesis of adults, he called on the bishops to "support those institutions that already undertake" this activity.

  The final points of the Holy Father's address to the Polish episcopate concerned pastoral care in universities and in the world of culture and of the communications media.

  "After years of scant freedom, the Church in Poland has been able to establish her own universities and theological faculties, most of which have become part of the infrastructure of State-run universities," the Pope said.

  He then went on to observe how Poland, with its "rich cultural heritage rooted in Christian values," had entered the European Union, adding that the country "must not lose this heritage." The Pope also highlighted the fact that, in the world of culture, a special role is played by the communications media, "which thus constitute a valuable instrument of evangelization." And he invited the prelates to establish contact "with the world of journalists and other media operators. It may be appropriate to organize special pastoral initiatives specifically for them."

  Benedict XVI concluded by quoting the Vatican Council II Declaration "Gravissimum educationis," wherein the Conciliar Fathers remind pastors of "their most serious obligation to see to it that all the faithful, but especially the youth who are the hope of the Church, enjoy a Christian education."

  "This exhortation is still relevant," said the Holy Father, "and it may be even more urgent today, in the face of the new challenges presented by current social phenomena."
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Friday, November 25, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 25, 2005 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 25, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited Rome's Sacred Heart Catholic University, for the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year.

  The day began in the university, prior to the Pope's arrival, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome. The Eucharistic celebration was attended by students from all branches of the Sacred Heart Catholic University: Milan, Brescia, Piacenza-Cremona, Campobasso and Rome.

  At 11.00 a.m. in the main hall of the "Agostino Gemelli" Faculty of Medicine and Surgery the main celebration began in the Holy Father's presence. The Sacred Heart University was founded by Fr. Agostino Gemelli from whom the famous hospital, which is part of the university, takes its name. A brief speech by Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the university, was followed by a greeting from Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy.

  The Pope began his address by greeting the academic authorities, then said: "Finding ourselves here together we cannot but think of the time charged with trepidation and emotion we experienced in this hospital during John Paul II's final months. During those days, from all over the world the thoughts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike were directed to the Gemelli hospital where, from his ward, the Pope provided everyone with a matchless lesson on the Christian meaning of life and suffering, bearing personal witness to the Christian message." On this subject, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude for "the attentive care given to the Holy Father."

  Highlighting the fact that many thousands of young people pass through the university, the Pope asked: "How do they leave? What culture did they find, assimilate, develop? This is the great challenge: ... to give life to a true Catholic university, one that excels for the quality of its research and teaching and, at the same time, for its faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Church's Magisterium."

  "The Catholic university," he went on, "is a great workshop in which, in keeping with the various disciplines, new lines of research are constantly being developed in a stimulating encounter between faith and reason, one that aims to recover the synthesis" between these two elements. This synthesis is "unfortunately contrasted by important currents of modern philosophy. As a consequence, ... the fundamental questions facing man - how to live and how to die - seem to be excluded from the realm of rationality and are left to that of subjectivity. The end result is that the question which gave rise to the university - that of truth and goodness - disappears, to be replaced by the question of feasibility. This then is the great challenge facing Catholic universities: to practice science within the horizon of a rationality different from that which dominates today, in keeping with a form of reason open to the transcendent, to God."

  Benedict XVI called on the teachers and students to cast out their nets "into the high seas of knowledge, trusting in the Word of Christ, even when you experience the fatigue and disappointment of not having 'fished' anything. In the great sea of culture, Christ always has need of 'fishers of men,' in other words, of people of conscience, well prepared people who place their professional expertise at the service of the Kingdom of God. And university research, if carried out from the standpoint of faith, is also part of this service to the Kingdom and to mankind."

  In closing his address, the Pope referred to the "Paul VI International Scientific Institute of research on human fertility and infertility for responsible procreation," which was founded in November 2000. "It is, he said, "an eloquent example of that synthesis of truth and love that constitutes the living center of Catholic culture."

  The Holy Father pointed out how the institute, "which came into being in response to the appeal launched by Paul VI in his Encyclical 'Humanae vitae,' aims to give a secure scientific foundation both to the natural regulation of human fertility and to the commitment to overcome infertility by natural means. Echoing my venerated predecessor's grateful appreciation for this scientific initiative, I trust it may find the necessary support in continuing to carry out its important research activities."

  Following his address, Benedict XVI bid farewell to the academic authorities and the students, before returning to the Vatican by car.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Nine prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Marian Golebiewski of Wroclaw, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Janiak and by Cardinal Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz, archbishop emeritus.

    - Bishop Stefan Cichy of Legnica, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Stefan Regmunt and by Bishop emeritus Tadeusz Rybak.

    - Bishop Ignacy Dec of Swidnica.

    - Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski C.M. of Gdansk, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Ryszard Kasyna.

 - Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke, Canada, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, accompanied by Archbishop Vernon James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, and by Msgr. Mario Paquette P.H., respectively vice president and secretary of the same conference.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences nine prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Jan Bernard Szlaga of Pelplin.

    - Bishop Andrzej Wojciech Suski of Torun, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jozef Szamocki.

    - Archbishop Henryk Muszynski of Gniezno, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Wojciech Polak and by former Auxiliary Bishop Szczepan Wesoly.

    - Bishop Wieslaw Alojzy Mering of Wloclawek, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw Gebicki, and by Bishop emeritus Bronislaw Dembowski.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2005 (VIS) - The Vatican's traditional Christmas concert will be held in the Paul VI Hall at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. This year it will be dedicated to missions in the east.

  According to a communique made public today, the concert aims "to raise public awareness concerning the question of the Church's missionary vocation and to gather funds to support missions in east Asia." One reason for this choice of theme, the communique says, "is because 2006 has been proclaimed as the 'Xavierian Year' (in honor of the patron of missions St. Francis Xavier, on the fifth centenary of his birth), of which the concert will officially mark the opening."

  The concert will include various pieces from a new musical on the life of the saint: "Xavier - dreaming of China." It was to that country that the Jesuit saint was travelling on his last missionary journey; however, he fell ill on the island of Sancian, 100 kilometers off the Chinese coast, and died there on December 3, 1552.

  Artists from all over the world will participate in the concert "to symbolize the encounter between a diversity of countries, cultures, religions, life experiences, ideals, and musical genres and styles," the communique concludes, and "in order to highlight once again the universality of the Church."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience a group of representatives from member States of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), accompanied by Jacques Diouf, director general of the organization, for the occasion of the 33rd FAO Conference which is currently being held.

  "This is our first meeting and it allows me to see at close hand your efforts in the service of a great ideal: that of liberating humanity from hunger," said the Pope in his English-language address. He also expressed his "sincere appreciation for the programs which the FAO, in its diverse agencies, has carried out for the past sixty years, defending with competence and professionalism the cause of man, beginning precisely with the basic right of each person to be 'free of hunger'."

  The Holy Father went on to refer to the contrast between progress in the areas of the economy, science and technology, and the continuing increase of poverty, expressing the hope that the experience accumulated by the FAO may "help to develop a method adequate to the task of combating hunger and poverty, one shaped by that concrete realism which has always characterized the work of your distinguished organization."

  The FAO has, said Pope Benedict, "worked for broader cooperation and has seen in the 'dialogue of cultures' a specific means of ensuring greater development and secure access to food. Today more than ever, there is a need for concrete, effective instruments for eliminating the potential for conflict between different cultural, ethnic and religious visions. There is a need to base international relations on respect for the person and on the cardinal principles of peaceful coexistence and fidelity to commitments undertaken. ... There is likewise a need to recognize that technical progress ... is not everything. True progress ... enables each people to share its own spiritual and material resources for the benefit of all.

  "Here I wish to mention the importance of helping native communities, all too often subjected to undue appropriations aimed at profit, as your organization recently pointed out in its 'Guidelines on the Right to Food.' Also, it must not be forgotten that, while some areas are subject to international measures and controls, millions of people are condemned to hunger, even outright starvation, in areas where violent conflicts are taking place, conflicts which public opinion tends to neglect because they are considered internal, ethnic or tribal."

   The Holy Father identified one "encouraging sign" in the "initiative of the FAO to convene its member States to discuss the issue of agrarian reform and rural development. This is not a new area, but one in which the Church has always shown interest, out of particular concern for small rural farmers who represent a significant part of the active population especially in developing countries. One course of action might be to ensure that rural populations receive the resources and tools which they need, beginning with education and training, as well as organizational structures capable of safeguarding small family farms and cooperatives."

  Finally, the Pope recalled the forthcoming meeting in Hong Kong for negotiations on international commerce, particularly with regard to farm products. "The Holy See, he said, "is confident that a sense of responsibility and solidarity with the most disadvantaged will prevail, so that narrow interests and the logic of power will be set aside. It must not be forgotten that the vulnerability of rural areas has significant repercussions on the subsistence of small farmers and their families if they are denied access to the market. ... Support should also be given to the role of rural women and at the same time to children for whom not only nutrition but also basic education must be assured."
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father, with the aim of reorganizing the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Albania, appointed:

 - Msgr. Dode Gjergji, apostolic administrator of Sape, as bishop of the same diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Stublla, Kosovo in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1989.

- Fr. Ottavio Vitale R.C.I., apostolic administrator of Lezhe, as bishop of the same diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Grottaglie, Italy in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1992.

- Fr. Cristoforo Palmieri, apostolic administrator of Rreshen, as bishop of the same diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Bitonto, Italy in 1939 and ordained a priest in 1967.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2005 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Diego Causero, apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic.

 - Archbishop Giovanni d'Aniello, apostolic nuncio to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 - Archbishop Martin Vidovic, apostolic nuncio to Belarus.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, inaugurated the 9th International Congress on Cinema and Spirituality, which is being held in Rome's "Roma Tre" University on November 22 and 23.

  Referring to the theme of this year's gathering, "the temptation to believe," the archbishop said that submitting to such temptation "means starting along the road of the difficult search for Truth in a world such as today's which swings from religious indifference to religious extremism; it means responding to God despite human incredulity, which can never be completely overcome, it means undertaking an act of courage, a leap of quality at the existential level."

  The president of the Pontifical Council recalled how in various films "the temptation to believe ... has given rise to a dialogue between human beings and God, a dialogue capable of stimulating spectators to profound reflection, bringing them face to face with their own intimate identity and with their fellow men."

  "The great film directors," the archbishop continued, "know how to tell the stories of men and women of all times and cultures to the men and women of today, echoing personal experiences of great intensity. And it is precisely this valuable potential of cinema that leads me to hope that it will continue to place itself at the service of mankind, guiding man to a spiritual understanding of his own essence."

  Archbishop Foley highlighted the fact that "cinema has traversed more than one hundred years," yet it "continues to amaze us, to make us think and question ourselves through the masterful art of those artists who have chosen to share their spiritual experience with the spectator."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2005 (VIS) - In the general audience held this morning in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the opening canticle of the Letter to the Ephesians, "God the Savior." It belongs, he said, to the category of "blessings that appear in the Old Testament and that were further spread by the Jewish tradition."

  It is, said the Pope, "a constant stream of praise rising up to God, Who in the Christian faith is celebrated as 'Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' It is for this reason that, in our hymn of praise, the central figure is that of Christ, in Whom the work of God the Father is revealed and accomplished."

  The Holy Father went on to refer to the verbs used in St. Paul's hymn, the first of which is "to choose." God "'chose us in Him,' this is our vocation to sanctity, to the status of adoptive children, and hence to fraternity with Christ. ... The second verb ... designates the gift of grace. ... The grace the Father gives us in the only begotten Son is, then, the epiphany of His love which envelops and transforms us.

  "Thus we come to the third fundamental verb of the Pauline hymn. It too has as its object in divine grace which is 'lavished upon us.' What we have, then, is a verb of fullness, we could say (keeping to its original sense) of excess, of giving without limit or reserve."

  "And so we reach the infinite and glorious depths of the mystery of God, opened and revealed by grace to those who were called through grace and love. ... The mystery of divine will has a center that is destined to coordinate all existence and all history, leading them to the fullness desired by God. This is the 'plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things' in Christ."

  "We are looking at the great fresco of the history of creation and of salvation, which we may consider more deeply through the words of St. Irenaeus who recognized that since the Word of God truly becomes man, sin and death are defeated and all people are renewed in Christ."

  Following the audience, the Pope addressed a special greeting to representatives of the Italian National Anti-Usury Consultancy, which is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its creation. "Your presence in such large numbers," he told them, "gives me the opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation for the courageous and generous activity you carry out in support of the families of people hit by the deplorable social plague of usury. I hope that many people will stand alongside you to support your worthy commitment in the field of prevention, solidarity and education."

  The Holy Father also spoke to Polish pilgrims, recalling the recent celebration of the day dedicated to communities of contemplative life. "They represent a great wealth for the Church," he said, "let us thank the nuns and monks for their prayers and for their silent accompaniment of a restless world."
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father erected the diocese of Ba Ria (area 1,975, population 908,622, Catholics 224,474, priests 191, religious 598), Vietnam, with territory taken from the diocese of Xuan Loc, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Thanh-Pho Ho Chi Minh. He appointed Bishop Thomas Nguyen Van Tram, auxiliary of Xuan Loc, as the first bishop of the new diocese.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2005 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office today, a conference was held to present the calendar of commemorative events for the fifth centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the world's oldest active military corps. Participating in the press conference were Colonel Elmar Th. Mader, commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and Pier Paolo Francini, head of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City.

  Colonel Mader, briefly summarizing the history of the founding of the Swiss Guard, recalled that Pope Julius II (1503-1513) had wanted a troop of guards both for his own personal protection and as the permanent nucleus of a larger army to be formed in case of need. He decided on Switzerland because of the history of the country, the large number of infantrymen available and, above all, the great respect for the Church that characterized the Swiss Cantons. In 1505, with the Bull "Confoederatis Superioris Alemanniae," the Pope ordered the prelate of the papal court Peter von Hertenstein to recruit 200 Swiss soldiers and lead them to Rome under the command of Captain Kasper von Silenen. The guard, with 150 members, crossed the Alps and the Italian regions of Lombardy and Tuscany, arriving in Rome on January 22, 1506.

  "For the occasion of the fifth centenary of Julius II's Bull," Colonel Mader went on, "the Holy Father wrote a letter to the president of the Swiss Episcopal Conference and to all the Swiss Guards, both those still in service and those who have been discharged. In his Message, the Holy Father recalls the founding of the Guard, their heroic sacrifice during the sack of Rome (1527) and his gratitude for their centuries-long faithfulness to the pontiff."

  All the celebrations "must take into account the fact that former Swiss Guards still feel bound to the corps," said Clonel Mader. And "celebrations must include our own homeland as well as Italy, the Vatican and the city of Rome."

  Colonel Mader went on to give details of the celebrations for the fifth centenary, which will begin on January 21, 2006, with a gala reception, followed the next day by Mass in the Sistine Chapel presided by the Cardinal Secretary of State. A guard of honor in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer and the papal blessing will recall the historic arrival of the first guards.

  On March 29, 2006, an exhibition entitled "The Pontifical Swiss Guard, 500 years of history, art and life," will be inaugurated in the Charlemagne Wing at the left colonnade of St. Peter's Square. The exhibition will concentrate on the different aspects of the Swiss Guard, both from a historical perspective and as regards its current activities.

  On April 7, 2006, around 100 former Swiss Guards will begin a commemorative march from Bellinzona in the Swiss Canton of Ticino. The march will cover various stages and, largely following the old pilgrim route known as the Via Francigena, will reach Rome on May 4. On that day, as 500 years before, the former Swiss Guards will cross the city of Rome where they will be welcomed by the local authorities, then proceed to St. Peter's Square, where they will receive the Holy Father's blessing.

  May 6, 2006, the main day of the fifth centenary celebrations, will begin with a commemorative Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. A wreath of flowers will then be laid in the Square of Roman Protomartyrs inside the Vatican to recall the Swiss Guards who fell during the sack of Rome in 1527. At 4.30 p.m., the annual swearing-in ceremony for new recruits will take place; for the first time in history it will be held in St. Peter's Square, rather than in the San Damaso courtyard where it normally takes place. In the evening, a firework display over Castel Sant'Angelo will conclude the day.

  The May celebrations also include three concerts, all in the Paul VI Hall. On May 3, the Swiss Army Concert Band will perform a selection of popular music. On May 4, the united choirs of the Olten Cantonal School together with the Swiss Army Concert Band will perform the oratorio "Nicholas de Flue," by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger with words by Denis de Rougement. On May 5, the choir and orchestra of the Collegium Musicum of Lucerne, with soloists from the Higher School of Music, also of Lucerne, the choir of Freiburg Cathedral and the Vokalensemble of the Swiss Canton of Schwyz will perform the "Carmen Saeculare" by Fr. Theo Flury O.S.B.

  The Swiss Army Concert Band will also play a concert of music on Sunday May 7, following the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

  For his part, Pier Paolo Francini outlined details of an issue of Vatican stamps dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

  It is the first time, he said, "that a series of stamps has been jointly issued by Switzerland and Vatican City." The stamps have been designed by the Swiss artist Rudolf Mirer, himself a former Swiss Guard.

  The head of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City also announced the coining of a commemorative two-euro coin, scheduled to be released during the first six months of 2006 and dedicated to the Pontifical Swiss Guard on the fifth centenary of its foundation.

  Colonel Mader pointed out that the Swiss Confederation has issued a gold coin to commemorate the anniversary, also designed by Rudolf Mirer. Two further coins will be minted for the occasion of the commemorative march: one in gold with the image of Pope Julius II and another in silver, portraying Pope Benedict XVI. Furthermore, he concluded, an official medal of the Holy See will also be produced and awarded to current members of the Swiss Guard.
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Monday, November 21, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Jean-Marie Le Vert of the clergy of the archdiocese of Tours, France, head of the "Maison des Vocations," as auxiliary of Meaux (area 5,931, population 1,213,846, Catholics 667,615, priests 179, permanent deacons 28, religious 434), France. The bishop-elect was born in Papeete, Tahiti, in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1987.

 - Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Pakistan, as apostolic nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  On Saturday, November 19, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino (area 1,142, population 80,730, Catholics 78,500, priests 204, permanent deacons 5, religious 640), Italy, while maintaining his title of archbishop. He succeeds Bishop Sergio Goretti, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Alejo Zavala Castro of Tlapa, Mexico , as bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa (area 19,970, population 900,000, Catholics 825,000, priests 139, religious 186), Mexico.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Walter Kasper, prefect of the Congregation for Promoting Christian Unity.

  On Saturday, November 19, he received in separate audiences:

 - Pierre Morel, ambassador of France, on a farewell visit.

 - Kiko Arguello, co-founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2005 (VIS) - At 11.30 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday November 22, a conference will be held in the Holy See Press Office to present the events being organized to mark the fifth centenary of the founding of the Swiss Guard, and the special joint emission, by Vatican City and Switzerland, of stamps to celebrate the event.

  Attending the conference will be Colonel Elmar Th. Mader, commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and Pier Paolo Francini, head of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope visited the offices of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which are located in the "Casina Pio IV" in the Vatican Gardens. The two academies are headed, respectively, by Nicola Cabibbo and Mary Ann Glendon.

  In his address to them in English, the Holy Father expressed his satisfaction that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has chosen "the concept of the person in social sciences" as the subject of its plenary assembly this year. He recalled that "human beings are part of nature and, yet, as free subjects who have moral and spiritual values, they transcend nature. This anthropological reality is an integral part of Christian thought, and responds directly to the attempts to abolish the boundary between human sciences and natural sciences, often proposed in contemporary society.

  "Understood correctly," he continued, "this reality offers a profound answer to the questions posed today concerning the status of the human being. This is a theme which must continue to be part of the dialogue with science."

  "According to God's design, persons cannot be separated from the physical, psychological or spiritual dimensions of human nature. Even though cultures change over time, to suppress or ignore the nature that they claim to 'cultivate' can have serious consequences. Likewise, individuals will only find authentic fulfillment when they accept the genuine elements of nature that constitute them as persons."

  The Pope continued: "The concept of person continues to bring about a profound understanding of the unique character and social dimension of every human being. This is especially true in legal and social institutions, where the notion of 'person' is fundamental. Sometimes, however, even when this is recognized in international declarations and legal statutes, certain cultures, especially when not deeply touched by the Gospel, remain strongly influenced by group-centered ideologies or by an individualistic and secularist view of society. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church, which places the human person at the heart and source of social order, can offer much to the contemporary consideration of social themes."

  Going on to refer to the late John Paul II, Benedict XVI stressed how his predecessor "enriched and expanded the concept (of the person) in his Encyclicals and other writings. These texts represent a patrimony to be received, collected and assimilated with care, particularly by the pontifical academies."

  In closing his address, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude at having the opportunity "of this occasion to unveil this sculpture of Pope John Paul II, flanked by two memorial inscriptions. They remind us of the Servant of God's special interest in the work of your academies, especially the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, founded by him in 1994. They also point to his enlightened readiness to reach out in a dialogue of salvation to the world of science and culture, a desire which is entrusted in a particular way to the pontifical academies."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 20, 2005 (VIS) - Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted the bishops, priests, religious and laity who participated today in the Jalisco Stadium of Guadalajara, Mexico, in the beatification of thirteen martyrs who were killed during religious persecutions in Mexico last century. Three of the martyrs were priests, and ten were lay people. The ceremony of beatification was presided by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  The Pope recalled the names of the martyrs: Anacleto Gonzalez Flores and seven companions, Jose Trinidad Rangel, Andres Sola Molist, Leonardo Perez, Dario Acosta Zurita, and the fourteen-year-old boy Jose Sanchez del Rio. "They faced martyrdom in order to defend their Christian faith," he said.

  "On this Solemnity of Christ the King, whom they invoked at the moment of supreme sacrifice," the Holy Father went on, "they are for us a permanent example and a stimulus to bear coherent witness to our own faith in modern society."

  The Pope then recalled that tomorrow, November 21 and the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, marks "pro orantibus" Day, in other words, the day dedicated to religious communities of contemplative life. The Pope expressed gratitude, "in the name of the whole Church, for those people who consecrate their lives to prayer and to the cloister, offering eloquent testimony of the primacy of God and of His Kingdom. Let us remain close to them with our spiritual and material support."

  Addressing French-speaking pilgrims, Benedict XVI indicated that on this Sunday, which is given over to remembering victims of road accidents, he entrusted "to the love of the Lord all those people who have died in road accidents, as well as the many injured and their families." At the same time he invited "all motorists to drive carefully and responsibly so as to combat, together with the authorities, this social evil and reduce the number of victims."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 20, 2005 (VIS) - Addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus at midday, Benedict XVI reminded them that today, the final Sunday of the liturgical year, also marks the Solemnity of Christ the King.

  "During His public life," the Pope said, "Jesus inaugurated the new Kingdom which 'is not of this world,' finally realizing it in full with His death and resurrection. Having risen from death, He appeared before the Apostles and said 'all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.' This power springs from the love which God showed totally in the sacrifice of His Son. The Kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to men and women of all times so that everyone who believes in the Word incarnate may 'not perish but have eternal life'."

  "'Christ, Alpha and Omega,' is the title of the concluding paragraph of the first part of the Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution 'Gaudium et Spes,' promulgated forty years ago. ... It reads: 'The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings. ... Enlivened and united in His Spirit, we journey toward the consummation of human history, one which fully accords with the counsel of God's love: To reestablish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those on the earth'."

  The Pope concluded: "'Gaudium et spes' interprets, in the light of the central position of Christ, the condition of contemporary man; his vocation and dignity, and all areas of his life: family, culture, economics, politics and the international community. This is the Church's mission yesterday, today and always: to announce and bear witness to Christ so that mankind, all men and women, may fully realize their vocation."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, C.P., vice director of the Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration to journalists:

  "Today, November 19, 2005, The Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Silvio Berlusconi, president of the council of ministers of the Italian Republic.

  "Afterwards, the illustrious guest visited Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions, opinions on bilateral problems between Church and State in Italy were exchanged, and the mutual desire for collaboration between the parties was reaffirmed, in keeping with the Lateran Pacts.

  "The visit of the head of the Italian government also provided the opportunity for an exchange of information on the current international situation."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2005 (VIS) - With the "Motu proprio" entitled "De Basilicis Sancti Francisci et Sanctae Mariae Angelorum," Benedict XVI has established new norms concerning the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, which is run by the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in the same city, which is in the hands of the Order of Friars Minor.

  The Pope first recalls the universal fame of the Basilica of St. Francis "which holds the remains of the seraphic saint," and that of St. Mary of the Angels "which houses the diminutive but pre-eminent church of Porziuncola." He then highlights the fact that "the Roman Pontiffs, for their part, have always had special ties with, and particular solicitude for, these two major Franciscan churches, ... and have always kept them under their own direct jurisdiction.

  "Over the centuries, with their compassionate activities and their testimony, the Conventual Friars and the Friars Minor have kept the spirit and the charism of St. Francis alive, spreading his evangelical message of peace, brotherhood and goodness throughout the world."

  The Pope continues by affirming that, in order in order to integrate more effectively the activities carried out in the two basilicas with diocesan, regional and national pastoral care, "we feel it appropriate to modify the current juridical regulations, as established by my venerated predecessor Pope Paul VI, ... updating the norms to reflect current needs."

  Consequently, Benedict XVI decrees that the Basilica of St. Francis and the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, with their associated convents, will be assigned a cardinal as papal legate who "although without jurisdiction, will have the task of perpetuating with his moral authority the close ties of communion between those places sacred to the memory of St. Francis and this Apostolic See. He will be able to impart the papal blessing during the celebrations he presides on the occasion of the major liturgical Solemnities."

  The Pope further disposes that the bishop of the diocese Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino will, from this moment on, have jurisdiction "over the churches and the religious houses, regarding all pastoral activities carried out by the Conventual Fathers of the Basilica of St. Francis, and by the Friars Minor of St. Mary of the Angels."

  The Motu proprio continues: "The Franciscan Fathers, both Conventual and Friars Minor, for all initiatives with pastoral implications, will thus have to ask for and obtain the consent of the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino," who will "seek the opinion of the president of the Episcopal Conference of Umbria" [the region of Italy, of which Assisi is part] or, for more wide-ranging initiatives, "of the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference."

  "As for the celebration of the Sacraments in the aforesaid basilicas, the norms of the Code of Canon Law and those in force in the diocese are applicable."

  Benedict XVI concludes his Motu proprio, which bears the date of November 9, anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, by exhorting "the Sons of St. Francis, to whom the two aforesaid basilicas are entrusted, to follow with generous willingness the norms laid down in this Motu proprio in a spirit of sincere communion with the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino and, through him, with the regional and national episcopal conferences."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received participants in the 20th international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. This year the conference - which is being held in the Vatican from November 17 to 19 - is considering the subject of the human genome.

  In his address, the Pope affirmed that the Church has the possibility of illuminating consciences so that scientific discoveries "may serve for the integral good of the person, in constant respect for his or her dignity."

  "Believers," said the Pope, "well know that the Gospel is in intrinsic harmony with the values inscribed in human nature. The image of God is so strongly impressed on man's soul that it difficult for the voice of conscience to be completely silenced. ... Even people who no longer recognize themselves as members of the Church, or who have lost the light of faith, remain attentive to human values and to the positive contribution the Gospel can make to individual and social good."

  Benedict XVI went on to highlight the fact that people of our time "are capable of understanding that the dignity of man is not identified with the genes of his DNA, and does not diminish in the presence of any physical diversity or genetic defects. The principle of 'non discrimination' on the basis of physical or genetic factors has entered profoundly into people's consciences and is formally expressed in the Charter of Human Rights. This principle has its most authentic roots in the dignity intrinsic to each human being by the fact of having been created in the image and likeness of God." An analysis of scientific data reveals the dignity of human life "from the first moment of fecundation," he added.

  After pointing out how the Church "announces and presents this truth, not only with the authority of the Gospel but also with the strength deriving from reason," the Holy Father affirmed: "It is necessary to guard against the risks of a science and technology that seek complete autonomy from the moral norms written into human nature."

  The Pope then went on to mention the need "of giving fresh impulse to pastoral health care ministry" through "a renewal and a deepening of pastoral activity itself, bearing in mind the increased awareness spread by the media in society, and the higher level of education of the people to whom it is addressed.

  "We cannot ignore the fact that, ever more frequently, not only legislators but citizens themselves are called to express their view on complex scientific problems. If adequate education - or indeed an adequate formation of consciences - is lacking, false values and misleading information may easily prevail in orienting public opinion."

  Benedict XVI concluded by making reference to the applications of genetic engineering, which requires , he said, "a thorough and limpid formation of consciences. Modern scientific discoveries affect the lives of families, involving them in unforeseen and delicate choices which must be faced responsibly." In this context, he stressed that pastoral health care ministry "needs well trained and competent professionals."
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Friday, November 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

- Four prelates from the Czech Bishops' Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Pavel Posad of Litomerice, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Josef Koukl.

    - Bishop Frantisek Radkovsky of Plzen.

    - Bishop Ladislav Hucko, apostolic exarch for Catholics of the Byzantine rite resident in the Czech Republic.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the same congregation.
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ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 21, BENEDICT XVI will visit the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is currently celebrating its plenary session on the theme: "The conceptualization of the human person in the social sciences." During the plenary session, the theme will be considered from various standpoints: from the point of view of the Church's Magisterium by Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy; in its philosophical aspects by Cardinal Georges Cottier O.P., and by Rocco Buttiglione and Enrico Berti, Italian university professors; and from a sociological and economic viewpoint by Serge-Christophe Kolm of the "Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales" of Paris, France. Also during the session, Mary Ann Glendon, president of the pontifical academy, and the scholar Hans Zacher will present the book: "Democracy in Debate: the Contribution of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences."

ARCHBISHOP JOHN P. FOLEY, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL for Social Communications, yesterday participated in the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, which is being held in Tunis, Tunisia. In his address, the archbishop recalled how new technologies give us "the opportunity to connect and assist those living in the poorest and most isolated regions of the world and to offer a voice to those who in the past have often been unheard and forgotten." He continued: "The challenge of narrowing or even closing the so-called 'digital divide,' the current disparity in the access to digital communications between developed and developing countries, requires the joint effort of the entire international community."

"PILGRIMS AND SHRINES, GIFTS OF THE GOD-LOVE IN ASIA TODAY" is the theme of the second Asiatic congress on the pastoral care of pilgrimages and shrines, which is being promoted by the Pontifical Care for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and is due to be held in Seoul, Korea, on November 21 to 23. The meeting will be attended by 90 pilgrimage directors and rectors of shrines, who will have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to identify shared pastoral criteria. The work of the congress will be opened by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the pontifical council, who will speak on the subject of shrines as "privileged places where God welcomes His people ... and where ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is favored," especially in a continent such as Asia where shrines are frequented by pilgrims from various Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as by believers from other religious traditions.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received prelates from the Czech Bishops' Conference who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

  In his address to them, the Holy Father affirmed that in his individual meetings with the prelates he had learned that the Church in the Czech Republic is "alive and well, and feels the call to be the leavening in a society that is secularized yet at the same time interested ... in the liberating but challenging message of the Gospel."

  Benedict XVI expressed the view that "the material and spiritual devastation of the earlier regime has left your fellow citizens, now that they have reacquired complete freedom, with a yearning to make up for lost time, pushing ahead without, perhaps, giving sufficient attention to the importance of spiritual values which give fortitude and consistency to civil and material progress."

  Your communities, he went on, "already provide a solid testimony that attracts no small number of people, also from the world of culture. This is a sign of hope for the formation of a mature laity, one that knows how to shoulder its ecclesial responsibilities.

  After giving thanks to God because priests and religious are "active and hard-working, disciplined and united," the Pope added that, although this "is a reason for consolation, it should not lead us to forget other aspects that give rise to understandable concern. In the first place, the lack of priests," which "rightly induces you to dedicate special attention to vocational pastoral care . Also from this point of view, commitment to the formation of solid Christian families is particularly important for the life of the Church."

  The Holy Father laid emphasis on the importance of the laity's participation "in parish activities, and their introduction to a rich and healthy liturgical life." He continued: "The Christian community is a grouping of people with their own rules, a living body that, in Jesus, exists in the world to bear witness to the strength of the Gospel. It is, then, a group of brothers and sisters who have no goals of power or of selfish interest, but who joyfully live the charity of God, which is Love.

  "In such a context," he added, "the State should have no difficulty in recognizing in the Church a counterpart that in no way prejudices its own function at the service of citizens. Indeed, the Church undertakes her activities in the religious sphere, enabling believers to express their faith, yet without invading the area of competence of the civil authorities. ... As is known, the Church does not seek privileges, but only the opportunity to carry out her mission. When this right is recognized, it is really the whole of society that benefits."

  Benedict XVI concluded by exhorting the Czech prelates to "continue ecumenical dialogue. I know such dialogue is intense, as is the dialogue with all citizens in the cultural field on the fundamental values upon which all civil coexistence is based."
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