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Friday, December 28, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father erected the new diocese of Techiman, (area 22,400, population 695,826, Catholics 79,645, priests 31, religious 23) Ghana, with territory taken from the dioceses of Sunyani and Konongo-Mampong, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Kumasi. He appointed Fr. Dominic Nyarko Yeboah of the clergy of the diocese of Sunyani as the first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Nsuta, Ghana in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1990.

  On Thursday, December 27, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Catamarca, Argentina presented by Bishop Elmer Osmar Ramon Miani, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Luis Urbanc.

 - Appointed Bishop Agustin Roberto Radrizzani S.D.B. of Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, as archbishop of Mercedes-Lujan (area 19,330, population 716,000, Catholics 687,360, priests 104, permanent deacons 2, religious 222), Argentina. The archbishop-elect was born in Avellanada, Argentina in 1944 he was ordained a priest in 1972 and consecrated a bishop in 1991. He succeeds Archbishop Ruben Hector Di Monte, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Monday, December 24, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Bishop Richard Anthony Burke S.P.S. of Warri, Nigeria, as archbishop of Benin City (area 13,678, population 3,043,000, Catholics 363,000, priests 90, religious 154), Nigeria. The archbishop-elect was born in Clonmel, Ireland in 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 1996.

  On Saturday, December 22, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Antonio Jose Lopez Castillo of Calabozo, Venezuela, as archbishop of Barquisimeto (area 8,590, population 1,754,410, Catholics 1,142,504, priests 189, permanent deacons 22, religious 341), Venezuela. He succeeds Archbishop Tulio Manuel Chirivella Varela, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Gianni Ambrosio of the clergy of the archdiocese of Vercelli, Italy, general ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic University of Milan, as bishop of Piacenza - Bobbio (area 3,715, population 290,000, Catholics 269,000, priests 348, permanent deacons 37, religious 414), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Santhia, Italy in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1968.

 - Appointed Fr. Wieslaw Lechowicz, rector of the major seminary of Tarnow, Poland, as auxiliary of the diocese of Tarnow (area 7,566, population 1,127,656, Catholics 1,121,775, priests 1,339, religious 1,276). The bishop-elect was born in Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987.

 - Appointed Cardinal John Patrick Foley as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

 - Appointed Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio to Ireland, as apostolic nuncio to Australia.

- Appointed Archbishop George Kocherry, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, as apostolic nuncio to Zimbabwe.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - Following are highlights of the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See for the months of August through December 2007.


 - 8: Cardinal Roger Etchegaray travels to Russia for the tenth anniversary of the consecration of the Catholic cathedral of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk. While passing through Moscow, Cardinal Etchegaray is received by His Beatitude Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, to whom he delivers a Message and a gift from the Holy Father.


 - 1: Pope visits the Italian shrine of Loreto where he presides at a national meeting of young people concluding the first year of the "Agora" of Italian youth, an event promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - 5: Holy Father receives in audience Farouk al-Charaa, vice-president of the Syrian Arab Republic, who gives the Pope a personal message from Bashar al-Asad, president of Syria.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Prince Saud Al Faisal, foreign minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 - 7-9: Holy Father Benedict XVI makes an apostolic trip to Austria for the 850th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine of Mariazell, the seventh trip outside Italy of his Pontificate.

 - 13: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Jozef Dravecky, the new ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See.

 - 14: Holy Father receives in audience Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan.

 - 15: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Noel Fahey, the new ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See.

 - 15: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at the beatification of Servant of God Fr. Basile-Antonie Marie Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, at Le Mans, France.

 - 16: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. presides at the beatification of Servant of God Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, at the Marian Shrine of Lichen-Wloclawek, Poland.

 - 16: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at the beatification of Servant of God Marie Celine of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a nun of the Second Order of St. Francis, at Bordeaux, France.

- 23: The Holy Father makes a pastoral visit pastoral visit to Velletri, south of Rome, the suburbicarian diocese of which he held the title from the year 1993 until his election to the pontificate in April 2005.

 - 24: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Jose Cuadra Chamorro, the new ambassador of Nicaragua to the Holy See.


 - 4: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italy's new ambassador to the Holy See.

 - 11: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Francis Kim Ji-young, the new ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See.

 - 12: Pope inaugurates the "Portone di Bronzo" (Bronze Door), the principal entrance to the Vatican Apostolic Palace, returning to service following almost two years of restoration work.

 - 13: Benedict XVI visits the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music at its headquarters, recently refurbished at the initiative of the Holy See and thanks to the support of various benefactors including the "Fondazione pro Musica Sacra e Arte Sacra."

 - 17: Holy Father announces the names of 23 prelates to be created cardinals in a consistory - the second of his pontificate - on November 24, the eve of the Feast of Christ the King.

 - 18: Holy Father receives in audience Michelle Bachelet, president of the Republic of Chile.

 - 19: Pope receives a delegation from the Mennonite World Conference, the first official Mennonite visit to Rome.

 - 19: Holy Father receives in audience Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

 - 20: Holy Father receives in audience Francois Bozize, president of the Central African Republic.

 - 21: Pope makes a pastoral visit to Naples, Italy, where he celebrates Mass and meets with participants in an International Meeting for Peace, organized by the Sant'Egidio Community.

 - 25: Holy Father receives in audience Zeljko Komsic, president of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 - 26: Holy Father receives in audience Geir H. Haarde, prime minister of Iceland.

 - 27: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Fausto Cordovez Chiriboga, the new ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the Holy See.

 - 27: Pope writes a Letter to Giovanni Maria Vian for the occasion of his appointment as director of "L'Osservatore Romano."

 - 28: Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square for the beatification of 498 martyrs of the 20th century in Spain.

 - 29: Holy Father receives in audience Oscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos, president of the Republic of Paraguay.


 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

 - 7: Holy Father receives in audience Calin Popescu Tariceanu, prime minister of Romania.

 - 8: Holy Father receives in audience Armando Guebuza, president of the Republic of Mozambique.

 - 12: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Suprapto Martosemoto, the new ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See.

 - 24: Holy Father holds an Ordinary Public Consistory, the second of his Pontificate, for the creation of 23 new cardinals.

 - 30: Publication of Benedict XVI's second Encyclical, "Spe Salvi," dedicated to the theme of Christian hope. The document takes its theme from a passage in the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: "spe salvi facti sumus" (in hope we are saved).


 - 5: Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes granted by the Holy Father through a decree published today and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Bamir Topi, president of the Republic of Albania.

 - 7: Holy Father receives in audience Donald Tusk, prime minister of the Republic of Poland.

 - 11: Publication of Benedict XVI's Message for the 41st World Day of Peace. The Day falls on January 1, 2008, and has as its theme: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace."

 - 13: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See: Chaiyong Satjipanon of Thailand, Alain Butler-Payette of Seychelles, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of Namibia, Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding of Gambia, Urmila Joella-Sewnundun of Suriname, Barry Desker of Singapore, and Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber of Kuwait.

 - 14: Publication of a "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization" prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by an explanatory summary.

 - 16: On his fifth visit as Pontiff to a Roman parish community, the Holy Father visits the parish of "Santa Maria del Rosario ai Maritiri Portuensi" where he celebrates Mass and presides at the consecration of the new church.

 - 20: Holy Father receives in audience Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for January is: "That the Church may strengthen her commitment to full visible unity in order to manifest in an ever growing degree her nature as community of love, in which is reflected the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

  His mission intention is: "That the Church in Africa, which is preparing to celebrate her Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, may continue to be the sign and instrument of reconciliation and justice in a continent which is still marked by war exploitation and poverty."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 26, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before midday today, feast of St. Stephen, deacon and protomartyr, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Pope recalled how St. Stephen "was stoned at the gates of Jerusalem and died, like Jesus, invoking forgiveness for his killers. The deep bond that unites Christ to His first martyr," said the Holy Father, "is divine Charity. And the same Love that brought the Son of God ... to obey even unto death on the cross, later brought the Apostles and martyrs to give their lives for the Gospel.

  "We must always highlight this distinctive characteristic of Christian martyrdom," the Pope added, "It is exclusively an act of love, towards God and towards man, including our persecutors."

  "Over the centuries, how many sons and daughters of the Church have followed their example," he exclaimed, "from the first persecutions of Jerusalem to those of the Roman emperors, and on to the ranks of martyrs of our own times. Today, in fact, not infrequently there comes news from various parts of the world of missionaries, priests, bishops, religious and lay faithful, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of their freedom or prevented from exercising it because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel. Sometimes people also suffer and die for communion with the Universal Church and faithfulness to the Pope."

  Benedict XVI then went on to mention the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh - mentioned in the recent Encyclical "Spe salvi" - explaining how "suffering is transformed into joy by the force of hope that comes from faith" because "Christian martyrs, like Christ and by union with Him, intimately accept the cross and transform it into an action of love. What from outside is an act of brutal violence, from the inside becomes an act of love. ... Christian martyrs achieve the victory of love over hatred and death."

  The Pope concluded his remarks by calling for prayers "for all those suffering because of their faithfulness to Christ and His Church. Mary Most Holy, Queen of Martyrs, help us to be credible witnesses to the Gospel, answering enemies with the disarming power of truth and charity."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Holy Father pronounced his traditional Christmas Message from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

  Extracts of the Message are given below:

  "'A holy day has dawned upon us.' A day of great hope: today the Savior of mankind is born. The birth of a child normally brings a light of hope to those who are waiting anxiously.

  "The Creator of man became man in order to bring peace to the world. ... It is only the 'great' light manifested in Christ that can give 'true' peace to men: that is why every generation is called to welcome it, to welcome the God Who in Bethlehem became one of us." And, "if we are to recognize it, if we are to receive it, faith is needed and humility is needed."

  "Now, on this Christmas Day, when the joyful news of His saving birth continues to resound, who is ready to open the doors of his heart to the holy Child? ... Who is waiting for the dawn of the new day, keeping alight the flame of faith? Who has time to listen to His word and to become enfolded and entranced by His love? Yes! His message of peace is for everyone; He comes to offer himself to all people as sure hope for salvation."

  "May the light of Christ, which comes to enlighten every human being, shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war; to those who are still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education, stable employment, for fuller participation in civil and political responsibilities, free from oppression and protected from conditions that offend against human dignity.

  "It is the most vulnerable members of society - women, children, the elderly - who are so often the victims of brutal armed conflicts, terrorism and violence of every kind, which inflict such terrible sufferings on entire populations. At the same time, ethnic, religious and political tensions, instability, rivalry, disagreements, and all forms of injustice and discrimination are destroying the internal fabric of many countries and embittering international relations. Throughout the world the number of migrants, refugees and evacuees is also increasing because of frequent natural disasters, often caused by alarming environmental upheavals.

  "On this day of peace, my thoughts turn especially to those places where the grim sound of arms continues to reverberate; to the tortured regions of Darfur, Somalia, the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia; to the whole of the Middle East - especially Iraq, Lebanon and the Holy Land; to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to the Balkans and to many other crisis situations that unfortunately are frequently forgotten.

  "May the Child Jesus bring relief to those who are suffering and may He bestow upon political leaders the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions.

  "To the thirst for meaning and value so characteristic of today's world, to the search for prosperity and peace that marks the lives of all mankind, to the hopes of the poor: Christ - true God and true Man - responds with His Nativity. Neither individuals nor nations should be afraid to recognize and welcome Him."

  "Brothers and sisters from every continent, allow the light of this day to spread everywhere: may it enter our hearts, may it brighten and warm our homes, may it bring serenity and hope to our cities, and may it give peace to the world. This is my earnest wish for you who are listening. A wish that grows into a humble and trustful prayer to the Child Jesus, that His light will dispel all darkness from your lives and fill you with love and peace."

  Following his Message, the Pope extended Christmas greetings in 63 languages and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Pope tonight celebrated Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

  "The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn," said the Pope, beginning his homily with a quote from the Gospel of Luke. "These words touch our heart every time we hear them" because "in some way mankind is awaiting God, waiting for Him to draw near.

  "But when the moment comes," the Pope added, "there is no room for Him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others - for his neighbor, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others.

  "St. John, in his Gospel, went to the heart of the matter, giving added depth to St. Luke's brief account of the situation in Bethlehem: 'He came to His own home, and His own people received him not.' This refers first and foremost to Bethlehem," said the Holy Father, but "truly, it refers to all mankind: He through whom the world was made, the primordial Creator-Word, enters into the world, but He is not listened to, He is not received."

  "Thank God, this negative detail is not the only one, nor the last one that we find in the Gospel," said Pope Benedict, recalling "the maternal love of Mary, ... the fidelity of St. Joseph, the vigilance of the shepherds and ... the visit of the wise men."

  Hence, "there are those who receive Him, and thus, beginning with the stable, with the outside, there grows silently the new house, the new city, the new world. The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow Himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see His light and pass it on."

  The Pope continued: "In some Christmas scenes from the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the stable is depicted as a crumbling palace. It is still possible to recognize its former splendor, but now it has become a ruin, the walls are falling down - in fact, it has become a stable. Although it lacks any historical basis, this metaphorical interpretation nevertheless expresses something of the truth that is hidden in the mystery of Christmas."

  In the stable of Bethlehem, in the city of King David, "the Davidic kingship started again in a new way," the Holy Father explained. "The new throne from which this David will draw the world to himself is the Cross." And the new palace is "different from what people imagine a palace and royal power ought to be like. It is the community of those who allow themselves to be drawn by Christ's love and so become one body with Him, a new humanity. The power that comes from the Cross, the power of self-giving goodness, this is the true kingship."

  "Gregory of Nyssa, in his Christmas homilies, developed the same vision setting out from the Christmas message in the Gospel of John: 'He pitched His tent among us'," said the Holy Father. "Gregory applies this passage about the tent to the tent of our body, which has become worn out and weak, exposed everywhere to pain and suffering. And he applies it to the whole universe, torn and disfigured by sin. What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?"

  "Thus, according to Gregory's vision, the stable in the Christmas message represents the ill-treated world. What Christ rebuilds is no ordinary palace. He came to restore beauty and dignity to creation, to the universe: this is what began at Christmas and makes the angels rejoice. The earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity. Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 24, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent his condolences for the death of Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider O.F.M., archbishop emeritus of Aparecida, Brazil, who died on December 23 at the age of 83.

  The Pope sent two telegrams conveying his condolences, one to Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre, Brazil, where Cardinal Lorscheider died, and another to Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, of which the late cardinal was a member.

  In his telegrams, the Holy Father recalls the "constant and generous commitment" to the Church shown by Cardinal Lorscheider who was bishop of Santo Angelo then archbishop of Fortaleza before becoming archbishop of Aparecida. He was also a member of various congregations of the Holy See, as well as president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 23, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, in remarks before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father recalled that on the Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity we celebrate "the great mystery of love, which never ceases to amaze us. God became the Son of man that we may become children of God."

  "The evangelizing mission of the Church," the Pope said, "is a response to the cry 'come, Lord Jesus,' which traverses the entire history of salvation and continues to rise from the lips of believers. Come, Lord, to transform our hearts, that justice and peace may spread through the world.

  "This," the Holy Father added, "is what the 'Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization,' recently published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, seeks to recall. The document aims, in fact, to remind all Christians - in a situation in which the raison d'etre of evangelization is unclear even to many faithful - that 'the acceptance of the Good News in faith,' of itself leads people to communicate the salvation they have received as a gift."

  "To be touched by the presence of God, Who draws close to us at Christmas, is a priceless gift. ... There is nothing more beautiful, urgent and important than freely to pass on to mankind what we have freely received from God. Nothing can excuse or relieve us from this difficult but fascinating task. The joy of Christmas, ... while filling us with hope, at the same time prompts us to announce to everyone the presence of God among us."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Friday, December 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Raymundo Sabio M.S.C., formerly a missionary in Korea, as apostolic prefect of the Marshall Islands (area 181, population 50,874, Catholics 4,601, priests 7, permanent deacons 1, religious 14). He succeeds Fr. James C. Gould S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic prefecture the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father held his traditional meeting with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and members of the Roman Curia, for the exchange of Christmas greetings.

  "The Curia is a 'working community'," said the Pope opening his address, "held together by bonds of fraternal love which the Christmas festivities serve to reinforce."

  He then went on to recall one of the significant events of the year that is drawing to a close: his trip to Brazil to meet with participants in the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, and with "the Church in the vast continent of Latin America."

  Referring specifically to his encounter with young people in the municipal stadium of Sao Paulo, he observed: "There are mass events which have the single effect of self-affirmation, in which people allow themselves to be carried away by the rhythm and the sounds, and end up deriving joy merely from themselves. On that occasion however, ... the profound communion which spontaneously arose between us caused us, by being with one another, to be for one another. It was not an escape from daily life but became a source of strength for accepting life in a new way."

  The Holy Father then went on to recall the canonization of Frei Galvao: "Each saint who enters into history," he said, "represents a small portion of Christ's return, a renewal of His entrance into time, showing us His image in a new light and making us sure of His presence. Jesus Christ does not belong to the past and He is not confined to a distant future. ... Together with His saints He is ... journeying towards us, towards our today."

  Still on the subject of his Brazil visit, the Pope recalled how at the "Fazenda da Esperanca" where "people who have fallen into the slavery of drugs, rediscover freedom and hope," he had felt "the renovating power of God's creation." And he went on: "We must defend creation, not only with a view to its utility, but for itself - as a message from the Creator, as a gift of beauty which is promise and hope," because "mankind has need of transcendence."

  Turning then to his meeting with Brazilian bishops in the cathedral of Sao Paulo, Benedict XVI highlighted how "the experience of 'effective and affectionate collegiality' of fraternal communion in the shared ministry, led us to feel the joy of catholicity. Over and above all geographical and cultural confines we are brothers, together with the Risen Christ Who has called us to His service."

  Having presided, in Aparecida, at the opening of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, which had as its theme "Disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life," Benedict XVI considered some possible objections to this choice of subject: "Was it not," he asked, "perhaps excessively concentrated on interior life at a time in which the great challenges of history - the urgent problems of justice, peace and freedom - require the complete commitment of all men and women of good will, and in particular of Christianity and the Church?"

  To answer this objection, the Holy Father proceeded, "it is necessary to understand the true meaning of the theme." The key idea is that of "finding life," he said, "and the theme presupposes that this objective ... is to be attained through discipleship of Jesus Christ and through commitment to His word and His presence."

  Being a disciple of Christ, the Pope said, "means in the first place coming to know Him" by listening to the Word. And to meet Christ "we must listen, then reply through prayer and through practicing what He tells us."

  "The disciple of Christ must also be a 'missionary,' a messenger of the Gospel," said the Pope, adding: "Here too the objection could be made as to whether it is still legitimate to 'evangelize' today? Should not all the religions and philosophies of the world coexist peacefully and together seek what is best for humanity, each in its own way?" And he went on: "of course, it is indisputable that we must coexist and cooperate with mutual tolerance and respect."

  In this context, Benedict XVI mentioned the letter sent to him by 138 Muslim religious leaders "bearing witness to their joint commitment to promoting peace in the world." In his reply, he said, "I expressed my convinced adherence to such noble sentiments, at the same time underlining the urgent need for a harmonious commitment in order to safeguard values, mutual respect, dialogue and collaboration. The shared recognition of the existence of the One God ... is a premise for joint action in defense of ... the dignity of all human beings, for the edification of a more just and united society."

  "Those who have recognized a great truth, those who have discovered a great joy, must pass it on, they cannot keep it to themselves. ... In order to reach fulfillment, history needs the announcement of the Good News to all peoples, to all men and women. How important it is for forces of reconciliation, of peace, of love and of justice to come together in humanity. ... How important it is, ... in the face of the sentiments and the reality of violence and injustice, for rival forces to be mobilized and reinforced.

  "And this," the Holy Father added, "is what happens in the Christian mission. Through the encounter with Jesus Christ and His saints," humankind "is re-equipped with those forces for good without which none of our plans for social order is realized but, faced with the enormous pressure of other interests contrary to peace and justice, remain as abstract theories."

  Then, definitively answering the question he had posed at the start of his talk, the Pope indicated that the Aparecida meeting was right "to give priority to discipleship of Jesus Christ and to evangelization," and that this was in no way a "misguided retreat into interior life." This, he explained, "is because the renewed encounter with Jesus Christ and His Gospel - and only that - revives the forces that make us capable of giving the right response to the challenges of our time."

  The Holy Father subsequently went on to consider the Letter he had sent in June to Catholic Church faithful in the People's Republic of China, in which he gave "certain guidelines for confronting and resolving, in a spirit of communion and truth, the delicate and complex problems of Church life in China. I also indicated the Holy See's willingness to undertake a serene and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, with the aim of finding a solution to the various problems concerning the Catholic community. ... It is my hope that, with the help of God, the Letter may produce the desired fruits."

  At the end of his address to the Curia, the Pope briefly mentioned his visit to Austria in September, and his meeting with young people in the Italian town of Loreto, "a great sign of joy and hope," he said.

  "We must not delude ourselves," the Holy Father said, "the secularism of our time and the pressure of ideological presumption (to which the secularist mentality with its exclusive claim to definitive rationality tends), present no small-scale problem." Nonetheless, he concluded, "we also know that the Lord maintains His promise: 'Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age'."

Thursday, December 20, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Eugene Cyrille Houndekon of the clergy of Contonou, Benin, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of Benin, as bishop of Abomey (area 5,243, population 625,000, Catholics 100,000, priests 73, religious 135), Benin. The bishop-elect was born in Contonou in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany, as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Fr. Aimable Musoni S.D.B., professor at Rome's Pontifical Salesian University, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Luigi Poggi, archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church.

 - Darko Tanaskovic, ambassador of Serbia, on his farewell visit.

 - Mohammad Javad Faridzadeh, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group of young people from Italian Catholic Action (ACI), for a traditional exchange of Christmas good wishes.

  The Pope greeted Luigi Alici, national president of ACI, and Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina, Italy, recently appointed as the group's general ecclesiastical assistant, then began his remarks by mentioning the Italian child Antonia Meo, whose heroic virtues were promulgated recently by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  Antonia, known as Nennolina, died of bone cancer in 1937 shortly before her seventh birthday. The Holy Father recalled how during her brief life she "showed special faith, hope and charity" and, presenting her as a model for the young people of ACI (of which she was a member), he affirmed that "her existence, so simple and yet so important, shows that sanctity is for all ages: for babies and for young people, for adults and for the elderly."

  "She travelled quickly," said the Pope, "down the 'highway' that leads to Jesus ... Who is, in fact, the true 'path' that leads to the Father, and to His and our definitive home which is heaven."

  "Jesus is the way that leads to the true life, the life that never ends. It is often a steep and narrow way but, if one allows oneself to be attracted by Him, it is always stupendous, like a mountain path: the higher one climbs the easier it becomes to gaze down upon new panoramas, ever more beautiful and vast. The journey is tiring but we are not alone. ... What is important is not to lose our way, not to miss the path, otherwise we risk falling into an abyss or getting lost in the woods.

  "Dear friends," the Holy Father added, "God made Himself man to show us the way. Indeed, by becoming a child He made Himself the 'way,' also for young people like you: He was like you, He was your age."

  Finally, Pope Benedict expressed the hope that Italian Catholic Action as a whole may "walk jointly and briskly along the path of Christ, bearing witness, in the Church and in society, to the fact that this is a beautiful path. It is true that it requires commitment, but it leads to true joy."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic.

  "The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions provided an opportunity to examine a number of questions of mutual interest concerning the current situation of France. Mention was made of the good relations that exist between the Catholic Church and the French Republic, and of the role of religions, especially the Catholic Church, in the world.

  "Particular attention was given to the international situation with reference to the future of Europe, the conflicts in the Middle East, the social and political problems of certain African countries, and the drama of hostages.

  "At the end of the conversation, best wishes were exchanged for the forthcoming Feasts of Christmas and the New Year."
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Michael Wustenberg of the clergy of Hildesheim, Germany, 'fidei donum' missionary and former vicar general of the diocese of Aliwal, South Africa, as bishop of Aliwal (area 31,200, population 536,000, Catholics 42,300, priests 22, religious 71). The bishop-elect was born in Dortmund, Germany in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1982.

 - Fr. Roberto Francisco Ferreria Paz of the clergy of the archdiocese of Porto Alegre, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Nossa Senhora da Paz" in Porto Alegre, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,094,288, Catholics 1,067,608, priests 125, permanent deacons 18, religious 265), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1989.

 - Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, as bishop of Speyer (area 5,893, population 1,364,692, Catholics 607,015, priests 389, permanent deacons 50, religious 762), Germany.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 19, 2007 (VIS) - In today's general audience, the last of 2007, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke on the subject of Christmas.

  "If, on the one hand, Christmas is a commemoration of the incredible prodigy of the birth of the only-begotten Son of God from the Virgin Mary in the grotto of Bethlehem," said the Pope, "on the other, it also exhorts us to wait, vigilant and prayerful, for our own Redeemer, Who on the last day 'will come to judge the living and the dead'."

  "Perhaps today," the Pope added in off-the-cuff remarks, "we faithful truly believe in the Judge; we all expect justice. We see so many injustices in the world, ... and we expect justice. ... We hope that whoever comes can bring justice. In this context we pray to Jesus Christ to come as a Judge. ... The Lord knows how to come into the world and create justice."

  "Hoping for justice in the Christian sense means ... that we too begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, ... creating justice in our own lives. ... In this way we can open the world to the coming of the Son and prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord Who comes."

  Returning to his prepared text, Benedict XVI said: "He Who was generated by the Father in eternity became a man in history thanks to the Virgin Mother. The true Son of God is also a true Son of man. Today, in our secularized world, these concepts do not seem to count for very much. People prefer to ignore them or to consider them superfluous to life, advancing the pretext that they are so far distant as to be practically untranslatable into convincing and significant words.

  "Moreover," he added, "we have formed a view of tolerance and pluralism such that to believe that Truth has been effectively manifested appears to constitute an attack on tolerance and the freedom of man. If, however, truth is cancelled, is man not a being deprived of meaning? Do we not force ourselves and the world into a meaningless relativism?"

  He continued: "How important it is, then, for us to reinforce the mystery of salvation which the celebration of Christ's Nativity brings. In Bethlehem the Light that illuminates our lives was revealed to the world; we were shown the Way that leads us to the fullness of our humanity. If we do not recognize that God was made man, what sense does it have to celebrate Christmas? We Christians must reaffirm with profound and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's nativity, in order to bear witness before everyone of the unique gift which brings wealth not just to us, but to everyone.

  "From here," the Holy Father added, "arises the duty of evangelization, which is the communication of the 'eu-angelion,' the 'good news.' This was underlined in the recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 'Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization,' which I wish to present for your reflection and your individual and joint perusal."

  "In these days leading up to Christmas," said Pope Benedict, "the Church prays more intensely for the realization of hopes of peace and salvation, of which the world today still has such urgent need. Let us ask God for violence to be defeated with the strength of love, for contrasts to give way to reconciliation, for the desire to dominate to be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace. May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange over these days reach all areas of our daily lives."

  "May the message of solidarity and acceptance which arises from Christmas," the Pope concluded, "contribute to creating a more profound awareness of old and new forms of poverty, and of the common good in which everyone is called to participate."

  According to a note published today by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, a total of 624,100 people participated in the 44 general audiences celebrated by Benedict XVI during the course of 2007.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2007 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, on December 12 at the age of 97.

- Bishop Gaetano Michetti of Pesaro, Italy, on December 12 at the age of 85.

- Bishop Roger Mpungu, emeritus of Muyinga, Burundi, on December 6 at the age of 83.

- Bishop Henri Salina of the Canons Regular of the Swiss Congregation of Saint-Maurice, former abbot of the territorial abbey of Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, on December 3 at the age of 80.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Gaspard Beby Gneba, professor of spiritual theology and liturgy at the "Notre Dame" major theological seminary of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast, as bishop of Man (area 30,750, population 1,500,000, Catholics 76,200, priests 33, religious 47), Ivory Coast. The bishop-elect was born in Tehiri Guitry, Ivory Coast in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1992. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Niangoran Teky, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 18, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday morning, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorized the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Servant of God Michael Spocko, Polish priest (1888-1975).

 - Servant of God James Ghazir Haddad (ne Khalil), Lebanese professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in Lebanon (1875-1954).

 - Servant of God Maria Maddalena dell'Incarnazione Sordini (nee Caterina), Italian foundress of the Order of Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (died 1824).

 - Servant of God Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve, French foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1811-1854).

 - Servant of God Vincenza Maria Poloni (ne Luigia), Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona (1802-1855).

 - Servant of God Maria Giuseppina di Gesu Crocefisso Catanea (nee Giuseppina), Italian professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (1896-1948).


 - Servant of God Francesco Mottola, Italian priest and founder of the Secular Institute of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart (1901-1969).

 - Servant of God Serafino Morazzone, Italian priest (1747-1822).

 - Servant of God Raphael Louis Rafiringa, Madagascan professed religious of the Institute of Brothers of Christian Schools (1856-1919).

 - Servant of God Stephen Nehme (ne Joseph), Lebanese professed religious of the Order of Maronites (1889-1938).

 - Servant of God Anna Maria Marovich, Italian member of the Sisters of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Immaculate (1815-1887).

 - Servant of God Maria Piera De Micheli (nee Giuseppa Maria), Italian professed sister of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires (1890-1945).

 - Servant of God Manuel Lozano Garrido, Spanish lay person, (1920-1971).

 - Servant of God Antonia Meo (known as Nennolina), Italian person (1930-1937).
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Monday, December 17, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Pontifical Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

 - Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, apostolic nuncio to Iran.

  On Saturday, December 15, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Marcellino Daiji Tani of Saitama.

    - Bishop Peter Toshio Jinushi of Sapporo.

    - Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai.

    - Bishop Rafael Masahiro Umemura of Yokohama.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20071217 (120)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received postulators of the causes of beatification and canonization of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  The Pope began his address to them by mentioning the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister" with which, in 1983, John Paul II revised the procedures of the causes of saints in order to respond to the wishes of experts and pastors who were calling "for a more manageable procedure, while still maintaining solidity of research in this field, which is so important for the life of the Church.

  "Through beatifications and canonizations," the Pope added, the Church "gives thanks to God for the gift of those of His children who have responded generously to divine grace, honoring them and invoking them as intercessors." And the Church "presents these shining examples for the imitation of all the faithful, called through Baptism to sanctity, which its the aim and goal of every state of life."

  At the same time "ecclesial communities come to realize the need, even in our own time, of witnesses capable of incarnating the perennial truth of the Gospel in the real circumstances of life, making it an instrument of salvation for the entire world."

  "Saints, if correctly presented in their spiritual dynamism and historical reality, contribute to making the word of the Gospel and the mission of the Church more believable and attractive. Contact with them opens the way to true spiritual resurrection, lasting conversion and the flowering of new saints."

  "All those who work in the causes of saints," said Benedict XVI, "are called to place themselves at the exclusive service of truth. For this reason, during the diocesan enquiry, witness statements and documentary evidence should be gathered both when favorable and when contrary to the sanctity of the fame of sanctity or of martyrdom of the Servants of God."

  "Hence, the postulators' role is fundamental, both in the diocesan and apostolic stages of the process; their actions must be above criticism, inspired by rectitude and marked by absolute probity."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2007 (VIS) - Having returned to the Vatican following his visit this morning to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria del Rosario ai Maritiri Portuensi," the Pope appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered below.

  In his remarks, the Pope recalled how the third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as "Gaudete Sunday" because Christians are called to rejoice at the coming of the Lord. "Christian joy," he explained, "flows from this certainty. God is near. ... He is with us, in happiness and in pain, in health and in sickness."

  "Some people ask themselves," the Pope went on, "if this joy can still be felt today." The answer, he said, "is supplied by the lives of men and women of all ages and social conditions who are happy to consecrate their existence to others." In this context, the Holy Father mentioned Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, "an unforgettable witness of true evangelical joy."

  Mother Theresa, he continued, "experienced the trial of the dark night of faith, yet she continued to give everyone the smile of God. On one occasion she wrote: ... 'Being happy with God means loving like Him, helping like Him, giving like Him, serving like Him.'

  "Indeed, joy enters the heart of those who place themselves at the service of the smallest and the poorest," the Pope added. "God dwells in people who love in such a way, and the soul is infused with joy. If, on the other hand, people idolize happiness, they take the wrong path and it becomes truly difficult to discover the joy of which Jesus speaks.

  "And this, unfortunately, is what cultures that put individual happiness in place of God propose," he said. Emblematic of such a mentality "is the search for pleasure at all costs" and "the increasing use of drugs as an escape, a refuge in an artificial paradise which is subsequently revealed as merely illusory."

  "At Christmas too it is possible to take the wrong path," Pope Benedict concluded, "mistaking the true feast for one that does not open the heart to the joy of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help all Christians - and men and women searching for God - to reach Bethlehem and meet the Child Who was born for us, for the salvation and happiness of all mankind."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Sergio Pagano B., prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church.

 - Fr. Adriano Garuti O.F.M., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Lateran University, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebration of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside during the Christmas season:


 - Monday, 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. The Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

 - Tuesday, 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At noon from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will deliver his Christmas message to the world and will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

 - Monday, 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father will preside at first Vespers on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This will be followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" hymn of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the civil year, and the Eucharistic blessing.


 - Tuesday, 1: Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and 41st World Day of Peace which has as its theme: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace." In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m., the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of Mass.

 - Sunday, 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Holy Father to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

 - Sunday, 13: Baptism of Our Lord. Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 10 a.m., during which he will impart the Sacrament of Baptism to a number of children.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Addressing them in English, the Pope began by recalling the recently-deceased Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, who "in his person ... exemplified the bonds of communion between the Church in Japan and the Holy See."

  The Holy Father then mentioned last year's 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of Japan, inviting the prelates to follow the saint's footsteps. "Your task today," he said, "is to seek new ways of bringing alive the message of Christ in the cultural setting of modern Japan. Even though Christians form only a small percentage of the population, the faith is a treasure that needs to be shared with the whole of Japanese society."

  "The world is hungry for the message of hope that the Gospel brings. Even in countries as highly developed as yours, many are discovering that economic success and advanced technology are not sufficient in themselves to bring fulfilment to the human heart. ... Remind people that there is more to life than professional success and profit."

  Going on to quote from his Encyclical "Deus caritas est," the Holy Father encouraged the prelates to lead their faithful "towards 'that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others.' This is the great hope that Christians in Japan can offer their compatriots; it is not foreign to Japanese culture, but rather it reinforces and gives new impetus to all that is good and noble in the heritage of your beloved nation.

  "The well-merited respect which the citizens of your country show towards the Church, on account of her fine contribution in education, healthcare and many other fields, gives you an opportunity to engage with them in dialogue and to speak joyfully to them of Christ," he added.

  Young people, the Pope warned, "are at risk of being deceived by the glamour of modern secular culture" and its "false hopes." The resulting disillusion "not infrequently leads to depression and despair, even to suicide." In this context, he expressed the hope that "youthful energy and enthusiasm can be directed towards the things of God, which alone are sufficient to satisfy their deepest longings."

  Noting that over half of Japan's Catholic population is formed of immigrants, the Holy Father observed that this "provides an opportunity ... to experience the true catholicity of God's people. By taking steps to ensure that all are made to feel welcome in the Church," he told the bishops, "you can draw on the many gifts that the immigrants bring. At the same time, you need to remain vigilant in ensuring that the liturgical and disciplinary norms of the universal Church are carefully observed."

  In closing, the Pope had words of praise for "the accumulated wisdom of the ancient culture," of Japan and "her stance on the world political stage in the last 60 years." He told the prelates: "you have made the voice of the Church heard on the enduring importance of this witness, all the greater in a world where armed conflicts bring so much suffering to the innocent."

  In conclusion, the Pope recalled the forthcoming beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs, saying it "offers a clear sign of the strength and vitality of Christian witness in your country's history."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. yesterday, at the altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope presided at the funeral of the Austrian Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, who died on December 12 at the age of 97.

  In his homily the Pope recalled how, in his spiritual testament, the late cardinal had written that "as a Salesian I follow the three ideals handed down to us by Don Bosco: love for the Eucharist, devotion to the Virgin Mary and faithfulness to the Holy Father."

  Cardinal Stickler "well knew," said the Holy Father, "that to love Christ is to love His Church, which is ever holy despite, as he himself notes in his spiritual testament, 'the sometimes scandalous weakness of we her representatives, in both past and present'."

  "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven," said Benedict XVI quoting the Gospel of Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount. "All of us, who through Baptism have been called to serve Jesus, know that we cannot and must not await praise and recognition in this world," he added.

  "The faithful disciple's true reward is 'in heaven;' it is Christ Himself. Let us never forget this truth! Let us never give in to the temptation to seek human success and support rather than counting only and always on Him Who came into the world to save us, and Who on the cross redeemed us. Whatever the service to which God calls us in His vineyard, let it always be motivated by humble adherence to His will."

  This, the Holy Father went on, "despite human frailties and weaknesses, was the guiding principle of the earthly life of the beloved Cardinal Stickler. ... A life totally dedicated, first to teaching and subsequently to the service of the Holy See."

  Pope Benedict recalled how as a young man Cardinal Stickler entered the novitiate of the Salesians. He was ordained a priest in 1937 and, between 1958 and 1966, was rector of the Salesian University. In 1971 he became prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and in September 1983 was appointed to the post of pro-librarian of Holy Roman Church. Two months later he was consecrated a bishop by John Paul II who, the following year, appointed him pro-archivist of Holy Roman Church and, in 1985, made him a cardinal.
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Friday, December 14, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada of Tokyo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop James Kazuo Koda.

    - Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe S.D.B. of Takamatsu.

    - Bishop Tarcisius Isao Kikuchi S.V.D. of Niigata.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - A "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization" prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was made public today. Accompanying the publication is an English-language summary outlining the main points of the new document. Extracts from the summary are given below:

  "The Doctrinal Note is devoted principally to an exposition of the Catholic Church's understanding of the Christian mission of evangelization, which is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ," the summary begins.

  "Today there is 'a growing confusion' about the Church's missionary mandate. Some think 'that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom,' suggesting that it is enough to invite people 'to act according to their consciences,' or to 'become more human or more faithful to their own religion,' or 'to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity,' without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith.

  "Others have argued that conversion to Christ should not be promoted because it is possible for people to be saved without explicit faith in Christ or formal incorporation in the Church."

  Considering certain "anthropological implications" the document observes that "while some forms of agnosticism and relativism deny the human capacity for truth, in fact human freedom cannot be separated from its reference to truth."

  "This search for truth cannot be accomplished entirely on one's own, but inevitably involves help from others and trust in knowledge that one receives from others. Thus, teaching and entering into dialogue to lead someone in freedom to know and to love Christ is not inappropriate encroachment on human freedom, 'but rather a legitimate endeavor and a service capable of making human relationships more fruitful'."

  "Through evangelization, cultures are positively affected by the truth of the Gospel. Likewise, through evangelization, members of the Catholic Church open themselves to receiving the gifts of other traditions and cultures."

  "Any approach to dialogue such as coercion or improper enticement that fails to respect the dignity and religious freedom of the partners in that dialogue has no place in Christian evangelization."

  Going on to examine "some ecclesiological implications," the summary affirms that "for Christian evangelization, 'the incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power-group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and ages'."

  "The Doctrinal Note cites the Vatican Council II's 'Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World' (Gaudium et Spes) to say that respect for religious freedom and its promotion 'must not in any way make us indifferent towards truth and goodness. Indeed, love impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all the truth which saves'."

  Finally, on the subject of "ecumenical implications," the document "points out the important role of ecumenism in the Church's mission of evangelization. Christian divisions can seriously compromise the credibility of the Church's evangelizing mission."

  "When Catholic evangelization takes place in a country where other Christians live, Catholics must take care to carry out their mission with 'both true respect for the tradition and spiritual riches of such countries as well as a sincere spirit of cooperation.' Evangelization proceeds by dialogue, not proselytism."
CDF/NOTE EVANGELIZATION/...                VIS 20071214 (550)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of a "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization" prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  Participating in the press conference were Cardinals William Joseph Levada, Francis Arinze and Ivan Dias, respectively prefects of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and for the Evangelization of Peoples; and Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  Cardinal Levada explained that the document is intended to respond "to a certain confusion about whether Catholics should give testimony about their faith in Christ. The congregation," he said, "decided to address some specific points which seem to undermine the fulfillment of Christ's missionary mandate. It does so under three general headings:" the anthropological, ecclesiological and ecumenical implications of evangelization.

  In his remarks, Archbishop Amato recalled that "evangelization means not just teaching doctrine but announcing the Lord Jesus though word and deed, in other words, becoming instruments of His presence and activity in the world."

  The "primary task of the Church," the archbishop went on, "is to lead mankind to friendship with Jesus Christ, in freedom and respect for the conscience of others. ... The necessary respect for different sensibilities and particular traditions cannot preclude the need for freedom or for truth, which are the indispensable prerequisites for any form of dialogue."

  "Unity in truth and the exercise of freedom in charity are the arduous but rewarding paths that the Note aims to highlight, in the difficult and fascinating task of bearing witness to Christian faith at the beginning of the third millennium."

  In his talk, Cardinal Arinze made a number of observations concerning the regions of sub-Saharan Africa where "African traditional religion has been the dominant religious and cultural context for centuries. It is also from that context that most converts to Christianity in these countries in the past two hundred years have come."

  "The sharing of our Catholic faith with others who do not yet know Christ should be regarded as a work of love," he continued, "provided that it is done with full respect for their human dignity and freedom. Indeed if a Christian did not try to spread the Gospel by sharing the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ with others, we could suspect that Christian either of lack of total conviction on the faith, or of selfishness and laziness in not wanting to share the full and abundant means of salvation with his fellow human beings."

  For his part, Cardinal Dias commented on the Note from an "Asian theological perspective." Evangelization "in a context of religious pluralism is nothing new for the Church," he said. However, it does present "a particular challenge in modern times because we are living in an age in which people from different religions meet and interact more than in any other period in human history."

  With a range of religious traditions as vast as that of the continent of Asia, said the cardinal, "Christians must seek to discover therein the action of the Holy Spirit - in other words the 'seeds of truth' as Vatican Council II chose to call them - and lead them, with no pretensions to superiority, to full knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ."

  Finally, on the subject of evangelization through inter-religious dialogue, Cardinal Dias expressed the view that "other religions represent a positive challenge for the Church; they stimulate her both to discover and recognize the signs of Christ's presence in the action of the Spirit, and to develop her own identity and bear witness to the integrity of revelation, of which she is the depositary for the good of everyone."
OP/DOCTRINAL NOTE/...                        VIS 20071214 (640)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarciso Bertone S.D.B. has sent a telegram, in the Pope's name, to Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, for the death of General Francois El Hajj, who was killed along with his driver in an explosion on December 12 which also injured many others.

  In the telegram, the Holy Father expresses his "profound communion in the trials that are once again afflicting Lebanon in these difficult and delicate times for the country," and entrusts the souls of the deceased to divine mercy. He also gives assurances of his prayers for the families of the dead and injured, and for all those affected by "this act of unjustifiable violence."

  Benedict XVI concludes by appealing to the Lord "to grant all the leaders of public life, and the Lebanese people, the interior strength and courage to discover, beyond particular interests, the road to unity and reconciliation so that the country may develop in peace and security."
TGR/LEBANON ATTACK/SFEIR                    VIS 20071214 (180)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received in audience a delegation from the autonomous Italian region of Trentino - Alto Adige/Sud Tirol, led by the regional president and the mayor of the village of St. Martin en Thurn, which has supplied this year's Christmas tree for St. Peter's Square.

  "This ancient fir," said the Pope, "cut down without harming the life of the forest, ... will remain standing by the nativity scene until the end of the Christmas festivities. ... It is an important symbol of Christ's Nativity because with its evergreen leaves it recalls the life that does not die. The fir is also a symbol of the popular religiosity in your valleys, which finds particular expression in processions."

  "The tree and the nativity scene are elements of that typical Christmas atmosphere which is part of the spiritual heritage of our communities; an atmosphere suffused with religiosity and family intimacy which we must conserve even in our modern societies where the race to consumerism and the search for material goods sometimes seem to prevail.

  "Christmas is a Christian feast," added Benedict XVI in conclusion, "and its symbols, especially the nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus, which are constantly evoked by the liturgy of Advent and Christmas."
AC/CHRISTMAS TREE/...                        VIS 20071214 (240)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 14, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening following a Eucharistic celebration for Roman university students, celebrated in the Vatican Basilica and presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, the Pope arrived in the basilica to greet the young people gathered there.

  In his remarks to them, the Holy Father reflected on two themes: the spiritual formation of the young, and his own recent Encyclical "Spe salvi."

  He began by recalling how 150 university students from the diocese of Rome have decided to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on the eve of Pentecost next year. Addressing them and the other young people present, the Pope invited them "to turn their gaze to the Virgin Mary. From her 'yes' you should learn to pronounce your own 'yes' to the divine call. The Holy Spirit enters our lives in the extent to which we open our hearts with our 'yes.' The fuller that 'yes' is, the fuller is the gift of His presence."

  Referring to his Encyclical on Christian hope, Benedict invited his listeners to reflect upon and consider, individually and as a group, the section dedicated to hope in the modern age.

  The Pope continued: "In the seventeenth century Europe went through an epoch-making change. Since then a mentality has become ever more widespread according to which human progress is the work of science and technology, while faith concerns only the salvation of the soul.

  "The two great concepts of modernity - reason and freedom - have been, so to say, 'disengaged' from God," the Holy Father added. They have "become autonomous and work together in the construction of the 'kingdom of man,' which in practice contrasts with the Kingdom of God. Hence the spread of materialist ideas, nourished by the hope that, by changing economic and political structures, it will finally be possible to achieve a just society in which peace, freedom and equality reign.

  "This process," the Pope concluded, "which is not without its merits and its historical causes, contains, however, a basic error: man is not just the result of certain economic and social conditions; technological progress does not correspond to the moral development of mankind. In fact without ethical principles science and technology can be used - as has happened and unfortunately still does happen - not for the good but to the detriment of individuals and humanity."
AC/.../ROMAN STUDENTS                        VIS 20071214 (410)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See: Chaiyong Satjipanon of Thailand, Alain Butler-Payette of Seychelles, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of Namibia, Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding of Gambia, Urmila Joella-Sewnundun of Suriname, Barry Desker of Singapore, and Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber of Kuwait.

  The Pope addressed the diplomats as a group before greeting them individually and handing each a written copy of a speech concerning the specific situation in his or her own country.

  "Your function as diplomats," the Holy Father told them, "is particularly important in today's world, in order to show that in all situations of international life, dialogue must overcome violence, and the desire for peace and fraternity must prevail over the contrasts and selfishness that lead only to tensions, and the resentments that do not contribute to building reconciled societies."

  "Through you," he went on, "I wish to launch a fresh call to everyone who plays a role in public life and to those who participate in governing nations, to do everything in their power to restore hope to the peoples they rule, ... bearing in mind their deepest aspirations so that everyone may benefit from the profits of the natural and economic resources of his or her country, in accordance with the principles of justice and equity."

  Benedict XVI laid emphasis on the fact that young people "are a country's greatest wealth" and that their "integral education" is "a fundamental necessity." In this context, he also recalled that merely technical and academic training is not enough, and that it is important "to promote education based on human and moral values" in order to ensure that young people "may occupy their rightful place in the development of the nation," having been given an "awareness of the needs of others."

  Education "with the help of international institutions involved in eradicating illiteracy," said the Pope, is one "particularly important way to combat the desperation that can take root in the hearts of young people, and that lies at the base of many individual or collective acts of violence."

  The Holy Father completed his address by pointing out how the Catholic Church, "through her various educational institutions, is in the frontline alongside men and women of good will, in the field of the integral formation of the young."

  In his written remarks to the Thai ambassador, the Pope expresses his concern over "the scourge of AIDS, prostitution and the trafficking of women and children which continue to afflict the countries of the region." In this context, he also points out how "the decline in moral values, fuelled by the trivialization of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries, leads to the degradation of women and even the abuse of children. The complexity of this unspeakable human exploitation demands a concerted international response."

  Referring to the Christian concept of human love and sexuality, the Holy Father writes in his discourse to the Namibian ambassador that "the understanding of marriage as the total, reciprocal and exclusive communion of love between a man and a woman not only accords with the plan of the Creator, it prompts the most effective behaviors for preventing the sexual transmission of disease: namely, abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage."

  In the copy of his address to the ambassador of Singapore, Benedict XVI writes of the Church's particular concern "to defend the universal rights to life and to religious freedom. ... Moreover, the effective recognition of the right to freedom of conscience and religious freedom is one of the most serious duties of every community that truly wishes to ensure the good of the individual and of society. Your government is known for its commitment to initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue, respect and cooperation between different religious groups, of particular importance in view of the diverse ethnic and religious affiliation of your population."

  In his discourse to the representative from Kuwait, the Pope says "your country, which has overcome the devastating effects of violence and war, continues to play an important role in the delicate process of reconciliation which offers the only sure hope for a resolution of the many complex problems affecting the Middle East."
CD/LETTERS OF CREDENCE/...                    VIS 20071213 (720)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Stavros Lykidis, ambassador of Greece, on his farewell visit.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Michael Goro Matsuura.

    - Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka of Kyoto.

    - Bishop Augustinus Jun-ichi Nomura of Nagoya.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20071213 (70)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - Tomorrow evening, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will preside at the official lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree which has recently been erected in St. Peter's Square. The tree stands next to the nativity scene, which is in the process of being constructed.

  The event, which is due to begin at 4 p.m., will be attended by civil and religious authorities from the region of Bolzano in northern Italy which donated this year's tree, a 140-year-old fir, 26 meters high, weighing more than three tons and decorated with 2,000 baubles.

  The nativity scene, which will be unveiled on the evening of December 24, has seventeen life-size statues. Of these, nine are the original figures donated by St. Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842. The other eight figures were added over the course of the years. As in 2006, the Italian province of Trento has provided further sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.

  From December 19 to February 2, the Paul VI Hall will also be adorned with a tree and a nativity scene created by Mexican artists. The figures of the nativity scene are in the Novo Hispanic Baroque style, while the tree decorations are the work of Mexican traditional craftsmen. The nativity scene in St. Peter's Square will also include four Mexican Baroque angels.

  This initiative, entitled "Mexican Christmas in the Vatican," has been organized to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See. The display will be inaugurated by Benedict XVI on Wednesday, December 19.
.../NATIVITY SCENE:TREE/ST. PETER'S SQUARE        VIS 20071213 (300)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent two telegrams of condolence for the death, at the age of 97, of Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church: one to the late cardinal's brother and sisters, and another to Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, major rector of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco.

  The Holy Father describes the cardinal as a "sincere and zealous collaborator of the Holy See" who in all his duties "provided precious testimony of fervent faithfulness to Christ and to the Church." He also mentions the "cultural and ecclesial industriousness of the distinguished jurist and illustrious cardinal."

  The Holy Father has also sent a telegram to Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy, for a recent industrial accident in the city's Thyseen-Krupp factory in which four workers lost their lives. The funerals of the victims are being held today.

  In the telegram, the Pope expresses the hope "that all means be used to safeguard the dignity and safety of workers," and unites himself to the suffering of the victims' families.
TGR/STICKLER:WORKERS/TURIN                VIS 20071213 (200)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Enemesio Angelus Lazzaris F.D.P., vicar general of the Brothers of Divine Providence in Rome, as bishop of Balsas (area 66,025, population 237,944, Catholics 172,710, priests 27, permanent deacons 2, religious 49), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sideropolis, Brazil in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Fr. Tadeusz Wojda S.A.C., official of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as bureau chief in the same congregation.
NER:NA/.../LAZZARIS:WOJDA                    VIS 20071212 (90)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2007 (VIS) - St. Paulinus of Nola, a bishop and contemporary of St. Augustine, was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall.

  The Pope explained how as a young man St. Paulinus became governor of the Campania region in southern Italy. In that role he stood out for his wisdom and humility, while his contact with "the simple and intense faith" of the people marked the start of his own path to conversion, which was not without difficulties and trials.

  "The meeting with Christ was the finishing point of an arduous journey," during which a series of adverse circumstances brought the saint "to a direct experience of the frailty of things," said the Pope.

  St. Paulinus' journey to faith also included marriage, but following the death of his newborn child he and his wife Terasia decided to give their possessions to the poor and, living in fraternal chastity, to found a monastic community. His pastoral activity was characterized, the Holy Father went on, "by his particular concern for the poor, and he left behind him the image of a true pastor of charity."

  "The conversion of Paulinus made a great impression on his contemporaries" who criticized "his 'disdain' ... for worldly goods and his abandonment of his literary calling," said Benedict XVI. But Paulinus would reply "that giving to the poor did not mean disdain for worldly goods, but rather their employment for the most exalted aim of charity. ... A new aesthetic now governed the saint's sensibility: the beauty of the incarnate God, crucified and risen."

  "St. Paulinus did not write theological treatises, but his odes ... are replete with a living theology," said Pope Benedict, "which is constantly examined as light for life. What emerges in particular is the idea of the Church as a mystery of unity. He experienced communion above all through the ardent cultivation of spiritual friendship. ... With remarkable warmth the saint of Nola praises friendship as a manifestation of the one body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit."

  "And it is in the concept of communion that theology in our own day has found the key for approaching the mystery of the Church," Pope Benedict concluded. "The witness of St. Paulinus of Nola helps us to experience the Church as she is presented to us by Vatican Council II, a sacrament of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race."
AG/PAULINUS OF NOLA/...                    VIS 20071212 (430)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples: Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
NA/.../FILONI:PIACENZA:BRUGUES                VIS 20071213 (70)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Groningen-Leeuwarden, Netherlands, as metropolitan archbishop of Utrecht (area 10,000, population 3,904,940, Catholics 822,316, priests 516, permanent deacons 75, religious 1,319), Netherlands. The archbishop-elect was born in Duivendrecht, Netherlands in 1953 he was ordained a priest in 1985 and consecrated a bishop in 1999.
NER/.../EIJK                                VIS 20071211 (70)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2007 (VIS) - This evening the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20071211 (40)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 11, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was Benedict XVI's Message for the 41st World Day of Peace. The Day falls on January 1, 2008, and has as its theme: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace." The text has been published in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese.

  Extracts from the Message are given below:

  "The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes 'the primary place of humanization for the person and society and a 'cradle of life and love.' The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, 'a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order'."

  After highlighting the fact that "the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace," the Holy Father recalls that it is also "the foundation of society ... because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family."

  "The family, since it has the duty of educating its members, is the subject of specific rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which represents a landmark of juridic civilization of truly universal value, states that 'the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.' ... The denial or even the restriction of the rights of the family, by obscuring the truth about man, threatens the very foundations of peace.

  "Consequently," the Pope adds, "whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace. ... Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace."

  "When society and public policy are not committed to assisting the family," the Holy Father writes, "they deprive themselves of an essential resource in the service of peace." Moreover "social communications media, in particular, because of their educational potential, have a special responsibility for promoting respect for the family, making clear its expectations and rights, and presenting all its beauty."

  "We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters. ... By going back to this supreme principle we are able to perceive the unconditional worth of each human being, and thus to lay the premises for building a humanity at peace. Without this transcendent foundation society is a mere aggregation of neighbors, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family."

  The earth is the home of the human family, says the Holy Father, highlighting the need "to care for the environment" which "has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-a-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man."

  "Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations."

  In this regard, the Pope dwells on the need "to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. ... One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth's energy resources: ... on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency." Poor countries, the Pope adds, "due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess."

  "Efforts must also be made to ensure a prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth. In particular, the aid given to poor countries must be guided by sound economic principles, avoiding forms of waste associated principally with the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies. Due account must also be taken of the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit, which can prove inhumane."

  Benedict XVI writes: "A family lives in peace if all its members submit to a common standard: this is what prevents selfish individualism and brings individuals together, fostering their harmonious coexistence and giving direction to their work. ... For the sake of peace, a common law is needed, one which would foster true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protect the weak from oppression by the strong. ... Power must always be disciplined by law, and this applies also to relations between sovereign States."

  "The juridic norm, which regulates relationships between individuals, disciplines external conduct and establishes penalties for offenders, has as its criterion the moral norm grounded in nature itself."

  "Knowledge of the natural moral norm is not inaccessible to those who, in reflecting on themselves and their destiny, strive to understand the inner logic of the deepest inclinations present in their being. Albeit not without hesitation and doubt, they are capable of discovering, at least in its essential lines, this common moral law which, over and above cultural differences, enables human beings to come to a common understanding regarding the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. ... Mankind is not 'lawless.' All the same, there is an urgent need to persevere in dialogue about these issues and to encourage the legislation of individual States to converge towards a recognition of fundamental human rights. The growth of a global juridic culture depends, for that matter, on a constant commitment to strengthen the profound human content of international norms, lest they be reduced to mere procedures, easily subject to manipulation for selfish or ideological reasons."

  Benedict XVI's Message proceeds: "Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future." In this context, the Pope underlines how "the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension," while in Africa there are still "many civil wars" and "the Middle East is still a theatre of conflict and violence, which also affects neighboring nations and regions and risks drawing them into the spiral of violence. On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race."

  "In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms. At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons."

  Pope Benedict concludes by recalling three special anniversaries: "Sixty years ago the United Nations Organization solemnly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ... This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Holy See's adoption of the Charter of the Rights of the Family and the 40th anniversary of the celebration of the first World Day of Peace."

  "In the light of these significant anniversaries, I invite every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace. I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace"
MESS/PEACE DAY 2008/...                        VIS 20071211 (1440)

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