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Monday, June 11, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JUN 11, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - The presidents of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate: Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile; and Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

 - Eight prelates of the Slovak Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Jan Sokol of Bratislava-Trnava, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jan Orosch and Stanislav Zvolnesky.

    - Bishop Jan Babjak S.J., of the eparchy of Presov of Catholics of the Byzantine Rite.

    - Bishop Rudolf Balaz of Banska Bystrica, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Tomas Galis.

    - Bishop Viliam Judak of Nitra, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Marian Chovanec.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 11, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received students participating in the 11th summer school organized by Vatican Observatory. The group was led by Fr. Jose Funes, director of the observatory.

  "Since its establishment in 1891," said the Pope speaking English, "the Vatican Observatory has sought to demonstrate the Church's desire to embrace, encourage and promote scientific study, on the basis of her conviction that 'faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.'

  "The Jesuit Fathers and Brothers who staff the Observatory are not only involved in astronomical research, but are also committed to offering educational opportunities for the next generation of astronomers. The Vatican Observatory summer school is a concrete sign of that commitment."

  Benedict XVI recalled that the school program this month is devoted to the study of extra-solar planets, pointing out that the participants will also "have a precious opportunity to learn together with students from 22 different countries. The wide variety of your backgrounds and cultural traditions can be a source of great enrichment to you all. I encourage you to make the most of this experience, and I offer my prayerful good wishes that your small international community may become a promising sign of greater scientific collaboration for the benefit of the entire human family."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2007 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope made an appeal for the release of kidnap victims all over the world, Catholic priests among them, making particular reference to the "painful" example of Colombia.

  "Unfortunately," he said, "I often receive requests to intervene in favor of people, among them Catholic priests, who have been kidnapped for different reasons and in various parts of the world.

  "I carry them all in my heart, and I remember them all in my prayers thinking, among the others, of the painful case of Colombia. I appeal to the perpetrators of such deplorable acts to realize the evil they have done and immediately to restore prisoners to their loved ones."

  "I entrust the victims to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, mother of all mankind."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 10, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  In his remarks, the Holy Father spoke of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which many nations including the Vatican celebrated last Thursday, and which others have liturgically moved to today. This Feast invites us, he said, "to contemplate the supreme Master of our faith: the Blessed Eucharist, the real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the altar.

  "Each time a priest repeats the Eucharistic sacrifice," he added, "he lends his voice, hands and heart to Christ, Who wished to remain with us and to be the pulsating heart of the Church. But even after the celebration of the divine mysteries, the Lord Jesus remains alive in the tabernacle and, for this reason, a special form of praise of Him is Eucharistic adoration." Outside Mass, this practice "prolongs and intensifies the events of the liturgical celebration, and makes it possible to welcome Christ truly and profoundly."

  Benedict XVI went on to mention the fact that "in all Christian communities a Eucharistic procession takes place today, a unique form of public adoration of the Eucharist, enriched by the beautiful and traditional expressions of popular devotion.

  "I wish to take the opportunity of today's Solemnity to recommend the practice of Eucharistic adoration to pastors and faithful. ... I am happy to note that many young people are discovering the beauty of adoration, both alone and in company. I invite priests to encourage youth groups to this end, but also to accompany them to ensure that community devotion is always appropriate and dignified, with suitable moments for silence and listening to the Word of God.

  "In modern life, so often noisy and dispersive, it is more than ever important to recover the capacity for inner silence and prayer. Eucharistic adoration enables this to happen, not only around 'me,' but also in the company of the 'you' full of love that is Jesus Christ, 'God close to us'."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches presented by Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State as prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Appointed Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, as substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.

 - Appointed as ordinary for Catholics of oriental rite resident in Poland and without their own ordinary, Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland. He succeeds Cardinal Joseph Glemp, archbishop emeritus of Warsaw, whose resignation from the same office, the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 201 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary to the patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, presented by Bishop Kamal Hanna Bathish, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Akio Johnson Mutek, auxiliary of Torit, Sudan, as bishop of the same diocese (area 76,000, population 793,000, Catholics 604,350, priests 75, religious 36).
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2007 (VIS) - On Friday, June 8, at the apostolic nunciature in Berlin, Germany, Archbishop Erwin Josef Ender, apostolic nuncio to Germany, and Edmund Stoiber, minister president of the Free State of Bavaria, exchanged the instruments of ratification of an additional protocol to the Concordat with Bavaria of March 29, 1924 (last modified with the agreement of June 8 1988). The additional protocol between the Holy See and the Free State of Bavaria was signed on January 19.

  The instruments of ratification "regulate certain questions concerning the teaching of theology, both in faculties of Catholic theology in State universities and in other teaching centers in Bavaria."

  Among those participating in the ceremony were, for the Church, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, apostolic administrator of Munich and Freising and, for the State, Siegfried Schneider, minister of education and religious worship.

  The additional protocol came into effect the day following the exchange of the instruments of ratification.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father visited the offices of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which are located near the Vatican, to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of that dicastery by Pope Benedict XV. Also today, the Pope accepted the resignation from the office of prefect of the congregation presented by Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud and appointed Archbishop Leonardo Sandri to replace him.

  The Pope opened his address by pointing out that today "the calendar of the Latin Church recalls St. Ephrem, the great Doctor of the Syrian Church." He then went on: "As father and pastor, I feel it my duty to raise fervent prayers to God and launch a heartfelt appeal to all those responsible, that everywhere, from East to West, Churches may profess their Christian faith in complete freedom. May the sons and daughters of the Church everywhere be allowed to live in individual and collective serenity; may groups and individuals be guaranteed dignity, respect and a future, with no prejudice of any kind to their rights as believers or as citizens.

  "From my lips," he added, "there rises a more than ever heartfelt invocation for peace in the Holy Land, in Iraq, in Lebanon and in all the territories under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as well as in other regions involved in an apparently unstoppable spiral of violence. May the Churches and the disciples of the Lord remain where Divine Providence placed them by birth, where they ought to remain because their presence dates back to the beginnings of Christianity."

  The Holy Father indicated that by visitng to the offices of the dicastery his intention was "symbolically to continue the pilgrimage to the heart of the East proposed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter 'Orientale lumen.' ... I ideally began that pilgrimage by taking the name of a Pope who greatly loved the East. And, officially opening my Petrine service as bishop of Rome, I prayed before the tomb of the Apostle, inviting those oriental patriarchs in communion with Peter's Successor to join me at my side. ... My apostolic trip to Turkey, ... was another particularly fruitful moment in my pilgrimage to the heart of the East.

  "Today," he added, "the Pope again thanks the people of the East for the faithfulness they have paid in blood" and he, "in his turn, assures them that he wishes to remain at their side, reaffirming his profound esteem towards the Eastern Catholic Churches for their unique role as living witnesses of the origins. Indeed, without a constant relationship with the traditions of the origins, the Church of Christ has no future."

  "The ecumenical option is irreversible," said Pope Benedict, "and inter-religious understanding cannot be postponed. I favor the correct implementation of synodal collegiality and a regular control over the ecclesial development brought about by the rediscovery of religious freedom. The priority of formation is very close to the Pope's heart, as is the 'aggiornamento' of the pastoral care of families, the young and vocations, and ... pastoral concern for culture and for charity." In this context the Holy Father called for the "movement of charity" to continue and to increase, so that "the Holy Land and other eastern regions may receive the necessary spiritual and material support for ordinary ecclesial life and for special needs."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling for "intelligent efforts ... to face the serious problem of migration, which sometimes deprives much tried communities of their finest resources. Migrants must be guaranteed a proper welcome in their new context and the indispensable bond with their own religious tradition."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Pope received prelates from the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (CERNA) who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. The conference brings together bishops from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

  "During the early centuries," said the Pope, "the Christian communities of your region contributed to creating a bridge between the shores of the Mediterranean. Even today St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and many other witnesses of the faith still remain as undisputed points of spiritual, intellectual and cultural reference."

  "In our own time," he observed, "the members of your communities are highly diverse, both in terms of their origins and of the length and reasons of their presence in the Maghreb. In this way they provide an image of the universality of a Church whose evangelical message is addressed to all nations."

  The Holy Father then went on to greet "young Christians from sub-Saharan Africa" who study in North Africa, expressing the hope that "the solidarity they show to one another, together with the fraternal support of their companions, may help them to bear witness to their faith as disciples of Christ among their fellow men."

  Benedict XVI encouraged the bishops "always to remain close" to their faithful, giving them "the necessary spiritual assistance ... to achieve an awareness of the ecclesial significance of their presence in society, and to assume their responsibilities within the community."

  "Strengthening their faith with the celebration of the Sacraments and with a solid Christian formation, as well as with the search for an evangelical perspective on the social, cultural and religious realities of the country, you will enable the faithful to face with courage the often difficult situations they meet in their daily life and work."

  The Pope then went on to speak of the "important role of inter-religious dialogue" in the pastoral activities of North African dioceses. And he expressed his appreciation because the bishops, "through initiatives of dialogue, and with meeting places such as study centers and libraries," are "strongly committed to the development and deepening of relations of esteem and respect between Christians and Muslims in order to promote reconciliation, justice and peace."

  "Moreover," he continued, "in sharing daily life, Christians and Muslims have the opportunity to discover the essential foundations for an improvement of their knowledge of one another," as they do in "their collaboration in the fields of healthcare, education, culture and service to the most needy."

  "Among the serious problems your region has to face is that of the emigration of people from sub-Saharan Africa who seek to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe in search of a better life," said the Pope. This "must encourage you to collaborate in the service of justice and peace. The situation of these people, very worrying and at times dramatic, calls out to consciences."

  Benedict XVI praised the diocesan churches' "generous help" to these migrants describing it as "a contribution towards recognizing their dignity and a witness offered to the Lord. It is my heartfelt hope," he added, "that the countries touched by such migration may identify effective means to give everyone the hope of building a future for themselves and their families, and that the dignity of each person is always respected."

  Finally, the Holy Father mentioned the male and female religious of North Africa, highlighting how their "life of prayer and contemplation is a grace for the entire Church in that region," and he specifically praised the example of the Tibhirine community.

  "The ever closer collaboration between your dioceses and the Churches of the Middle East and Africa," he concluded, "honors your region, which is a meeting point between Africa, Europe and the Arab world."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 9, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning, Saturday June 9 2007, President George W. Bush of the United States of America was received in audience by His Holiness Benedict XVI. 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.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions, the main themes of the international political situation were considered. On the question of the Middle East, particular attention was given to the Israeli-Palestinian question, to Lebanon, to the worrying situation in Iraq, and to the critical conditions being experienced by the Christian communities. On the part of the Holy See, hope was once again expressed in a 'regional' and 'negotiated' solution to the conflicts and crises afflicting the region. Discussions also turned to the question of Africa and its development, also with reference to Darfur, and there was an exchange of opinions on Latin America.

  "Finally contemporary moral and religious issues were examined, among them those concerning human rights and religious freedom, the defense and promotion of life, marriage and the family, the education of the young and sustainable development."
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