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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Monday, March 31, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Three prelates from the Antilles Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Robert Rivas O.P. of Castries, St. Lucia, apostolic administrator of Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    - Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica, apostolic administrator of Saint John's-Basseterre, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

    - Bishop Vincent Darius O.P. of Saint George's in Grenada, Grenada.

 - Nurlan Danenov, ambassador of Kazakhstan, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the 26th General Chapter of the Salesian Society of Don John Bosco which is, he told them, taking place "in a period of great social, economic and political changes", of "more intense communication among peoples", and of "lively debate on the spiritual values that give meaning to existence".

  In this context, the Pope particularly highlighted how "the appeals addressed to us by young people, especially their questions on fundamental problems, indicate the intense desire they nourish for full life, authentic love and constructive freedom. These are situations which cry out to the very heart of the Church and her capacity to announce Christ's Gospel today".

  He then went on to remark on the theme chosen for the general chapter, "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle", indicating that "its aim is to reawaken apostolic passion in each individual Salesian and in the entire congregation. This will help better to define the profile of Salesians, that they may become more aware of their identity as people consecrated 'for the glory of God'" and "of their pastoral commitment 'to the salvation of souls'.

  "Don Bosco", the Holy Father added, "wished the continuity of his charism in the Church to be guaranteed by the choice of consecrated life. Today too the Salesian movement can grow in charismatic faithfulness only if it continues to maintain a strong and vibrant nucleus of consecrated people".

  "The entire congregation must constantly strive to be 'a living memorial of Jesus' way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brethren'. ... May Christ be the focus of your lives! ... It is here that ardent love for the Lord Jesus is born, the aspiration to become one with Him, adopting His feelings and way of life: faithful abandonment to the Father and dedication to the evangelising mission which must characterise all Salesians".

  Benedict XVI then went on to consider "the process of secularisation which is gaining ground in modern culture" and which "unfortunately does not even spare communities of consecrated life. Hence it is necessary to be cautious with lifestyles that risk abating evangelical witness, rendering pastoral activity ineffective and weakening the vocational response".

  The Pope called on the participants in the chapter to help their companions "in protecting and reviving their faithfulness to the call. ... May the Word of God and the liturgy be sources of Salesian spirituality! And especially, may 'lectio divina' practised daily by each Salesian, and the Eucharist celebrated in the community every day, provide nourishment and support".

  The Pope encouraged the Salesians "to form lay people with apostolic hearts, inviting everyone to proceed in that sanctity of life which creates courageous disciples and true apostles".

  Referring then to his recent Letter to the faithful of the diocese of Rome concerning the "great educational emergency", the Holy Father pointed out that "the most serious aspect of the emergency is the sense of discouragement afflicting many educators, in particular parents and teachers, in the face of the difficulties of their role today".

  In this context, he indicated that "at the roots of the crisis in education is a crisis of trust in life which, in the final analysis, is a lack of trust in God Who called us to life.

  "In the education of the young it is extremely important that the family should play an active role", the Pope added. "So often it is either unable to make its specific contribution, or it is absent. The predilection for and commitment to young people, so characteristic of Don Bosco's charism, must be translated into a like commitment to the involvement and formation of families. ... To care for families is not to subtract force from efforts on behalf of the young, rather it makes those efforts more lasting and effective. I encourage you, then, to study ways to implement this commitment. ... This will be an advantage in the education and evangelisation of the young".

  The Holy Father concluded by underlining the need for "solid formation" for all members of the congregation, "not resting content with mediocre results, overcoming the difficulties of vocational fragility, favouring strong spiritual accompaniment and guaranteeing, through permanent formation, educational and pastoral excellence".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today at midday the Pope prayed the Regina Coeli with thousands of pilgrims gathered at his Castelgandolfo residence, where he is currently spending a few days rest. Faithful in St. Peter's Square were able to follow the event through a television linkup The Pope is due to return to the Vatican this evening.

  In opening remarks, the Holy Father recalled how during the Jubilee Year 2000 "Servant of God John Paul II ordained that throughout the Church the Sunday after Easter, apart from being 'in Albis' Sunday, should also be called Divine Mercy Sunday. The pronouncement coincided with the canonisation of Faustina Kowalska, a humble Polish nun, who was born in 1905, died in 1938, and was a zealous messenger of the Merciful Jesus.

  "Mercy", the Pope added, "is the central nucleus of the evangelical message. ... Merciful love also illuminates the face of the Church and shows itself both through the Sacraments - especially the Sacrament of Penance - and through works of charity. ... From divine mercy, which brings peace to hearts, arises authentic peace for the world, peace between peoples, and among various cultures and religions".

  He proceeded: "Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II was also an apostle of Divine Mercy. That unforgettable Saturday 2 April 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, was the eve of the second Sunday of Easter. And many people remarked upon the singular coincidence which brought together two dimensions: the Marian (the first Saturday of the month), and that of Divine Mercy".

  "It is here" said Benedict XVI, that John Paul II's "long and multifaceted pontificate has its central core; his entire mission at the service of the truth about God and man and of peace in the world is summed up in this statement he himself pronounced at Krakow-Lagiewniki in 2002, inaugurating the great Shrine of Divine Mercy: 'Apart from God's mercy there is no other source of hope for human beings'. His message, then, like that of St. Faustina, leads us back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God's mercy. Constantly contemplating that face is the legacy he left us and that we joyfully accept and make our own".

  The Pope then recalled that the First World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy will be held in Rome next week, to be inaugurated with a Mass in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday 2 April, the third anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

  "We place the congress under the celestial protection of Most Holy Mary 'Mater Misericordiae'. To her we entrust the great cause of peace in the world, that God's mercy may achieve that which is impossible for merely human efforts, and infuse hearts with the courage for dialogue and reconciliation".

  Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father greeted the numerous pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, especially those who had participated in that morning's Mass for the Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. "May the intercession of St. Faustina and of Servant of God John Paul II help you to be true witnesses of merciful love", said Pope Benedict. "As an example to follow, I wish to indicate Mother Celestina Donati, foundress of the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph Calasanzio, who will be proclaimed a Blessed in Florence today".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Elevated the diocese of Lille (area 2,288, population 1,580,000, Catholics 1,070,000, priests 577, permanent deacons 61, religious 935), France, to the status of metropolitan church, assigning it as suffragans the archdiocese of Cambrai (former metropolitan see) and the diocese of Arras. He appointed Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Chambery, France, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new metropolitan church.

 - Appointed Fr. Petro Herkulan Malchuk O.F.M., bursar of the Ukrainian province of the Order of Friars Minor, as auxiliary of Odessa-Simferopol of the Latins (area 113,363, population 10,100,000, Catholics 18,000, priests 37, religious 50), Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Sloboda Rashkiv, Moldova in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1992.

 - Appointed Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the apparition of the "Vierge des Pauvres", due to take place at the shrine of Banneux, Belgium on 31 May.

Friday, March 28, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Munster, Germany, presented by Bishop Reinhard Lettmann, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Francisco Moreno Barron, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Morelia, Mexcio, as bishop of Tlaxcala (area 4,060, population 1,064,000, Catholics 996,000, priests 161, permanent deacons 2, religious 274), Mexico.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Faculty of Canon Law of Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the "Angelicum", is to host a congress on the theme: "Various models of authority in the religious life of the Latin Church". The event has been organised to mark the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law.

  A communique released by the "Angelicum" explains that during the congress, due to be held on 9 April, participants will present "the specific model of authority of the Order to which they belong (both at a personal and collegial level as well as at the various levels of General, Provincial and Local Superior), as it appears from a reading of history", concentrating especially on "Rules and Constitutions revised since 1983".

  Contributions will be forthcoming on such topics as: "The abbot vicar of Christ: authority in monastic life"; "Religious authority in the Friars Preachers as a mendicant order"; "Religious authority in the Society of Jesus"; and "Authority and government in modern congregations".

  The morning session will be presided by Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, while the afternoon meeting will be held under the presidency of Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Peter Porekuu Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana, on 6 March at the age of 89.

 - Bishop Romeu Brigenti, former auxiliary of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 10 March at the age of 91.

 - Bishop Kevin John Dunn of Hexham and Newcastle, England, on 1 March at the age of 57.

 - Bishop Urbanus Joseph Kioko, emeritus of Machakos, Kenya, on 2 March at the age of 79.

 - Bishop Pierre Mamie, emeritus of Lausanne, Geneve and Fribourg, Switzerland, on 14 March at the age of 88.

 - Archbishop Gastone Mojaisky-Perrelli, emeritus of Sant'Angelo dei Lombardi-Conza-Nusco-Bisaccia, Italy, on 5 March at the age of 93.

 - Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, on 12 March at the age of 65.

 - Bishop Denys Tapsoba M. Afr., emeritus of Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, on 13 March at the age of 91.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Fausto Gabriel Travez Travez O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Zamora en Ecuador, Ecuador, as bishop of Babahoyo (area 6,531, population 761,000, Catholics 563,000, priests 30, religious 44), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Jesus Ramon Martinez de Ezquerecocha Suso, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2008 (VIS) - According to a note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 5 April, Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church, will take possession of the diaconate of St. John della Pigna in Vicolo della Minerva 51, Rome.

  Also at 6 p.m. on Saturday 5 April, Cardinal Agustín Garcia-Gasco Vicente, metropolitan archbishop of Valencia, Spain, will take possession of the title of St. Marcellus in Piazza San Marcello 5, Rome.

  The communique further announces that at 11 a.m. on Sunday 6 April, Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, metropolitan archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, will take possession of the title of title of St. Lucy a Piazza Armi in Via di Santa Lucia 5, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced that at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 2 April, Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica to mark the third anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II.

  The same office has also announced that at 3.30 p.m. on 30 March, a ceremony will be held in the cathedral of Florence, Italy, to beatify Servant of God Celestina of the Mother of God (nee Maria Anna Donati).
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Thomas Kwaku Mensah of Obuasi, Ghana, as archbishop of Kumasi (area 5,118, population 1,579,000, Catholics 363,000, priests 79, religious 127), Ghana. The archbishop-elect was born in Assamang, Ghana in 1935, he was ordained a priest in 1973 and consecrated a bishop in 1995. He succeeds Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Port Moresby, Papua new Guinea, presented by Archbishop Brian James Barnes O.F.M., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop John Ribat M.S.C.

 - Appointed Bishop Ramon Alfredo Dus, auxiliary of Reconquista, Argentina, as bishop of the same diocese (area 35,000, population 267,500, Catholics 235,000, priests 42, religious 58).

 - Appointed Bishop Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana, as bishop of Obuasi (area 6,350, population 1,004,790, Catholics 100,243, priests 48, religious 44), Ghana.

  On Tuesday 25 March it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Fr. Augustine Tochukwu Ukwouma of the clergy of the diocese of Orlu, Nigeria, pastor of the parish of St. Teresa at Uli, as bishop of Orlu (area 929, population 996,000, Catholics 571,015, priests 287, religious 168). The bishop-elect was born in Amucha, Nigeria in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1983. He succeeds Bishop Gregory O. Ochiagha, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Thursday 20 March it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. John Niyiring O.S.A. provincial superior of the Augustinians in Nigeria, as bishop of Kano (area 43,178, population 9,504,000, Catholics 139,353, priests 38, religious 19), Nigeria. The bishop-elect was born in Zonkwa, Nigeria in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1992. He succeeds Bishop Patrick Francis Sheehan O.S.A., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini O.M., former superior general of the Minim Fathers, as bishop of Locri-Gerace (area 1,248, population 130,779, Catholics 117,701, priests 80, permanent deacons 5, religious 163), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Paola, Italy in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1969.

  On Wednesday 19 March, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Dominic Ryoji Miyahara of Oita, Japan, as bishop of Fukuoka (area 14,808, population 7,729,183, Catholics 31,065, priests 78, religious 442), Japan.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Rio do Sul, Brazil, presented by Bishop Jose Jovencio Balestieri S.D.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Augustinho Petry.

 - Appointed Msgr. Oswaldo Brenes Alvarez of the clergy of the diocese of Tilaran, Costa Rica, vicar general and pastor of the parish of "Inmaculada Concepcion" in Bocas de Nosara, as bishop of Ciudad Quesada (area 9,838, population 270,321, Catholics 216,257, priests 43, religious 28), Costa Rica. The bishop-elect was born in Liberia, Costa Rica in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1966.

 - Appointed Fr. Adam Balabuch, vicar general and rector of the major seminary of the diocese of Swidnica, Poland, as bishop of the same diocese (area 4,060, population 679,600, Catholics 671,699, priests 371, religious 558). The bishop-elect was born in Scinawka Srednia, Poland in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in St. Peter's Square, more than 30,000 people participated in the weekly general audience. The Pope, who arrived at the Vatican by helicopter from his Castelgandolfo residence, dedicated his catechesis to the period of Easter.

  "The entire liturgy of the Easter period proclaims the certainty and joy of Christ's resurrection", he said. This is "the central truth of Christian faith in all its doctrinal richness and its inexhaustible vitality".

  Christ's Easter, he went on, "is also our Easter because in the risen Christ we are given the certainty of our final resurrection. ... The death of the Lord shows the immense love with which He loved us, even to the point of sacrificing Himself for us. But only His resurrection is 'certain proof' ... that what He says is true".

  "It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith", explained the Holy Father, "the historical truth of which is amply documented, even if today as in the past there is no lack of people who put it in doubt or even deny it. The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus leads to the weakening of the testimony of believers. ... Whereas adhesion to Christ, dead and risen, changes lives and illuminates the entire life of individuals and peoples".

  "The liturgy invites us - and especially in this octave of Easter - to encounter the Risen One personally and to recognise His life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives".

  As with the disciples of Emmaus who figure in today's Gospel, "the Lord is walking with us and he explains the Scripture to us. He brings us to understand this mystery in which everything speaks of Him. This should make our hearts burn so that our eyes may also be opened. The Lord is with us, He shows us the true path".

  The disciples of Emmaus recognised Christ "as He broke the bread. ... We too", the Holy Father concluded, "can meet and know Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist, ... on the double altar of the announced Word and the consecrated Bread and Wine. Each Sunday the community relives the Lord's Easter and draws from the Saviour its witness of love and fraternal service".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Monterrey, Mexico, for the death on 22 March at the age of 81 of Cardinal Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.

  In his telegram, the Pope associates himself with the "fervent prayers" of those mourning the loss of the cardinal, and asks "that the Lord may grant His peace to one who so intensely and generously served the Church during his pastoral ministry", first as bishop of the dioceses of Tepic and Tlalnepantla, and later as archbishop of Monterrey.


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Easter Monday, the Pope prayed the Regina Coeli with pilgrims at the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo and, through television linkup, with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Pope travelled to his Castelgandolfo residence yesterday evening to rest after the Easter celebrations.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope remarked upon the signing of Hallelujah, the word that in the wake of Lent and the Passion passes "from mouth to mouth, from heart to heart". It "echoes forth", he said, "from an absolutely new event: the death and resurrection of Christ".

  "This experience", said the Holy Father, "has forever inscribed the word 'Hallelujah' in the heart of the Church". Therefrom "derives also the prayer we recite today and on every day of the Easter period, ... the Regina Coeli. Its text is brief and has the direct form of an announcement. It is like a new 'annunciation' to Mary, this time not by an angel but by Christians who invite the mother to joy because her Son ... rose again as He promised".

  "Let us allow this Easter Hallelujah to impress itself deeply within us", said the Pope, "so that it becomes not just a word but the expression of our very lives: the lives of people who invite everyone to praise the Lord, and who do so through their own behaviour as 'people who have risen'".

  After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father recalled that today marks the Day of Prayer and Fasting for Missionary Martyrs. "Remembering and praying for these our brothers and sisters (bishops, priests, religious and lay people), who fell during the year 2007 while undertaking their missionary service, is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church and a stimulus for each of us to bear witness ever more courageously to our own faith and hope in Him Who on the cross overcame, once and for all, the power of hatred and violence with the omnipotence of His love".

  The Pope concluded by remarking that today also marks World Tuberculosis Day. He expressed his own "special closeness" to the sick and to their families, and the hope for "an increase in international efforts to combat this sickness".


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI celebrated the Easter Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at 10.30 this morning in St. Peter's Square, which was decorated, as is traditional, with flowers, shrubs and flowering plants from Holland. At midday, from the central loggia of the basilica, he pronounced his Easter Message, delivered Easter greetings in various languages and imparted his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

  In the words "I have risen, I am still with you" which ring out at the beginning of today's Mass, said the Pope, "the Church recognises the voice of Jesus Himself Who, on rising from death, turns to the Father filled with gladness and love, and exclaims: ... Your Spirit never abandoned me. ... The death and resurrection of the Word of God incarnate is an event of invincible love, it is the victory of that Love which has delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. It has changed the course of history, giving to human life an indestructible and renewed meaning and value".

  "With His redeeming sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth has made us adopted children of God, so that we too can now take our place in the mysterious dialogue between Him and the Father", said the Pope. "In this perspective, we note that the words addressed by the risen Jesus to the Father on this day ... apply indirectly to us as well, 'children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him'".

  "In this way we enter the depths of the Paschal mystery", he explained. "The astonishing event of the resurrection of Jesus is essentially an event of love. ... From today's solemnity, in which we relive the absolute, once-and-for-all experience of Jesus' resurrection, we receive an appeal to be converted to Love; we receive an invitation to live by rejecting hatred and selfishness, and to follow with docility in the footsteps of the Lamb that was slain for our salvation".

  The Holy Father proceeded: "Dear Christian brothers and sisters in every part of the world, dear men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth, let no heart be closed to the omnipotence of this redeeming love! Jesus Christ died and rose for all; He is our hope - true hope for every human being. Today, just as He did with His disciples in Galilee before returning to the Father, the risen Jesus now sends us everywhere as witnesses of His hope. ... Fixing the gaze of our spirit on the glorious wounds of His transfigured body, we can understand the meaning and value of suffering, we can tend the many wounds that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day".

  The Pope indicated that in Christ's wounds "we recognise the indestructible signs of the infinite mercy of the God. ... It is He who heals the wounds of broken hearts, who defends the weak and proclaims the freedom of slaves, who consoles all the afflicted and bestows upon them the oil of gladness instead of a mourning robe. ... If with humble trust we draw near to Him, we encounter in His gaze the response to the deepest longings of our heart: to know God and to establish with Him a living relationship in an authentic communion of love, which can fill our lives, our interpersonal and social relations with that same love".

  "How often", the Pope remarked "relations between individuals, between groups and between peoples are marked not by love but by selfishness, injustice, hatred and violence! These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, although they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our brothers and sisters. They are waiting to be tended and healed by the glorious wounds of our Risen Lord and by the solidarity of people who, following in His footsteps, perform deeds of charity in His name, make an active commitment to justice, and spread luminous signs of hope in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person continues to be scorned and trampled. It is to be hoped that these are precisely the places where gestures of moderation and forgiveness will increase!"

  Benedict XVI noted how on the morning of the resurrection, he could not "fail to remember certain African regions, such as Darfur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good!" The Pope concluded by invoking "the fullness of His Paschal gifts, through the intercession of Mary who, after sharing the sufferings of the passion and crucifixion of her innocent Son, also experienced the inexpressible joy of His resurrection".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At 9 o'clock this evening in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope presided at the solemn Easter vigil during which he administered the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to a number of catechumens from various countries.

  The celebration began in the atrium of the basilica where the Holy Father blessed the new fire and lighted the Easter candle. This was followed by the procession towards the altar with the singing of the "Exultet." Then came the Liturgy of the Word and the Baptismal and Eucharistic Liturgies which the Holy Father concelebrated with cardinals.

  In his homily, the Pope recalled the words with which Jesus announced to the disciples His forthcoming death and resurrection: "'I go away, and I will come to you'. ... Dying is a 'going away'", he said. "Yet in Jesus' case, there is something utterly new, which changes the world. ... It is by going away that He comes. His going ushers in a completely new and greater way of being present. By dying He enters into the love of the Father. His dying is an act of love. Love, however, is immortal. Therefore, His going away is transformed into a new coming, into a form of presence which reaches deeper and does not come to an end".

  "Jesus, Who is now totally transformed through the act of love, is free from ... barriers and limits. He is able not only to pass through closed doors in the outside world" but also "through the interior door separating the 'I' from the 'you', the closed door between yesterday and today, between the past and the future. ... His going away is transformed into a coming, in the Risen Lord's universal manner of presence, in which He is there yesterday, today and forever, in which He embraces all times and all places. Now He can even surmount the wall of otherness that separates the 'I' from the 'you'".

  "The mysterious words spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper become present for you once more", the Holy Father told his audience. "In Baptism, the Lord enters your life through the door of your heart. We no longer stand alongside or in opposition to one another. He passes through all these doors. This is the reality of Baptism: He, the Risen One, comes; He comes to you and joins His life with yours, drawing you into the open fire of His love. You become one, one with Him, and thus one among yourselves".

  "Believers, the baptised, are never truly cut off from one another. Continents, cultures, social structures or even historical distances may separate us. But when we meet, we know one another on the basis of the same Lord, the same faith, the same hope, the same love, which form us. Then we experience that the foundation of our lives is the same. We experience that in our inmost depths we are anchored in the same identity, on the basis of which all our outward differences, however great they may be, become secondary".

  "The Church expresses the inner reality of Baptism as the gift of a new identity through the tangible elements used in the administration of the Sacrament" said Pope Benedict, explaining that the fundamental symbols in Baptism are water and light. Going on to comment on the readings of the Easter vigil, he noted how "Jesus appears as the new, definitive Shepherd who brings to fulfilment what Moses had done: He leads us out of the deadly waters of the sea, out of the waters of death. ... In Baptism He takes us, as it were, by the hand, He leads us along the path that passes through the Red Sea of this life and introduces us to everlasting life, the true and upright life".

  "In the second place", he went on, "there is the symbol of light and fire". ... Jesus Christ truly took light from heaven and brought it to the earth - the light of truth and the fire of love that transform man's being. He brought the light, and now we know who God is and what God is like. Thus we also know what our own situation is: what we are, and for what purpose we exist. When we are baptised, the fire of this light is brought down deep within ourselves. Thus, in the early Church, Baptism was also called the Sacrament of Illumination".

  The Holy Father concluded his homily by recalling that the early Church had a custom whereby "the bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: 'Conversi ad Dominum' - turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the east, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning. ... Linked with this was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: 'Sursum corda' - Lift up your hearts, high above the tangled web of our concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness - 'Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!'

  "In both exclamations", the Holy Father added in conclusion, "we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism. ... We must turn ever anew towards Him Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must allow our hearts to be withdrawn from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Late this afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration to journalists:

  "During this evening's Easter vigil, the Holy Father will administer Baptism to seven people, five women and two men from various countries.

  "As is known, the Holy Father normally administers the Sacrament of Baptism on two liturgical occasions. In the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord he administers Baptism to a group of new-born infants. On the Easter vigil he administers Baptism and the other two Sacraments of Christian initiation (Confirmation and Communion) to a group of adults of varying nationalities and conditions who have followed the necessary spiritual and catechetical preparation, which Christian tradition calls the 'catechumenate'.

  "The catechumens who will receive Baptism tonight come from Italy, Cameroon, China, the United States and Peru. Among them is Magdi Allam, a well-known journalist of Egyptian origin, vice-director 'ad personam' of the Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera'.

  "For the Catholic Church, anyone who asks to receive Baptism - following a profound individual exploration, a free choice and adequate preparation - has the right to receive it.

  "For his part, the Holy Father administers Baptism during the course of the Easter liturgy to the catechumens who have been presented to him, without making any 'distinction between people', in other words considering them all as equally important before the love of the Lord and welcome in the community of the Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. today, Good Friday, the Pope presided at the celebration of the Lord's Passion. Following the reading of the Passion, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, pronounced his customary Good Friday homily. The ceremony continued with the universal prayer, veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.

  At 9.15 p.m., the Holy Father travelled to the Colosseum where he led the 'Via Crucis' or Way of the Cross. The meditations this year were prepared by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China, and their central theme was the persecutions suffered by the Catholic Church in various parts of the world.

  On a cold and rainy night, Benedict XVI oversaw the ceremony from the Palatine Hill and carried the cross for the last station. Over the other thirteen stations, it was carried by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, a religious from Burkina Faso, a Roman family, a woman on a wheelchair, two Franciscan friars from the Custody of the Holy Land and a young Chinese woman.

  At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father addressed some remarks to those present. "The cross", he said, "is the source of immortal life, it is a school of justice and peace, it is a universal legacy of forgiveness and mercy, it is permanent proof of the oblational and infinite love which brought God to make Himself a vulnerable man like us, and to die crucified".

  "Unfortunately mankind does not always manage to perceive the profundity of this boundless love that God nourishes for His creatures" said Benedict XVI. "For Him there is no difference in race or culture. Jesus Christ died to liberate the entire human race from ignorance of God, from the cycle of hatred and revenge, from the slavery of sin. The cross makes us all brothers and sisters".

  "Many people, even in our own time, do not know God and cannot find Him in the crucified Christ. Many are those who seek a form of love and freedom that excludes God, many believe they have no need of God. Dear friends, having experienced the passion of Jesus together, let us this evening allow His sacrifice on the cross to probe us; let us allow Him to put our human certainties in doubt; let us open our hearts to Him. Jesus is the Truth that makes us free to love. Let us not fear! By dying, the Lord saved sinners, in other words, all of us".

  "This is the truth of Good Friday", the Holy Father concluded. "On the cross, the Redeemer gave us back the dignity that is ours, He made us adoptive children of God Who created us in His image and likeness".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m. today, Holy Thursday, the Holy Father presided at the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated on this day in churches and cathedrals throughout the world. Cardinals, bishops and priests present in Rome concelebrated with the Pope. Following the homily, there was the renewal of priestly vows and the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed.

  In his homily, the Pope explained how the Chrism Mass "encourages us to revive that 'yes' to the call of God which we pronounced on the day of our ordination as priests".

  The Old Testament describes the tasks that define the essence of priestly ministry as "standing before the Lord" and "serving", he said.

  A priest "must be on his guard against the threatening powers of evil. He must awaken the world to God. He must remain standing upright against the currents of the times".

  "To stand before the Lord must also mean, in the most profound sense, taking on responsibility for mankind before the Lord Who, in His turn, takes on responsibility for all of us before the Father. And this must mean accepting Him, Christ, accepting His word, His truth, His love".

  Secondly, the Pope went on, a priest must serve. "What a priest does ... in celebrating the Eucharist is to serve, to accomplish a service to God and a service to mankind. Christ's worship of the Father was His total giving of Himself for mankind. The priest must become part of such worship, of such service.

  "Thus", he added, "the word 'service' includes many dimensions". It implies "the correct celebration of the liturgy and of the Sacraments in general". In this context he highlighted how priests "are familiar with the Word, they love it and they live it; only then can they adequately explain it".

  Service, the Holy Father proceeded, "also means closeness, it requires familiarity" such as that of the servant to his master. However, "such familiarity also brings a danger: that continual contact with the sacred may become a habit for us. Thus we lose our reverential awe. Conditioned by habit, we no longer perceive the great, new and surprising fact that He Himself is present, He speaks to us and gives Himself to us".

  Service "means, above all, obedience" said Pope Benedict. "Humanity's temptation is always that of wanting to be completely autonomous, of following only their own will and of insisting that only thus will we be free, that only through such limitless freedom can mankind be fully realised and become divine. Yet it is precisely thus that we run counter to the truth". We are free, the Pope stated, if "we share our freedom with others, ... if we obey the will of God".

  Benedict XVI concluded by highlighting how priests "announce not ourselves but Him and His Word. ... Our obedience is believing with the Church, thinking and talking with the Church, serving with her".

  At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Benedict XVI presided at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. During the celebration, imitating the gesture of the Lord towards His Apostles, the Pope washed the feet of 12 priests. At the presentation of the gifts, he was given alms collected for the "Edad de oro" orphanage in Havana, Cuba.

  Commenting in his homily on Jesus' gesture of washing His disciples' feet, the Pope dwelt on the need for interior purification as a necessary condition for living in communion with God and our fellows.

  "Day after day", he said, "we are, as it were, covered with dirt, with empty words, with prejudices, with watered-down and adulterated wisdom; multiple forms of semi-falsity or open falseness continually infiltrate our inner being. This clouds and contaminates our soul, it threatens us with an incapacity for truth and goodness. If we accept the words of Jesus with an attentive heart, they wash and purify the soul".

  The Gospel episode of the washing of the feet invites us "always to let ourselves be washed by that pure water, to allow ourselves to be capable of convivial communion with God and with our brothers and sisters".

  "The gift and the example that we find in the story of the washing of the feet are characteristic of the nature of Christianity in general", said the Pope. "Christianity is not some kind of moralism, a system of ethics. ... It is, first and foremost, a gift: God gives Himself to us. He does not give something but gives Himself. ... For this reason, the central act of being Christian is the Eucharist".

  We need the 'washing of the feet', the washing away of everyday sins. It is for this that we need the confession of sins". In the Sacrament of Penance "the Lord ever and anew washes our dirty feet so we can sit at table with Him".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by highlighting how "Easter Thursday calls us to this: not to allow rancour towards others to become, deep down, a poisoning of the soul. It exhorts us to continual purification of memory, forgiving one another from the heart, washing one another's feet, thus to be able to go together to God's banquet".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The general audience held this morning, 19 March and the Holy Father's name day, was divided into two parts. In the Vatican Basilica at 10.15 a.m. the Pope met with 3500 students who are participating in the international congress UNIV 2008; he then moved on to the Paul VI Hall where he delivered his catechesis and greeted pilgrims from various parts of the world.

  Benedict XVI encouraged the young people of UNIV 2008 not to be afraid, "when necessary, to be nonconformist, at university, in college or anywhere else. ... Being friends with Christ and bearing witness to Him wherever we may be", he told them, "requires the strength to swim against the tide".

  In the Paul VI Hall the Pope concentrated his remarks on the significance of the Easter Triduum in which, he said, "we relive the central event of our redemption".

  On Easter Thursday, "the Church remembers the Last Supper during which the Lord, on the eve of His passion and death, established the Sacrament of the Eucharist and that of priestly ministry. On that same night, Jesus left us the new commandment ('mandatum novum'), the commandment of fraternal love".

  Good Friday "is the day that recalls the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus", said the Pope. On that day Christians "meditate upon the great mystery of the evil and sin that oppress humanity" and "adore the cross".

  Easter Saturday "is marked by profound silence" Pope Benedict explained. "As they await the great event of the resurrection, believers persevere expectantly with Mary, praying and meditating". The day "ends with the Easter vigil which leads into the most important Sunday in history, the Sunday of Christ's Easter. ... In the darkness of the night the new flame of the Easter candle is lit, a symbol of Christ arising in glory".

  At the end of the audience, the Pope made an appeal concerning the situation in Tibet. He spoke of his "sadness and pain at the suffering of so many people. ... Problems are not solved with violence", he said, "but only get worse. I invite you to join me in prayer. Let us ask Almighty God, the source of light, to illuminate the minds of everyone and give each the courage to chose the way of dialogue and tolerance".
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Wurzburg, Germany, presented by Bishop Helmut Bauer, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Etienne Ung'eyowun of the clergy of Mahagi-Nioka, Democratic Republic of the Congo, adjunct secretary general of the national episcopal conference, as bishop of Bondo (area 75,600, population 395,370, Catholics 82,017, priests 20, religious 18), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Nyalebbe, Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1988.
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Monday, March 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy See and the Principality of Andorra signed an agreement that "further consolidates the traditional ties of collaboration that exist between the two parties", according to a communique made public today.

  The note recalls that Andorra "has always maintained a special relationship with the Catholic Church" and that "in 1993 the principality adopted a Constitution that maintains the system of co-principality dating back to 1278. ... The co-princes - who are the bishop of Urgell and the president of the French Republic - together and indivisibly perform the functions of head of State".

  The agreement is made up of a preamble and 16 articles divided into six parts that cover the following subjects: the bishop of Urgell, the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Andorra, canonical marriage, the teaching of religions in schools, the economic system of the Catholic Church in Andorra.

  For the Holy See, the document was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and for Andorra by Albert Pintat, head of government. The agreement will come into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification.


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Th Holy See Press Office today published the programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to the United States of America, including his visit to the headquarters of the United Nations, due to take place from 15 to 21 April.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at midday on Tuesday 15 April and land at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington at 4 p.m. local time, where he will be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife.

  The welcome ceremony will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 16 April, after which the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the U.S. president at the White House. That afternoon he will preside at the celebration of Vespers and hold a meeting with U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

  Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on Thursday 17 April in the Nationals Stadium in Washington. At 5 p.m. on the same day he will participate in a meeting with representatives from Catholic universities at the Catholic University of America, also in Washington, then meet with representatives of other religions in the city's Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre.

  On the morning of Friday 18 April, the Holy Father will travel from Washington to New York where, at 10.45 a.m., he is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That evening he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph in New York.

  At 9.15 a.m. on Saturday, 19 April, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with priests and religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will then lunch with bishops of the archdiocese of New York and, at 4.30 p.m., preside at a meeting with young people and seminarians at the seminary of St. Joseph.

  On Sunday 20 April, Benedict XVI is to visit "Ground zero" where he will pray for the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001. At 2.30 p.m. he will celebrate Mass at New York's Yankee Stadium.

  The departure ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on the same day, at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport. The papal plane is due to land at the Roman airport of Ciampino at 10.45 a.m. local time on Monday 21 April.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, the Pope presided at a Mass for the soul of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who died in tragic circumstances following his kidnapping on 29 February.

  The Pope spoke of his closeness to the members of the "beloved Church which suffers, believes and prays in Iraq" and expressed the hope that "in the faith they may find the strength not to lose heart in the difficult situation they are experiencing".

  The Holy Father then went on to recall the liturgy of Holy Week which presents the last days of Jesus' earthly life. "Those hours", he said, were marked by a clear "contrast between truth and lies, between the mildness and rectitude of Christ and the violence and dishonesty of His enemies". The Lord "felt the approach of His violent death, He felt the net of His persecutors tightening around Him, ... the anguish and fear, up to the crucial moment in Gethsemane". But Christ "experienced all this immersed in communion with the Father and comforted by the 'anointing' of the Holy Spirit".

  The Pope mentioned today's Gospel reading on the anointing of Christ in Bethany, then enumerated Archbishop Rahho's own "anointings" during his life, from Baptism and Confirmation to his Ordination as a priest and then bishop. "But I am also thinking", he went on, "of the many 'anointings' of filial affection and spiritual friendship ... which his faithful gave him and which accompanied him in the terrible hours of his kidnapping and his painful detention (where perhaps he was already wounded when he arrived), and even unto his agony, his death and that unworthy grave where his mortal remains were found.

  "Those sacramental and spiritual anointings were a guarantee of resurrection, a guarantee of the true and full life that the Lord Jesus came to give us", he added.

  Benedict XVI also remarked on the reading from the Prophet Isaiah on the Servant of the Lord who will bring, proclaim and establish justice. "The insistence on this term", said the Pope, "cannot pass unobserved". The Servant "faced with an unjust condemnation bears witness to the truth, remaining faithful to the law of love".

  The Holy Father went on: "On this path, Archbishop Rahho took up his cross and followed the Lord Jesus, thus he contributed to bringing justice to his martyred country and to the whole world, bearing witness to the truth. He was a man of peace and dialogue ... with a particular fondness for the poor and the disabled. ... May his example sustain all Iraqis of good will, Christians and Muslims, to build peaceful coexistence founded on human fraternity and mutual respect".

  He concluded: "Over these days, in profound union with the Chaldean community in Iraq and abroad, we have wept his death and the inhuman way in which he was compelled to end his earthly life. But today in this Eucharist ... we wish to give thanks to God for all the good He achieved in Archbishop Rahho. ... At the same time, we hope that, from heaven, he may intercede with the Lord to obtain for the faithful in that sorely-tried land the courage to continue to work for a better future".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Following this morning's solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday, the Pope prayed the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  "At the end of this solemn celebration during which we have meditated upon the Passion of Christ", said the Holy Father, "I wish recall the lamented Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who died so tragically a few days ago. His beautiful witness of faithfulness to Christ, to the Church, and to his people whom he chose never to abandon despite numerous threats, compel me to raise a strong and heartfelt cry: stop the massacres, stop the violence, stop the hatred in Iraq! At the same time I make an appeal to the Iraqi people who for five years have been suffering the consequences of a war that has provoked the breakdown of civil and social life: Dear Iraqi people, raise your heads and yourselves become the primary rebuilders of your national life! May reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and respect for civil coexistence among tribes and ethnic and religious groups be the solidary path to peace in God's name!"

  Finally, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to young people gathered in St. Peter's Square and invited them to participate in the forthcoming World Youth Day, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, from 15 to 20 July.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2008 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at a solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. The Pope blessed the palms and the olives, then walked in procession with cardinals, bishops and 270 young people from the obelisk in the square to the altar where he celebrated the Eucharist.

  The Eucharistic liturgy was attended by 50,000 pilgrims, most of them young people from Rome and other dioceses currently celebrating 23rd diocesan World Youth Day (WYD) which has as its theme this year: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses". Diocesan WYD is a prelude to international WYD, due to be held in Sydney, Australia, from 15 to 20 July.

  In his homily, the Holy Father commented on today's Gospel reading concerning Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His arrival at the Temple to find it full of traders, animals and money changers "who occupied the place of prayer with their stalls".

  "This must also make us, as Christians, think today", said the Holy Father. "Is our faith open and pure enough, so that on the basis of that faith even 'pagans' - people who are currently searching and posing questions - may see the light of the one God, come together in the atria of faith to join our prayer and, perhaps, become worshippers themselves?

  "Does," the Holy Father added, "an awareness that greed is idolatry penetrate to our hearts and our way of life? Do we not in various ways actually let idols enter even the world of our faith? Are we ready to let ourselves be purified anew by the Lord, allowing Him to remove from us and from the Church everything that is contrary to Him?"

  "In the place of cruel sacrifices and offers of food, comes the body of Christ", said Pope Benedict. "He Himself comes to replace them. Only 'endless love', only the love which, for man, gives itself totally to God, is true worship and true sacrifice".

  "Against the trade in animals and the exchange of money, Christ places His own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the Temple. He does not come as destroyer, He does not come with the revolutionary's sword, He comes with the gift of healing".

  Christ "dedicates Himself to those who, through their infirmity, are forced to the extremes of life and to the margins of society. Jesus reveals God as the One Who loves, and His power as the power of love. And thus He informs us what will always remain part of the true worship of God: healing, service, curative goodness".

  The Pope went on to recall the children who acclaimed Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and said: "He, Who embraces the world entire, made Himself small to meet us, to direct our steps towards God".

  He went on: "To recognise God we must abandon the pride that blinds us, that pushes us away from God as if He were our competitor. To meet God we must become capable of seeing with the heart. We must learn to see with a young heart that is not encumbered by prejudice or obscured by interests".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by encouraging those present to join "the procession of young people of that time, a procession that crosses all of history. Together with the youth of the whole world let us go and meet Jesus. Let us be guided by Him towards God, to learn from God Himself the right way to be human".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Martin Pablo Perez Scremini, auxiliary of Montevideo, Uruguay, as bishop of Florida (area 22,6000, population 124,100, Catholics 91,300, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 80), Uruguay. He succeeds Bishop Raul Horacio Scarrone Carrero, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Charles Edward Tamba of the clergy of Kenema, Sierra Leone, rector of St. Paul's Major Seminary in Freetown, as archbishop of Freetown and Bo (area 20,251, population 1,396,494, Catholics 80,000, priests 59, religious 29), Sierra Leone. The archbishop-elect was born in Kainkordu, Sierra Leone in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Appointed Fr. Henry D'Souza, executive secretary of the media office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, as bishop of Bellary (area 24,973, population 4,590,000, Catholics 26,328, priests 79, religious 317), India. The bishop-elect was born in Kinnigoly, India in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1976.

 - Appointed Archbishop Mario Giordana, apostolic nuncio to Haiti, as apostolic nuncio to Slovakia.

 - Appointed Msgrs. Jorge Raigosa Alzate and James Anthony McDaid, officials at the Congregation for the Clergy, as bureau chiefs at the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

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

 - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

 - Fr. Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, superior general of the Legion of Christ.

 - Mario Morcone, extraordinary prefect commissioner for the local authorities of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in private audience Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee: Caterina), Italian foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1847-1903).

 - Servant of God Francesco Pianzola, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace (1881-1943).

 - Servant of God Jose Olallo Valdes, Cuban professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1820-1889).


 - Servant of God Aurelio Bacciarini, Swiss bishop, apostolic administrator of Lugano (1873-1935).

 - Servant of God Michael McGivney, American diocesan priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus (1852-1890).

 - Servant of God Joaquim Alves Bras, Portuguese diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of Co-operators of the Family (1899-1966).

 - Servant of God Giocondo Pio Lorgna, Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Dominican Sisters of Blessed Imelda (1870-1928).

 - Servant of God Michelangelo Longo da Marigliano (ne: Michelangelo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1811-1886).

 - Servant of God Mariano Roasenda da Torino (ne: Paolo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1906-1972).

 - Servant of God Francisco de la Pasion Gondra Muruaga (ne: Victoriano), Spanish professed priest of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (1910-1974).

 - Servant of God Clemente Vismara, Italian priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (1897-1988).

 - Servant of God Gemma Giannni (nee: Eufemia), Italian foundress of the Missionary Congregation of Sisters of St. Gemma Galgani (1884-1971).

 - Servant of God Tarsilla del Crocefisso Osti (nee: Tarsilla), Italian professed religious of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1895-1958).

 - Servant of God Leopoldo Sanchez Marquez de Alpandeire (ne: Francisco Tomas), Spanish professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1864-1956).

 - Servant of God Serafino Riminucci da Pietrarubbia (ne: Pietro), Italian professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1875-1960).

 - Servant of God Margarita Amengual Campaner, Spanish laywoman (1888-1919).

 - Servant of God Luigia Mazzotta, Italian laywoman (1900-1922).
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Miltiadis Hiskakis, the new ambassador of Greece to the Holy See.

  In his English-language address to the diplomat, the Pope recalled the "valiant efforts" made by the recently deceased Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, "to mend the breach between Christians in the East and West". He also gave assurances of his constant prayers for the "fruitful ministry and good health" of Christodoulos' successor, His Beatitude Ieronymos.

  After reiterating his "eagerness to work together as we travel the road towards Christian unity", the Holy Father recalled that "honesty and trust will be required from all parties if the important questions raised by this dialogue are to continue to be addressed effectively".

  Referring to the forthcoming Jubilee Year marking the bi-millennial anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, the Pope indicated that it "will be a particularly auspicious occasion to intensify our ecumenical endeavours. ... This brilliant 'Apostle to the Gentiles' dedicated his energies to preaching the wisdom of the cross of Christ amidst the people of Greece, who were formed by the highly sophisticated Hellenistic culture".

  "The vibrant exchange between Hellenistic culture and Christianity allowed the former to be transformed by Christian teaching and the latter to be enriched by Greek language and philosophy. ... Even today, visitors to Athens can contemplate Paul's words - now etched on the monument overlooking the Areopagus - which he proclaimed to the learned citizens of the 'polis'. He spoke of the one God in whom 'we live and move and have our being'".

  St. Paul's words, said Pope Benedict, "still resound in the hearts of men and women today. They can help our contemporaries to appreciate more deeply their human dignity, and thus promote the good of the entire human family. It is my hope that the Pauline Year will become a catalyst that will spark reflection upon the history of Europe and stir its inhabitants to rediscover the inestimable treasure of values they have inherited from the integral wisdom of Hellenistic culture and the Gospel".

  Benedict XVI went on to thank the ambassador "for the assurance of your government's resolve to address administrative issues concerning the Catholic Church in your nation. Among these, the question of its juridical status is of particular significance. The Catholic faithful, though few in number, look forward to the favourable results of these deliberations. Indeed, when religious leaders and civil authorities work together to formulate fair legislation in regard to the life of local ecclesial communities, the spiritual welfare of the faithful and the good of all society are enhanced".

  Turning to consider the international arena, the Pope commended "Greece's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, especially in the surrounding area of the Mediterranean basin".

  In conclusion the Pope recalled "the devastation caused by the wildfires that raged through Greece last summer. I continue to remember in my prayers those who were affected by this disaster", he said.
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Friday, March 14, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

 - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Haiti on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Guire Poulard of Jacmel.

    - Bishop Joseph Willy Romelus of Jeremie.

    - Bishop Jean Alix Verrier of Les Cayes.

  This evening, he 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, 14 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, participated on 5 and 11 March in the seventh ordinary session of the Human Rights Council which is being held in Geneva as of 28 February.

  On 5 March, speaking in English on the subject of "the dignity of each person, root of the rights attributed to the community", Archbishop Tomasi noted how "it becomes important to clarify and identify where the source and foundation of human rights are found. In reality the very expression 'human rights' offers the key for an appropriate understanding because it deals exactly with what is 'human', that is the common link among every person and the foundation of human rights".

  On 11 March, the prelate turned his attention to the question of "special healthcare assistance to the weakest: unborn children and the seriously ill", highlighting how "no compromise can be made with a person's right to life itself, from conception to natural death, nor with that person's ability to enjoy the dignity which flows from that right".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Fr. Oreste Basso, co-president of the Focolari Movement, for the death at the age of 88 of the movement's founder Chiara Lubich. The text of the telegram is given below.

  "With deep emotion I learned the news of the pious death of Ms Chiara Lubich, which came at the end of a long and fruitful life marked by her tireless love for the abandoned Jesus. At this moment of painful separation I remain affectionately and spiritually close to her relatives and to the entire Work of Mary - the Focolari Movement which began with her - and to those who appreciated her constant commitment for communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples. I thank the Lord for the witness of her life, spent in listening to the needs of modern man in complete faithfulness to the Church and to the Pope. And, as I commend her soul to divine goodness that she may be welcomed in the bosom of the Father, I hope that those who knew and met her, admiring the wonders that God achieved through her missionary ardour, may follow her footsteps and keep her charism alive. With such sentiments, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary and willingly impart my apostolic blessing to everyone".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Carlos Federico de la Riva Guerra, the new ambassador of Bolivia to the Holy See.

  At the beginning of his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father recalled how "Bolivia's deep Christian roots have sustained its people, accompanied the vicissitudes of its history and promoted a sense of respect and reconciliation, so necessary in the difficult moments the nation has had to face".

  Bolivia, the Pope noted, "is experiencing a process of profound change which is producing difficult and at times worrying situations. ... We cannot remain indifferent when social tension is increasing and a climate unfavourable to understanding is spreading", he said.

  In this context, he indicated that "the authorities ... and the leaders of political, social and civil organisations" must seek "to promote ... the conditions necessary for dialogue and agreement. This praiseworthy aim will be facilitated if all Bolivians contribute the best of themselves with openness and diligence and, at times, not without abnegation and sacrifice".

  "In this way", he continued, "sincere and altruistic collaboration among individuals and institutions contributes to eradicating the evils afflicting the noble Bolivian people" who, he added, "have also often been affected by natural catastrophes which call for efficient measures and fraternal sentiments to help resolve their serious consequences".

  "Rebirth", said Pope Benedict, "civil and social, political and economic rebirth always calls for disinterested effort and generous commitment in support of a people who are appealing for material, moral and spiritual assistance. The attainment of peace must be based on justice, truth and freedom, and on mutual co-operation, love, and reconciliation among everyone".

  The Church, "faithful to her mission, is always ready to collaborate in pacification and in the human and spiritual development of the country, proclaiming her doctrine and publicly expressing her opinion on questions concerning the social order. Hence, while recognising the areas of responsibilities that are proper to the State, she sees her own duty as that of guiding the faithful, calling on them and on all of society to reject racial hatred, revenge and vendetta". Definitively, she calls on people to avoid "division, and to start down the path of solidarity of mutual trust and of respect for diversity".

  Benedict XVI went on: "It is necessary for the defence and safeguarding of human rights to be firmly supported by ethical values such as justice, desire for peace, honesty and transparency, as well as by effective solidarity to correct unjust social inequalities.

  "For this reason", he added, "instruction in what is morally right, in what is just and unjust (without which no society could survive), is incumbent upon education from earliest infancy. The family plays a decisive role in this task and hence must be given the necessary assistance to accomplish its mission and become the 'principal agency for peace', for the benefit of everyone".

  The Pope concluded by appealing to God that Bolivia may witness the triumph of "the truth that seeks respect for others, even those who do not share the same ideas; the peace that joins with justice and opens the doors to harmonious and stable development; the good sense that strives to find balanced and reasonable solutions to problems; and the harmony that unites wills in overcoming adversity and achieving the common good".


VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican Basilica Benedict XVI presided at a penitential liturgy with young people from Rome in preparation for the 23rd World Youth Day. The Day is due to be held in Sydney, Australia from 15 to 20 July on the theme: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses".

  "At the roots of being Christian", the Holy Father told the young people, "is an encounter with an event, with a Person. This opens a new horizon and, with it, a decisive sense of direction". In order "to favour this encounter you are preparing to open your hearts to God, confessing your sins and - by the action of the Holy Spirit and through the ministry of the Church - receiving forgiveness and peace.

  "Thus", he added, "we make room in ourselves for the presence of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity which is the 'soul' and the 'vital breath' of Christian life. The Spirit helps us to grow 'in an understanding of Jesus that becomes ever deeper and more joyful and, at the same time, to put the Gospel into practice'", he said.

  On this subject, Pope Benedict recalled one of his own meditations on the Pentecost when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, inspired by the film "Seelenwanderung" in which one of the characters sells his soul in exchange for worldly success. "From the moment he freed himself of his soul he no longer had any scruples or humanity", said the Pope, "providing striking evidence of how the facade of success often hides an empty life".

  "A human being cannot throw away his own soul, because it is the soul that makes him human. ... Yet he does have the frightening possibility of being inhuman, of remaining a person but at the same time selling or losing his own humanity.

  "The distance between the human person and the inhuman being is immense, yet it cannot be demonstrated; it is what is truly important, yet it is apparently without importance". Likewise, the Holy Spirit "cannot be seen with the eyes. Whether it enters into a person or not, it cannot be seen or demonstrated; but it changes and renews all the perspectives of human life. The Holy Spirit does not change the exterior situations of life, but the interior".

  "Let us then", the Holy Father continued, "prepare ourselves, with a sincere examination of conscience, to present ourselves before the people to whom Christ entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. ... Thus will we experience true joy, the joy that derives from the mercy of God, flows into our hearts and reconciles us to Him. ... Be bearers of this joy, which comes from welcoming the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and witness its fruits in your own lives".

  "Always remember that you are 'temples of the Spirit'. Allow Him to dwell in you and humbly obey His commands, in order to make your own contribution to the building of the Church and to discern the type of vocation to which the Lord calls you. ... Be generous, allow yourselves to be helped by using the Sacrament of Confession and by the practice of spiritual guidance".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by recalling how 25 years ago John Paul II inaugurated the San Lorenzo Youth Centre near the Vatican "to facilitate the welcome of young people, the sharing of experiences and the witness of faith and, above all, the prayer that helps us to discover the love of God".

  On that 13 March 1983, John Paul II said: "Where can we go in this world, with sin and guilt, without the Cross? The Cross takes upon itself all the misery of the world, which is born of sin. It is the sign of grace. ... It encourages us to sacrifice ourselves for others".

  "May this experience be renewed for you today", said Benedict XVI. "Look to the Cross now, and let us accept God's love which is given to us by the Cross, by the Holy Spirit which comes from the pierced side of the Lord and, as John Paul II said: 'Yourselves become redeemers of the young people of the world'".

  During the ceremony, many of the thousands of young people present confessed with the Holy Father and with the hundreds of priests and penitentiaries from the four papal basilicas.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Camille Perl, secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", as vice-president of the same commission.

 - Msgr. Mario Marini, adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", as secretary of the same commission.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy.

 - Eight prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Haiti on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Chibly Langlois of Fort-Liberte.

    - Bishop Yves-Marie Pean C.S.C. of Les Gonaives accompanied by Bishop emeritus Emmanuel Constant.

    - Bishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo O.M.I. of Port-de-Paix.

    - Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Lafontant, Pierre-Andre Dumas and Simon Saint-Hillien C.S.C.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following communique:

  "The Commission established by Pope Benedict XVI to study the most important questions concerning the life of the Church in China met in the Vatican from 10 to 12 March.

  "The meeting had as its theme the Letter which the Holy Father sent to Chinese Catholics on 27 May 2007. Participants first examined the reaction to the pontifical document both inside and outside China. They reflected on the theological principles that inspired the Letter in order to comprehend the future prospects they bring for the Catholic community in China. In concrete terms, in the light of the papal text consideration was given to certain important aspects regarding the Church's mission as 'instrument of salvation' for the Chinese people: evangelisation in a world experiencing globalisation; the application, in China's current situation, of the Vatican Council II doctrine on the nature and structure of the Church; forgiveness and reconciliation within the Catholic community; the requirements of truth and charity; the government of dioceses, which has great relevance for pastoral activity and for the formation of priests, seminarians, religious and lay faithful. In line with the indications expressed by the Pope in His Letter, the will for a respectful and constructive dialogue with the authorities was reiterated. Finally, and still in the light of the pontifical document, the participants exchanged information and experiences concerning the life and activity of the Church in China.

  "The meeting concluded with a meeting with the Holy Father. He listened to a brief report of the work accomplished over the three days and encouraged the participants to continue their commitment in favour of the Catholic community in China. He also mentioned the forthcoming event of 24 May, the Universal Day of Prayer for the Church in China".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, for the death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who was kidnapped on 29 February.

  In his telegram the Pope expresses his closeness "to the Chaldean Church and to the entire Christian community", reaffirming his "condemnation for an act of inhuman violence which offends the dignity of human beings and seriously damages the cause of the fraternal coexistence of the beloved Iraqi people".

  Benedict XVI gives assurances of his prayers for the archbishop "who was kidnapped just after he had completed the Way of the Cross" and invokes the Lord's mercy "that this tragic event may serve to build a future of peace in the martyred land of Iraq".

  Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also released the following declaration today:

  "We had all continued to hope and pray for his release, something the Pope had requested on a number of occasions in his appeals.

  "Unfortunately the most senseless and unjustified violence continues to be inflicted on the Iraqi people, and especially on the small Christian community to which the Pope and all of us are particularly close in prayer and solidarity at this moment of great suffering.

  "It is to be hoped that this tragic event may once more - and more powerfully - underline the responsibility of everyone, and especially of the international community, for the pacification of so troubled a country".


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to Bishop Giuseppe Andrich of Belluno Feltre, Italy, for the death on Tuesday 11 March at the age of 91 of Edoardo Luciani, brother of Servant of God John Paul I.

  In the telegram, the Pope recalls his "cordial meeting" with Edoardo in Lorenzago di Cadore in July last year, and dwells on the deceased's "great human and Christian qualities, particularly his exemplary dedication to his family, his generous service to the Church, and his intense social commitment.

  "I pray fervently", the Holy Father adds, "that the deceased may - alongside his wife and his brother Pontiff whom he loved dearly - share in endless peace and joy with the Risen Lord".


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Haiti. They have just completed their "ad limina" visit during which, said the Pope, they have been able to share with the Roman Curia "the joy and hope, as well as the concerns, being experienced by the people of God entrusted to your pastoral care".

  The Holy Father mentioned John Paul II's visit to Haiti 25 years ago for the country's national Eucharistic congress entitled "Something has to change here". But, Pope Benedict asked, "have things changed?" And he recalled how the country has known "painful moments: ... divisions, injustice, poverty, unemployment, factors that are a source of profound concern to people".

  "I ask the Lord to give all Haitians, especially those who bear social responsibility, the courage to promote change and reconciliation so that all the inhabitants of the country may enjoy dignified living conditions, and benefit from the fruits of their land in an ever-increasing solidarity".

  "I cannot forget those people who find themselves obliged to travel to the neighbouring State in order to satisfy their needs", said Pope Benedict, and he called upon the international community "to continue and to intensify its aid to the Haitian people so that they can take the reins of their own future and development".

  Referring to the concerns expressed by the prelates in their individual meetings with him, the Pope mentioned "the instability of the family structure" which is "due to the crisis the country is experiencing, but also to the evolution of behaviour and to the progressive loss of a sense of marriage and the family" which comes about "when other forms of union are placed on the same level".

  Because "society and the Church largely develop from the family" Benedict XVI told the prelates, attention to this area of pastoral activity is "vital because it is the primordial place for the education of the young. I encourage you, then, to support married couples and young families with adequate formation, also teaching them respect for life".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to priests, encouraging the bishops "to look to their permanent formation and to maintain fraternal relations with them" in order "to help them exercise a fruitful ministry". Bishops should also invite priests "to avoid political compromise" and "to base their apostolate on a relationship with Christ, and on the Eucharistic mystery which reminds us how He gave Himself for the salvation of the world".

  On the subject of seminarians, Benedict XVI called on the prelates "to work with the episcopates of other countries to identify experienced formators, who lead exemplary priestly lives and may accompany over the various stages of their formation ... the future priests needed for the dioceses in your country. Upon this the future of the Church in Haiti depends. May the local Churches", he exclaimed, "hear this call and undertake to send you priests to help you in the formation of seminarians!"

  "Despite their limited means, Catholic schools play an important role and are appreciated by the authorities and by the people" said the Pope, noting that "the personality matures through education, just as it does through the recognition of essential values and the practice of virtue. Also in this way, a concept of the human being and of society is handed down", he said.

  Finally, the Holy Father praised the work of religious and volunteers "who work with the poorest, the disinherited of society, demonstrating that, by fighting poverty, we also fight the numerous social problems that depend upon it".
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed

 - Fr. Guido Zendron of the clergy of the archdiocese of Trento, Italy, "fidei donum" priest of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, as bishop of Paulo Afonso (area 28,328, population 359,000, Catholics 264,000, priests 29, religious 43), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Lisignago, Italy in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1978.

 - Fr. Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.Ss.R., bureau chief at the Congregation for the Clergy, as bishop of Garanhuns (area 8,734, population 612,000, Catholics 551,000, priests 41, religious 123), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Recife, Brazil, in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Prior to this morning's general audience, which was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received a large group of Italian students in the Vatican Basilica.

  "Schools today", the Pope told them, "face significant challenges in the field of educating new generations. For this reason, schools cannot just be places for imparting ideas but are called to offer pupils the opportunity to fathom cultural, social, ethical and religious messages.

  "Teachers", he added, "cannot fail to perceive the moral dimension of all human knowledge, because man knows in order to act and action is the fruit of his knowledge. In modern society which is marked by profound changes, you, dear young people who wish to follow Christ, must take care to update your spiritual formation, seeking an ever greater understanding of the contents of faith. Thus you will be able to respond without hesitation to those who ask you the reasons for your adherence to the Lord".

  The Holy Father then moved on to the Paul VI Hall where thousands of faithful from all over the world were awaiting his arrival. He dedicated his catechesis today to two early Christian writers: Boethius and Cassiodorus.

  Benedict XVI recalled how Boethius was born to a noble family in Rome in the year 480, and became a senator at the age of 25. "Despite his dedication to public life he did not neglect his studies", said the Pope, "dedicating himself in particular to a profound examination of philosophical-religious themes. In this field ... he used the categories of Greek philosophy to present the Christian faith, investigating the possibility of a synthesis between the Hellenistic-Roman legacy and the evangelical message. Precisely for this reason, Boethius has been called the last great representative of ancient Roman culture and the first of the mediaeval intellectuals.

  "His best-known work is the 'De consolatione philosophiae', which he wrote to give a meaning to his unjust imprisonment. In fact, having defended his friend the senator Albinus, who was on trial, Boethius was accused of plotting against King Theodoric. ... Tried and condemned to death, he was executed on 23 October 524.

  "Precisely because of his dramatic end" said the Pope, Boethius can, "from within his own experience, also speak to modern man, and above all to the vast numbers of people who suffer his same fate as a result of the injustice that exists in such a large part of 'human justice'".

  "For Boethius philosophy is the true medicine of the soul, he says that man can experience true happiness only in his own interior. And in any case God remains the supreme good towards which all human beings tend, even without knowing it".

  Returning to consider Boethius' time as a prisoner, the Pope defined as "particularly absurd" the situation of people who, like the philosopher, suffer torture and death "for no other reason than that of their political and religious ideals. Boethius, symbol of the vast numbers of people unjustly imprisoned in all times and all places is, in fact, a means of access to the contemplation of the ... Crucified Christ of Golgotha".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, a Calabrian who was born in 485 and died around 580. He was "a contemporary of Boethius" and "a man of high social standing who dedicated himself to political and cultural life like few others in the Western Roman world of his time".

  With the intention of "recovering, conserving and handing down the immense cultural patrimony of the ancients" Cassiodorus "founded 'Vivarium', a monastic community organised in such a way that the intellectual life of the monks was seen as precious and indispensable" yet without neglecting "the monastic and Christian commitment to spiritual values and to charitable activity among the poor".

  In Cassiodorus' teachings, said the Pope, "especially in the treatise 'De anima' and in 'Institutiones divinarum litterarum', prayer ... has a central position as a form of nourishment necessary for everyone. ... The search for God with the aim of contemplating Him - says Cassiodorus - remains the permanent objective of monastic life. He adds, however, that with the help of divine grace, it is possible to draw greater benefit from the revealed Word by using scientific advancements and the 'profane' tools of culture".

  "We", the Pope concluded, "live in a time of meeting between cultures, of the danger of violence that destroys cultures, and of the necessary commitment to transmit the great values and to teach new generations the path to reconciliation and peace. We find this path by turning to the God with a human face, the God Who revealed Himself to us in Christ".
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