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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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Friday, February 26, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Toamasina, Madagascar, raising the current diocese of Toamasina to the status of metropolitan church and assigning it the suffragan dioceses of Ambatondrazaka, Moramanga and Fenoarivo-Atsinana. He appointed Bishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina as the first metropolitan archbishop of Toamasina. The archbishop-elect was born in Amboangibe, Madagascar in 1954, he was ordained a priest in 1986 and consecrated a bishop in 2001.

 - Appointed Fr. Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina O.C.D. superior general of the Carmelite Fathers for Madagascar and the Indian Ocean, as bishop of Morondava (area 46,620, population 490,000, Catholics 43,640, priests 34, religious 113), Madagascar. The bishop-elect was born in Ambohijanahary, Madagascar in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1997. He succeeds Bishop Donald Pelletier M.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Peter Lee Ki-heon, military ordinary for Korea, as bishop of Uijongbu (area 2,626, population 2,615,839, Catholics 196,995, priests 156, religious 166), Korea. He succeeds Bishop Lee Han-taek S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The "Osservatore Romano" today published a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to Nouri Kamil al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, in which he expresses the Holy Father's concern at attacks against Christians in that country. The letter bears the date of 2 January.

  The "Osservatore Romano" explains that the text has been published today after the Pope, currently involved in his annual spiritual exercises, learned "with profound sorrow" of the murder of three members of a Syro-Catholic family in the area of Mosul. Benedict XVI, "with his prayers and affection, remains close to those suffering the consequences of violence", the newspaper writes.

  In his letter, Cardinal Bertone mentions al-Maliki's "important visit" to the Vatican in 2008, where he was received in audience by Benedict XVI. After that meeting, "the hope was expressed that Iraq may manage to rebuild itself morally and civilly through dialogue and co-operation among all ethnic and religious groups, including minorities, while respecting their respective identities and in a spirit of reconciliation and of searching for the common good.

  "You will remember", Cardinal Bertone adds in his letter to the prime minister, "how His Holiness called for freedom of worship in Iraq to be respected, and asked that Christians and their churches be protected. On that occasion, I too raised this question with you, and you assured me that your government gives very serious consideration to the situation of the Christian minority, which has lived alongside the Muslim majority for so many centuries, making a great contribution to the economic, cultural and social wellbeing of the nation".

  Cardinal Bertone gives assurances of the Pope's solidarity with the prime minister "and with those who have been killed or injured in the recent series of attacks on government buildings and places of worship, both Muslim and Christian, in Iraq. He fervently prays for an end to violence and asks the government to do everything possible to increase security around places of worships throughout the country".

  The cardinal secretary of State concludes his letter by expressing his "appreciation for the numerous initiatives undertaken for the benefit of the entire Iraqi community".
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father and the Roman Curia are currently continuing their annual Lenten spiritual exercises, the theme of which this year is: "The 'Lessons' of God and of the Church on the priestly vocation".

  On Monday 22 February they focused their reflections on the figure of St. Augustine and prayed for priestly vocations, while yesterday they meditated on St. John Mary Vianney, the "Cure of Ars", and prayed for missionaries.

  Today, the day of Penance, attention will turn to certain biblical references to vocation, with meditations on the themes of "Temptation, doubt and resistance form part of our history" and "Always sinners and always forgiven". The meditation will focus on Georges Bernanos' book "Diary of a Country Priest".

  Tomorrow, the Christological day, will be dedicated to the vocation of the first disciples, followed by a meditation on Venerable Servant of God Giuseppe Quadrio S.D.B. (1921-1963).

  Friday 26 February is the Marian Day. Attention will focus on the Magnificat of Mary, and on another biblical reference to vocation: "God's approval; the story of the Annunciation". In the evening, participants will meditate on Venerable Servant of God John Paul II.

  At 9 a.m. on Saturday 27 February, the last day of the spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia, Lauds will be celebrated in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel with a concluding meditation on the call of the first deacons.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has sent a message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who will celebrate his seventieth birthday on Monday.

  The cardinal writes of his "grateful recollection of the many fraternal meetings we have had over the last ten years. The friendship, mutual trust and sincerity which has always characterised our conversations are ... a great gift and a sign of progress in relations between our Churches", he says.

  The cardinal concludes his message: "My hope is that Your Holiness may continue to show tireless commitment in contributing to ever deeper knowledge and more fruitful collaboration between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, so as to offer the world a common witness of our faith in our One Lord Jesus Christ".
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Bishop Antonio Jose Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, for the storms and flooding that affected the island on Saturday, causing the deaths of forty-two people and vast material damage.

  In the telegram the Holy Father gives assurances of his closeness to the people, and entrusts the victims to the mercy of God. At the same time, he calls for consolation and assistance to be offered to victims' families, the injured and the homeless, and praises the efforts of rescuers and aid workers.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Before beginning his annual Lenten spiritual exercises on Sunday evening, the Holy Father sent a Message to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent.

  The theme of the 2010 campaign is "economy and life" and its motto is "You cannot serve God and Mammon". This is the third occasion on which the campaign has an ecumenical flavour as five other Christian Churches, members of the National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil, are also participating.

  In his Message the Pope praises the initiative undertaken by the Churches and Christian communities, "who this year have decided to unite their forces to reconcile people with God and to help them free themselves from slavery to money".

  "Slavery to money and injustice have their origins in the heart of man, which contains the seeds of a mysterious coexistence with evil", writes Benedict XVI. He goes on to encourage participants in the campaign "to persevere in your witness to the love of God, to the Son of God Who became man, ... and to the only good that can satisfy the human heart".

  The World Council of Churches, a group which brings together 349 Churches around the world and more than 500,000 Christians, has also expressed its support for the Fraternity Campaign.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - For the occasion of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Malta, due to take place on 17 and 18 April to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck on the island, statistics have been published concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2008, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church.

  Malta, the capital city of which is Valletta, has a population of 443,000 of whom 418,000 (94.4 percent) are Catholic. There are 2 ecclesiastical circumscriptions and 85 parishes. Currently there are 9 bishops, 853 priests, 1,143 religious, 43 lay members of secular institutes and 1,231 catechists. Minor seminarians number 269 and major seminarians 91.

  A total of 17,786 students attend 80 centres of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities. Other institutions belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Malta include 24 homes for the elderly or disabled, 26 orphanages and nurseries, 9 family counselling centres and other pro-life centres, 24 centres for education and social rehabilitation, and 4 institutions of other kinds.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions, began today in Cairo, Egypt. The theme of this year's gathering is confessional violence.

  The meeting, which is due to conclude tomorrow, is being presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.


VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Alberto Sanguinetti Montero of the clergy of the archdiocese of Montevideo, Uruguay, pastor of the parish of "Nuestra Senora del Carmen" in Cordon, as bishop of Canelones (area 4,532, population 453,000, Catholics 339,000, priests 40, permanent deacons 11, religious 153), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Bishop Orlando Romero Cabrera, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Terry R. LaValley of the clergy of the diocese of Ogdensburg, U.S.A., diocesan administrator and rector of St. Mary's Cathedral, as bishop of Ogdensburg (area 31,161, population 499,700, Catholics 116,000, priests 119, permanent deacons 62, religious 127). The bishop-elect was born in Plattsburgh, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed Msgr. Joseph C. Bambera of the clergy of the diocese of Scranton, U.S.A., delegate of the apostolic administrator of Scranton and pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish at Archbald and of St. Mary of Czestochowa parish at Eynon, as bishop of Scranton (area 22.913, population 1,095,092, Catholics 316,825, priests 352, permanent deacons 63, religious 627). The bishop-elect was born in Carbondale, U.S.A. in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983.
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Monday, February 22, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs, presented the Holy Father with the 2010 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" or pontifical yearbook. Also present were the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volume.

  A note concerning the presentation highlights some of the facts contained in the new volume. In 2009, the Pope erected eight new episcopal sees and one territorial prelature. Furthermore, a territorial prelature was elevated to the rank of diocese, and three prefectures to that of apostolic vicariate. A total of 169 new bishops were appointed.

  The number of Catholics in the world increased from around 1,147 million in 2007 to 1,166 million in 2007, an increase of nineteen million faithful which corresponds to a growth of 1.7 percent.

  The note also indicates that the number of bishops grew between 2007 and 2008 from 4,946 to 5,002. As for priests, both regular and diocesan, their numbers have increased over the last nine years from 405,178 in 2000 to 409,166 in 2008, although their distribution differs considerably from continent to continent. While numbers of priestly vocations are growing in Africa, Asia and America, and remain stationary in Oceania, in Europe they have dropped from 51.5 percent to 47.1 percent of the total.

  Among the pastoral workers who assist bishops and priests in their activities, female religious constitute by far the largest group. In the year 2000 they numbered 801,185 but this figure fell to 739,067 in 2008. They are most heavily represented in Europe and America (respectively, 40.9 percent and 27.5 percent of the total), and the greatest losses were on those continents and in Oceania, while in Africa and Asia their numbers grow by 21.2 percent and 16.4 percent respectively. Although this helps to counterbalance the abovementioned losses it does not cancel them out, the notes says.

  The number of candidates to the priesthood has also grown slightly, from 115,919 in 2007 to 117,024 in 2008. Here too the different continents show a different evolution: Africa, Asia and Oceania grew by, respectively, 3.6 percent, 4.4 percent and 6.5 percent. Europe registered a fall of some 4.3 percent, while the situation in America remained unchanged.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Saad Hariri, prime minister of Lebanon. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, attention turned to the situation in Lebanon with the hope being expressed that the country, through the exemplary coexistence of the various religious communities of which it is composed, may continue to be a 'message' for the region of the Middle East and for the whole world.

  "Having then highlighted the need to find a just and global solution to the conflicts affecting that region, reference was made to the importance of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue for the promotion of peace and justice In this context, mention was also made of the forthcoming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

  "Finally, recalling the importance of the presence and activities of Christians in the country, great appreciation was expressed for the contribution made by the Catholic Church for the benefit of all society, especially through her educational, healthcare and aid institutions".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received managers and staff of the Italian associations ENAC (National Company for Civil Aviation) and ENAV (National Company for Air Navigation Services).

  The Pope described the activities undertaken by those who work in the field of civil aviation as "truly remarkable", highlighting how "in any project or activity the primary asset to be protected and appreciated is the person in his entirety, who must represent the end and not the means towards which to strive incessantly".

  "Respecting such principles may seem particularly complex and difficult in current conditions, because of the economic crisis which provokes problematic effects in the civil aviation sector, and the threat of international terrorism which sets it sights on airports and aeroplanes in order to implement its subversive ends", said the Holy Father. "However, even in this situation it is important never to lose sight of the fact that respecting the primacy of the person and caring for his needs not only does not make service less effective or penalise economic management, but is an important guarantee of true efficiency and authentic quality".

  Benedict XVI noted how the Church "reserves a particular form of pastoral care for the world of civil aviation". Airport chapels and chaplains "are principally intended for aircrew and ground staff, for police, customs and security officers, and for medical and paramedical personnel, but also for all airport users.

  "This presence", he added, "reminds us that every person has a transcendent dimension, a spiritual dimension, and helps us to recognise ourselves as one family made up of people who are not simply near each other but who, relating to one another and to God, create a fraternal solidarity founded on justice and peace".

  The Pope concluded by recalling how in the year 1920, Benedict XV proclaimed Our Lady of Loreto as the patroness of aviators and entrusted to her the work and initiatives of everyone who works in this sector.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, apostolic nuncio to Canada.

 - Frank E. de Coninck, ambassador of Belgium, accompanied by his wife, on a farewell visit.

 - Juan Gomez Martinez, ambassador of Colombia, accompanied by his wife, on a farewell visit.

 - Fr. Joaquin Alliende, international president of the "Aid to the Church in Need" association.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The significance of the Lenten journey was the theme of Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus this morning with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope commented on the story of the temptation of Jesus in the desert, which was the Gospel reading for today, the first Sunday of Lent, explaining that the temptations "were not a by-the-way incident, but the consequence of Jesus' decision to complete the mission entrusted to Him by the Father".

  "Christ came into the world to free us from sin and from the ambiguous lure of seeking to plan our lives without God. He did this not with high-sounding proclamations but by struggling personally with the Tempter, all the way to the Cross. This example holds true for us all: that the world is improved by beginning with ourselves, by changing, with God's grace, what is wrong with our lives".

  Of the three temptations of Jesus, the first "had its origin in hunger, in material want", said the Pope. "But Jesus responded with the words: 'One does not live by bread alone'". The second temptation came when the devil showed Christ all the kingdoms of the earth; this, the Holy Father explained, "is the lure of power which Jesus unmasked and rejected". To the third temptation, the proposal to perform a miracle that everyone might believe in Him, Jesus responded: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

  "Making constant reference to Holy Scripture", the Pope added, Jesus "made human criteria subject to the only true criterion: obedience to the will of God. This is a fundamental lesson for us too: if we carry the Word of God in our minds and hearts, if it enters our lives, then we too can reject all the tricks of the Tempter".

  "Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism".

  In closing his remarks the Holy Father invoked the help of the Virgin Mary "that we might live this period of grace joyfully and fruitfully. May she particularly intercede for me and my collaborators in the Roman Curia as we begin our spiritual exercises this evening", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Antonio Bartolacci, bureau chief of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as head of the chancellery of the same tribunal.

 - Bishop Luis Antonio Sanchez Armijos S.D.B. of Tulcan, Ecuador, as bishop of Machala (area 5,819, population 542,000, Catholics 513,000, priests 39, permanent deacons 1, religious 92), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Nestor Rafael Herrera Heredia, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 20 February it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Archbishop-elect Novatus Rugambwa, apostolic nuncio to Sao Tome and Principe, also as apostolic nuncio to Angola.

 - Appointed Bishop Francis Kallarakal of Kottapuram, India, as metropolitan archbishop of Verapoly (area 1,500, population 3,063,000, Catholics 310,500, priests 377, religious 1,569), India. The archbishop-elect was born in Kottapuram in 1941, he was ordained a priest in 1968 and consecrated a bishop in 1987.

 - Elevated the territorial prelature of Calama (area 43,000, population 157,500, Catholics 130,000, priests 15, permanent deacons 14, religious 43), Chile, to the rank of diocese, with the same territorial configuration as before, giving it the name of "San Juan Bautista de Calama" and making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Antofagasta. He appointed Bishop Guillermo Patricio Vera Soto, prelate of Calama, as first bishop of the new diocese.

 - Appointed Fr. Jorge Patricio Vega Velasco S.V.D., national director of Pontifical Missionary works in Chile, as bishop prelate of the territorial prelature of Illapel (area 10,350, population 85,400, Catholics 81,400, priests 19, religious 39), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago, Chile in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1984. He succeeds Bishop Victor De la Barra Tagle, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial prelature the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Gerhard Ertl, professor of physical chemistry at the "Frtitz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft" in Berlin, Germany, as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
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Friday, February 19, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2010 (VIS) - During his meeting yesterday with parish priests of the diocese of Rome, Benedict XVI commented on certain verses from the Letter to the Hebrews.

  Beginning with the Old Testament view of the Messiah, and comparing it to what Christ actually represented in the history of salvation, the Pope noted how "Christ is the true King, the Son of God. But He is also the true priest, and thus all worship, all the reality of sacrifices, ... and of the true sacrifice, finds its key and its fulfilment in Christ".

  Thus, he explained, does the priest "emerges in all his pureness and his profound truth". And he went on: "A priest, in order truly to be a mediator between God and man, must be a man, and the Son of God became man precisely in order to become a priest, in order to accomplish the mission of a priest. ... This is the mission of the priest: ... to be a mediator, a bridge that unites and thus brings man to God, to His redemption, to His true light, to His true life".

  If the priest is a "bridge" bringing humankind into communion with the divinity, his soul must draw nourishment from constant daily prayer and from the Eucharist, said the Pope.

  "Only God", he went on, "can enter my life and take me by the hand. ... Ever and anew we must return to the Sacrament, return to this gift in which God gives me what I could never give. ... A priest must truly be a man of God, he must know God up close", and he achieves this "in communion with Christ. We must live this communion".

  Benedict went on to point out that the life choice priests to make requires them to develop their feelings and affections in accordance with God's will. This conversion is anything but simple if we consider the misleading self-indulgence that lies in the modern mentality, he said.

  "Thus do people say: 'He lied, he is human. He robbed, he is human'. But this is not the true human being. Human means being generous, human means being good, human means being a person of justice. ... And so, to leave behind, with Christ's help, this cloud over our nature ... is a life process which must begin with education to the priesthood then continue throughout our life".

  A priest, who is above all other things a completely-fulfilled man, has a heart dedicated to "compassion". Sin is not a sign of "solidarity" with human weakness; rather, such solidarity is evident in the strength to share the burden of sin in order to redeem and purify it, showing the same capacity for emotion which Jesus showed during His life, and which enabled him to carry His cry of compassion "unto the ears of God".

  "We priests cannot withdraw into exile", said the Pope. "We are immersed in the passion of this world and must, with the help of Christ and in communion with Christ, seek to transform it and lead it towards God".

  Finally, on the subject of obedience, the Pope said: "It is an unpopular word in our time, when obedience seems like a form of alienation, an attitude of servility. ... Yet on the contrary, ... the word 'obedience' and the word 'freedom' are inseparable, ... because the will of God is not a tyrannical will; ... rather, it is the place where we find our true identity".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At 11 a.m. today in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father presided at an ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489).

 - Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937).

 - Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

 - Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909).

 - Giulia Salzano, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929).

 - Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares and foundress of the monastery of St. Clare in the Italian town of Camerino (1458-1524).

  At the end of the meeting, the Pope announced that the canonisation ceremony will take place on 17 October.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The annual spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia are due to begin on 21 February, the first Sunday of Lent. This year's meditations will be directed by the Salesian priest, Fr. Enrico Dal Covolo..

  The theme of the spiritual exercises, which will take place in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, is: "The 'Lessons' of God and of the Church on the priestly vocation".

  The retreat will begin at 6 p.m. with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing. Over the following days there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m.; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.

  The spiritual exercises will come to an end at 9 a.m. on Saturday 27 February with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

  During the retreat all audiences will be cancelled, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 24 February.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI presided over the traditional penitential procession from the church of St. Anselm on the Aventine Hill to the Basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass. The Pope received ashes from Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Titular of the basilica and then distributed ashes to the cardinals and bishops present as well as to various faithful.

  In his homily, the Pope stressed that the "absolute certainty" of God's love sustained Christ during the forty days he spent in the Judean desert. "That long time of silence and fasting for him was a complete abandonment to the Father and to His plan of love. (…) Going into the desert (…) meant voluntarily exposing himself to the enemy's attacks, to temptation" (…) and "entering into battle with him on the open field, defying him without any weapon other than his infinite trust in the Father's omnipotent love".

  "Adam was expelled from the earthly paradise, the symbol of communion with God", the pontiff said. "Now, in order to return to that communion and thus to eternal life we must pass through the desert, the test of faith. Not alone but with Jesus (…) who proceeds us and who has already conquered in the fight against the spirit of evil. This is the meaning of Lent, the liturgical time that, each year, invites us to renew our decision to follow Christ on the path of humility in order to participate in his victory over sin and death".

  It is from this perspective that we understand the penitential sign of the ashes, the Holy Father explained. "Essentially, they are a gesture of humility that means: I recognize myself for what I am, a fragile creature made of earth and destined to return to the earth, but also made in the image of God and destined to return to Him. Dust, yes, but dust that is loved and shaped by His love (…) capable of recognizing His voice and responding to Him; free and thus also capable of disobeying, of giving in to the temptation of pride and self-sufficiency".

  "Sin", Benedict XVI stated, "basically consists in disobeying God, in a lack of love. (…) The first act of justice is recognizing one's own iniquity (…) rooted at the heart of each person (…) An expression of penitence is only worthy in God's eyes if it is the sign of a sincerely repentant heart. (…) The true reward is not the admiration of others but friendship with God and the grace that derives from Him, the grace that gives peace and the strength to do good".

  "In Christ's heart, at the center of His human and divine person, the entire drama of freedom was wagered in decisive and definitive terms. God brought His plan of salvation to its ultimate consequences, remaining faithful in His love even at the expense of delivering His only Son to death. (…) Thanks to Christ's action we can enter in to the "greater" justice, which is the justice of love".

  "Lent enlarges our horizon, orients us toward eternal life (…) it makes us to understand the relativity of earthly goods and thus enables us to make the necessary renunciations, frees us to do good", the Holy Father concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with the priests and pastors of the diocese of Rome. With the motivation of the Year for Priests, the Holy Father presided over lectio divina, during which he commented on some chapters from the Letter to the Hebrews that make reference to the high priest.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., as archbishop of Panama (area 13,275, population 1,615,000, Catholics 1,453,000, priests 211, permanent deacons 54, religious 402) in Panama. The archbishop-elect, previously auxiliary of the same archdiocese, succeeds Archbishop Jose Dimas Ceno Delgado, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Jose Araneta Cabantan as bishop of Malaybalay (area 8,293, population 1,446,314, Catholics 1,167,465, priests 80, religious 164) in the Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in 1957 in Lagonglong, Phillippines, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and until now was the pastor of the Miraculous Medal in Cagayan de Oro, Phillippines. He succeeds Bishop Honesto Pacana, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation of Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo from the pastoral care of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in conformity with canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. Bishop Rufin Anthony, previously coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds him.

- Appointed Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, previously of Tarazona, Spain, as bishop of Cordoba (area 13,717, population 795,356, Catholics 791,098, priests 375, religious 1,047) in Spain.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2010 (VIS) - "Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the Lenten path that lasts forty days and which leads us to the joy of the Lord's Easter", the Pope said at the beginning of his catechesis during today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Audience Hall.

  Recalling the formula, "Convert and Believe in the Gospel", the Holy Father affirmed that "conversion means changing the direction of the path of our lives. (…) It is going against the current when the "current" is a superficial, incoherent, and illusory way of life that often drag us down, making us slaves of evil or prisoners of moral mediocrity. Nevertheless, through conversion we tend to the highest measure of Christian life, we trust in the living and personal Gospel who is Jesus Christ. He is the final goal and the profound path of conversion, the path that we are all called to travel in our lives, allowing ourselves to be illuminated with his light and sustained by his strength, which moves our steps".

  "'Convert and believe in the Gospel' is not just the beginning of the Christian life, but the accompaniment of all our steps, renewing and penetrating all aspects of our lives. Each day is a moment of favour and grace, (…) even when there is no lack of difficulties, weariness, and missteps, when we are tempted to abandon the path that follows Christ and retreat into ourselves and our selfishness without paying attention to the need to keep ourselves open to the love of God in Christ in order to live the very logic of justice and love".

  Benedict XVI emphasized that "faced with the innate fear of our end, and most of all in the context of a culture that tends in many ways to censure reality and the human experience of death, the Lenten liturgy reminds us of, on the one hand, death, inviting us to reality and wisdom, but on the other hand encourages us especially to grasp and live the unexpected newness that the Christian faith reveals in the reality of death itself".

  "The human being", he continued, "is dust and to dust it will return, but it is dust that is precious in God's eyes because He created humanity, destining us to immortality. (…) Jesus the Lord also wanted to freely share in human frailty with each person, above all through his death on the cross. But it was precisely this death, full of his love for the Father and for humanity, that was the way of glorious resurrection, the means by which Christ became the source of grace given to all who believe in Him and participate in the same divine life".

  The Pope highlighted that the distribution of ashes "is an invitation to spend the time during Lent as a more aware and more intense immersion in the paschal mystery of Christ, in his death and resurrection, through participation in the Eucharist and a life of charity that is born of the Eucharist and which finds its fulfilment in it. "With the distribution of ashes", he concluded, "we renew our commitment to follow Jesus, letting ourselves be transformed by his paschal mystery so that we may conquer evil and do good, so that we can let our 'old selves', tied to sin, die and let the 'new person' be born, transformed by the grace of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico as apostolic nuncio to Montenegro. Archbishop D'Errico is currently apostolic nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2010 (VIS) - "Witness Awakens Vocations" is the title of the Pope's message for the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations that will be celebrated on 25 April - Good Shepherd Sunday - the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Here follow excerpts from the document:

  "The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God's free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord's call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ's call."

  "In the Old Testament the prophets knew that they were called to witness by their own lives to the message they proclaimed, and were prepared to face misunderstanding, rejection and persecution.  (…)  In the fullness of time, Jesus, sent by the Father, would bear witness to the love of God for all human beings, without distinction, with particular attention to the least ones, sinners, the outcast and the poor.  Jesus is the supreme Witness to God and to his concern for the salvation of all."

  "Similarly the calling of Peter, (…) occurred through the witness of his brother Andrew (…). This was also the case for Nathanael, Bartholomew, thanks to the witness of yet another disciple, Philip (…).  God's free and gracious initiative encounters and challenges the human responsibility of all those who accept his invitation to become, through their own witness, the instruments of his divine call.  This occurs in the Church even today: the Lord makes use of the witness of priests who are faithful to their mission in order to awaken new priestly and religious vocations for the service of the People of God."

  "A fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ.  (…)  If the priest is a "man of God", one who belongs to God and helps others to know and love him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God, abiding in his love and making space to hear his Word."

  "In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely to God.  This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant and faithful devotion, (…) enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ, so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps.  The story of every vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of the Kingdom of God."

  "A third aspect which necessarily characterizes the priest and the consecrated person is a life of communion. (…)  In a particular way the priest must be a man of communion, open to all, capable of gathering into one the pilgrim flock which the goodness of the Lord has entrusted to him, helping to overcome divisions, to heal rifts, to settle conflicts and misunderstandings, and to forgive offences."

  "[I]f young people see priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow their example.  They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is the life of a priest.  Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest."

  "It can be said that priestly vocations are born of contact with priests, as a sort of precious legacy handed down by word, example and a whole way of life."

  "The same can be said with regard to the consecrated life.  The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own its criteria for judgement and conduct.  They become "signs of contradiction" for the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centredness and individualism."

  "By letting themselves be won over by God through self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their turn, in a way that is generous and complete.  To imitate Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, and to identify with him: this is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history."

  "Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness.  Consequently, in order to foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of those who have already said "yes" to God and to his plan for the life of each individual.  Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting their future."

  "May this World Day once again offer many young people a precious opportunity to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust and complete openness."


VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the communique released this morning after the Holy Father's meeting of yesterday and today with the Bishops of the Irish Bishops' Conference.

  "On 15 and 16 February 2010, the Holy Father met the Irish Bishops and senior members of the Roman Curia to discuss the serious situation which has emerged in the Church in Ireland.  Together they examined the failure of Irish Church authorities for many years to act effectively in dealing with cases involving the sexual abuse of young people by some Irish clergy and religious.  All those present recognized that this grave crisis has led to a breakdown in trust in the Church's leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel and its moral teaching."

  "The meeting took place in a spirit of prayer and collegial fraternity, and its frank and open atmosphere provided guidance and support to the Bishops in their efforts to address the situation in their respective Dioceses."

  "On the morning of 15 February, following a brief introduction by the Holy Father, each of the Irish Bishops offered his own observations and suggestions.  The Bishops spoke frankly of the sense of pain and anger, betrayal, scandal, and shame expressed to them on numerous occasions by those who had been abused.  There was a similar sense of outrage reflected by laity, priests and religious in this regard."

  "The Bishops likewise described the support at present being provided by thousands of trained and dedicated lay volunteers at parish level to ensure the safety of children in all Church activities, and stressed that, while there is no doubt that errors of judgment and omissions stand at the heart of the crisis, significant measures have now been taken to ensure the safety of children and young people.  They also emphasized their commitment to cooperation with the statutory authorities in Ireland - North and South - and with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland to guarantee that the Church's standards, policies, and procedures represent best practice in this area."

  "For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image.  While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.  He also expressed the hope that the present meeting would help to unify the Bishops and enable them to speak with one voice in identifying concrete steps aimed at bringing healing to those who had been abused, encouraging a renewal of faith in Christ and restoring the Church's spiritual and moral credibility."

  "The Holy Father also pointed to the more general crisis of faith affecting the Church and he linked that to the lack of respect for the human person and how the weakening of faith has been a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors.  He stressed the need for a deeper theological reflection on the whole issue, and called for an improved human, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation both of candidates for the priesthood and religious life and of those already ordained and professed."

  "The Bishops had an opportunity to examine and discuss a draft of the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father to the Catholics of Ireland.  Taking into account the comments of the Irish Bishops, His Holiness will now complete his Letter, which will be issued during the coming season of Lent."

  "The discussions concluded late Tuesday morning, 16 February 2010.  As the Bishops return to their Dioceses, the Holy Father has asked that this Lent be set aside as a time for imploring an outpouring of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in Ireland."
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Ricardo Antonio Tobon Restrepo of Sonson-Rionegro, Colombia, as Metropolitan Archbishop of Medellin, area 687, population 3,336,000, Catholics 2,899,000, priests 977, religious 4,046) in Colombia. He succeeds Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo, P.S.S., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo de Jesus Rivera Gomez as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Medellin, Colombia, upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, February 15, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father visited the Major Pontifical Seminary of Rome for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust.

  The Pope delivered a "lectio divina" in which he reflected on chapter 15 of the Gospel of St. John, focusing particularly on the two words "abide" and "keep".

  "Meditating on the gift (that God became one with us all and, at the same time, made us one, a vine) we must also begin to pray that this mystery may increasingly penetrate our minds and our hearts, and that we become increasingly capable of seeing and living the greatness of the mystery, and thus begin to fulfil the imperative 'abide'".

  Referring to the second verb, "keep", Benedict XVI observed that it represents "the second level - the first is that of remaining - of our relationship with God, the ontological level. ... God has already given us His love, the fruit. It is not we who must produce this great fruit, Christianity is not moralism, it is not we who must achieve what God expects from the world; rather, we must first of all enter into the ontological mystery of God's giving of Himself. His being, His love, precede our action and, in the context of His Body, in the context of being in Him and identified with Him, ennobled with His Blood, we too can act with Christ".

  "The Lord says: 'I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father'. ... The novelty", the Pope explained, "is that God has made Himself known, that God has shown Himself, that God is no longer unknown, sought-after but not found. ... God has allowed Himself to be seen in the face of Christ".

  Later in his remarks the Holy Father lamented the fact that "today many people still live far from Christ, not knowing His face" and thus renewing "the eternal temptation to dualism". Dualism, he explained, holds that "there is not just one good principle, but also a bad principle, a principle of evil". And yet, he continued, "in the face of the crucified Christ we see God, we see true omnipotence not the myth of omnipotence. ... In Him, true omnipotence means loving to the extreme of suffering for us".

  In chapter 16 of John's Gospel, the Pope went on, "the Lord offers us the key to understanding the phrase: 'if you ask anything of the Father in my name, He will give it to you'. ... It means joy and if someone has found joy he has found everything and sees everything in the light of divine love".

  "From God we do not ask anything small or great, from God we invoke the divine gift of He Himself. In this sense that we must learn to pray ... to Him to give us His Spirit, that we may respond to the needs of life and help others in their suffering. ... We must increasingly learn what things we can pray for, and what things we cannot pray for because they express our selfishness ... and pride. Thus, praying before the eyes of God becomes a process of purification of our thoughts and desires. ... Only in this process of slow purification, of liberation from ourselves, ... does the true path of life and joy lie".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received in audience members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the president of which is Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The academy is currently meeting for its annual plenary assembly.

  "The problems revolving around the question of bioethics", said the Pope, "bring the anthropological question to the fore"; this concerns "human life in its perennial tension between immanence and transcendence, and has great importance for the culture of future generations".

  Hence, he went on, "it is necessary to institute a comprehensive educational project which enables these themes to be approached from a positive, balanced and constructive standpoint, especially as regards the relationship between faith and reason.

  "Bioethical questions often throw light on the dignity of the person, a fundamental principle which faith in Jesus Christ ... has always defended, especially when it is overlooked in dealings with the most simple and defenceless people", he added. "Bioethics, like any other discipline, needs guidelines capable of guaranteeing a coherent reading of the ethical questions which inevitably emerge when faced with possible conflicts of interpretation. In this space lies the normative call to natural moral law".

  "Recognising human dignity as an inalienable right has its first foundation in that law - unwritten by the hand of man but inscribed by God the Creator in man's heart - which all juridical systems are called to recognise as inviolable, and all individuals to respect and promote. Without the basic principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a wellspring for the rights of the person, and impossible to reach ethical judgements about those scientific advances which have a direct effect on human life".

  "When we invoke respect for the dignity of the person, it is fundamental that such respect should be complete, total and unimpeded, ... recognising that we are always dealing with a human life", said Pope Benedict. "Of course, human life has its own development and the research horizon for science and bioethics remains open, but it must be reiterated that when dealing with matters which involve human beings, scientists must never think they are dealing with inanimate and manipulable material. In fact, from its first instant, the life of man is characterised by the fact of being a human life, and for this reason it has, always and everywhere, its own dignity".

  "Conjugating bioethics and natural moral law is the best way to ensure" recognition for "the dignity that human life intrinsically possesses from its first instant to its natural end".

  The Pope also highlighted "the commitment that must be shown in the various areas of society and culture in order to ensure that human life is always recognised as an unalienable subject of law, and never as an object dependent on the whims of the powerful". In this context he pointed out that "history has shown how dangerous and damaging a State can be when it proceeds to make laws that touch the person and society, while itself claiming to be the source and principle of ethics".

  "Natural moral law", the Holy Father concluded, "is a guarantee for legislators to show true respect both for the person and for the entire order of creation. It is the catalysing source of consensus among peoples from different cultures and religions, enabling differences to be overcome by affirming the existence of an order imprinted into nature by the Creator, ... an authentic call to use ethical-rational judgement to seek good and avoid evil".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met on 10 February to continue its work on an agreement pursuant to article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement of 30 December 1993.

  According to a communique on the event, "the talks were purposeful and held in an atmosphere of great cordiality".

  The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 18 March.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Martin Roos of Timisoara.

    - Bishop Anton Cosa of Chisinau.

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited a shelter run by Roman diocesan Caritas at the city's main railway station, Termini. The shelter, founded twenty-three years ago to assist the poor and marginalised, has rooms, a canteen and a small medical centre.

  Addressing the occupants of the shelter, the Pope said "know that the Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you, because it recognises the countenance of Christ in each of you".

  "The witness of charity, which finds special expression in this place, belongs to the mission of the Church together with the proclamation of the Gospel. Man does not only need to be fed materially or helped to overcome moments of difficulty, but also needs to know who he is, the truth about himself and his dignity".

  The Holy Father explained how "the Church, with her service to the poor, is therefore committed to the universal announcement of the truth about man, who is loved by God and created in His image, redeemed by Christ and called to eternal communion with Him. Many people have thus been able to rediscover, and are rediscovering, their dignity, sometimes lost in tragic events, and to recover confidence in themselves and hope in the future".

  The profound certainty of being loved by God "generates in man's heart a powerful, solid, luminous hope, a hope that gives people the courage to continue on the journey of life despite the failures, difficulties and trials that accompany it".

  The Pope then mentioned the fact that his visit to the shelter was taking place during the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, called by the European Parliament and Commission. In this context he encouraged "not only Catholics, but all men and women of good will, especially those who have responsibility in public administration and in other institutions, to commit themselves to the building of a future worthy of man, rediscovering in charity the driving force for authentic development and for the creation of a more just and fraternal society".

  "In order to promote peaceful coexistence that helps men recognise themselves as members of one human family it is important that the dimensions of gift and gratuity be rediscovered as constitutive elements of daily life and interpersonal relations", he said. "This is becoming daily more urgent in a world in which the logic of profit and pursuit of one's own interests seem to prevail instead".

  Voluntary work, as it is experienced in the shelter, said Benedict XVI, "is, especially for the young, an authentic school in which to learn how to build a civilisation of love, one capable of welcoming others in all their uniqueness and difference".

  "In her service to persons in difficulty the Church is wholly moved by the desire to express her faith in the God Who defends the poor and loves every man for what he is and not for that which he possesses or achieves", the Pope concluded.

  At the end of the visit the occupants and volunteer workers of Roman diocesan Caritas presented the Holy Father with the restored crucifix from the church of St. Peter in Onna, the village most affected by last April's earthquake in the Italian region of Abruzzo. The Pope will return the crucifix to the church when restoration work there is complete.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, having completed his morning visit to a shelter for the poor run by Roman diocesan Caritas, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Commenting on the Sermon on the Mount, one of the themes of today's liturgy, the Pope explained how "the Beatitudes are rooted in the fact that divine justice exists, exalting those who have been wrongly humiliated and humbling those who have exalted themselves. ... This justice, this Beatitude, will be realised in the Kingdom or Heaven, the Kingdom of God, which comes at the end of time but which is already present in history.

  "Wherever the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life", he added, "there the justice of God is already manifest. This is the task the Lord's disciples are called to undertake in modern society", he said, mentioning the Caritas shelter he had visited that morning and praising "people who, all over the world, gratuitously dedicate themselves to such works of justice and love".

  Returning then to the question of justice, theme of his Message for Lent 2010, the Pope observed that "Christ's Gospel responds positively to man's thirst for justice, but in an unexpected and surprising way. Christ does not propose a social or political revolution, but a revolution of love which he has already achieved with His cross and His resurrection. It is upon these that the Beatitudes rest, opening a new horizon of justice".

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted certain Asian communities, such as the Vietnamese and Chinese, who are currently celebrating their New Year. "These are days of festivity, which those peoples experience as a special moment to strengthen family and generational ties", he said. "My hope is that they may all maintain and augment the rich heritage of spiritual and moral values which are deeply rooted in their culture".

  Turning then to greet Polish faithful, the Pope recalled the fact that today marks the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, patron saints of Europe. "The values they disseminated in our continent - the sign of the cross, the Gospel of Christ and a life lived according to the Gospel - remain the solid foundation for the spiritual strength of European people and European unity. They are important values for us too in the modern age", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2010 (VIS) - During the course of the day the Holy Father is meeting with prelates of the Irish Episcopal Conference in the Bologna Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The meeting began this morning at 9.30 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at 7 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jude Arogundade of the clergy of Ondo, Nigeria, administrator of the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Elmsford, New York, U.S.A., as bishop of Ondo (area 15,518, population 4,403,000, Catholics 214,000, priests 87, religious 68). The bishop-elect was born in Oka-Akoko, Nigeria in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1990.

  On Saturday 13 February it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Bishop Mario Meini of Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello, Italy, as bishop of Fiesole (area 1,300, population 140,600, Catholics 135,600, priests 257, permanent deacons 15, religious 490), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Luciano Giovannetti, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Eugene Martin Nugent, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Madagascar and apostolic delegate to Comoros with functions as apostolic delegate to Reunion, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983.

 - Appointed Fr. Paolo Mancini, pastor of the parish of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Rome, as prelate secretary of the Vicariate of Rome.

 - Appointed Bishop Dominik Duka O.P. of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, as archbishop of Prague (area 8,990, population 2,045,957, Catholics 370,111, priests 339, permanent deacons 29, religious 578), Czech Republic. The archbishop-elect was born in Hradce Kralove in 1943, he was ordained a priest in 1970 and consecrated a bishop in 1998. He succeeds Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Friday, February 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father will visit Malta on 17 and 18 April to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck on that island during his apostolic trip to Rome in the year 60 AD.

  The Pope is due to depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 3.25 p.m. on Saturday 17 April, arriving in Malta at 5 p.m. where the welcome ceremony will take place. He will subsequently pay a courtesy visit to President George Abela of Malta at the Grand Masters' Palace in the island's capital city Valletta.

  At 7.45 p.m., Benedict XVI will travel to the Cave of St. Paul at Rabat, where the saint found refuge following his shipwreck, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. The site was also home to the first Christian community in Malta.

  At 10 a.m. on Sunday 18 April the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Floriana Granaries. Following lunch with the bishops of Malta at the apostolic nunciature in Rabat, he will travel by boat from the port of Kalkara to Valletta where he is due to meet with young people at 5.15 p.m.

  The farewell ceremony is scheduled to take place at Luqa airport at 6.40 p.m., after which the Pope will begin his return journey to Rome where he is due to arrive at Ciampino airport shortly before 9 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At 10.30 a.m. today, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Peter's Basilica for the eighteenth World Day of the Sick and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers. Among those attending the ceremony were sick people from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and pilgrims of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

  Before the celebration began the relics of Bernadette Soubirous were carried in procession around St. Peter's Square then brought to the basilica where they were welcomed by Cardinal Angelo Conastri, archpriest of the basilica. Once inside, the reliquary was placed next to the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, near the Altar of the Confession.

  "'Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people", said the Pope quoting the Gospel of St. Matthew at the beginning of his homily. "The Church, which is entrusted with the task of prolonging the mission of Christ over space and time, cannot ignore these two essential activities: evangelisation and caring for the sick in body and spirit. God, in fact, wishes to heal all of man, and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of a more profound restoration: the remission of sins.

  "It is no surprise, then, that Mary, mother and model of the Church, should be invoked as 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the sick)", the Pope added. "As the first and perfect disciple of her Son she has always showed, as she accompanies the Church's journey, particular concern for those who suffer. ... On the feast of the apparitions of Lourdes, the place chosen by Mary to demonstrate her maternal solicitude for the sick, the liturgy appropriately reaffirms the Magnificat. ... This is not the hymn of those upon whom fortune smiles, who always have 'the wind in their sails'; rather, it is the thanksgiving of those who have experienced the dramas of life, but who trust in the redeeming action of God".

  On her pilgrim journey through history, "the Church, like Mary, guards in her bosom the dramas of mankind and the consolation of God", said the Holy Father. "Are not suffering accepted and offered, sincere and gratuitous sharing, miracles of love?" he asked. "For this reason we experience a joy that does not ignore suffering but understands it. In this way, the sick and all those who suffer are, in the Church, not just objects of care and attention but, even more so and above all, participants in the pilgrimage of faith and hope, witness of the prodigies of love and Paschal joy".

  The Pope then quoted from the Letter of James: "Are any of you sick? They should call for the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick". And he went on: "in this Year for Priests I would like to underline the bond between sick people and the clergy. ... The sick person should 'call' on priests, and they must respond in order to draw the presence and action of the Risen Lord and His Spirit into the experience of sickness".

  "In fact, when the Word of God speaks of healing, of salvation, of the health of the sick, these concepts are meant in their integral significance, never separating soul and body. A sick person healed by the prayer of Christ, through the Church, is a joy on earth and in heaven, a first fruit of eternal life", the Pope concluded.

  The events marking the eighteenth World Day of the Sick concluded with a procession which left Castel Sant'Angelo at 4.30 p.m., winding its way down Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square where, at 5.30 p.m., Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to greet and bless the faithful present.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope began his remarks by mentioning the bishops, priests, religious and faithful who, "in the period of persecution, showed dauntless attachment to Christ and His Church, and maintained their faith intact".

  He then thanked the prelates for their "generous dedication to serving the rebirth and development of the Catholic community" in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and encouraged them "to show the faithful an itinerary of mature and responsible Christian faith, especially through the reaching of religion, catechesis, also of adults, and preparation for the Sacraments". This, he continued, "requires the joint preparation of pastoral programmes, with a view to the 'bonum animarum' of all Catholics from various rites and ethnicities".

  "In this Year for Priests I encourage you to become true fathers to your clergy. ... Be careful to foster communion among yourselves and with them in a climate of affection, care, and respectful and fraternal dialogue. Concern yourselves with their spiritual and material situation, and with the theological and pastoral aggiornamento they need".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "the primary task of bishops is to promote vocational pastoral care, and the human, spiritual and intellectual formation of candidates to the priesthood in seminaries and other institutes of formation, ... also through the careful selection of educators and teachers. Similar care must be shown in forming members of institutes of consecrated life, especially female institutes", he said.

  "The flowering of priestly and religious vocations depends to a large extent on the moral and religious health of Christian families", the Pope explained. In this context he referred to "the scourges of abortion, corruption, alcoholism and drugs, as well as birth control by methods contrary to the dignity of the human person", saying that "in order to combat these challenges, you must promote parish consultancy services and organise improved pastoral care of the young".

  The Holy Father also highlighted the need "to make a decisive commitment to favour the presence of Christian values in society, creating centres of formation where young people can learn authentic values, enriched by your countries' cultural gifts, in order to enable them to bear witness to those values in the environments in which they live".

  "In this context", he continued, "the witness of fraternity between Catholics and Orthodox is particularly important; may it prevail over divisions and dissent, and open hearts to reconciliation", he said. Recalling then the tenth anniversary, which fell in May 2009, of "the historic trip of Venerable John Paul II to Romania", the Pope expressed the hope that "the desire for unity aroused by that visit may nourish prayer and a commitment to continue dialogue in charity and truth, and to promote joint initiatives".

  Benedict XVI concluded: "One particularly important area of collaboration between Orthodox and Catholics today concerns the defence of the Christian roots of Europe and of Christian values, as well as joint witness on such themes as the family, bioethics, human rights, honesty in public life and ecology. ... Constructive dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics will not fail to foment unity and harmony, not only for your countries, but for all of Europe".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - In the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. on Friday 19 February, an ordinary public consistory will be held for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489).

 - Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937).

 - Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

 - Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909).

 - Giulia Salzano, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929).

 - Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares and foundress of the monastery of St. Clare in the Italian town of Camerino (1458-1524).
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - His Beatitude Lucian Muresan, major archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Iulia, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Vasile Bizau and Mihai Catalin Fratila.

    - Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu of Cluj-Gherla.

    - Bishop Alexandru Mesian of Lugoj.

    - Bishop Ioan Sisestean of Maramures.

    - Bishop Virgil Bercea of Oradea Mare of the Romanians.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 10 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to St. Anthony of Padua, "one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church".

  St. Anthony was born to a noble family in Lisbon around the year 1195. Following a period spent with the Augustinian Canons, he entered the Friars Minor in the hope of travelling to Morocco to work as a missionary. However he fell sick and returned to Italy where he dedicated himself to intense and effective apostolic labours. He died in Padua in 1231 and was canonised by Pope Gregory IX in 1232.

  "Anthony", the Pope explained, "made a significant contribution to the development of Franciscan spirituality with his outstanding gifts of intelligence, balance, apostolic zeal and, especially, mystic fervour. ... He was also one of the first, if not the first, master of theology among the Friars Minor".

  The saint wrote two cycles of sermons, one entitled "Sunday Sermons" the other "Sermons on the Saints", in which he presented "a true itinerary of Christian life. Such is the wealth of spiritual teachings contained in the 'Sermons' that in 1946 Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaimed Anthony a Doctor of the Church, giving him the title of 'Doctor Evangelicus' because all the freshness and beauty of the Gospel emerges in his writings", said the Holy Father.

  Anthony of Padua, or of Lisbon as he is also known, defined prayer "as a relationship of love, which leads man to a dialogue with the Lord", and he described four "attitudes" which must characterise it: "trustingly opening our hearts to God, affectionately conversing with Him, presenting Him our needs, and giving Him praise and thanks. In this teaching of St. Anthony", the Pope explained, "we see one of the specific traits of Franciscan theology; ... that is, the central role of divine love which enters the sphere of the affections, of the will, of the heart, and which is the source of a spiritual knowledge that surpasses all other knowledge".

  But the "Doctor Evangelicus" also knew the defects of human nature, such as "the tendency to fall into sin, and so he continually exhorted people to combat the inclination to avarice, pride and impurity. ... At the beginning of the thirteenth century, in a context of expanding cities and flourishing trade, a growing number of people were insensitive to the needs of the poor. For this reason, Anthony frequently invited the faithful to turn their thoughts to true wealth, that of the heart" and to seek the friendship of those most in need.

  "Is this not", the Pope asked, "also an important lesson for us today, as the financial crisis and serious economic imbalances impoverish many people, and create situations of distresss?" He then went on to comment on one another aspect of Franciscan theology, Christocentrism, which "invites us to contemplate the mysteries of the Lord's humanity", especially His Nativity and Crucifixion.

  "The vision of the crucified Lord", said the Holy Father, inspired in Anthony "feelings of recognition towards God and of respect for the dignity of the human person". In that vision "everyone, believers and non-believers, may find a meaning that enriches life". This, he explained, "is the importance of the crucifixion in our culture and our humanity, which are born of the Christian faith, ... because God considers us so important as to be worthy of His suffering".

  The Pope concluded his catechesis by calling on St. Anthony to intercede for the whole Church, and in particular for "those who dedicate their lives to preaching. Drawing inspiration from his example, may they unite sound and healthy doctrine, sincere and fervent piety, and incisive communication. In this Year for Priests, let us pray that priests and deacons eagerly carry out their ministry of announcing and contextualising the Word of God for the faithful, especially in liturgical homilies".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Pope met with a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, led by Bishop Mark Hanson.

  Addressing the group in English, the Holy Father expressed the hope that "the continuing Lutheran-Catholic dialogue both in the United States of America and at the international level will help to build upon the agreements reached so far.

  "An important remaining task", he added, "will be to harvest the results of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue that so promisingly started after the Vatican Council II. To build on what has been achieved together since that time, a spiritual ecumenism should be grounded in ardent prayer and in conversion to Christ, the source of grace and truth. May the Lord help us to treasure what has been accomplished so far, to guard it with care, and to foster its development".

  Benedict XVI concluded by renewing the wish expressed by his predecessor John Paul II addressing a similar Lutheran delegation in 1985: "Let us rejoice that an encounter such as this can take place. Let us resolve to be open to the Lord so that He can use this meeting for His purposes, to bring about the unity that He desires. Thank you for the efforts you are making for full unity in faith and charity".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Marcelo Alejandro Cuenca of the clergy of the diocese of Cordoba in Argentina, pastor of Villa del Dique in Cordoba, as bishop of Alto Valle del Rio Negro (area 37,130, population 294,978, Catholics 253,982, priests 30, permanent deacons 1, religious 42), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Cordoba in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983. He succeeds Bishop Nestor Navarro, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Virginio Domingo Bressanelli S.C.I. of Comodoro-Rivadavia, Argentina, as coadjutor of Neuquen (area 94,078, population 538,852, Catholics 458,024, priests 56, permanent deacons 12, religious 130), Argentina.

 - Appointed Fr. Rafael Biernaski of the clergy of the archdiocese of Curitiba, Brazil, bureau chief at the Congregation for Bishops, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 5,751, population 2,326,000, Catholics 1,522,000, priests 421, permanent deacons 62, religious 1,699). The bishop-elect was born in Curitiba in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1981.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 FEB 2010 (VIS) - As previously advised, there will be no edition of VIS tomorrow, 11 February, eighty-first anniversary of the institution of Vatican City State with the signing of the Lateran Pacts. Service will resume on Friday 12 February.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2010 (VIS) - An international theological congress is due to be held on 11 and 12 March on the theme "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of Priests". The initiative, which will take place at the Pontifical Lateran University, has been organised to mark the current Year for Priests.

  According to a communique from the Congregation for the Clergy, which is promoting the event, "invitees to the congress principally include bishops who preside commissions for the clergy, supreme moderators of clerical institutes and associations, formators of the clergy, and priests themselves who are primarily responsible for their own permanent formation".

  The congress be divided into three sessions, two focusing on priestly identity and its relationship with modern culture, and one on liturgy and celibacy. Apart from Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M. and Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, also participating in the event will be Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

  Contributions to the congress will also be forthcoming from Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy; Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Archbishop Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Archbishop Willem Eijk of Utrecht and primate of Holland; Bishop Filippo Santoro of Petropolis, Brazil; Bishop Gerhard Muller of Regensburg, Germany, and Bishop Francesco Moraglia of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato, Italy.

  Benedict XVI is scheduled to receive the congress participants in audience on Friday 12 March.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of a communique released today by the Secretariat of State:

  "Since 23 January an increasing number of news items and reconstructions have been appearing, especially in many Italian news media, concerning the events surrounding the resignation of the editor of the Italian Catholic daily 'Avvenire', with the evident intention of demonstrating the involvement of the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' in the affair, even going so far as to insinuate the responsibility of the Cardinal Secretary of State. These news items and reconstructions have no basis whatsoever in fact.

  "Specifically, it is false that officers of the Vatican Gendarmerie or the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' passed on the documents which lay behind the resignation of the editor of 'Avvenire' on 3 September last year; it is false that the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' gave - or in any way transmitted or endorsed - information about these documents; and it is false that he wrote under a pseudonym, or inspired, articles in other publications.

  "It seems clear from the proliferation of the most incredible assertions and hypotheses - repeated by the media with truly remarkable consonance - that everything rests on unfounded convictions, with the intention of gratuitously and calumniously attributing to the editor of 'Osservatore Romano' an unmotivated, unreasonable and malicious action. This is giving rise to a defamatory campaign against the Holy See, which even involves the Roman Pontiff.

  "The Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has been kept constantly informed, deplores these unjust and injurious attacks, renews his complete faith in his collaborators, and prays that those who truly have the good of the Church to heart may work with all means to ensure that truth and justice triumph".
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Monday, February 8, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 6 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See. In his remarks to the diplomat the Pope praised the Guatemalan people who, "with their variety of ethnicities and cultures, have a deep-rooted faith in God, an intense devotion for Most Holy Mary, and a faithful love for the Pope and the Church".

  He also mentioned Guatemala's "close and serene relations" with the Holy See, referring to next year's commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the creation of an apostolic nunciature in Guatemala, and expressing the hope that this celebration "may give fresh energy to the co-operation that exists between State and Church in your country, a co-operation founded on respect and on the autonomy of the separate spheres pertaining to each". And he added: "may honest and sincere dialogue continue, fomenting the common good of all Guatemalan society, which must pay special attention to its most disadvantaged members".

  The Pope went on: "I cannot forget those who are suffering the consequences of climatic phenomena which, in your country too, lead to increasing drought and the loss of harvests, producing malnutrition and poverty. This extreme situation has recently led the national government to declare a 'state of public calamity' and to ask for aid from the international community. I wish to express my affection and spiritual closeness to those suffering this harsh predicament, my recognition to the institutions in your country which struggle to find solutions to such serious problems, and my gratitude to the various organisations and agencies of international co-operation which are doing everything possible to mitigate famine among large sectors of the population".

  "The many human and evangelical values that enrich the hearts of your country's citizens, such as love for the family, respect for elders, sense of responsibility and, above all, trust in the God Who revealed His face in Jesus Christ, ... are important reasons for hope", he said. "From this abundant spiritual heritage you can draw the strength necessary to counteract other factors which cause the social fabric of Guatemala to decay, such as drug trafficking, violence, emigration, insecurity, illiteracy, sects and the loss of moral reference among the young generations".

  "In this decisive undertaking, the authorities of your country will always be able to rely upon the ready collaboration of the Church, in her constant efforts to open 'new and creative ways' to respond to the desolating effects of poverty, and to co-operate in ensuring the dignity all human beings", said the Holy Father. He then went on to express his recognition "for the actions being undertaken in Guatemala to consolidate guarantees for an authentic Rule of Law".

  "This process", he explained, "has to be accompanied by a solid determination, which arises from individual conversion of heart, to eliminate all forms of corruption in public institutions and administration, to reform justice so as to ensure that laws are justly applied, and to eradicate the sensation of impunity surrounding those who exercise any form of violence or disdain the most basic human rights".

  Benedict XVI also referred to certain factors that "determine the specific identity" of the Guatemalan people, factors "which can have beneficial repercussions on the political and social stability of Central America". Among these he mentioned the Constitution of Guatemala, which "guarantees the defence and legal protection of human life from conception until natural death".

  "I encourage all social players in the country, and especially those who represent the people in legislative institutions", he concluded, "to maintain and strengthen this basic element of 'the culture of life', something which will undoubtedly contribute to enriching the moral heritage of Guatemalans".
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