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Thursday, February 28, 2013

BENEDICT XVI: TO WORK FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH AND OF HUMANITY

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – This afternoon, shortly after 5:00pm, Benedict XVI left the Vatican for the last time as Supreme Pontiff. A few moments earlier, in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and other members of that dicastery bid him farewell. In full military regalia, the Swiss Guard troops paid him homage. Also present were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome, and Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. Many of the workers of the Vatican City State, with their families, were also in attendance and greeted the Pope with warm applause.

Before leaving the Vatican, Benedict XVI issued his last tweet: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”

Shortly afterwards the Holy Father, accompanied by his private secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household, took a car to the Vatican heliport where the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, greeted him and he boarded the helicopter that carried him to Castel Gandolfo. As the helicopter lifted off, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica and the churches of Roma began ringing.

The Pope's helicopter flew over the city of Rome, passing by the Colosseum and St. John Lateran Basilica, and landed at the Castel Gandolfo heliport just after 5:20pm. Awaiting the Holy Father were Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, respectively president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State along with Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas, Bishop Marcello Semeraro of the Diocese of Albano, and civil and religious authorities of the area. The Pope was then taken by car to the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace, where he was greeted by hundreds of people while the bells of Castel Gandolfo's parishes rang out.

Shortly afterwards, Benedict XVI appeared at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace and said to the many faithful who were waiting to thank him for his pontificate: “Thank you. Thank you all. Dear friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your well wishes, which do me such good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me than the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the Good of the Church and of humanity. I feel very supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. Blessed be God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!”

Benedict XVI's pontificate concludes at 8:00pm this evening (Rome time), at which time the period of the Sede Vacante begins. The Swiss Guards will no longer be in charge of his safekeeping—which detail will then be undertaken by the Vatican Gendarmerie—and will return to the Vatican to offer their service to the College of Cardinals. During this period the twitter account @Pontifex will be deactivated. Once elected, the new Pope may, if he so desires, take over its use. Benedict XVI's Fisherman's Ring and the seal of his pontificate will also be destroyed at that time and the papal apartments in the Vatican Palace will be sealed.

POPE TO COLLEGE OF CARDINALS: “I WILL BE NEAR TO YOU”

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – At 11:00am in the Clementine Hall, Benedict XVI greeted the College of Cardinals, whose dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, addressed a short farewell to the Pope on behalf of all those present.

It is with great emotion,” he said, “that the Cardinal Fathers present in Rome gather around you today, to once again express to you their deep affection and heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of Christ's Church and of all humanity.”

The cardinal recalled the words that, last Saturday at the end of the Lenten Retreat, the Pope addressed to his collaborators in the Roman Curia: “I would like to thank all of you and not only for this week, but for these past eight years that you have borne with me—with great skill, affection, love, and faith—the weight of the Petrine ministry.”

Beloved and revered Successor of Peter,” the cardinal exclaimed, “we are the ones who must thank you for the example you have given us in these eight years of your Pontificate. On 19 April, 2005, you joined the long line of successors of the Apostle Peter and today, 28 February, 2013, you are about to leave us, awaiting that the helm of Peter's Barque be transferred to other hands. Thus the apostolic succession, which the Lord promised to His Holy Church, will continue until the voice of the Angel of the Apocalypse is heard on earth, proclaiming 'Tempus non erit amplius ... consummabitur mysterium Dei' 'There shall be no more delay. ... The mysterious plan of God shall be fulfilled!' Thus will end the history of the Church, together with the history of the world, with the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.”

The dean of the College of Cardinals emphasized the “deep love” with which the cardinals have tried to accompany the Pope in his journey, and how the journey was a “reliving of the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: 'Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way?'”

Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts were also burning when we were walking with you in these past eight years. Today we want to once again express to you our gratitude. We repeat together a typical expression of your dear native land: 'Vergelt's Gott', may God reward you!”

For his part, the Holy Father addressed the cardinals, returning to the reference of the disciples' experience on the way to Emmaus, saying: “For me as well, it has been a joy walking with you these past eight years in the light of the Risen Lord's presence. As I said yesterday, in front of the thousands of faithful who filled St. Peter's Square, your nearness and your advice have been a great help to me in my ministry. In these eight years we have faithfully lived beautiful moments of radiant light along the Church's journey along with times when clouds gathered in the skies. We have tried to serve Christ and His Church with a deep and total love, which is the soul of our ministry. We have given the hope that comes to us from Christ and that alone can light the way. Together we can thank the Lord, who has made us to grow in communion. Together we can ask Him to help you grow more in this deep unity, so that the College of Cardinals might be like an orchestra, where diversity, the expression of the universal Church, always contributes to greater and concordant harmony.”

He added: “I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart: a thought regarding the Church and her mystery, which constitutes for all us, we can say, the reason and the passion of life. I will rely for help on an expression by Romano Guardini, written in the same year when the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution 'Lumen Gentium'. It is from his final book, which he also personally dedicated for me. The words of this book, therefore, are particularly dear to me. Guardini says: 'The Church is not an institution devised and built by human beings ... but a living reality. ... It lives still throughout the course of time. Like all living realities it develops, it changes ... and yet in the very depths of its being it remains the same: its inmost nucleus is Christ.'“

Our experience yesterday in the square thus seemed to me: seeing that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit and truly alive by the power of God. It is in the world but not of the world: it is of God, of Christ, and of the Spirit. We saw this yesterday. This is why Guardini's other famous expression is true and eloquent: 'The Church is awakening within souls.' The Church lives, grows, and awakens in souls that—like the Virgin Mary—embrace the Word of God and conceive of it as the work of the Holy Spirit. The offer God their very flesh and, precisely in their poverty and humility, become capable of generating Christ today in the world. Through the Church, the Mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all ages and places.”

Let us remain united in this mystery, dear brothers; in prayer and especially in daily Eucharist, so that we might thus serve the Church and all of humanity. This is our joy, which no one can take from us.”

Before greeting you personally I would like to tell you all that I will continue to be near to you in prayer, especially in the coming days, so that you may be fully docile to the Holy Spirit's action in electing the new Pope. May the Lord show you what He wills. Among you, among the College of Cardinals, is also the future Pope, to whom I already today promise my unconditioned reverence and obedience.”

On finishing his address, Benedict XVI greeted all the 144 cardinals and the other members of the Roman Curia present personally.

TELEGRAM ON THE DEATH OF CARDINAL HONORE

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Archbishop Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin, O. Cist., of Tours, France, on receiving news of the death today of Cardinal Jean Marcel Honore, archbishop emeritus of that archdiocese. The cardinal was 92 years old. The Pope asked the Lord to “welcome this pastor who has served the Church with devotion in Catholic education and catechesis into His peace and His true light.” The cardinal was also “a skilled and passionate crafter in editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, who always had the desire to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world of today.”

BENEDICT XVI'S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MARCH

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That respect for nature may grow with the awareness that all creation is God's work entrusted to human responsibility."

His mission intention is: "That bishops, priests, and deacons may be tireless messengers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth."

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 28 February 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Samuel Jofre as bishop of Villa Maria (area 28,000, population 386,000, Catholics 308,000, priests 69, religious 32), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1983. Since ordination, he has served in several pastoral and judicial roles, most recently as judge on the inter-diocesanal tribunal of Cordoba and pastor of Santo Cristo Parish. He succeeds Bishop Jose Angel Roval, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Villa Maria the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- appointed Msgr. Joseph Dinh Duc Dao as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Xuan Loc (area 5,955, population 2,458,000, Catholics 873,440, priests 405, religious 2314), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Thuc Hoa, Nam Dinh, Vietnam, in 1945 and was ordained a priest in 1971. Since ordination, he has served in several pastoral, academic, and administrative roles, most recently as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and rector of the Major Seminary of Xuan Loc. The Holy Father has assigned him the Titular See of Gadiaufala.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BENEDICT XVI'S FINAL GENERAL AUDIENCE: “I ASKED GOD TO ENLIGHTEN ME TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION, NOT FOR MY OWN GOOD, BUT FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.”

Vatican City, 27 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, Benedict XVI celebrated his last general audience. In St. Peter's Square, crowded with tens of thousands of people wishing to bid him farewell, the Pontiff said: “Thank you for coming in such large numbers to this, my last general audience. Thank you, I am truly moved! And I see the Church is alive! I think we also have to thank the Creator for the beautiful weather that He is giving us now, even in winter.”

Following is the entire text of the Holy Father's words.

Like the Apostle Paul in the Biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart that I have to especially thank God who guides and builds up the Church, who plants His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His People. At this moment my heart expands and embraces the whole Church throughout the world and I thank God for the 'news' that, in these years of my Petrine ministry, I have received about the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and for the love that truly circulates in the Body of the Church, making it to live in the love and the hope that opens us to and guides us towards the fullness of life, towards our heavenly homeland.”

I feel that I am carrying everyone with me in prayer in this God-given moment when I am collecting every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. I am gathering everyone and everything in prayer to entrust it to the Lord: so that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to live in a manner worthy of the Lord and His love, bearing fruit in every good work (cf. Col 1:9-10).”

At this moment I have great confidence because I know, we all know, that the Gospel's Word of truth is the strength of the Church; it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews, bearing fruit, wherever the community of believers hears it and welcomes God's grace in truth and in love. This is my confidence, this is my joy.”

When, on 19 April almost eight years ago I accepted to take on the Petrine ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me: this certainty for the life of the Church from the Word of God. At that moment, as I have already expressed many times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, what do You ask of me? It is a great weight that You are placing on my shoulders but, if You ask it of me, I will cast my nets at your command, confident that You will guide me, even with all my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has guided me. He has been close to me. I have felt His presence every day. It has been a stretch of the Church's path that has had moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the See of Galilee. The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and light breezes, days when the fishing was plentiful, but also times when the water was rough and the winds against us, just as throughout the whole history of the Church, when the Lord seemed to be sleeping. But I always knew that the Lord is in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but is His. And the Lord will not let it sink. He is the one who steers her, of course also through those He has chosen because that is how He wanted it. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. And that is why my heart today is filled with gratitude to God, because He never left—the whole Church or me—without His consolation, His light, or His love.”

We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired precisely in order to strengthen our faith in God in a context that seems to relegate it more and more to the background. I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children to God's arms, certain that those arms always hold us up and are what allow us to walk forward each day, even when it is a struggle. I would like everyone to feel beloved of that God who gave His Son for us and who has shown us His boundless love. I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer, which can be recited every morning, say: 'I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian...' Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith. It is the most precious thing, which no one can take from us! Let us thank the Lord for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but awaits us to also love Him!”

It is not only God who I wish to thank at this time. A pope is not alone in guiding Peter's barque, even if it is his primary responsibility. I have never felt alone in bearing the joy and the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed at my side so many people who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all, you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your advice, and your friendship have been precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my secretary of state who has accompanied me faithfully over the years; the Secretariat of State and the whole of the Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in their various areas, serve the Holy See. There are many faces that are never seen, remaining in obscurity, but precisely in their silence, in their daily dedication in a spirit of faith and humility, they were a sure and reliable support to me. A special thought goes to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I cannot forget my Brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood, consecrated persons, and the entire People of God. In my pastoral visits, meetings, audiences, and trips I always felt great care and deep affection, but I have also loved each and every one of you, without exception, with that pastoral love that is the heart of every pastor, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I held each of you in prayer, with a father's heart.”

I wish to send my greetings and my thanks to all: a pope's heart extends to the whole world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes the great family of Nations present here. Here I am also thinking of all those who work for good communication and I thank them for their important service.”

At this point I would also like to wholeheartedly thank all of the many people around the world who, in recent weeks, have sent me touching tokens of concern, friendship, and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone. I feel this again now in such a great way that it touches my heart. The Pope belongs to everyone and many people feel very close to him. It's true that I receive letters from the world's notables—from heads of states, from religious leaders, from representatives of the world of culture, etc. But I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their hearts and make me feel their affection, which is born of our being together with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me the way one would write, for example, to a prince or a dignitary that they don't know. They write to me as brothers and sisters or as sons and daughters, with the sense of a very affectionate family tie. In this you can touch what the Church is—not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ who unites us all. Experiencing the Church in this way and being able to almost touch with our hands the strength of His truth and His love is a reason for joy at a time when many are speaking of its decline. See how the Church is alive today!”

In these last months I have felt that my strength had diminished and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its newness, but with a profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, agonized choices, always keeping in mind the good of the Church, not of oneself.”

Allow me here to return once again to 19 April, 2005. The gravity of the decision lay precisely in the fact that, from that moment on, I was always and for always engaged by the Lord. Always—whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and entirely to everyone, to the whole Church. His life, so to speak, is totally deprived of its private dimension. I experienced, and I am experiencing it precisely now, that one receives life precisely when they give it. Before I said that many people who love the Lord also love St. Peter's Successor and are fond of him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself but he belongs to all and all belong to him.”

'Always' is also 'forever'--there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter's paddock, so to speak. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way for a life that, active or passive, belongs wholly to God's work.”

I also thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have received this important decision. I will continue to accompany the Church's journey through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and His Bride that I have tried to live every day up to now and that I want to always live. I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals who are called to such an important task, and for the new Successor of the Apostle Peter. Many the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of His Spirit.”

We call upon the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the entire ecclesial community. We entrust ourselves to her with deep confidence.”

Dear friends! God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world. In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love. Thank you.”

AUDIENCES

Vatican City, 27 February 2013 (VIS) - After this morning's general audience, the Holy Father greeted the following in the Clementine Hall:

- Ivan Gasparovic, President of Slovakia

- Teodoro Lonfernini and Denise Bronzetti, Captains Regent of the Republic of San Marino, with their spouses,

- Horst Lorenz Seehofer, Minister-President of Bavaria, and

- Archbishop Joan Enric Vives i Sicilia of Urgell, co-prince of Andorra.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 27 February 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation presented by Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Clifford of the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, England, presented by Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, as special envoy to the 600th anniversary of the Cathedral Basilica of Kaunas, Lithuania, which will take place on 5 May, 2013.

NOTICE

Vatican City, 27 February 2013 (VIS) – Tomorrow, 28 February, the last day of Benedict XVI's pontificate, the VIS will transmit two bulletins. The first will be at the usual time and the second will be later in the afternoon (Rome time) to inform our readers of the Pope's departure from the Vatican and his arrival at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolofo, where he is expected to give a few words of greeting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BENEDICT XVI WILL BE POPE EMERITUS

Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will be “Pontiff emeritus” or “Pope emeritus”, as Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference regarding the final days of the current pontificate. He will keep the name of “His Holiness, Benedict XVI” and will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta (elbow-length cape).

More than 50,000 tickets have already been requested for the Pope's final general audience tomorrow morning, 27 February, but greater attendance is expected. Except for the trip around St. Peter's Square in the popemobile and the exclusion of the “bacciamani” (brief personal greetings that take place after the ceremony), the audience will take place as usual. At its conclusion, the Pope will go to the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Palace to meet with some of the civil authorities who are present in Rome or who have travelled here to wish him farewell. Among these dignitaries will be the presidents of Slovakia and of the German region of Bavaria.

On the morning of 28 February, the last day of his pontificate, the Pope will meet with, again in the Clementine Hall, the cardinals who are present in Rome. At 4:55pm, in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican Apostolic Palace and before a detachment of the Swiss Guards, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and and other members of that dicastery will bid him farewell. The Pope's helicopter will land at Castel Gandolfo at 5:15pm, where he will be received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, respectively president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State along with Bishop Marcello Semeraro of the Diocese of Albano, and civil authorities of the locality.

Benedict XVI will appear at the balcony of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace to greet those who have gathered in the square to wish him well. The Sede Vacante will begin at 8:00pm and the Swiss Guards assigned to him at Castel Gandolfo will take their leave, as their corps is dedicated to the safe-guarding of the Roman Pontiff. Instead, the Vatican Gendarmerie will take over the Pope emeritus' safety detail.

Fr. Lombardi also explained that Bendict XVI will no longer use the “Fisherman's Ring”, which will be destroyed along with the lead seal of the pontificate. This task falls to the cardinal camerlengo and his assistants. Likewise, the Press Office director announced that the Pope will no longer wear the red papal shoes.

Regarding the beginning of the Congregations of Cardinals, the dean of the College of Cardinals will send a letter to all the cardinals on 1 March, calling them to Rome. “It is likely, therefore,” Fr. Lombardi added, “that the congregations will begin starting next week.”

The congregations will be held in the new Synod Hall. The prelates will not be housed in the Casa Santa Marta residence until the eve of the beginning of the Conclave for various reasons, including the fact that rooms are to be assigned by lot during the congregations.

SOLIDARITY WITH AND PEACE FOR CHRISTIANS OF THE HOLY LAND

Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world concerning the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land. The letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the congregation, has the purpose of sensitising the Catholic Church around the world with regard to the Holy Land, and of promoting initiatives of prayer and fraternal charity towards Christians of Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, and neighbouring countries.

The Gospel message of compassion,” the text reads, “illumines the need for the Good Friday Collection in support of our brothers and sisters in the places of Redemption. Together with their pastors, they live the mystery of Christ, Crucified and Risen for the salvation of mankind. On account of its ecclesial dimension, this ancient duty is an ever gratifying opportunity. As Easter approaches, it is all the more appropriate as an expression of the faith that the Church, under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, is intensely living, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. That event opened her to the world, at the same time rooting her still more firmly in the tradition that departs from the Christian origins. Of these the Holy Land is the silent witness and living custodian, thanks to the Latin communities of the Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custody, as also to the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Copt, and Chaldean faithful active there. Lately, this region is also witness to the fact that entire peoples, hungering for dignity and justice, have given wings to the dream of a springtime, the fruits of which are desired at once, as if the great, longed-for transformation could be possible without a renewal of hearts and an acceptance of a common responsibility for the poor.”

Among the first fruits of the new awareness brought by the Council was the Encyclical 'Pacem in terris' of Blessed John XXIII, which raises in this Year of Faith a pressing call for peace, especially in Syria, whose tragic path represents a threat to the entire Near East.”

The situation in the Middle East would seem to demand what the Servant of God Paul VI proposes in the Encyclical 'Populorum progressio'. Following his denouncement of 'the material poverty of those who lack the bare necessities of life, and the moral poverty of those who are crushed under the weight of their own self-love' (n. 21), the Pope suggests not only 'a growing awareness of other people's dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace', but also affirms that 'then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end' (ibid). Towards that goal, the Pope does not hesitate to hold up 'above all ... faith—God's gift to men of good will—and our loving unity in Christ'. With a vision born of faith, he chose the Land of Jesus to make, in 1964, the first of his great apostolic voyages. Following in his footsteps in the year 2000, Blessed John Paul II described his pilgrimage as 'a moment of brotherhood and peace, [to be remembered] as one of the most beautiful gifts of the whole Jubilee event' and expressed his 'deeply felt desire for a prompt and just solution to the still unresolved problems of the Holy Places, cherished by Jews, Christians and Muslims together' (Novo millenio ineunte, n. 13).”

Pope Benedict also offers us an admirable example of this same compassionate outlook. Encouraging evidence is found in his Pastoral Visit of this past September to Lebanon for the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente'; the constant mention of the region's woes in the Angelus, in his audiences, and in his Messages to various people and institutions; as well as his prayer intention for January 2013, shared with the entire Church: 'that the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance'. Finally, for this coming Good Friday, he has invited two young Lebanese Maronites to write the text for the Via Crucis procession.”

In the widest sense, the Land of Jesus is composed of Israel and Palestine, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. The Christians living in all these countries must find in us the same attitude of solidarity in the faith.“

With grateful wonder we recognize how much the generous concern of Catholics around the world has already accomplished. This assistance maintains the Holy Sites, as well as the communities that dwell there. Together with institutes of men and women religious, the funds collected provide immediate relief to the catastrophic consequences of war and other emergencies. Through a qualified network of pastoral, educational, and health care specialists, these resources come to the aid of families, often saving lives that have been rejected: the old, the sick, and the disabled. In addition, aid is provided to those without work and to youth in search of a brighter future. In every case, the collection seeks to build up human rights, especially the right to religious liberty. To this one must add the praiseworthy ecumenical and inter-religious effort, which requires stemming the incessant exodus of Christian faithful from their motherland and the accompaniment of the displaced and the refugee. Taken as a whole, this constitutes the 'Christian characteristic', which makes the region, beyond all of its suffering, a Place where God is glorified, because humanity is blessed.”

With deep conviction the Congregation for Eastern Churches appeals to all to reconfirm their ecclesial charity in favour of the Holy Land. Together with the Pope, the Congregation thanks the pastors and faithful who, standing by the Cross of the Lord, offer their prayerful and fraternal embrace to those dwelling in the Holy Land. These have earned the gratitude of the Supreme Pastor of the Church and ours, too, for by their faithful witness in the midst of suffering, they remind the world of the consoling promise of the Risen One: 'These things I have spoken to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full' (Jn. 15:11).”

Also made public today was a report prepared by the Custody of the Holy Land (a province of the Order of Friars Minor with responsibility for the Holy Places), listing the works carried out with the proceeds of the Good Friday collection of 2012. Restoration and maintenance has been carried out on numerous shrines, churches, and convents in the Holy Land including such places as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Magdala, Capernaum, Mount Tabor, and Mt. Nebo. Other initiatives sought to improve welcome services for pilgrims.

A significant part of the proceeds was used to fund student scholarships, to help small business, and to build houses, schools and sports centres for children. Other recipients of aid included families, parish communities, the poor, and cultural institutions.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father:

- appointed Bishop Claudio Giuliodori as ecclesiastical assistant general of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuorem Italy. Bishop Giuliodori was previously bishop of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy.

- appointed Msgr. Claudio Iovine as relator of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Msgr. Iovine was previously a research assistant of the same dicastery.

Monday, February 25, 2013

MOTU PROPRIO: POPE LEAVES EXPEDITION OF CONCLAVE UP TO CARDINALS


Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – In an unofficial translation of the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio by Holy Father Benedict XVI and dated 22 February, following are a few amendments concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff.

"With the Apostolic Letter De Aliquibus Mutationibus in Normis de Electione Romani Pontificis, issued Motu Proprio in Rome on 11 June 2007, the third year of my Pontificate, I established certain norms which, by abrogating those laid down in No. 75 of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated on 22 February 1996 by my Predecessor Blessed John Paul II, reinstated the traditional norm whereby a majority vote of two thirds of the Cardinal electors present is always necessary for the valid election of a Roman Pontiff.

Given the importance of ensuring that the entire process of electing the Roman Pontiff is carried out in the best possible way at every level, especially with regard to the sound interpretation and enactment of certain provisions, I hereby establish and decree that several norms of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis, as well as the changes which I myself introduced in the aforementioned Apostolic Letter, are to be replaced by the following norms:

35. "No Cardinal elector can be excluded from active or passive voice in the election of the Supreme Pontiff, for any reason or pretext, with due regard for the provisions of Nos. 40 and 75 of this Constitution."

37. "I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, fifteen full days must elapse before the Conclave begins, in order to await those who are absent; nonetheless, the College of Cardinals is granted the faculty to move forward the start of the Conclave if it is clear that all the Cardinal electors are present; they can also defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election."

43. "From the time established for the beginning of the electoral process until the public announcement that the election of the Supreme Pontiff has taken place, or in any case until the new Pope so disposes, the rooms of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, and in particular the Sistine Chapel and the areas reserved for liturgical celebrations are to be closed to unauthorized persons, by the authority of the Cardinal Camerlengo and with the outside assistance of the Vice-Camerlengo and of the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, in accordance with the provisions set forth in the following Numbers.

During this period, the entire territory of Vatican City and the ordinary activity of the offices located therein shall be regulated in a way which permits the election of the Supreme Pontiff to be carried out with due privacy and freedom. In particular, provision shall be made, also with the help of Prelate Clerics of the Apostolic Camera, to ensure that no one approaches the Cardinal electors while they make their way from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Apostolic Vatican Palace."

46 § 1. "In order to meet the personal and official needs connected with the election process, the following individuals must be available and therefore properly lodged in suitable areas within the confines mentioned in No. 43 of this Constitution: the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, who acts as Secretary of the electoral assembly; the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations with eight Masters of Ceremonies and two Religious attached to the Papal Sacristy; and an ecclesiastic chosen by the Cardinal Dean or by the Cardinal taking his place, in order to assist him in his duties."

47. "All the persons listed in Nos. 46 and 55 § 2 of this Constitution who in any way or at any time should come to learn anything from any source, directly or indirectly, regarding the election process, and in particular regarding the voting which took place in the election itself, are obliged to maintain strict secrecy with all persons extraneous to the College of Cardinal electors: accordingly, before the election begins, they shall take an oath in the form and using the formula indicated in the following number."

48. "At a suitable time before the beginning of the election, the persons indicated in Nos. 46 and 55 § 2 of this Constitution, having been duly warned about the meaning and extent of the oath which they are to take, shall, in the presence of the Cardinal Camerlengo or another Cardinal delegated by him, and of two Pronotaries Apostolic de Numero Participantium, swear and sign the oath according to the following formula:

I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly-elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.

I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself.

I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will incur the penalty of automatic (‘latae sententiae’) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand."

49. "When the funeral rites for the deceased Pope have been celebrated according to the prescribed ritual, and everything necessary for the regular functioning of the election has been prepared, on the day appointed in accordance with the provisions of No. 37 of the present Constitution for the opening of the Conclave, all Cardinals shall meet in the Basilica of Saint Peter's in the Vatican, or elsewhere, should circumstances warrant it, in order to take part in a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the Votive Mass Pro Eligendo Papa. This celebration should preferably take place at a suitable hour in the morning, so that in the afternoon the prescriptions of the following Numbers of this Constitution can be carried out."

50. "From the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where they will assemble at a suitable hour in the afternoon, the Cardinal electors, in choir dress, and invoking the assistance of the Holy Spirit with the chant of the Veni Creator, will solemnly process to the Sistine Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, where the election will be held. The Vice-Camerlengo, the Auditor General of the Apostolic Camera and two members of each of the Colleges of Protonotaries Apostolic de Numero Participantium, of Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota and of Prelate Clerics of the Apostolic Camera will take part in the procession."

51 §2. "It will therefore be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals, operating under the authority and responsibility of the Camerlengo, assisted by the Particular Congregation mentioned in No. 7 of the present Constitution, and with the outside assistance of the Vice-Camerlengo and of the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, to make all prior arrangements for the interior of the Sistine Chapel and adjacent areas to be prepared, so that the orderly election and its privacy will be ensured."

55 § 3. "Should any infraction whatsoever of this norm occur, those responsible should know that they will incur the penalty of automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See."

62. "Since the forms of election known as per acclamationem seu inspirationem and per compromissum are abolished, the form of electing the Roman Pontiff shall henceforth be per scrutinium alone.

I therefore decree that for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff at least two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present and voting."

64. "The voting process is carried out in three phases. The first phase, which can be called the pre-scrutiny, comprises: 1) the preparation and distribution of the ballot papers by the Masters of Ceremonies – they will have been readmitted in the meantime, together with the Secretary of the College of Cardinals and the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations – who give at least two or three to each Cardinal elector; 2) the drawing by lot, from among all the Cardinal electors, of three Scrutineers, of three persons charged with collecting the votes of the sick, called for the sake of brevity Infirmarii, and of three Revisers; this drawing is carried out in public by the junior Cardinal Deacon, who draws out nine names, one after another, of those who shall carry out these tasks; 3) if, in the drawing of lots for the Scrutineers, Infirmarii and Revisers, there should come out the names of Cardinal electors who because of infirmity or other reasons are unable to carry out these tasks, the names of others who are not impeded are to be drawn in their place. The first three drawn will act as Scrutineers, the second three as Infirmarii and the last three as Revisers.

70 § 2. "The Scrutineers add up all the votes that each individual has received, and if no one has obtained at least two thirds of the votes on that ballot, the Pope has not been elected; if however it turns out that someone has obtained at least two thirds of the votes, the canonically valid election of the Roman Pontiff has taken place."

75. "If the balloting mentioned in Nos. 72, 73 and 74 of the aforementioned Constitution does not result in an election, one day shall be dedicated to prayer, reflection and dialogue; in the successive balloting, observing the order established in No. 74 of the same Constitution, only the two names which received the greatest number of votes in the previous scrutiny, will have passive voice. There can be no waiving of the requirement that, in these ballots too, for a valid election to take place there must be a clear majority of at least two thirds of the votes of the Cardinals present and voting. In these ballots the two names having passive voice do not have active voice."

87. "When the election has canonically taken place, the junior Cardinal Deacon summons into the hall of election the Secretary of the College of Cardinals, the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations and two Masters of Ceremonies. Then the Cardinal Dean, or the Cardinal who is first in order and seniority, in the name of the whole College of electors, asks the consent of the one elected in the following words: Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff? And, as soon as he has received the consent, he asks him: By what name do you wish to be called? Then the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, acting as notary and having as witnesses the two Masters of Ceremonies, draws up a document certifying acceptance by the new Pope and the name taken by him."

"All that I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio I hereby order to be wholly observed, anything to the contrary notwithstanding."

"This document will enter into effect immediately upon its publication in L’Osservatore Romano."

"Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 22 February in the year 2013, the eighth of my Pontificate."

TELEGRAM ON THE DEATH OF CARDINAL JULIEN RIES

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to Bishop Guy Harpigny of Tournai, Belgium on the death of Cardinal Julien Ries, titular archbishop of Bellicastrum and cardinal-deacon of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia. The cardinal died on Saturday at the age of 92.

The Pope recalled the cardinal as one of the most renown specialists in history of religions, affirming that “through education and research ... he always had the desire to testify to his faith among his contemporaries in a spirit of dialogue.” Benedict XVI asked God to welcome into the light of eternal life, “this eminent man of faith” and sent his heartfelt condolences to his family and relatives, and to the “Famille de l'Œuvre” Sisters who always accompanied him.

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE COMMUNIQUE

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – Following is the text of the communique published this morning by the Press Office of the Holy See:

This morning, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Herranz, Cardinal Tomko, and Cardinal De Giorgi, members of the Commission of Cardinals appointed to investigate into the leak of reserved documents, accompanied by the commission's secretary, Fr. Luigi Martignani O.F.M.Cap.”

Upon finishing their assigned task, His Holiness wished to thank them for the useful work they carried out, expressing satisfaction with the outcome of the investigation. In fact, the report revealed, along with the limitations and imperfections of a human nature that are found in every organization, the generosity, uprightness, and dedication of those working in the Holy See at the service of the mission entrusted to the Roman Pontiff by Christ.”

The Holy Father has decided that the results of the report, the contents of which are known only to His Holiness, will be made available exclusively to the new pontiff.”

CARDINAL BERTONE ASKS CONTEMPLATIVE MONASTERIES FOR PRAYER

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., sent a letter to the monasteries devoted to contemplative life around the world, invitign them to intensify their prayers at this special moment in the life of the Church. Following is the entire text of the message that is dated 21 February.

I write to you as the whole Church anxiously follows the final days of the luminous pontificate of His Holiness Benedict XVI and awaits the arrival of the successor whom the Cardinals gathered in conclave and guided by the Holy Spirit will choose, after discerning together the signs of the times of the Church and the world.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI has asked all the faithful to accompany him with their prayers as he commends the Petrine ministry into the Lord’s hands, and to await with trust the arrival of the new Pope. In a particularly urgent way this appeal is addressed to those chosen members of the Church who are contemplatives. The Holy Father is certain that you, in your monasteries and convents throughout the world, will provide the precious resource of that prayerful faith which down the centuries has accompanied and sustained the Church along her pilgrim path. The coming conclave will thus depend in a special way on the transparent purity of your prayer and worship.”

The most significant example of this spiritual elevation which manifests the most authentic and profound dimension of every ecclesial action, the presence of the Holy Spirit who guides the Church, is offered to us by His Holiness Benedict XVI who, after having steered the barque of Peter amid the waves of history, has chosen to devote himself above all to prayer, contemplation and reflection.”

The Holy Father, with whom I shared the contents of this letter, was deeply appreciative, and asked me to thank you and to assure you of his immense love and esteem.”

With affection in Christ I send you greetings, united with you in prayer.”

AUDIENCES

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father met in separate audiences with:

Cardinal Julian Herranz, Cardinal Jozef Tomko, and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, and

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 25 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, presented by Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, in accordance with canon 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

- appointed Msgr. Franciszek Kisiel as apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the Diocese of Vitebsk, Belarus. Msgr. Kisiel was previously vicar general of that diocese. He succeeds Bishop Wladislaw Blin, 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.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

BENEDICT XVI'S FINAL ANGELUS: THE LORD CALLS ME TO DEDICATE MYSELF MORE TO PRAYER, BUT I DO NOT ABANDON THE CHURCH

Vatican City, 24 February 2013 – More than 200,000 people attended the final Angelus of Benedict XVI's pontificate. Maxiscreens were placed in the areas around St. Peter's Square so that the faithful who could not enter the square would be able to see the Pope at the window of his study shortly before noon.

The Holy Father was received with much applause and, before beginning his short meditation, responded saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.” He then commented on the Gospel reading for this second Sunday of Lent, which recounts the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Luke the Evangelist,” he said, “places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. His is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a type of spiritual retreat that Jesus undergoes on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James, and John, the three disciples who are always present at the moments of the Master's divine manifestation. The Lord, who had foretold His death and resurrection shortly before, offers His disciples an anticipation of His glory. Again at the Transfiguration, as at His Baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father: 'This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.' The presence of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, is very important. The entire history of the Covenant is directed toward Him, the Christ, who brings about a new 'exodus', not to the promised land, as in the time of Moses, but to heaven. Peter's exclamation, 'Master, it is good that we are here', represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine comments: “Peter … on the mountain ... had Christ as the Bread of his soul. Should he then depart from there to return to struggles and sorrows, while up above he was full of the holy love for God that inspired him to saintly behaviour?”

Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. During Lent we learn to give the proper time to the prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, prayer is not an isolation from the world and its contradictions, as Peter would have wanted on Mt. Tabor. Instead, prayer leads to a path of action. 'The Christian life—I wrote in this year's Lenten Message—consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from Him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'”

I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to 'scale the mountain', to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church. If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. Let us call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary: May she help all of us to always follow the Lord Jesus, in prayer and in works of charity.”

After praying the Angelus, in his greetings in various languages, the Pope thanked everyone for expressing their closeness and for keeping him in their prayers in these days, saying: “We also give thanks to God for this sun we have today”, seeing that in Rome, contrary to the meteorological forecasts, it was not raining.

In addressing the Polish pilgrims he reaffirmed that on Mt. Tabor, Christ “revealed the splendour of His divinity to His disciples, giving them the certainty that, through suffering and the cross we can gain resurrection. We always have to perceive His presence, His glory, and His divinity in the life of the Church, in contemplation, and in everyday events.”

Finally, speaking to the many Italians from diverse dioceses throughout the peninsula, he bade them farewell saying: “Thank you, again. We will always be close in prayer.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

POPE CONCLUDES LENTEN RETREAT

Vatican City, 23 February 2013 (VIS) – At the conclusion of this year's spiritual exercises, Benedict XVI thanked the members of the Curia who had accompanied him in these days and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravisi, who led the retreat. The Pope referred to his preaching, the theme of which was “The Art of Believing, the Art of Praying” as “'beautiful' walks through the universe of faith, and the universe of the Psalms.”

I was reminded of the fact,” Benedict XVI said, “that the medieval theologians have translated the word 'logos' not only as 'verbum', but also as 'ars'. 'Verbum' and 'ars' are interchangeable. Only in the two together does the entire meaning of the word 'logos' appear for medieval theologians. The 'Logos' is not simply a mathematical reasoning, the 'Logos' has a heart. The 'Logos' is also love. Truth is beautiful. Truth and beauty go together. Beauty is the seal of truth.”

And yet you, starting from the Psalms and from our everyday experience, have also strongly emphasized that the 'very beautiful' of the sixth day—expressed by the creator—is always challenged in this world by evil, suffering, and corruption. It almost seems that evil wants to permanently mar creation, to contradict God and to make His truth and His beauty unrecognisable. In a world that is also so marked by evil, the 'Logos', eternal beauty and eternal 'ars', should appear as the 'caput cruentatum'. The incarnate Son, the incarnate 'Logos' is crowned with a crown of thorns and, nevertheless, just that way, in this suffering figure of the Son of God, we begin to see the most profound beauty of our Creator and Redeemer. In the silence of the 'dark night' we can still hear the Word. Believing is nothing other than, in the darkness of the world, touching the hand of God and thus, in silence, listening to the Word, seeing Love.”

Benedict XVI again thanked Cardinal Ravasi, expressing his wish to “take other 'walks' in this mysterious universe of the faith and to always be more capable of praying, proclaiming, and being witnesses to the truth, which is beauty and which is love.”

In conclusion, dear friends,” he finished, “I would like to thank all of you and not only for this week, but for these past eight years that you have carried with me—with great skill, affection, love and faith—the weight of the Petrine ministry. This gratitude remains with me and, even if this 'exterior', 'visible' communion—as Cardinal Ravasi said—is now ending, our spiritual closeness remains, the deep communion in prayer. We go forward with this certainty, certain of God's victory, certain of the truth of beauty and love.”

POPE MEETS WITH PRESIDENT NAPOLITANO

Vatican City, 23 February 2013 (VIS) – This morning at 11:30am, the Holy Father received the president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano accompanied by his wife, in a farewell audience. The meeting was particularly warm and cordial, given the mutual respect and familiarity of the two eminent men.

President Napolitano expressed, not only the gratitude of the Italian people for his closeness in so many crucial moments and for his elevated religious and moral teaching, but also their affection, which will continue to accompany him in the coming years.

The Pope, for his part, again expressed his gratitude to the president and his wife for their friendship and best wishes for the good of Italy, particularly in these days and at this moment of demanding decisions.

POPE'S LETTER TO CARDINAL GIANFRANCO RAVASI

Vatican City, 23 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI, in an apostolic letter, thanked Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, for his preaching during the Lenten retreat.

You have offered us,” the Holy Father writes, “a fascinating journey through the Psalms, following a double path: ascending and descending. The Psalms, in fact, are fundamentally oriented toward the face of God, toward the mystery in which the human mind gets lost, but the very Word of God allows us to see according to the different profiles in which God reveals himself. At the same time, in the light that shine from the face of God, praying the Psalms allows us to see the face of humanity, to recognize the truth of human joy and sorrow, human anguish and hope.”

In this way, … the Word of God, mediated by the ancient and ever-new 'ars orandi' of the Jewish people and the Church, has allowed us to renew the 'ars credendi': a need that is highlighted by the Year of Faith and is even more necessary in this particular moment that I, personally, and the Apostolic See are living. Peter's successor and his collaborators are called to give the Church and the world a clear testimony of faith, and this is only possible thanks to a deep and abiding immersion in dialogue with God. Many today are asking: Who will show us what is good? We can answer, those who reflect God's light and face with their lives.”

SECRETARIAT OF STATE COMMUNIQUE

Vatican City, 23 February 2013 (VIS) – The freedom of the College of Cardinals, which, by law, is responsible for providing for the election of the Roman Pontiff, has always been strongly defended by the Holy See as the guarantee of a choice based solely on deliberations directed toward the good of the Church.

Over the course of the centuries, Cardinals have had to face many forms of pressures, exerted upon individual electors or upon the College of Cardinals itself, that sought to influence their decisions, following a political or worldly logic.

If in the past the so-called powers, i.e., States, sought to influence the election of the Pope, today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion, which is often based on judgements that do not capture the typically spiritual aspect of this moment that the Church is living.

It is deplorable that, as we draw closer to the moment that the Conclave will begin and the Cardinal electors will be held—in conscience and before God—to freely express their choice, there is a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable, or even completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.

Now as never before, Catholics are focusing on what is essential: praying for Pope Benedict, praying that the Holy Spirit might enlighten the College of Cardinals, and praying for the future Pope, confident that the future of the barque of Peter is in God's hands.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 23 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Pietro Lagnese as bishop of Ischia (area 46, population 58,800, Catholics 55,400, priests 42, permanent deacons 10, religious 46), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Vitulazio, Campania, Italy in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1986. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and administrative roles, most recently as pastor of Santa Maria dell’Agnena in Vitulazio, Italy.

- appointed Bishop Dagoberto Sosa Arriaga as bishop of Tlapa (area 6,990, population 506,000, Catholics 473,000, priests 50, religious 77), Mexico. Bishop Dagoberto, titular of Gummi in Byzacena, was previously auxiliary of Puebla de los Angeles, Puebla, Mexico.

- appointed Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Archbishop Emilio Carlos Berlie Belaunzaran, of Yucatan, Mexico, as members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

- appointed as members of the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon: in the class of architects: Dr. Mario Botta, Dr. Maria Antonietta Crippa, and Dr. Lorenzo Bartolini Salimbeni; in the class of painters and filmmakers: Pedro Cano; in the class of sculptors: Giuseppe Ducrot, Mimmo Paladino, and Ugo Riva; and in the class of writers and poets: Laura Bosio, Luca Doninelli, and Vincenzo Cerami.

Friday, February 22, 2013

HOLY SEE AND REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES

Vatican City, 22 February 2013 (VIS) – The Holy See and the Republic of South Sudan, desirous of promoting bonds of mutual friendship, have decided by common accord to establish diplomatic relations at the level of Apostolic Nunciature on the part of the Holy See and of Embassy on the part of the Republic of South Sudan, according to information provided in a communique today.

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

Vatican City, 22 February 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Fr. Miguel Angel Olaverri Arroniz, S.D.B., as bishop of Pointe-Noire (area 13,500, population 2,384,000, Catholics 1,392,000, priests 76, religious 89), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Pamplona, Navarre, Spain in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1976. Since ordination he has served in several missionary, congregational, and pastoral roles in African dioceses, most recently in DR Congo as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Pointe-Noire, director of National Caritas, Migrant Pastoral Services, and the Justice and Peace Commission, and president of the national office for Social Communications.

- erected the Diocese of Gamboma with territory taken from the Diocese of Owando, Democratic Republic of the Congo, making it a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Brazzaville.

- appointed Fr. Urbain Ngassongo as the first bishop of the new Diocese of Gamboma (area 38,400, population 193,000, Catholics 110,000, priests 15, religious 14), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect, previously secretary of the Episcopal Conference of DR Congo, was born in Kinshasa, DR Congo in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1996. Since ordination he has served in several academic and pastoral roles, most recently as pastoral administrator of Balvano in Potenza, Italy.

- appointed Msgr. Ettore Balestrero as apostolic nuncio to Colombia, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop and assigning him the titular see of Vittoriana. The archbishop-elect, previously under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, was born in Genoa, Italy in 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1993. On entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1996, he has served as a papal legate in Korea, Mongolia, Holland, and in the section of Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

- appointed Archbishop Leon Kalenga Badikebele as apostolic nuncio to El Salvador. Archbishop Badikebele, titular of Magnetum, was previously apostolic nuncio to Ghana.

- appointed Msgr. Miroslaw Adamczyk as apostolic nuncio to Libera, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop and assigning him the titular see of Oticoli. The archbishop-elect was born in Gdansk, Poland in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1987. On entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1993, he has served in the apostolic nunciatures of Madagascar, India, Hungary, Belgium, South Africa, and Venezuela.

- appointed Msgr. Michael W. Banach as titular archbishop of Memfi, at the same time assigning him the office of apostolic nuncio. The archbishop-elect was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA and was ordained a priest in 1988. He previously served as Holy See permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA), to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development (ONUDI), and to the Office of the United Nations in Vienna, Austria.

- appointed Msgr Brian Udaigwe as titular archbishop of Suelli, at the same time assigning him the office of apostolic nuncio. The archbishop-elect was born in Tiko, Southwest Province, Cameroon in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1992. On entering the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1994, he has served as a papal legate in Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Haiti, Bulgaria, Thailand, and Great Britain.

- appointed Msgr. Antoine Camilleri as under-secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States. Msgr. Camilleri was previously a nunciature counsellor of the Secretariat of State.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

POPE'S FINAL ACTIVITIES, POSSIBILITY OF A MOTU PROPRIO, RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SOCIETY OF ST. PIUS X

Vatican City, 21 February 2013 (VIS) – This morning Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, presented information related to the Holy Father's calendar and clarified some issues that have been raised in the past few days.

At 9:00am on Saturday, 23 February, the Holy Father and the Roman Curia will conclude their spiritual exercises. Traditionally, the Pope addresses those present briefly. That same day, at 11:30am, he will meet with the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano. On Sunday, 24 February, Benedict XVI will pray the last Angelus of his pontificate with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. On Wednesday, 27 February, Benedict XVI's final general audience will take place in St. Peter's Square in the usual fashion, except for his re-entry to the Apostolic Palace, the path of which will wind around the square in the popemobile so that he may greet the many participants who are expected (to date, over 30,000 people have requested tickets). On 28 February, as announced in a notice from the Papal Household, he will personally greet all the cardinals present in Rome, that is, both those who are resident here and those who have come to the capitol in recent days. There will be no speech.

Regarding his departure from the Vatican, shortly before 5:00pm, the Pope will greet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., in the San Damaso Courtyard and, upon reaching the Vatican heliport, will bid farewell to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. On arrival at Castel Gandolfo he will be received by the president and secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City, the mayor of the town, and other civil authorities and will appear at the balcony of the Apostolic Palace to greet the faithful present.

On a different topic, the director of the Holy See Press Office has stated that the date of the conclave is established by the congregation of cardinals during the Sede vacante, independently of a possible Motu Proprio from the Holy Father that could specify some details of the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis".

Regarding the issue of the Society of St. Pius X, he reaffirmed that the date of 22 February to decide the issue is pure hypothesis and that Benedict XVI has decided to entrust the matter to the next Pope, therefore, a definition of relations with that society should not be expected by the end of this pontificate.

In conclusion, he confirmed that the Commission of Cardinals (Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi) set up by the Holy Father to prepare a report on the Holy See has made its results known exclusively to the Pope. The cardinals will not grant interviews or otherwise comment on the results.

NOTICE FROM THE PREFECTURE OF THE PAPAL HOUSEHOLD

Vatican City, 21 February 2013 (VIS) – On Thursday, 28 February, at 11:00am in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will meet and personally greet all of the cardinals who are present in Rome.
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