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Friday, April 29, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 29, 2005 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Alessandro Assolari S.M.M., emeritus of Mangochi, Malawi, on April 13 at the age of 76.

 - Bishop Edward Dennis Head of Buffalo, U.S.A., on March 29 at the age of 85.

 - Bishop Joakim Herbut of Skopje, Macedonia, on April 15 at the age of 77.

 - Bishop Vicente Salgado y Garrucho, emeritus of Romblon, the Philippines, on April 9 at the age of 68.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 29, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

 - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 29, 2005 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. on May 6 in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, thirty-one new recruits will be sworn in as members of the Pontifical Swiss Guards in the presence of members of the Roman Curia, diplomatic representatives and civil and religious authorities from Switzerland.   Twenty-five will take their oath in German, four in French, one in Italian and one in Romansch. From the commandant to the newest halberdier of the 110-man corps, all Swiss Guards are in full dress uniform on this day.

   The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependant on the Holy See, whose main duties were to guard the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces. 

  The day will start at 7:30 a.m. with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the Swiss Guards and their family members and friends. At 9 a.m., Archbishop Leonardo Sandri will confer military decorations on members of the corps, and the commander of the guards will place a laurel wreath at the monument that honors the fallen members of the corps. May 6, in fact, is the date chosen for the swearing-in ceremony of the new guards because on that date in 1527, 147 members of the 189-member Swiss Guards lost their lives during the Sack of Rome when they fell in battle, protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V.

  The oath is read by the Swiss Guard chaplain: "I swear to faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me."

  Each recruit is then called by name and, in his native tongue, confirms the oath. The patron saints of the Pontifical Swiss Guards are St. Martin, St. Sebastian and St. Niklaus von Flue, "defender of the peace and father of  the Country."

  To become a guard, one must be a Swiss Catholic male under the age of 30, unmarried, over 174 cm (5' 8") in height and with a professional diploma or high school degree. The candidate must have attended Swiss military school. Guards live inside Vatican City. The minimum term of service is two years.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 29, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration at midday today:

  "I can confirm that the Holy Father Benedict XVI will travel to Bari, Italy, on the morning of May 29, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, for the closing of the 24th National Eucharistic Congress."

Thursday, April 28, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 28, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

 - Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus of the College of Cardinals.

 - Archbishop Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City and president of the Fabric of St. Peter's.

 - Five members of the presidency of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM):

    - Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, president.

    - Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, Mexico, first vice president.

    - Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Vitoria de Conquista, Brazil, second vice president.

    - Archbishop Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogata, Colombia, treasurer.

    - Bishop Andres Stanovnik O.F.M. Cap., of Reconquista, Argentina, secretary general.
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THE HOLY SEE PERMANENT OBSERVER TO UNESCO, Msgr. Francesco Follo spoke yesterday in Paris, France, on the project for a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions, during the plenary assembly of the executive council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "The international community," said Msgr. Follo, "must recognize cultural assets of religious interest as being an integral part of the cultural and artistic heritage of the entire world, not only in their aesthetic aspects, but also as specific historical expressions of the witness of faith and of spiritual values."

FROM APRIL 18 TO 25 IN BANGKOK, THAILAND, the 11th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held. During his address to the congress on April 25, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to Thailand, made reference to some themes associated with crime prevention and criminal justice that are of particular concern to the Holy See: trafficking in human beings, the sale and possession of firearms, corruption, crimes in post conflict situations, and the effective implementation of U.N. rules concerning the just treatment of prisoners and minors.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2005 (VIS) - In his first general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, the Pope again gave thanks to God for having elected him as Peter's successor, and explained why he chose the name of Benedict.

  The Holy Father spoke of the feelings he was experiencing at the beginning of his ministry: "awe and gratitude to God, Who surprised me more than anyone in calling me to succeed the Apostle Peter; and interior trepidation before the greatness of the task and the responsibilities which have been entrusted to me. However, I draw serenity and joy from the certainty of God's help, that of His most Holy Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the patron saints. I also feel supported by the spiritual closeness of all the people of God whom, as I repeated last Sunday, I continue to ask to accompany me with persistent prayer."

  "Resuming the Wednesday general audiences," he went on, "I wish to speak of the name I chose on becoming bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal Church. I chose to call myself Benedict XVI ideally as a link to the venerated Pontiff, Benedict XV, who guided the Church through the turbulent times of the First World War. He was a true and courageous prophet of peace who struggled strenuously and bravely, first to avoid the drama of war and then to limit its terrible consequences. In his footsteps I place my ministry, in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is above all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to be invoked, safeguarded and constructed, day after day and with everyone's contribution.

  "The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization."

  The Pope appealed to St. Benedict for help "to hold firm Christ's central position in our lives. May he always be first in our thoughts and in all our activities!"

  Before concluding, Benedict XVI announced that, just as at the beginning of his pontificate John Paul II had continued the reflections on Christian virtues begun by Pope John Paul I, in coming weekly audiences he would resume "the comments prepared by John Paul II on the second part of the Psalms and Canticles, which are part of Vespers. From next Wednesday, I will begin precisely from where his catechesis was interrupted after the general audience of January 26."

  The Holy Father read out brief summaries of his catechesis, which he had delivered in Italian, in various other languages: English, French, Spanish and German. He then gave brief greetings to various groups in Croatian, Slovenian and Polish and concluded by addressing the 1,000 faithful from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, Italy, who were accompanied by Archbishop Riccardo Fontana.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon.

 - Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, archbishop emeritus of Seoul, Korea.

 - Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara S.D.B., president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

  Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict XVI made his first trip outside the Vatican when he visited the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls in southern Rome in order to demonstrate the Church of Rome's inseparable bond with the Apostle to the Gentiles. Thirty-five cardinals and representatives from other Christian confessions were present for the ceremony.
  The Pope greeted and blessed the thousands of people who filled the basilica, pausing to kiss a number of children.

  At the beginning of the ceremony, the Holy Father addressed those present using the words of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans (1: 1-6, 8-9, 11-12, 14-15). Then, after venerating the tomb of the Apostle, he delivered the homily.

  Benedict XVI affirmed that his visit represented "a much longed-for pilgrimage, a gesture of faith that I undertake in my own name, but also in the name of the dear diocese of Rome, of which the Lord has made me bishop and pastor, and in that of the Universal Church which is entrusted to my pastoral care. A pilgrimage, so to speak, at the roots of the mission, the mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles, and in a particular way also to Paul, urging him to announce the Gospel to the people until he reached this city where, after having long preached the Kingdom of God, he gave with his own blood the final witness to the Lord, who had 'conquered' and sent him."

   After highlighting the fact that, as Peter's successor, he had come to the basilica "to revitalize in faith this 'grace of the apostolate'," about which the Apostle speaks, Benedict XVI recalled the example of John Paul II, "a missionary Pope, whose intense activity, as witnessed by more than 100 apostolic trips outside Italy, is truly inimitable. What impelled him to such dynamism if not that same love of Christ that transformed the existence of St Paul? May the Lord also nourish such a love in me, that I do not hold back before the urgent need of announcing the Gospel in the world today. The Church is missionary by nature, her primary task is evangelization."

  "At the beginning of the third millennium the Church feels with renewed vitality that Christ's missionary mandate is more imperative than ever," said the Pope. Recalling the motto used by St. Benedict in his Rule, exhorting his monks "to put nothing before the love of Christ," the Holy Father emphasized that "the passion for Christ brought (St. Paul) to preach the Gospel not only with words but with life itself, ever more conformed to his Lord. In the end St. Paul announced Christ through martyrdom, and with his blood - together with that of St. Peter and of so many other witnesses to the Gospel - he bathed this land and made fruitful the Church of Rome, which presides over the universal communion of charity."

  Pope Benedict XVI stressed that "the twentieth century was a time of martyrdom. This was much emphasized by Pope John Paul II who asked the Church 'to update the Martyrologium,' and who canonized and beatified numerous martyrs of modern history. If then, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, at the beginning of the third millennium we may expect a new flowering of the Church, especially where she suffered most for the faith and the witness of the Gospel."

  "We entrust this desire to the intercession of St. Paul. May he obtain for the Church of Rome - especially her new bishop and all the people of God - the joy of announcing and bearing witness to the Good News of Christ the Savior."
VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict XVI made his first trip outside the Vatican when he visited the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls in southern Rome in order to demonstrate the Church of Rome's inseparable bond with the Apostle to the Gentiles. Thirty-five cardinals and representatives from other Christian confessions were present for the ceremony.
  The Pope greeted and blessed the thousands of people who filled the basilica, pausing to kiss a number of children.

  At the beginning of the ceremony, the Holy Father addressed those present using the words of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans (1: 1-6, 8-9, 11-12, 14-15). Then, after venerating the tomb of the Apostle, he delivered the homily.

  Benedict XVI affirmed that his visit represented "a much longed-for pilgrimage, a gesture of faith that I undertake in my own name, but also in the name of the dear diocese of Rome, of which the Lord has made me bishop and pastor, and in that of the Universal Church which is entrusted to my pastoral care. A pilgrimage, so to speak, at the roots of the mission, the mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles, and in a particular way also to Paul, urging him to announce the Gospel to the people until he reached this city where, after having long preached the Kingdom of God, he gave with his own blood the final witness to the Lord, who had 'conquered' and sent him."

   After highlighting the fact that, as Peter's successor, he had come to the basilica "to revitalize in faith this 'grace of the apostolate'," about which the Apostle speaks, Benedict XVI recalled the example of John Paul II, "a missionary Pope, whose intense activity, as witnessed by more than 100 apostolic trips outside Italy, is truly inimitable. What impelled him to such dynamism if not that same love of Christ that transformed the existence of St Paul? May the Lord also nourish such a love in me, that I do not hold back before the urgent need of announcing the Gospel in the world today. The Church is missionary by nature, her primary task is evangelization."

  "At the beginning of the third millennium the Church feels with renewed vitality that Christ's missionary mandate is more imperative than ever," said the Pope. Recalling the motto used by St. Benedict in his Rule, exhorting his monks "to put nothing before the love of Christ," the Holy Father emphasized that "the passion for Christ brought (St. Paul) to preach the Gospel not only with words but with life itself, ever more conformed to his Lord. In the end St. Paul announced Christ through martyrdom, and with his blood - together with that of St. Peter and of so many other witnesses to the Gospel - he bathed this land and made fruitful the Church of Rome, which presides over the universal communion of charity."

  Pope Benedict XVI stressed that "the twentieth century was a time of martyrdom. This was much emphasized by Pope John Paul II who asked the Church 'to update the Martyrologium,' and who canonized and beatified numerous martyrs of modern history. If then, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, at the beginning of the third millennium we may expect a new flowering of the Church, especially where she suffered most for the faith and the witness of the Gospel."

  "We entrust this desire to the intercession of St. Paul. May he obtain for the Church of Rome - especially her new bishop and all the people of God - the joy of announcing and bearing witness to the Good News of Christ the Savior."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2005 (VIS) - A smiling Pope Benedict XVI entered the Paul VI Hall yesterday morning for a meeting with thousands of his fellow Germans, shaking hands with many of them as he walked down the center aisle before taking his seat. His brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, was also present at this audience, as were many German seminarians, priests, religious and lay faithful who shouted his name, first in Italian and then in German, and "Viva il Papa! Long Live the Pope."

  In both his prepared speech and off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope asked his countrymen, to forgive him for being late, stating he knew that punctuality was a hallmark of Germans but adding that he had, however, lived in Italy for 23 years and had perhaps "become Italianized." In a reference to his origins, he said that, although he is now the bishop of Rome, he remains "a Bavarian" at heart. He highlighted in his speech the ties that have linked Bavaria and Rome over the centuries.

    Benedict XVI then spoke of the conclave that elected him as the 264th Successor to Peter. "Without violating the oath of secrecy," he said, "I never thought I would be elected, nor did I do anything to promote this." When it became clear that he would be the new Pope, he said, he recalled a letter from a cardinal who reminded him that the theme of his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul came from the Lord's call to His disciples: "Follow me." And the then Cardinal Ratzinger had added, "when the Lord calls, we must answer."  "The ways of the Lord," said the Holy Father, "are not easy, but we are not made for an easy life and therefore I could only say 'yes'."

  He repeated what he said at the April 24 Mass to inaugurate his pontificate, namely that the Church "is not old but young." He added, to great applause, that he would indeed be in Cologne, Germany with young people in August for World Youth Day.

  At the end of his speech, Pope Benedict XVI asked his fellow countrymen to walk together with him, to pray for him and to have faith in him.
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Monday, April 25, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 25, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Confirmed members of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia in their current posts until the end of the five-year period for which they were appointed by the late lamented Pope John Paul II.

- Promoted Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to the order of bishops, assigning him the suburbicarian see of Velletri-Segni.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 25, 2005 (VIS) - Today in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received in audience the German pilgrims who yesterday attended the inaugural Mass of his pontificate.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 25, 2005 (VIS) - At 11 this morning in the Clementine Hall, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed members of Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as those of non-Christian religions who had come to Rome for the Mass yesterday to inaugurate his pontificate.

  In greeting the delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, he noted how "welcome" their presence was both yesterday in St. Peter's and in the days of mourning for and the funeral of Pope John Paul II. He told them their tribute at that time "went well beyond a simple act of ecclesial courtesy. ... Your participation in the mourning of the Catholic Church for his death showed how true and how great is the common passion for unity."

  "In greeting you, I would like to thank the Lord," said the Pope, "Who has blessed us with His mercy and has infused in us a sincere disposition to make His prayer - 'ut unum sint' - our prayer."

  Speaking French, Benedict XVI called this morning's meeting "significant as it permits the new bishop of Rome, pastor of the Catholic Church, to repeat to you, with simplicity, 'Duc in altum' (Put out into the deep)." He added that he wished to "reaffirm the irreversible commitment" undertaken at Vatican Council II, and since then, to stay "on the path towards full unity desired by Jesus for His disciples. ... Your presence, dear brothers in Christ, beyond what divides us and throws shadows over our full and visible communion, is a sign of sharing and support for the bishop of Rome, who can count on your support to follow" this path.

  "I turn now to you, dear friends from different religious traditions," said the Holy Father in English, "and I thank you sincerely for your presence at the solemn inauguration of my pontificate. ... I am particularly grateful for the presence in our midst of members of the Muslim community, and I express my appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and international level. I assure you that the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole.

  "The world in which we live is often marked by conflicts, violence and war, but it earnestly longs for peace, peace which is above all a gift from God, peace for which we must pray without ceasing. Yet peace is also a duty to which all peoples must be committed, especially those who profess to belong to religious traditions.  Our efforts to come together and foster dialogue are a valuable contribution to building peace on solid foundations."

  Benedict XVI concluded by inviting all present "to become together artisans of peace, of a reciprocal commitment to understanding, respect and love."
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Sunday, April 24, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2005 (VIS) - Given below is the text of the homily - published in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German - delivered by the Pope during the Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate:

  "Your Eminences, my dear brother bishops and priests, distinguished authorities and members of the diplomatic corps, dear brothers and sisters.

  During these days of great intensity, we have chanted the litany of the saints on three different occasions: at the funeral of our Holy Father John Paul II; as the cardinals entered the conclave; and again today, when we sang it with the response: 'Tu illum adiuva' - sustain the new Successor of Saint Peter. On each occasion, in a particular way, I found great consolation in listening to this prayerful chant. How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II - the Pope who for over twenty-six years had been our shepherd and guide on our journey through life! He crossed the threshold of the next life, entering into the mystery of God. But he did not take this step alone. Those who believe are never alone - neither in life nor in death. At that moment, we could call upon the Saints from every age - his friends, his brothers and sisters in the faith - knowing that they would form a living procession to accompany him into the next world, into the glory of God. We knew that his arrival was awaited. Now we know that he is among his own and is truly at home.

  "We were also consoled as we made our solemn entrance into conclave, to elect the one whom the Lord had chosen. How would we be able to discern his name? How could 115 bishops, from every culture and every country, discover the one on whom the Lord wished to confer the mission of binding and loosing? Once again, we knew that we were not alone, we knew that we were surrounded, led and guided by the friends of God. And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity. How can I do this? How will I be able to do it? All of you, my dear friends, have just invoked the entire host of saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God's dealings with mankind. In this way, I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me. Indeed, the communion of saints consists not only of the great men and women who went before us and whose names we know. All of us belong to the communion of saints, we who have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we who draw life from the gift of Christ's Body and Blood, through which He transforms us and makes us like Himself.

  "Yes, the Church is alive - this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the Pope's illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the Church is alive. And the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future. The Church is alive and we are seeing it: we are experiencing the joy that the Risen Lord promised His followers. The Church is alive - she is alive because Christ is alive, because He is truly risen. In the suffering that we saw on the Holy Father's face in those days of Easter, we contemplated the mystery of Christ's Passion and we touched His wounds. But throughout these days we have also been able, in a profound sense, to touch the Risen One. We have been able to experience the joy that He promised, after a brief period of darkness, as the fruit of His resurrection.

  "The Church is alive - with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here, my venerable brother cardinals and bishops, my dear priests, deacons, Church workers, catechists. I greet you, men and women religious, witnesses of the transfiguring presence of God. I greet you, members of the lay faithful, immersed in the great task of building up the Kingdom of God which spreads throughout the world, in every area of life. With great affection I also greet all those who have been reborn in the Sacrament of Baptism but are not yet in full communion with us; and you, my brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage, one rooted in God's irrevocable promises. Finally, like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike.

  "Dear friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my Message of Wednesday April 20, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He Himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history. Instead of putting forward a program, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry; both these symbols, moreover, reflect clearly what we heard proclaimed in today's readings.

  "The first symbol is the pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed on my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the bishop of this city, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders. God's yoke is God's will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom. To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found - this was Israel's joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God's will does not alienate us, it purifies us - even if this can be painful - and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only Him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history.

  "The symbolism of the pallium is even more concrete: the lamb's wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life. For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The human race - every one of us - is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. The Son of God will not let this happen; He cannot abandon humanity in so wretched a condition. He leaps to his feet and abandons the glory of heaven, in order to go in search of the sheep and pursue it, all the way to the Cross. He takes it upon His shoulders and carries our humanity; He carries us all - He is the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. What the pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another. Hence the pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd's mission, of which the second reading and the Gospel speak. The pastor must be inspired by Christ's holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.

  "The symbol of the lamb also has a deeper meaning. In the ancient Near East, it was customary for kings to style themselves shepherds of their people. This was an image of their power, a cynical image: to them their subjects were like sheep, which the shepherd could dispose of as he wished. When the shepherd of all humanity, the living God, Himself became a lamb, He stood on the side of the lambs, with those who are downtrodden and killed. This is how He reveals Himself to be the true shepherd: 'I am the Good Shepherd . . . I lay down my life for the sheep,' Jesus says of Himself (Jn 10:14ff). It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God's sign: He Himself is love. How often we wish that God would make show Himself stronger, that He would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need His patience. God, Who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified Him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

  "One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. 'Feed my sheep.' says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, He says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God's truth, of God's word, the nourishment of His presence, which He gives us in the blessed Sacrament. My dear friends - at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love His flock more and more - in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

  "The second symbol used in today's liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine ministry is the presentation of the fisherman's ring. Peter's call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: after a night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the Risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets once more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in; 153 large fish: 'and although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). This account, coming at the end of Jesus' earthly journey with His disciples, corresponds to an account found at the beginning: there too, the disciples had caught nothing the entire night; there too, Jesus had invited Simon once more to put out into the deep. And Simon, who was not yet called Peter, gave the wonderful reply: 'Master, at your word I will let down the nets.' And then came the conferral of his mission: 'Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men' (Lk 5:1-11). Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel - to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendor of God's light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God.

  "It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world.

  "Here I want to add something: both the image of the shepherd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. 'I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd' (Jn 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of His discourse on the Good Shepherd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement: 'although there were so many, the net was not torn' (Jn 21:11). Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no - we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of Your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity You have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with Him: yes, Lord, remember Your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd! Do not allow Your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity!

  "At this point, my mind goes back to October 22 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter's Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: 'Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!' The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let Him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, He would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But He would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and He gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundred-fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ - and you will find true life. Amen."


VATICAN CITY, APR 24, 2005 (VIS) - In St Peter's Square at 10 a.m. today, fifth Sunday of Easter, in the presence of a police estimate of half a million people, Pope Benedict XVI presided at the Eucharistic celebration for the official inauguration of his Petrine ministry. One hundred and fifty cardinals concelebrated. Among the bishops, priests and religious present was the Pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

  Many of the people who filled Via della Conciliazione, adjacent streets and other areas of Rome were able to follow the ceremony on giant screens.

  There were 141 delegations representing heads of State and government in attendance at the celebration. There were also various religious delegations comprising a total of 70 people, including representatives from Orthodox Churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches (the ancient Churches of the East), Churches and Christian communities of the West, and international Christian organizations.

  Before the start of his first papal Eucharistic liturgy, Benedict XVI descended to the tomb of St. Peter, below the papal altar or Altar of the "Confessio," with the patriarchs of the Oriental Churches and remained in prayer for a brief period. He then incensed the tomb, during which time two deacons took a coffer containing the pastoral pallium and, with the Ring of the Fisherman and the Book of Gospels, processed outside the basilica to place them on the altar.

  Pope Benedict XVI returned to the basilica and joined the procession of all the cardinal concelebrants. 

  At the end of the Liturgy of the Word and the proclamation of the Gospel in both Latin and Greek, the two deacons who read the Gospel, preceded by the thurible and accompanied by acolytes, returned to the lectern. Behind the altar, the two deacons who carried the pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman, took them from the altar and went to the chair of the Holy Father where they were joined by Cardinals Angelo Sodano, Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez. Cardinal Medina Estevez, the cardinal proto-deacon, then placed the Petrine pallium on the shoulders of Benedict XVI.

  The pallium is a very ancient episcopal symbol made of lamb's wool which indicates the authority of a bishop and his link with the See of Peter. The Petrine pallium is white and a mix of lamb's wool and sheep wool and is embroidered with five red crosses. It symbolizes both the Good Shepherd who places on His shoulders the lost sheep and the triple answer, "you know I love you," made by Peter to the Risen Jesus Who asked him to feed his lambs and his sheep.

  Cardinal Angel Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, then placed the Ring of the Fisherman on the Holy Father's right hand. The ring given to Benedict XVI today has the image-seal of St. Peter and the boat with the net and symbolizes the ring-seal that authenticates the faith and marks the duty entrusted to Peter to confirm his brothers. This is also called the Ring of the Fishermen because Peter was the fisherman Apostle who, having believed the word of Jesus, cast his net out from the boat for a miraculous catch of fish.

  After the Pope blessed the faithful, he returned to his seat where 12 people swore obedience: the three cardinals, a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a male and female religious, a married couple and two young people recently confirmed.

  Following this the Holy Father read his homily in Italian.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 23, 2005 (VIS) - In the first audience of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed several thousand members of the print and electronic media this morning in the Paul VI Hall and thanked them for their arduous work in recent weeks in covering the "important ecclesial events" that have taken place in Rome and "for the service you have given in these days to the Holy See and the Catholic Church." Greeted by enthusiastic applause, he spoke to the journalists, photographers and cameramen in Italian, English, French and German.

  "One can say," said the Holy Father, "that, thanks to your work, for many weeks the world's attention was fixed on the basilica, on St. Peter's Square and on the Apostolic Palace, where my predecessor, the unforgettable Pope John Paul II, serenely ended his earthly existence and where, in following days, in the Sistine Chapel, the Lord cardinals elected me as his successor."

  "Thanks to all of you, these historically important ecclesial events have had worldwide coverage. I know how hard you have worked, far away from your homes and families, for long hours and in sometimes difficult conditions. I am aware of the skill and dedication with which you have accomplished your demanding task. In my own name, and especially on behalf of Catholics living far from Rome, who were able to participate in these stirring moments for our faith as they were taking place, I thank you for all you have done. The possibilities opened up for us by modern means of social communication are indeed marvellous and extraordinary!"

  Benedict XVI noted that Vatican Council II dedicated its first document, "Inter mirifica," to the means of social communication, indicating the Church's awareness of the importance of the media and her desire to have a dialogue with it. "Without any doubt, John Paul II was the great artisan of this open and sincere dialogue, as he had, in the more than 26 years of his pontificate, constant and fruitful relations with you who are engaged in social communications."

  Stating, "I wish to pursue this fruitful dialogue," the Pope pointed out that John Paul II even dedicated one of his last documents to the media, "Rapid Progress" of January 24, 2005.

  The Holy Father then provoked laughter and applause when he said, off-the-cuff, that he wished to address those present "in my native language."

  "Because the instruments of social communication can render a positive service to the common good, there is need for a responsible contribution by individuals and by everyone as a whole," said Benedict XVI in German. "We cannot fail to underscore the need for clear references to the ethical responsibility of those who work in this sector, especially with regard to the sincere search for truth and the safeguarding of the centrality and the dignity of the person."
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Friday, April 22, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 22, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the cardinals currently in Rome, telling them that "to the intense emotions I experienced on the occasion of the death of my venerated predecessor John Paul II and then during the conclave, especially its outcome, can be added an intimate desire for silence and two complementary feelings: a deep and heartfelt gratitude and a sense of human impotence in the face of the exalted task that awaits me."

  "In the first place," he affirmed, "I feel the need to give thanks to God Who, despite my human frailty, elected me as Successor to the Apostle Peter and entrusted me with the task of supporting and guiding the Church, that in the world she may become a sacrament of unity for the entire human race."

  Benedict XVI emphasized how "truly emotional" the first meeting with the faithful two days ago in St Peter's Square had been. "May my most heartfelt thanks reach everyone: bishops, priests, male and female religious, young and old alike, for their spiritual solidarity."

  The Pope thanked all members of the College of Cardinals, especially Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano and the camerlengo Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, for "the active collaboration they gave to running the Church during the period of vacant see. With special affection, I would like to greet those cardinals who, for reasons of age or ill health, did not participate in the conclave."

  The Pope extended his personal thanks to the cardinals "for the trust you have placed in me by electing me as bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church. It was an act of faith that constitutes an encouragement to undertake this new mission with greater serenity, because I am convinced that I can count on both the indispensable help of God and your generous collaboration. I pray that your support for me may never fail!"

  The Holy Father recalled his predecessors, Blessed John XXIII, Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul I, and especially John Paul II, "whose witness over the last days supported us more than ever, and whose ever-living presence we continue to feel." He went on: "The light and the strength of the Risen Christ radiated in the Church by that kind of 'last Mass' that (John Paul II) celebrated in his agony, culminating in the 'Amen' of a life entirely offered, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for the salvation of the world."

  "For me, your spiritual closeness, your enlightened counsel and your effective cooperation will be a gift for which I will be ever grateful and a stimulus to carry out the mandate entrusted to me with total faithfulness and dedication."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 22, 2005 (VIS) - The Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced in a communique published yesterday afternoon that the solemn Eucharistic celebration to inaugurate the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will take place in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, April 24 at 10 a.m. All cardinals in Rome will concelebrate.

  "The Church in Rome and in various parts of the world," adds the communique, "is invited to give filial thanks and make a fervent supplication to God to obtain for the new Roman Pontiff, who will be given the Petrine pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman, copious graces for his ministry for the good of the entire Church."

  On Monday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m., the Holy Father will go to the tomb of the Apostle Paul in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls on the Via Ostiense "to express the inseparable bond of the Church of Rome with the Apostle of the People together with  the Fisherman from Galilee."

   Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, in a statement released to journalists yesterday afternoon announced that on Monday morning, April 25, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will receive in the Paul VI Hall the pilgrims who have come from Germany for the solemn inauguration of his pontificate.

  Journalists will be welcomed by the Pope on Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. in the Paul VI Hall.

  A change in program was also announced yesterday. Pope Benedict XVI will receive the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Holy See and the heads of delegations present for the Mass to inaugurate his pontificate following that celebration on Sunday, April 24, and not on Monday, April 25, as previously announced.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 21, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, titular of the suburbicarian church of Albano, as secretary of State.

 - Confirmed "donec aliter provideatur" the cardinals and archbishops who head dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

 - Confirmed Archbishop Leonardo Sandri as substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.

 - Confirmed Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo as secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

 - Confirmed the current secretaries of dicasteries of the Roman Curia for the current five-year period.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 21, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration to journalists:

  "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where, in the course of a very cordial meeting, he greeted the men and women who collaborated with him in that dicastery.

  "He then entered the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, removing the seals.

  "The Holy Father invited some of his collaborators in the Roman Curia to lunch in the 'Domus Sanctae Marthae,' deciding on some of his forthcoming engagements:

  "Friday morning: a meeting with all cardinals present in Rome.

  "Saturday morning: a meeting with journalists and with social communications workers.

  "In the afternoon, the Holy Father returned to the apartment in which he used to live in Piazza della Citta Leonina.

  "As previously announced, at 10 a.m. on Sunday April 24, Benedict XVI will preside at the Eucharist for the solemn inauguration of his pontificate.

  "On the morning of Monday April 25, he will receive official delegations who have arrived for the inaugural ceremony of his pontificate.

"The Holy Father has decided to remain for the moment in the apartment of the Domus Sanctae Marthae."
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Wednesday, April 20, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the complete text of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of this morning's Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the 264th successor to St. Peter in early evening yesterday.

  "Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense  within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.

  "Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'

  "The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.

  "We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.

  "How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?

  "Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God,' and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.

  "You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the 'rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit.

  "I undertake this special ministry, the 'Petrine' ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: 'In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!'

  "To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the 'Servus servorum Dei' (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this - must be closely united among themselves. This collegial communion, even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.

  "Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future.  With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.

  "I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.

  "In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot  but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.

  "The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.

  "In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.

  "I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.

  "Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

  "Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

  "Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

  "The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

  "In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.

  "The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.

  "With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.

  "From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.

  "I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.

  "I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.

  "'Mane nobiscum, Domine!' Stay with us Lord! This invocation, which forms the dominant theme of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, is the prayer that comes spontaneously from my heart as I turn to begin the ministry to which Christ has called me. Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.

  "In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, also intercede.

  "With these sentiments I impart to you venerated brother cardinals, to those participating in this ritual, and to all those following us by television and radio, a special and affectionate blessing."
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2005 (VIS) - This evening, immediately after the election of the new Pontiff, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who took the name of Benedict XVI, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement to journalists:

  "The conclave having ended, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to eat this evening with all the other cardinals in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he will also spend the night.

  "Tomorrow morning at 9, the Pope will preside the Eucharistic Celebration with the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel and will deliver the homily in Latin.

  "The Mass for the solemn inauguration of the pontificate will be celebrated at St. Peter's on Sunday, April 24 at 10 a.m."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the official biography of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:
  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951.
  His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's doctrine of the Church." Four years later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Munster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and vice president of the same university.
  He was already well known in 1962 when, at Vatican Council II at the age of 35, he became a consultor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, archbishop of Cologne. Among his numerous publications, a particular post belongs to the "Introduction to Christianity," a collection of university lessons on the profession of apostolic faith, published in 1968; and to "Dogma and Revelation" an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.
  In March 1977, Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on May 28, 1977 he was consecrated - the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of this large Bavarian diocese.
  Created and proclaimed cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of June 27, 1977, he assumed the titles of the suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni (April 5, 1993) and of the suburbicarian Church of Ostia (November 30, 2002).
  On November 25, 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and as president of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.
  He was relator of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).
  He was president delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).
  Elected vice dean of the College of Cardinals November 6, 1998, the Holy Father approved his election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.
  As President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father.
  He received an honoris causa degree in jurisprudence from the Free University of Maria Santissima Assunta on November 10. 1999.
  He became an honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 13, 2000.
  Curial Membership:
 - Secretariat of State (second section).
 - Oriental Churches, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, Catholic Education (congregations).
 - Christian Unity (council).
 - Latin America, Ecclesia Dei (commissions).
OP/BIO:BENEDICT XVI/...                        VIS 20050419 (590)


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as Supreme Pontiff, the 264th successor of Peter, and has chosen the name Benedict XVI.

  The cardinal proto-deacon made the solemn announcement to the people at 6:43 p.m. from the external loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica following the white smoke which occurred at 5:50 p.m.

  Following are the words of Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez:

      Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
    habemus Papam;
    Eminentissium ac Reverendissium Dominum,
    Dominum Josephum
    Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger
    Qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedictum XVI

    (I announce to you with great joy;
    We have a Pope;
    The most eminent and most reverend Lord
    Lord Joseph   
Cardinal of Holy Roman Church Ratzinger
    Who has taken the name Benedict XVI

  The conclave that led to the election of Benedict XVI began on Monday, April 18, 2005 in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with the "extra omnes" pronounced at 5:25 p.m. by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, following the taking of the oath by the 115 cardinal electors.

  The first black smoke took place at 8:04 p.m. the same day.

  On Tuesday, April 19, there was black smoke at 11:52 a.m..

  On Tuesday, April 19, there was white smoke at 5:50 p.m.

  At 6:48 p.m., the Holy Father Benedict XVI, preceded by the Cross, appeared on the external loggia to greet the people and to impart the Apostolic Blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and to the world).

  Prior to the blessing, the new Pontiff addressed the faithful with the following words:

  "Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  "After the great Pope John Paul II, the Lord Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act, even with inadequate instruments and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, trusting in His permanent help, as we go forward the Lord will help us, and His Mother, Mary Most Holy, is on our side Thank you."
OP/ELECTION BENEDICT XVI/...                    VIS 20050419 (380)


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2005 (VIS) - The just-published annual report on papal charity, prepared by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," announced that Pope John Paul's aid to the poor and suffering for 2004 amounted to $9,252,047. This included aid to victims of both the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the internal conflict in Sudan, as well as monies allocated for projects of two foundations established by the late pope: the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel and the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation.

  Cor Unum is the pontifical council charged with dispensing charity to the poor and needy, to victims of natural disasters and to projects approved by the two above-mentioned foundations. According to the 1988 Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus," this financial aid is distributed in the name of the Holy Father "to stimulate the witness to evangelical charity." Money is donated to Cor Unum for papal charity through the "spontaneous generosity of dioceses, religious institutes, parishes, schools and individual faithful."

  Relief sent to victims of the December tsunami totaled $460,000. Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, was sent by Pope John Paul as his special envoy to Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the two nations struck the hardest by the tsunami, from January 29 to February 4, 2005.

  In July 2004 the archbishop visited Darfur, Sudan as the Pope's envoy to express his closeness to the populations struck by the internal conflict in that country and to bring aid for the neediest in the amount of 100,000 euro. A month earlier he visited the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, hit hard by devastating floods.

  Aid provided by Cor Unum in 2004 for other calamities and urgent situations such as earthquakes, typhoons, floods, wars and refugee situations totaled $992,530. Financial assistance to developing nations for non-urgent matters in fields such as agriculture, education, health care, professional formation and home-building amounted to $2,024,532.

  The 2004 contribution to the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, established in 1984, amounted to $2,296,336 and was earmarked for 169 projects in 9 African countries.

  The Populorum Progressio Foundation, which the Pope instituted in 1992, distributed aid last year totaling $1,881,000 to 19 Latin American nations to be used for 231 projects for indigenous peoples, Afro-Americans and poor mestizo farmers.

  "With regard to the two Foundations," states the Cor Unum report, "it is important to underscore how Pope John Paul II, in establishing them, wished to give a permanent witness of his love for the populations of the Sahel (region of Africa) and of Latin America, calling on all local Churches, the faithful and men and women of good will to support this precious service aimed at the integral promotion of those peoples."
CON-CU/PAPAL CHARITY 2004/...                VIS 20050419 (480)


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2005 (VIS) - Black smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel at 11:49 this morning to signal that the 115 cardinal electors had failed to select a new Pope in the two ballots cast today.

  Cardinals are expected to re-enter the Sistine Chapel this afternoon at 4 to vote again.
CC/CONCLAVE/...                            VIS 20050419 (70)

Monday, April 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 18, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the list of 115 cardinals entering into conclave in their respective order of precedence (order of bishops, order of priests, order of deacons):


Ratzinger Card. Joseph
Sodano Card. Angelo
López Trujillo Card. Alfonso
Re Card. Giovanni Battista

Cardinal Patriarch of Oriental Rite
Daoud Card. Ignace Moussa I


Baum Card. William Wakefield
Ce Card. Marco
Macharski Card. Franciszek
Kitbunchu Card. Michael Michai
Danneels Card. Godfried
Williams Card. Thomas Stafford
Martini Card. Carlo Maria, S.J.
Lustiger Card. Jean-Marie
Glemp Card. Jozef
Meisner Card. Joachim
Arinze Card. Francis
Obando Bravo Card. Miguel, S.D.B.
Vidal Card. Ricardo J.
Poupard Card. Paul
Wetter Card. Friedrich
Simonis Card. Adrianus Johannes
Law Card. Bernard Francis
Biffi Card. Giacomo
Martinez Somalo Card. Eduardo
Falcao Freire Card. Jose
Giordano Card. Michele
Szoka Card. Edmund Casimir
Paskai Card. Laszlo, O.F.M.
Tumi Card. Christian Wiyghan
Etsou-Nzabi-Bamungwabi Card. Frederic, C.I.C.M.
Lopez Rodriguez Card. Nicolas De Jesus
Mahony Card. Roger Michael
Ruini Card. Camillo
Schwery Card. Henri
Sterzinsky Card. Georg Maximilian
Vlk Card. Miloslav
Shirayanagi Card. Peter Seiichi
Darmaatmadja Card. Julius Riyadi, S.J.
Ortega Y Alamino Card. Jaime Lucas
Wamala Card. Emmanuel
Keeler Card. William Henry
Turcotte Card. Jean-Claude
Carles Gordo Card. Ricardo Maria
Maida Card. Adam Joseph
Puljic Card. Vinko
Razafindratandra Card. Armand Gaetan
Sandoval Íniguez Card. Juan
De Giorgi Card. Salvatore
Rouco Varela Card. Antonio María
Ambrozic Card. Aloysius Matthew
Tettamanzi Card. Dionigi
Pengo Card. Polycarp
Schoenborn Card. Christoph, O.P.
Rivera Carrera Card. Norberto
George Card. Francis Eugene, O.M.I.
Jaworski Card. Marian
Pujats Card. Janis
Dias Card. Ivan
Agnelo Card. Geraldo Majella
Rubiano Saenz Card. Pedro
McCarrick Card. Theodore Edgar
Connell Card. Desmond
Backis Card. Audrys Juozas
Errazuriz Ossa Card. Francisco Javier
Terrazas Sandoval Card. Julio, C.Ss.R.
Napier Card. Wilfrid Fox, O.F.M.
Rodriguez Maradiaga Card. Oscar Andres, S.D.B.
Agre Card. Bernard
Cipriani Thorne Card. Juan Luis
Alvarez Martínez Card. Francisco
Hummes Card. Claudio, O.F.M.
Vithayathil Card. Varkey, C.Ss.R.
Bergoglio Card. Jorge Maria, S.J.
Da Cruz Policarpo Card. Jose
Poletto Card. Severino
Murphy-O'Connor Card. Cormac
Egan Card. Edward Michael
Husar Card. Lubomyr
Lehmann Card. Karl
Scola Card. Angelo
Okogie Card. Anthony Olubunmi
Panafieu Card. Bernard
Zubeir Wako Card. Gabriel
Amigo Vallejo Card. Carlos, O.F.M.
Rigali Card. Justin Francis
O'Brien Card. Keith Michael Patrick
Scheid Card. Eusébio Oscar, S.C.I.
Antonelli Card. Ennio
Bertone Card. Tarcisio, S.D.B.
Turkson Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah
Toppo Card. Telesphore Placidus
Pell Card. George
Bozanic Card. Josip
Pham Minh Man Card. Jean-Baptiste
Quezada Toruno Card. Rodolfo
Barbarin Card. Philippe
Erdo Card. Peter
Ouellet Card. Marc, P.S.S.


Medina Estevez Card. Jorge Arturo
Castrillon Hoyos Card. Darío
Stafford Card. James Francis
Cacciavillan Card. Agostino
Sebastiani Card. Sergio
Grocholewski Card. Zenon
Saraiva Martins Card. Jose, C.M.F.
Sepe Card. Crescenzio
Pompedda Card. Mario Francesco
Kasper Card. Walter
Tauran Card. Jean-Louis
Martino Card. Renato Raffaele
Marchisano Card. Francesco
Herranz Card. Julián
Lozano Barragan Card. Javier
Hamao Card. Stephen Fumio
Nicora Card. Attilio
CC/CONCLAVE/...                            VIS 20050418 (500)


VATICAN CITY, APR 18, 2005 (VIS) - The 115 cardinal electors from 52 countries of 5 continents entered into conclave in the Sistine Chapel this afternoon.

  At 4:30 p.m. the cardinals gathered in the Hall of Blessings, which is located above the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica, and overlooks the square. It is from the central loggia or balcony of this hall that the new pontiff appears for the first time to the faithful.

 Preceded by the Cross and followed by the Book of Gospels, the cardinals processed to the nearby Sistine Chapel as the Litany of Saints was sung. Once in the chapel, after the singing of "Veni Creator," they pronounced their oath as established by the "Ordo Rituum Conclavis."

  When the master of pontifical liturgical ceremonies declared "extra omnes," all those not involved in the conclave left the chapel except the cardinal electors and Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, 85 who, when he finished delivering the second meditation, also left the chapel.

  Black smoke, indicating that the cardinals voted but that no Pope was elected, rose from the Sistine Chapel chimney at 8:04 p.m.
CC/CONCLAVE/...                            VIS 20050418 (140)


VATICAN CITY, APR 18, 2005 (VIS) - This afternoon, 115 cardinals from all over the world will come together in the Sistine Chapel to begin the process of electing a new pope.

  The interior of the Sistine Chapel has been prepared with 12 tables, six on each side; the lectern with the Gospels upon which the cardinals will take their oath; the table holding the urns in which the ballots will be collected, and the stove used to burn them with the chimney from which the smoke signals will appear.

  The stove in which the ballots will be burned and from which the white or black smoke signals will appear, was first used in the conclave of 1939, when Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected as Pope Pius XII. Made of iron, it is one meter high and has a diameter of 45 centimeters. It has two doors, a lower one behind which the fire is lit, and an upper one to introduce the documents to be burnt.

  The dates (year and month) of the conclaves at which the stove has been used are stamped into the top cover: 1939/III election of Pius XII, 1958/X election of John XXIII, 1963/VI election of Paul VI, 1978/VIII election of John Paul I, 1978/X election of John Paul II.

  The black smoke signals, meaning that no Pope has yet been elected, are obtained simply by burning the ballots; the white smoke, meaning a Pope has been elected, results from burning the ballots and damp straw. For the first time, an electronically-controlled auxiliary stove will be used to create extra smoke and increase the visibility of the signals.
.../STOVE CONCLAVE/...                            VIS 20050418 (290)


VATICAN CITY, APR 18, 2005 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided at the Mass "pro eligendo Summo Pontifice," concelebrated by all 115 cardinal electors.

  Cardinal non-electors, bishops, priests, male and female religious, and lay people present in Rome participated in the Eucharistic celebration.

  In his homily, Cardinal Ratzinger commented on the first reading from the Book of  the prophet Isaiah, in which the Messiah, speaking of Himself, said He was sent to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God." The cardinal affirmed that "we are called to promulgate - not only with words but with life and with the effective signs of the Sacraments - the year of the Lord's favor." With reference to "the day of vengeance of our God," the cardinal affirmed that "the Lord offered an authentic commentary on these words with His death on the Cross."

  "The mercy of Christ," he went on, "is not cut-rate grace, it does not presuppose that evil is something banal. Jesus bears all the weight of evil, all its destructive force, in His body and upon His soul. ... The day of vengeance and the year of the Lord's favor come together in the Paschal mystery, in Christ Who died and rose again. This is the vengeance of God: He Himself, in the person of His Son, suffers for us."

  In the second reading, taken from the Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul mentions "the measure of the fullness of Christ" to which "we are called in order to truly become adults in the faith. We must not remain children in the faith, without coming of age. What does it mean to be children in faith? St. Paul says that it means being 'tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.' A very pertinent description!"

   "How many winds of doctrine have we known over the last few decades! How many ideological currents! How many schools of thought! The little ship bearing the thoughts of many Christians has frequently been shaken by these waves, thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so on. Every day new sects arise, and St. Paul's words concerning the deception of men and the cunning that leads into error come true. Having a clear faith, according to the Creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, in other words allowing oneself to be 'tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine,' appears as the only attitude appropriate to modern times, a dictatorship of relativism is being formed, one that recognizes nothing as definitive and that has as its measure only the self and its desires.

  "We, nonetheless, do have another measure: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An 'adult' faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelties; an adult and mature faith is profoundly rooted in friendship with Christ. ... We must bring this adult faith to maturity, to this faith we must lead Christ's flock. And it is this faith - faith alone - that creates unity and is realized in charity. ... In the measure in which we approach Christ, so truth and charity come together in our lives too."

  The dean of the College of Cardinals then commented on the Gospel of St John, in which the Lord says: "No longer do I call you servants, ... but I have called you friends." Christ "grants us His trust" and "entrusts His body, the Church, to us. He entrusts His truth to our weak minds and our weak hands. ... He has made us His friends. How do we respond?"

  After recalling the gospel passage where Jesus says "I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide," Cardinal Ratzinger said: "We must feel animated by holy restlessness; restlessness to bring everyone the gift of faith, of friendship with Christ. ... We received the faith in order to give it to others. We are priests to serve others, and we must bear a fruit that abides."

  "The only thing that remains forever is the human soul, man created by God for eternity. The fruit that remains is, then, what we have sown in human souls, love and knowledge; the gesture capable of touching the heart; the word that opens the soul to the joy of the Lord. Let us go then and pray to the Lord that He help us bear fruit, a fruit that abides."

  Cardinal Ratzinger concluded: "Let us now, above all, insistently pray to the Lord that, after the great gift of Pope John Paul II, He again gives us a pastor according to the dictates of His heart, a pastor to lead us to knowledge of Christ, to His love, to true joy."
.../MASS ELECTION POPE/RATZINGER                    VIS 20050418 (860)

Saturday, April 16, 2005


VATICAN CITY, APR 16, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls held a briefing this morning for accredited journalists on the protocol and procedures involved in the forthcoming conclave:

  "Next Monday April 18, 115 cardinals from 52 countries representing five continents will begin the first conclave of the third millennium to elect the 264th successor of St Peter: in other words the 265th Pope in the history of the Catholic Church.

  "The cardinals will move into the 'Domus Sanctae Marthae' tomorrow afternoon, Sunday April 17. They will all meet together for dinner.

  "As previously announced, the Mass 'for the election of the Supreme Pontiff' will be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday morning.

  "At 4.30 p.m. on Monday, the procession of cardinal electors will leave the Hall of Blessings for the Sistine Chapel. This ritual will be transmitted live on television.

  "Once in the Sistine Chapel, all the cardinal electors will swear the oath. The cardinal dean will read the formula of the oath, after which each cardinal, stating his name and placing his hand on the Gospel, will pronounce the words: 'I promise, pledge and swear.'

  "Over these days, there has been frequent talk of the bond of secrecy concerning the election of the Pope. However, I would like to reiterate that this is just part of the oath. First of all, an oath is made to observe the prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici gregis;' then another oath is made that - and I quote - 'whichever of us by divine disposition is elected Roman Pontiff will commit himself faithfully to carrying out the munus Petrinum of Pastor of the Universal Church.'

  "After the oath, the master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff pronounces the 'extra omnes,' and all those who do not participate in the conclave leave the Sistine Chapel. Only the master of Liturgical Celebrations and Cardinal Tomas Spidlik remain for the meditation: once that has finished they too leave the Sistine Chapel.

  "During the conclave, the cardinals will have the following timetable:

  "At 7.30 a.m., the celebration or concelebration of Mass will take place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. By 9 a.m., they will be in the Sistine Chapel. There they will recite the Lauds of the Liturgy of the Hours and, immediately afterwards, voting will take place according to the prescribed ritual (two votes in the morning, and two votes in the afternoon). In the afternoon, voting will begin at 4 p.m. At the end of the second vote will be Vespers.

  "After the two votes of the morning and the two of the afternoon respectively, the ballots and any notes the cardinals have made will be burnt in a stove located inside the Sistine Chapel. Purely as an indication then, the smoke signals could appear at around 12 noon and at about 7 p.m. (unless the new Pope is elected either in the first vote of the morning or the first vote of the afternoon, in which case the smoke signal will be earlier). In any case it is expected that, along with the white smoke, the bells of St. Peter's will sound to mark a successful election.

  "You all know well the indications of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici gregis' as far as the voting goes. The valid quorum for electing the Pope is initially two thirds. After three days of voting without an election, there will be a day at the most dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting will resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority will decide how to proceed, that is, for either a vote by the absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This will happen only in the event that the cardinals arrive at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.

  "As far as the first vote on Monday, the cardinals will decide whether or not to vote after they have entered into conclave on Monday afternoon, April 18
  "The location for the conclave is the Domus Sanctae Marthae and the Sistine Chapel.

  "The route, along the street behind the Vatican Basilica, can be followed by the cardinals on foot or, if some prefer, by bus. Naturally this path will be clear of people. Access to the San Damaso courtyard will be sealed.

  "These days tourists will not have access to either the dome of St. Peter's or the Vatican Gardens.

  "It will, however, be possible for pilgrims to visit the tomb of John Paul II during the hours the Vatican Grottoes are open

  "The General Congregations of the cardinals conclude today. At the end of these encounters I wish to add two brief notes. The climate of these congregations has been one of great familiarity. This has been perhaps an expression of the great responsibility that all the cardinals feel at this time. That allowed them to find great consensus on the general themes faced in the discussions.

  "I can also confirm that in no congregation were names ever brought up."

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