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Thursday, June 16, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JUN 16, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Reverend Samuel Kobia, Methodist pastor and secretary general of the World Council of Churches, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

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

    - Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop of Antananarivo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jean-Paul Randriamanana.

    - Bishop Joseph Ignace Randrianasolo of Mahajanga.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences:

 - His Beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary, accompanied by Fr. Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 16, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received Reverend Samuel Kobia, secretary general of the World Council of Churches (WCC), accompanied by his wife and members of his delegation who this week have been on an official visit to Rome.

  The Pope recalled how relations between the Catholic Church and the WCC developed during Vatican Council II and that in 1965 this led "to the establishment of the Joint Working Group as an instrument of ongoing contact and cooperation. ... Next November an important consultation on the future of the Joint Working Group will be held to mark the fortieth anniversary of its founding. My hope and prayer is that its purpose and working methodology will be further clarified for the sake of ever more effective ecumenical understanding, cooperation and progress."

  The Pope went on: "In the very first days of my pontificate I stated that my 'primary task is the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers.' This requires ... 'concrete gestures which enter hearts and stir consciences… inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress'."

  The Holy Father expressed the hope that Rev. Tobia's visit to the Holy See "has been fruitful, strengthening the bonds of understanding and friendship between us. The commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible. I therefore wish to assure you that she is eager to continue cooperation with the World Council of Churches."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 16, 2005 (VIS) - Pope Benedict today received the Letters of Credence of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See, including the first ever representative from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Following his welcome address in French, the Pope presented each ambassador with a written message with references to the specific civil and religious situation in his country.

  The new ambassadors are: Elchin Oktyabar oglu Amirbayov of Azerbaijan; El Hadj Aboubacar Dione of Guinea; Antonio Ganado of Malta, Geoffrey Kenyon Ward of New Zealand; Joseph Bonesha of Rwanda, Jean-Francois Kammer of Switzerland and David Douglas Hamadziripi of Zimbabwe.

  The Pope said that, through the diplomats, he wished to address the peoples of their countries, telling them "I am close to them and pray for them. I invite them to commit themselves to fashion an ever more fraternal civilization, with renewed attention to everyone, especially the poorest people and those excluded from society."

  "In this sense," he went on, "our world is faced with many challenges that it must surmount so that man will always be more important than technology, and the just destiny of peoples is the main concern of those who have accepted to administer public affairs, not for themselves, but for the common good. Our heart cannot be in peace when we see our brothers suffer for lack of food, work, housing or other fundamental goods."

  To help our needy brothers and sisters, underscored Benedict XVI, "we have to face the first of these challenges: that of solidarity between generations, solidarity between countries and between continents, for a more equitable sharing among all men of the riches of the planet. It is one of the basic services that men of good will must give to mankind. The earth has, in fact, the capacity to feed all its inhabitants, on the condition that rich countries do not keep for themselves what belongs to everyone."

  The Church, said the Holy Father, will never cease to remind people that "all men must be attentive to a human fraternity made of concrete gestures, at the level of individuals as well as at the level of governments and international institutions. ... The Church will continue on all continents to come to the aid of populations, with the support of local communities and all men and women of good will, especially in the fields of education, health care and basic goods."
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