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Wednesday, September 7, 2005


VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2005 (VIS) - Today, following the general audience, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Blasco Francisco Collaco, apostolic nuncio to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and apostolic delegate to Botswana.

 - Archbishop Rino Passigato, apostolic nuncio to Peru.

 - Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Holy See representative to the Russian Federation.

 - Mary McAleese, president of Ireland, accompanied by her husband and an entourage.

 - Jacques Sylla, prime minister of Madagascar, accompanied by an entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2005 (VIS) - The fifteenth economic forum promoted by the Study Institute for Eastern Europe opens this evening in Krynica, Poland, on the theme "European Challenges: the model and frontiers of Europe."

  The forum is being attended by numerous intellectuals, scientists, businessmen, politicians, economists, representatives from the world of communications and from non-governmental organizations from various European, Asian and American countries.

  Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace," will address the opening greeting to participants, among them Lech Walesa, former prime minister of Poland, and Yuliya Tymoshenko, Mikulas Dzurinda and Marek Belka, prime ministers respectively of Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland. Cardinal Martino is also scheduled to participate in the ensuing debate on the theme: "Christian ethics and the spirit of post-industrial capitalism."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2005 (VIS) - The canticle contained in the first chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians, where Christ is presented as "the image of the invisible God," was the central theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis in his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 20,000 people.

  St. Paul, the Pope explained, applies the Greek term "eikon" (icon or image) both to Christ, "Who is the perfect icon of God," and to man, who nonetheless has "'exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man.' ... We must, therefore, continually model our image on that of the Son of God."

  In the canticle, Christ "is proclaimed as the 'first-born of all creation'," He is the One Who is before all things , the One in Whom "all things hold together, ... the mediator, ... the final destination toward which creation converges."

  St. Paul, the Pope went on, then "passes from the world of the creation to that of history. Christ is 'the head of the body, of the Church,' and He is so through His incarnation. In fact, He entered the human community to support it and form it into a 'body,' in other words into a harmonious and fruitful unity. The consistency and growth of humanity have their root in Christ, the vital pivot, the 'beginning'."

  The canticle closes by celebrating the "'fullness' ... that Christ possesses as a gift of love from God. This is the fullness of the divinity which irradiates both in the universe and in humanity, becoming a source of peace, of unity, and of perfect harmony. This 'reconciliation,' and 'pacification' is achieved through 'the blood of His cross,' by which we are justified and sanctified."

  The Holy Father concluded: "In spilling His blood and giving Himself, Christ spread peace which, in biblical language, is a blend of messianic goodness and salvific plenitude extended to all creation. The canticle closes, then, with a luminous horizon of reconciliation, unity, harmony and peace, over which the figure of its Architect, Christ, solemnly rises."

  After the audience, Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in various languages and soon afterwards returned by helicopter to his summer residence in the apostolic palace of Castelgandolfo.
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