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Friday, September 23, 2005


VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Mohamed Sbihi, ambassador of Morocco, on his farewell visit.

 - Five prelates from the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Onesimo Cepeda Silva of Ecatepec.

    - Bishop Carlos Garfias Merlos of Netzahualcoyotl.

    - Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Juan Manuel Mancilla Sanchez.

    - Msgr. Ramon Martinez Flores, diocesan administrator of Tehuacan.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience employees of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo, accompanied by members of their families.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, yesterday participated in a conference on "Facilitating the Entry-into-Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)." The conference is being held in New York from September 21 to 23.

  Speaking in English, the Archbishop began his address by pointing out how, at the last CTBT meeting in 2003, "168 States had signed and 104 States had ratified the treaty. Today ... 176 States have signed and 125 have ratified. It is clear that the treaty is growing in impact. The growth of the CTBT shows that the great majority of States wants to move toward a nuclear weapons-free world."

  He continued: "The goal of the CTBT - to put an end forever to the testing of nuclear weapons - should be the aim of every State. ... Yet the movement to CTBT entry-into-force is impeded by the lack of universality. The Holy See adds its voice in appealing to the States whose ratification is necessary for the entry-into-force of the treaty."

  After mentioning that next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the CTBT, the permanent observer recalled how the 2003 conference had reaffirmed the importance of implementing the treaty in order to favor systematic efforts toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. "However, the persisting blockage impedes progress of the world community."

  "Nuclear deterrence, as an ongoing reality after the Cold War, becomes more and more untenable even if it were in the name of collective security. Indeed, it is threatening the existence of peoples in several parts of the world and it may end up being used as a convenient pretext in building up nuclear capacity."

  The response to these "growing dangers," he said, is to increase "our resolve to build a body of international law to sustain a nuclear weapons-free world. The CTBT, once in effect, would be a pillar of international law."

  He concluded: "Courage and vision are required to move forward. Although the century opened with a burst of global terrorism, this threat must not be allowed to dilute the precepts of international humanitarian law, which is founded on the key principles of limitation and proportionality."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received prelates from the Mexican metropolitan sees of Jalapa, Mexico, Puebla and Tlalnepantla, and from their suffragan dioceses, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope affirmed that the central region of Mexico "is the area where the ancient indigenous people settled, and where the Church's missionary activity began, later extending to the other areas." After highlighting that "multiple cultures and traditions" coexist in the cities, he also indicated how life there is complicated "for the various social classes to whom diocesan pastoral activity must be directed without discrimination, giving priority to those who find themselves in situations of great poverty, solitude and marginalization."

  "All these social groups," he continued, "present a continuous challenge for pastoral care, which must also be planned to accommodate those brothers and sisters who, in ever greater numbers, emigrate from the country to the city in search of a more dignified life."

  Benedict XVI said that bishops' pastoral ministry "must be directed to everyone, both to the faithful who participate actively in the life of the diocesan community, and to people who have distanced themselves and are searching for the meaning of their own lives." On this matter, he encouraged the prelates to "propose the Word of God" in "a form and a language appropriate to our time."

  "In modern society, which shows such visible signs of secularism, we must not fall prey to discouragement, or to a lack of enthusiasm in our pastoral projects. Remember that the Spirit will give you the strength necessary. Trust in Him Who is 'the Lord and Giver of life'."

  The Pope called on the bishops to dedicate their "greatest attention and energy to priests," encouraging them to remain close to each of their pastors, maintaining relationships of "priestly friendship with them in the manner of the Good Shepherd." He continued: "Help them to be men of assiduous prayer, both in contemplative silence ... and in the devout daily celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. ... A priest's prayer is a requirement of his pastoral ministry."

  He added: "Concern yourselves with the particular situation of each priest, encouraging them to proceed with joy and hope along the road of priestly sanctity, offering them the help they need and fomenting fraternity among them. May none of them lack the means necessary to live their sublime vocation and ministry. Take also particular care over the formation of seminarians and enthusiastically promote vocational pastoral care."

  The Holy Father affirmed that "faced with a changing and complex panorama such as the present one," they should not lose hope. "The planning and implementation of pastoral programs must reflect ... trust in the loving presence of God in the world. This will help lay Catholics to face growing secularism and to participate responsibly in temporal affairs, illuminated by the Church's Social Doctrine."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 23, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of Luis Felipe Bravo Mena, the new ambassador of Mexico to the Holy See. In greeting the diplomat, the Pope recalled that "since 1992, when diplomatic relations were established between Mexico and the Holy See, notable progress has been made, in a climate of mutual respect and collaboration that has benefited both parties. This encourages us to continue working, each with their own autonomy and respective competencies, bearing in mind the main objective: the integral promotion of people, who are children of the nation and, the great majority of them, children of the Catholic Church.

  "In this sense," the Pope went on, "a democratic lay State is what safeguards the religious practices of its citizens, without preference or denial. In fact, the Church believes that in modern democratic societies full religious freedom can and must exist. In a lay State, it is the citizens who, in exercising their freedom, give a particular religious meaning to social life. Furthermore, a modern State must serve and protect the freedom of its citizens and the religious practices they chose, without restriction or coercion."

  "Faced with growing laicism that seeks to reduce the religious life of citizens to the private sphere, with no social or public expression, the Church knows very well that the Christian message reinforces and illuminates the basic principles of all coexistence." In this context, the Pope pointed out how the institution of the family "needs special support, because in Mexico, as in other countries, its vitality and fundamental role are declining, not only because of cultural changes, but also because of the phenomenon of emigration, which brings serious difficulties of various kinds, especially for women, children and young people."

  Going on to mention the problem of drug trafficking, Benedict XVI recognized "the continuous efforts made up to now by the State and by various social organizations" to combat it. "It must not be forgotten that one of the roots of the problem is great economic inequality, which prevents the just development of a large part of the population. ... It is urgent for everyone to unite their efforts to eradicate this evil through the spread of authentic human values and the construction of a real culture of life. The Church offers her full collaboration in this field."

  The Pope also considered the question of the indigenous people of the country, "who for centuries have struggled to uphold their ancestral values and traditions." He recalled John Paul II's words on his trip to Mexico in 2002 to canonize the indigenous St. Juan Diego: "Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!"

  He added: "In fact, today more than ever it is necessary to favor their integration, while respecting their customs and their ways of organizing their communities; this enables them to develop their own culture and to open themselves, without losing their identity, to the challenges of a globalized world."

  Benedict XVI concluded his address by speaking of the forthcoming elections in 2006, "which represent an opportunity and a challenge to consolidate the significant progress made in democratizing the country. It is to be hoped that the electoral process contributes to a continued strengthening of the democratic order, firmly orienting it towards policies inspired by the common good and by the integral promotion of all citizens, with special care for the weakest and most unprotected. Mexican bishops referred to this in their message before the start of the electoral process. The title of that message, 'Strengthen democracy by rebuilding civic trust,' well indicates the needs of the present time."
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