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Monday, October 3, 2005


VATICAN CITY, OCT 1, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

 - Benjamin Mkapa, president of the Republic of Tanzania, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

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

    - Bishop Jose Luis Amezcua Melgoza of Colima.

    - Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon.

    - Bishop Benjamin Castillo Plascencia of Tabasco.

    - Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cardenas L.C., prelate of Cancun-Chetumal, accompanied by Bishop Jorge Bernal Vargas L.C., prelate emeritus of the same territorial prelature.

 - Archbishop Michael A. Blume S.V.D., apostolic nuncio to Benin and Togo, accompanied by members of his family.

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 1, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a message sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, in the name of the Pope, to participants in the plenary assembly of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), which closes on October 2.

  In the message, Cardinal Sodano communicates the Holy Father's reflections on the three principle themes examined during the plenary.

  Referring to the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II, Benedict XVI calls for "reflection on the topical importance of the lessons of the Council in the current situation of the Church and society in Europe." After recalling the reference made by Servant of God Paul VI to the cultural context in which the Council was celebrated, "characterized by secularism, laicism and irrationalism," the Pope asks, "how can we not think of Europe today?"

  Despite the fact that "these negative tendencies have spread through the old continent," it must be noted that the "beneficial influence of the Council, ... over the course of the years, has preserved humanity and the Church herself from a crisis that, at the end of the second millennium, could have been much worse. Now it is up to us to take up and transmit the conciliar legacy in order not to lose the guidance the Lord has given His Church."

  As for the second theme considered by the CCEE plenary - evangelization and faith in Europe - the Holy Father notes that "over the last few decades there has been a growing awareness that the task of evangelization is becoming ever more indispensable for Europe." Furthermore, he adds, "religious pluralism has been growing in Europe, with a strong increase in the presence of Muslims. In this context, it is even more urgently important for Christians to become aware of the fact that the Gospel cannot be witheld. Then there is Europe's responsibility to evangelize the world."

  The papal message also refers to the plenary's third theme, that of evangelization and dialogue through catechesis, school, university, and the communications media. After highlighting "the legacy of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, who knew how to unite, in an extraordinary fashion, missionary drive and tireless openness to dialogue," it concludes with an exhortation "not to be afraid to face current pastoral challenges."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 1, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience representatives of the Society of St. Paul, a congregation founded in 1914 by the Italian Blessed Giacomo Alberione. The society's members, present in more than 30 countries, dedicate themselves to spreading the Christian message using modern communications technology. Among other publications, the Society of St. Paul owns the Italian weekly magazine "Famiglia Cristiana" and is responsible for the St. Paul Publishing House. It also has a number of bookshops, both in Italy and other countries.

  The Pope began his brief address by thanking the Paulines for "the service they give to propagating the Gospel via the modern media of social communications, following the example and the teaching of the founder."

  He went on: "Yours is an avant-garde apostolate in a vast and complex field, one that offers many opportunities, and at the same time entails no small number of problems; a multi-faceted activity that calls for preparation, specific competencies and constant aggiornamento, if we wish to respond effectively to the challenges of the modern world."

  This must be accompanied, stressed the Holy Father, by "a firm personal adherence to the Divine Master," such as that of Blessed Giacomo Alberione who always asked his disciples "to cultivate a robust interior life, one rich in equilibrium and discernment," presenting the example of St. Paul  who "knew how to adapt his announcement to the cultural context in which he found himself but, at the same time, did not fail to present with courage and frankness, the absolute novelty that is Christ." On this subject, Benedict XVI observed how the recent Pauline general chapter had again emphasized Don Alberione's exhortation to "be St. Paul today."

 The Holy Father then recalled that "since Vatican Council II, there has been a growing awareness in the Church of the great value and importance that the communications media have in spreading the Gospel and in forming consciences."

  He concluded: "I therefore call on you to renew that commitment, which is your own, to be an educational presence at the service of the Christian community, that it ... may be able to develop an ever more effective capacity to communicate, in the image of the Lord Jesus in Whom communication between God and humanity reached perfection."


VATICAN CITY, OCT 3, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, presented the work program for the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, of which he is the relator general.

  Also participating in the press conference were Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Imus, Philippines, and Archbishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo O.M.I., coadjutor of Port-de-Paix, Haiti.

  After illustrating the main points contained in the address he delivered this morning at the First General Congregation, Cardinal Scola explained that his hope for this Synod is, first of all, "to recover the primacy of the rite of celebration of the Eucharist," the foundation of the Church. "We cannot," he said, "reduce the Eucharist to an act of community piety. 'Rite' is the most comprehensive word to describe how the Trinity, in Christ Jesus, comes out to meet my own individuality. The Eucharist is not a right or a possession, it is a gift."

  The patriarch of Venice also briefly outlined some of the central themes contained in the Synod's "Instrumentum laboris," explaining that the subject arousing most interest is that of "maintaining the centrality of the Eucharist in all its plenitude," although other important themes include a more profound study of the relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood, the question of "viri probati" (the priestly ordination of married men), and the relationship between the Eucharist and celibacy.

  Next to speak was Archbishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo O.M.I., who reaffirmed that "the Eucharist is the Church and the Church is the Eucharist," expressing the hope that the Synod would favor ecumenism. "We ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of unity," he said.

  Finally, Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle explained the situation in his country, Philippines, where "we cannot speak of a lack of priests, because there are numerous vocations and the seminaries are full." However, Catholic communities are so many and so large that there are still not enough priests for everyone to be able to enjoy a "full" Sunday Eucharist.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 3, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Synod Hall, the first General Congregation of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held. The meeting was presided by the Pope, and 241 Synod Fathers were present.

  "One of the functions of collegiality," said Benedict XVI, addressing some words of greeting to the assembled prelates, "is to help us to know our own shortcomings, which we do not want to see. It is never easy to contemplate one's own defects, and others notice them better than we do."

  In this context, he went on, "fraternal correction helps us become more open, .... (it helps) each person find his own truth, his own integrity as an instrument of God. All this calls for humility, not placing ourselves above others, but helping one another."

  In this way "we can help ourselves with a great act of love, an act of true collegial affection. When someone is desperate, he cannot see how to keep going, he needs consolation, someone to be with him, to give him courage, to play the role of the consoling Holy Spirit."

  "This is an invitation for us to carry out the work of the Holy Spirit Paraclete," said Benedict XVI, asking "how can we do so if we do not share together the faith that was not invented by any one of us, but is the faith of the Church?"

  "The faith is the common foundation upon which we stand and work." The words of St. Paul contain "an invitation to always remain upon this foundation that precedes us, to maintain this shared faith. ... Each person must experience the faith in his or her own uniqueness, but always knowing that this faith precedes us."

  The Holy Father concluded his greetings by encouraging the participants in the Synod to be "instruments of Christ," and to "enter into the thoughts and feelings of the Lord."

  For his part, Cardinal Francis Arinze, president delegate on duty, also pronounced some brief words at the beginning of this morning's session. "We come," he said, "to reflect on a topic that touches the heartbeat of the life of the Church. In fact, in the Most Holy Eucharist, as Vatican Council II says, 'is contained the entire spiritual wealth of the Church, namely Christ Himself, our Easter.' The Eucharist 'stands at the center of the Church's life'."

   Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, then reported on the activities of the council of the secretariat general in the period since the last Synod assembly, highlighting that it was John Paul II who began preparations for the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly, and Benedict XVI who would conclude them.

  Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, relator general of the Synod, then read out the "Relatio ante disceptationem," (report before the discussion) of which some extracts are given below:

  "After referring to Eucharistic wonder, the Introduction ('Eucharist: the freedom of God encounters the freedom of man') emphasizes the connection of the Eucharist with evangelization and with the 'ratio sacramentalis' of the Revelation. In chapter one ('The Novum of Christian Worship') I will try to highlight the new aspects of Christian worship. Chapter two ('Eucharistic action') will deal with Eucharistic action and its distinctive characteristics, and the essential link between 'ars celebrandi' and 'actuosa participatio.' Chapter three ('Anthropological, cosmological and social dimensions of the Eucharist') will seek to show how the Eucharist intrinsically contains an anthropological, cosmological and social dimension. The Conclusion ('Eucharistic presence in the ordeals of the present day') will offer a brief summary of the subjects discussed, ending with a brief expression of best wishes for our work."

   "In the final analysis, the decrease in Eucharistic wonder depends on the limitations and the sins of the individual. Often however, this finds fertile terrain in the fact that the Christian community celebrating the Eucharist is distant from reality. It lives on an abstract plane and no longer addresses the real man, his feelings, his work, his rest, his need for unity, truth, goodness, beauty. ... The Synodal Assembly will need to look into this state of affairs carefully and suggest some possible remedies."

  "Because of its nature as the source of 'logiken latreian,' ritual Eucharistic action also becomes objectively the most essential and decisive of all human actions. In fact, in the Eucharistic rite the definitive meaning of history, and thereby its truth, erupts forth at a precise moment in time. ... Considering the rite in all its fullness makes it possible to avoid any kind of fragmentation or juxtaposition between Eucharistic action and the needs of the new evangelization, which range from announcing and bearing witness in all fields of human life, to the necessary anthropological, cosmological and social implications that the Eucharist objectively brings forth. It also allows the Christian community to maintain, at the same time, close fidelity to the liturgy, and attentive flexibility to the requirements of inculturation."

  "The Eucharistic celebration makes the Church. ... It is an act of worship called to express the unique Paschal event in an exceptional way. ... This Sacrament was given for the communion of men in Christ. ... Outside of this Eucharistic and sacramental communion the Church is not complete."

  "The Bishop does not preside the Eucharist merely for juridical reasons, because he is the 'head' of the local church, but rather out of faithfulness to the Lord's own commandment, Who entrusted the memorial of His Easter to Peter and the Apostles. ... Communion with the bishop is the condition that legitimizes the Eucharistic celebration in favor of the people of God."

  "A second confirmation of how the Eucharistic celebration actually makes the Church, lies in the radical differences between Christian, pagan and even Jewish places of worship. While the pagan temple and Jewish synagogue are characterized by the presence of the divinity, and because of this presence considered sacred and sacralized, the 'place' of Christian worship consists, in a certain sense, in the very act of celebrating the mystery."

  "One must underline the substantial communion of faith between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church on the theme of the Eucharist and the priesthood, communion that is destined to grow through greater and deeper reciprocal understanding of the Eucharistic celebration and divine liturgy. We should also welcome positively the new climate on the Eucharist in those ecclesial communities that came into being at the time of the Reformation. In different degrees and with few exceptions, even these communities always underline the importance of the Eucharist as the key element in dialogue and in ecumenical practice. ... Can 'inter-communion' of the faithful belonging to different Churches and ecclesial communities constitute an adequate instrument to favor the path towards Christian unity? The answer depends upon careful consideration of the nature of the Eucharistic action in all of its fullness as 'mysterium fidei'."

  "In the historical evolution going from the Last Supper of Jesus Christ to the Eucharist, off which the Church still lives today, the essential and permanent nucleus of ritual comes from the close bond between the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist."

  "Eucharistic action's characteristic nature of being a gift - which implies the communication of the freedom of the 'Deus Trinitas' in Jesus Christ to the freedom of men - requires that its gratuitous nature never be misunderstood. Even if its absence provokes great suffering, this does not mean that the faithful or the people of God have any right to the Eucharist. ... For the same reason, the gift of the Eucharist can never be idolatrously 'possessed' by man; it makes no allowance for a quasi-Gnostic pretension to dominatation."

   "The problem of the lack of priests must be faced with courage. ... This state of things has given rise to a considerable increase of 'Sunday assemblies awaiting a priest'. ... Local Churches are never deprived of the Eucharist. For this reason it is good pastoral practice to encourage as much participation as possible in the Eucharist in one of the communities of the diocese, even where this requires a certain degree of sacrifice. ... Wherever a certain amount of mobility is not possible, the appropriateness of these Assemblies will be seen in their capacity to accentuate in the people the ardent desire for the Eucharist."

  "In order to make up for the lack of priests, some, guided by the principle of 'salus animarum suprema lex,' advance the request for the ordination of married faithful of proven faith and virtue, so-called 'viri probati.' The request is often accompanied by the positive recognition of the validity of the age-old discipline of priestly celibacy. However, this law should not, they affirm, prevent the Church from being supplied with an adequate number of ordained ministers, when the scarcity of candidates to celibate priesthood is assuming extremely grave proportions. It is superfluous to reiterate, in this context, the profound theological motives which have led the Latin Church to unite the conferring of ministerial priesthood to the charism of celibacy. Rather, the following question presents itself: are such a choice and such practice pastorally valid, even in extreme cases such as those mentioned above? It seems reasonable to answer positively. Being intimately tied to the Eucharist, ordained priesthood participates in its nature of a gift and cannot be the object of a right. ... It has become very difficult to ascertain the ideal number of priests in the Church, because the Church is not a 'business' to be equipped with a designated quota of team managers. ... Therefore, the proposals made in this Synodal Assembly to identify the criteria for an adequate distribution of clergy in the world, will be very useful. In this area, the journey still seems very long."

  "The radical difference between the One who gives Himself and the one who receives the gift ... opens the faithful to the consciousness of the 'mysterium tremendum' of the Eucharist. One cannot approach it without perceiving one's own unworthiness and preparing oneself by asking for the forgiveness of one's sins. ... For this reason, adequate Eucharistic catechesis can never be separated from the idea of a penitential journey. It is in the attitude of confession that the venerable practice of the Eucharistic fast has its roots. It would be useful to dedicate some reflection to this subject in this assembly."

  "No one can ignore the widespread tendency of divorced and remarried people to take part in Eucharistic communion, despite what the teaching of the Church indicates. ... Those divorced and remarried people need to be supported by the whole Christian community in the knowledge that they are not excluded from ecclesial communion. Their participation in the Eucharistic celebration permits, in all cases, that spiritual communion which, if correctly lived, mirrors the sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself. ... During the present Assembly we must further delve into and pay great attention to complex and diverse cases, the objective methods for verifying the hypothesis of nullity of canonical marriage."

  "The conscious, active and fruitful  participation of the People of God - above all on Sundays - actually coincides with adequate celebration of the holy mysteries. ... It is a question of obeying the Eucharistic rite in its extraordinary completeness, recognizing its canonical and constitutive strength because it has assured, and not by mere chance, the existence of the Holy Church of God for two thousand years."

  "The consideration of the Eucharistic rite as a sacramental action that is, by itself, capable of presenting the Eucharist as source and summit of the life and mission of the Church, would not be complete if one did not show its transforming strength in the personal and community life of the faithful."

  "The Eucharistic celebration represents the Paschal Event which, of itself, creates the conditions for communicating it to all human cultures. ... In order to express the intercultural dimension of the Eucharist ... the use of the Latin language is valuable."

  "If the Eucharist is the gift of the sacramental encounter between humanity and the God of Jesus  Christ who makes us 'truly free', then such an event has by its very nature a fundamental anthropological dimension."

  "The community dimension of Eucharistic action allows Christians not to forget that the creation-cosmos is a common and universal good and that commitment thereto extends not only to the demands of the present, but also to those of the future."

  "To gather every Sunday, anywhere on earth, to have part of the same Body and the same Blood of Christ imposes the duty of a tenacious battle against all forms of marginalization and economic, social and political injustice to which our brothers and sisters - especially women and children - are submitted."

  "The marvels of divine grace are enclosed in the holy species of the bread and the wine transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. ... The Church celebrates these mysteries, is nourished by this heavenly food and adores Him, recognizing in the sacramental Jesus the Way to the Truth and to Life."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 2, 2005 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass for the opening of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in order to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  "The Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist," he said, "authoritatively defined by the Council of Trent, must be absorbed, experienced and transmitted by the ecclesial community in ways that are ever new and adapted to the times. The Eucharist may also be seen as a 'lens' through which the countenance and the progress of the Church may be continuously monitored."

  Going on to note how the closure of the Synod on October 23 coincides with World Mission Day, the Pope emphasized how this coincidence "helps us to contemplate the Eucharistic mystery from a missionary standpoint. In fact, the Eucharist is the driving force at the core of Church's evangelizing activity, rather like the heart is in the human body. Without the celebration of the Eucharist, Christian communities ... would lose their true character. Only in as much as they are 'Eucharistic' can they transmit to mankind the figure of Christ, and not simply ideas and values, noble and important though they may be."

  The Pope concluded by recalling how the Eucharist "has formed eminent missionary apostles," both religious and lay people, active and contemplative. He specifically mentioned St. Francis Xavier "whom the love of Christ drove to the Far East to announce the Gospel," and St. Therese of Lisieux, who "lived her ardent apostolic spirit in the cloister, meriting her proclamation, along with St. Francis Xavier, as patron of the missionary activity of the Church."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 2, 2005 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m., the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic concelebration for the opening of the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is meeting to consider the theme: "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." Concelebrating with the Pope were 55 cardinals, 7 patriarchs, 59 archbishops, 123 bishops and 81 priests.

  In his homily, the Pope commented on the reading from Isaiah and from today's Gospel, which both use the image of the vine. "God waits for us. ... In this very moment when we are celebrating the Eucharist, when we are inaugurating the Synod on the Eucharist, He comes to meet us. ... Will this find a reply? Or does it happen with us as with the vineyard, about which God says in Isaiah: 'He expected it to yield fine grapes; wild grapes were all it yielded'? Is our Christian life often not perhaps rather vinegar than wine? Is it self-pity, conflict, indifference?"

  Benedict XVI went on: "The good grapes which God was expecting - says the prophet - should have consisted in justice and uprightness. Instead, wild grapes bring violence, bloodshed and oppression, which make people groan under the yoke of injustice. In the Gospel the image changes: the vine produces good grapes, but the tenants keep them for themselves They are not willing to give them to the owner. ... We men to whom creation was, so to say, entrusted to manage, usurp it. We alone want to be the landlords. We want to own the world and our own lives in an unlimited way. God is our stumbling block. Either we simply make Him a devout expression or we deny Him everything, He is banished from public life, thus losing all meaning.

  "Tolerance, which admits God... in private, but denies Him in the public domain, the reality of the world and of our lives, is not tolerance but hypocrisy. Yet, wherever man makes himself the only master of the world and of himself, justice cannot exist. There, the only arbiter is power and interest."

  The Holy Father went on to point out how in today's readings "the judgement proclaimed by our Lord Jesus refers above all to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. But the threat of judgement also concerns us, the Church in Europe, Europe and the West in general. With this Gospel, the Lord is also crying out to us the words which in the Apocalypse He addressed to the Church of Ephesus: 'If you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.' Light can also be taken away from us. ... Lord, help us to convert! Give us all the grace of true renewal! Do not allow your light in our midst to go out!"

  "However, at this point we ask ourselves ... is the last word a threat? No! The promise is there, and it is the last, the essential, word. ... 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty.' With these words of the Lord, John shows us the last, and true outcome of the story of God's vineyard. God never fails. In the end He wins, love wins."

  "Thus, in the end, these parables lead to the mystery of the Eucharist, where the Lord gives us the bread of life and the wine of His love, and invites us to the feast of eternal love. ... If we remain united to Him, then we will also bear fruit; then we will no longer produce the vinegar of self-sufficiency, of discontentment with God and His creation, but the good wine of joy in God and of love towards our neighbor."

  Benedict XVI concluded by invoking the Lord's grace so that, during the Synod, "not only will we say beautiful things about the Eucharist, but above all we live off its strength."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 1, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presented some information concerning the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." The synod will be inaugurated tomorrow with a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica presided by the Holy Father and concelebrated by about 350 Synod Fathers and other participants in the general assembly.

  In his talk, Archbishop Eterovic recalled how the Eucharistic synod is taking place on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod by Paul VI, with his Motu Proprio "Apostolica sollicitudo" on September 15, 1965.

  Two hundred and fifty six Synod Fathers from 118 nations will take part in the gathering. This is the highest ever number of participants in a synodal assembly. Among them are 55 cardinals, 8 patriarchs, 82 archbishops, 123 bishops, 36 presidents of episcopal conferences and 12 religious. There are also 32 experts and 27 auditors from five continents.

  The secretary general explained that 12 Churches and ecclesial communities have been invited to send delegates, of which ten have so far given the name of their representative. He made it clear that "the fraternal delegates participate in the work, they may intervene but they cannot vote; this prerogative belongs to the Synod Fathers."

  After pointing out that "23 General Congregations and seven sessions for the Working Groups have been scheduled," Archbishop Eterovic recalled how "Benedict XVI willingly approved some novelties to the synodal methodology, the aim of which is to make the synod meeting more streamlined, more participatory, and therefore more collegial. Considering the synod will last three and not four weeks, and the number of participants is rather high, it has been necessary to reduce the time of the interventions of the Synod Fathers from 8 to 6 minutes, as also the number of the sessions of the Working Groups."

  Another novelty is that of the free discussions in the Synod Hall from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the end of the daily General Congregations.

  Furthermore, "the Synod Hall has been modernized, in particular with improvements to the lighting, air conditioning and video services."

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