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Friday, October 28, 2005


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

 - Nikolay Sadchikov, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, representative of the Russian Federation to the Holy See.

 - Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

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

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2005 (VIS) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, travelled to Russia in response to an invitation from Sergej Lavrov, foreign minister of the Russian Federation. The invitation was made during a visit by the foreign minister to the Vatican on June 7 this year, when he met with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.

  On this his first visit to Russia, Archbishop Laojolo granted an interview to the Catholic newspaper "Svet Evangelja." Extracts of the interview are given below:

  "The principle aim of my visit," the archbishop told the newspaper, "is to gain a more profound understanding of the position and views of the Russian government on various international problems, as well as to make the Holy See's own viewpoint known. To this primary objective, ... must be added the desire to visit Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Mother of God in Moscow, and the lively Catholic community of the city, bringing them the affectionate greetings and a special blessing of the Holy Father."

  Going on to reply to a question concerning the role of the local Russian Catholic community, and the fact that Catholics are not represented on the Russian Inter-religious Council, or in the 'Public Chamber' which is currently being formed, he said:
  "The Catholic community of Russian faithful is a 'small flock,' but it is a 'small flock' that is Russian in every sense of the word, with a centuries-old history marked by painful trials that were borne with exemplary courage of faith. Without wishing in any way to alter the weight of numbers, and with clear recognition for the role of the Orthodox Church in the history of the Russian nation, there can be no compromise on the principle of 'equal dignity,' and of 'equal freedom.' This does not mean in any way diminishing the predominant position of the Orthodox Church in Russia, but it does mean that the Russian Catholic community must be able to live and bear witness to their own religious faith, specifically characterized by union with the Bishop of Rome and with the Universal Church, within the framework of those fundamental rights recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966."

  "For this reason, I hope that (Russian Catholics) may soon be represented both in the Public Chamber, in order for them to be fully able to carry out their mission and contribute to the growth of Russian society, of which they are an integral part, and on the Russian Inter-religious Council, in order to develop both ecumenical dialogue among Christians, and inter-religious dialogue with the faithful from other religions."

  In a second interview, given to the "Blagovest-Info" news agency, Archbishop Lajolo referred to the question of relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the largest in the Orthodox world. These relations, he said, are marked by "reciprocal difficulties" which seem to be rooted in "a painful inability to create a common language for the examination and resolution of divergences."

  In any case, he went on, "the Catholic Church in Russia, together with the pontifical representative in Moscow, is always ready to join the Orthodox Church in examining the reasons and causes of differences - and at times of misunderstandings - in order to try and solve them in a supernatural spirit. And I am happy to recall that, even in moments of difficulty, the channel of communication between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow has never been closed."

  Finally, speaking of the possibility of a visit to Russia by the Holy Father, the secretary for Relations with States said that "it would constitute an ecumenical event of great significance and importance," an that "it would have to be prepared with the greatest care."

  He concluded: "As Cardinal Angelo Sodano revealed some months ago, such a visit, having a mainly spiritual nature, should provide a reason for joy and hope, not only for Catholics but for all Russia, including other Christian faithful and the followers of other religions. I do not believe that the Holy Father Benedict XVI would make a visit which, rather than contributing to greater harmony and understanding especially among Christians, could prove to be a reason for tension and discontent."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on January 15, 2006, and has the theme of "Migrations, sign of the times." The text has been published in English, French, Italian and Spanish:

  Extracts from the message are given below:

  "One of the recognizable signs of the times today is undoubtedly migration, a phenomenon which during the century just ended can be said to have taken on structural characteristics, becoming an important factor of the labor market world-wide, a consequence among other things of the enormous drive of globalization. Naturally ... various factors play a part. They include both national and international migration, forced and voluntary migration, legal and illegal migration, subject also to the scourge of trafficking in human beings. Nor can the category of foreign students, whose numbers increase every year in the world, be forgotten.

  "With regard to those who emigrate for economic reasons, a recent fact deserving mention is the growing number of women involved. ... Female emigration tends to become more and more autonomous. Women cross the border of their homeland alone in search of work in another country. Indeed it often happens that the migrant woman becomes the principal source of income for her family. It is a fact that the presence of women is especially prevalent in sectors that offer low salaries. ... The most common employment opportunities for women, other than domestic work, consist in helping the elderly, caring for the sick and work in the hotel sector. These, too, are areas where Christians are called to dedicate themselves to assuring just treatment for migrant women out of respect for their femininity in recognition of their equal rights."

  The Pope goes on to refer to "trafficking in human beings, especially women. ... In some cases there are women and girls who are destined to be exploited almost like slaves in their work, and not infrequently in the sex industry too. ... I make my own the condemnation voiced by John Paul II against 'the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality.' This outlines a whole program of redemption and liberation from which Christians cannot withdraw."

  On the subject of asylum seekers and refugees, the Holy Father underlines "how the tendency is to stop at the question of their arrival while disregarding the reasons for which they left their native land. ... Hope, courage, love and 'creativity in charity' must inspire the necessary human and Christian efforts made to help these brothers and sisters in their suffering. Their native Churches will demonstrate their concern by sending pastoral agents of the same language and culture, in a dialogue of charity with the particular Churches that welcome them."

  Finally, "particular attention should be paid to the phenomenon of foreign students. ... Especially in Europe, their number is growing, with consequent pastoral problems the Church cannot ignore. This is especially true in the case of students coming from developing countries, whose university experience can become an extraordinary occasion for spiritual enrichment."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2005 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office today, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Holy Father's Message for the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is due to be celebrated on January 15, 2006, and which has the theme: "Migrations, sign of the times."

  Cardinal Hamao pointed out how, in his Message, the Holy Father refers to the phenomenon of migration with the expression "sign of the times," a term also employed by Vatican Council II.

  "Benedict XVI, in continuity with the council, invites us above all to consider migrations, in a positive sense, as an opportunity, almost as a challenge."

  The Pope's message makes it clear that "women and men in migration represent a precious resource for the development of all mankind, thanks to the human, spiritual and cultural potential that each one possesses;" though it does not, for this reason, "fail to recognize the human cost of migration and its multiple social, economic and political effects."

  The cardinal recalled the Pope's reference to the "feminization" of migration and "the tragedy of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the well-known difficulties faced by foreign students, especially those coming from the Third World." On this subject, he announced that from December 14 - 16, 2005, an international congress will be held in Rome to consider the pastoral care of foreign students.

  The president of the pontifical council concluded by saying that the Message "is an invitation to charity, encouraging us to maintain and extend a network of activities offering true welcome and genuine and effective openness, in order to meet ... the many needs of migrants." He also called for greater "integration, inter-cultural exchange, the development of a mentality open to universal issues, and inter-religious dialogue."

  Archbishop Marchetto talked on the subject of refugees and displaced persons. Their situation, he said, raises questions "that give us great concern. We ask ourselves why human cruelty and intolerance reach the point of persecuting others ... (with) violence, intimidation, torture, murder and detention which, in different ways, degrade both those who perpetrate such acts and their victims."

  "If, then, we consider a broader definition of refugees, in keeping with certain regional conventions, we should also include in this category those fleeing wars, generalized violence or the mass violation of human rights. ... How can we as a community of believers respond to this painful challenge?"

  The secretary of the pontifical council recalled how "thousands and thousands of ecclesiastical organizations exist, bringing hope and love to the otherwise-desperate situations of refugees and displaced persons. This too is a sign of these times. Although this generous response can always be improved and extended."

  On the subject of trafficking in human beings, mentioned by the Pope in his Message, the archbishop pointed out "the continuing lack of appropriate migration programs" to ensure that people fleeing poverty, or who wish to emigrate, do not end up in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. "In the case of trafficking," he added, "there is huge exploitation, because the human rights of individuals are not respected."

  "Contemplating all this 'with Jesus' eyes,' the Church raises her voice in support of millions of marginalized people, and constantly highlights their desperate needs which are unknown to many people."


VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, read out a Message from the Holy Father during an event held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Vatican Council II's Declaration "Nostra aetate."

  This anniversary, writes the Holy Father in his Message, "gives us abundant reason to express gratitude to Almighty God for the witness of all those who, despite a complex and often painful history, and especially after the tragic experience of the Shoah, which was inspired by a neo-pagan racist ideology, worked courageously to foster reconciliation and improved understanding between Christians and Jews.

  "In laying the foundations for a renewed relationship between the Jewish people and the Church, 'Nostra aetate' stressed the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference, and the language of contempt and hostility. The declaration has been the occasion of greater mutual understanding and respect, cooperation and, often, friendship between Catholics and Jews."

  In considering 40 years "of fruitful contacts between the Church and the Jewish people," says Benedict XVI, "we need to renew our commitment to the work that yet remains to be done. In this regard, from the first days of my pontificate ... I have expressed my own firm determination to walk in the footsteps traced by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II."

  Dialogue between Jews and Christians, says the Pope, "must continue to enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed, while preaching and catechesis must be committed to ensuring that our mutual relations are presented in the light of the principles set forth by the Council."

  In closing, the Holy Father expresses the hope that "both in theological dialogue and in everyday contacts and collaboration, Christians and Jews will offer an ever more compelling shared witness to the One God and His commandments, the sanctity of life, the promotion of human dignity, the rights of the family and the need to build a world of justice, reconciliation and peace for future generations."
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