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Friday, November 18, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

- Four prelates from the Czech Bishops' Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Pavel Posad of Litomerice, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Josef Koukl.

    - Bishop Frantisek Radkovsky of Plzen.

    - Bishop Ladislav Hucko, apostolic exarch for Catholics of the Byzantine rite resident in the Czech Republic.

  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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ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 21, BENEDICT XVI will visit the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is currently celebrating its plenary session on the theme: "The conceptualization of the human person in the social sciences." During the plenary session, the theme will be considered from various standpoints: from the point of view of the Church's Magisterium by Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy; in its philosophical aspects by Cardinal Georges Cottier O.P., and by Rocco Buttiglione and Enrico Berti, Italian university professors; and from a sociological and economic viewpoint by Serge-Christophe Kolm of the "Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales" of Paris, France. Also during the session, Mary Ann Glendon, president of the pontifical academy, and the scholar Hans Zacher will present the book: "Democracy in Debate: the Contribution of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences."

ARCHBISHOP JOHN P. FOLEY, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL for Social Communications, yesterday participated in the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, which is being held in Tunis, Tunisia. In his address, the archbishop recalled how new technologies give us "the opportunity to connect and assist those living in the poorest and most isolated regions of the world and to offer a voice to those who in the past have often been unheard and forgotten." He continued: "The challenge of narrowing or even closing the so-called 'digital divide,' the current disparity in the access to digital communications between developed and developing countries, requires the joint effort of the entire international community."

"PILGRIMS AND SHRINES, GIFTS OF THE GOD-LOVE IN ASIA TODAY" is the theme of the second Asiatic congress on the pastoral care of pilgrimages and shrines, which is being promoted by the Pontifical Care for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and is due to be held in Seoul, Korea, on November 21 to 23. The meeting will be attended by 90 pilgrimage directors and rectors of shrines, who will have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to identify shared pastoral criteria. The work of the congress will be opened by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the pontifical council, who will speak on the subject of shrines as "privileged places where God welcomes His people ... and where ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is favored," especially in a continent such as Asia where shrines are frequented by pilgrims from various Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as by believers from other religious traditions.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received prelates from the Czech Bishops' Conference who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

  In his address to them, the Holy Father affirmed that in his individual meetings with the prelates he had learned that the Church in the Czech Republic is "alive and well, and feels the call to be the leavening in a society that is secularized yet at the same time interested ... in the liberating but challenging message of the Gospel."

  Benedict XVI expressed the view that "the material and spiritual devastation of the earlier regime has left your fellow citizens, now that they have reacquired complete freedom, with a yearning to make up for lost time, pushing ahead without, perhaps, giving sufficient attention to the importance of spiritual values which give fortitude and consistency to civil and material progress."

  Your communities, he went on, "already provide a solid testimony that attracts no small number of people, also from the world of culture. This is a sign of hope for the formation of a mature laity, one that knows how to shoulder its ecclesial responsibilities.

  After giving thanks to God because priests and religious are "active and hard-working, disciplined and united," the Pope added that, although this "is a reason for consolation, it should not lead us to forget other aspects that give rise to understandable concern. In the first place, the lack of priests," which "rightly induces you to dedicate special attention to vocational pastoral care . Also from this point of view, commitment to the formation of solid Christian families is particularly important for the life of the Church."

  The Holy Father laid emphasis on the importance of the laity's participation "in parish activities, and their introduction to a rich and healthy liturgical life." He continued: "The Christian community is a grouping of people with their own rules, a living body that, in Jesus, exists in the world to bear witness to the strength of the Gospel. It is, then, a group of brothers and sisters who have no goals of power or of selfish interest, but who joyfully live the charity of God, which is Love.

  "In such a context," he added, "the State should have no difficulty in recognizing in the Church a counterpart that in no way prejudices its own function at the service of citizens. Indeed, the Church undertakes her activities in the religious sphere, enabling believers to express their faith, yet without invading the area of competence of the civil authorities. ... As is known, the Church does not seek privileges, but only the opportunity to carry out her mission. When this right is recognized, it is really the whole of society that benefits."

  Benedict XVI concluded by exhorting the Czech prelates to "continue ecumenical dialogue. I know such dialogue is intense, as is the dialogue with all citizens in the cultural field on the fundamental values upon which all civil coexistence is based."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, in the presence of the Holy Father, a screening was held of the film "Pope John Paul II." The film was produced by the Lux Vide company, and by RAI (Italian State Television) in collaboration with other European television networks and the American broadcaster, CBS.

  After the screening, Benedict XVI expressed his thanks to Ettore Bernabei, president of Lux Vide, and to others who collaborated in making the film, which opens with the attempt on John Paul II's life in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

  "Watching this film," said the Holy Father, "has renewed in me and, I think, in everyone who had the gift of knowing (John Paul II), a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual stature.

  Benedict XVI went on: "Over and above any specific evaluation, I feel the film constitutes further proof ... of the love people hold for Pope John Paul, and of their great desire to remember him, to see him again, to feel him close. And beyond its superficial and emotive aspects, this phenomenon clearly has an intimate spiritual dimension, which we here in the Vatican see every day watching the multitudes of pilgrims who come to pray, or just to pay rapid homage, at his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes.

  "That affective and spiritual bond with John Paul II, which became even closer during the period of his final illness and death, was not interrupted. It has never been broken, because it is a bond between souls, between the great soul of the Pope and the souls of innumerable believers; between his fatherly heart and the hearts of countless men and women of good will who recognized in him a friend, and a defender of man, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of peace. All over the world, many people admired in him above all the coherent and generous witness to God."
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