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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Joercio Goncalves Pereira C.SS.R., rector of the national shrine of "Nossa Senhora Aparecida," Brazil, as coadjutor of the territorial prelature of Coari (area 135,442, population 195,306, Catholics 166,076, priests 11, religious 24), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Virginia, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1983.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio to Venezuela.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration this morning:

  "Over these days, news agencies have reported two disconcerting events carried out against, respectively, the Franciscan Sisters in Xi'an and six priests in the diocese of Zhengding.

  "These news items, though it is not possible to verify the exact details of their circumstances, provoke pain and disapproval.

  "The violence practiced in Xi'an against a number of defenseless nuns cannot but be firmly condemned.

  "And the detention of six priests of Zhengding, like the earlier detentions of priests in other localities, is also a cause for grave concern. As on earlier occasions, the reasons for the coercive measures inflicted upon them are unknown."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - At midday yesterday, in the Town Hall of Hamburg, Germany, the signing took place of an Agreement between the Holy See and the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The accord regulates relations between the Catholic Church and this city "lande." On the part of the Holy See, the agreement was signed by Archbishop Erwin Josef Ender, apostolic nuncio to Germany, and on the part of the City of Hamburg, by Ole Von Beust, president of the senate.

  According to a communique, the agreement "consists of 23 articles and a final protocol regulating the juridical position of the Catholic Church in the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Among other things, it establishes norms concerning State recognition of Church-run schools, the teaching of the Catholic religion in State schools, Church activities in the fields of pastoral care and of social, healthcare and charitable work, the ecclesiastical levy, and the maintenance of Church buildings listed as monuments. Overall, the role of the Catholic Church is recognized in the society of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique concerning the ninth meeting of the Special Council of the Synod of Bishops for Asia, held in Rome on November 18 and 19, 2005.

  The meeting, which was presided by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, considered the theme of "the Eucharist and missions" and noted the positive impact of the recently-concluded Year of the Eucharist on ecclesial initiatives that aim to make that Sacrament more widely known.

  The communique also states that the members of the council noted how "the Catholic Church in Asia often undertakes her activities in an unfavorable social context, in certain nations in which religious freedom is not respected. ... The Church in Asia remains open to dialogue with the great religions of the continent, despite the difficulties provoked by fundamentalist groups in various countries."

  The next meeting of the council is scheduled to take place on November 17 and 18, 2006.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - A delegation from the Holy See, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is in Istanbul, Turkey for the liturgical celebrations of the Feast of St. Andrew, which is commemorated both in the East and West. St. Andrew is patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, which every year sends a delegation to Rome on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  This morning the delegation attended a solemn liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Church of St. George in Fanar. At the end of the ceremony, Cardinal Kasper delivered a special message to the ecumenical patriarch from Benedict XVI.

  In his English-language message, the Pope affirms:

  "This year we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of December 8, 1965, that day on which Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, dissatisfied with what had occurred in 1054, decided together at Rome and Constantinople 'to cancel from the Church's memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced.' That momentous event became the basis of a renewed relationship marked by reciprocal respect and reconciliation."

  "Indeed, this cancellation marked the beginning of a new season of ecclesial life, a season of dialogue, which has seen significant progress yet remains challenged to continue the rigorous pursuit of its much cherished goals.

  "In this regard, it is a source of great satisfaction to me that after a pause of some years our theological dialogue begins once again. I pray that it will indeed be fruitful and am confident that no effort will be spared to make it so. He who puts his hand to the plough must not turn back. Rather, he must persevere and bring his work to completion, sowing the seed and awaiting the abundant harvest that God in His goodness will provide."

  Benedict XVI concludes his message with assurances to the Patriarch Bartholomew, the holy synod and all the Orthodox Churches that "the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting all suitable and helpful initiatives to strengthen charity, solidarity and theological dialogue between us."

  According to a communique made public today, the members of the delegation sent by the Holy Father will meet members of the synodal commission for relations with the Catholic Church. For his part, Cardinal Kasper will visit the leaders of the Christian communities in Turkey, in particular the Armenian patriarch and the Syro-Orthodox patriarch, as well as representatives of the local Catholic community and the chief rabbi of Istanbul.

  This year, the communique says, the talks "are particularly important because they focus above all on preparations for the visit by Benedict XVI to the Church of St. George in Fanar." Other subjects under discussion include "the progress of Catholic - Orthodox relations, questions concerning the life and pastoral care of Orthodox faithful in Italy and, above all, following a break of five years, the resumption of official theological dialogue, as decided last September during a pan-Orthodox meeting held at the Fanar and presided by the Patriarch Bartholomew I."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - At the end of the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI recalled that tomorrow, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

  World AIDS Day, said the Holy Father, "is an initiative of the United Nations that aims to draw attention to the scourge of AIDS, and to invite the international community to a renewed commitment to prevent the disease and to assist those who suffer from it. The statistics are truly alarming!

  "Closely following Christ's example, the Church has always considered the cure of the sick as an integral part of her mission. Therefore I encourage the many initiatives promoted, especially by ecclesial communities, to eradicate this sickness, and I feel close to AIDS sufferers and their families, invoking upon them the help and comfort of the Lord."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2005 (VIS) - More than 23,000 people participated in the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, during which the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Psalms.

  "On this first Wednesday of Advent, the liturgical period of silence, vigil and prayer in preparation for Christmas, we consider Psalm 136 ... 'on the rivers of Babylon'," said the Pope. "It evokes the tragedy experienced by the Jewish people during the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and their deportation to Babylon."

  "This heartfelt invocation to the Lord to free His faithful from slavery," Benedict XVI continued, "also expresses the feelings of hope and expectation of salvation with which we began our Advent journey. The backdrop to the first part of the psalm is the land of exile with its rivers and canals, the rivers and canals that irrigated the Babylonian plain where the Jews had been deported; almost a symbolic foreshadowing of the death camps in which, last century, the Jewish people underwent the infamous operation of extermination that has remained as an indelible mark of shame in the history of humanity."

  "God, Who is the ultimate arbiter of history, will know how to understand and accept, according to His justice, the cries of the victims, despite the harsh tones they sometimes assume," he went on.

  In elucidating the psalm, the Pope also referred to a meditation on the subject by St. Augustine in which, he said, "the great Father of the Church introduces a surprising note: he knows that even among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people committed to peace and goodness, though without sharing the biblical faith. In the end, then, God will lead those people to the heavenly Jerusalem, rewarding them for their pure consciences."

  "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them as citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not promote its pride, its grandeur or its overweening arrogance."

  At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted a group of Italian prison chaplains, thanking them for the "valuable ministry" they carry out "with evangelical charity alongside those in prison; I give assurances of my prayers for each one of you, and for everyone in institutes of detention, to whom I send my most affectionate greetings."
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