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Thursday, December 1, 2005


VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Guarda, Portugal, presented by Bishop Antonio dos Santos, in accordance with Canon 401, para. 2, of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Manuel da Rocha Felicio.

 - Appointed Fr. George J. Rassas of the clergy of the archdiocese of Chicago, U.S.A., vicar general, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 3,653, population 6,104,000, Catholics 2,442,000, priests 1,781, permanent deacons 632, religious 3,953). The bishop-elect was born in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1968.

 - Appointed Fr. Wojciech Giertych O.P., member of the general council of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) and professor of moral theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and at the "Studium" in the Dominican province of Poland, as theologian of the Pontifical Household.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences eleven prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Gerard Bernacki and Piotr Libera.

    - Bishop Jan Walenty Wieczorek of Gliwice, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Alfons Kusz.

    - Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jan Szkodon, Jan Zajac, and Jozef Guzdek, and by Cardinal Franciszek Marcharski, archbishop emeritus

    - Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, former auxiliary of Sosnowiec.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - On December 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the fortieth anniversary of the conclusion of Vatican Council II, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, according to a communique made public today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for the month of December is: "That an ever deeper understanding be spread of the dignity of men and women according to the Creator's plan."

  His mission intention is: "That, on earth, search for God and thirst for truth may lead every human being to meet the Lord."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received members of the International Theological Commission, led for the first time by Archbishop William Joseph Levada who, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is also president of the commission.

  In his address, the Holy Father referred to the subjects under discussion in the plenary session, such as the theme of children who die without receiving Baptism, in the context of God's universal plan of salvation, the uniqueness of Christ's mediation and the sacramental nature of the Church, and the theme of natural moral law. This latter subject, he said, "is particularly important for understanding the foundation of those rights that are rooted in the nature of the person and that, as such, derive from the will of God the Creator Himself."

  He went on: "Prior to any positive law emanated by States, such rights are universal, inviolable and inalienable, and must be recognized as such by everyone, especially by the civil authorities who are called to promote them and guarantee that they are respected. Although in modern culture, the concept of 'human nature' seems to have been lost, the fact remains that human rights cannot be understood without presupposing that man, in his very being, is the bearer of values and norms that must be rediscovered and reaffirmed, not invented and imposed in a subjective and arbitrary manner."

  At this point, said Benedict XVI, "dialogue with the world of the laity is very important. It must be made very clear that negating an ontological foundation of the essential values of human life, inevitably leads to positivism and makes law dependent on the trends of thought dominant in a society; thus rendering law an instrument of power, rather than subordinating power to the law."

  The Holy Father then remarked on the importance of the "statute" and methods of Catholic theology. On this subject, he highlighted the fact that "the theologian's work must be carried out in communion with, and under the authority of, the living Magisterium of the Church. To consider theology as a private concern of the theologian is to misunderstand its very nature. Only within the ecclesial community, in communion with the legitimate pastors of the Church does theological work have meaning. Such work certainly calls for scientific competence, but also and above all for the spirit of faith and humility of one who knows that the real and living God, subject of his reflections, infinitely surpasses human capacities."

  "At this point it may be asked," said the Pope: "Is theology thus defined still a science that conforms to our reason? Yes. Reason, science, and thinking in communion with the Church are not only not mutually exclusive, but complement one another. The Holy Spirit introduces the Church to the fullness of truth, the Church is at the service of truth and guides people by educating in truth."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of eleven new ambassadors to the Holy See. After greeting the diplomats, he gave each of them a written message concerning the civil and religious situation in their own particular countries.

  The new ambassadors are: Ali Abeid A. Karume of Tanzania; Madan Kumar Bhattarai of Nepal; Pekka Ojanen of Finland; Gilbert Ramirez Chagoury of Santa Lucia; Francisco A. Soler of El Salvador; Sten Erik Malmborg Lilholt of Denmark; Konji Sebati of South Africa; Idriss Jazairy of Algeria; Petros Tseggai Asghedom of Eritrea; Feliz Kodjo Sagbo of Togo; and Antoni Morell Mora of Andorra.

  In his French-language address to the assembled ambassadors, the Holy Father pointed out how "news of conflicts arrives from all over the world," and made a fresh call for "the leaders of nations and all people of good will to unite and put a stop to the violence that disfigures humanity and places a heavy mortgage on the development of mankind and the hope of many peoples. Without a universal commitment to peace - in order to create a climate of pacification and a spirit of reconciliation at all levels of social life, beginning with the family - it is not possible to progress along the road to a pacified society."

  Benedict XVI indicated that "in order to achieve ever more harmonious development among peoples, it is important to pay special attention to youth, ensuring that families and the various educational structures are provided with the means to form and educate the young, transmitting essential spiritual, moral and social values, and preparing them for a better future. The young must be made truly aware of their role in society and of the behavior they must adopt in order to serve the common good and to pay attention to everyone's needs."

  This, the Holy Father stressed, is "one of the essential ways to ensure that, in the long-term, the world exits from the cycle of violence." He then gave assurances that the Catholic Church, "present on all continents, will not cease to offer her assistance through numerous educational initiatives, and by forming people's religious conscience to ensure the development of a sense of fraternity and solidarity."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that all human beings "may commit to peace and reconciliation in all continents, because it is not enough to 'decide' on peace, but to attain it. All means must be used at all levels of society, in order to achieve this end."

  In his message to the ambassador of Santa Lucia, the Holy Father recalls the Catholic Church's commitment "against the trade and use of drugs," and affirms that foiling "this pernicious threat to the fabric of society, which fuels crime and violence, ... demands great political resolve, international cooperation, and the support of the whole community."

  To the ambassador of El Salvador, the Pope says that the religious mission of pastors in that country "does not exempt them from fomenting national dialogue between the leaders of social life," and "that social improvement is not achieved only by applying the necessary technical means, but also by promoting reforms with a human and moral foundation."

  Cooperation in the ecumenical field and inter-religious dialogue are the central themes of the Pope's message to the ambassadors from Finland and Denmark. Benedict XVI recalls his own commitment, which he assumed at the beginning of his pontificate, and expresses the hope that dialogue with the Lutheran Church may prove fruitful.

  In his message to the Algerian ambassador, which makes reference to the serious violence the country has suffered in recent years, the Pope writes that "in order to defend the sacred value of the person, respect for others and religious freedoms, it is necessary that a spirit of reconciliation and justice be inculcated into the young generations."

  In his message to the Eritrean diplomat, the Holy Father speaks of the Church's closeness "to refugees and displaced persons, not only with her pastoral presence and material support, but also with her commitment to defend their human dignity."
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