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Monday, December 5, 2005


VATICAN CITY, DEC 4, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope appeared at the window of his private studio in order to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Holy Father said that during this time of Advent "the ecclesial community, as it prepares to celebrate the great mystery of the Incarnation, is called to rediscover and deepen its relationship with God. ... God awaits a response of love. And over these days, the liturgy presents us with the perfect model of such a response in the Virgin Mary, whom we will contemplate next Thursday, December 8, in the mystery of the Immaculate Conception."

  After highlighting how the Virgin "is an example for believers who's lives are spent searching for God," Benedict XVI pointed out that "to this theme, as well as to that of the relationship between truth and freedom, Vatican Council II dedicated careful attention," which resulted in the Declaration "Dignitatis Humanae" on religious freedom.

  This fundamental human right, he went on, "derives from the special dignity of man who, among all the creatures of the earth, is the only one capable of establishing a free and conscious bond with his Creator."

  "Vatican Council II thus reaffirms the traditional Catholic doctrine according to which man, in as much as he is a spiritual creature, can know truth and, thus, has the duty and the right to seek it. On the basis of this supposition, the Council insists on religious freedom, which must be guaranteed both for individuals and for communities, while respecting the legitimate needs of public order."

  The Holy Father stressed the fact that, forty years on, this conciliar teaching "is still highly pertinent. In fact, religious freedom is still far from being effectively guaranteed everywhere; in some cases it is denied for religious or ideological reasons; at other times, though recognized on paper, in reality it is obstructed by political power or, in a more underhand way, by the cultural ascendancy of agnosticism and relativism."

  In closing, the Pope called "for all men and women to be able to fully realize their religious vocation, which is inscribed in their very being."

  After the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that December 9 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Disabled Persons. On this occasion, he said, "I invite everyone to ever greater efforts in support of integrating disabled persons into society, the world of work and the Christian community, recalling that all human life is worthy of respect and must be protected from conception to its natural end. I guarantee my support and prayer to all those who dedicate themselves to this immense task."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Paul Kenjiro Koriyama, pastor at Shibushi, as bishop of Kagoshima (area 9,133, population 1,773,000, Catholics 9,287, priests 46, religious 187), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Amamioshima, Japan in 1942 and ordained to the priesthood in 1972. He succeeds Bishop Paul Shinichi Itonaga, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Juan de Dios Hernandez Ruiz S.J., director of the "Pedro Arrupe" Spirituality Center, as auxiliary of San Cristobal de La Habana (area 7,542, population 3,900,000, Catholics 2,800,000, priests 111, permanent deacons 23, religious 427), Cuba. The bishop-elect was born in Holguin, Cuba in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1976.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2005 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, released the following declaration to journalists this morning:

  "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mahmud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, accompanied by an entourage.

  "In the course of the cordial meeting, consideration was given to the situation in the Middle East. Particular emphasis was laid on the need to integrate all elements of the Palestinian people into the peace process. Attention was likewise given to the difficulties faced by Catholics in Palestine, and to their contribution to Palestinian society.

  "Later, President Mahumud Abbas also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano."


VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2005 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience participants in the meeting of presidents of the Latin American Episcopal Commissions for the Family and Life. The meeting is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo.

  In his address, the Pope recalled the interest that John Paul II had always showed for the subject of the family and affirmed that, "for my part, I share this same concern which to a large extent affects the future of the Church and of peoples."

  "Your duty as pastors," he said, "is to present the extraordinary value of marriage in all its richness; as a natural institution, it is 'the heritage of humanity.' At the same time, its elevation to the great dignity of Sacrament must be contemplated with gratitude and wonder, as I myself recently pointed out when I said that 'the value of Sacrament that marriage assumes in Christ means that the gift of creation was raised to the grace of redemption. The grace of Christ is not external to man's nature, it causes it no harm, but, in elevating it beyond its own limits, liberates and restores it'."

  The total commitment of husband and wife, said the Holy Father, "with its particular characteristics of exclusivity, faithfulness, duration in time and openness to life, lies at the basis of that community of love and life that is marriage. Today, we must announce with renewed enthusiasm that the gospel of the family is a way to human and spiritual fulfillment, in the certainty that the Lord is always present, in His grace."

  Benedict XVI went on to explain how, "also in the field of life, new attitudes are putting this fundamental right into question. ... The elimination of the embryo is being facilitated, as is its use in the name of scientific progress which, in not recognizing its own limits and not accepting all the moral principles that enable the dignity of the person to be protected, becomes a threat to human beings themselves."

  The Pope then observed how "in Latin America, as elsewhere, children have the right to be born and to grow up in the bosom of a family founded on marriage," and he emphasized how children are an expression of the wealth of a family. "For this reason," he continued, "it is necessary to help everyone to realize the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion which, in attacking human life at its beginnings, is also an act of aggression against society itself. Consequently, politicians and lawmakers, as servants of the social good, have the duty to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God's love."

  Benedict XVI concluded: "There can be no doubt that pastoral work in such a delicate and complex field involving so many different disciplines and dealing with such fundamental questions, calls for the careful training of" those who administer it, as well as of the lay people who "dedicate their energies to serving families."

  Finally, the Pope recalled the forthcoming World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Valencia, Spain in July 2006 on the theme "Transmission of Faith in the Family."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 3, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the second group of prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address, the Holy Father referred to new evangelization which, he pointed out, was the theme of one of the first initiatives of his predecessor, John Paul II. "Under his guidance we entered this new millennium of Christianity, with an awareness of the constant validity of his call to a new evangelization."

  After stressing the fact that the primary responsibility for evangelization falls on bishops, the Pope also emphasized their responsibility for the "quality of formation in seminaries," bearing in mind "not only future priests' intellectual formation for their impending duties, but also their spiritual and emotional formation." On this subject, he called on the prelates to implement the guidelines laid down in the recently-published document of the Congregation for Catholic Education concerning the admission of candidates to holy orders.

  "It is important," he went on, "that the process of spiritual and intellectual formation does not end with the seminary. Constant priestly formation is necessary. I know that in Polish dioceses ... courses, retreats, spiritual exercises and other meetings are organized, during which priests can share their pastoral problems and successes."

  After making it clear that bishops should "listen attentively to priests and help them in their difficulties," Benedict XVI gave thanks to God for the numerous vocations in Poland and made a call for priests to be encouraged "to undertake missionary service or pastoral commitment in countries where there is a lack of clergy."

  "The various charisms, and the services undertaken by male and female religious and by members of lay institutes of consecrated life, represent a source of great wealth for the Church," said the Pope. In this context, he called on the prelates to watch over female religious communities. "Nuns who undertake various services in the Church merit supreme respect, and their work must be recognized and appreciated correctly. They must not be denied adequate spiritual support or the possibility of intellectual development and growth in the faith. ... And I particularly call upon you to take to heart the wellbeing of the contemplative orders."

  Turning to speak of the laity, the Pope said that "one of the chief aims of the activity of the laity is the moral renewal of society, which cannot be superficial, partial and instantaneous. ... One specific task of the laity is participation in public and political life. ... The Church does not identify herself with any one party, political community or political system; she does, however, recall that lay people in public life must bear courageous and coherent witness to Christian values, which have to be affirmed and defended when they are threatened. The must do so publicly, both in political debates and in the communications media"

  "Dialogue undertaken by the Catholic laity on political questions," he added, "will prove effective and of service to the common good when it is founded on love for truth, a spirit of service, and united commitment in favor of the common good."

  After the Holy Father's address, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow pronounced some words of greeting in the name of the assembled prelates: "There is a reason for which we would like express our gratitude," he said, "and that is your adherence to the person and the work of Servant of God John Paul II. In the first place, we would like to say thank you for your discreet, competent and faithful collaboration throughout such a rich and important pontificate. We can only imagine how precious your wise advice was to John Paul II, both in the most difficult theological questions and in matters concerning the daily life of the Universal Church. We thank you for the delicacy with which you accompanied your dear predecessor in the final days of his sickness and for your testimony as dean of the College of Cardinals during the funeral. Nor can we forget your continuous recollection of the teaching and example of John Paul II in your speeches and pastoral activities. And how can we not thank you for the decision to reduce the time for the opening of the cause of beatification of our beloved Pope? Thank you, Your Holiness!"

  The Polish people, Archbishop Dziwisz told the Pope, "are anxious to welcome you. We all await your visit to our country and to the Church that loves you and supports you with constant prayer. You may be certain of these sentiments. As you know, the beloved John Paul II never sought to bind people to his own person, but to Peter's Successor. Our people unhesitatingly understood this concept; they do not cease to love the late Pope, but they equally love the one who succeeded him. I also feel I must inform you that it is above all young people who ask us to tell Your Holiness that they want to meet you during your visit to Poland. I would be honored if this meeting were to take place in Krakow."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 5, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Prince Albert II of Monaco, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church.

 - Metropolitan Damaskinos Papandreou of Adrianoupolis.

  On Saturday, December 3, he received in separate audiences:

- Four prelates from the Conference of the Polish Episcopate on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Kazimierz Gorny of Rzeszow, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Eugeniusz Bialoglowski.

    - Bishop Jan Srutwa of Zamosc-Lubaczow, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Mariusz Leszczynski.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 5, 2005 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff communicated today that at 10 a.m. on Sunday December 11, Cardinal Gilberto Agustoni, prefect emeritus of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will take possession of the title of Sts. Urban and Lawrence at Prima Porta, a diaconate elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title, in Vicolo di Prima Porta 6, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 5, 2005 (VIS) - For the occasion of a day of study dedicated to sacred music, currently being celebrated in the Vatican under the patronage of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Benedict XVI sent a Message to Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of that congregation.

  In his Message, which is dated December 1, the Pope observes that "the meeting aims to correspond to the will expressed by the venerated John Paul II who, in a Chirograph issued for the centenary of the Motu proprio 'Tra le sollecitudini,' called on this dicastery to intensify its efforts in the field of sacred liturgical music. Echoing the call of my beloved predecessor, I would like to encourage those who cultivate sacred music to continue this journey. It is important to stimulate, as this symposium intends to do, reflection on the relationship between music and liturgy, while remaining attentive to practical applications and experimentation, and maintaining constant understanding and collaboration with national episcopal conferences."

  The Holy Father concludes his Message by bestowing his apostolic blessing on all participants in the convention.
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