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Friday, March 3, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday, in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI celebrated the traditional Lenten meeting between the Pope and the clergy of the diocese of Rome. Participating in the event were Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar general for Rome, the auxiliary bishops, and more than 800 priests who work in the city's 337 parishes.

  The Holy Father chose not to pronounce an address, and instead dedicated the meeting to answering questions from the assembled pastors. The event, which lasted around two hours, began with a remembrance of Fr. Andrea Santoro, the Roman priest murdered recently in Trabzon, Turkey.

  The Pope called on the priests of Rome to pay "particular attention" to the position of families in the capital. He also dwelt on the subject of the defense of life, recalling how "above all during Lent, we must reaffirm our vocation, which is a fundamental choice in favor of life." In this context he also recalled John Paul II's Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae."

  Benedict XVI also spoke on the question of opening reflection of the role - including the institutional role - of women in the Church, and he quoted the examples of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bridgit and St. Hildegard, who all made such extraordinary contributions to Church life.

  Throughout the meeting, the Holy Father made various references to his recent meetings with bishops from Africa, affirming how we are debtors of the people of that continent and must transmit them a living and joyful faith.

  The Pope also quoted from his own recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," expressing his thanks to all those who, as witnesses of Christian love, dedicate themselves to the service of others, especially the poor and the sick. The "ultimate significance of the Cross," he stressed, is the offer of one's life for others.
AC/CLERGY/ROME                                VIS 20060303 (330)

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