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Thursday, November 30, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Gerard Pettipas C.Ss.R., pastor of St. Joseph in Grand Prarie, Alberta, Canada, as archbishop of Grouard-McLennan (area 224,596, population 120,530, Catholics 47,028, priests 14, permanent deacons 2, religious 23), Canada. The archbishop-elect was born in Halifax, Canada, in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1977. He succeeds Archbishop Arthe Guimond, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Joseph Chusak Sirisut, professor of the major national seminary and director of the center for cultural and religious research in Sampran, as bishop of Nakhon Ratchasima (area 41,148, population 5,220,430, Catholics 5,429, priests 27, religious 35), Thailand. The bishop-elect was born in Bang Nok Kwek, Thailand, in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1984. He succeeds Bishop Joachim Phaya Manisap, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Emmanuel Bushu of Yagoua, Cameroon, as bishop of Buea (area 13,410, population 957,000, Catholics 295,630, priests 59, religious 72), Cameroon. He succeeds Bishop Pius Suh Awa, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Christophe Zoa of the clergy of the archdiocese of Yaounde, Cameroon, archdiocesan chancellor, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 4,964, population 1,591,960, Catholics 700,700, priests 307, religious 794). The bishop-elect was born in Yaounde in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2006 (VIS) - At the end of the divine liturgy they celebrated this morning in the patriarchal church of St. George in Istanbul, Benedict XVI and His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch, returned to the ecumenical patriarchate where they signed a joint declaration.

  In their declaration, the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, recall the meetings of their predecessors, "who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church."

  "As pastors," they write, "we have first of all reflected on the mission to proclaim the Gospel in today's world. ... Moreover, we cannot ignore the increase of secularization, relativism, even nihilism, especially in the Western world. All this calls for a renewed and powerful proclamation of the Gospel, adapted to the cultures of our time. Our traditions represent for us a patrimony which must be continually shared, proposed, and interpreted anew. This is why we must strengthen our cooperation and our common witness before the world."

  The Pope and the Patriarch highlight how they "have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project should not fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion."

  "Our concern extends," their joint declaration proceeds, "to those parts of today's world where Christians live and to the difficulties they have to face, particularly poverty, wars and terrorism, but equally to various forms of exploitation of the poor, of migrants, women and children. Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together to promote respect for the rights of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and to foster economic, social and cultural development.

  "Our theological and ethical traditions can offer a solid basis for a united approach in preaching and action. Above all, we wish to affirm that killing innocent people in God's name is an offence against him and against human dignity. We must all commit ourselves to the renewed service of humanity and the defense of human life, every human life.

  "We take profoundly to heart the cause of peace in the Middle East, where our Lord lived, suffered, died and rose again, and where a great multitude of our Christian brethren have lived for centuries. We fervently hope that peace will be re-established in that region, that respectful coexistence will be strengthened between the different peoples that live there, between the Churches and between the different religions found there. To this end, we encourage the establishment of closer relationships between Christians, and of an authentic and honest inter-religious dialogue, with a view to combating every form of violence and discrimination.

  "At present, in the face of the great threats to the natural environment, we want to express our concern at the negative consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can result from economic and technological progress that does not know its limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God's creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live."

  Following the signing ceremony, the Pope had lunch with Patriarch Bartholomew at the ecumenical patriarchate.

  This afternoon, Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit to Museum of Santa Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the largest mosque in Istanbul. He will then go on to meet with His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian patriarch of Istanbul, with Filuksinos Yusuf Cetin, Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan, and with Isak Haleva, Cheif Rabbi of Turkey. This evening he will dine with members of the Catholic Episcopal Conference.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI participated in the divine liturgy at the patriarchal church of St. George, of the ecumenical patriarchate in Istanbul which today celebrates the Feast of its Patron, St. Andrew. On his arrival at the church, the Pope was greeted by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. At the end of the liturgy, Patriarch Bartholomew pronounced an address, after which the Holy Father also delivered a talk.

  "Today, in this patriarchal church of St. George," began the Pope's English-language address, "we are able to experience once again the communion and call of the two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, in the meeting of the Successor of Peter and his brother in the episcopal ministry, the head of this Church traditionally founded by the Apostle Andrew. Our fraternal encounter highlights the special relationship uniting the Churches of Rome and Constantinople as sister Churches.

  "With heartfelt joy we thank God for granting new vitality to the relationship that has developed since the memorable meeting in Jerusalem in December 1964 between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras," said the Holy Father. Later, on "the eve of the final session of the Second Vatican Council," Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras took another "unique and unforgettable step in the patriarchal church of St. George and the basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican respectively: they removed from the memory of the Church the tragic excommunications of 1054. In this way they confirmed a decisive shift in our relationship."

  "In that same spirit, my presence here today is meant to renew our commitment to advancing along the road towards the re-establishment ... of full communion between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople," said the Holy Father. "I can assure you that the Catholic Church is willing to do everything possible to overcome obstacles and to seek, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, ever more effective means of pastoral cooperation to this end."

  Jesus, said the Pope, gave the Apostles Peter and Andrew "the mission of making all nations His disciples, baptizing them and proclaiming His teachings." Today, he recalled, this mission "is even more urgent and necessary," because it "looks not only to those cultures which have been touched only marginally by the Gospel message, but also to long-established European cultures deeply grounded in the Christian tradition.

  "The process of secularization has weakened the hold of that tradition; indeed, it is being called into question, and even rejected. In the face of this reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities, to renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and values, giving them new vitality. Our efforts to build closer ties between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are a part of this missionary task. The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world and an obstacle to the proclamation of the Gospel."

  "Peter and Andrew," the Holy Father reiterated, "were called together to become fishers of men. This same task, however, took on a different form for each of the brothers. Simon ... was called 'Peter,' the 'rock' on which the Church was to be built; to him ... were entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. His journey would take him from Jerusalem to Antioch, and from Antioch to Rome, so that in that city he might exercise a universal responsibility.

  "The issue of the universal service of Peter and his Successors has unfortunately given rise to our differences of opinion, which we hope to overcome, thanks also to the theological dialogue which has been recently resumed. My venerable predecessor, Servant of God Pope John Paul II, spoke of the mercy that characterizes Peter's service of unity. ... It is on this basis that Pope John Paul extended an invitation to enter into a fraternal dialogue aimed at identifying ways in which the Petrine ministry might be exercised today, while respecting its nature and essence, so as to 'accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned'."

  As for Andrew, who spoke Greek, "he became ... the Apostle of the encounter with the Greeks. ... The Apostle Andrew, therefore, represents the meeting between early Christianity and Greek culture. This encounter, particularly in Asia Minor, became possible thanks especially to the great Cappadocian Fathers, who enriched the liturgy, theology and spirituality of both the Eastern and the Western Churches.

  "The Christian message, like the grain of wheat, fell on this land and bore much fruit," said Pope Benedict. "We must be profoundly grateful for the heritage that emerged from the fruitful encounter between the Christian message and Hellenic culture. It has had an enduring impact on the Churches of East and West."

  "In the course of history, both the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople have often experienced the lesson of the grain of wheat. Together we venerate many of the same martyrs. ... With them, we share the same hope that impels the Church to 'press forward, like a stranger in a foreign land, amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God.' For its part, the century that has just ended also saw courageous witnesses to the faith, in both East and West. Even now, there are many such witnesses in different parts of the world. We remember them in our prayer and, in whatever way we can, we offer them our support, as we urge all world leaders to respect religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

  "The divine liturgy in which we have participated was celebrated according to the rite of St. John Chrysostom. The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ have been made mystically present. ... This faith in the redeeming death of Jesus on the cross, and this hope which the Risen Christ offers to the whole human family, are shared by all of us, Orthodox and Catholics alike. May our daily prayer and activity be inspired by a fervent desire not only to be present at the divine liturgy, but to be able to celebrate it together, to take part in the one table of the Lord, sharing the same bread and the same chalice."

  At the conclusion of the liturgical celebration, the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch imparted the final blessing together.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2006 (VIS) - This afternoon, Benedict XVI departed by plane from Izmir, landing an hour later at the airport of Istanbul. From there, he travelled by car to the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, center of the worldwide Orthodox Church and residence of the ecumenical patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I.

  The ecumenical patriarch is "primus inter pares" (first among equals) with respect to the other patriarchs of the Orthodox Church. The primacy of Constantinople serves to represent canonically the unity of Orthodoxy and to coordinate its activities. Apart from Istanbul itself, the patriarch's ecclesiastical jurisdiction includes four Turkish dioceses, as well as Mount Athos, Crete, Patmos and the Dodecanese Islands and, as a result of migrations, dioceses in Central and Western Europe, the Americas, Pakistan and Japan. Orthodox faithful in other parts of the world not subject to the direct jurisdiction of one of the other Orthodox patriarchs also depend upon the ecumenical patriarch.

  For many centuries, the headquarters of the patriarchate was the cathedral of Santa Sophia. Following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, it was transferred to other areas of the city. Since 1601, it has been based in the Fanar neighborhood.

  The patriarchal church of St. George, built in 1720, stands next to the patriarchate. The building has no cupola because, according to rules established by the Ottomans after their conquest of Constantinople, domes were reserved for mosques and other buildings associated with the Islamic faith. Among the relics kept in the church, are parts of St. Gregory Nazianzus and St. John Chrysostom, donated by John Paul II to the Patriarch Bartholomew I in November 2004.

  At 7.30 p.m., the Holy Father and His Holiness Bartholomew I participated in a liturgical act of prayer in the church of St. George.

  Following an address by the ecumenical patriarch, Benedict XVI made some remarks:

  "It gives me great joy," he said speaking English, "to be among you, my brothers in Christ, in this cathedral church, as we pray together to the Lord and call to mind the momentous events that have sustained our commitment to work for the full unity of Catholics and Orthodox. I wish above all to recall the courageous decision to remove the memory of the anathemas of 1054."

  After highlighting how the "new relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople have developed" upon a foundation of mutual love, Pope Benedict indicated how "signs of this love have been evident in numerous declarations of shared commitment and many meaningful gestures."

  "I also rejoice," he continued, "to be in this land so closely connected to the Christian faith, where many Churches flourished in ancient times. I think of Saint Peter's exhortations to the early Christian communities, ... and the rich harvest of martyrs, theologians, pastors, monastics, and holy men and women which those Churches brought forth over the centuries."

  The saints and Doctors of the Church, Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom, whose relics rest partly in the Vatican Basilica and partly "in this very Cathedral," said the Pope, are "truly worthy intercessors for us before the Lord.

  "In this part of the Eastern world," he added, "were also held the seven Ecumenical Councils which Orthodox and Catholics alike acknowledge as authoritative for the faith and discipline of the Church. They are enduring milestones and guides along our path towards full unity."

  The Pope concluded his remarks by expressing "once more my joy to be with you. May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the Churches."

  After the ceremony, Benedict XVI went to "Casa Roncalli," where he spent the night. "Casa Roncalli" was the residence and headquarters of Msgr. Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, who was apostolic delegate to Turkey from 1935 to 1944.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Franca, Brazil, presented by Bishop Diogenes Silva Matthes, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Caetano Ferrari O.F.M.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 29, 2006 (VIS) - At 8 a.m. today, Benedict XVI travelled by plane from Ankara to the Turkish city of Izmir. From there he went by car to Ephesus.

  Today a city of some 18,000 inhabitants, Ephesus is among the most famous archaeological sites on the shores of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, it was the location of the Temple of Diana, one of the seven Wonders of the World. The city was also home to one of the earliest Christian communities. St. Paul resided there for three years, and St. John the Evangelist lived and died there. In the year 431, an ecumenical council was held at Ephesus which proclaimed the divine motherhood of Mary.

  The shrine of "Meryem Ana Evi" (House of Mother Mary) 4 kilometers from Ephesus, where the Pope met with the Catholic community resident in Turkey, is a center of Marian devotion unique in the world. However, no archeological traces remain, and evidence that Mary truly lived in Ephesus with St. John the Evangelist rests on a first-century tradition and a thirteenth-century Syrian account. The shrine is frequented not only by Christians but also by Muslims who come to venerate Mary in the course of pilgrimages to the nearby Mosque of Isa Bey.

  At 11.30 a.m., Benedict XVI arrived at the shrine's convent of Capuchin Friars, spending a few moments in the chapel and the sacristy before going on to the shrine itself where, at midday, he celebrated Mass. In opening his homily, the Pope gave thanks to God "for Mary's divine motherhood," and described Ephesus as a place "dear to the Christian community," recalling the visits there by his "venerable predecessors the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II," and in particular Blessed John XXIII, papal representative to Turkey from 1935 to 1944.

  John XXIII, said the Pope in his English-language talk, "left to the Church and the world  the legacy of his Christian optimism, rooted in deep faith and constant union with God. In that same spirit, I turn to this nation and, in a special way, to the 'little flock' of Christ living in its midst, in order to offer a word of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole Church."

  The Pope mentioned St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians, which contains the expression "Christ is our peace," the motto of his apostolic trip. "The Apostle explains," said the Pope, "how, in a truly unforeseen way, messianic peace has now come about in Christ's own person and His saving mystery. He explains it by writing, during his imprisonment, to the Christian community which lived here, in Ephesus. ... The Apostle wishes them 'grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' Grace is the power that transforms man and the world; peace is the mature fruit of this transformation.  Christ is grace; Christ is peace."

  "The Apostle of the Gentiles says that Christ 'has made us both one'," said the Holy Father, pointing out that these words refer to the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. "Yet they can also extend, by analogy, to the relationship between the peoples and civilizations present in the world.  Christ 'came to proclaim peace,' not only between Jews and non-Jews, but between all nations, since all have their origin in the same God."

  "From this edge of the Anatolian peninsula, a natural bridge between continents, let us implore peace and reconciliation, above all for those dwelling in the Land called 'Holy' and considered as such by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike: it is the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, destined to be the home of a people that would become a blessing for all the nations. Peace for all of humanity!  May Isaiah's prophecy soon be fulfilled: 'They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'

  "We all need this universal peace," he added, "and the Church is called to be not only the prophetic herald, but even more, the 'sign and instrument' of this peace.  Against the backdrop of universal peace, the yearning for full communion and concord between all Christians becomes even more profound and intense.

  "Present at today's celebration are Catholic faithful of various rites, and this is a reason for joyful praise of God.  These rites, when they converge in unity and common witness, are an expression of that marvelous variety which adorns the Bride of Christ."

  "Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope concluded, "in this visit I have wanted to convey my personal love and spiritual closeness, together with that of the universal Church, to the Christian community here in Turkey, a small minority which faces many challenges. ... With firm trust let us sing, together with Mary, a Magnificat of praise and thanksgiving to God who has looked with favor upon the lowliness of his servant.  Let us sing joyfully, even when we are tested by difficulties and dangers, as we have learned from the fine witness given by ... Don Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to recall in this celebration." Fr. Santoro, a priest from Rome, was killed in February this year while praying at his church in the Turkish city of Trabzon.

  This afternoon, the Pope is scheduled to travel from Izmir to Istanbul where he will meet the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today, at the apostolic nunciature in Ankara, the Holy Father met with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Turkish government.

  In his address to them he highlighted how he had come "as a friend and as an apostle of dialogue and peace," adding that "true peace needs justice, to correct the economic imbalances and political disturbances which always give rise to tension and threaten every society."

  In order to prevent conflict, the Holy Father continued, it is not enough to respect and support "the decisions of international institutions." There must be "authentic dialogue, ... in order to arrive at lasting and acceptable political solutions, respectful of persons and peoples.  I am thinking most especially of the disturbing conflict in the Middle East, which shows no sign of abating and weighs heavily on the whole of international life;  I am thinking of the risk of peripheral conflicts multiplying and terrorist actions spreading.  I appreciate the efforts of numerous countries currently engaged in rebuilding peace in Lebanon, Turkey among them."

  "I appeal once more to the vigilance of the international community, that it not abandon its responsibilities, but make every effort to promote dialogue among all parties involved, which alone can guarantee respect for others, while safeguarding legitimate interests and rejecting recourse to violence."

  Pope Benedict then highlighted how "the Turkish Constitution recognizes every citizen's right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience.  The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities.  Naturally it is my hope that believers, whichever religious community they belong to, will continue to benefit from these rights, since I am certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all.  This assumes, of course, that religions do not seek to exercise direct political power, as that is not their province, and it also assumes that they utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion.

  "In this regard," he added, "I appreciate the work of the Catholic community in Turkey, small in number but deeply committed to contributing all it can to the country's development, notably by educating the young, and by building peace and harmony among all citizens."

  The Pope again stressed the need for dialogue which, he said, "must enable different religions to come to know one another better and to respect one another, in order to work for the fulfillment of man's noblest aspirations, in search of God and in search of happiness."

  He reiterated his "great esteem for Muslims," and he encouraged them "to continue to work together, in mutual respect, to promote the dignity of every human being and the growth of a society where personal freedom and care for others provide peace and serenity for all."

  "Assuredly, recognition of the positive role of religions within the fabric of society can and must impel us to explore more deeply their knowledge of man and to respect his dignity, by placing him at the center of political, economic, cultural and social activity.  Our world must come to realize that all people are linked by profound solidarity with one another, and they must be encouraged to assert their historical and cultural differences not for the sake of confrontation, but in order to foster mutual respect."

  The Church, he said, is committed "to serve the cause of humanity," and he added: "I would be failing in this fundamental obligation if I did not remind you of the need always to place human dignity at the very heart of our concerns. The world is experiencing an extraordinary development of science and technology, with almost immediate consequences for medicine, agriculture and food production, but also for the communication of knowledge; this process must not lack direction or a human point of reference, when it relates to birth, education, manner of life or work, of old age, or death.

  "I sincerely hope," he concluded, "that the good relations between nations, which it is your task to serve, may also contribute increasingly to the genuine growth of humanity, created in the image of God.  Such a noble goal requires the contribution of all.  For this reason the Catholic Church intends to renew its co-operation with the Orthodox Church and I hope that my forthcoming meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Fanar will effectively serve this objective."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. local time today, Benedict XVI travelled by car to the "Diyanet," Turkey's presidency for religious affairs where he met with Ali Bardokoglu, president of that department, and with various Turkish Muslims leaders, among them the Grand Mufti of Ankara and the Grand Mufti of Istanbul.

  The Pope began his English-language talk to them by greeting "all the Muslims in Turkey with particular esteem and affectionate regard." He also recalled how Turkey "is very dear to Christians: many of the earliest Church communities were founded here and grew to maturity, inspired by the preaching of the Apostles, particularly St. Paul and St. John. ... This noble land has also seen a remarkable flowering of Islamic civilization in the most diverse fields, including its literature and art, as well as its institutions. There are so many Christian and Muslim monuments that bear witness to Turkey's glorious past," in which "you rightly take pride."

  Benedict XVI then went on to explain how he had set out for Turkey "with the same sentiments as those expressed by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII, when he came here as Archbishop Giuseppe Roncalli, to fulfil the office of papal representative to Istanbul: '... I love the Turks, I appreciate the natural qualities of these people who have their own place reserved in the march of civilization'." Pope Benedict also reiterated the words of John Paul II, who visited the country in 1979: 'I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together, for the benefit of all men, peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.'

  Such questions, Pope Benedict continued, "impel us to carry forward our dialogue as a sincere exchange between friends. ... Christians and Muslims, following their respective religions, point to the truth of the sacred character and dignity of the person.  This is the basis of our mutual respect and esteem, this is the basis for cooperation in the service of peace between nations and peoples."

  "Christians and Muslims belong to the family of those who believe in the one God and who, according to their respective traditions, trace their ancestry to Abraham. This human and spiritual unity in our origins and our destiny impels us to seek a common path. ... As men and women of religion, we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development, solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defense of life, protection of the environment and of the resources of the earth. This is because we too, while respecting the legitimate autonomy of temporal affairs, have a specific contribution to offer in the search for proper solutions to these pressing questions."

  "Above all," he added, "we can offer a credible response to the question which emerges clearly from today's society, ... the question about the meaning and purpose of life, for each individual and for humanity as a whole. We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God His rightful place.  The best way forward is via authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims, based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better, respecting differences and recognizing what we have in common."

  "As an illustration of the fraternal respect with which Christians and Muslims can work together, I would like to quote some words addressed by Pope Gregory VII in 1076 to a Muslim prince in North Africa who had acted with great benevolence towards the Christians under his jurisdiction. Pope Gregory spoke of the particular charity that Christians and Muslims owe to one another 'because we believe in one God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise Him and worship Him every day as the Creator and Ruler of the world.'

  "Freedom of religion, institutionally guaranteed and effectively respected in practice, both for individuals and communities, constitutes for all believers the necessary condition for their loyal contribution to the building up of society, in an attitude of authentic service, especially towards the most vulnerable and the most poor."

  The Pope completed his address by giving thanks to God "for this happy occasion that brings us together in His name," and expressed the hope that Christians and Muslims "may come to know one another better, strengthening the bonds of affection between us in our common wish to live together in harmony, peace and mutual trust."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Bernard Housset of Montauban, France, as bishop of La Rochelle (area 6,863, population 559,600, Catholics 381,700, priests 130, permanent deacons 15, religious 234), France.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, the Pope will preside at the celebration of the first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent, according to a note made public today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.20 a.m. today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for Turkey, where he landed three hours later at Ankara's Esemboga airport. Thus began Benedict XVI's fifth apostolic trip outside Italy.

  Speaking to the journalists accompanying him on his flight, the Pope affirmed that his visit to Turkey "is not political but pastoral," and that its aim is "dialogue and the shared commitment to peace."

  As he descended from his aircraft, the Holy Father was greeted by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, by the governor of the local region, and by the military commander and the mayor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, a city of some five million inhabitants. Also there to greet him was Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini O.F.M. Cap., of Izmir, president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Turkey.

  The Holy Father then went to a room within the airport building where he held a meeting with the prime minister.

  Following this meeting, which lasted 20 minutes, the Pope travelled by car to the Mausoleum of Ataturk some 45 kilometers from the city. Built between 1944 and 1953, it holds the earthly remains of Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk" (Father of the Turks), founder and first president of the Turkish Republic (1923-1938). Within the building, which resembles a Greek temple and is reached by a flight of steps, the walls are covered in green marble and the ceiling decorated with gold mosaics. The cenotaph to Ataturk is made from a single block of marble weighing 40 tonnes.

  At 3 p.m. local time (2 p.m. in Rome), Benedict XVI was received by Ahmet Necdet Sezer, president of the Republic of Turkey, in the presidential palace. Subsequently he met with one of the country's two vice prime ministers in the "Guest House" of the presidential palace.

  This afternoon, the Pope is scheduled to meet with Ali Bardokoglu, Turkey's president for religious affairs, in the "Diyanet," the headquarters of his department.

  Turkey has 72 million inhabitants, of whom 99.8 percent are Muslims. The remaining 0.20 percent is made up of Christians of various rites (Greek-Orthodox, Syro-Orthodox, Armenian-Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics) and Jews.

  Catholics number some 32,000, about 0.04 percent of the total population. The Catholic Episcopal Conference of Turkey is made up of six bishops. Currently, there are 47 parishes, 68 priests, 98 male and female religious, four permanent deacons, five major seminarians and 28 catechists.

Monday, November 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Sarat Chandra Nayak, chancellor of the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, India, as bishop of Berhampur (area 51,289, population 7,761,600, Catholics 103,800, priests 119, religious 205), India. The bishop-elect was born in Kerubadi, India, in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1990. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Das, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday, November 25, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Bujumbura, Burundi, separating the diocese of that name from the county's only existing ecclesiastical province of Gitega. The new ecclesiastical province will have as suffragans the dioceses of Bubanza and Bururi. He appointed Bishop Evariste Ngoyagoye of Bujumbura, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription. The archbishop-elect was born in Jenda, Burundi in 1942, he was ordained a priest in 1966 and consecrated a bishop in 1980.

- Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Goa and Damao (area 25,293, population 7,092,068, Catholics 645,194, priests 644, religious 959), India. Until now, the archdiocese of that name has been immediately subject to the Holy See. The new ecclesiastical province will have as suffragan the diocese of Sindhudurg. He appointed Archbishop Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Damao, patriarch "ad honorem" of the East Indies, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription.

 - Consenting to the request of the Mexican episcopate, he ordered the following restructuring of the ecclesial provinces of Mexico:

A) He erected the ecclesiastical provinces of:

 - Baja California, elevating the diocese of Tijuana to the status of metropolitan archdiocese and assigning it as suffragans the dioceses of La Paz and Mexicali. He appointed Bishop Rafael Romo Munoz of Tijuana, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription.
- Bajio, elevating the diocese of Leon to the status of metropolitan archdiocese and assigning it as suffragans the dioceses of Celaya, Irapuato and Queretaro. He appointed Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription.
- Hidalgo, elevating the diocese of Tulancingo to the status of metropolitan archdiocese and assigning it as suffragans the dioceses of Huejutla and Tula. He appointed Bishop Pedro Aranda Diaz-Munoz of Tulancingo, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription.
- Hidalgo, elevating the diocese of Tuxtla Gutierrez to the status of metropolitan archdiocese and assigning it as suffragans the dioceses of San Cristobal de las Casas and Tapachula. He appointed Bishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tuxtla Gutierrez, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new circumscription.

B) He assigned the following suffragans:

- To the metropolitan church of Hermosillo, the dioceses of Ciudad Obregon and Culiacan.
 - To the metropolitan church of Durango, the dioceses of Mazatlan and Torreon, and the territorial prelature of El Salto.
 - To the metropolitan church of Monterrey, the dioceses of Ciudad Victoria, Linares, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Saltillo, Piedras Negras and Tampico.
 - To the metropolitan church of San Luis Potosi, the dioceses of Ciudad Valles, Matehuala and Zacatecas.
 - To the metropolitan church of Guadalajara, the dioceses of Aguascalientes, Autlan, Ciudad Guzman, Colima, San Juan de los Lagos and Tepic, and the territorial prelature of Jesus Maria.
 - To the metropolitan church of Morelia, the dioceses of Apatzingan, Ciudad Lazaro Cardenas, Tacambaro and Zamora.
 - To the metropolitan church of Mexico, the dioceses of Atlacomulco, Cuernavaca and Toluca.
 - To the metropolitan church of Acapulco, the dioceses of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, Ciudad Altamirano and Tlapa.
 - To the metropolitan church of Puebla de los Angeles, Puebla, the dioceses of Huajuapan de Leon, Tehuacan and Tlaxcala.
 - To the metropolitan church of Antequera, Oaxaca, the dioceses of Puerto Escondido, Tehuantepec, Tuxtepec and the territorial prelatures of Huautla and Mixes.

C) He confirmed the following as suffragans:

 - To the metropolitan church of Chihuahua, the dioceses of Ciudad Juarez, Cuauhtemoc-Madera, Nuevo Casas Grandes, Parral and Tarahumara.
 - To the metropolitan church of Tlalnepantla, the dioceses of Cuautitlan, Ecatepec, Netzahualcoyotl, Texcoco and Valle de Chalco.
 - To the metropolitan church of Jalapa, the dioceses of Coatzacoalcos, Cordoba, Orizaba, Papantla, San Andres Tuxtla, Tuxpan and Veracruz.
 - To the metropolitan church of Yucatan, the dioceses of Campeche and Tabasco, and the territorial prelature of Cancun-Chetumal.

- Appointed Bishop Peter Kihara Kariuki I.M.C., of Muranga, Kenya, as bishop of Marsabit, (area 78,078, population 205,291, Catholics 22,914, priests 23, religious 56), Kenya. He succeeds Bishop Ambrogio Ravasi I.M.C., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Paul R. Ruzoka of Kigoma, Tanzania, as archbishop of Tabora (area 76,151, population 1,534,314, Catholics 269,956, priests 55, religious 243), Tanzania. The archbishop-elect was born in Kigoma in 1948, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 1990.

 - Appointed Msgr. Joseph Karikassery, vicar general of the archdiocese of Verapoly, India, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 1,500, population 2,804,307, Catholics 270,188, priests 359, religious 1,484). The bishop-elect was born in Karthedom, India in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications: Cardinals Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, and Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishops Simon Victor Tonye Bakot of Yaounde, Cameroon; and George Hugh Niederauer of San Francisco, U.S.A.

- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications: Msgr. Owen F. Campion of the diocese of Nashville, U.S.A., director of "Our Sunday Visitor;" Msgr. Claudio Giuliodori, director of the national office for social communications of the Italian Episcopal Conference; Msgr. Stanislas Lalanne, secretary general of the French Episcopal Conference; Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, director of the secretariat of the Spanish Episcopal Conference's episcopal commission for the social communication media; David Gutierrez Gutierrez of the archdiocese of Coro, Venezuela, director of the press office of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM); Fr. Antonio Pereira Rego, coordinator of religious programs for Portuguese television; Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, and director general of Vatican Radio and of the Vatican Television Center; Fr. Silvio Sassi S.S.P., superior general of the Society of St. Paul; Fr. Jacob Srampikal S.J., director of the interdisciplinary center for social communications at the Gregorian University in Rome; Sr. Maria Antonietta Bruscato F.S.P., superior general of the Daughters of St. Paul; Carl Albert Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Order of the Knights of Columbus, U.S.A.; Benedict Assorow, director of CEPACS, the communications office of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM); Ettore Bernabei of Rome; Jesus Colina, director of the Zenit news agency, Rome; Ignatius Handoko, president of Indosiar, Jakarta, Indonesia; Giancarlo Leone of Rome; Albert Scharf, former director of "Bayerischer Rundfunk," Germany; Anthony Spence, director of the Catholic News Service, Washington, U.S.A.; and Dirk H. Voss, director of the "St. Ulrich Verlag," Augsburg, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Nine prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Agostino Superbo of Potenza-Muro Lucano-Marsico Nuovo, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Ennio Appignanesi.

    - Archbishop Giovanni Ricchiuti of Acerenza, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Michele Scandiffio.

    - Archbishop Salvatore Ligorio of Matera-Irsina.

    - Bishop Gianfranco Todisco P.O.C.R., of Melfi-Rapolla-Venosa, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Vincenzo Cozzi.

    - Bishop Vincenzo Carmine Orofino of Tricarico.

    - Bishop Francescantonio Nole O.F.M. Conv., of Tursi-Lagonegro.

 - Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan, president emeritus of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

  On Saturday, November 25, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Two prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Tommaso Valentinetti of Pescara-Penne.

    - Bishop Michele Seccia of Teramo-Atri.
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THE POPE SENT A LETTER TO CARDINAL Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, for the Solemnity of Christ the King. On Saturday, November 25, the eve of the Solemnity, the great door of the basilica was opened "in the course of a special procession," the Pope writes, "during which the faithful were given the opportunity to meditate upon sacred music and the art of the basilica, evoking the 'Basilica domus,' the house of the King. ... Christ, Who declared His kingship, but not of this world, ... overcomes evil with good, hatred and violence with forgiveness and love. The throne of this King, Whom we adore today, is the Cross, and His victory is Love, an omnipotent love that from the Cross scatters is gifts upon humanity of all times and places."

MADE PUBLIC TODAY, NOVEMBER 27, WAS A LETTER from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, for a pan-Asian meeting of members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture with presidents of the national episcopal commissions for culture. The meeting is being held in Denpasar, Bali, from November 26 to 30. "It was in Asia that God revealed and fulfilled His saving purpose from the beginning," writes the Pope in his English-language Letter, "and it was there too, in the fullness of time, that He sent His only-begotten Son to be our Savior. I pray, therefore, that this continent, in which the great events of the history of salvation took place, may encounter anew the living Lord, the Word made flesh, in the context of its rich variety of cultures."

CARDINAL GIOVANNI BATTISTA RE, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, is to be the Holy Father's special envoy to the solemn closing ceremony of celebrations marking the ninth centenary of the dedication of the cathedral of Parma, Italy. The event is due to take place on December 3. The Holy Father's Letter appointing Cardinal Re to this mission, written in Latin and dated October 6, was made public on November 25.

ARCHBISHOP SILVANO M. TOMASI C.S., permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and International Institutions in Geneva, delivered a talk on November 20 before the 6th review conference of States-parties to the "Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction" (BWC). In his talk, the archbishop affirmed that "the universal application of this convention must be a priority. No State must remain outside, under whatever pretext. ... This must translate into complete cooperation, over and above the economic and commercial interests of each."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2006 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled how tomorrow, Tuesday, he begins his apostolic trip to Turkey where, between November 28 and December 1, he will visit Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul.

  "From this moment," he said, "I would like to send my cordial greetings to the dear Turkish people, so rich in history and culture. To that people, and to their representatives, I extend sentiments of respect and sincere friendship."

  Benedict XVI also mentioned the "deep emotion" he felt at having the opportunity to meet the country's "small Catholic community, which is ever present in my heart, and to unite myself fraternally with the Orthodox Church for the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle," on November 30.

  "I trustingly follow the footsteps of my venerated predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, and I invoke the celestial protection of Blessed John XXIII who for ten years was apostolic delegate in Turkey and nourished great affection and respect for that country."

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by asking everyone to accompany him "with prayer, that this pilgrimage may bring the fruits that God desires."

  Pope Benedict then went on to recall World AIDS Day which falls on December 1. "May this circumstance," he said, "favor greater responsibility in the treatment of the illness, and a commitment to prevent all discrimination against those afflicted by it. Invoking the comfort of the Lord upon the sick and the families, I encourage the many initiatives the Church operates in this field."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2006 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus today, Solemnity of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the liturgical year, Benedict XVI recalled how today's Gospel reading recounts the meeting between Jesus and Pontius Pilate.

  "Answering the Roman governor's questions, Jesus affirms His kingship but says it is not of this world. He did not come to dominate peoples and lands, but to free mankind from the slavery of sin, and to reconcile him with God. And He added: 'For this ... I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth'."

  "But what is this 'truth'," the Holy Father asked, "to which Christ has come to bear witness in the world?" And he answered: "His entire existence reveals that God is love. This is, then, the truth to which He bore full witness with the sacrifice of His life at Calvary. The Cross is the 'throne' from which he demonstrated the sublime regality of God-Love. Offering Himself in atonement for the sin of the world, He defeated the dominion of 'the ruler of this world' and definitively established the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that will be fully realized at the end of time, after all the enemies - and in the last instance, death - will have been defeated. Then the Son will consign the Kingdom to the Father and, finally, God will 'be everything to everyone.'

  "The road to reach this goal," the Pope added, "is long and no shortcuts are allowed. Indeed, it is necessary for each individual to freely accept the truth of God's love. He is Love and Truth, and neither love nor truth ever impose themselves; they knock at the door of the heart and the mind and, where they are allowed in, they bring peace and joy. This is the way God reigns, this is His process of salvation, a 'mystery' in the biblical sense of the word, in other words a plan that is revealed little by little over history."

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by pointing out how "the Virgin Mary is associated with Jesus' regality. ... God asked that humble girl from Nazareth to become the mother of the Messiah, and Mary answered this call with all of herself, uniting her unconditional 'yes' to that of the Son Jesus and making herself, with Him, obedient even unto sacrifice. For this reason, God exalted her over all other creatures, and Christ crowned her Queen of heaven and earth."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 25, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received representatives from the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies (FISC) who have just concluded a congress dedicated to the theme: "Catholics in political life, free or missing?"

  The Pope greeted Bishop Giuseppe Bertori, secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Fr. Giorgio Zucchelli, president of the FISC, as well as the directors and staff of more than 160 diocesan newspapers. He also recalled how this year the FISC "is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation."

  The idea to create a federation of Catholic weeklies arose, said the Holy Father, "from a desire to make the Church's pastoral activity and presence more visible and incisive."

  The pages of diocesan newspapers give a picture "of the life of the Church and society in Italy," said the Pope, emphasizing the fact that "the special role of the Christian-inspired social communications media is to educate minds and to form public opinion in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel.

  "Their function," he added, "is to serve the truth courageously, helping public opinion to contemplate, understand and experience reality with the eyes of God. The aim of the diocesan newspaper is to give everyone a message of truth and hope, highlighting events and situations where the Gospel is put into practice, where goodness and truth triumph, and where man laboriously and imaginatively builds and rebuilds the fabric ... of small communities."

  "The rapid evolution of social communications and the advent of many forms of advanced technology in the media have not rendered your role ineffective," he went on. "Quite the contrary, in some ways it has become even more meaningful and important because it gives a voice to the local communities that are not adequately represented in the great information channels. ... You can reach those places where traditional pastoral care methods fail to arrive."

  "Your weekly publications are rightly described as 'papers of the people,' because they retain their link with the events and lives of people on the ground, transmitting the popular traditions and the rich cultural and religious heritage of your towns and cities."

  "Continue to ensure that your newspapers create a network facilitating relations ... between individual citizens and institutions, between associations, the various social groups, parishes and ecclesial movements. This is a service you can also undertake in the social and political field," the Holy Father concluded, "your weeklies can become significant 'meeting places' ... for lay faithful involved in the political and social fields, places in which to hold a dialogue and to discover convergence and shared aims in the service of the Gospel and the common good."
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Friday, November 24, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Matthias Kobena Nketsiah of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cape Coast, Ghana, pastor of the parish of St. John the Baptist, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,788, population 1,689,908, Catholics 292,685, priests 113, religious 135). The bishop-elect was born in Kakomdo, Ghana in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1970.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L'Aquila.

    - Bishop Giuseppe Di Falco of Sulmona-Valva.

    - Msgr. Domenico Ramelli, diocesan administrator of Avezzano.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences three prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Armando Dini of Campobasso-Boiano, and apostolic administrator of Isernia-Venafro.

    - Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto.

    - Archbishop Carlo Ghidelli of Lanciano-Ortona.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - On November 17, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and International Institutions in Geneva, delivered an address at the closing session of the "Third Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons" (CCW).

  "It is regrettable," said the archbishop in his English-language address, "that States Parties were unable to reach agreement on a legally binding instrument on Mines Other Than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM). The failure to achieve such an agreement has left a real disappointment in the expectations of many people who see that it could have provided a good and adequate response to the humanitarian concerns posed by these weapons. For now, then, strong and specific national measures will have to be taken by individual States to make up for this impasse until an international consensus can be reached."

  Archbishop Tomasi pointed out how his delegation has "supported from the beginning negotiations for a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions and opted for a moratorium in the meantime, prompted by the overwhelming evidence of the humanitarian disasters caused by such weapons, especially on the civilian population."

  "Since the humanitarian dimension of this question is so serious, and demands an urgent response, it is understandable and worthwhile that all additional initiatives that can be taken to move forward the process towards an international agreement be encouraged."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has released the following communique concerning today's visit to the Holy Father by Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales, president of the Republic of Honduras. The president, accompanied by Milton Danilo Jimenez Puerto, foreign minister, also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  "During the discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality," reads the communique, "attention turned to the question of Latin American development, with particular emphasis on the Catholic Church's contribution in that field. Attention was also given to the Church's commitment to education and formation (especially of the young) in moral values, which are the foundation for fighting corruption and favoring transparency in all fields of national life."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received participants in an international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference is being held in the Vatican from November 23 to 25 on the theme: "Pastoral aspects of the treatment of infectious diseases."

  The Holy Father recalled how, alongside the generous service and "concrete gestures of love" shown towards people suffering infectious diseases, there are also many injustices. "How can we forget," he said, "the many people with infections illnesses forced into segregation, and sometimes marked by a humiliating stigma? The seriousness of these lamentable situations is highlighted by the disparity of social and economic conditions between the North and South of the world. Such situations must be answered with concrete initiatives that favor proximity to the sick, enliven the evangelization of culture, and inspire the social and economic policies of governments."

  On the subject of closeness to the sick, Benedict XVI mentioned "the rich tradition of the Catholic Church," which, he said, "must be kept alive by exercising charity towards the suffering, so as to ensure the enduring visibility of values inspired by true humanity and by the Gospel: the dignity of the individual, mercy, and the identification of the sick with Christ. All initiatives are inadequate if they do not make love for man perceptible, a love nourished in the meeting with Christ.

  "This irreplaceable proximity to the sick," he added, "must be united to the evangelization of the cultural environment in which we live." In this context he mentioned "attitudes of indifference or even of exclusion and rejection," which are sometimes shown towards the sick in societies fixated with well-being. "Such an attitude is also favored by the image projected by the media of men and women prevalently concerned with physical beauty, health and biological vitality. This is a dangerous cultural tendency that encourages people to focus on self, to close themselves in their own little world, and to avoid committing themselves to serving those in need."

  The Holy Father emphasized the necessity "for a form of pastoral care capable of helping the sick bear their suffering, helping them transform their condition into an occasion of grace for themselves and others, through living participation in the mystery of Christ."

  Finally, Benedict XVI underlined the importance of "collaborating with various public institutions in order to ensure that social justice is practiced in a delicate field such as that of the care and assistance of people suffering infectious illness." In this context, he mentioned "the equal distribution of resources for research and therapy, as well as the promotion of living conditions that can prevent the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 24, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI received directors and employees of the Vatican Museums, which this year are celebrating their fifth centenary.

  In his talk to them, the Holy Father pointed out how so far this year over four million people have visited the Museums, 200,000 more than in 2005. A large part of the visitors "are not Catholics," he said, "and many are not even believers."

  "The approach to Christian truth through artistic or socio-cultural expressions, has a greater chance of appealing to the intelligence and sensitivity of people who do not belong to the Catholic Church, and who may sometimes nourish feelings of prejudice or indifference towards her. Visitors to the Vatican Museums, by dwelling in this sanctuary of art and faith, have the opportunity to 'immerse' themselves in a concentrated atmosphere of 'theology by images'."

  Pope Benedict then went on to mention "a truth written into the 'genetic code' of the Vatican Museums: that the great Classical and Judeo-Christian civilizations are not in opposition to one another, rather they come together in God's unique plan. Proof of this is to be found in the fact that the earliest origins of this institution may be traced back to a work we could well define as 'profane' - the magnificent sculpture of Laocoon - but that, in reality, in the setting of the Vatican, acquires its full and authentic light. It is the light of human beings formed by God; of freedom in the drama of their redemption, drawn between earth and heaven, between flesh and the spirit. It is the light of a beauty that shines from within the work of art, and brings the spirit to open itself to the sublime, to the place where the Creator encounters the creatures made in His image and likeness."

  "The Museum truly shows how Christianity and culture, faith and art, the divine and the human, constantly intertwine. And in this regard, the Sistine Chapel represents the insurmountable pinnacle."

  The Pope concluded his talk by stressing the importance of the example Vatican Museums employees show visitors, "offering them a simple but incisive witness of faith. A temple of art and culture such as the Vatican Museums requires the beauty of the works to be accompanied by the beauty of the people who work there: a spiritual beauty that renders the atmosphere truly ecclesial, impregnating it with the Christian spirit."
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Thursday, November 23, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as counsellor to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Two prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Gianfranco De Luca of Termoli-Lariano.

    - Bishop Domenico Angelo Scotti of Trivento.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience directors and employees of the Vatican Museums.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a telegram, in the Holy Father's name, to Metropolitan Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice, Poland, for Tuesday's accident at the Halemba coal mine in which 23 miners were killed.

  "The Holy Father commends," the cardinal writes, "the souls of the dead to the mercy of God, asking Him to accept the offer of their labors and their life, and to introduce them to His glory. ... With a cordial prayer, he embraces the families of the dead, and everyone weeping their sudden loss. Upon them, he imparts his apostolic blessing, which he also extends to the entire archdiocese of Katowice."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2006 (VIS) - Following their private meeting this morning, the Pope and the archbishop of Canterbury signed a Common Declaration in the presence of members of the Anglican delegation accompanying the archbishop, and of Catholic representatives led by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster.

  In their English-language declaration, Benedict XVI and Archbishop Williams note that 40 years ago their predecessors, Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, undertook "to establish a dialogue in which matters which had been divisive in the past might be addressed from a fresh perspective with truth and love."

  "True ecumenism," they write, "goes beyond theological dialogue; it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness. As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans have found in each other a love for Christ which invites us into practical cooperation and service."

  "The International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) has been engaged in an exploration of the appropriate ways in which our shared mission to proclaim new life in Christ to the world can be advanced and nurtured. Their report ... has recently been completed and submitted for review to the Anglican Communion Office and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and we express our gratitude for their work."

  They continue: "In this fraternal visit, we celebrate the good which has come from these four decades of dialogue. We are grateful to God for the gifts of grace which have accompanied them. At the same time, our long journey together makes it necessary to acknowledge publicly the challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress. It is a matter of urgency, therefore, that in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous.

  "As Christian leaders facing the challenges of the new millennium, we affirm again our public commitment to the revelation of divine life uniquely set forth by God in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it is through Christ and the means of salvation found in Him that healing and reconciliation are offered to us and to the world."

  The Holy Father and the primate of the Anglican Communion recognize that "there are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer cooperation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of children in the context of healthy family life; outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; addressing the negative effects of materialism; and care for creation and for our environment. We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters."

  Following the signing ceremony, the Holy Father and the archbishop of Canterbury went to the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel where together they prayed the "Hora media" in the presence of the Anglican and Catholic delegations.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 23, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the primate of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England. The archbishop's visit to Rome is taking place 40 years after the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the then archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey.

  In his address, the Holy Father, speaking English, recalled both that anniversary and the long history of relations between the See of Rome and the See of Canterbury, which began more than 1400 years ago. He also thanked Archbishop Williams and other representatives of the Anglican Communion for their presence at the funeral of John Paul II and at the inauguration of his own pontificate.
  "There is much in our relations over the past forty years for which we must give thanks," said the Holy Father. "The work of the theological dialogue commission; ... the friendship and good relations which exist in many places between Anglicans and Catholics [that] have helped to create a new context in which our shared witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been nourished and advanced; the visits of archbishops of Canterbury to the Holy See;" and the "constructive meeting of Anglican and Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Canada, in May 2000, when it was agreed to form a joint commission of bishops to discern appropriate ways to express in ecclesial life the progress which has already been made."

  "In the present context, however," he went on, "and especially in the secularized Western world, there are many negative influences and pressures which affect Christians and Christian communities. ... Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

  "We believe," he added, "that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations. It is to be hoped that the work of the theological dialogue, which had registered no small degree of agreement on these and other important theological matters, will continue to be taken seriously."

  "The world needs our witness and the strength which comes from an undivided proclamation of the Gospel," the Holy Father concluded. "Precisely for this reason, and even amidst present difficulties, it is important that we continue our theological dialogue. I hope that your visit will assist in finding constructive ways forward in the current circumstances."
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Antonio Muniz Fernandes O. Carm., of Guarabira, Brazil, as archbishop of Maceio (area 8,545, population 1,469,000, Catholics 955,000, priests 61, permanent deacons 24, religious 240), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Princesa Isabel, Brazil in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1980 and consecrated a bishop in 1998. He succeeds Archbishop Jose Carlos Melo C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Paulo Sergio Machado of Ituiutaba, Brazil, as bishop of Sao Carlos (area 13,056, population 1,029,854, Catholics 751,793, priests 119, permanent deacons 22, religious 171), Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., has written a note concerning a forthcoming book by Benedict XVI, scheduled for publication in the spring of 2007. The title of the volume is: "Gesu di Nazareth. Dal Battesimo nel Giordano alla Trasfigurazione" (Jesus of Nazareth, From His Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration).

  The Vatican Publishing House, which holds the copyright on all the Pope's writings, has ceded the world rights for the translation, distribution and marketing of this book to the Rizzoli Publishing House.

  "The fact that Benedict XVI has managed to complete the first part of his great book on Jesus, and that within a few months we will have it in our hands, is wonderful news," writes Fr. Lombardi in his note. "I find it extraordinary that despite the duties and concerns of the pontificate, he has managed to complete a work of such great academic and spiritual depth. He says he dedicated all his free time to the project; and this itself is a very significant indication of the importance and urgency the book has for him.

  "With his habitual simplicity and humility, the Pope explains that this is not a 'work of Magisterium' but the fruit of his own research, and as such it can be freely discussed and criticized. This is a very important observation, because it makes clear that what he writes in the book in no way binds the research of exegetes and theologians. It is not a long encyclical on Jesus, but a personal presentation of the figure of Jesus by the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, who has been elected as Bishop of Rome."

  In the book's preface, Fr. Lombardi's note says, the Holy Father "explains that in modern culture, and in many presentations of the figure of Jesus, the gap between the 'historical Jesus' and the 'Christ of the faith' has become ever wider. ... Joseph Ratzinger, taking into consideration all the achievements of modern research, aims to present the Jesus of the Gospels as the real 'historical Jesus,' as a sensible and convincing figure to Whom we can and must trustingly refer, and upon Whom we have good reason to base our faith and our Christian life. With his book, then, the Pope aims to offer a fundamental service to support the faith of his brothers and sisters, and he does so from the central element of the faith: Jesus Christ."

  In the introduction to the book, Fr. Lombardi continues, "Jesus is presented to us as the new Moses, the new prophet who speaks with 'God face to face,' ... the Son, deeply united to the Father. If this essential aspect is overlooked, the figure of Jesus become contradictory and incomprehensible. With passion, Joseph Ratzinger speaks to us of Jesus' intimate union with the Father, and wishes to ensure that Jesus' disciples participate in this communion. It is, then, a great work of exegesis and theology, but also a great work of spirituality."

  Fr. Lombardi concludes: "Recalling the profound impression and the spiritual fruits that, as a young man, I drew from reading Joseph Ratzinger's first work - 'Introduction to Christianity' - I am sure that this time too we will not be disappointed, but that both believers and all people truly disposed to understand more fully the figure of Jesus, will be immensely grateful to the Pope for his great witness as a thinker, scholar and man of faith, on the most essential point of the entire Christian faith."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2006 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, Benedict XVI mentioned the attack yesterday in Lebanon in which Pierre Gemayel, the country's industry minister, was assassinated.

  "I firmly condemn this brutal attack," said Pope Benedict, "and give assurances of my prayers and my spiritual closeness to the family in mourning, and to the beloved Lebanese people. In the face of the dark forces that seek to destroy the country, I invite all Lebanese not to allow themselves to be overcome by hatred, but to reinforce national unity, justice and reconciliation, and to work together to build a future of peace. Finally, I invite leaders of the nations that have the fate of this region at heart to contribute to finding a global negotiated solution to the various situations of injustice that have existed for too many years."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 22, 2006 (VIS) - The Church in the life and thought of St. Paul, the last in a series of lessons focussing on the figure of the Apostle, was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during the general audience, held this morning in a rain-swept St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope recalled how St. Paul's "first contact with the person of Jesus came about through the witness of the Christian community of Jerusalem. ... This gives us the opportunity to make a first important observation: normally we come to Jesus, either to accept Him or refuse Him, through the mediation of the community of believers."

  "In a certain way this also happened to St. Paul," said the Pope, although in Paul's case "adherence to the Church was facilitated by a direct intervention of Christ, Who, revealing Himself on the road to Damascus, identified Himself with the Church and made Paul understand that to persecute the Church was to persecute Him. ... From this we can understand why the Church was so present in the thoughts, heart and activity of St. Paul."

  He "founded many Churches in the various cities he visited as an evangelizer." And "in his Letters, Paul also explains his doctrine on the Church. ... Particularly well-known is his definition of the Church as the 'body of Christ,' which is not to be found in other first-century Christian writers."

  "The deepest roots of this surprising definition of the Church," the Holy Father went on, "are to be found in the Sacrament of the body of Christ. ... In the Eucharist, Christ gives us His Body and makes us His Body. ... In this way, Paul brings us to understand that not only does the Church belong to Christ, but that there is also some form of equivalence and identification between the Church and Christ. Thence springs the greatness and nobility of the Church, in other words, of all of us who, as limbs of Christ, are part of the Church, almost an extension of His personal presence in the world."

  "Thence also derive Paul's exhortations regarding the various charisms that animate and give structure to the Christian community," the Holy Father affirmed. "However, it is important that all such charisms work together to build the community and do not become a cause of its break-up."

  "Of course, underscoring the need for unity does not mean that ecclesial life must be rendered uniform and dull. ... However, if there is one criterion that Paul holds dear it is that of mutual edification. ... One of the Pauline Letters even goes so far as to present the Church as the bride of Christ, ... both in the sense that love must be exchanged," and that "we must be passionately faithful to Him."

  Benedict XVI concluded: "In the final analysis, what is involved is a relationship of communion: vertically between Jesus Christ and all of us, but also horizontally among all those who identify themselves in the world by calling 'on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'."
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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Benin City, Nigeria, presented by Archbishop Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Domenico Graziani of Cassano all'Jonio, Italy, as archbishop of Crotone-Santa Severina (area 1,885, population 202,600, Catholics 201,400, priests 116, permanent deacons 18, religious 166), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Calopezzati, Italy in 1944, he was ordained a priest in 1968, and consecrated a bishop in 1999.

 - Appointed Fr. Anton Leichtfried of the clergy of the diocese of Sankt Polten, Austria, rector of the major seminary, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 10,450, population 629,227, Catholics 561,007, priests 546, permanent deacons 48, religious 485). The bishop-elect was born in Scheibbs, Austria, in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2006 (VIS) - On November 15, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions at Geneva, participated in the third special session of the Human Rights Council, which is considering the situation in Gaza.

  "In its short history," said the archbishop speaking English, "the Human Rights Council has faced tough challenges given the persisting violations of human rights in several areas of the world, violations it has not always been able to address with fairness and consistency because of shortsighted political and economic interests. But a Human Rights Council that does not contribute to change the quality of people's life on the ground, ... seriously risks a loss of credibility."

  "A qualitative step forward in confidence-building," Archbishop Tomasi told the council "would be ... the adoption of a courageous method of real dialogue that enables placing on the table the real problems calling for solution no matter how different at the start are the points of view." To this end, he added, "the present special session can be a constructive occasion."

  He went on: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been caught in a cycle of violence that ... leads nowhere. This tragic spiral of suffering must be broken. Two steps are called for. First, the two peoples involved must recognize each other's humanity and equality and start this process of mutual recognition on a base of justice and respect of fundamental human rights and international and humanitarian law."

  "Second, the family of States has a moral responsibility to promote a mentality of peace; to collaborate through practical measures for the elimination of the deep cultural, social and economic roots of violence; to aid and enable the parties involved in pursuing a fruitful collaboration.

  "This responsibility," he added, "in the first place is owned to the civilian population, to women and children struck down by unwarranted violence, to young military lives cut short with dreams unfulfilled. ... Respect of basic human rights, above all the right to life, is not an abstract consideration, but an approach that pays a rich dividend in its political consequences: it makes possible the reaping and enjoyment of the fruits of peace.

  "The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as a major source of instability in the Middle East, becomes a chain in a vicious cycle that produces instability in the whole region. In turn, such instability makes the situation of the population of Palestine and of Israel much worse and the reaching of peaceful goals more difficult.

  "If the countries engaged in the region and trying to assist in finding an honorable and just solution to the conflict succeed, they would render an important service to the whole world and show once again how the respect of human rights fosters peace."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2006 (VIS) - The primate of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, will make an official visit to the Pope from November 21 to 26, according to a communique released by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

  Archbishop Williams, who will be accompanied by his wife and son, will head an eight-strong delegation. The visit is taking place 40 years after the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey - from March 22 to 24, 1966 - and aims "to express the importance the Anglican Communion attributes to relations with the Catholic Church and to the theological dialogue that began with the creation, announced during Paul VI's meeting with Archbishop Ramsey, of the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC)."

  The central moment of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit will be his private meeting with the Holy Father on Thursday November 23. After that meeting, the Pope and the archbishop will each deliver an address, and a joint declaration will be signed in the presence of the members of the Anglican delegation and of the Catholic representatives who accompanied the archbishop to Rome, headed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster.

  After the audience, Benedict XVI and Archbishop Williams, will go to the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel where they will pray together.

  On November 22, the Anglican archbishop and Cardinal Walter Kasper, prefect of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will visit the Sistine Chapel where they will pray together and recollect the meeting there 40 years earlier between Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

  On November 24, the Roman church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva will be the setting for an ecumenical celebration of Vespers.

  During the course of the visit, Archbishop Williams and Cardinal Kasper will examine the current state of Catholic-Anglican relations, the planning and content of a new cycle of dialogue in the ARCIC following its most recent publication "Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ" in May 2005, the work of the International Anglican - Roman Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) established in 2000, and the ecumenical situation in general."

  The visit will also serve as an opportunity to continue the informal talks, an annual initiative for the giving and receiving of information, coordination of initiatives, and dialogue and exchange.

  The archbishop's visit also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Rome's Anglican Center, which undertakes various initiatives to favor reciprocal understanding among Catholics and Anglicans. The current director of the Anglican Center is Bishop John Flack, representative of the Anglican communion to the Holy See.

  On the afternoon of Sunday, November 26, prior to his departure, Archbishop Williams will preside at an Anglican liturgy in the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome's Aventine Hill.


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released a communique stating: "The Holy Father Benedict XVI has completed writing the first part of a book, the title of which is 'Gesu di Nazareth. Dal Battesimo nel Giordano alla Trasfigurazione' (Jesus of Nazareth, From His Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration) and, within the last few days, has consigned it to the Vatican Publishing House. The book will be published in spring 2007"
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2006 (VIS) - At 11.30 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the annual international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference, which is due to be held from November 23 to 25 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall, has as its theme this year: "Pastoral aspects of the treatment of infectious diseases."

  Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Bishop Jose L. Redrado O.H., and Fr. Felice Ruffini M.I., respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; and Nicola Petrosillo, director of the 2nd division of the Rome-based "L. Spallanzani" National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

  The spread of epidemics and of new viral infections, said Cardinal Lozano, "constitutes a serious threat to public health all over the world."

  Referring to the organization of the forthcoming conference, the cardinal indicated that it will be divided into three parts. During the first part, the participants, world specialists in their field, will consider the origins and causes of infectious diseases at an individual level (lifestyle, alimentation and immune system deficiency); a technological level (industrial progress, and the mutation and resistance of bacteria); a political level (suppression of public health measures, war and terrorism); and an ecological level (climate change, environmental damage, water and air contamination).

  In the second phase of the conference, said the president of the pontifical council, "we will reflect from a moral and ethical standpoint upon illnesses and Christian hope, and upon Christians' responsibilities in curing the sick." Consideration will also be given to the points of view of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and of contemporary post-modernity.

  The third part of the conference, Cardinal Lozano continued, will be dedicated to discussing the pastoral care of people with infectious diseases through such means as education in the faith, catechesis and the communications media. Attention will also be given - from a biomedical viewpoint - to research and prevention and - as regards the socio-political aspects of the problem - to national and international healthcare policies, to migration, to economic, scientific and technological resources, to nutrition and to public sanitation projects.

  The conference will end with reflections upon the sick, their families and healthcare professionals, and upon the work of parishes, dioceses, religious orders and congregations, associations and volunteers working in the field of healthcare.
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