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Thursday, January 19, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Gunther H. Oettinger, minister-president of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Vladimir Gradev, Bulgarian ambassador, on his farewell visit.

 - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

    - Bishop Gaspard Mudiso S.V.D., of Kenge.

    - Bishop Edouard Mununu Kasiala O.C.S.O., of Kikwit.

    - Bishop Fidele Nsielele Zi Mputu of Kisantu

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

    - Bishop Gabriel Kembo Mamputu of Matadi.

    - Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - In the Sistine Chapel at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday January 22, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will preside at Mass for the 110 members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard and their families. The ceremony will mark the beginning of commemorative celebrations for the fifth centenary of the world's oldest active military corps.

  At the same time, in the cathedral of St. Nicholas in Fribourg, Switzerland, the Swiss Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier O.P. will preside at Mass for more than 500 former Swiss Guards, according to a communique made public yesterday afternoon.

  At midday, a guard of honor composed of 70 members of the corps will attend the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square to receive the blessing of Benedict XVI, thus reenacting events of 500 years ago under Pope Julius II. The former guards in Fribourg will be able to follow the event on television.

  The communique concludes by indicating that the commemorative day will conclude with the presentation of the Holy Father's commemorative medal for this occasion, in the Courtyard of Honor of the Swiss Guard.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" has organized an international congress on charity, due to be held on January 23 and 24 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall. The theme of the event, taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, is : " ... But the greatest of these is love."

  The congress, which takes place immediately prior to the publication of Benedict XVI's first Encyclical, "Deus Caritas est," has the aim of "maintaining alive within the Church a sense of Christian commitment to others," according to a communique released by "Cor Unum" to announce the event.

  The meeting will be inaugurated by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of "Cor Unum," and will be attended by around 200 participants including cardinals, bishops, ambassadors, heads of international aid organizations, and national delegates from Caritas and from non-governmental groups.

  The calendar of events for the morning session of Monday, January 23, includes contributions from James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005, and from Denis Vienot, president of Caritas Internationalis. Under the moderator, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, they will analyze the two great sectors of humanitarian aid: that of civil society and that of the ecclesial world. At midday, Pope Benedict XVI will address the participants. During the afternoon sitting, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls will present six testimonies on "experiences of charity."

  The morning of Tuesday, January 24, will be dedicated to an interview with the Italian film director Liliana Cavani, who has made films on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. She will explain how the call of charity has affected her representation of love on film. Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, will conclude the session with a theological lecture on charity.

  The congress will close on the afternoon of the same day with a Eucharistic celebration at 5 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, presided by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals and president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace and "Cor Unum."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 19, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received an ecumenical delegation from Finland for the occasion of today's Feast of St. Henry, patron saint of that country.

  After recalling how, over many years, John Paul II welcomed the members of the delegation on their annual pilgrimage to Rome, the Pope said: "These visits are an occasion for further productive work, as well as for a deepening of the 'spiritual ecumenism' which prompts divided Christians to appreciate how much already unites them."

  The Holy Father then highlighted how "the present Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland and Sweden builds upon the substantial accomplishment of the Joint Declaration on Justification (1999). In the specific context of the Nordic countries, the Commission is continuing to study the achievements and practical implications of the Joint Declaration. In this way it seeks to address the still existing differences between Lutherans and Catholics concerning certain questions of faith and ecclesial life while maintaining fervent witness to the truth of the Gospel.

  "During these days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are especially aware that unity is a grace, and that we need continually to ask the Lord for this gift."

  Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "Let us thank God for all that has been achieved so far in Catholic-Lutheran relations and let us pray that He may fill us with His Spirit Who guides us towards the fullness of truth and love."
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