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Monday, January 23, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Bamenda, Cameroon, presented by Archbishop Paul Verdzehov, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua.

  On Saturday, January 21, it was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Hanoi, Vietnam, presented by Bishop Paul Le Dac Trong, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Smaragde Mbonyintege, rector of the major seminary of Nyakibanda, as bishop of Kabgayi (area 2,187, population 912,000, Catholics 550,000, priests 114, religious 269), Rwanda. The bishop-elect was born in Rutobwe-Gitarama, Rwanda in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Appointed Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, as apostolic nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches.

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Gerard Mulumba Kalemba of Mweka.

    - Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe.

 On Saturday, January 21, he received in separate audiences:

 - Eight prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Ignace Matondo Kwa Nzambi C.I.C.M., of Molegbe.

    - Archbishop Godefroy Mukeng'a Kalond C.I.C.M., of Kananga, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Marcel Madila.

    - Bishop Valentin Masengo Nkinda of Kabinda.

    - Bishop Stanislas Lukumwena O.F.M., of Kole.

    - Bishop Leonard Kasanda Lumembu C.I.C.M., of Luiza.

    - Bishop Tharcisse Tshibangu Tshishiku of Mbujimayi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard Emmanuel Kasanda Mulenga.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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FOR THE OCCASION OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE WINTER OLYMPICS, due to be held in February in the city of Turin and other areas of the Italian Piedmont region, Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of that city. The Holy Father expresses the hope that the forthcoming event may be "an eloquent sign of friendship," and that it "may help to reinforce relations of intense solidarity among peoples." The message continues: "How can we not recognize the need of this in our own times, in which humanity is marked by no small amount of tension, and is eager to build a future of authentic peace?"

CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE ANGELO SODANO sent, in the Holy Father's name, a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Frantisek Rabek, military ordinary of Slovakia, for the recent crash of a Slovak military aircraft near Kosice. The accident, on January 19, cost the lives of many soldiers, returning to their country at the end of a peace-keeping mission in Kosovo, among them the military chaplain, Msgr. Michal Stang.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 23, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI participated in a congress organized by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum." The event is being held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on January 23 and 24, and its theme, taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, is: " ... But the greatest of these is love."

  In his address, the Holy Father made frequent reference to his first Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," which is due to be published on Wednesday, January 25.

  "The cosmic journey in which Dante, in his 'Divine Comedy,' wishes to involve the reader," the Pope began, "ends before the eternal light that is God Himself, before that Light which is, at the same time, 'the love that moves the sun and the other stars'."

  The God Who appears in Dante's central circle of light "has a human face and, we may add, a human heart. Dante's vision shows the continuity between the Christian faith in God and research based on reason; ... at the same time, however, there appears a novelty that goes beyond all human research: ... the novelty of a love that impelled God to assume a human face, to take on flesh and blood. ... The 'eros' of God is not just a primordial cosmic force, it is the love that created human beings and stretches reaches out towards them."

  "The word 'love,' is so overused today," the Pope continued, "that one is almost afraid to pronounce it. Yet, ... it is the expression of a primordial reality, ... and we must retrieve it, ... so that it may illuminate our lives. ... This awareness is what induced me to choose love as the theme of my first Encyclical. I wanted to try and express, for our own times and our own lives, something of that which Dante encapsulated in his vision."

  Faith should become "a vision-understanding that transforms us," said the Holy Father. "I wanted to highlight the centrality of faith in God, in the God Who assumed a human face and a human heart. ... In an age in which ... we are witnessing the abuse of religion even unto the apotheosis of hatred, ... we have need of the living God Who loved us even unto death. Thus, in this Encyclical, the themes of God, Christ and Love are fused together as a central guide to the Christian faith."

  "A first reading of the Encyclical could perhaps give rise to the impression that it is divided into two parts with little in common between them: a first theoretical part discussing the essence of love, and a second part covering ecclesial charity and charitable organizations. Yet I was interested precisely in the unity between the two themes, only if seen as a single thing can they be properly understood. ... On the basis of the Christian image of God, it was necessary to show how man was created to love, and how this love, which initially appears above all as 'eros' between man and woman, must then be internally transformed into 'agape,' into the giving of self to others."

  "On this basis, it was necessary to clarify how the essence of the love for God and for others, ... is the core of Christian life, the fruit of faith." Then, "in the second part, it was necessary to highlight that the totally personal act of 'agape' can never remain a purely individual issue, rather it must also become an essential act of the Church as community; in other words, it also needs the institutional form that finds expression in the community activity of the Church."

  The Pope concluded: "The ecclesial organization of charity is not a form of social assistance, a casual addition to the reality of the Church. ... Rather, it is part of the nature of the Church, ... [and] must in some way make the living God visible. ... The spectacle of suffering man touches our hearts. But charitable commitment has a meaning that goes well beyond simple philanthropy. It is God Himself Who encourages us from within our most intimate selves to alleviate misery. ... It is He Himself Whom we carry into a suffering world. The greater the awareness and clarity with which we bear Him as a gift, the more effectively will our love change the world."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2006 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated every year from January 18 to 25, provided the main theme of Benedict XVI's reflections prior to praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope explained how the Prayer Week initiative had begun in the early years of the twentieth century and has now become "an ecumenical point of reference in which Christians from various confessions all over the world pray and reflect, on the basis of a single biblical text." He went on to recall how this year's theme comes from the Gospel of Matthew: "If two or three of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

  The Pope continued: "How much faith and how much hope do these words of the Lord Jesus infuse! In particular, they encourage Christians to ask God together for that full unity among them, for which Christ Himself ... prayed to the Father during the Last Supper. It is easy to understand, then, why we Christians invoke the gift of unity. ... If we do so with faith, we may be sure that our request will be satisfied. We do not know how, nor when, because it is not for us to know these things, but we must not doubt that one day we will be 'a single thing,' just as Jesus and the Father are united in the Holy Spirit.

  "Prayer for unity," he said, "constitutes the soul of the ecumenical movement, which ... is developing throughout the world. Of course, there is no shortage of difficulties and trials, but even these are not without spiritual benefits because they encourage us to exercise patience and perseverance, and to grow in fraternal charity. God is love, and only by converting to Him and accepting His Word will we find ourselves united in the single mystical Body of Christ."

  "The expression 'God is love,' which in Latin is 'Deus caritas est'," Benedict XVI concluded, "is the title of my first Encyclical, which will be published this Wednesday, January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. I am pleased that it coincides with the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. That day I will go to the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls to preside at Vespers in which representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities will also participate."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope mentioned the situation of African countries, in particular Cote d'Ivoire "where serious tension persists among the various social and political groups of the country. To everyone I address an appeal to continue with constructive dialogue, with a view to reconciliation and peace. I entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, so much beloved by the people of the Cote d'Ivoire."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 22, 2006 (VIS) - Today marks the fifth centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and at midday, during the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his thanks for the service they have provided over the centuries.

  In the presence of several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square, among them a 70-strong troop of the Guards wearing gala uniform, the Pope recalled how "500 years ago, on January 22, 1506, Pope Julius II welcomed and blessed the first contingent of Swiss Guards, come to Rome to ensure the defense of his person and of the Apostolic Palace. Thus the Pontifical Swiss Guard was born.

  "In recalling that historic event, it is my pleasure today to greet the members of this blessed corps, upon whom, as a sign of appreciation and recognition, I impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing."

  Prior to the Angelus, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State and dean of the College of Cardinals, had presided at a Mass celebrated in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to mark the beginning of the 500th anniversary celebrations.

  Cardinal Sodano recalled the solemn vow that new recruits to the Swiss Guard make on May 6 each year to "serve faithfully, loyally and honorably the Supreme Pontiff and his legitimate successors with all your strength, sacrificing, when necessary, even your lives in his defense."

  After recalling how 150 Swiss Guards entered Rome to defend the See of Peter on that January 22 of 500 years ago, Cardinal Sodano quoted a phrase the Swiss Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli pronounced while he was still a member of the Catholic Church: "The Swiss see the sad situation of the Church of God, Mother of Christianity, and realize how grave and dangerous it is that any tyrant, avid for wealth, can assault with impunity, the common Mother of Christianity."

  "Even today," the cardinal went on, "these words serve to remind the Swiss Guard of that higher inspiration which must stimulate their service as, with the eyes of faith, they see in each Roman Pontiff the principle of the visible unity of the Holy Church of God."

  Cardinal Sodano concluded by inviting the Swiss Guard, in remembrance of this solemn anniversary, to have "ever greater love for the Church of Christ."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, in keeping with the tradition for today's feast of St. Agnes, the Pope today blessed two lambs, the wool of which will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The pallium is a white woolen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn over the shoulders and has two hanging pieces, front and back. Worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops, the pallium symbolizes authority and expresses the special bond between the bishops and the Roman Pontiff.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 21, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Archbishop Alapati Lui Mata'eliga of Samoa-Apia, for the demise of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u S.M., archbishop emeritus of the same see, who died on Friday, January 20, at the age of 82:

  "Having learned with sorrow of the death of Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u S.M., I offer heartfelt condolences to you and all the clergy, religious and laity of the archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, together with the members of the Society of Mary. I also extend my sympathy to the civic authorities of the region and indeed all the peoples of the Pacific, for whom the late cardinal has been a towering figure of unwavering commitment to the truth and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this time of deep mourning I join with you in praying that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God our merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of heaven. To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

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