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Friday, February 10, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 10, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic.

 - Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria.

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

    - Bishop Faustin Ngabu of Goma.

    - Msgr. Pierre-Celestin Tshitoko Mamba, bishop-elect of Luebo.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 10, 2006 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, yesterday participated in the 44th session of the Commission for Social Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is meeting to review the results of the first "Decade for the Eradication of Poverty," a United Nations initiative covering the period 1997 to 2006.

  Archbishop Migliore opened his English-language speech by observing that, although between 1981 and 2001 the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty declined from 40 to 21 percent, "that still leaves far too many countries and peoples living with high levels of poverty."

  Despite "the encouraging progress being made in poverty reduction in several Asian countries," the archbishop went on, "the global picture is mixed, with sub-Saharan Africa having made little or no progress in reducing the incidence of poverty in the 1990s. If these trends continue, only eight African countries will halve extreme poverty by 2015." And "the number of Africans now living on less than 1 U.S. dollar a day has nearly doubled since 1980, from 165 million to 315 million."

  The permanent observer appealed for renewed efforts from the international community. "A three-pronged agenda is needed for developing countries: to improve the terms of trade; to double aid assistance; and to provide further debt relief.

  "Lessons from the experience of some developing countries, particularly in Asia, make it clear that rapid poverty reduction cannot take place without sustainable economic growth in which the poor share equitably in the benefits. Consequently, developing countries' leaders need to be encouraged and assisted in the pursuit of policies that will enable their countries to attain much higher economic growth rates than so far achieved since 2000."

  Archbishop Migliore concluded by emphasizing how the Holy See "continues to see a key role for ECOSOC in monitoring progress towards achieving MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) in the world's poorest countries. Such monitoring needs to be done now, on an annual basis, given the close proximity of 2015," the date by which, according to the MDGs, levels of poverty should be reduced by half.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 10, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, telling them that in their service to the entire Church, and in particular to bishops, they must highlight "the centrality of the Catholic faith, in its authentic expression."

  The Pope pointed out how "when the perception of this centrality diminishes, the fabric of ecclesial life also loses its original vivacity and is damaged, decaying into a form of sterile activism or deteriorating into mere worldly political cunning." Yet, if the truth of faith holds a central position in Christian life, human existence "is revived by a love that knows neither rest nor limit."

  "Jesus Christ," the Holy Father went on, "is the Truth made Flesh, Who draws the world to Him. The light radiated by Christ is splendor of truth. All other truths are fragments of the Truth that He is and that leads back to Him. Jesus is the pole star of human freedom, and without Him [that freedom] loses direction, because without knowledge of the truth freedom is distorted and isolated, and is reduced to sterile will."

  Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that Jesus Christ "attracts to Himself all men's hearts, opening them and filling them with joy. In fact, only the truth is capable of occupying the mind and making it fully happy." This happiness, he went on, frees the soul from "the shackles of egoism, making it capable of authentic love."

  "Love for truth also inspires and guides the Christian approach to the modern world, and the Church's evangelizing commitment," said the Pope. The great advances made in the field of scientific knowledge, "have helped us better to understand the mystery of the creation." However this progress "has sometimes been so rapid as to make it very difficult to recognize how it can be compatible with the truths concerning mankind and the world revealed by God. At times, certain scientific assertions have even been opposed to such truths." On this matter, the Pope reaffirmed the need for "deeper knowledge of the truths discovered by reason, in the certainty that there is no cause for competition of any kind between reason and faith."

  Benedict XVI then indicated that "dialogue between faith and reason, religion and science, offers not only the possibility of demonstrating to modern man, in a more effective and convincing manner, the reasonableness of faith in God, but also that of showing that in Jesus Christ lies the definitive fulfillment of all authentic human aspirations. Thus, serious evangelizing efforts cannot overlook the questions arising from modern scientific discoveries and philosophical debate."

  The Holy Father concluded his address by telling the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that "your service to the fullness of the faith is a service to truth and, hence, to joy, a joy that comes from the depths of the heart. ... From this viewpoint, your doctrinal ministry can well be defined as 'pastoral.' Your service is, in fact, a service to the full diffusion of the light of God in the world!"
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