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Tuesday, February 14, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Confirmed Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, "donec aliter provideatur."

 - Appointed Fr. Alessandro Perego of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, as defender of the bond at the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a message to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for the occasion of the ninth general assembly of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), which is being held at Porto Alegre, Brazil, from February 14 to 23.

  In the English-language text, Benedict XVI writes: "Mindful of our shared baptismal faith in the Triune God, the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches seek ways to cooperate ever more effectively in the task of witnessing to God's divine love. After 40 years of fruitful collaboration, we look forward to continuing this journey of hope and promise, as we intensify our endeavors towards reaching that day when Christians are united in proclaiming the Gospel message of salvation to all."

  The Pope concludes with assurances of his spiritual closeness to those participating in the Porto Alegre meeting, and reaffirms "the Catholic Church's intention to continue a solid partnership with the World Council of Churches."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is due to participate in the inaugural session of the ninth general assembly of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC). The meeting is being held at Porto Alegre, Brazil, from February 14 to 23 on the theme: "God in Your Grace, transform the world."

  A communique made public today indicates that the general assembly is the WCC's most important governing body and is held every seven years. It is expected that the Brazil meeting will be attended by 3,000 participants, including more than 700 official delegates representing the 340 churches and ecclesial communities affiliated to the WCC, organizations otherwise associated with the WCC, and non-affiliated churches.

  According to the program, each day will begin with a joint prayer and a small group of biblical reflection; this will be followed by three plenary sessions and a joint evening prayer. One of the assembly's main tasks will be to appoint the members of the new central committee which will oversee implementation of the WCC activities until the next assembly in 2013.

  Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will head the official Catholic delegation, made up of 18 members who will act as observers. These include representatives from the Roman Curia, episcopal conferences and lay movements, as well as religious superiors.

  The Catholic Church, the communique concludes, is not a member of the WCC, though it collaborates with the organization in various ways, particularly with its Faith and Constitution Commission which has the task of continuing the search for the unity of Christians by promoting common study and reflection on subjects over which division still exists, such as ecclesiology. The Joint Working Group, instituted in 1965, is the principal structure coordinating relations between the Catholic Church and the WCC.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 14, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museums, held a press conference to present initiatives for the commemoration of the fifth centenary of the Vatican Museums.

  "This is not a conventional or a merely symbolic anniversary," said Cardinal Szoka, "it marks the chance but fortunate discovery of the marble statue of Laocoon and his sons in 1506. The anniversary seeks to unify a centuries-long history of culture and art promoted with constancy and competency by the Roman Pontiffs, who collected the works of the past to save them from oblivion and destruction, and to hand them down to later generations."

  The cardinal indicated that the Vatican Museums, visited annually by four million people, "house a centuries-old heritage, and not only a material heritage. The museums are responsive of their duty to conserve and transmit ... to future generation these expressions of genius, of life, of thought and of spirituality from the past; and they will continue to do so, without seeking to avoid the challenges of the present, with the perseverance and conviction that has always marked them."

  For his part, Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museums, outlined the various initiatives planned to mark the fifth centenary throughout the year 2006.

  The official commemoration will begin on Friday, February 17, with the celebration of a Mass of thanksgiving in the Sistine Chapel, presided by Cardinal Szoka and attended by the entire personnel of the Vatican Museums.

  During the first half of 2006, two important museums, recently restored, will be reopened to the public. "They exemplify the commitment of the Roman Pontiffs to promoting evangelization through the language of art," said Francesco Buranelli. The first of these is the Pio Christian Museum founded by Benedict XIV between 1756 and 1757 to house the various objects acquired by the Vatican during the first half of the eighteenth century, and "to promote the splendor of Rome and affirm the truth of the Christian religion." This museum will open on March 16 with an exhibition dedicated to finds made in the Roman catacombs during the eighteenth century, exhibited in glass cases decorated with busts of 24 cardinal librarians.

  The second gallery to open will be the Missionary Ethnological Museum. Founded by Pius XI in 1926, it was housed in the Lateran Palace until 1963 when Blessed John XXIII decided to move it to the Vatican. The museum, which opened to the public ten years later under the pontificate of Paul VI, presents the cultures and religious practices of non-European countries, and their contacts with Christianity. The sections dedicated to China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia are due to open on June 20.

  Following their complete restoration, the wall paintings of the Room of Mysteries in the Borgia Apartment, the work of Pinturicchio and his assistants, will be presented on April 27. The lunettes, decorated with scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary, have been cleaned, while restoration work also revealed a series of ornamental decorations hidden for more than thirty years behind heavy tapestries.

  In the autumn, a new section of the Roman necropolis on the Via Triumphalis will be opened, discovered thee years ago during work on the new Santa Rosa parking lot in the Vatican. It will be possible to visit around 30 mausolea and 70 individual tombs dating from the first century BC to the third century AD.

  The anniversary celebration will come to an end in November with the exhibition: "Laocoon. At the origins of the Vatican Museums." The event will be accompanied by an international congress on the theme of the identity, essence and role of museums in modern society.
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