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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald M. Afr., president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, as apostolic nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt and delegate to the Organization of the League of Arab States.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, for the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cuban National Ecclesial Encounter.

  In his Message, dated February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Holy Father sends affectionate greetings to the bishops, priests, consecrated people and laity of Cuba, expressing his "spiritual closeness" and "encouragement for their evangelizing tasks."

  On this anniversary, writes Benedict XVI, it would be particularly appropriate to recall the words used by John Paul II on his visit to Cuba in 1998: "May Cuba open to the world, and may the world open to Cuba." Such openness, the Pope says, "requires us first of all to consider how to open heart and understanding to the things of God; how those who coexist can open to one another, believing and trusting in each another though with different ways of thinking and believing; and finally, how to open to the world, with its challenges, its possibilities and its difficulties."

  "Only through the gaze of God, a loving gaze, will it be possible to arrive at the truth of each individual, of each group and of those who live together in one land. On this journey, ... much help may be gained from each Christian's experience of prayer, in the silence and humility of daily work, in faithfulness to professed faith, in the implicit or explicit announcement of the Gospel. Much help is also to be had from the love of majority of Cubans for the 'Madre de la Cardida del Cobre," patroness of this land for so long, who accompanies its inhabitants with motherly tenderness."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2006 (VIS) - At the beginning of the general audience Benedict XVI recalled that today's catechesis was the last "of the long cycle begun years ago by my beloved predecessor, the unforgettable John Paul II," who wished to cover "the entire sequence of Psalms and Canticles that constitute the basic fabric of the Liturgy of the Hours and of Vespers.

  "Having reached the end of this textual pilgrimage - like a journey through a flower garden of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation - we now come to the canticle that closes the celebration of Vespers: the Magnificat."

  The Pope went on: "It is a canticle that reveals ... the spirituality ... of those faithful who recognized themselves as 'poor,' not only in detaching themselves from all forms of idolatry of wealth and power, but also in profound humility of heart, free from the temptation to pride and open to the irruption of divine saving grace."

  If the first part of the Magnificat, the Holy Father explained, is "the celebration of divine grace which irrupted into the heart and the life of Mary, making her Mother of the Lord," Mary's personal witness was nonetheless "not solitary, ... because the Virgin Mother was aware she had a mission to achieve for humanity, and her own story is part of the history of salvation."

  In the second part, "the voice of Mary is joined by the entire community of faithful" who celebrate God's actions in history. "The 'style' that inspires the Lord of history is clear: He takes the side of the least and the lowliest." On this subject, the Pope quoted the words of St. Ambrose: "May each one of us glorify the Lord with the soul of Mary. ... If, according to the flesh, the mother of Christ is one, then according to the faith, all souls generate Christ."

  Prior to the general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope went to the Vatican Basilica to greet a group of Italian students and participants in a pilgrimage promoted by the French religious family, "Freres de Saint-Jean."

  Addressing the students, Benedict XVI spoke of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," recalling that "the love of God is the source and motive for our true joy. I invite each of you to understand and accept ever more this Love that changes life and renders you credible witnesses of the Gospel."

  The Holy Father then turned to the participants in the pilgrimage of the "Freres de Saint-Jean" who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the foundation of their organization. "May your pilgrimage be a time of renewal, one in which to analyze the experiences you have had, learn the appropriate lessons, and discern with ever greater profundity the vocations that arise and the missions to which you are called, in trusting collaboration with the pastors of local churches."
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