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Monday, February 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Michaelle Jean, governor general of Canada, accompanied by her husband and an entourage.

- His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins.

 - Cardinal Ricardo Maria Carles Gordo, archbishop emeritus of Barcelona, Spain.

 - Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Germany.

  On Saturday, February 25, he received in audience Salvatore Martinez, national coordinator of the group, Renewal in the Holy Spirit.
AP/.../...                                        VIS 20060227 (80)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the Message of the Holy Father to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the 21st World Youth Day 2006. The theme of the gathering is "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Given below are ample extracts of the message, which bears the date of February 22, 2006:

  "The theme that I suggest to you is a verse from Psalm 118: 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.' Our dearly loved John Paul II commented on that verse of the psalm as follows: 'The one who prays pours out his thanks for the Law of God that he adopts as a lamp for his steps in the often dark path of life.'

  "God reveals Himself in history. He speaks to humankind, and the word He speaks has creative power. ... God says what He does and does what He says. The Old Testament announces to the Children of Israel the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of a 'new' covenant."

  "The Apostles received the word of salvation and passed it on to their successors as a precious gem kept safely in the jewel box of the Church: without the Church, this pearl runs the risk of being lost or destroyed. ... Love and follow the Church, for she has received from her Founder the mission of showing people the way to true happiness.

  "It is not easy to recognize and find authentic happiness in this world in which we live, where people are often held captive by the current ways of thinking. They may think they are 'free,' but they are being led astray and become lost amid the errors or illusions of aberrant ideologies. 'Freedom itself needs to be set free,' and the darkness in which humankind is groping needs to be illuminated.

  "Jesus taught us how this can be done: 'If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' The incarnate Word, Word of Truth, makes us free and directs our freedom towards the good."

  "Meditate often on the word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. You will then discover that God's way of thinking is not the same as that of humankind's. You will find yourselves led to contemplate the real God and to read the events of history through His eyes."

  "On life's journey, which is neither easy nor free of deceptions, you will meet difficulties and suffering and at times you will be tempted to exclaim with the psalmist: 'I am severely afflicted.' Do not forget to add as the psalmist did: 'give me life, O Lord, according to Your word. ... The loving presence of God, through His word, is the lamp that dispels the darkness of fear and lights up the path even when times are most difficult.

  "The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: 'Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.' ... It is necessary to take seriously the injunction to consider the word of God to be an indispensable 'weapon' in the spiritual struggle. This will be effective and show results if we learn to listen to it and then to obey it. ... The secret of acquiring 'an understanding heart' is to train your heart to listen. This is obtained by persistently meditating on the word of God and by remaining firmly rooted in it through the commitment to persevere in getting to know it better."

  "I urge you to become familiar with the Bible, ... so that it can be your compass pointing out the road to follow. By reading it, you will learn to know Christ. ... A time-honored way to study and savor the word of God is 'lectio divina' which constitutes a real and veritable spiritual journey marked out in stages. After the 'lectio,' which consists of reading and rereading a passage from Sacred Scripture and taking in the main elements, we proceed to 'meditatio,' ... in which the soul turns to God and tries to understand what His word is saying to us today. Then comes 'oratio' in which we linger to talk with God directly. Finally we come to 'contemplatio.' This helps us to keep our hearts attentive to the presence of Christ."

  "Reading, study and meditation of the Word should then flow into a life of consistent fidelity to Christ and His teachings."

  "To build your life on Christ, to accept the word with joy and put its teachings into practice: this, young people of the third millennium, should be your program! There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our times and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. It is this that the Lord asks of you, it is to this that the Church invites you, and it is this that the world - even though it may not be aware of it - expects of you! If Jesus calls you, do not be afraid to respond to Him with generosity, especially when He asks you to follow Him in the consecrated life or in the priesthood. Do not be afraid; trust in Him and you will not be disappointed."

  "At the 21st World Youth Day that we will celebrate on 9 April next, Palm Sunday, we will set out, in our hearts, on a pilgrimage towards the world encounter with young people that will take place in Sydney in July 2008.

  "We will prepare for that great appointment reflecting together on the theme 'The Holy Spirit and the mission' in successive stages. This year our attention will focus on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, Who reveals Christ to us. ... Next year, 2007, we will meditate on a verse from the Gospel of John: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.' We will discover more about the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Love, who infuses divine charity within us and makes us aware of the material and spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters. We will finally reach the world meeting of 2008 and its theme will be: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.'

  "From this moment onwards, in a climate of constant listening to the word of God, call on the Holy Spirit, Spirit of fortitude and witness, that you may be able to proclaim the Gospel without fear even to the ends of the earth."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received a group of students - priests and seminarians - from the Theological College of "Apostoliki Diakonia" of the Orthodox Church of Greece, who are currently visiting Rome.

  In a Message consigned to them at the end of their audience with him, the Holy Father writes: "For we Christians of both East and West, at the beginning of the second millennium the forces of evil acted in the divisions that still persist between us today. Nonetheless, over the last 40 years many consoling and hopeful signs have caused us to see a new dawn, that of the day on which we will fully understand that being rooted and founded in Christ's charity means truly finding a way to overcome our divisions through personal and community conversion, listening to others and common prayer for our unity."

  Benedict XVI identifies one of these hopeful signs in the positive development of relations between the Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church. The meeting between John Paul II and His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, at the Areopagus in 2001 was followed, he writes in his Message, by "initiatives aimed at closer mutual knowledge and at educating the younger generations."

  The Pope also writes of his certainty "that reciprocal charity will nourish our inventiveness and bring us to start down new paths. We must face the challenges that threaten the faith, cultivate the spiritual 'humus' that has nourished Europe for centuries, reaffirm Christian values, promote peace and encounter even in the most difficult conditions, and strengthen those elements of faith and ecclesial life that can lead us to the goals of full communion in truth and charity, especially now as official theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole begins again with renewed vigor."
MESS/CHARITY/GREEK ORTHODOX                    VIS 20060227 (330)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 27, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received participants in the general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life which is currently considering the theme of "the human embryo prior to implantation."

  The Pope described the theme as "fascinating, but difficult and arduous given the delicate nature of the subject being examined and the complexity of epistemological problems concerning the relationship" between experimental scientific data and reflection on anthropological values.

  After recalling that Holy Scripture "expresses the love of God towards all human beings even before they take form in the mother's womb," the Holy Father affirmed: "The love of God does not distinguish between the newly-conceived infant still in its mother's womb, the baby, the youth, the grown adult or the elderly, because in each of them He sees the sign of His own image and likeness."

  "This limitless and almost incomprehensible love of God for man reveals to what point human beings are worthy of love in themselves, regardless of any other consideration, be it intelligence, beauty, health, youth, integrity and so on. Human life is a good thing, always and definitively."

  Benedict XVI went on to make it clear that "in man, in all men and women, whatever their stage or condition of life, there shines a reflection of God's own reality. For this reason, the Magisterium of the Church has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable nature of each human life, from conception to natural end. This moral judgement also holds at the beginning of an embryo's life, even before it is implanted in the mother's womb."

  Referring to research into the origins of life, "a mystery which science will be able to illuminate ever more clearly, though with difficulty will it decipher it altogether," the Pope indicated that "those who love truth must be aware that research into such profound themes puts us in the position of seeing and almost touching the hand of God. Beyond the limits of experimental methods, at the confines of the area that some call meta-analysis, where sensorial perception and scientific tests are neither enough or even possible, that is where the adventure of transcendence begins."
AC/HUMAN EMBRYO/...                            VIS 20060227 (370)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2006 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today, the Pope addressed further remarks to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, in which he touched on certain events of the last few weeks.

  "News is still arriving over these days," said the Holy Father, "of tragic violence in Iraq, with attacks even directed against mosques. These acts spread mourning, nourish hatred and impede the already difficult job of reconstructing the country."

  He went on to refer to Nigeria where "clashes between Christians and Muslims have continued for several days, with many victims and the destruction of churches and mosques. While expressing my firm condemnation for the violation of places of worship, I entrust to the Lord all the dead and those who weep for them.

  "I also invite everyone to intense prayer and penance in the sacred period of Lent, that the Lord may free those dear nations, and so many other places on the earth, from the threat of such conflicts."

  "The fruit of faith in God," the Pope concluded, "is not devastating rivalry but the spirit of brotherhood and of collaboration for the common good. God, Creator and Father of everyone, will call more severely to account those who spill their brothers' blood in His name. By the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, may everyone rediscover themselves in Him Who is true peace!"
ANG/IRAQ:NIGERIA:CONFLICT/...                        VIS 20060227 (250)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 26, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered below.

  In comments before the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI spoke of the forthcoming period of Lent, recalling how the Gospel of St. Mark, "offers a catechumenal itinerary guiding the disciple to recognize in Jesus the Son of God.

  "By a happy coincidence," he explained, "today's Gospel text touches on the subject of fasting. ... As Jesus was sitting at table in the house of Levi the publican, the Pharisees and the followers of John the Baptist asked Him why His disciples were not fasting like them. Jesus replied that the wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them; when the bridegroom is taken from them, then they will fast.

  "With these words, Christ reveals His identity as the Messiah, Bridegroom of Israel, Who has come for the wedding with His people. Those who recognize Him and welcome Him with faith celebrate. However, He must be rejected and killed by His own people: at that moment, during His passion and His death, will come the time of mourning and fasting."

  This evangelical episode, anticipating the significance of Lent, "constitutes a great memorial of the Lord's passion, in preparation for the Easter of Resurrection. ... The period of Lent must not be approached with an 'old' spirit, as if it were a heavy and troublesome burden, but with the new spirit of one has found in Jesus and in His mystery the meaning of life, and is aware that everything must now refer to Him."

  "On our Lenten journey, may our guide and teacher be Most Holy Mary who, when Jesus set out for Jerusalem to suffer His passion, followed Him with total faith. Like a 'new wineskin,' she received the 'new wine' brought by the Son for the messianic wedding."
ANG/LENT/...                                    VIS 20060227 (330)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Robert Patrick Ellison C.S.Sp., secretary general of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, as bishop of Banjul (area 10,403, population 1,639,500, Catholics 34,000, priests 26, religious 42), Gambia. The bishop-elect was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1969. He succeeds Bishop Michael J. Cleary C.S.Sp., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.

 - Appointed Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the death of St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, patron saint of the Latin American episcopate. The celebrations are due to be held in Lima, Peru, from April 24 to 29.

 - Appointed Msgrs. Pier Enrico Stefanetti, Stefano Sanchirico and Diego Giovanni Ravelli, as pontifical masters of ceremonies.
NER:RE:NN:NA/.../...                                VIS 20060227 (180)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2006 (VIS) - In keeping with an annual tradition of his predecessor John Paul II, this afternoon Benedict XVI visited the major seminary of Rome, on the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust.

  After listening to a musical composition dedicated to St. Joseph and entitled "Shadow of the Father," the Pope highlighted how the example of this "'just man,' fully responsible before God and before Mary, provides encouragement for everyone on the path to the priesthood. We see him ever-attentive to the voice of the Lord Who guides the events of history, ready to follow His guidance; always faithful, generous and impassive in his service, an effective master of prayer and work in the obscurity of Nazareth.

  "I can assure you," the Pope continued in his address to the seminarians, "that the more you progress, with the grace of God, along the path of the priesthood, the more you will experience the rich spiritual fruits [to be gained] by referring to St. Joseph and invoking his support when carrying out your daily duties."

  The Holy Father then expressed the hope that the seminarians "learn to repeat the beautiful invocation 'Mater mea, fiducia mea'" of his "venerated predecessor" Benedict XV. "May these words remain impressed on the hearts of each of you and accompany you always during your lives and your priestly ministry. Thus, wherever you may be, you will be able to propagate the fragrance of Mary's own trust, which is trust in the provident and faithful love of God."

  The Pope told the seminarians that on his arrival in the seminary he had prayed in the chapel for each of them, and that his thoughts had also gone out to "the many seminarians who have passed through the Roman seminary and who have served with love the Church of Christ. I am thinking, among others, of Fr. Andrea Santoro who was murdered recently in Turkey, as he was praying."

  "I also invoked the Mother of the Redeemer, that she may obtain the gift of sanctity for you also. May the Holy Spirit Who formed the priestly Heart of Jesus in the Virgin's womb and then in the house of Nazareth, work in each of you with His grace, preparing you for the future tasks that will be entrusted to you."
BXVI-VISIT/.../ROME MAJOR SEMINARY                    VIS 20060227 (410)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2006 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke on February 20 at the 94th session of the International Labor Conference (Maritime).

  During the session, which was held in Geneva from February 7 to 23, a convention on maritime work was approved, coordinating and updating the provisions of more than 60 earlier international instruments.

  Archbishop Tomasi expressed the hope that the conference would "provide 'opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity,' as the Report of the Director General has stated."

  The permanent observer called on States to ratify the Consolidated Maritime Labor Convention which, if "implemented effectively at the national level, will bring great benefits to the lives of millions of people over time, and be an example of good practice to the whole industrialized world."
DELSS/MARITIME CONVENTION/TOMASI                VIS 20060225 (170)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall, Benedict XVI met with members of the 17th Group of the Roman Municipal Police, whose job it is to control traffic on streets near the Vatican.

  The Pope thanked them for their daily service, which "calls for constant commitment because the area around the Vatican is frequented by many people and the traffic is intense."

  The police officers carry out their work with "professional commitment and dedication" said the Pope, highlighting how they had particularly demonstrated these qualities during the period of the sickness, death and funeral of John Paul II, and "on the occasion of my election as Supreme Pontiff in April last year."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the proximity of the tomb of St. Peter and the chance to participate in meetings between the Pope and the faithful, or in liturgical celebrations in St. Peter's Square, may help them "to grow spiritually and to feel the presence of Christ beside you. With His help, you will be able to carry out your activities serenely, in the awareness that you are rendering a service to the community."
AC/.../ROME MUNICIPAL POLICE                        VIS 20060227 (210)


VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2006 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received members of the Rome-based charity organization Circle of St. Peter, for their traditional annual audience during which they present him with Peter's Pence, the proceeds of collections taken up in Roman churches over the last year.

  "This is a gesture," said the Holy Father, "with a value that is not only practical but also strongly symbolic, as a sign of communion with the Pope and of attention to the needs of our brothers and sisters. For this reason, your service has a uniquely ecclesial value."

  After recalling how the second part of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est" is dedicated to the practice of charity by the Church, "as a community of love," Benedict XVI told his listeners that the same document traces outlines that could prove useful to people like them, who collaborate in "the ministry of charity of the Christian community."

  "I recalled," he continued, still referring to the Encyclical, "that the principle motivation for action must always be the love of Christ; that charity is more than a simple activity and implies the giving of self; that this gift must be humble and removed from all feelings of superiority; and that its strength comes from prayer, as the example of the saints shows."

  The Pope concluded his address by entrusting the members of the Circle of St. Peter "to the saints of charity, of whom, beginning with Deacon Lawrence, the history of the Church of Rome is so rich."
AC/.../CIRCLE ST. PETER                            VIS 20060227 (270)

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