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Wednesday, March 1, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Atakpame, Togo, presented by Bishop Julien Mawule Kouto, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Fr. Denis Brennan of the clergy of the diocese of Ferns, Ireland, pastor of Taghmon and vicar forane, as bishop of the same diocese (area 3,000, population 108,850, Catholics 99,723, priests 137, religious 198). The bishop-elect was born in Springmount, Ireland in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1970.

 - Appointed Fr. Raul Martin of the clergy of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires, pastor of the parish of St. Anthony of Padova in Buenos Aires, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 203, population 2,729,610, Catholics 2,500,000, priests 884, permanent deacons 4, religious 2,366). The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1990.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for March is: "That young people who are searching for the sense of life may be understood, respected and accompanied with patience and love."

  His mission intention is: "That, throughout the Church, there may grow that shared missionary awareness which favors the collaboration and exchange of those who work in the missions."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2006 (VIS) - During the general audience today, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the liturgical period of Lent which he described to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square as "the itinerary of 40 days that will lead us to the Easter Triduum, memory of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, heart of the mystery of salvation."

  The 40 days of Lent, the Holy Father explained, "possess an undeniable evocative power. Indeed, Lent aims to recall some of the events that marked the life and history of ancient Israel," such as "the 40 days of the flood that led to God's covenant with Noah, and the 40 days Moses spent on Mount Sinai, which was followed by the gift of the tablets of the Law."

  He went on: "Above all, the Lenten period invites us to relive with Jesus the 40 days He spent in the desert, praying and fasting before beginning His public mission. Today, we too begin a journey of reflection and prayer with all the Christians of the world. ... Today, all parish communities undertake an austere and symbolic gesture: the imposition of the ashes." Two "evocative formulae" accompany this rite, the Pope said:
"You are dust, and to dust you shall return," words that "evoke the human condition," and, "repent, and believe in the Gospel," an "invitation to place the firm and faithful adhesion to the Gospel at the foundation of individual and community renewal."

  "The Lenten journey, by bringing us closer to God, enables us to look upon our brothers and sisters and their needs with new eyes. For this reason, Lent is a favorable moment to convert to love; a love capable of adopting the Lord's attitude of compassion and mercy, as I seek to recall in my Message for Lent, which has as its theme the Gospel passage: 'Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity'."

  The Holy Father concluded: "Aware of her mission in the world, the Church does not cease to proclaim the merciful love of Christ, Who continues to turn His compassionate gaze on the men and peoples of all times. ... Fasting and almsgiving - which, together with prayer, the Church particularly proposes in the period of Lent - represent a good opportunity to conform ourselves to that 'gaze'."
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