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Thursday, March 2, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, of Fr. Yaroslav Pryriz C.Ss.R., "protosincellus" of the eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych, Ukraine, as auxiliary of the same eparchy (area 6,900, population 609,359, Catholics 403,248, priests 245, religious 35). The bishop-elect was born in Lastivka, Ukraine, in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience the clergy of the diocese of Rome.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 2, 2006 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. yesterday, Ash Wednesday, following a brief moment of prayer in the church of St. Anselm on Rome's Aventine Hill, the traditional penitential procession wound its way to the nearby Basilica of Santa Sabina. There Benedict XVI presided at Mass, pronounced the homily and blessed the ashes that were then imposed on all those who participated in the event.

  "The penitential procession with which we began today's celebration," said the Pope at the beginning of his homily, "helped us to enter into the atmosphere typical of Lent, which is an individual and community pilgrimage of conversion and spiritual renewal."

  The Holy Father went on to explain how Lenten rites, such as the imposition of the ashes and the "stations," or visits to churches containing relics of the martyrs, maintain their significance over the centuries. This is "because they recall the importance, even in our own times, of the uncompromising acceptance of Jesus' words," and help us to understand "that exterior gestures must always be accompanied by sincerity of spirit and coherence of works."

  Benedict XVI identified another "combative" aspect of Lenten spirituality, pointing out that "every day, but especially in Lent, Christians face a battle like the one Jesus faced in the desert." Hence, this liturgical time recalls "that Christian life is a struggle without truce using the 'arms' of prayer, fasting and penance. To fight against evil, against all forms of egoism and hatred, ... is the ascetic journey which all Christ's disciples are called to undertake."

  "Meekly following the divine Master makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace." Such an attitude "helps us better to identify what the Christian response must be to the violence that threatens peace in the world: certainly not vengeance, not hatred, nor an escape into false forms of spirituality."

  The response of Christ's followers, said the Pope, must be that of "following the road chosen by Him Who, in the face of the evil of His time and of all times, embraced the Cross, following the longer but more effective path of love." This love "must be translated into concrete gestures towards others, especially towards the poor and needy." It constitutes one of the "essential elements of the life of Christians, who are encouraged by Christ to be the light of the world so that men and women, seeing their good works, may render glory to God."

  The Pope concluded his homily by stressing the importance of this suggestion "at the beginning of Lent, so that we may gain an ever clearer understanding that 'for the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity. ... but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being'."
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