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Monday, March 6, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 5, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that Lent began last Wednesday, "and today we celebrate the first Sunday of this liturgical period that encourages Christians to commit themselves on a preparatory journey that leads Easter."

  "Today's Gospel," he continued, "reminds us that Jesus, after having been baptized in the River Jordan and moved by the Holy Spirit which descended upon Him and identified Him as the Christ, withdrew to the desert of Judah for 40 days where He overcame the temptations of Satan. Following their Lord and Master, and in order to face with Him 'the struggle against the spirit of evil,' Christians spiritually enter the Lenten desert."

  In meditating upon this Gospel passage, said Benedict XVI, "we understand that in order to live fulfilling lives in freedom, it is necessary to overcome the trial that freedom itself brings: in other words, temptation. Only when freed from the slavery of lies and sin can human beings - through obedience to the faith that opens them to truth - discover the full meaning of their lives and achieve peace, love and happiness.

  "Precisely for this reason," he went on, "Lent represents an appropriate moment for an attentive examination of life in meditation, prayer and penance." In this context, he mentioned the spiritual exercises which begin this evening in the Vatican and last until next Saturday. They will, he said, "help me and my collaborators in the Roman Curia to enter with greater awareness into this characteristic Lenten atmosphere."

  The Pope then called on the faithful to accompany him with their prayers over these days and assured them of his own prayers to the Lord on their behalf, in the hope that "for all Christians Lent may be a moment of conversion and of more courageous commitment to sanctity. To this end, we invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary."

  Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI announced that in the Paul VI Hall at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, there will be a Marian vigil organized by Roman university students. Many students from other European and African countries will also participate through radio and television links. "It will be," said the Holy Father, "an appropriate occasion to pray to the Most Holy Virgin that the Gospel may open new channels of communication between the peoples of Europe and of Africa. Dear young people, I hope you will participate in large numbers!"
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Antonio Javellana Ledesma S.J., bishop-prelate of Ipil, Philippines, as archbishop of Cagayan de Oro (area 3,799, population 1,284,478, Catholics 1,071,399, priests 130, religious 218), Philippines. The archbishop-elect was born in Iloilo City, Philippines in 1943, ordained a priest in 1973 and consecrated a bishop in 1996. He succeeds Archbishop Jesus B. Tuquib, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Bernardo Vastres Florence S.D.B., provincial inspector of the Salesians in Chile, as bishop of Punta Arenas (area 112,310, population 150,826, Catholics 120,208, priests 24, permanent deacons 8, religious 45), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Santiago de Chile in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1982. He succeeds Bishop Tomas Osvaldo Gonzalez Morales S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Fr. George Beluso Rimando of the clergy of the diocese of Tagum, Philippines, administrator of the quasi-parish of the Assumption in Merville, Tagum, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Davao (area 2,615, population 1,369,913, Catholics 1,109,498, priests 128, religious 462), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in Tagum in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1980.

 - Appointed Sabatino Napolitano, vice-director of Economic Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as director of the same office for a five-year period.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as a member of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

 - Appointed Fr. Andreas Thiermeyer, rector of the 'Collegium Orientale' in Eichstatt, Germany, as a consultor to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Appointed Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, as his special envoy to solemn celebrations due to be held in Javier, Spain, on April 7, 2006, to mark the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Francis Xavier.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, archbishop emeritus of Tokyo, Japan.

 - Cardinal Desmond Connell, archbishop emeritus of Dublin, Ireland.

 - Archbishop Orlando Antonini, apostolic nuncio to Paraguay.

 - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration to journalists:

  "This morning, the Holy Father received in audience Marcello Pera, senator and president of the senate of the Italian Republic, with whom he discussed certain aspects of contemporary culture, in the context of the current international situation."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2006 (VIS) - In the Paul VI Hall today, Benedict XVI received 8,000 members of the UCID ("Unione Cristiana Imprenditori Dirigenti" or Christian Union of Entrepreneurs and Managers), the statutes of which have the approval of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

  In his address to them, the Holy Father praised their express intent "to tend towards an ethic that goes beyond a simple professional code of conduct" which, he added, made him think of the relationship between justice and charity, one of the themes of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est."

  "Christians are called always to seek justice, yet they carry in themselves the impulse of love, which even goes beyond justice. The road travelled by lay Christians from the middle of the nineteenth century to today, has brought them to an awareness that works of charity must not substitute the commitment to social justice. The Church's social doctrine, and above all the activity of so many Christian-inspired groups such as your own, show just how far the ecclesial community has travelled in this matter."

  In this context, the Pope recalled the publication two years ago of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It is, he said, "an educational instrument, extremely useful for all those people who aim to allow themselves be guided by the Gospel in their working and professional lives." And he went on to express the hope that "it may become a constant point of reference" for the members of the UCID in drawing up projects and seeking solutions to the "complex problems of the world of work and the economy," an area that represents their "road to sanctification."

  With reference to the "Charter of Values" of the youth members of the UCID, the Holy Father commended "the positive spirit of faith in the human person" that animates the document, and the fact that its declaration of principles is backed up by a positive commitment to put them into practice.

  "I particularly appreciated," said the Holy Father, "the stated aim of valuing all individuals for what each of them is or can give, according to their talents, while avoiding all forms of exploitation; as well as the recognition of the importance of the family and of personal responsibility. Unfortunately such values, also thanks to current economic difficulties, often risk not being followed by those business people who lack solid moral inspiration. For this reason, the contribution of those who draw from their own Christian formation is indispensable."

  Benedict XVI concluded by calling on the members of the UCID to draw inspiration from St. Joseph, patron saint of workers, both "in your daily tasks, ... and in your tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs."
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