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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Monday, March 13, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 13, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - James T. Morris, executive director of the World Food Program, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Four prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda.

    - Archbishop Roger Pirenne C.C.I.M., of Bertoua.

    - Bishop Pius Suh Awa of Buea.

    - Bishop Francis Teke Lysinge of Mamfe.

 - Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, apostolic nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, accompanied by members of his family.

  This evening he is scheduled to received President Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt, accompanied by an entourage.

  On Saturday, March 11, he received in separate audiences:

 - Claudio Muccioli and Antonello Bacciocchi, captains regent of the Republic of San Marino, accompanied by their wives and an entourage.

 - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice-dean of the College of Cardinals.

 - Cardinal Marco Ce, patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy, and preacher of the recently-concluded spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 12, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, following a week dedicated to the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  Commenting on the recently-concluded spiritual retreat, the Pope said: "They were days completely dedicated to listening to the Lord, Who always speaks to us, and who expects us to pay the greatest attention, especially in this period of Lent."

  The Holy Father then went on to refer to today's Gospel text on the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, explaining that "when we have the grace of undergoing a profound experience of God, it as if we experienced something similar to what happened to the disciples during the Transfiguration: for a moment we enjoy a foretaste of what will be the joy of heaven.

  "These," he continued, "are usually brief experiences that God sometimes grants, especially prior to severe trials. However, it is given to no one to live 'upon Tabor' while they are on this earth. Human life is, in fact, a journey of faith and, as such, progresses more in the shadows than in full light, and is not without moments of obscurity or even of complete blackness. As long as we live in the world, our relationship with God consists more in listening than in seeing; and even contemplation comes about, so to say, with eyes closed and thanks to the inner light lit within us by the Word of God."

  Benedict XVI recalled that the Virgin Mary "advanced in her own pilgrimage of faith day after day," meditating upon the Word of God, both through the Scriptures and through the events in the life of her Son "in which she recognized and accepted the mysterious voice of the Lord.

  "This, then," the Pope concluded "is the commitment of each of us during Lent: to listen to Christ as Mary did. To listen to Him in His Word, conserved in Holy Scripture. To listen to it in the events of our own lives, seeking to read therein the messages of Providence. Finally, to listen to it in our brothers and sisters, especially in the smallest and the poorest, towards whom Jesus Himself calls for a concrete display of our love. Listening to Christ and obeying His voice: this is the Way, the one Way that leads to the fullness of joy and of love."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid, S.C.I., archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as his special envoy to the fifteenth National Eucharistic Congress of Brazil, which will be held in the Brazilian city of Florianopolis from May 18 to 21.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples presented by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, upon having reached the age limit. The Holy Father also united, for the time being, the presidency of this pontifical council to that of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Consequently, he appointed Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as the new president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

 - In order to favor more intense dialogue between people of culture and exponents of different religions, he united, for the time being, the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to that of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Consequently, he appointed Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as the new president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2006 (VIS) - This evening in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father presided at an evening prayer vigil held to mark the fourth European Day for Universities which is considering the theme: "Christian humanism, the path of a new cooperation between Europe and Africa." The Day has been promoted by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) and the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities.

  During the course of the evening, there were satellite linkups with university students in the European cities of Bonn, Dublin, Freiburg Madrid, Munich, Salamanca, St. Petersburg and Sofia, and the African cities of Abidjan, Antananarivo, Owerri and Nairobi.

  The Pope arrived in the Hall at 6 p.m. and led the recitation of the rosary. He then addressed some words to the young people present and those following the event via the satellite linkups.

  "This Marian vigil so dear to Pope John Paul II," he said, "creates bridges of fraternity between the young university students of Europe, and this evening it extends those bridges to within the great continent of Africa, so that communion may grow among the new generations and the civilization of love may spread. For this reason, to our friends following us from Africa I wish to send a particularly affectionate embrace, which I would like to extend to all the dear African people."

  After pronouncing greetings in Spanish, English, German, French, Russian and Bulgarian, the Holy Father referred to his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," copies of which he then distributed to ten student representatives. "In this way," he said, "I intend to give it symbolically to all university students of Europe and Africa, in the hope that the fundamental truth of Christian faith - God is love - may illuminate the journey of each of you and, through your witness, may come to irradiate the lives of those who study with you."

  He continued: "This truth concerning the love of God - origin, meaning and goal of the universe and of history - was revealed by Jesus Christ with His Word and His Life, most of all in His Paschal death and resurrection. It lies at the base of Christian knowledge which, like leavening, has the capacity to ferment all human cultures, bringing them to express the best of themselves and cooperate in developing a more just and peaceful world."

  The Pope invited the university students to read his Message for 21st World Youth Day which is being celebrated this year in various dioceses on Palm Sunday. As preparation for the Day, he encouraged them to participate in the traditional meeting in St. Peter's Square, due to take place on April 6. "We will welcome the pilgrim Cross which has cone from Cologne, Germany and, a year after his death, recall with grateful hearts my great predecessor John Paul II."

  The Day concluded with the pilgrimage of the university students' cross from the Paul VI Hall to the Church of St. Agnes in Rome's Piazza Navona.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received participants in an international congress being held to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vatican Council II Decree "Ad gentes." The congress has been organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Urban University.

  Benedict XVI affirmed that the approval of this decree, on December 7, 1965 gave "renewed impulse" to the Church's mission, which was recognized as being "a constituent element of her very nature."

  "To announce and bear witness to the Gospel," he said, "is the main service Christians can render to individuals and to the entire human race."

  Benedict XVI quoted the words of John Paul II to the effect that "the 'mission ad gentes' seems at times to slow down, because of difficulties due to the changing anthropological, cultural, social and religious environment of mankind." He went on: "The Church today is called to face up to new challenges and is ready to enter into dialogue with different cultures and religions seeking, together with all people of good will, to construct peaceful coexistence among peoples. ... Indeed, not just distant lands and non-Christian peoples, but also socio-cultural environments and, above all, hearts, are the true beneficiaries of the missionary activity of the People of God."

  The Pope highlighted the fact that "the Church is called to serve the humanity of our time, trusting only in Jesus, allowing herself to be illuminated by His Word and imitating Him in giving herself generously to our brothers and sisters. She is an instrument in His hands, and for this reason does what she can, aware that it is always the Lord Who achieves everything."

  "With the contribution of all Christians," he continued, "the announcement of the Gospel will surely become more widely-understood and effective. May Mary, the Star of evangelization, give help and support to those who, in so many regions of the world, work on the outlying frontiers of the mission."

  The Holy Father concluded by recalling those who, "even in recent times, have given their lives for the Gospel. May their sacrifice bring a renewed springtime, one rich in apostolic fruits for evangelization."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 11, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope and the Roman Curia concluded their spiritual exercises, which occupied all of the past week and were held in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel.

  In off-the-cuff remarks addressed to the participants at the end of the final session, Benedict XVI expressed particular thanks to Cardinal Marco Ce, patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy and preacher of the spiritual exercises.

  The Pope recalled how the preacher had begun by guiding them "in the footsteps of St. Mark, walking the road with Jesus towards Jerusalem" and by highlighting "the profoundly ecclesial nature" of the spiritual exercises.

  "We cannot," the Pope said, "bring the world the joyful news that is the person of Christ if we ourselves are not profoundly united to Christ, if we do not know Him deeply and personally, if we do not live from His Word."

  Cardinal Ce, the Holy Father added, also dwelt upon "the Christological nature" of the exercises. "He helped us to listen to the Master Who speaks with us and within us; he helped us to respond, to speak with the Lord and listen to His Word."

  What the preacher did, the Pope concluded, was to guide us "on a Marian journey, a journey that calls us to become part of the Word of God, to place our lives within the Word of God and so allow our being to be permeated by this Word, that we may then become witnesses to the living Word of Christ Himself in our time.

  "Thus, with renewed courage, with renewed joy, we move towards Easter, towards the celebration of the Mystery of Christ, which is always more than a celebration or a rite, it is Presence and Truth."
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