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Monday, April 10, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 9, 2006 (VIS) - Thousands of young people from all over the world participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square this morning, Palm Sunday and 21st World Youth Day, which has as its theme this year "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

  Before the Mass, Benedict XVI blessed palms and olive branches near the obelisk in St. Peter's Square, before moving in procession to the altar.

  At the beginning of his homily, the Holy Father recalled how for 20 years, "thanks to John Paul II, Palm Sunday has become a special day for young people; the day on which youth all over the world go out to meet Christ in the desire to accompany Him into their cities and countries, that He may remain among us and establish His peace in the world.

  "If we want to go out and meet Jesus, and walk alongside Him on His journey, we must however ask: along what path does He intend to lead us? What do we expect from Him? What does He expect from us?"

  Commenting the words of Zechariah on the king to come, who "will be a king of the poor, a poor man among the poor and for the poor," Benedict XVI pointed out how "one can be materially poor and yet have one's heart full of desire for wealth and for the power that derives from wealth. ... Interior freedom is a necessary condition for overcoming the corruption and avidity that are now devastating the world; and this freedom can be found only if God becomes our wealth."

  The Prophet Zechariah "also shows us that this king will be a king of peace," the Pope went on, and this aspect "takes concrete form in the sign of the cross. ... The new weapon that Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, a sign of reconciliation, a sign of the love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the sign of the cross we must remember not to meet injustice with injustice, violence with violence; we must remember that we can conquer evil only with good, and never by repaying evil with evil."

  Zechariah's third affirmation, the Holy Father added, is "the announcement of universality. ... Christ reigns by becoming our bread and giving Himself to us. This is the way in which He builds His kingdom." Through the Eucharist "we enter His kingdom of peace. In Him we welcome, in some way, all our brothers and sisters to whom He comes, in order truly to become a kingdom of peace in the midst of this divided world."

  "These three characteristics announced by the prophet - poverty, peace and universality - come together in the sign of the cross. It is for this reason, and rightly so, that the cross has become the focal point of World Youth Days. There was a time, a time that has not yet been completely left behind, in which Christianity was rejected precisely because of the cross. The cross represents sacrifice, it was said, the cross is a sign of the negation of life. What we want, however, is life entire, without restrictions or renunciation."

  "And Palm Sunday tells us that that the real great 'yes' is the cross, that the cross is the real tree of life. We do not find life by seizing it but by giving it. Love is a giving of self and for this reason it is the way of true life symbolized by the cross."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Benoit Riviere, auxiliary of Marseille, France, as bishop of Autun (area 8,575, population 547,000, Catholics 522,000, priests 260, permanent deacons 24, religious 522), France. He succeeds Bishop Raymond Seguy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Ramon Castro Castro, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Yucatan, Mexico, as bishop of Campeche (area 55,858, population 752,000, Catholics 601,600, priests 59, religious 151), Mexico.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France; and Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain.

 - Appointed Fr. Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., chancellor of the diocesan Curia of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 711,300, population 4,433,300, Catholics 40,000, priests 17, religious 34). The bishop-elect was born in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1990.

 - Granted the ecclesial communion requested of him by His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, canonically elected as Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts on March 30, 2006 by the Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, president of the Republic of Togo, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

 - His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that Benedict XVI will make an apostolic trip to Poland from May 25 to 28, 2006. The Holy Father is to visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 8, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope today received representatives from the Krakow-based Polish publishing house ZNAK whose activities, he said, "make a valuable contribution to the formation of the spiritual face of Krakow, Poland and the Church."

  ZNAK's operations, Benedict XVI added, are not limited to publishing books, but also extend "to promoting Christian culture in the broadest sense and to charitable activities," and he thanked them for publishing his own works in Polish.

  The Holy Father then pointed out that the ZNAK representatives' visit to Rome coincides with the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II who "while still bishop of Krakow showed special concern for ZNAK. ... He always appreciated the active participation of lay people in the life of the Church and supported their proper initiatives. It was no coincidence that it was to your publishing house that he entrusted his last book, 'Memory and Identity'."

  "I am certain," Pope Benedict concluded, "that his patronage continues still, and that he implores the blessing and graces of God for you. I ask you - in honor of his memory - to remain faithful to Christ and to the Church. May your zeal in propagating a culture based on eternal values never be extinguished!"
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VATICAN CITY, APR 10, 2006 (VIS) - In the Paul VI Hall this morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the UNIV international congress of university students, accompanied by members of their families. The participants, from 32 countries, are meeting to consider the theme: "Culture and the means of social communications."

  The Pope began his address by greeting Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of Opus Dei, the organization that promotes these meetings. He then reminded the university students that their presence in Rome over Easter gave them an opportunity "for a more intimate encounter with Christ."

  "As I wrote in my Message for 21st World Youth Day," the Pope went on, "it is Christ Who guides your steps, your university studies and your friendships. ... For each of you, as for the Apostles, the personal meeting with the divine Master Who calls you friend can be the beginning of an extraordinary adventure: that of becoming apostles among your own peers, leading them to enjoy your own experience of friendship with God-made-Man."

  The Pope noted the "great interest" of the theme chosen for this year's UNIV meeting, observing how, "unfortunately, ... in our own time, new technologies and the mass media do not always favor personal relations, sincere dialogue, and friendship between people; they do not always help to cultivate the interior nature of the relationship with God."

  He went on: "I know that for you friendship and contacts with others, especially your own peers, constitute an important part of your daily lives. You must feel Jesus to be one of your closest friends, indeed the closest. ... Only in Him can you find the strength to give your brothers and sisters human affection and supernatural charity, in a spirit of service that is expressed above all in understanding."

  "Those who have discovered Christ cannot but bring others to Him, because great joy cannot be kept for oneself but must be communicated. This is the task to which the Lord calls you, this is the 'apostolate of friendship' that St. Josemaria, founder of Opus Dei, describes as 'a personal friendship, self-sacrificing and sincere: face to face, heart to heart.' All Christians are invited to be friends of God and, with His grace, to attract their friends to Him. ... St. Josemaria also reminds you of certain key words for your spiritual itinerary: 'communion, union, conversation, confidence: word, bread, love'."

  "If you cultivate friendship with Jesus, if you practice the Sacraments assiduously, especially the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, you will be able to become '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'."
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Tuesday, April 11


VATICAN CITY, APR 9, 2006 (VIS) - Following this morning's solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday, and prior to praying the Angelus, the Pope addressed some words to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Benedict XVI reminded those present that after the Marian prayer a delegation of young people from Cologne, Germany, where last year's World Youth Day was celebrated, will consign the WYD cross to young people from Sydney, Australia, site of World Youth Day 2008. "This is the cross," said Benedict XVI, "that the beloved John Paul II entrusted to young people in 1984 that they might carry it around the world as a sign of Christ's love for humanity," together with another sign of WYD, an icon of the Virgin Mary.

  "This handing over of the cross," the Holy Father went on, "has become a tradition, ... a highly symbolic tradition to be practiced with great faith, and the commitment to follow a journey of conversion in the footsteps of Jesus.

  "This faith is taught us by Mary Most Holy, who was the first 'to believe' and carried her own cross together with the Son, later tasting with Him the joy of the resurrection. For this reason the young people's cross is accompanied by an icon of the Virgin, representing the image of Mary 'Salus Populi Romani' which is venerated in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major, the oldest basilica dedicated to Mary in the West."

  The cross and the image of the Virgin will travel through various African countries, said the Holy Father, "in order to express the closeness of Christ and His Mother to the people of that continent, tried by so much suffering." It will arrive in Oceania in February 2007, travelling through various Australian diocese before reaching Sydney in July 2008.
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