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Thursday, April 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Archbishop Longinus da Cunha of Ende, Indonesia, on April 6, at the age of 60.

 - Bishop Charles Joseph Henderson, former auxiliary of Southwark, England, on April 10, at the age of 81.

 - Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, prelate emeritus of Loreto, Italy, on April 5, at the age of 82.

 - Archbishop Jose Mendez Asensio, emeritus of Granada, Spain, on April 15, at the age of 85.

 - Bishop Andre Nguyen Van Nam, emeritus of My Tho, Vietnam, on March 16, at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Sebastian Valloppilly, emeritus of Tellicherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on April 4, at the age of 94.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - Cardinal Rosalio Jose Castillo Lara S.D.B., president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - On Wednesday, April 19, the first anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, a Basic Agreement between the Holy See and Bosnia-Herzegovina was signed at the presidential palace in Sarajevo. The agreement confirmed a number of principles and defined certain issues regarding questions of common interest.

  The Holy See was represented by Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Bosnia-Herzegovina by Ivo Miro Jovic, Croatian member of the country's collegial presidency.

  According to a communique made public today, the Agreement, "bearing in mind the respective independence and autonomy of State and Church and their willingness to collaborate with each other, establishes the juridical framework for their reciprocal relations. In particular, it regulates the juridical position of the Catholic Church in civil society; her freedom and independence in her apostolic activities and in the regulation of her own affairs; and her freedom of worship and of action in the fields of culture, education, pastoral care, charity and the mass media. The text also makes provision for the running of Catholic schools of all levels; spiritual assistance to the armed forces, and in prisons and hospitals; and the organization of Catholic healthcare and charity structures''.

  The Agreement, the communique concludes, ''will come into force following the exchange of the instruments of ratification."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which has just concluded its plenary session.

  ''From her beginnings", says the Message, "the Church has dedicated great attention to the procedures that elevate Servants of God to the glory of the altars. The causes of saints are considered 'major causes' because of their noble and material impact on the lives of the people of God."

  The Pope recalled prior interventions by earlier pontiffs who sought to improve the celebration and study of the causes of saints, quoting, among others, Pope John Paul II who in 1983 promulgated the Apostolic Constitution " Divinus Perfectionis Magister" and the "Normae servandae in inquisitionibus ab Episcopis faciendis in Causis Sanctorum."

  "The experience of more than 20 years since this text was published has prompted this congregation to publish an 'Instruction for the procedure of diocesan inquiries into the causes of saints,' which is chiefly addressed to diocesan bishops and constitutes the first theme examined by the plenary," says the Holy Father. The instruction "attempts to facilitate the application of the 'Normae servandae' in order to safeguard the seriousness of investigations", into virtues, causes of martyrdom or possible miracles.

  "It is clear", writes the Pope "that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

  Going on to refer to the second theme of the plenary session - "the miracle in the causes of saints" - Benedict XVI recalls that "miracles constitute divine confirmation of a judgement expressed by the ecclesial authorities on [a person's] virtuous life. I hope that the plenary will study this subject deeply in the light of the tradition of the Church, of modern theology, and of the most accredited discoveries of science. It should not be forgotten that in examining purportedly miraculous events the competency of scientists and theologians comes together, although the decisive judgement falls to theology which alone is capable of interpreting miracles in the light of the faith. ... It should also be clearly borne in mind that unbroken Church practice establishes the need for a physical miracle, a moral miracle is not enough."

  On the third subject, "martyrdom," the Pope writes: "If the motive that impels [people] to martyrdom remains unaltered, having its source and its model in Christ, what have changed are the cultural contexts of martyrdom and the strategies 'ex parte perscutoris' who seek to give ever less explicit prominence to their aversion to the Christian faith, ... but fake different reasons, for example political or social ones. It is of course necessary to find incontrovertible proof of willingness to suffer martyrdom, ... and of the victim's acceptance thereof. But it is equally necessary that, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain fashion, the 'odium Fidei' of the persecutor should be apparent. If this element is lacking, there is no real martyrdom in accordance with the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church."

  Finally, Benedict XVI referred to indications contained in John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister" concerning the need to associate bishops with the Holy See in dealing with the causes of saints. On the basis of these indications, Pope Benedict said, "I have implemented the widespread desire that the substantial difference between the celebration of beatification and that of canonization should be more deeply underlined; and that particular Churches should be more visibly involved in the rite of beatification, it being understood that only the Roman Pontiff may concede veneration to a Servant of God."


VATICAN CITY, APR 27, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, who have just celebrated their annual plenary session dedicated to the relationship between the Bible and morality. The session was presided over by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, president of the commission.

  The Pope greeted the participants, recalling the fact that he knows them personally, having been president of the same commission. He also highlighted the important theme discussed during the plenary session.

  ''The primordial impulse of human beings'', he said turning to consider the subject of the plenary, ''is their desire for happiness and a fulfilling life. Nevertheless, there are many today who think that such fulfillment must be attained autonomously, with no reference to God or to His law. Some have even suggested the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the field of moral norms. ... The proponents of this 'moral laicism' affirm that human beings, as rational creatures, not only can but must freely decide the value of their own behavior''.

  ''This false conviction'', he continued, ''is rooted in a supposed conflict between human freedom and any kind of law." However, "the law of God does not mitigate or eliminate human freedom, on the contrary, it guarantees and promotes it. ... Moral law, established by God at the creation and confirmed in the Revelation of the Old Testament, finds its fullness and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in His total obedience to the will of God''.

  ''In revealing the Father and in His own actions, Jesus also reveals the norms for just human behavior. He explicitly underlines this connection when, at the conclusion of His lessons regarding love for one's enemies, He says 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.''

  ''The path indicated by Jesus through His teachings is not a rule imposed from the outside. He Himself walks this path and asks no more than that we follow Him. ... In the search for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is always necessary to remember that Christ is the Word Incarnate Who renders us participants in His divine life, and with His grace He sustains us on the path towards true fulfillment.''

  ''The essence of human beings'', concluded the Pope, ''appears definitively in the Word made man," and "this relationship with Christ defines the highest fulfillment of man's moral actions. ... It is not an act dictated solely by external norms, it proceeds from the vital relationship that unites believers to Christ and to God.''
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