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Thursday, May 4, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences:

-  Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

 - Twelve prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Canada-Quebec, on their "ad limina" visit.

 - Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal, with Auxiliary Bishops Anthony Mancini, Lionel Gendron, Andre Gazaille and former Auxiliary Bishop Jude Sainte-Antoine.

 - Bishop Gilles Lussier, from Joliette.

 - Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., of Saint-Jean Longueil, with Auxiliary Bishop Louis Dicaire. 

 - Bishop Gilles Cazabon, O.M.I., of Saint-Jerome, with Auxiliary Bishop Donald Lapointe.

 - Bishop Luc Cyr, of Valleyfield.

 - Archbishop Bertrand Blanchet of Rimouski
 This afternoon, the Holy Father will receive in separate audiences three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Canada-Quebec, on their "ad-limina" visit.

- Bishop Pierre Morissette, of Baie-Comeau.
- Bishop  Jean Gagnon, of Gaspé.
- Archbishop Roger Ébacher, of Gatineau.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, presided by Cardinal Paul Poupard, who is also the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture has sent to the Buddhists of all the world, the traditional message for the occasion of Vesakh.

  In countries where the Theravada Buddhist tradition exists (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) Vesakh is a moveable feast which marks important events in the life of Gautama Buddha. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition (China, Japan and Korea) these events are commemorated on different days.

  This year, the message was entitled " Buddhists and Christians Serving Humanity" and reflects over the nature of love, addressed in Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est".

  "The Pope is convinced that this word, so frequently used and yet so often misunderstood, needs to have its true meaning restored in order to become a beacon of light for everyday life".

  "Through our dialogue we have come to appreciate the importance that you Buddhists give to love for one's fellow human beings which is expressed in the concept of metta, a love without any desire to possess but only to help others. It is understood as a love which is willing to sacrifice self-interest for the benefit of humanity. So metta, according to Buddhist teaching, is not confined to benevolent thought, but extends to the performance of charitable deeds, to the service of one and all. It is indeed a universal benevolence. Nor should one forget that other virtue, karuna, through which is shown loving compassion for all living beings".

  "In this world where the word love is so often used and misused would it not be useful for Buddhists and Christians to rediscover its original meaning according to their respective traditions and to share their understanding with one another? This would be an encouragement for the followers of both traditions to work together to build up relations based on love and truth, to promote mutual respect, to foster dialogue and to further collaboration in the service of those who are in need".
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday, commemorative celebrations began with a concert of popular music to mark the fifth centenary of the founding of the Swiss Guard. The concert was performed by the Swiss Guard Band in the Paul VI Hall.

  This afternoon, at 5:00pm, Pope Benedict XVI will appear at the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square to bless the 70 former guards who departed on April 7 from Bellinzona, in the Swiss canton Ticino. The guards have marched 720 kilometers along the old pilgrim route known as the Via Francigena. The guards will cross through the city of Rome, as they did 500 years ago and will be welcomed by the local authorities in Piazza del Popolo. They will then proceed to St. Peter's Square, where they will receive the pope's blessing.

  On Friday, May 5, at 3:30pm, in the Auditorium Conciliazione a meeting will take place between all the members of the Swiss Guard and their families and friends. At 7:00pm, the choir and orchestra of the Collegium Musicum of Lucerne, with soloists from the Higher School of Music, also of Lucerne, the choir of Freiburg Cathedral and the Vokalensemble of the Swiss Canton of Schwyz will perform the "Carmen Saeculare" by Fr. Theo Flury O.S.B.

  Saturday May 6, the main day of the fifth centenary celebrations, will begin with a commemorative Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. A wreath of flowers will then be laid in the Square of Roman Protomartyrs inside the Vatican remembering those guards who fell during the sack of Rome in 1527. At 4:30pm, the annual swearing-in ceremony for new recruits will take place; for the first time in history it will be held in St. Peter's Square, rather than in the San Damaso courtyard where it normally takes place. At 11:00pm, there will be a firework display over Castel Sant'Angelo.

  Finally, on Sunday May 7, after the Regina Coeli, the Swiss Army Concert Band will offer a concert in St. Peter's Square.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - The director of the Holy See Press Office, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, released the following declaration.

  "I can inform you of the position of the Holy See regarding the episcopal ordination of the priests Joseph Ma Yinglin e Joseph Liu Xinhong, which took place, respectively, last Sunday, April 30, in Kunming (province of Yunnan) and Wednesday, May 3, in Wuhu (province of Anhui).

  The Holy Father has learned of the news with profound displeasure, since an act so relevant for the life of the Church, such as an episcopal ordination, has been carried out in both cases without respecting the requirements of communion with the Pope.

  It is a grave wound to the unity of the Church, for which severe canonical sanctions, as it is known, are foreseen (cfr. canon 1382 from the Code of Canon Law).

  According to the information received, bishops and priests have been subjected to - on the part of external entities to the Church - strong pressures and to threats, so that they would take part in the episcopal ordinations which, being without pontifical mandate, are illegitimate and, besides, contrary to their conscience. Various prelates have given a refusal to similar pressures, while others were not able to do anything but submit with great interior suffering. Episodes of this kind produce lacerations not only in the Catholic community but also in the internal conscience itself.

  We are therefore facing a grave violation of religious liberty, notwithstanding that it is sought to present the two episcopal ordinations as a proper act to provide the pastors for vacant dioceses.

  The Holy See follows with attention the troubled path of the Catholic Church in China and even aware of some particularities of such a path, believed and hoped that similar, deplorable episodes by now would belong to the past.

  She considers that now it is her precise duty to give voice to the suffering of the entire Catholic Church, in particular to that of the Catholic community in China and especially to that of those bishops and priests who were seen obligated, against conscience, to take part or to participate in the episcopal ordination, of which, neither the candidates or the consecrating bishops want to carry out without having received the pontifical mandate.

  If the news is true that other episcopal ordinations are to take place in the same manner, the Holy See would like to underline the need for respect for the liberty of the Church and for the autonomy of its institutions from whatever external interference, and sincerely wishes that such unacceptable acts of violence and inadmissible constrictions are not repeated.

  The Holy See has, on various occasions, stressed her willingness for honest and constructive dialogue with the competent Chinese authorities for the purpose of finding a solution that would satisfy the needs of both parties.

  Initiatives such as the above mentioned do not favor such dialogue but instead create new obstacles against it."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, has sent a telegram of condolences in the name of the Holy Father to Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio in Armenia, for the victims of the Armenia airline plane crash in the Black Sea, that took the lives of the 133 individuals onboard.

  "Upon learning of the recent plane catastrophe in the Black Sea, the Holy Father paid homage to the victims and invokes the mercy of the Lord upon them, asking Him to take them into His kingdom of peace. The pope has asked me to express his solidarity with, and assurances of his prayers for, the families of the lost, all those affected by this tragedy, the authorities and the Armenian people".

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