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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Ban Me Thuot, Vietnam, presented by Bishop Joseph Nguyen Tich Duc, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Francisco Polti Santillan of Santo Tome, Argentina, as bishop of Santiago del Estero (area 81,969, population 641,241, Catholics 577,117, priests 67, permanent deacons 13, religious 108), Argentina.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 (VIS) - During today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope addressed some words to Polish pilgrims, expressing joy over his forthcoming visit to that country, due to begin in 8 days' time.

  "This visit," he said "will take place under the motto 'remain strong in the faith.' Even from today I ask you, and all the Church in Poland, to pray so that in those days, with the help of God' grace, we can strengthen one another in our testimony of the faith. May Servant of God John Paul II accompany us!"

  The Holy Father also greeted a group of faithful from Estonia, especially the choir of the cathedral of Maribor, to whom he said: "In your pilgrimage recalling the tenth anniversary of my predecessor's visit, may the example of his life make you strong in faithfulness to Christ and to the Church."

  Finally, addressing young people and the sick, he called on them "to intensify the devout practice of praying the Rosary, especially in this month of May, dedicated to the Mother of God," entrusting to her "all your needs." He also called on recently married couples to "make the praying of the Rosary in the family a moment of spiritual growth under the maternal gaze of the Virgin Mary."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2006 (VIS) - In his catechesis at today's general audience, Benedict XVI continued his reflections on the apostolic ministry, concentrating on the "personality of the individual Apostles." The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 60,000 people.

  "Peter," said the Holy Father, "is the best known and most mentioned person in the New Testament. ... He had a small fishing business on the Lake of Gennesaret ... and was animated by a sincere religiosity that moved him to go with his brother to Judea, following the preaching of John the Baptist.

  "He was a faithful Jew, who believed in God's active presence in the history of His people, and was pained at not seeing His powerful action in the events of which he was, at that time, a witness. ... The Gospels tell us that Peter was one of the first four disciples of Jesus, to whom was added a fifth in keeping with the custom of rabbis to have five disciples. When Jesus went from five to twelve disciples the novelty of His mission became clear: He had come to gather the eschatological Israel, symbolized by the number twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel."

  The Pope added: "Simon appears in the Gospels with a strong and impulsive character; he is ready to make his opinions felt, even by force. ... At the same time, he is also occasionally ingenuous and fearful, yet honest and capable of sincere repentance.

  "The Gospels allow us to follow his spiritual itinerary step by step. The starting point was the call by Jesus, which came on a day like any other, while Peter was busy at his work as a fisherman." Jesus said to him "'let down your nets for a catch.' ... Simon the fisherman trusted this rabbi, who gave him no answers but called on him to have faith. ... Peter allowed himself to be involved in this great adventure. ... He was generous, he recognized his limits but believed in the One Who called him and followed his heart. He said yes and became a disciple of Jesus."

  "Peter experienced another significant moment on his spiritual journey near Caesarea Philippi when Jesus posed a specific question to His disciples: "'Who do men say that I am?' ... And Peter replied also on behalf of the others: 'You are the Christ'."

  "This reply," said Benedict XVI, "has within it the seed of the Church's future profession of faith. However, Peter had not yet understood the profound substance of Jesus' messianic mission, as became clear shortly afterwards when he made it known that the Messiah he sought in his dreams was very different from God's plan. Faced with the announcement of the passion, he cried out and protested.

  "Peter wanted as Messiah a 'divine man,' who fulfilled people's expectations, imposing his force upon everyone. Yet, Jesus presented Himself as the 'human God,' Who overturns the expectations of the multitude by following the path of humility and suffering. ... Peter thus learned what following Jesus really means. ... And, though with difficulty, he accepted the invitation and continued his path in the footsteps of the Master."
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