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Thursday, May 18, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, prime minister of Poland, accompanied by an entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican, Benedict XVI will receive in audience Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department for Foreign Ecclesiastical Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

  Following the audience, due to take place at 6 p.m., the Orthodox representative will attend a concert given by the choir of Moscow's Sretenskiy Monastery in the Auditorium in Via della Conciliazione near the Vatican. The concert marks the consecration of the first Russian Orthodox church in Rome, dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, which is due to take place tomorrow.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall, the Pope received participants in the 56th general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the theme of which is the life and ministry of priests.

  Benedict XVI opened his address by referring to one of the bishops' "essential tasks" as always remaining "close to our priests," watching over their formation, concerning themselves with their material and spiritual wellbeing, ensuring they do not face difficulties alone, and performing "a careful selection of candidates for the priesthood."

  "I join you, dear Italian bishops, in addressing a great thank-you to our priests for their continual and often unseen dedication, and in asking them, in a fraternal spirit, to entrust themselves to the Lord and to walk with generosity and courage down the road that leads to sanctity, also bringing comfort and sustenance to us bishops as we travel the same road."

  The Holy Father pointed out how during their general assembly the prelates had also discussed the fourth national ecclesial congress of Verona. The event is due to be held from October 16 to 20 on the theme: "Witnesses of the Risen Jesus, hope of the world" and, said the Pope, "I will have the joy of participating."

  "In Verona," he continued, "we must concentrate above all on Christ and hence on the Church's priority mission to live in His presence, and to make that presence visible to everyone."

  Going on to quote his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," Benedict XVI recalled how the Church is aware of the fundamental "distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or the autonomy of the temporal sphere."

  "At the same time," he added, "and precisely by virtue of her mission of salvation, the Church cannot rescind her task of purifying reason by the proposal of her own social doctrine based upon 'what is in accord with the nature of every human being,' and reawakening moral and spiritual forces by opening people's will to the authentic needs of what is good."

  The Holy Father likewise underlined how, "without doubt, a healthy laicism of the State ensures that temporal matters are dealt with according to their own norms; to this, however, are associated ethical concerns that have their foundations in the very essence of man and that therefore, in the final analysis, can be traced back to the Creator."

  He added: "In current circumstances, by recalling the value for public and private life of certain ethical principles rooted in the great Christian heritage of Europe, and in particular of Italy, we commit no violation of the laicism of the State, rather we contribute to guaranteeing and promoting the dignity of the person and the common good of society."

  The Pope concluded by highlighting the need to offer "a clear testimony to all our brothers and sisters in humanity. By doing so we do not burden them with useless weight, but help them, to progress along the road of life and of true freedom."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of five new ambassadors to the Holy See: Moukhtar Wawa Dahab from Chad; Amitava Tripathi from India; Domingos Dias Pereira Mascarenhas from Cape Verde; Valeriu Bobutac from Moldova; and Anne Maree Plunkett from Australia.

  "You belong," said the Pope in French addressing the five new ambassadors together, "to the great family of diplomats who, throughout the world, strive to build bridges between countries with the aim of creating and reaffirming relations between peoples, both in the area of fraternal solidarity and in that of economic and cultural exchanges. ... This ... presupposes firm will and breadth of vision, in order not to reduce the decisions that must be taken to mere responses to the urgent needs of the moment."

  "In order for this to happen, it is not enough to decide on peace or collaboration among nations. What is required is a solid commitment that does not seek only the interest of ... a particular section of society, to the detriment of the general interest, but that aims above all at the common good of a whole country, and ... of humanity entire. In this age of globalization, it is important that the management of public life does not depend ... only upon economic considerations, the search for ever-increasing profit, and the inconsiderate use of the planet's resources to the detriment of peoples, especially the least favored, thus jeopardizing the long-term future of the world."

  Peace, the Pope went on, "is rooted in respect for religious liberty, which is a fundamental and primordial aspect of the freedom of belief of individuals and of the freedom of peoples. It is important that, in whatever part of the world, everyone can follow the religion they choose, and practice it openly and without fear, because no one can base their existence only on material wellbeing. Accepting this individual and collective dimension will, without doubt, have beneficial effects on social life."

  The Holy Father concluded his address by calling on the international community to show more concern for people than for mere economic questions. "It is our duty," he said, "to be responsible for one another and for the progress of the world, because no one can answer as Cain did to God: 'Am I my brother's keeper?'"

  The Pope then gave each diplomat a written copy of a speech addressing the particular situation in his or her own country. To the ambassador from Chad the Holy Father expresses his hope that, "through dialogue between the parties concerned, violence may cease and a time of reconciliation arrive," and that "leaders of the region may act with determination in favor of justice and peace."

  The Holy Father congratulates the Indian diplomat for his country's efforts to resolve, "with negotiations and peaceful methods, the long running controversy with Pakistan," and highlights how "increasing dialogue and cooperation is essential in order to face other challenges in the region, such as the violence associated with political and religious extremism." In his discourse to the Moldavian ambassador, Benedict XVI explains how "the Church naturally takes to heart the debate over the status of Transdnistria. While fully appreciating the complexity of the question, I urge your government to persevere in the search for a peaceful solution, and to work in harmony with the organs of the European Union and the Council of Europe."

  Addressing the Australian representative, the Holy Father writes of his joy at the celebration of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, and highlights the "respect for transcendent order that has led Australians to recognize the fundamental importance of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of society." In his speech to the Cape Verde ambassador, the Pope looks forward to "a new impulse of international solidarity with the African continent, subject to such harsh trials, that it may start down the path of integral development, reconciliation and peace."
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