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Monday, May 22, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Branko Crvenkovski, president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, accompanied by an entourage.

- Two prelates from the Canadian (Atlantic) Conference of Catholic Bishops on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Francois Thibodeau C.I.M., of Edmundston.

    - Bishop Joseph Faber MacDonald of Saint John, New Brunswick.

  On Saturday, May 20, he received in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Canadian (Atlantic) Conference of Catholic Bishops on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast S.J., of Halifax, apostolic administrator of Yarmouth, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Claude Champagne O.M.I.

    - Bishop Raymond John Lahey of Antigonish.

    - Bishop Joseph Vernon Fougere of Charlottetown.

    - Bishop Valery Vienneau of Bathurst in Canada.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2006 (VIS) - A note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that:

  At 11.00 a.m. on Sunday May 28, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J., will take possession of the diaconate of St. Mary of Mercy and St. Adrian at Villa Albani, Via Basento 100, Rome.

  At 11.30 a.m. on Sunday May 28, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Peter Damian ai Monti di San Paolo, Via Guido Biagi 16, Rome.

  At 7.00 p.m. on Wednesday May 31, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China, will take possession of the title of St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer at Tor Bella Monaca, Via Duilio Cambellotti 18, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received male and female superiors general from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

  In his address to the assembled religious, the Pope affirmed that "the service of authority calls for a constant presence, one capable of offering encouragement and proposals, of recalling the raison d'etre of consecrated life, and of helping the people entrusted to your care to respond with ever-renewed faithfulness to the call of the Spirit."

  "You are called," he said, "to support and guide your brothers and sisters during uneasy times characterized by multiple snares. Consecrated people today have the task of being witnesses to the transfiguring presence of God in an ever more disoriented and confused world."

  After emphasizing the fact that "secularized culture has penetrated the hearts and minds of no small number of consecrated people, who see it as a form of access to modernity and a way to approach the modern world," the Holy Father pointed out how "alongside an undoubted impulse of generosity - one capable of witness and of complete donation - consecrated life today also knows the trap of mediocrity ... and of consumer mentality."

  "There is a need for courageous decisions at both an individual and community level, impressing a new discipline on the lives of consecrated people and bringing them to discover the all-inclusive dimension of 'sequela Christi' (following Christ)."

  Being of Christ, Pope Benedict affirmed, "means keeping a living flame of love burning in your hearts, continually nourished by the richness of the faith, not only when it brings with it inner joy, but also when united to difficulties, aridity and suffering." In this context, he recalled how inner life is nourished by prayer, and above all by daily participation in the Eucharist.

  "In order to belong entirely to the Lord," he went on, "consecrated people embrace a celibate lifestyle." This also means "renouncing the need to display, assuming a sober and humble way of life. Male and female religious are called to show this also in the way they dress, with simple clothes that are a sign of poverty lived in union with Him, Who was rich and became poor to make us rich with His poverty."

  The Pope also referred to the "yoke" of those called to carry out "the delicate task of superior." This yoke "will be all the lighter the more consecrated people know how to rediscover the value of the obedience they profess."

  "Male and female consecrated people," the Holy Father concluded, "are called to be, in the world, a credible and luminous sign of the Gospel and its paradoxes, without conforming themselves to the mentality of this century, but transforming themselves and continually renewing their commitment, in order to better discern the will of God."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2006 (VIS) - Following today's "Regina Coeli," the Pope gave assurances of his prayers for "the important appointment of Saturday, June 3, the eve of Pentecost, when I will have the joy of meeting, in St. Peter's Square, many followers of more than 100 ecclesial movements and new communities from all over the world."

  He continued: "I well know the significance for the Church of their educational and missionary [activity] which was so appreciated, supported and encouraged by the beloved John Paul II. Together we will celebrate the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Pentecost, trustingly invoking the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of the faithful and announce to everyone the message of love of Christ, Savior of the world."

  The Holy Father's meeting with ecclesial movements and new communities will have as its theme, "the beauty of being a Christian and the joy of communicating this," which is inspired by Pope Benedict's homily during the inaugural Mass of his Petrine ministry on April 24, 2005: "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study in order to pray the "Regina Coeli" with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Before the prayer, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the Ascension of the Lord, which falls on Thursday May 25, though in some countries it will be celebrated on Sunday May 28. "This, Jesus' final gesture, has a dual significance," he said. "In the first place, by rising 'up' He unequivocally revealed His divinity. He returned from whence He came, in God, after having completed His mission on earth. Moreover, Christ ascended to heaven with the humanity He had assumed and caused to arise from the dead: that humanity is ours, transfigured, made divine, rendered eternal. Thus the Ascension reveals the 'ultimate vocation' of all human beings, each called to the eternal life of the Kingdom of God."

  This year, the day of the Ascension of the Lord coincides with the World Day of Social Communications, dedicated to the theme: "The media: network of communication, communion and cooperation": Referring to this event, Benedict XVI recalled how "the Church looks attentively to the media as representing an important vehicle for spreading the Gospel, and for favoring solidarity among peoples by drawing their attention to the great issues."

  On this subject, the Pope mentioned the "Walk the World" event, an initiative promoted by the United Nations World Food Program to combat hunger in the world. "Its aim," he said, "is to sensitize governments and public opinion to the need for concrete and immediate action in order to guarantee everyone, especially children, 'freedom from hunger.'

  "I remain close to this initiative in prayer," the Holy Father added. "And it is my heartfelt hope that, with a contribution from everyone, we may overcome the blight of hunger that still afflicts humanity and places the life hopes of millions of people at serious risk. I am thinking, primarily, of the dramatic situation in Darfur, Sudan, where serious difficulties persist even in satisfying the primary food needs of the population."

  "Today," he concluded, "we particularly entrust to the Virgin Mary our brethren oppressed by the scourge of hunger, those who go out to help them and those who, through the social communications media, contribute to strengthening links of solidarity and peace between peoples. We also ask the Virgin to render fruitful the apostolic trip to Poland which, God willing, I will be making from Thursday to Sunday in recollection of the beloved John Paul II."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as archbishop of Naples (area 274, population 1,712,205, Catholics 1,703,686, priests 1,022, permanent deacons 209, religious 2,730), Italy. He succeeds Cardinal Michele Giordano, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India, as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

 - Appointed Fr. Carlos Briseno Arch O.A.R., superior of the St. Pius X House of Formation in Queretaro, as auxiliary bishop of Mexico (area 1,479, population 8,734,000, Catholics 7,103,000, priests 1,699, permanent deacons 111, religious 6,735), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexico City in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique from the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. The council has just completed is sixth meeting, under the presidency of Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

  The communique recalls the celebration in autumn 1999 of the Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, the last of the so-called "continental synods," and the promulgation by John Paul II of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa" on June 28, 2003.

  "Since then," the communique reads, "the particular Churches in Europe have considered the pontifical document as a precious point of reference in their profound analysis of the current complex situation and in their search for valid solutions, with a view to appropriate pastoral activity. ... The document has been circulated through a large number of conferences, seminars and work groups."

  Benedict XVI is well aware, the text continues, of "the difficulties that the Catholic Church, as well as other Churches and Christian communities, must face in a Europe marked by a climate of widespread religious indifference, by a consumer spirit that also extends to the countries of central and eastern Europe, by a positivist mentality, ... by moral and ethical relativism, ... and by a secularized view of society that seeks to order human affairs with no reference to God or transcendent values."

  "Furthermore, the conditions of Christian witness in Europe are becoming ever more urgent and cannot but call the attention of pastors and communities to certain areas such as: demographics, migration, the deviation of civil law, the institution of the family, bioethics, unemployment, and cooperation with States and with the European Union. ... From an ecclesial standpoint, attention to the pastoral care of vocations remains very high in a number of countries."

  "Debate in the council focussed on these topics," the communique concludes, "and the members of the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops agreed the date of their next meeting, which will take place on April 23, 2007."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Atlantic Assembly, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

  At the beginning of his address, the Pope noted how "Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism. ... One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."

  "Particularly in districts which also suffer from the painful consequences of economic decline, such as unemployment and unwanted emigration," said Pope Benedict, "ecclesial leadership bears much fruit when, in its concern for the common good, it generously seeks to support civil authorities in their task of promoting regeneration in the community."

  Turning to the question of pastoral care, the Pope noted how "with aging clergy and many isolated communities the challenges are great."

  He also highlighted the importance of Catholic education, calling on the bishops "to ensure that the intrinsic relationship between the Church's Magisterium, individuals' faith, and testimony in public life is preserved and promoted. Only in this way can we hope to overcome the debilitating split between the Gospel and culture."

  "Of notable importance are your catechists," he added, "Teaching the faith cannot be reduced to a mere transmission of 'things' or words or even a body of abstract truths. The Church's Tradition is alive!" On this subject to Holy Father particularly appealed to "the young adults of your dioceses to take up the rewarding challenge of catechetical service and share in the satisfaction of handing on the faith. Their example of Christian witness to those younger than themselves will strengthen their own faith, while bringing to others the happiness that flows from the sense of purpose and meaning in life which the Lord reveals."

  Benedict XVI also noted how, in their program of pastoral renewal, the prelates are "facing the delicate task of reorganizing parishes within dioceses," which "is essentially an exercise of spiritual renewal, and calls for the pastoral promotion of sanctity." This, he added, may be achieved by "an authentic education in prayer, a knowledge of the lives of the saints and of the multiple forms of spirituality that beautify and stimulate Church life, assiduous participation in the Sacrament of Penance, and a convincing catechesis of Sunday as 'day of the faith'."

  The Pope encouraged the bishops to "remain vigilant in your duty to promote a culture of vocation. Your reports attest to the admiration you have of your priests who labor with great generosity for the Church's mission and the good of those whom they serve. I pray that their daily journey of conversion and self-giving love will awaken in young men the desire to respond to God's call to humble priestly ministry in His Church."

  Finally, addressing the contribution of male and female religious to the Church's mission and the bishops' concern over the fall in religious vocations in Canada, the Holy Father highlighted "the vital witness [religious] provide by placing themselves without reserve in the hands of Christ and of the Church, as a strong and clear proclamation of God's presence in a way understandable to our contemporaries."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of Francisco Vazquez Vazquez, the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See.

  The Pope began his address to the diplomat by referring to his "fond memories" of Spain, "both for the friendliness of the people I met, and for the abundance and great importance of the many works of art and expressions of culture throughout her territory.

  "This is an enviable heritage," he added, "denoting a brilliant history profoundly imbued with Christian values." That heritage "includes works in which the artists have given concrete form to their ideals and their faith. If this were to be ignored or passed over in silence, it would lose a large part of its attraction and meaning, though it would continue, so to say, to be made up of 'stones that speak'."

  Benedict XVI then went on to recall how the "centuries-old diplomatic relations between Spain and the Holy See ... reflect the Spanish people's constant attachment to the Catholic faith. The great vitality that the Church has had, and continues to have, in your country represents a special invitation to strengthen those relations and to encourage close collaboration between the Church and public institutions - respectfully and faithfully, each with their respective competencies and autonomy - with the aim of achieving the integral good of people who, as citizens of their country, are also ... the much beloved children of the Church."

  "Indeed," he added, "the Church encourages believers to love justice and to participate honestly in public and professional life with a sense of respect and solidarity, in order 'to promote organically and institutionally the common good.' [The Church] is also involved in the promotion and defense of human rights, because of her great consideration for the dignity of human beings in their entirety, whatever their place or situation."

  "For this reason the Church unreservedly proclaims the primordial right to life, from conception to natural end, the right to be born, and to form and live in a family without this being supplanted or obscured by ... different institutions. On this subject, the World Meeting of Families, shortly to be held in ... Valencia, Spain ... will give me the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and fecundity of the family founded on marriage, its exalted vocation and its irreplaceable social value.

  "The Church also insists on people's inalienable right to profess their religious faith without hindrance, both publicly and privately; and on the right of parents to ensure their children receive an education in keeping with their own values and beliefs, without discrimination or exclusion, be it hidden or explicit. On this matter, I find cause for satisfaction in the great demand for the teaching of Catholic religion in Spanish State schools, This means that people recognize the importance of that subject for the growth and the personal and cultural formation of the young."

  Finally, the Pope referred to the "evangelizing mission" of the Church, part of which is "charitable activity." He recalled how "in Spain today, and in her long history, this aspect has shown itself to be particularly fruitful in the Church's many support activities, undertaken in all fields and with great breadth of vision. And because this activity is not inspired by political or ideological strategies," but "in a 'duty to humanity,' collaboration in the field of humanitarian aid and support has achieved many goals, and it is to be hoped that it continues to increase."
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