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Monday, June 5, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a declaration released today by Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, following the Holy Father's audience this morning with Tony Blair, prime minister of Great Britain:

  "The principal subject of the cordial meeting was the role of religion in politics and society. Particular attention was given to the contribution that the shared values of religions can make to dialogue, especially with moderate Islam, and above all in the areas of solidarity and peace.

  "The discussion also considered Africa, highlighting the need for the international community to use all means to favor and support peaceful coexistence and development in that continent.

  "Finally, the decisive progress in the peace process in Northern Ireland was recognized."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 4, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Solemnity of Pentecost, Benedict XVI presided at Mass in St. Peter's Square. The Mass was concelebrated by a number of cardinals, and attended by tens of thousands of people many of whom had participated in yesterday's meeting between the Pope and ecclesial movements and new communities.

  "On the day of Pentecost," said the Pope in his homily, "the Holy Spirit descended powerfully upon the Apostles; and thus the Church's mission in the world began. Jesus Himself had prepared the Eleven for this mission, appearing to them a number of times after His resurrection. ... Remaining together was the condition placed by Jesus for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit."

  "This provides a remarkable lesson for all Christian communities. Sometimes, it is thought that missionary success depends principally on careful planning, followed by clever implementation through concrete commitment. Of course, the Lord asks our collaboration, but prior to any response on our part His initiative is necessary. His Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church."

  Benedict XVI then commented on the images (of wind and fire) with which St. Luke describes "the irruption of the Holy Spirit." Images that recall the covenant of God with the People of Israel in the Sinai Desert and through which the Evangelist presents "Pentecost as the new Sinai, as the feast of the new pact, in which the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the people of the earth."

  For this reason, "the Church was Catholic and missionary from her inception. The universality of salvation is significantly highlighted in the list of ethnic groups who listened to the first announcement of the Apostles. The People of God ... was enlarged ... until it no longer knew frontiers of race, culture, space or time. Unlike what happened in the Tower of Babel - when men, intent on building a way to heaven with their own hands, ended up by destroying their capacity to understand one another - in the Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, shows how His presence unites and transforms confusion into communion. ... The Holy Spirit ... rebuilds the bridge of true communication between earth and heaven. The Holy Spirit is Love."

  However, in order to know "the mystery of the Holy Spirit," we must go back to Jesus' words at the Last Supper, when the Apostles were disconcerted and saddened by His announcement of His death and departure.

  "In order to comfort them [Jesus] explains the meaning of His leaving: He will go, but will return, in the meantime He will not abandon them, He will not leave them orphans. He will send the Counsellor, the Spirit of the Father, and it will be the Spirit Who makes it known that Jesus' work is a work of love: the love of He Who offered Himself, the love of the Father Who gave Him."

  "This is the mystery of Pentecost," said the Holy Father, "the Holy Spirit illuminates the human spirit and, revealing Christ crucified and risen, indicates the way to become like Him, to be, that is, 'image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ'."

  After the Mass, Benedict XVI prayed the "Regina Coeli" with those present, before reflecting further upon Pentecost which, he reiterated, "invites us to return to the origins of the Church." He also quoted the words of the Apostolic Constitution "Lumen gentium" where it is written: "The Church, which the Spirit guides in way of all truth and which He unified in communion and in works of ministry, He both equips and directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with His fruits."

  The Holy Father concluded: "Among the things prompted by the Spirit in the Church are the ecclesial movements and communities, which yesterday I had the joy of meeting in this square, in a great international meeting. All the Church, as Pope John Paul II used to like to say, is one great movement animated by the Holy Spirit, a river crossing history to irrigate it with the grace of God and render it fruitful of life, goodness, beauty, justice and peace."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Pius Mlungisi Dlungwane, auxiliary of Mariannhill, South Africa, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,612, population 1,567,000, Catholics 308,400, priests 63, religious 328).

 - Appointed Msgr. Mose Marcia, bursar of the archdiocese of Cagliari, Italy and spiritual father of the regional Sardinian seminary, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 4,041, population 563,061, Catholics 562,857, priests 349, permanent deacons 30, religious 1,139). The bishop-elect was born in S. Sperate, Italy in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1973.

 - Appointed Domenico Giani, acting vice-inspector of the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State, as director of the security services and civil protection of Vatican City State, and inspector general of the Corps of the Gendarmerie of Vatican City State.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India.

 - Bishop Nikolaus Messmer S.J., apostolic administrator of Kyrgyzstan.

 - Bishop Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., auxiliary of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2006 (VIS) - This evening, Benedict XVI met with more than 400,000 representatives of ecclesial movements and new communities.

  Before the meeting began, the Pope travelled in an open-top popemobile down Via della Conciliazione and across St. Peter's Square, greeting and blessing the crowds as he went.

  Brief greetings from Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the reading of a message from Chiara Lubich, founder of the Work of Mary (the Focolari Movement), were followed by the First Vespers of the eve of Pentecost.

  The reading of the psalms was interspersed with reflections by Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community, Kiko Arguello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, and Msgr. Julian Carron, president of the Communion and Liberation association.

  The Holy Father then pronounced his homily which he began by recalling John Paul II, who in 1998 promoted the first such meeting with movements and communities. "That great evangelizer of our time," Pope Benedict told the crowds, "defined your associations and communities as 'providential'."

  Pentecost, said the Holy Father, "is not only the origin of the Church and, therefore, in a special way, her feast; Pentecost is also the feast of the creation. The world does not exist of itself, it comes from the creative Spirit of God. ... Those who, as Christians, believe in the Creating Spirit, are aware of the fact that we cannot use and abuse the material world as a simple instrument to enact our desires."

  "God approaches us through the creation," said the Pope. "Nonetheless, the good creation of God, over the course of the history of mankind, has been covered with a deep layer of dirt that makes it, if not impossible, at least difficult to recognize therein the reflection of the Creator."

  After highlighting how "life and freedom" are "the things we all long for," Benedict XVI stressed that "life is only to be found by giving it, it is not to be found by seeking to possess it. This is what we must learn from Christ, and this is what we are taught by the Holy Spirit, Which is a pure gift, Which is God's giving of Himself."

  "The ecclesial movements," he went on, "want to be, and must be, schools of freedom, of this true freedom. ... In this world, so full of false freedoms that destroy the environment and mankind, we, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, wish to learn authentic freedom together," and show people "how beautiful it is to be free in the true freedom of the children of God."

  The Pope continued: "The Holy Spirit, granting life and freedom, also grants unity. These three gifts are inseparable from one another. ... Looking at this gathering here in St. Peter's Square, we realize how He always generates new gifts; we see how different the groups He creates are, and how, ever anew, He works corporeally."

  In Him, "multiplicity and unity go together. He blows where He will. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places and in previously unimagined forms. ... Multiformity and unity are inseparable. He wants your multiformity, and He wants you for the one body, in union with the lasting orders - the joints [of the body] - of the Church, with the successors of the Apostles and the successor of St. Peter."

  The Holy Father called upon those present "to participate in the building of the one body. Pastors will ensure that the Spirit is not extinguished, and you will not cease to carry your gifts to the entire community."

  The Pope also sought to encourage to "missionary drive" of the movements and communities. "Those who have found something true, beautiful and good in their own lives - the only real treasure, the precious pearl - hurry to share it with everyone: in the family, at work, in all areas of their lives."

  "Dear friends," he concluded, "I ask you to collaborate even more - much more - in the Pope's universal apostolic ministry, opening the doors to Christ. This is the best service of the Church to mankind and, in a special way, to the poor, so that the life of individuals, a more just ordering of society and peaceful coexistence among nations may find in Christ the 'corner stone' upon which to build a true civilization, the civilization of love."

  Following the Pope's homily, the memory of the Sacrament of Confirmation took place with the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the profession of faith.

  After singing the Magnificat, two representatives from ecclesial movements - Luis Fernando Figari of the Movement of Christian Life and Patti Gallagher Mansfield of Catholic Charismatic Renewal - expressed thanks to the Pope.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration at midday today:

  "A number of journalists have expressed a desire to know the Holy See's view on recent developments in international negotiations concerning the Iranian nuclear program.

  "Having duly informed itself, this Press Office is in a position to communicate that the Holy See supports, as it always does, any initiative aimed at open and constructive dialogue. The Holy See is firmly convinced that the current difficulties also can and must be overcome through diplomatic channels, using all means at the disposal of diplomacy.

  "It seems especially necessary that, though private contacts, those elements that objectively hinder mutual trust be removed, while never rejecting any sign of good will from the one side or from the other, and having care for the honor and sensitivity of each country. In this way, it will be possible to make steps of mutual rapprochement."
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