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Monday, July 10, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JUL 9, 2006 (VIS) - Following the Eucharistic celebration for families, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile from Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences to the airport of Manises, where the departure ceremony took place. Over the ten-kilometer journey, thousands of persons lining the route had the opportunity to greet the Holy Father.

  At the airport, after a greeting from King Juan Carlos of Spain, Benedict XVI thanked everyone for the "kind hospitality and evident affection" shown him during his brief visit to Valencia.

  The Holy Father expressed his hope that "with the help of the Most High and the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, this meeting will keep echoing like a joyful song of the love, life and faith shared by families, and help today's world to understand that the marriage covenant, whereby man and woman establish a permanent bond, is a great good for all humanity."

  He also thanked the thousands of pilgrims from all continents who had accompanied him over the two days of his apostolic trip to Spain. "You have a special place in my heart," he said.

  The Pope's aircraft took off at 1 p.m. and arrived at Rome's Ciampino airport at 3 p.m. From there the Pope travelled by helicopter to Vatican City.
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 9, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at Mass in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, in the presence of more than a million and a half people. During the ceremony, which marked the closure of the Fifth World Meeting of Families, the Pope used the Holy Chalice.

  In his homily, after thanking God for the "joyful throng of beloved families" gathered in Valencia, and for the others following the event on radio and television, Benedict XVI mentioned the day's Gospel readings which, he said, show the family "to us as a community of generations and the guarantee of a patrimony of traditions."

  "All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths," said the Holy Father, "and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others. The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life."

  "Once children are born, ... together with the gift of life, they receive a whole patrimony of experience. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity, to initiate them to the life of society, to foster the responsible exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis of their having been loved and, above all, to enable them to encounter God. Children experience human growth and maturity to the extent that they trustingly accept this heritage and training which they gradually make their own. They are thus able to make a personal synthesis between what has been passed on and what is new, a synthesis that every individual and generation is called to make.

  "At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood and motherhood, we find God the Creator," the Pope added. "For this reason, married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son or daughter of God. ... The memory of this Father sheds light on our deepest human identity: where we come from, who we are, and how great is our dignity. ... Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was revealed to us by Jesus Christ. ... He knew whence He came and whence all of us have come: from the love of His Father and ours.

  "Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God Who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to His call. Even if no one can answer for another person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness of their Christian faith and hope. ... Thus, with the constant witness of the their parents' conjugal love, permeated with a living faith, and with the loving accompaniment of the Christian community, children will be helped better to appropriate the gift of their faith, to discover the deepest meaning of their own lives and to respond with joy and gratitude."

  "In contemporary culture, we often see an excessive exaltation of the freedom of the individual as an autonomous subject, as if we were self-created and self-sufficient, apart from our relationship with others and our responsibilities in their regard."

  However, "the Church does not cease to remind us that true human freedom derives from our having been created in God's image and likeness. Christian education is consequently an education in freedom and for freedom. We do not do good as slaves, who are not free to act otherwise, we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God Himself and therefore His creatures as well."

  "The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come. The experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God.

  "To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches us to respect and foster the marvelous reality of the indissoluble marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family. To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best means of ensuring the dignity, equality and true freedom of the human person."

  "The Christian family, "Benedict XVI concluded, "is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore His help, He will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ. The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate with Him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their lives. The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive encounter with Christ in the house of His Father and ours. And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world."

  After the Mass, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed his thanks for everyone whose efforts had contributed to making the Valencia meeting a success, and announced that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2009.
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 8, 2006 (VIS) - Today at 5.15 p.m., the Pope left the archbishop's residence and went to the palace of the "Generalitat de Valencia," headquarters of the presidency of the Spanish region of Valencia, where he paid a courtesy visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.

  He then returned to the archbishop's palace where he met with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain.

  At 8.30 p.m., he again left the archbishop's palace and travelled by popemobile to Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, a modern building complex in the city center. There he presided at a festive meeting of families, attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

  The ceremony began with a parade of participants bearing the flags of their native countries. Thereafter Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, addressed some words to those present.

  Following testimonies from families from various countries, the Pope pronounced his address.

  He began by recalling that the family "is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To this end, it receives abundant help from God in the Sacrament of Matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness.

  "Would that our children," he added, "might experience more harmony and affection between their parents rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love."

  Benedict XVI then highlighted the fact that "the family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all."

  Referring to the problems facing families when isolated from relatives and friends, the Pope indicated that the Church "has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations."

  Going on to mention the question of the transmission of faith in the family, the theme of this Fifth World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict recalled that it "is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely delegate to others. ... The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice."

  "This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free."

  The Pope invited politicians and legislators "to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society." In this context, he recalled how "the purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help for society, of which it cannot be deprived, and a safeguard and a purification for peoples. The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.

  "Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected," he added. "Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats."

  Benedict XVI also highlighted the importance of grandparents: "They can be - and so often are - the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death."

  After the meeting, the Pope returned to the archbishop's palace where he spent the night.
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 8, 2006 (VIS) - Given below are extracts of the Holy Father's Letter to members of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which he signed this morning during his visit to the cathedral of Valencia, Spain, and consigned to the president of the conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao:

  "You know that I follow closely and with much interest the life of the Church in your country, a country with deep Christian roots, one which has greatly contributed and must still contribute to the proclamation and spread of the faith to many other parts of the world. Keep alive and vigorous this spirit, which has accompanied the life of Spaniards throughout their history, so that it will help nourish and vitalize the soul of your people.

  "I am aware of, and I encourage, the impulse that you are giving to pastoral activity at a time of rapid secularization, which can also affect the internal life of Christian communities. Continue dauntlessly to proclaim that to live without God, to act as if He did not exist or to relegate faith to the purely private sphere, undermines the truth about man and compromises the future of culture and society."

  "Lifting one's gaze to the living God, the garantor of our freedom and of truth, is a premise for arriving at a new humanity. Nowadays, in a special way, the world needs people capable of proclaiming and bearing witness to God Who is love, and consequently the one light which in the end, illumines the darkness of the world and gives us strength to live and work."

  "Prompted by your pastoral solicitude and the spirit of full communion in the proclamation of the Gospel, you have guided the Christian conscience of the faithful about different aspects of the situation confronting them. ... You have also made the Eucharist a central theme of your pastoral plan, with the aim of 'revitalizing Christian life from its very heart, since when we enter into the Eucharistic mystery we encounter the heart of God'."

  "Brothers in the episcopate, I exhort you earnestly to preserve and increase your fraternal communion, as a witness and model of the ecclesial communion which should reign in all the faithful people entrusted to your care. I pray for you, and I pray for Spain. I ask you to pray for me and for the whole Church. I invoke the Most Holy Virgin Mary, so greatly venerated in your land, asking that she protect and accompany you in your pastoral ministry, and to all of you I impart with great affection my apostolic blessing."
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 8, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Benedict XVI departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for the Spanish city of Valencia, where he arrived at 11.30 a.m. The aim of this his first apostolic visit to Spain, and his third trip outside Italy since the beginning of his pontificate, is to preside at the closing ceremony of the Fifth World Meeting of Families which is being held in Valencia on the theme: "Transmission of the Faith within Families."

  On his arrival at Valencia's Manises airport, the Holy Father was greeted by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. He then received the greetings of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain, and of other civil and religious authorities, including Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia.

  In his address, the Pope thanked the archbishop, his auxiliary bishops and the entire archdiocese of Valencia for their "warm welcome to this World Meeting. I know that in these days you are grieving with the families mourning their dear ones who were victims of a tragic accident, and are also close to the injured."

  He then went on: "I wish to set forth the central role that the family based on marriage has for the Church and for society. The family is a unique institution in God's plan, and the Church cannot fail to proclaim and promote its fundamental importance, so that it can live out its vocation with a constant sense of responsibility and joy."

  Benedict XVI then recalled how "my venerable predecessor, a great friend of Spain, the beloved John Paul II, called this meeting. ... In union with all taking part, I will implore from the Lord, through the intercession of our Most Holy Mother and the Apostle St. James, plentiful graces for the families of Spain and of the whole world."

  Having completed his address, the Pope travelled by popemobile to the Jesus underground railway station where he prayed for the 42 victims killed in an accident there last Monday.

  He then travelled to the cathedral of Valencia, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, where he paused in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament. Then, in the cathedral's Chapel of the Holy Chalice, he placed his signature on the Book of Honor, and on a Letter addressed to all Spanish bishops which he consigned to the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao.

  According to local tradition the Holy Chalice, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, was taken by the Apostle Peter to Rome where it remained in the custody of the Popes until the time of Pope Sixtus II. Shortly before his martyrdom during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian, that Pontiff ordered the Deacon Lawrence to hide it. Lawrence managed to transfer the Grail to his homeland of Huesca in northeastern Spain before his own martyrdom. These events took place around the years 258 - 261. The Chalice remained in Huesca until the Muslim invasion 450 years later. In the year 712, in the face of the advancing Muslim armies, the bishop of Huesca took the Chalice to the monastery of "San Juan de la Pena." Centuries later in 1437, King Alfonso V the Magnanimous donated it to the cathedral of Valencia. In 1982, John Paul II used the Holy Chalice at a eucharistic celebration during which he ordered the single largest number of priests of his pontificate.

  The Pope then moved on to the basilica of the "Virgen de los Desamparados." Built between 1652 and 1667, it was there that, in 1961, Blessed Pope John XXIII proclaimed the "Virgen de los Desamparados" as patroness of the entire region of Valencia. In the basilica, Benedict XVI again prayed for the dead and injured of the recent accident on the city's underground railway, accompanied by members of the victims' families.

  "Before the 'Virgen de los Desamparados'," said the Holy Father, "we ask her to console all the families suffering the consequences of the accident, which has submerged the children of this city in pain and mourning. With our hearts open to divine mercy, let us together pray the Our Father in memory of those who are now in the presence of God."

  Following the brief ceremony, the Pope came out of the basilica into the "Plaza de la Virgen" where, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered there, he addressed some words to a number of seminarians present accompanied by members of their families.

  "Your parent's love, devotion and fidelity, and the harmony which reigns in your families, is the setting which best enables you to hear God's call and to accept the gift of a vocation," he said. "Live intensely the years of preparation in the seminary, with the guidance and help of your formators, and with the docility and complete trust of the Apostles, who followed Jesus without hesitation. Learn from the Virgin Mary how to accept your vocation without reserve, with joy and generosity."

  The Pope then addressed some words in the Valencian language to the "Virgen de los Desamparados" saying: "Davant de la Cheperudeta vullc dirli: Ampareumos nit i dia en totes les necessitats, puix que sou, Verge María, Mare dels Desamparats." (Standing before 'La Cheperudeta,' I want to say to her: Protect us night and day in all our needs, for you, O Virgin Mary, are the Mother of the Forlorn).

  Having prayed the Angelus, Benedict XVI went to the archbishop's palace, his official residence over the two days of his visit.


VATICAN CITY, JUL 10, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life presented by Archbishop Piergiorgio Silvano Nesti C.P., upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Gianfranco Gardin O.F.M. Conv., director general of the magazine "Messaggero di Sant'Antonio," as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in San Polo di Piave, Italy in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1970.

  On Saturday, July 8, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Rafael Escudero Lopez-Brea of the clergy of the archdiocese of Toledo, Spain, as coadjutor bishop of the territorial prelature of Moyobamba (area 45,387, population 699,532, Catholics 589,986, priests 37, religious 88), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1989.

 - As members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of St. Louis, U.S.A.; and Archbishop Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain.

 - Fr. George Nkuo of the clergy of Buea, Cameroon, diocesan secretary for Catholic education, as bishop of Kumbo (area 8,000, population 734,052, Catholics 141,970, priests 64, religious 115), Cameroon. The bishop-elect was born in Njiniikom, Cameroon, in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981.
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 10, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano has sent a telegram of condolence, in the name of the Holy Father, to the civil and religious authorities of the Siberian city of Irkutsk, for the plane crash there on Saturday night which cost the lives of more than 130 people. The text of the telegram is given below:

  "Profoundly saddened by the air disaster in Irkutsk, which caused the tragic death of numerous people among them so many children, the Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness to the families struck by the sorrowful event and, raising fervent prayers to the Lord of life for the eternal repose of the departed souls, he invokes heavenly consolation for those weeping the loss of their loved ones. The Supreme Pontiff extends his best wishes for the speedy recovery of those injured in the dramatic accident, and offers his heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the victims, upon whom, as a sign of his participation in their suffering, he invokes the comforting blessings of God."
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