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Monday, September 11, 2006


VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Johannes Harmannes Jozefus Van den Hende, vicar general of the diocese of Groningen, Netherlands, as coadjutor bishop of Breda (area 3,368, population 1,103,150, Catholics 476,169, priests 280, permanent deacons 18, religious 1,353), Netherlands. The bishop-elect was born in Groningen, in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, presented by Bishop Joseph Faber MacDonald, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2006 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI, having left the archbishop's palace in Munich, travelled by helicopter to the Marian shrine of Altotting, the religious heart of Bavaria which welcomes more than one million pilgrims every year.

  According to legend, it was here in the 8th century that Bishop Rupert von Salzburg baptized the first Catholic duke of Bavaria. In 1330, an image of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus was placed inside the old church and, in 1489, the shrine became the scene of two apparitions of Our Lady, giving it a fame it still enjoys today. The church also houses a number of silver urns containing the hearts of all the kings of Bavaria.

  On his arrival in Altotting, the Holy Father was received by, among others, Edmund Stoiber, minister-president of Bavaria and Bishop Wilhelm Schraml of Passau. After spending a few minutes inside the church, Benedict XVI came out to preside at Mass in the square in front of the building.

  In the readings of today's Mass, said the Holy Father in his homily, "three times and in three different ways, we see Mary, the Mother of the Lord, as a woman of prayer. In the Book of Acts, ... Mary leads the nascent Church in prayer; she is, as it were in person, the Church at prayer. And thus, along with the great community of the saints and at their center, she stands even today before God interceding for us, asking her Son to send His Spirit once more upon the Church and to renew the face of the earth."

  In the Gospel passage of the wedding feast of Cana, "Mary makes a request of her Son on behalf of some friends in need," said the Pope. "Yet Mary does not speak to Jesus as if He were a mere man on whose ability and helpfulness she can count. She entrusts a human need to His power, to a power which is more than skill and human ability. ... She does not tell Jesus what to do, ... and she certainly does not ask Him to perform a miracle. ... She simply hands the matter over to Jesus and leaves Him to decide what to do."

  In the Mother of Jesus, the Holy Father proceeded, "we can see two things: on the one hand her affectionate concern for people, that maternal affection which makes her aware of the problems of others. We see her heartfelt goodness and her willingness to help." Yet we also see "humility and generosity in accepting God's will, in the confident conviction that whatever He says in response will be best for us"

  Jesus' reply to Mary - "Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour has not yet come" - does not indicate indifference, the Pope explained, rather it "expresses Mary's place in the history of salvation. It points to the future, to the hour of the crucifixion. ... It anticipates the hour when He will make the woman, His Mother, the Mother of all His disciples. ... Mary represents the new, the definitive woman, the companion of the Redeemer, our Mother: the name, which seemed so lacking in affection, actually expresses the grandeur of Mary's mission."

  Christ and His mother are united, the Pope stressed, in their acceptance of the will of God which Mary shows at the Annunciation. "In this double 'yes' the obedience of the Son is embodied, and Mary gives Him that body. ... Ultimately, what each has to do with the other is found in this double 'yes' which resulted in the Incarnation. It is to this point of profound unity that the Lord is referring."

  Hence, "Jesus never acts completely alone, and never for the sake of pleasing others. The Father is always the starting-point of His actions." At Cana "He does not play games with His power in what is, after all, a private affair. He gives a sign, in which He proclaims His hour. ... In the sign of the water changed into wine, in the sign of the festive gift, He even now anticipates that hour.

  "Jesus' definitive 'hour'," the Pope concluded, "will be His return at the end of time. Yet He continually anticipates this hour in the Eucharist, in which, even now, He always comes to us. ... Here in Altotting, the adoration of the Lord in the Eucharist has found a new location in the old treasury. Mary and Jesus go together."

  During the Mass, the Pope made a special mention of September 11 2001. "Five years on from the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York," he said, "we pray for peace in the world."

  After the Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI inaugurated the shrine's new Chapel of Adoration. He then walked to the nearby convent of St. Mary Magdalene where he had lunch with his entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2006 (VIS) - This afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled in an open-top vehicle from the archbishop of Munich's palace to the city's cathedral of Our Lady. The cathedral, built between 1468 and 1488, was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, only the altar and two towers surviving. Reconstruction work began in 1946 and final restoration was completed between 1988 and 1994.

  It was in this cathedral, which houses the relics of St. Benno, patron saint of Bavaria who governed the diocese of Meissen from 1066 to 1106, that Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a bishop on May 28, 1977.

  On his arrival, the Holy Father paused a moment before the chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament before descending to the crypt where he prayed at the tombs of the archbishops of Munich and Freising. He then presided at the celebration of Vespers in the presence of young First Communicants, and pronounced a homily.

  Referring to the reading from the Book of Revelation, the Holy Father explained how "the seer is helped to lift his eyes upward, towards heaven, and forward, towards the future. But in doing so, he speaks to us about earth, about the present, about our lives. In the course of our lives, all of us are on a journey. ... Naturally, we want to find the right road. ... We don't want to end up saying: I took the wrong road, my life is a failure, it went wrong."

  The seer of the Apocalypse, Pope Benedict continued, "is talking about a reconciled world. A world in which people ... have come together in joy," in which "people are living with God; God Himself has 'sheltered them in His tent.' ... God is not far from us, He is not somewhere out in the universe. ... In Jesus He became one of us, flesh and blood just like us. This is His 'tent'."

  This meeting with God, with "this love, both divine and human, is the bath into which he plunges us at Baptism," the Pope added, but this "is just a beginning. By walking with Jesus, in faith and in our life in union with him, His love touches us, purifies us and enlightens us."

  The white of the baptismal gown and of the robes of First Communion, "is meant to remind us of this, and to tell us: by living as one with Jesus and the community of believers, the Church, you have become a person of light, a person of truth and goodness, a person radiant with goodness, the goodness of God Himself."

  In the Apocalypse, the Lamb, in other words Jesus, "leads the great multitude of people from every culture and nation to the sources of living water, ... the symbol par excellence of life. ... The true source is Jesus Himself, in Whom God gives us His very self. He does this above all in Holy Communion. ... Through the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Communion, a community is formed which spills over all borders and embraces all languages, the Universal Church, in which God speaks to us and lives among us."

  Addressing parents the Pope said: "I ask you to help your children to grow in faith, I ask you to accompany them on their journey towards Holy Communion, on their journey towards Jesus and with Jesus. Please, go with your children to Church and take part in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration! You will see that this is not time lost, ... the whole week becomes more beautiful, when you go to Sunday Mass together. Pray together at home too. ... Prayer does not only bring us nearer to God but also nearer to one another."

  Urging teachers of religion and educators "to keep alive in the schools the search for God," he said: "I know that in our pluralistic world it is no easy thing in schools to bring up the subject of faith. ... Encourage your students ... also to ask about the why and the wherefore of life as a whole."

  Finally, he called on pastors "to do everything possible to make the parish a 'spiritual community' for people, a great family where we also experience the even greater family of the universal Church."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 10, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the grounds of Munich's fairgrounds, the "Neue Messe." The event was attended by 250,000 people.

  Commenting the three biblical readings of today's liturgy, the Pope pointed out how they all "speak of God as the center of all reality and the center of our personal life."

  Benedict XVI then praised the Church in Germany as being "outstanding for her social activities, for her readiness to help wherever help is needed." In this context he recalled how bishops on their "ad limina" visits, most recently African bishops, "have always mentioned with gratitude the generosity of German Catholics."

  Nonetheless, he went on, "when we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little. All too quickly the mechanisms of violence take over: the capacity to destroy and to kill becomes the dominant way to gain power. ... Reconciliation, and a shared commitment to justice and love, recede into the distance."

  "People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be imposed on their cultures too. They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme moral criterion for the future of scientific research."

  "This cynicism is not the kind of tolerance and cultural openness that the world's peoples are looking for and that all of us want! The tolerance which we urgently need includes the fear of God, respect for what others hold sacred. ... This sense of respect can be reborn in the Western world only if faith in God is reborn, if God become once more present to us and in us. We impose this faith upon no one. ... Faith can develop only in freedom. But we do appeal to the freedom of men and women to be open to God, to seek Him, to hear His voice."

  "The world needs God," exclaimed Pope Benedict. "We need God. But what God? ... Jesus, the Son of God incarnate. His 'vengeance' is the Cross: a 'no' to violence and a 'love to the end.' This is the God we need. We do not fail to show respect for other religions and cultures, profound respect for their faith, when we proclaim clearly and uncompromisingly the God Who counters violence with His own suffering; who in the face of the power of evil exalts his mercy, in order that evil may be limited and overcome. To Him we now lift up our prayer, that He may remain with us and help us to be credible witnesses to Himself."

  After the Eucharistic celebration, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed a prayer to Mary: "She is and remains the handmaid of the Lord who never puts herself at the center, but wishes to guide us towards God, to teach us a way of life in which God is acknowledge as the center of all there is and the center of our personal lives."

  At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope travelled to the archbishop's palace where he had lunch with the members of his entourage and guests.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2006 (VIS) - Today in mid-afternoon the Pope travelled by car to Munich's "Marienplatz" (Square of Mary) at the center of which is the "Mariensaule" (Column of Mary). At the top of the marble pillar is a gilded bronze statue of the Virgin, Patroness of Bavaria, erected in 1638 by Maximilian I as an act of thanksgiving for the end of the Swedish occupation of his city during the Thirty Years War.

  Benedict XVI recalled how nearly 30 years ago, in 1977, he began his service as archbishop of Munich-Freising by praying to the Virgin in this place, and how five years later, in 1982, having been called by the Pope to Rome he left the diocese, "once again addressing a prayer to the 'Patrona Bavariae' entrusting 'my' city and my homeland to her protection. Today I am here again, this time as Successor to St. Peter."

  The Pope also recalled how, with his appointment as archbishop of Munich-Freising, he had become successor to St. Corbinian, founder of the diocese of Freising. And he evoked the legend according to which a bear had torn to pieces the horse upon which the saint was riding to Rome. St. Corbinian reproached the bear for its cruel act and, as punishment, loaded it with the burden the horse had been carrying.

  "St. Corbinian's bear was released on their arrival in Rome," said the Pope. "In my case, the 'Master' decided differently, and thus I find myself once again at the foot of the Mariensaule to implore the intercession and blessing of the Mother of God, this time not only for the city of Munich and for Bavaria, but for the Universal Church and for all men and women of good will."

  After the singing of the popular Marian hymn "Ave Maria zart" (Hail sweet Mary), the Pope addressed a prayer to the Virgin: "Our ancestors, in a time of tribulation, erected your image here, in the heart of the city of Munich, entrusting the city and the country to you. Along the paths of their everyday lives, they wished to meet you always and anew, and to learn from you how to live their human lives justly."

  "Help us," the Pope concluded, "to become patient and humble, but also free and courageous as you were at the hour of the Cross. ... Bless us, and bless this city and this country! Show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your bosom. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

  Pope Benedict then moved on to the "Residenz," one of the biggest royal palaces in Europe, where he paid a courtesy visit to Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, and held separate meetings with Angela Merkel, federal chancellor, and Edmund Stoiber, minister-president of Bavaria.

  At 8.15 p.m., the Pope travelled to the palace of the archbishop of Munich, where he dined and spent the night.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI began his apostolic trip to Germany, which over the next five days will take him to Munich, Altotting and Regensburg, concluding on Thursday, September 14.

  He departed from Ciampino airport outside Rome at 1.45 p.m. and landed at 3.30 p.m. at the Franz Joseph Strauss airport of Munich, capital city of Bavaria. Waiting to greet the Holy Father were Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, federal chancellor, and Edmund Stoiber, minister-president of Bavaria, as well as various ecclesial, civil and military authorities.

  "I return to my homeland," said Benedict XVI, "among my people, with the intention of visiting a number of places of fundamental importance in my life, ... yet also as Peter's Successor, to reaffirm and fortify the profound ties that exist between the Holy See and the Church in our country.

  "These ties have a centuries-old history," he added, "nourished by firm adhesion to the values of Christian faith, something to which the Bavarian regions can lay a particular claim." He then went on to recall the great cultural and artistic heritage of his homeland, "in which are reflected the Christian convictions of the generations that have succeeded one another in this land that is so dear to me.

  "Relations between Bavaria and the Holy See, though with some moments of tension, have always been marked by respectful cordiality" said the Pope, who from 1977 to 1982 was archbishop of Munich-Freising. "At the decisive moments of their history, the Bavarian people have always confirmed their sincere devotion to the See of Peter and their firm attachment to the Catholic faith."

  Although "the contemporary social situation is in many ways different from the past," he observed, "we are all united in the hope that the new generations may stay faithful to the spiritual heritage which, through the crises of history, has remained firm. ... Bavaria is a part of Germany, and being part of German history in its high and low points, it can with good reason be proud of the traditions inherited from the past. It is my hope that all my fellow countrymen and women in Bavaria, and in all of Germany, may take an active part in the transmission of the fundamental values of Christian faith to the citizens of tomorrow."

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by addressing a greeting to all the country's inhabitants, to Catholics and "to followers of other Churches and ecclesial communities, in particular to Lutheran and Orthodox Christians," as well as to followers of other religions. And he quoted some words to the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Bavaria, written by the German Latinist and poet Jakob Balde (1604-1668): "Watch over your Bavarians, Virgin Protectress, their goods, their authorities, their country, their religion." Finally, he closed with the traditional Bavarian greeting: "Gruss Gott!" (God bless you).
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