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Monday, October 9, 2006


VATICAN CITY, OCT 9, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, Great Britain.

 - Four prelates from the Zambia Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe of Lusaka.

    - Bishop Andrew Aaron Chisha of Mansa.

    - Bishop George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu of Chipata.

    - Bishop Raymond Mpezele of Livingstone.

  On Saturday, October 7, he received in separate audiences:

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

    - Archbishop Lawrence Huculak O.S.B.M., of Winnipeg of the Ukrainians.

    - Bishop Michael Wiwchar C.SS.R., of Saskatoon of the Ukrainians.

    - Msgr. Charles Lavoie, diocesan administrator of Grouard-McLennan.

 - Javier Guerra Laspiur, ambassador of Costa Rica, on his farewell visit.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 9, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for a meeting of Australian bishops commemorating the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's visit to their country. The meeting was held in Alice Springs, Australia, from October 2 to 7.

  In his Letter, written in English, the Pope indicates how recalling John Paul II's visit provides an opportunity to renew the aims and repropose the challenges he identified. These include faithfulness "to your worthy traditions," the capacity to "adapt your living culture whenever this is required," and above all the ability to open hearts "to the consoling, purifying and uplifting message of Jesus Christ."

  "How," the Holy Father asks, "might these challenges be embraced when there is much that could lead to discouragement or even despair? As Jesus, during His time on earth, moved from village to village preaching the Good News of truth and love, He captured the attention of those who heard Him." He "made a deep impression because He taught them with authority. Indeed, every human community needs and seeks strong, inspiring leaders to guide others into the way of hope.

  "Much rests therefore," he adds, "upon the example of the elders of communities. I encourage them to exercise authority wisely through faithfulness to their traditions, ... and most especially through a renewed expression of their deep awareness of God, made possible through the Good News of Jesus Christ."

  Addressing young people, the Pope writes "keep alight the flame of hope and walk tall. ... Don't allow your 'dreaming' to be undermined by the shallow call of those who might lure you into the misuse of alcohol and drugs, as promises of happiness. Such promises are false, and lead only to a circle of misery and entrapment."

  The Pope praises achievements "along the path of racial reconciliation," though warning that "there is still much to be accomplished. No one can exempt themselves from this process. While no culture may use past hurt as an excuse to avoid facing the difficulties in meeting the contemporary social needs of its own people, it is also the case that only through the readiness to accept historical truth can a sound understanding of contemporary reality be reached and the vision of a harmonious future espoused.

  "I therefore again encourage all Australians to address with compassion and determination the deep underlying causes of the plight which still afflicts so many Aboriginal citizens. Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness - two indispensable elements for peace."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 9, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received prelates from the Canadian (Western) Conference of Catholic Bishops who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his English-language talk to them, the Pope touched on the parable of the prodigal son, asking whether the elder brother does not in some way represent "those who sadly distance themselves from the Church? ... Unable to think beyond the limits of natural justice, he remains trapped within envy and pride, detached from God, isolated from others and ill at ease with himself."

  "The bishop's responsibility to indicate the destructive presence of sin," said the Pope, "is readily understood as a service of hope: it strengthens believers to avoid evil and to embrace the perfection of love and the plenitude of Christian life. I wish therefore to commend your promotion of the Sacrament of Penance. While this Sacrament is often considered with indifference, what it effects is precisely the fullness of healing for which we long."

  Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that the failure to recognize sin "is ultimately a weakening of our relationship with God." Where God is excluded from public life, he said, "the sense of offence against God - the true sense of sin - dissipates, just as when the absolute value of moral norms is relativized the categories of good or evil vanish, along with individual responsibility."

  "When the need to seek forgiveness and the readiness to forgive are forgotten, in their place a disturbing culture of blame and litigiousness arises. This ugly phenomenon, however, can be dispelled."

  Pope Benedict went on to refer to the work of the Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation and the Amerindian Fund, saying "such initiatives bring hope and bear witness to the love of Christ which draws us forward." In this context, he called on the prelates "to address with compassion and determination the underlying causes of the difficulties surrounding the social and spiritual needs of the Aboriginal faithful.

  "Commitment to truth opens the way to lasting reconciliation through the healing process of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness - two indispensable elements for peace. In this way our memory is purified, our hearts are made serene, and our future is filled with a well-founded hope in the peace which springs from truth."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2006 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican, Benedict XVI attended a screening of "Papa Luciani, il sorriso di Dio," a film on the life of Pope John Paul I produced by the Italian State broadcaster RAI and by the company Leone Cinematografica. The film was directed by Giorgio Capitani and stars Neri Marcore.

  After the screening, the Pope pronounced a few words. "We have," he said, "reconsidered the kind and gentle figure of a Pontiff strong in the faith, firm in his principles but always ready to welcome with a smile. Faithful to tradition and open to renewal, Servant of God Albino Luciani, as priest, as bishop and as Pope was tireless in his pastoral activity, constantly encouraging clergy and laity to seek in the various fields of the apostolate, the one common ideal of sanctity.

  "Master of truth and zealous catechist, with his customary engaging simplicity he reminded all believers of the duty and joy of evangelization, highlighting the beauty of Christian love, the only power capable of defeating violence and of building a more fraternal humanity."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, after praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square, the Pope greeted 350 young "missionaries" from parishes, associations, movements and communities of the diocese of Rome. They have been participating, together with priests religious and seminarians, in the third "mission of young people for young people" known as "Jesus at the center," held from September 28 to October 8 in the streets of the historic center of Rome.

  The Pope expressed his happiness at the young people's "joyous commitment" to "announcing the Gospel in streets and squares, in schools and hospitals and in the places of entertainment of young Romans. I encourage you to maintain this missionary approach in your everyday lives, always seeking to take advantage of diocesan training initiatives."

  Addressing Polish pilgrims, the Pope recalled that yesterday, October 7, was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and he encouraged them to continue this Marian prayer. "As John Paul II wrote, 'with the Rosary, Christian people join Mary's school and allow themselves to be introduced to the contemplation of the beauty of Christ's countenance and to the experience of the profundity of His love.' May this prayer," Pope Benedict concluded, "be a source of abundant grace for everyone."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2006 (VIS) - Prior to praying the Angelus this morning, Benedict XVI dedicated some remarks to today's Gospel text narrating Christ's reply to the Pharisees who asked Him whether it was lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife in accordance with a precept of Mosaic law.

  Jesus replied "that this was a concession granted by Moses for their 'hardness of heart'," said the Pope, "while the truth of marriage goes back to 'the beginning of creation' when, as is written in the Book of Genesis, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.' And Jesus adds: 'they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder'."

  The Holy Father went on: "This was God's original plan, as Vatican Council II recalled in the Pastoral Constitution 'Gaudium et spes': "The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. ... God Himself is the author of matrimony."

  Benedict XVI then called on Christian spouses "to remain faithful to their vocation at all stages of life, 'for better and for worse in sickness and in health' as they promised in the sacramental rite. Aware of the grace they have received, may Christian couples create families open to life and capable of facing together the many and complex challenges of our times."

  Quoting John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation 'Familiaris consortio,' the Holy Father said that "the sacrament of marriage 'makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ , ... missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life.' This mission is directed both within the family - especially in serving one another and in the education of children - and outside the domestic community, where it is ... called to be a sign of God's love towards everyone."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 7, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the apostolic exarchate for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite resident in the Czech Republic, presented by Bishop Jan Kocis, in accordance with canon 218 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples Bishops Josef Voss, auxiliary of Munster, Germany, and Renato Ascencio Leon of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to the closing ceremony of celebrations marking the 9th centenary of the dedication of the cathedral of Parma, Italy, due to take place on December 4, 2006.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 7, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy, and special papal envoy to the Asian Mission Congress which is due to be held in Chang Mai, Thailand on October 19-22.

  In his Letter, which is written in Latin, the Holy Father expresses his solicitude for the people of Asia, recalls the Christian mission to "evangelize the poor and promulgate the year of the grace of the Lord," and transmits his best wishes to Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu, archbishop of Bangkok, Thailand.

  Cardinal Sepe will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Livio Maggi P.I.M.E. regional superior for Thailand and Cambodia of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, and Fr. John Baptist Somkiart Trinikorn, rector of the Baan Phu Waan pastoral training center of the archdiocese of Bangkok.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 7, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received a large group of pilgrims from dioceses in the Italian region of Romagna, who have come to Rome to commemorate the apostolic trip made to their region by Servant of God John Paul II 20 years ago.

  Benedict XVI told his audience how happy he was that, during their pilgrimage, they were reconsidering the talks pronounced by his predecessor in 1986.

  Referring to the evangelizing mission of diocesan communities, the Holy Father indicated that "this demanding missionary mandate can be fulfilled only with the support of God, and with the convinced and courageous evaluation of the spiritual heritage that the people of Romagna have learnt to defend over the course of the centuries."

  The Pope highlighted the fact that today, as 20 years ago, "there is no lack of challenges and problems for those who wish to live in coherence with their faith, exerting themselves to combine it with the requirements of everyday life." In this context, he recalled "the crises threatening so many families; the growing need for priestly and religious vocations to counter the worrying drop in numbers and increasing age of priests; ... [and] the numerous pitfalls of a consumer-driven and secularized society that seeks to seduce ever greater numbers of people, inducing them to a progressive abandonment of the values of the faith in their family, civil and political lives.

  "These challenges," he added, "must be faced without losing heart, looking with trust to the many reasons for hope which, thanks to God, are not lacking. There are, for example, many people who wish to give meaning and solid value to their lives, men and women interested in a strong and sincere religious quest."

  Paraphrasing the words of John Paul II to young people on his visit to the region - "bear witness to the joy of being Christians!" - the Holy Father said "may this be the commitment of you all. To this end continue, indeed intensify, ecclesial communion and be generous protagonists in the evangelizing mission with which the Lord entrusts you, treasuring the guidance that arose from that memorable visit of 20 years ago, and strengthened also by the grace of this pilgrimage."
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