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Thursday, October 19, 2006


BENEDICT XVI HAS WRITTEN A MESSAGE TO JACQUES DIOUF, director general of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), for World Food Day, which is celebrated every year on October 16 and has as its theme this year "Investing in agriculture for food security." In his English-language Message, the Pope explains how "in Christian tradition, agricultural labor takes on a deeper meaning, both because of the effort and hardship that it involves and also because it offers a privileged experience of God's presence and His love for His creatures. Christ Himself uses agricultural images to speak of the Kingdom. ... Today, we think especially of those who have had to abandon their farmlands because of conflicts, natural disasters and because of society's neglect of the agricultural sector."

CARDINAL STANISLAW DZIWISZ, ARCHBIHSOP of Krakow, Poland, will take possession of the title of Santa Maria del Popolo - at Piazza del Popolo 12, Rome - on Tuesday, October 24 at 6 p.m., according to a communique published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 19, 2006 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti, apostolic administrator of Ozieri, Italy, for the death of Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, prefect emeritus of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Cardinal Pompedda died yesterday in Rome at the age of 77.

  "On learning the news of the death, following a long illness, of Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, illustrious son of your land, I wish to express to you and to the entire diocesan community my profound participation in the mourning that has struck those who knew and respected the lamented cardinal. He was an outstanding jurist and for many years a diligent collaborator of the Holy See, particularly on the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and of the Apostolic Signatura, providing a valuable testimony of priestly zeal and faithfulness to the Gospel. As I raise fervent prayers to the Lord that He, through the Virgin Mary, may give the late cardinal the eternal reward promised to His faithful disciples, I send to you and to all those weeping this loss the comfort of a special apostolic blessing."

  At 5 p.m. on Friday, October 20, the Holy Father will preside at the cardinal's funeral at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 19, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope travelled to the Italian city of Verona. On arrival he went directly to the Fair of Verona where he pronounced an address in the presence of more than 2,700 people - bishops and delegates from all Italian dioceses - who are participating in the 4th Italian Ecclesial Congress on the theme: "Witnesses of the Risen Christ, Hope of the World."

  The past three ecclesial congresses were held in Rome in 1976, on "Evangelization and Human Promotion;" in Loreto in 1985, on "Christian Reconciliation and Human Community;" and in Palermo in 1995, on the "Gospel of Love for a New Society in Italy."

  "This 4th national congress," said the Pope, "is a new stage on the journey of implementation of Vatican Council II, upon which the Italian Church is embarked; ... a journey that embraces evangelization ... undertaken in constant union with Peter's Successor."

  Benedict XVI recalled the figures of Paul VI and John Paul II, whose contributions to past congresses "strengthened the Italian Church's confidence in being able to ensure that faith in Jesus Christ may continue to offer meaning and guidance for life, even to the men and women of our own time."

  "The Resurrection of Christ," said the Pope, "is a historical fact of which the Apostles were witnesses, certainly not creators," and "a decisive 'leap' towards a profoundly new dimension of life." This "concerns, in the first place, Jesus of Nazareth, but with Him it also concerns us: all the human family, history, the entire universe." For this reason the Resurrection constitutes "the core of Christian preaching and witness."

  The Resurrection "inaugurated a new dimension of life and reality whence emerges a new world that constantly penetrates our own world, transforming it and drawing it in. All this is brought into practical effect through the life and witness of the Church. ... Indeed, we are called to become new women and men in order to be true witnesses of the Risen Christ, bringing, in this way, Christian joy and hope into the world and ... into the human communities in which we live."

  Italy, said the Holy Father "appears to us as a land in profound need of, and at the same time receptive to, such a witness." Italy "participates in the predominant culture of the West ... according to which only things that can be demonstrated and calculated have rational validity while, at a practical level, individual freedom is held up as a fundamental value to which everyone must submit. Thus God is excluded from culture and public life, and faith in Him becomes more difficult, also because we live in a world that is almost always presented as our being of our own making, in which ... God does not appear directly. He seems to have become a stranger, superfluous."

  "Ethics are brought within the confines of relativism and utilitarianism, and any moral principles that are valid and binding of themselves are excluded. It is not difficult to see how this kind of culture represents a radical break ... with the religious and moral traditions of humanity and is not, then, capable of establishing a true dialogue with other cultures in which the religious element is strongly present."

  In Italy, nonetheless, the Church "is a living reality that maintains a widespread presence among the people," and "Christian traditions are often still firmly rooted." Furthermore, an awareness exists of "the gravity of the risk of breaking with the Christian roots of our civilization, ... even among people ... who do not practice our faith."

  In this context, "our attitude must never be one of refusal and closure. ... We must maintain and, if possible, increase our dynamism; we must open ourselves trustingly to new relationships, and not neglect any of the energies that can contribute to the cultural and moral growth of Italy."

  "Christianity," the Pope stressed, "is open to everything that is just, true and pure in cultures and civilizations. ... The disciples of Christ, then, recognize and welcome the true values of the culture of our times, such as technological knowledge and scientific progress, human rights, religious freedom and democracy." However, with their awareness of "human frailty, ... they cannot overlook the interior tensions and contradictions of our age. Hence evangelization is never a simple adaptation to cultures, but always involves purification, a courageous break that leads to maturity and renewal."

  "At the roots of being a Christian, there is no ethical decision or lofty idea, ... but a meeting with the person of Jesus Christ," said Benedict XVI. "The fruitfulness of this meeting is apparent ... also in today's human and cultural context," he added, using the example of mathematics, a human creation in which the "correlation between its structures and the structures of the universe ... excites our admiration and poses a great question. It implies that the universe itself is structured in an intelligent fashion, in such a way that there exists a profound correspondence between our subjective reason and the objective reason of nature. It is, then, inevitable that we should ask ourselves if there is not a single original intelligence that is the common source of both the one and the other."

  "This overturns the tendency to grant primacy to the irrational, chance and necessity. ... On these premises, it again becomes possible to broaden the horizon of our rationality, open it to the great questions of truth and goodness, and unite theology, philosophy and science, ... respecting their reciprocal autonomy but also aware of the intrinsic unity that holds them together."

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to the question of human beings and love, affirming that people "need to be loved and to love. For this reason they question themselves and often feel disoriented in the face of the harshness of life, and of the world's evil that appears so strong and, at the same time, so radically meaningless. ... Hence the question arises, repeatedly and insistently, as to whether our lives can contain a secure space for authentic love and, in the final analysis, whether the world really is the work of God's wisdom."

  After highlighting how God "is the source of all creatures," and how He "loves man personally and passionately, and wants in His turn to be loved by him," the Pope indicated that in Jesus Christ "God becomes one of us, our brother in humanity, and even sacrifices His life for us."

  "Precisely because He truly loves us, God respects and safeguards our freedom. Against the power of evil and sin, ... He prefers to place the limit of His patience and mercy. This limit is, in concrete terms, the suffering of the Son of God."

  Pope Benedict pointed out how "the cross, quite naturally, frightens us, just as it provoked fear and anguish in Jesus Christ; however, it is not a negation of life from which, in order to be happy, we must free ourselves. Rather, it is God's extreme 'yes' to man, the supreme expression of His love and the source of full and perfect life. It contains, then, the most convincing invitation to follow Christ along the path of self-giving."

  The Pope emphasized the need always "to be ready to respond to whosoever asks us for the reasons of our hope." We must respond "with that gentle strength that comes from union with Christ. We must do so in all fields: at the level of thought and of action, of personal behavior and of public witness. ... May the Lord guide us to live this unity between truth and love in the situations of our own time, for the evangelization of Italy and of the world today."

  Going on to consider the topic of education, the Pope indicated that "true education needs to reawaken the courage of definitive decisions, ... which are indispensable for growth and for achieving anything worthwhile in life, and especially for ensuring that love can mature in all its beauty." In this context, he recalled how Catholic schools still have to face "old prejudices that generate harmful and no longer justifiable delays in the recognition of their function and in the authorization to carry out their activities."

  "The Church in Italy has a great tradition of providing aid and showing solidarity to the needy, the sick and the marginalized," said Pope Benedict, adding: "It is extremely important that all these forms of witness of charity ... remain free from any ideological leanings or party sympathies. ... Practical activity is important, but even more important is our personal involvement with the needy and with the suffering of our fellows."

  On the subject of the civil and political responsibilities of Catholics - a question that had been considered during the congress - the Pope recalled the distinction between the things of Caesar and the things of God. "Religious freedom," he said, "which we perceive as a universal value particularly necessary in today's world, has its historical roots here. The Church, then, is not nor does she intend to be a political player. At the same time, she has a profound interest in the good of the political community, the soul of which is justice."

  The Holy Father underlined the fact that politics "is an undertaking of the greatest importance, to which Italian lay Christians are called to dedicate themselves with generosity and courage, enlightened by faith and the Church's Magisterium, and animated by Christ's charity."

  There are, said the Pope, "great challenges" that require "particular attention and extraordinary commitment." These include "wars, terrorism, hunger, thirst and terrible epidemics. However," he continued, "it is also necessary to use the same determination and clarity of intent to face the risk of political and legislative choices that contradict the fundamental values and the anthropological and ethical principles that are rooted in the nature of human beings. This is especially so as regards the protection of human life at all stages, from conception to natural death, and the promotion of the family based on marriage, opposing the introduction ... of other forms of union that would contribute to destabilizing it, obscuring its special nature and its irreplaceable social function. The open and courageous witness that the Church and Italian Catholics have given, and continue to give, in this matter constitutes a precious service to Italy, which is also a useful stimulus for other nations."

  The "real strength" we need to face our duties and responsibilities, he said, is to be found "by nourishing ourselves on Christ's Word and His Body, ... and by adoring Him in the Eucharist. ... In the union with Christ, we are preceded and guided by the Virgin Mary. ... Through her, we learn to know and to love the mystery of the Church, ... we learn to resist that 'interior secularization' that undermines the Church of our time, a consequence of the processes of secularization that have profoundly marked European civilization."

  Having completed his address, the Holy Father travelled by car to the episcopal palace of Verona, where he had lunch.

  At 4 p.m., the Pope will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration in the city's Bentegodi Stadium, before returning to the Vatican this evening.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 19, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Chilaw, Sri Lanka, presented by Bishop Frank Marcus Fernando, upon having reached the age limit. he is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Warnakulasurya Wadumestrige Devasritha Valence Mendis.

 - Appointed Bishop Pierre d'Ornellas, auxiliary of Paris, France, as coadjutor archbishop of Rennes (area 6,775, population 930,500, Catholics 817,000, priests 476, permanent deacons 26, religious 1,387), France.

  Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, with the consent of the Synod of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church and in accordance with canon 85 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, transferred Bishop Vasyl Semeniuk, auxiliary of the eparchy of Ternopil-Zboriv (area 8,346, population 760,400, Catholics 479,052, priests 248, permanent deacons 2, religious 79), Ukraine, to the office of residential eparch of the same eparchy.
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