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Friday, October 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present the annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan, published by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

  Participating in the conference were Cardinal Paul Poupard, Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, and Msgr. Felix Anthony Machado, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and Msgr. Khaled Akashed, bureau chief of the council's office for relations with Islam.

  Cardinal Poupard pointed out how his council "sends messages of good will to the followers of the three of the world's major religions: Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims." The council's offices, he said, enjoy regular visits from "Shinoists, Sikhs, ... and exponents of other eastern religions. ... These visits, with reciprocal exchange of expressions of good will, are returned by the pontifical council."

  Among the initiatives being promoted by his dicastery, the cardinal mentioned a meeting in Assisi, Italy, to be held from November 4 to 8, of "100 young people, 50 Christians and 50 from other religious traditions and various countries," for the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace. The aim is "to reflect and to exchange ideas, in the hope that the meeting may help young people to be instruments of dialogue, of peace and of hope for the world."

  The next to speak was Archbishop Celata who outlined the history of the Messages to Muslims, first published in 1967 by the then Secretariat for non-Christians. It was felt, he said, that Ramadan "represented an appropriate moment for the Holy See dicastery charged with promoting relations with different religious traditions, to present itself to the various Muslim communities, expressing sentiments of friendly participation in their joy."

  "Over all these years," he continued, "the Message has attracted growing appreciation, attention and interest. Little by little, the number of Muslim personalities who have responded has increased. ... Of particular significance is the appreciation of bishops, some of whom accompany the release of the Message with a personal letter of their own."

  Turning to consider the contents of the message, the archbishop explained that they "are not limited to formal expressions of good will, but seek to establish 'contact,' to create a harmony with the recipients on a 'religious' plane, that is, on the basis of those elements that encouraged the Fathers of Vatican Council II to declare the Church's esteem for Muslims."

  The Messages to Muslims also cover "questions of common interest, not infrequently arising from current affairs, ... with the aim of promoting reflection to encourage better understanding of certain fundamental human values, and the contribution of both religions to solving certain difficult situations."

  For his part, Msgr. Machado presented a book recently published by the council: "Inter-religious Dialogue. The official teaching of the Catholic Church from the Second Vatican Council to John Paul II (1963-2005)." Over a 1,000 pages long, it has been published in Italian, French and English.

  This volume, said the under-secretary of the pontifical council, gives "Catholics easy access to the theological motivations of inter-religious dialogue as explained in the Magisterium," and "offers followers of other faiths the official teaching of the Catholic Church on the various religions of the world."
OP/RAMADAN MESSAGE/POUPARD:CELATA                VIS 20061020 (560)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon at the Bentegodi Stadium in the Italian city of Verona, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration attended by more than 40,000 people. This was the second event - following the address he delivered earlier in the day at the Fair of Verona - of his pastoral visit to the city for the 4th Italian Ecclesial Congress, which has been considering the theme: "Witnesses of the Risen Christ, Hope of the World."

  Apart from the faithful present in the stadium, a further 60,000 people were able to follow the Holy Father's homily on giant screens erected throughout the city. He told them that "the certainty that Christ arose assures us that no adverse power will ever be able to destroy the Church. We also draw encouragement from our awareness that only Christ can fully satisfy the profound expectations of the human heart and respond to the most disturbing questions of pain, injustice and evil, of death and the hereafter.

  "Therefore," he added, "our faith is well founded; but it is necessary that this faith become part of our lives. A great effort must therefore be made in order for all Christians to transform themselves into 'witnesses,' ready and able to shoulder the commitment of testifying - always and to everyone - to the hope that animates them."

  The Pope went on to highlight the importance of "going back to a vigorous and joyful announcement of the death and resurrection of Christ, the core of Christianity, the bedrock of our faith, the powerful lever of our certainties, the great wind that blows away all fear and indecision, all doubt and human calculation. Only from God can the decisive change of the world come. Only by going back to the Resurrection can the true nature of the Church and of her witness be understood."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the Church in Italy "may start out anew from this congress, ...impelled by the Word of the Risen Lord Who repeats to all mankind and to each individual: be, in today's world, witnesses of my Passion and my Resurrection. In a changing world, the Gospel does not alter. The Good News is always the same: Christ died, and He rose for our salvation! In His name bring everyone the announcement of conversion and the forgiveness of sins, but be yourselves the first to bear witness to a life of conversion and forgiveness." This is only possible, he added, with "the interior strength of the Spirit of the Risen Christ."

  "Consecrated with the 'anointing' of the Holy Spirit," the Pope exclaimed, "go forth! Carry the good tidings to the poor, bind the wounds of the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom to slaves, open the doors of prisons to those within, promulgate the year of the Lord's mercy. Rebuild the ancient ruins, ... restore the wasted cities. There are so many difficult situations that await a decisive intervention! Bring into the world the hope of God, which is Christ the Lord Who rose from the dead and lives and reigns forever. Amen."

  Following Mass, the Pope travelled to the airport of Verona-Villafranca where he boarded a plane for his return to Rome.
PV-ITALY/MASS/VERONA                            VIS 20061020 (550)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Edwin Colaco of Amravati, India, as bishop of Aurangabad (area 64,525, population 10,176,000, Catholics 14,300, priests 42, religious 179), India.
NER/.../COLACO                                VIS 20061020 (40)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Irish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore.

    - Bishop Philip Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore.

    - Bishop Michael Smith of Meath.

    - Bishop Philip Boyce O.C.D., of Raphoe.

    - Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel.

    - Bishop John McGee S.P.S., of Cloyne.

    - Bishop John Buckley of Cork and Ross.
AL/.../...                                        VIS 20061020 (80)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 20, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. It bears the signatures of Cardinal Paul Poupard and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council. The theme of the Message this year (1427 AH / 2006 AD) is, "Christians and Muslims: in confident dialogue aimed at solving together the challenges of our world."

  The document as been published in English, French, Italian and Arabic. Extracts are given below:

  "It is good to be able to share this significant moment with you in the context of our ongoing dialogue. The particular circumstances that we have recently experienced together demonstrate clearly that, however arduous the path of authentic dialogue may be at times, it is more necessary than ever.

  "The month of Ramadan which you have just completed has also undoubtedly been a time of prayer and reflection on the difficult situations of today's world. While contemplating and thanking God for all that is good, it is impossible not to take note of the serious problems which affect our times: injustice, poverty, tensions and conflicts between countries as well as within them. Violence and terrorism are a particularly painful scourge. ... So much, which has taken years of sacrifice and toil to build, destroyed in a few minutes!

  "As Christian and Muslim believers, are we not the first to be called to offer our specific contribution to resolve this serious situation and these complex problems? Without doubt, the credibility of religions and also the credibility of our religious leaders and all believers is at stake. If we do not play our part as believers, many will question the usefulness of religion and the integrity of all men and women who bow down before God.

  "Our two religions give great importance to love, compassion and solidarity. ... In recalling this point, the first Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, 'Deus Caritas Est' (God is Love), underlines the importance of fraternal charity in the Church's mission: love, to be credible, must be effective. ... True love must be of service to all the needs of daily life; it must also seek just and peaceful solutions to the serious problems which afflict our world."

  "In those places where we can work together, let us not labor separately. The world has need, and so do we, of Christians and Muslims who respect and value each other and bear witness to their mutual love and cooperation to the glory of God and the good of all humanity. ... [This will] offer a significant contribution to the re-establishment and strengthening of peace both within nations and between peoples."
CON-DIR/RAMADAN/POUPARD:CELATA                VIS 20061020 (470)

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