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Monday, October 30, 2006


VATICAN CITY, OCT 30, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

- Three prelates from the Greek Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Franghiskos Papamanolis, O.F.M. Cap., of Syros and Milos, Santorini, Thira, apostolic administrator of Candia, Creta, La Canea.

    - Bishop Anarghyros Printesis, apostolic exarch for Greek Catholics of Byzantine rite resident in Greece.

    - Archbishop Nechan Karakeheyan, apostolic administrator of the Ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian rite resident in Greece.

  On Saturday, October 28, he received in separate audiences:

- Three prelates from the Irish Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Christopher Jones of Elphin.

    - Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway and Kilmacduagh.

    - Bishop John Fleming of Killala.

- Three prelates from the Greek Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Nicolaos Foscolos of Athens, apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Rhodes.

    - Archbishop Yannis Spiteris O.F.M. Cap., of Corfu, Zante and Cefalonia, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the apostolic vicariate of Thessaloniki.

    - Archbishop Nikolaos Printesis of Naxos, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos; apostolic administrator "sede vacante" of Chios.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 30, 2006 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall today, The Pope received members of the Belgian associations "Pro Petri Sede" and "Etrennes Pontificales," both of which offer annual financial aid for the needs of the Holy See.

  Speaking French, the Holy Father said that "the sense of apostolic communion" characterizing both associations "is expressed every year with a generous act of solidarity that aims to help our more needy brothers and sisters. ... At the time of the Apostles, the members of the fledgling Christian community put everything in common; and in each community he founded St. Paul organized a collection service in favor of other churches."

  "For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being," said the Pope quoting his Encyclical "Deus caritas est."

  "You all know the huge need for solidarity in order to ensure that the basic dignity of our brothers and sisters is respected, and that they may be nourished, and find shelter and education. And each year you respond generously, offering the Pope the fruits of your collection. I thank you in the name of all the Christian communities you help with your donations."


VATICAN CITY, OCT 30, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received prelates from the Greek Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Holy Father began his address by referring to the "abundant influx" of Catholics from neighboring countries, which faces Greek bishops and clergy with "new requirements of ministerial service that are not easy to meet."

  Bearing in mind the diversity of languages and rites of the faithful, said Pope Benedict, "I believe the development of constructive dialogue with other episcopates is more than ever appropriate." From this, he added, will emerge "prudent decisions" on how to find the ministers and resources necessary. "Obviously, respect for specific identities must be borne in mind, but without sacrificing ... the life and plans of the Churches that Christ entrusted to you."

  The Holy Father called upon the prelates "to continue your efforts to encourage vocational pastoral care;" on the one hand "carefully cultivating the seeds of vocation," and on the other, "inviting Christian communities to pray more intensely" for a greater number of priestly and religious vocations, He also emphasized "the spiritual needs of so many immigrants who have found a dignified and cordial welcome in your country. This," he added, "is the style typical of your people."

  On the question of contact with the faithful of the Orthodox Church, who make up the majority of the Greek population, Benedict XVI highlighted the need "to intensify prayer so as to accelerate the coming of that blessed day when it will be granted us to break the Bread together, and drink together from the same Chalice." On this subject, he expressed his hope for the opening of "ever greater prospects of constructive dialogue between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church," and for an increase in "shared spiritual, cultural and practical initiatives. Moreover, it is my pleasure to send my best wishes to His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece," and through him "to the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church and to all the faithful."

  The Pope affirmed that in his individual meetings with the Greek bishops, he had noted their "desire to see the State define their right to have an appropriate and recognized juridical status. Dialogue on this question is underway," he added, "a dialogue in which the Apostolic See is not the main player."

  "Apart from dialogue, this question also requires perseverance. It is unnecessary to add that the Catholic Church seeks no privileges, but only asks for her identity and mission to be recognized, in such a way as to be able effectively to make her contribution to the overall wellbeing of the noble Greek people, of which you are an integral part. With patience and respect for legitimate procedures it will be possible, with everyone's commitment, to achieve the desired agreement."

  The Holy Father concluded his talk by recalling the distress felt by many communities "at the internal displacement of their faithful. Many of them are scattered over the territory and this leads to difficulties in their relationships with their respective pastors. It is also phenomena such as this that reveal the importance of affective and effective unity among you bishops through greater internal coordination."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 29, 2006 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope remarked upon the many requests he receives to intervene "in favor of people who, in different parts of the world, are victims of kidnapping."

  He went on: "Reiterating my firm condemnation of this crime, I give assurances of my recollection in prayer for all the victims and their families and friends. In particular, I endorse the urgent appeal recently sent to me by the archbishop and the community of Sassari, Italy, in favor of Giovanni Battista Pinna, kidnapped on September 14, that he may soon be restored to his loved ones."

  Benedict XVI then went on to address young people from various regions of Italy, who are meeting in Rome over these days as part of a project organized by the Italian Church every three years, known as the "Agora of young people."

  "Dear friends," he told them, "I bless your journey and await your participation in large numbers at the great meeting of Italian youth, scheduled to take place on September 1 and 2, 2007 in Loreto, Italy. At that beloved Marian shrine we will experience a moment of grace together, in the joy of the faith and with a view to the mission, also as a preparation for World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, in 2008."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 29, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square joined Benedict XVI for the Angelus prayer. Commenting today's Gospel reading on the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, the Pope remarked how, "in the essentiality of its narrative, this account evokes the catechumen's journey towards the Sacrament of Baptism, which in the early Church was also called 'illumination.'

  "Faith," the Holy Father added, "is a path of illumination. It begins with the recognition of our need for salvation and arrives at the personal meeting with Christ, Who calls us to follow Him on the road of love. This is the model followed by itineraries of Christian initiation in the Church, as a preparation for the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

  "In places of long-standing evangelization, where the Baptism of children is widespread, young people and adults are presented with experiences of catechesis and spirituality enabling them to rediscover their faith with maturity and awareness, so that they can then take on a coherent commitment of witness" to that faith.

  Benedict XVI praised the work of catechists and pastors in this field, highlighting how "the rediscovery of the value of their own Baptism lies at the root of all Christians' missionary commitment, because we see from the Gospel that people who let themselves be fascinated by Christ cannot but bear witness to the joy of following His footsteps."

  Recalling how the month of October is traditionally dedicated to missions, the Pope called for the intercession of the Virgin Mary, "that missionaries of the Gospel may proliferate," and that "all the baptized may feel themselves called to announce, with the witness of their own lives, God's love to everyone."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Lusaka, Zambia, presented by Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu.

 - Appointed Msgr. Daniel E. Flores of the clergy of the diocese of Corpus Christi, U.S.A., rector of the cathedral and vice-rector of Saint Mary Seminary in Houston, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Detroit (area 10,106, population 4,486,000, Catholics 1,457,780, priests 710, permanent deacons 141, religious 2,166), U.S.A.. The bishop-elect was born in Palacios, U.S.A., in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2006 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, participated yesterday in the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly, which is currently considering the question of the promotion and protection of human rights.

  In his English-language talk, Archbishop Migliore concentrated on three themes which, he said, "merit particular attention, namely, the coexistence of different religions and religious communities, the propagation of religion, including the sensitive issue of proselytism and the relationship between freedom of expression and religion." He also expressed his concern that, "as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, ... freedom of religion or belief does not exist for individuals and communities, especially among religious minorities, in many parts of the world."

  He continued: "The high level of religious intolerance in some countries is leading to an alarming degree of polarization and discrimination. ... While religious tolerance is sometimes characterized as accepting or permitting those religious beliefs and practices which disagree with one's own, the time has come to move beyond this type of religious tolerance, and to apply instead the principles of authentic religious freedom.

  "Religious freedom," he added, "is the right to believe, worship, propose and witness to one's faith. It grants the opportunity and creates the occasions for people to profess freely the tenets of their faith. Furthermore, it includes the right to change one's religion and to associate freely with others in order to express one's religious convictions. ... We know well that, historically, tolerance has been a contentious issue among believers of different faiths. However, we have come to a turning point in history which demands more of us, including a commitment to inter-religious dialogue."

  In this context, the archbishop emphasized "the indispensable importance of reciprocity, which, by its very nature, is apt to ensure the free exercise of religion in all societies. The Holy See continues to be concerned by a number of situations where the existence of enacted or proposed legislative and administrative measures for placing limits on the practice, observance or propagation of religion are a reality. Likewise, the Holy See is concerned with those situations where religion or freedom of religion is used as a pretext or a justification for violating other human rights."

  "There appears to exist a recurring case of intolerance when group interests or power struggles seek to prevent religious communities from enlightening consciences and thus enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice. Likewise, it would be intolerant to denigrate religious communities and exclude them from public debate ... just because they do not agree with options nor conform to practices that are contrary to human dignity."

  In our world, the prelate concluded, "religion is more than an internal matter of thought and conscience. It has the potential to bind us together as equal and valuable members of the human family. ... Nor should we underestimate its power, especially in the midst of conflict and division, ... to enable enemies to speak to one another, to foster those who were estranged to join hands in friendship, and have nations seek the way to peace together."
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VATICAN CITY, OCT 28, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Irish Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  At the start of his English-language address to them, the Pope dwelt upon the Irish people's "constant witness ... to their faith in Christ and their fidelity to the Holy See," as well as their "outstanding contribution ... to the life of the Church," and their extraordinary missionary courage.

  He called on the prelates to help their faithful "to recognize the inability of the secular, materialist culture to bring true satisfaction and joy. Be bold in speaking to them of the joy that comes from following Christ and living according to His commandments."

  "Even though it is necessary to speak out strongly against the evils that threaten us," he proceeded, "we must correct the idea that Catholicism is merely 'a collection of prohibitions.' Sound catechesis and careful 'formation of the heart' are needed here, and in this regard you are blessed in Ireland with solid resources in your network of Catholic schools."

  "Superficial presentations of Catholic teaching must be avoided, because only the fullness of the faith can communicate the liberating power of the Gospel," said Pope Benedict, underlining the importance of "exercising vigilance over the quality of the syllabuses and the course-books used."

  "In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric. The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged. In your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem, it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes. In this way, the Church in Ireland will grow stronger and be ever more capable of giving witness to the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ."

  "The fine work and selfless dedication of the great majority of priests and religious in Ireland should not be obscured by the transgressions of some of their brethren. I am certain that the people understand this, and continue to regard their clergy with affection and esteem."

  The Pope recalled how "at one time, Ireland was blessed with ... an abundance of priestly and religious vocations," but in recent years the number has fallen sharply. "Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest," he told the bishops.

  "I am pleased to learn that many of your dioceses have adopted the practice of silent prayer for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament. This should be warmly encouraged. Yet above all, it falls to you, the bishops, and to your clergy to offer young people an inspiring and attractive vision of the ordained priesthood."

"Even if Christian commitment is considered unfashionable in some circles, there is a real spiritual hunger and a generous desire to serve others among the young people of Ireland."

  In closing his address, the Holy Father considered the question of Northern Ireland, noting that, "although the path is arduous, much progress has been made in recent times. It is my prayer that the committed efforts of those concerned will lead to the creation of a society marked by a spirit of reconciliation, mutual respect and willing cooperation for the common good of all."
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