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Friday, November 17, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2006 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Goebel M.S.F., prelate of Tromso, Norway, on November 4, at the age of 72.

 - Bishop William Thomas Larkin, emeritus of Saint Petersburg, U.S.A., on November 4, at the age of 83.

 - Archbishop Nivaldo Monte, emeritus of Natal, South Africa, on November 10, at the age of 88.

 - Archbishop Custodio Alvim Pereira, emeritus of Maputo, Mozambique, on November 12, at the age of 91.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Roland Koch, minister president of Hesse, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Four prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Werner Radspieler.

    - Bishop Anton Schlembach of Speyer, accompanied by auxiliary Bishop Otto Georgens.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in separate audiences seven prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Manfred Melzer, Rainer Woelki and Heiner Koch, and by former Auxiliary Bishop Klaus Dick.

    - Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Wurzburg, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Helmut Bauer.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2006 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who have been reflecting upon the theme of "the changing ecumenical situation."

  "We live in a period of great changes in almost all areas of life," said the Pope in his address, "and we must not be surprised if this also impinges upon the life of the Church and on relations between Christians." Nonetheless, "the aim of the ecumenical movement remains unchanged: the visible unity of the Church. ... Vatican Council II considered the re-establishment of full unity among all Christians as one of its principal concerns. It is also my concern."

  Benedict XVI recalled the hall in which Vatican Council II took place, "where the observer delegates from other Churches and ecclesial communities sat attentive, but in silence. Over subsequent decades, this image has given way to the reality of a Church in dialogue. ... Silence has been transformed into the word of communion. An enormous amount of work has been done at both the universal and local levels. Fraternity among all Christians has been rediscovered and re-established as a condition for dialogue, cooperation, common prayer and solidarity."

  The Pope then went on to refer to his predecessor's commitment to ecumenism, and to the Encyclical 'Ut unum sint' written by John Paul II on that subject. He also recalled "the experience of communion with representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities," who came to Rome from all over the world "to participate in the funeral of the unforgettable John Paul II, and in the inauguration of my own pontificate. Sharing pain and joy is a visible sign of the new situation that has been created among Christians."

  The Holy Father then went on to consider certain events that have taken place over recent decades and that have some bearing on ecumenism. "At the time of the Council, many of the venerated Eastern Churches were oppressed by dictatorial regimes," he said. "Today they have regained their freedom and are committed to a wide-ranging process of reorganization and revitalization. ... The eastern and western parts of Europe are coming closer together, and this encourages Churches to coordinate their efforts to safeguard the Christian tradition."

  "Fortunately," he went on, "following a period of multiple difficulties, theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches has taken on fresh impetus." While "bilateral, open and friendly" dialogue is making progress with the ecclesial communities of the West. In this context, the Holy Father mentioned "the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," signed with the World Lutheran Federation, and to which the World Methodist Council has also given its approval.

  Nonetheless, obstacles still remain, such as "the difficulty of finding a shared conception of the relationship between the Gospel and the Church, ... of the mystery of the Church and her unity, and of the question of ministry in the Church. New difficulties have arisen in the field of ethics and, as a consequence, the different standpoints taken by the Christian confessions on current problems have reduced their possibility of guiding public opinion."

  "What must be promoted above all," the Pope concluded, "is the ecumenism of love, that descends directly from the new commandment left by Jesus to His disciples. Love accompanied by coherent acts generates trust. ... Ecumenical formation must also be intensified, on the basis of the fundamentals of Christian faith, in other words from the announcement of the love of God which was revealed in the face of Jesus Christ."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 17, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

  "In the Apostolic Palace this morning, November 16, the Holy Father presided at one of the regular meetings of the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia, for a moment of shared reflection.

  "The participants in the meeting had at their disposal detailed information concerning requests for dispensation from the obligation of celibacy presented during recent years, and concerning the possibility of readmission to the exercise of the ministry of priests who currently meet the conditions established by the Church.

  "The value of the choice of priestly celibacy in accordance with Catholic tradition was reaffirmed, and the need for solid human and Christian formation was underlined, both for seminaries and for ordained priests."
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