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Monday, November 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, NOV 20, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences nine prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff of Aachen.

    - Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Robert Brahm, Jorg Michael Peters and Stephan Ackermann.

    - Bishop Felix Genn of Essen, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Franz Grave and Franz Vorrath.

    - Bishop Piotr Kryk, apostolic exarch for the Ukrainian faithful of Byzantine rite resident in Germany and Scandinavia.

  On Saturday, November 18, he received in separate audiences seven prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Reinhard Lettmann of Munster, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Heinrich Timmerevers, Friedrich Ostermann, Heinrich Janssen, Josef Voss and Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst.

 - Msgr. Johann Limbacher, apostolic administrator of Eichstatt.
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CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE TARCISIO BERTONE S.D.B., has written a Message, in the name of the Holy Father, to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, marking the end of an international conference on "The University and the Social Doctrine of the Church." The conference was promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Congregation for Catholic Education. In the Message, Cardinal Bertone states that "the Church's social doctrine ... by its very structure tends towards interdisciplinary dialogue, because the disciplines from which it draws include, on the one hand, theology and philosophy and, on the other, the human and social sciences. For this reason, [it] can contribute to providing a basic orientational framework for the various disciplines, bringing them to collaborate with one another in full respect for the specific nature of each. It can, then, become a bearer of sapiental knowledge with which to enrich the many activities of research and formation in Catholic universities."

HORST KOHLER, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY, offered a concert in honor of the Holy Father on Saturday November 18. At the end of the concert - which was given by the "Philharmonia Quartett Berlin" and took place in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace - the Pope delivered a brief address. "Playing together as soloists," he said, "requires each individual not only to use all his technical and musical abilities in playing his part but, at the same time, to know how to draw back and listen attentively to the others. Only if ... each player does not put himself at the center but, in a spirit of service, becomes part of the whole, ... an 'instrument' that turns the composer's idea into sound to reach the listeners' hearts, only then does the interpretation become truly great. This is a beautiful image, also for us who, within the Church, are committed to being 'instruments' to communicate to men and women the idea of the great 'Composer,' Whose work is the harmony of the universe."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 20, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, on an official visit. President Napolitano took office on May 15 this year.

  Following a private meeting in his library, the Holy Father delivered an address, which was followed by some words from President Napolitano.

  "Church and State," said Pope Benedict, "are both called, according to their respective missions and with their own ends and means, to serve man, ... and they collaborate in promoting his integral good."

  The Holy Father highlighted how the civil community's solicitude for the good of citizens "cannot be limited ... to their physical health, economic wellbeing, intellectual formation and social relationships," and he stressed the fact that "human beings present themselves before the State also in their religious dimension."

  "It would be reductive to consider that the right to religious freedom is sufficiently guaranteed when personal convictions suffer no violence or interference, or when we limit ourselves to respecting the expression of faith within the confines of a place of worship. It cannot, in fact, be forgotten that 'the social nature of man itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community.' Religious freedom is, then, not just of individuals, but also of families, of religious groups and of the Church herself."

  "Adequate respect of the right to religious freedom," said the Pope, "implies, then, the commitment of civil authorities in helping to create 'conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties'."

  "The freedom that the Church and Christians claim does not prejudice the interests of the State or of other social groups, and does not seek an authoritative supremacy over them. Rather, it is a condition enabling ... the fulfillment of the vital service that the Church offers to Italy, and to all other countries in which she is present. This service to society, ... is also expressed towards the civil and political spheres. Indeed, although it is true that by her nature and mission 'the Church is not and does not intend to be a political player,' nonetheless she 'has a profound interest in the good of the political community'."

  The Pope went on: "This specific contribution is chiefly made by the lay faithful," who "when they commit themselves through word and deed to confronting the great modern challenges, ... do not act out of their own specific interests or in the name of principles perceptible only to people who profess a specific religious creed. Rather, they do so in the context of, and following the rules of, democratic coexistence, for the good of all of society and in the name of values that all people of good will can share."

  At the end of his address, the Pope expressed the hope that Italy "may continue to advance along the path of authentic progress, and offer the international community its precious contribution, always promoting those human and Christian values that have forged the country's history and culture, and its heritage of ideals, laws and arts; values that still lie at the base of the lives and activities of its citizens. These efforts," he concluded, "will not lack the loyal and generous contribution of the Catholic Church through the teaching of her bishops, ... and the work of all the faithful."

  In his talk, President Napolitano highlighted his "profound awareness of the Catholic Church's exalted universal mission, and of the precious service she offers the nation." He also recalled how, "in Italy, the harmony of relations between State and Church has been and still is guaranteed by the lay principle of distinction, as sanctioned in the Constitution, as well as by the commitment - proclaimed in the agreements of revision of the Concordat - 'to reciprocal collaboration for the promotion of man and for the good of the country.' ... We believe deeply in the importance of such collaboration," the president added, and "we know and appreciate ... the public and social dimensions of religion."

  Following his meeting with the Pope, the Italian president went on to visit Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., with whom he held a private meeting. He was then accompanied to the Sala Regia, where the cardinal secretary of State introduced him the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

  In the Sala Regia, Cardinal Bertone delivered a talk in which he highlighted "the breadth of the relations the Holy See maintains with numerous States on all continents and with various international organizations. ... It is not by chance that even those who do not share our Christian faith look to the Pope as spokesman of the supreme moral prerequisites, and heed his calls for respect for the dignity of man, the promotion of peace and development, and sincere collaboration between peoples, religions and cultures for a better future for the human family."

  The official ceremony concluded with a visit by President Napolitano to St. Peter's Basilica.

  The Holy See Press Office released an official communique at the end of the Italian president's visit: "During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and Italy, and between Church and State in the country. While respecting the right to religious freedom, and the respective autonomy of the ecclesial and civil communities, as well as their mutual collaboration, Italian Catholics will continue to make their contribution towards the dignity of man, the protection of life and the family, and the common good of society."

  "The meetings also provided an opportunity to consider various aspects of international life, with particular emphasis on the delicate situation in the Middle East, on the prospects for the process of European integration, and on the serious problems of the African continent. The Holy See and Italy will continue to collaborate for a better working of international institutions."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2006 (VIS) - Today, in his remarks prior to praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled cloistered religious communities who, on November 21, celebrate the Day "pro Orantibus," which is dedicated to them.

  "This is a particularly appropriate occasion," said the Pope to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves entirely to God in prayer and silence.

  "Some people ask themselves," he added, "what meaning and value can the presence of such people have in our time, in which the situations of want and poverty we have to face are so numerous and urgent. Why 'cloister' oneself forever within the walls of a monastery, thus depriving others ... of one's abilities and experiences? What effect can prayer have for resolving the many concrete problems that continue to afflict humanity?"

  Also today, many are surprised by "the people who abandon often promising careers to embrace the austere rule of a cloistered monastery. What is it that pushes them to such a radical step if not having understood, as the Gospel teaches, that the Kingdom of heaven is 'a treasure' for which it is truly worthwhile to abandon everything?"

  Such people, the Pope explained, "bear silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the uncertainties of daily life, ... the only support that never fails is God. ... And in the face of the widespread need, felt by many, to escape the daily routine of the great urban centers in search of spaces suitable for silence and contemplation, monasteries of contemplative life are like 'oases' in which man, a pilgrim upon earth, can better draw upon the sources of the Spirit and quench his thirst on his journey.

  "These places, then, apparently useless, are in fact indispensable. Like the green 'lungs' of a city, they are good for everyone, even for people who ... perhaps do not know of their existence."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that today is the day of road accident victims, and he invited everyone to pray for those killed in traffic accidents, entrusting "the injured, many of who are often permanently disabled," to the Virgin Mary. "I tirelessly ask motorists to respect the traffic regulations, and always to pay attention to others," he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Calogero La Piana S.D.B., of Mazara del Vallo, Italy, as archbishop of Messina-Lipari-Santa Lucia del Mela (area 1,848, population 488,400, Catholics 487,400, priests 379, permanent deacons 73, religious 762), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Piazza Armerina, Italy, in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1981 and consecrated a bishop in 2003. He succeeds Archbishop Giovanni Marra, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Dorick McGowan Wright, auxiliary of Belize City-Belmopan, Belize, as bishop of the same diocese (area 22,965, population 282,600, Catholics 215,035, priests 36, religious 82). He succeeds Bishop Osmond Peter Martin, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2006 (VIS) - On November 17, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, participated in the tenth emergency special session of the 61st U.N. General Assembly, which is meeting to consider the question of: "Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory."

  The archbishop began his address with an expression of his delegation's "closeness to the civilian populations suffering the consequences of recent violence. I would also like to convey the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to join him in prayer 'that God will enlighten the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as those nations that have a particular responsibility in the region, so that they may do all they can to put an end to the bloodshed, increase humanitarian aid initiatives and encourage the immediate resumption of direct, serious, and concrete negotiations.'

  "While regretting a new toll of deaths and condemning the spiral of violence caused by both military operations and terrorist attacks," he added, "we cannot but note that these horrendous occurrences form part of a much larger issue which, as we all know, has festered far too long in the region. Each time we hold an emergency meeting such as this, we recite the seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis and Palestinians, which make it all the more urgent for States to address the problem of the fundamental injustice at the heart of this question. To make a litany of symptoms without addressing the root cause is hardly helpful to either party. Each is forced to live under the horrible tensions of potential explosive acts of terror or military incursions that result in death, casualties and the destruction of infrastructures.

  "The centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the persistent instability in the Middle East cannot be ignored. It is a sad fact that the international community has failed to engage the Israelis and Palestinians in significant and substantive dialogue, along with resolution of disputes, in order to bring stability and peace to both."

  He concluded: "The only peace with a chance of lasting in the region will be a truly comprehensive one. It will involve all major players in the Middle East region and it will have to be based upon bilateral peace treaties and multilateral agreements on all questions of common concern, including water, environment and trade."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope received the second group of prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

  Opening his talk to them, the Holy Father highlighted how, "the encounter with the living Christ is always at the heart of our service, an encounter that confers a decisive orientation upon our lives."

  Proceeding with his address, Benedict XVI referred to the bishops' concern "for an adequate development of pastoral structures to meet the present situation." In this context he pointed out how, faced with falling numbers of priests and of faithful attending Sunday Mass, various German dioceses are implementing models for restructuring pastoral care, in which the image of the pastor "risks being obscured."

  I am sure, he told the prelates, "that you will give your approval only to those structural reforms that are in full harmony with the Church's teaching on the priesthood and with her juridical norms, ensuring that the implementation of reforms does not diminish the power of attraction of the priestly ministry."

  Referring to the question of lay participation in ecclesial structures, the Holy Father recalled "the broad and open field of the lay apostolate ... and its multiple tasks." These include, he said, announcing the Gospel, catechesis, charity work, the media of social communication, and "social commitment for the integral protection of human life and social justice."

  The Pope then turned to consider the question of "announcing the faith to the young people of our time," who live "in a secularized culture" in which God is absent. It is important, he said, that, in the Church, acolytes "encounter God, His Word, and the Sacrament of His presence, and that they learn to model their lives on this basis." As for ecclesial movements, the Pope told the bishops that "we must respect the specific nature of their charisms, and be happy that shared forms of faith come into being in which the Word of God becomes life."

  The Church's charitable activity must, said Pope Benedict "be kept apart from the confusion of political interests, ... and used for the good of people." In this field, he called for "close collaboration with bishops and with episcopal conferences."

  "The order of marriage as established at the creation," said the Holy Father, "is becoming progressively obscured today." In the face of a materialist culture, "it is difficult for young people to commit themselves to one another definitively," to have children, "and to offer them that lasting space for growth and maturity which only the family based upon marriage can provide."

  In such as situation, he went on, "it is vitally important to help young people to pronounce that definitive 'yes,' which does not contrast with freedom but, rather, represents its greatest opportunity. In the patience of remaining together for a lifetime, love achieves its true maturity. And in such an environment of lifelong love, children also learn to live and to love."

  Finally, the Pope turned to the question of ecumenism. "In Germany," he said, "our efforts must be directed, above all towards Christians of Lutheran and Reformed faith. ... Ecumenical commitment cannot be entirely fulfilled with joint documents. It becomes visible and effective where Christians from different Churches and ecclesial communities - in a social context that is ever further removed from religion - profess, together and convincingly, the values transmitted by the Christian faith, and emphasize them forcefully in their political and social activities."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

  "This morning, Saturday November 18, Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany, was received in audience by His Holiness Benedict XVI; he subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  "The cordial discussions provided an opportunity for, among other things, an exchange of opinions on questions relating to the international situation, with particular reference to the Middle East. The need to promote relationships of equality and a spirit of solidarity at the international level was also emphasized, especially as regards the continent of Africa. Finally, mention was made of the importance of a commitment to the education of youth, and to supporting dialogue between religions."

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