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Friday, December 1, 2006


VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Manuel Antonio Mendes dos Santos C.M.F., provincial superior of the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as bishop of Sao Tome and Principe (area 1,000, population 140,000, Catholics 103,000, priests 12, religious 39). The bishop-elect was born in Sao Joanhinho, Portugal in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Abilio Rodas de Sousa Ribas C.S.Sp., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Emilio Sumbelelo, judicial vicar of the diocese of Benguela, Angola, as coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Uije (area 63,467, population 1,295,555, Catholics 572,500, priests 49, religious 92), Angola. The bishop-elect was born in Cubal, Angola, in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for December is: "That Christ, meek and humble of heart, may inspire those responsible for nations to use power wisely and responsibly."

  His mission intention is: "That in every part of the world missionaries may live out their vocation with joy and enthusiasm, faithfully following in Christ's footsteps."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., sent a telegram of condolence, in the Pope's name, to Archbishop Fernando Filoni, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, for a typhoon that hit the country yesterday, causing numerous victims:

  "Deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life resulting from the recent typhoon in the eastern Philippines, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assures all affected of his closeness in prayer. The Holy Father commends the deceased to the loving mercy of Almighty God, and upon their grieving families and all those injured he invokes divine strength and comfort. His Holiness likewise prays for the rescue workers and all involved in providing practical assistance to the victims of this disaster, encouraging them to persevere in their efforts to bring relief and support."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from Benedict XVI to Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, for a study day organized by that dicastery, which takes place today and is dedicated to the theme of: "Sunday Mass for the sanctification of Christian people."

  In the text, which is dated November 27, the Pope recalls how the study day falls on the anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium," and is the third of its kind following one dedicated to the Roman Martyrology and another to sacred music.

  "Sundays," writes the Pope, "remain the fundamental seedbed and the primordial nucleus of the liturgical year; ... a fragment of time pervaded by eternity, because its dawn saw the Risen Christ enter victoriously into eternal life."

  "For the first Christians, participation in Sunday celebrations was the natural expression of their belonging to Christ, of their communion with His mystical Body, in joyous expectation of His glorious return."

  "Today," the Holy Father continues, "it is more than ever necessary to reiterate the sacred nature of the Lord's day and the need to participate in Sunday Mass. The cultural context in which we live, often marked by religious indifference and secularism that obscure the horizon of transcendence, must not cause us to forget that the People of God who came into being with the events of Easter must return [to those events] as an inexhaustible spring, in order to better understand ... their own identity and the reasons for their existence."

  "Sunday was not chosen by the Christian community," he writes, "rather by the Apostles, indeed by Christ Himself Who on that day, "the first day of the week," arose and appeared before the disciples. ... Each Sunday celebration of the Eucharist enacts the sanctification of Christian people, until that Sunday without end, the day of the definitive encounter of God with His creatures."

  Benedict XVI closes his message by expressing the hope that the study day "may help to recover the Christian meaning of Sunday in ... the life of all believers."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 1, 2006 (VIS) - At 8.30 a.m. today, the Pope celebrated Mass at Istanbul's Latin Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, in the presence of faithful from various communities present in the city and from a number of Catholic rites. Also present were Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Mesrob II, and Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan Filuksinos Yusuf Cetin, as well as representatives from the Protestant Churches.

  The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit was inaugurated in 1846. Under the altar are relics of certain saints, among them St. Linus, pope and martyr (67-69), St. Peter's immediate successor. In 1884, Pope Leo XIII donated the cathedral a relic of St. John Chrysostom. In May 1989, the cathedral was affiliated to the Vatican Basilica.

  In the courtyard of the building is a statue of Benedict XV (1914-1922), erected by the Turks in memory of that Pope's commitment in favor of the Turkish victims of World War One. An inscription on the statue reads: "To the great pontiff of the world tragedy, Benedict XV, benefactor of peoples without distinction of nationality or religion, in recognition."

  In 1967, Pope Paul VI visited the cathedral in the company of Patriarch Athenagoras, a gesture repeated by John Paul II, accompanied by Patriarch Dimitros I, in 1979.

  Before Mass, the Pope paused in the courtyard to bless a statue of Blessed John XXIII which is to be placed in a local church. He also freed three white doves.

  Various languages were used during the Eucharistic celebration, including Latin, Turkish, French, German, Syriac, Arabic and Spanish. The entrance antiphon and the "Sanctus" were left to the Armenian Catholics; the responsorial psalm and the offertory antiphon to the Chaldeans; the proclamation of the Gospel to the Syro-Catholics.

  "As Saint Paul has just reminded us," said Benedict XVI in his homily, "the Spirit is the enduring source of our faith and unity. He awakens within us true knowledge of Jesus and He puts on our lips the words of faith that enable us to acknowledge the Lord."

  "To manifest the Spirit, to live by the Spirit, is not to live for oneself alone, but to let oneself be conformed to Christ Jesus by becoming, like Him, the servant of his brothers and sisters. Here is a very concrete teaching for each of us."

  The Church, said the Pope, "has been charged to proclaim His Gospel to the ends of the earth, transmitting to the men and women of our time the Good News which not only illuminates but overturns their lives, even to the point of conquering death itself. This Good News is not just a word, but a person, Christ Himself, risen and alive!"

  "The Church's mission is not to preserve power, or to gain wealth; her mission is to offer Christ, to give a share in Christ's own life, man's most precious good, which God Himself gives us in His Son."

  "You know well," the Pope told his listeners, "that the Church wishes to impose nothing on anyone, and that she merely asks to live in freedom, in order to reveal the One whom she cannot hide, Christ Jesus. ... Be ever receptive to the Spirit of Christ and so become attentive to those who thirst for justice, peace, dignity and respect for themselves and for their brothers and sisters."

  "Together with the Virgin," he concluded, "let us pray to Christ her Son:  Send forth, O Lord, Your Holy Spirit upon the whole Church, that He may dwell in each of her members and make them heralds of Your Gospel!"

  Following Mass, the Pope expressed his appreciation for "the understanding and patience," and for "the truly warm welcome I have been shown, also because I know that my presence over these days has created no small disturbance in the daily lives of people in this city."

  At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Pope went by car to the airport of Istanbul where he bid farewell to the ecumenical patriarch, the Armenian apostolic patriarch and the Syro-Orthodox metropolitan. Before boarding the plane bound for Rome, he met briefly with the governor of the local region and the mayor of Istanbul.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2006 (VIS) - In Istanbul this evening, after visiting the Museum of Santa Sophia, the Holy Father went to the Blue Mosque where he and the Grand Mufti paused for a moment of meditation. The Pope then travelled to the city's Armenian apostolic patriarchate where he participated in a celebration of the Word in the Cathedral of the Mother of God. The patriarchate of Istanbul is under the jurisdiction of the Catholicos of all Armenia, Karekin II.

  Upon his arrival, Pope Benedict was received by His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian patriarch of Istanbul, with whom he entered the cathedral in procession. After the ceremony and an address by Mesrob II, the Holy Father addressed some brief remarks to those present.

  "With great affection," said the Holy Father, "I greet the entire Armenian apostolic community. ... My fraternal greeting goes also to His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of Holy Etchmiadzin, and the hierarchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. I give thanks to God for the Christian faith and witness of the Armenian people, transmitted from one generation to the next, often in very tragic circumstances such as those experienced in the last century.

  "Our meeting," he added, "is more than a simple gesture of ecumenical courtesy and friendship. It is a sign of our shared hope in God's promises and our desire to see fulfilled the prayer that Jesus offered for His disciples on the eve of His suffering and death: 'that they may all be one.' ... The tragic divisions which, over time, have arisen among Christ's followers openly contradict the Lord's will, give scandal to the world and damage that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature. Precisely by the witness of their faith and love, Christians are called to offer a radiant sign of hope and consolation to this world, so marked by conflicts and tensions.

  "We must continue therefore to do everything possible to heal the wounds of separation and to hasten the work of rebuilding Christian unity," said the Holy Father. "In this respect I can only offer heartfelt thanks to the Lord for the deeper fraternal relationship that has developed between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church."

  In closing, the Pope quoted the words of one of the great Doctors of the Armenian Church, Nerses of Lambron, who lived in the thirteenth century: "'Now, since we all need peace with God, let its foundation be harmony among the brethren.' ... These words of Nerses have lost nothing of their power. Together let us continue to pray for the unity of all Christians."

  Following the ceremony, a stone tablet in the form of an Armenian cross was unveiled, bearing inscriptions in Latin and Armenian recalling the visits to the cathedral by Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

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