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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As presidents of the fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, due to be held in Aparecida, Brazil, from May 13 to 31, 2007, Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Chile, and president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM); and Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.

 - As secretary general of the same general conference, Bishop Andres Stanovnik O.F.M. Cap., of Reconquista, Argentina, and secretary of CELAM; and as adjunct secretary, Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and secretary of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.

 - Bishop Dode Gjergji of Sape, Albania, as apostolic administrator of Prizren (area 11,800, population 2,100,000, Catholics 65,000, priests 53, religious 88).

 - Msgr. Lucjan Augustini, vicar general of the metropolitan archdiocese of Shkodre-Pult, Albania, as bishop of Sape (area 2,544, population 200,000, Catholics 90,000, priests 12, permanent deacons 1, religious 54), Albania. The bishop-elect was born in Ferizaj, Kosovo in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1989.
NA:NER/.../...                                    VIS 20061212 (220)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was Benedict XVI's 2nd Message for the World Day of Peace. The Day falls on January 1, 2007, and has as its theme: "The Human Person, the Heart of Peace." The text has been published in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese.

  Extracts from the Message are given below:

  "At the beginning of the new year, I wish to extend prayerful good wishes for peace to governments, leaders of nations and all men and women of good will"

  "As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others."

  "Likewise, peace is both gift and task. If it is true that peace between individuals and peoples - the ability to live together and to build relationships of justice and solidarity - calls for unfailing commitment on our part, it is also true, and indeed more so, that peace is a gift from God."

  "The body of rules for individual action and the reciprocal relationships of persons in accordance with justice and solidarity, is inscribed on human consciences, in which the wise plan of God is reflected. ... Peace is thus also a task demanding of everyone a personal response consistent with God's plan. The criterion inspiring this response can only be respect for the 'grammar' written on human hearts by the divine Creator.

  "From this standpoint, the norms of the natural law ... should be welcomed as a call to carry out faithfully the universal divine plan inscribed in the nature of human beings. Guided by these norms, all peoples - within their respective cultures - can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God. Today too, recognition and respect for natural law represents the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of the different religions and between believers and non-believers. As a great point of convergence, this is also a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace."

  "The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person can not be disposed of at will. Those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of all. Conscious of this, the Church champions the fundamental rights of each person.

  "In particular she promotes and defends respect for the life and the religious freedom of everyone. Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject. ... The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man.

  "As far as the right to life is concerned, we must denounce its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace? Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace.

  "As far as the free expression of personal faith is concerned, another disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world is represented by the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions. Speaking of Christians in particular, I must point out with pain that not only are they at times prevented from doing so; in some States they are actually persecuted, and even recently tragic cases of ferocious violence have been recorded.

  "There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs. In both instances, a fundamental human right is not being respected, with serious repercussions for peaceful coexistence. This can only promote a mentality and culture that is not conducive to peace."

  "At the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world. Particularly insidious among these are, on the one hand, inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; on the other hand, there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights.

  "A fundamental element of building peace is the recognition of the essential equality of human persons springing from their common transcendental dignity. ... The extremely grave deprivation afflicting many peoples, especially in Africa, lies at the root of violent reactions and thus inflicts a terrible wound on peace.

  "Similarly, inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think - in a different context - of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being."

  "Humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa."

  "In recent years, new nations have entered enthusiastically into industrial production, thereby increasing their energy needs. ... Meanwhile, some parts of the planet remain backward and development is effectively blocked, partly because of the rise in energy prices."

  "The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development."

  "Thus there is an urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that can favour the growth of the 'tree of peace.' ... It is understandable that visions of man will vary from culture to culture. Yet what cannot be admitted is the cultivation of anthropological conceptions that contain the seeds of hostility and violence. Equally unacceptable are conceptions of God that would encourage intolerance and recourse to violence against others. This is a point which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in God's name is never acceptable!"

  "Today, however, peace is not only threatened by the conflict between reductive visions of man, in other words, between ideologies. It is also threatened by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature. ... A 'weak' vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favors peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenseless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence."

  "The protection of human rights is constantly referred to by international bodies and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, which set itself the fundamental task of promoting the human rights indicated in the 1948 Universal Declaration. That Declaration is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God. Consequently it is important for international agencies not to lose sight of the natural foundation of human rights."

  "Were that to happen, the international bodies would end up lacking the necessary authority to carry out their role as defenders of the fundamental rights of the person and of peoples, the chief justification for their very existence and activity."

  "The recognition that there exist inalienable human rights connected to our common human nature has led to the establishment of a body of international humanitarian law which States are committed to respect, even in the case of war. Unfortunately, to say nothing of past cases, this has not been consistently implemented in certain recent situations of war. Such, for example, was the case in the conflict that occurred a few months ago in southern Lebanon, where the duty 'to protect and help innocent victims' and to avoid involving the civilian population was largely ignored."

  "The new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence, demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict, including those not currently provided for by international law.

  "Moreover, the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security. Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available. In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively the dramatic decline that we are witnessing."

  "Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some States to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainty and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe."

  "Unfortunately, threatening clouds continue to gather on humanity's horizon. The way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling. ... The fate of the whole human family is at stake!"

  "Finally, I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights. ... In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace."
MESS/PEACE DAY/...                                VIS 20061212 (1770)


VATICAN CITY, DEC 12, 2006 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the Pope's Message for the World Day of Peace 2007, which has as its theme: "The Human Person, the Heart of Peace."

  Cardinal Martino affirmed that this year's Message "must be read and interpreted as a continuation and completion of last year's. Indeed, in paragraph 1, the Holy Father expresses his conviction 'that respect for the person promotes peace and that, in building peace, the foundations are laid for an authentic integral humanism'."

  The Message, the cardinal continued, "is structured in three parts," the first of which highlights "the meaning and value of the connection between the human person and peace, considered and presented through the theological-spiritual categories of 'gift and task.' In the second part, the truth of the human person is related to the new and innovative concept of 'ecology of peace.' In the third part, the truth about human beings is considered with reference to the complex field of respect for their fundamental rights, of international humanitarian law and of certain responsibilities inherent to the activity of international organizations. The Message concludes with a call to Christians to become workers for peace."

  "Recognition of the transcendent order of things is the basis upon which to found the inter-religious and cultural dialogue that aims to promote peace. ... In order to advance the cause of peace, humanity today must treasure the norms of natural law, norms which 'should not be viewed as externally imposed decrees, as restraints upon human freedom'."

  Later in the Message, "the Holy Father affirms that certain things are and must remain beyond the disposal of human will, these are the right to life and to religious freedom." The former because it is a gift and the latter because "it opens nature to something that transcends it."

  On the subject of the natural equality of all persons, the Holy Father highlights how "inequalities of social status and gender are worrying causes of instability in the building of peace," said the cardinal.

  In paragraphs 8 and 9, dedicated to the "ecology of peace," the Pope poses a series of questions that "highlight how the problem of the relationship with nature is closely associated with the construction, among mankind and between nations, of ecological human relationships, in other words, relationships that respect the dignity of the person and his or her authentic needs."

  "In paragraphs 10 and 11, the Holy Father presents the foundations for an ecology of peace and the base upon which to plant the 'tree of peace.' With faith and hope he brings us to understand that it is possible to cultivate this tree, ... so long as we let ourselves be guided by a correct and as-broad-as-possible vision of the human person, because the reduction of man, of his value and his dignity, is often paid for with conflict."

  "The Pope's Message," said the cardinal, "affirms that peace has become difficult also because of indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature. ... Such an attitude is very dangerous for peace, which cannot be built upon emptiness and indifference because, in such circumstances, reciprocal recognition is merely formal, conventional, provisional."

  In the third part of the Message, from paragraphs 12 to 15, Benedict XVI makes it clear that "true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights anchored in a strong conception of the human person. ... Rights express the requirements of man's nature as it arose in the Creation. They tell us what men and women need in their existence in order to be able to be themselves with dignity. They tell us how we must treat man in order to respect his dignity. Human rights cannot sustain the continuous attacks to which they are subject if they do not rediscover this significance."

  The Holy Father, said Cardinal Martino, goes on to recall "the original vocation of international organizations, especially the United Nations, and encourages them to be guardians of the promotion of human rights. ... He also returns this year to the value of international humanitarian law," with reflections "inspired by realism and by trust." Finally, he expresses his concern "at the fact that some countries have expressed the desire to supply themselves with nuclear weapons."

  "The conclusion of Benedict XVI's Message ... is entirely dedicated to Catholics, who are called to be tireless workers for peace and energetic defenders of the dignity of the human person. ... The sentiment of belonging to the Church must be lived with a generous dedication towards everyone, especially towards people suffering poverty and privation, and who lack the precious gift of peace."
OP/MESSAGE PEACE DAY/MARTINO                    VIS 20061212 (810)

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