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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Friday, December 15, 2006


VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Gregorio Martinez Sacristan, diocesan delegate for the catechesis, as bishop of Zamora (area 6,984, population 165,065, Catholics 163,865, priests 211, religious 546), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in 1946 in Villarejo de Salvanés, Spain and he was ordained priest in 1971.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Italy on their "ad limina" visit:
    -Bishop Ercole Lupinacci of Lungro of the Italo-albanians.

    -Bishop Luigi Antonio Cantafora of Lamezia Terme.

    -Bishop Domenico Graziani of Cassano all'Jonio.

    -Bishop Domenico Crusco of San Marco Argentano-Scalea.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received His Beatitude Antonios Naguib Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts who is officially visiting the Holy See for the first time since his election in March of this year.

  In his French address, the Pope asked the patriarch to give his greetings to all the bishops, priests, and faithful of his patriarchy, as well as to Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria.

  "The communion in Christ that unites us and all Catholics around the Successor of Peter is best seen in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy," said the Holy Father.

  While recalling that the seat of Alexandria was the "first patriarchy after Rome" during the first five centuries of Christianity, Benedict XVI emphasized that its patriarchal community is the "bearer of a rich spiritual, liturgical, and theological tradition - the Alexandrian tradition -, whose treasures form part of the Church's patrimony". He assured the patriarch of his prayers and support in the "special duty that the ecumenical Second Vatican Council entrusted to the Eastern Catholic Churches: "to make progress toward the unity of all Christians, above all Eastern Christians".

  The Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts also has "an important role in interreligious dialogue to develop fraternity and respect among Christians and Muslims". The Pope also invited His Beatitude to "continue encouraging the theological and spiritual pursuit of his tradition".

  "In today's world, your mission is of great importance for the faithful and for all human persons", the Holy Father said, praising the attention the patriarch has given to the "human, spiritual, moral, and intellectual education of youth through a network of quality schools and catechesis that constitute a service to the entire society".

  Referring to the formation of priests the Pope underlined that "the vitality of Christian communities in the world today needs pastors (...) who are truly witnesses to the Word of God and guides to help the faithful be always more deeply rooted in the life and the mission of Christ".

  "I know well what place consecrated life occupies in the Church, " concluded the Holy Father. "May poverty, chastity, and obedience, lived in accordance with the gospel message, be a witness and a call to holiness for today's world!"
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - According a communique, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" has been meeting with the Christian communities in the Holy Land since 13 December in order to "witness to the Holy Father's spiritual nearness to them and to give them a gift in the Pope's name."

  "On the occasion of a pastoral visit by Benedict XVI to Bavaria last September, the faithful of the dioceses of Munich, Ratisbona, and Passau organized a collection to help the Christians in the land where Jesus was born," reads the text. "A million euro were collected and given to the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', which Archbishop Cordes will deliver, in the Pope's name, to the Custos of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M."

  "The sum will be entirely used in the construction of a pastoral center in Nazareth (...) near the Basilica of the Annunciation, with ample spaces for youth and families. It will be a true center of life and activity for Christians and a point of reference for the pilgrims."

  "The Christians of the Holy Land will thus feel the nearness and the support of the entire people of God in maintaining their presence in Jesus' land and in building a community of love regardless of difficulties and adversities."

  In Jerusalem, Archbishop Cordes will meet with the Benedictine fathers of the Dormition Abbey, with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, and with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco. In Bethlehem he will visit the seminary of Bet Jala and on Saturday 16 December the official presentation of the Pope's gift will be made to the Custody of the Holy Land. Afterward, the president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" will visit the German Benedictine fathers of the monastery of Tabga.

  "On 18 December, the prelate will meet with the Greek-Melkite archbishop Elias Chacour, to whom he will give 50,000 dollars for the construction of a school in the village of Mughar, money which was collected at the Vatican during the showing of the film 'Nativity'. Christian, Druze, and Muslims, boys and girls will study in the school, which will be erected where Jesus' parents lived."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father met with Roman university students after their traditional mass at St. Peter's Basilica in preparation for Christmas, which was celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

  Benedict XVI stated that "Christmas gifts remind us of the most perfect gift that the Son of God gave us of himself in the Incarnation. (...) Christmas is the day in which God has given himself to human persons and this gift is made perfect, so to speak, in the Eucharist."

  "The Eucharistic mystery," he continued "constitutes the privileged point of convergence between the various spheres of Christian existence, including that of intellectual pursuit. (...) The Eucharist nourishes a fruitful unity between contemplation and action in us so that we are regularly sustained with faith."

  Making reference to the immanent arrival of Christmas, the Pope indicated that "in the grotto of Bethlehem we adore the same Lord who wanted to make himself our spiritual nourishment in the Eucharistic sacrament, in order to transform the world from within beginning from the human heart."

  The Virgin Mary was the "first to contemplate the incarnate Word, Divine Wisdom, made human. In the Christ Child (...) she recognized God's human face in such a way that the mysterious Wisdom of the Son was impressed on the Mother's mind and heart."

  "This is why," he concluded, "Mary was transformed in the "Seat of Wisdom" and is particularly venerated with this title by the Roman academic community. There is a special icon dedicated to the "Sedes Sapientiae" that, starting from Rome, has already visited various countries, making a pilgrimage through the universities. It is present here today in order to be given to the delegation from Bulgaria and Albania."

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