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Tuesday, January 2, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JAN 2, 2007 (VIS) - During the year 2007, the VIS bulletin will be transmitted every week from Monday to Friday, except on the following days:

March 19 (Monday)

April 5 (Holy Thursday)
April 6 (Good Friday)
April 9 (Easter Monday)
April 10 (Tuesday)
April 19 (Thursday)

May 1 (Tuesday)
May 17 (Thursday)

June 7 (Thursday)
June 29 (Friday)

The entire month of August

November 1 (Thursday)
November 2 (Friday)

December 24 (Monday)
December 25 (Tuesday)
December 26 (Wednesday)
December 27 (Thursday)
December 30 (Monday)
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 2, 2007 (VIS) - Major Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios Malancharuvil O.I.C. of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India, with the consent of the Synod of Bishops and after having consulted the Apostolic See, erected, in accordance with canon 85, para. 1, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the eparchy of Mavelikara of the Syro-Malankars (population 2,998,325, Catholics 30,825, priests 75, religious 105), India, with territory taken from Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, making it a suffragan of the same metropolitan archieparchy.

  Major Archbishop Cyril Mar Baselios Malancharuvil O.I.C. of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, with the consent of the Synod of Bishops and after having consulted the Apostolic See, transferred, in accordance with canon 85, para. 2, of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Bishop Joshuah Mar Ignathios Kizhakkeveettil, auxiliary of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, to the office of first bishop of Mavelikara of the Syro-Malankars.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 1, 2007 (VIS) - Following today's Eucharistic celebration marking the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and before praying the Angelus from the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square, the Pope said: "Today we contemplate Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, in His attribute of true 'Prince of Peace.' He 'is our peace,' Who came to break down the wall that divides men and peoples, in other words 'hostility'."

  Benedict VI recalled how it was Paul VI who wished "that the year should begin under the protection of Most Holy Mary, venerated as the Mother of God," and that January 1 "should mark the World Day of Peace, so that each year may start in the light of Christ, the great pacifier of humanity.

  "Today," he added, "I renew my hope for peace to the governors and leaders of nations and of international organizations, and to all men and women of good will. I do so particularly with the special Message that I prepared together with my collaborators in the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace and that has as its theme this year: 'The Human Person, the Heart of Peace'."

  That Message, said the Holy Father, "touches upon an essential point: the value of the human person, who is the column that supports the entire grand edifice of peace. Today there is much talk of human rights, but it is often forgotten that they need a foundation that is firm, not relative or subjective. This foundation can only be the dignity of the person. And respect for this dignity begins with the recognition and protection of people's right to live and profess their own religion freely."

  The Pope concluded: "To the Holy Mother of God we trustingly address our prayer that sacred respect for all human beings and the firm refusal of war and violence may develop in people's consciences. Help us, Mary, you who brought Jesus into the world, to welcome from Him the gift of peace and to be sincere and courageous builders of peace."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 1, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God and the 40th World Day of Peace, which has as its theme this year: "The Human Person, the Heart of Peace."

  "Apart from her maternity, today we also highlight Mary's virginity," said the Holy Father in his homily. "These are two attributes that are always proclaimed together and inseparably, because they complement and qualify one another. Mary is a mother, but a virgin mother. If we overlook one aspect or the other we do not fully understand the mystery of Mary as she is presented in the Gospels."

  Going on to refer to the theme of the World Day of Peace, the Holy Father said that "all human beings - precisely because created in the image and likeness of God, without distinction of race, culture or religion - are clothed in the same personal dignity. For this reason they must be respected, and no reason can ever justify their being used at whim, as if they were objects.

  "Faced with the unfortunately ever present threats to peace," he added, "faced with situations of injustice and violence that continue in various parts of the earth, faced with the persistence of armed conflicts often forgotten by public opinion, faced with the danger of terrorism that disturbs the serenity of peoples, it is even more necessary to work together for peace. Peace, as I recalled in my Message, is 'both gift and task,' a gift to invoke with prayer, a task to carry out with tireless courage."

  The Holy Father's thoughts then turned to the Holy Land where Jesus was born. "How can we not implore with insistent prayers that that region may, as soon as possible, achieve the day of peace," he said, "the day in which the current conflict, that has gone on for too many years, is definitively resolved. A peace agreement, in order to last, must be founded upon the dignity and rights of each person.

  "My hope, that I express before the representatives of nations here present, is that the international community may unite its efforts so as to build, in the name of God, a world in which the essential rights of man are respected by everyone. For this to happen it is necessary that the foundation of such rights be recognized, not just in simple human agreements, but in 'man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God.'

  "The Holy Father went on: "If, in fact, the constituent elements of human dignity are entrusted to changeable human opinions, then human rights, though solemnly proclaimed, will end up as weak and variously interpretable."

  Benedict XVI entrusted the new year to the Mother of God, a year "we receive from the hands of God as a precious 'talent' to invest, as a providential opportunity to contribute to the realization of the Kingdom of God."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2006 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. today, the Pope presided at the first Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, and the singing of the "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the end of the year.

  In his homily, the Holy Father referred to the dimension of time, saying: "In the closing hours of each solar year, we witness the repetition of certain worldly 'rites' which, in the modern world, are prevalently aimed at enjoyment, often experienced as escape from reality, almost as if to exorcise negative elements and propitiate improbable turns of fortune. How different must the attitude of the Christian community be, ... called to live these hours by making their own the sentiments of the Virgin Mary," so that, with her, they may present to Jesus "the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted."

  " Mary's maternity," the Pope explained, "is at one and the same time a human and a divine event. ... The Son of God was begotten by Him, and at the same time is the son of a woman, Mary. He comes from her. He is of from God and from Mary. For this reason the Mother of Jesus can and must be called Mother of God."

  Pope Benedict called upon the "Theotokos," the Mother of God, to intercede for the world entire, entrusting to her care "situations in which only the grace of the Lord can bring peace, comfort and justice."

  "We ask the Mother of God to obtain for us the gift of a mature faith, a faith which we would like, as far as possible, to resemble her own, a clear and genuine faith, humble and at the same time courageous, saturated with hope and enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God; a faith removed from all fatalism and that aims to cooperate in full and joyous obedience to the divine will, in the absolute certainty that God wants nothing other than love and life, always and for everyone."

  Following the celebration, in keeping with tradition, the Pope visited the nativity scene in St. Peter's Square.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2006 (VIS) - Today, the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, before praying the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope sent his greetings to all the families of the world, expressing the hope that they may enjoy "the peace and love that Christ gave us, coming among us at Christmas."

  "God," he said, "wished to be born and to grow in a human family. Thus he consecrated [the family] as the basic and ordinary way of His meeting with humanity. In the life spent in Nazareth, Jesus honored the Virgin Mary and the good Joseph, remaining under their authority for the entire period of His infancy and adolescence. In this way, He highlighted the fundamental value of the family in the education of the person."

  The Pope emphasized how Mary and Joseph introduced Jesus into the religious community. "With them he learned to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. ... When He was twelve years old, He stayed behind in the Temple and his parents took three days to find Him." Through that gesture, Jesus "brought them to understand that He had to concern Himself with the things of His Father's House."

  "This evangelical episode reveals the most authentic and profound vocation of the family: that of accompanying all its members on the journey to the discovery of God and of the design He has laid down for them. Mary and Joseph educated Jesus ... through their own example. ... From them He learned that in the first place it is necessary to do God's will, and that the spiritual bond is greater than the tie of blood.

  "The Holy Family of Nazareth," Benedict XVI added, "is truly the 'prototype' for all Christian families who, united in the Sacrament of Marriage and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, are called to put into practice that stupendous vocation and mission of being a living cell, not only of society but also of the Church, sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race."

  The Pope concluded his remarks by invoking the protection of Mary and St. Joseph "for all families, especially those in difficulties. ... Support them so they may resist the divisive forces of a certain kind of modern culture that undermines the very foundations of the family institution. ... Help Christian families all over the world to be the living image of God's love."

  Following the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. To Polish pilgrims he said: "Let us give thanks to God for the past year, for all the good received, and particularly for my pilgrimage to Poland. I recall my journey in the footsteps of Servant of God John Paul II and your witness of faith. Today, on the Sunday of the Holy Family, I pray that your families be worthy places for the education of children and young people."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2006 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., made the following declaration at midday today on the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, which took place at dawn in Baghdad.

  "The execution of a capital sentence is always tragic news, a cause of sadness, even when the person is guilty of terrible crimes.

  "The position of the Catholic Church against the death penalty has often been reiterated.

  "The killing of the guilty is not the way to rebuild justice and reconcile society, rather there is a risk of nourishing the spirit of revenge and inciting fresh violence.

  "At this dark time in the life of the Iraqi people, we cannot but hope that all those in charge truly make every effort to ensure that, in such a dramatic situation, hopes for reconciliation and peace are finally opened."

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