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Monday, January 29, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  At the beginning of his address to them, the Holy Father pointed out that "the expression 'truth of marriage' loses all existential significance in a cultural context marked by the relativism and juridical positivism that consider marriage as a mere social formalization of the ties of affection. Thus, marriage not only becomes contingent, as human affections can be contingent, but appears as a superimposed legal structure which human will can manipulate at will, even denying its heterosexual character."

  The Pope warned against those who believe that "the conciliar doctrine on marriage - and in particular the description of that institution as 'intima communitas vitae et amoris' - necessarily leads to denying the existence of an indissoluble conjugal bond," on the grounds that this is "an 'ideal' which not all 'normal Christians' can be 'obliged' to follow."

  "The anthropological and salvific truth of marriage - also in its juridical dimension - is already present in Holy Scripture," said the Pope, and he quoted: "[He] made them male and female, and said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. ... What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." The Book of Genesis, he continued, also "presents the truth of marriage at the 'beginning'," a truth that achieves fullness "in the union of Christ with the Church."

  "Each marriage is certainly the fruit of the free will of a man and a woman, but their freedom puts into effect the natural capacity inherent to their masculinity and femininity. ... The indissolubility of marriage does not derive from the definitive commitment of the two parties involved; rather it is intrinsic to the nature of the 'potent bond established by the Creator.' The contracting parties must make a definitive commitment because such is the nature of marriage in the plan of creation and redemption."

  "Against the subjective and libertarian realization of sexual experience," said Benedict XVI, "the tradition of the Church clearly affirms the naturally juridical nature of marriage, in other words the fact that, by its very character, it pertains to the field of justice in interpersonal relationships." In this context, he went on, "the law interweaves with life and love. ... Love [between husband and wife] is the fruit of their freely seeking the good of the other and of the children."

  Referring to the danger of the erroneous interpretation of current canonical norms, the Holy Father encouraged his audience to react "with courage and trust, ... without allowing yourselves to be seduced by interpretations that entail a break with the tradition of the Church."

  "The contribution of ecclesial tribunals to overcoming the crisis in the significance of marriage, both in the Church and in civil society, may seem to be some somewhat secondary," he said. However, "precisely because marriage has an intrinsically juridical dimension," it is of fundamental importance to be "wise and convinced servants of justice in this delicate and important field. ... You, dear prelate auditors, are committed to a task in which responsibility for truth is especially felt. ... Remaining faithful to that task, seek to ensure that your activities become a harmonious part of a global rediscovery of the beauty of the 'truth of marriage' - the truth of the 'beginning' - that Jesus taught us, and of which the Holy Spirit reminds us continually in the Church today."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 29, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York.

 - Archbishop Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Italy.

 - Five prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti.

    - Bishop Mario Oliveri of Albenga-Imperia.

    - Bishop Alberto Tanasini of Chiavari.

    - Bishop Bassano Staffieri of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato.

  On Saturday, January 27, he received in separate audiences:

 - Three prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Lino Pizzi of Forli-Bertinoro.

    - Bishop Mariano De Nicolo of Rimini.

    - Bishop Luigi Negri of San Marino-Montefeltro.

 - Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2007 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope launched an appeal for peace in Lebanon and in Gaza.

  "Over the last few days, Lebanon has again been bloodied by violence," he said. "It is unacceptable to use such methods to support a political position. I feel immense sadness for that dear people, and I know that many Lebanese feel the temptation to abandon all hope and are disoriented by what is happening.

  "I make my own the powerful words pronounced by His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, denouncing those fratricidal clashes. Together with him and with other religious leaders, I invoke God's help so that all Lebanese without distinction may be able to, and want to, live together to make their country a real common home, overcoming all those self-seeking attitudes that are an impediment to true concern for the nation."

  "To Christians in Lebanon," he concluded, "I repeat the exhortation to be promoters of real dialogue between the various communities, and upon everyone I invoke the protection of Our Lady of Lebanon."

  Pope Benedict went on to call for an end to violence in the Gaza Strip. He expressed his "spiritual closeness to all the population," and gave assurances of his prayers "so that, in everyone, the will to work together for the common good may prevail, starting down peaceful paths to resolve differences and tensions."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 28, 2007 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus this morning, Benedict XVI dedicated some remarks to the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day falls today.

  Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that the saint presents a "valid model for harmony between reason and faith, dimensions of the human spirit that that are fully realized in the meeting and dialogue between them."

  For St. Thomas, human reason "moves on a broad open horizon where it can express the best of itself. When, however, man limits his thought only to material objects that can be subject to experimentation ... he becomes impoverished. The relationship between faith and reason is a serious challenge for the culture that currently dominates in the Western world."

  The Holy Father recognized the "innumerable positive effects" of modern science, but he also warned that "the tendency to consider as true only that which can be subject to experimentation represents a limitation to human reason." For this reason, "it is vital to rediscover ... a human reason open to the light of the divine 'Logos.' ... When Christian faith is authentic," he went on, "it does not degrade freedom and human reason. ... Faith implies reason and perfects it. And reason, illuminated by faith, finds the strength to raise itself to a knowledge of God and of spiritual truths."

  The Holy Father continued: "St. Thomas Aquinas managed to establish a fruitful confrontation with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time, such that he is still considered as a valid master of dialogue with other cultures and religions. He created that magnificent Christian synthesis between reason and faith, which is a precious heritage for Western civilization and from which, even today, we can draw in order to maintain an effective dialogue with the great cultural and religious traditions of the East and South of the world."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope referred to the World Day of Leprosy which is also being celebrated today. He gave assurances of recollection in his prayers "for all the people suffering from this disease, ... which is not only an illness but a social scourge." Pope Benedict also recalled the people who, "in Christ's name, have dedicated themselves to this cause," such as, "Raoul Follereau and Blessed Damian de Veuster, apostle of the lepers of Molokai."

  Finally, Benedict XVI dedicated some words to young people from Catholic Action in Rome who had come to St. Peter's Square to celebrate the closure of their annual "month of peace." As is traditional, a boy and a girl from Catholic Action freed two white doves, symbols of peace, from the window of the papal apartments: "may they be a harbinger of peace for the whole world," the Pope concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church meeting on October 11, 2006, of Fr. Elie Haddad B.S., president of the court of appeal of the Melkite Church in Lebanon, to the office of archbishop of Saida of the Greek-Melkites (Catholics 27,000, priests 44, religious 94), Lebanon. The archbishop-elect was born in Ablah, Lebanon in 1960.
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