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Thursday, February 1, 2007


VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Domencio Calcagno of Savona-Noli.

    - Bishop Martino Canessa of Tortona.

    - Bishop Alberto Maria Careggio of Ventimiglia-San Remo

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Robert Sarah, emeritus of Conakry, Guinea, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today released a communique announcing that in St. Peter's Basilica at midday tomorrow, February 2, the Holy Father will preside at a funeral Mass for Cardinal Antonio Maria Javierre Ortas S.D.B., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, who died in Rome this morning at the age of 85.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for February is: "That the goods of the earth, given by God for all men, may be used wisely and according to criteria of justice and solidarity."

  His mission intention is: "That the fight against diseases and great epidemics in the Third World may find, in the spirit of solidarity, ever more generous collaboration on the part of the governments of all nations."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a talk delivered by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, concerning a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, approved by the U.N. General Assembly on December 13, 2006 and due to be signed by member States on March 30.

  In a note accompanying the talk, the archbishop recalls that, "since the beginning of work in July 2002, the Holy See has participated actively in the preparation of the document, collaborating in the insertion of explicit references to respect for the right to life and the recognition of the role of the family in the lives of disabled people. Nonetheless, in the final stage of the work, unacceptable references to 'reproductive health' have been introduced into articles 23 and 25 and, for that reason, the Holy See has decided not to adhere to the new convention."

  In his English-language talk, Archbishop Migliore highlighted how "the Holy See has consistently called for disabled individuals to be completely and compassionately integrated into society, convinced that they possess full and inalienable human rights."

  With reference to article 23 of the convention, he indicated that his delegation "interprets all the terms and phrases regarding family planning services, regulation of fertility and marriage in article 23, as well as the word 'gender,' as it did in its reservations and statements of interpretation at the Cairo and Beijing International Conferences," held respectively 1994 and 1995.

  "Finally, and most importantly, regarding article 25 on health, and specifically the reference to sexual and reproductive health, the Holy See understands access to reproductive health as being a holistic concept that does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of those terms. ... We opposed the inclusion of such a phrase in this article, because in some countries reproductive health services include abortion, thus denying the inherent right to life of every human being, also affirmed by article 10 of the Convention. It is surely tragic that ... the same Convention created to protect persons with disabilities from all discrimination in the exercise of their rights, may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons.

  "For this reason," he concluded, "and despite the many helpful articles this convention contains, the Holy See is unable to sign it."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Pope received members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which is currently holding its fourth plenary meeting.

  Addressing the group in English, the Holy Father said: "Your meeting concerning the constitution and the mission of the Church is of great importance for our common journey towards the restoration of full communion. The Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches share an ecclesial patrimony stemming from apostolic times and the first centuries of Christianity. This 'heritage of experience' should shape our future 'guiding our common path towards the re-establishment of full communion'."

  "Many people today are still waiting for the truth of the Gospel to be brought to them," said Pope Benedict. "May their thirst for the Good News strengthen our resolve to work and pray diligently for that unity required for the Church to exercise her mission in the world."

  "Many of you come from countries of the Middle East," the Holy Father observed, and he recalled how Christian minorities may face difficulties in surviving "in the midst of such a volatile geopolitical panorama" and how they "are often tempted to emigrate. In these circumstances, Christians of all traditions and communities in the Middle East are called to be courageous and steadfast in the power of the Spirit of Christ.

  "May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in these lands, sustain and strengthen the Christian communities in their faith!"


VATICAN CITY, FEB 1, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a delegation from the Foundation for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Research and Dialogue, led by their president, Metropolitan Archbishop Damskinos of Adrianoupoli. One of the members of the delegation was His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan.

  In his address to the group the Pope, who as Cardinal Ratzinger was one of the foundation's founding members, thanked Metropolitan Damaskinos for his gift of the first fruit of their labors: a joint edition of the three sacred texts of the three monotheistic religions, in chronological order and in the original languages. "It was our first project," the Pope recalled, "to make a specific and positive contribution to dialogue between cultures and religions."

  "Jews, Christians and Muslims," he went on, "are called to recognize and strengthen the ties that bind us together. It was this idea that brought us to create the foundation, the objective of which is to discover 'the most essential and most authentic message that the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - can communicate to the 21st century world,' with the aim of giving a fresh impulse to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue through the joint discovery and communication of the elements in our respective spiritual legacies that contribute to reinforcing the fraternal bonds between our communities of believers."

  "The rereading - for some people the discovery - of texts that are sacred to so many people enforces our mutual respect," said the Holy Father. "Men and women today await from us a message of harmony and tranquillity, and the concrete expression of our shared will to help them realize their legitimate aspirations to live in justice and peace."

  "The work of the foundation will contribute to raising ever greater awareness of all the aspects of the various cultures of our time that correspond to divine wisdom and serve the dignity of man. This will lead to greater discernment, and to a rejection of all usurpation of the name of God and denaturalization of man's humanity."

  "Our respective religious traditions," Pope Benedict concluded, "underline the sacred nature of life and the dignity of the human person. ... We, with all men and women of good will, long for peace. For this reason I reiterate that inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and research are not an option, but a vital necessity of our time."

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