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Wednesday, February 7, 2007


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Alberto Moura C.S.S., of Uberlandia, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Montes Claros (area 45,520, population 732,679, Catholics 549,509, priests 62, permanent deacons 9, religious 122), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Ituiutaba, Brazil in 1943, he was ordained a priest in 1971, and consecrated a bishop in 1990. He succeeds Archbishop Geraldo Majela de Castro O. Praem., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Chacko Aerath O.I.C., master of novices for the province of Navajyothy of the Order of the Imitation of Christ, as apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful living outside their "territorium proprium," elevating him at the same time to the dignity of bishop. The bishop elect was born in Karikulam Kerala, India in 1960, and ordained a priest in 1986.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a declaration of the Holy See delivered during the course of a world congress on the death penalty, held in Paris, France from February 1 to 3.

  "The Paris congress," reads the French-language text, "is being celebrated at a time in which, because of recent executions, the campaign against the death penalty is facing new and disquieting challenges. Public opinion has become sensitized and has expressed its concern for a more effective recognition of the inalienable dignity of human beings, and of the universality and integrity of human rights, beginning with the right to life."

  As in previous meetings on the same subject, "the Holy See takes this opportunity to welcome and affirm once more its support for all initiatives that aim to defend the inherent value and inviolability of all human life, from conception to natural end. In this perspective, it is worth noting that the use of the death penalty is not just a negation of the right to life, but also an affront to human dignity."

  "The Catholic Church continues to maintain that the legitimate authorities of State have the duty to protect society from aggressors," but "some States traditionally include the death penalty among the means used to achieve this end," an option "that is difficult to justify today." States now have new ways "of preserving public order and people's safety," which include "offering the accused stimuli and encouragement" to mend their ways. Such non-lethal means of prevention and punishment "correspond better to the ... the common good and conform more to the dignity of the human person."

  "Any decision to use the death penalty involves many dangers," such as "that of punishing the innocent, and the temptation to foment violent forms of revenge rather than true social justice." It is also "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life ... and, for Christians, an affront to the evangelical teaching of forgiveness."

  "The Holy See," the text concludes, "reiterates its appreciation to the organizers of the congress, to governments, ... and to everyone who works ... to abolish the death penalty or to impose a universal moratorium on its use."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica this morning, the Pope met with prelates from the Italian region of Lombardy, who are currently in the course of their "ad limina" visit. The bishops were accompanied by groups of faithful from their various dioceses.

  The Church, the Pope told them, "has an important role she must continue to play in Lombard society: announcing and bearing witness to the Gospel in all areas, especially where there exist the negative traits of hedonistic consumer culture, of secularism and individualism, where old and new forms of poverty appear with worrying signs of youth alienation and phenomena of violence and criminality. Although public institutions and various educational organizations at times seem to suffer moments of difficulty there is, however, no lack of ... moral resources in your people, so rich in noble family and religious traditions.

  "Your field of activity is thus truly immense," the Holy Father added. "On the one hand you must defend and promote the culture of human life and legality, on the other, an ever more coherent conversion to Christ is needed, at both an individual and community level. Indeed, in order for our faith in man, made in God's image, to increase, we must penetrate more deeply and coherently into the mystery of Christ and proclaim His message of salvation. We must do everything possible to gain an ever better understanding of the figure of Jesus, so that our knowledge of him is not just 'second hand,' but cones through prayer, liturgy and love for others. This is clearly a difficult commitment, but there is comfort in the words of the Lord: 'Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age'."

  The Holy Father called for "an intensification of your evangelical witness so that Christians in all fields, guided by the Holy Spirit that dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple, may become living signs of supernatural hope. I encourage you, dear bishops," he concluded, "to guide the dynamic people of Lombardy along this path, relying in all situations on never-failing divine assistance."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 7, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI's catechesis during this morning's general audience was dedicated to the Roman couple Priscilla and Aquila, who collaborated with St. Paul in Corinth. Having been expelled from Rome by the emperor Claudius following disturbances involving followers of Christ, they arrived in Corinth about the year 50 and there met Paul who, like them, was a tentmaker.

  Priscilla was very active in the Christian community in Rome, she and her husband Aquila played a vital role in the early Church, said the Pope, "welcoming into their house the groups of local Christians when they came together to hear the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist. This kind of meeting is called in Greek 'ecclesia.' ... Thus it was the Church that gathered in Priscilla and Aquila's house to celebrate Christ in the holy mysteries. So we see that the Church came into being in the houses of the believers.

  "Until the third century," the Holy Father added, "Christians did not have their own specific places of worship," and so during the first and second centuries "the houses of Christians became true 'churches.' ... Thanks to the faith and the apostolic commitment of lay faithful, of families, and of couples like Priscilla and Aquila, Christianity has reached our own generation. It did not grow only thanks to the announcement of the Apostles. To put down roots in the people, to develop, ... it needed the commitment of these families, ... who provided the 'humus' for the growth of the faith.

  "And still, it is only in this way that the Church grows. In particular, this couple showed how important the actions of Christian married couples are! ... All houses can be transformed into little churches."

  "It is not by chance that in his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares the marriage bond to the communion that exists between Christ and the Church. We could even say that the Apostle indirectly models the entire life of the Church upon that of the family. The Church is, in truth, the family of God."

  Benedict XVI concluded: "So we render homage to Aquila and Priscilla as models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community. And in them we see the model of the Church, family of God for all times."
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