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Thursday, February 22, 2007


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI sent a Message to Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the occasion of the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent, and which begins on Ash Wednesday each year. This year, the campaign is dedicated to the theme "Fraternity and Amazonia" and its motto is: "Life and mission in that land."

  In his Message, written in Portuguese, the Pope writes that "Lent is a time in which all Christians are called to reflect deeply upon the ... social situations of the Brazilian people in which fraternity is most necessary."

  The Holy Father recalls that this year's campaign promotes life - "which shows itself with such exuberance in the Amazon region" - and that this "is part of the broader framework of defense of the environment." The Amazon "is a shared heritage which for its human, socio-political, economic and environmental peculiarities, requires special attention from the Church and Brazilian society."

  "It is in this context," he continues, "that the activity of the Church plays a vital role as she aims to foment a process of widespread evangelization that simulates the mission and creates conditions favorable for the discovery and development of the faith by the entire population of the Amazon region."

  After expressing his gratitude to the missionaries who dedicate themselves to this task "even at the cost of their own lives," the Pope expresses the hope that "the various components of civil society become ever more aware of the question of the Amazon, while upholding the ethical requirements of justice and respect for life."


VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2007 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. yesterday, Ash Wednesday, in the basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome's Aventine Hill, the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic celebration during which the blessing and imposition of the ashes took place.

  In his homily, the Pope pointed out that the day's liturgy "identifies the fundamental dimension of Lent in the conversion of hearts to God. This is the evocative symbol we receive with the traditional imposition of the ashes, .... a rite that holds a dual significance: the first concerns interior transformation, conversion and penance; the second recalls the precarious nature of the human condition."

  In the Gospel reading, Pope Benedict continued, "Jesus indicates the instruments to be used to carry out an authentic interior and community renewal." They are "works of charity (almsgiving), prayer and penance (fasting). ... These exterior gestures must be carried out to please God and not to obtain approval or consensus from man; and they are good in His eyes if they express the determination of the heart to serve only Him with simplicity and generosity."

  "The fast, to which the Church invites us at this significant time," he went on, "certainly does not arise from physical or aesthetic considerations, rather it springs from man's need for an interior purification to detoxify him from the pollution of sin and evil, educate him to those beneficial sacrifices that free the believer from the slavery of his own self, and make him more attentive and open to listening to God and to serving his brothers and sisters.

  "For this reason," the Holy Father added, "fasting and other Lenten practices are considered by Christian tradition as spiritual 'arms' to combat evil, the negative passions and vices."

  The Pope recalled that in his Lenten message this year he had "invited people to live these 40 days of special grace as a 'Eucharistic' time." In the Eucharist, he went on, "all Christians can continue the journey that we solemnly begin today. Works of charity (almsgiving), prayer and fasting, together with all other sincere efforts of conversion, find their highest significance and value in the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the Church and the history of salvation."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2007 (VIS) - This morning, in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI celebrated his traditional Lenten meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2007 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present the exhibition "'Tu es Petrus' - the Basilica of Peter in the Medals of the Popes," which has been organized by the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Numismatic Collections of Rome to mark the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the current Vatican Basilica.

  The exhibition is due to be inaugurated at 11 a.m. tomorrow Friday, February 23, at Villa Chiassi on Rome's via Cola di Rienzo by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church. It is due to run until April 22.

  In the course of the press conference, Ambrogio M. Piazzoni vice-prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library explained how the pontifical medals correspond to different phases of the construction of the modern basilica. They were coined each time another phase of the building work was completed, he said, from the laying of the first stone in 1506 until the completion of the building. However, they did not stop there "because work has continued over these 500 years."

  The vice-prefect then went on to list a number of the medals that will be on display: the medal coined at the foundation of the basilica (depicting Bramante's design which was never in fact put into effect), the medal showing Sangallo's project, that with Michelangelo's design, with the dome, with Maderno's facade, Bernini's cathedra, etc.

  He then announced that, following its closure on April 22, the exhibition will move to Russia, to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, where it will be open to public view during the months of May and June. "This," he said, "is highly significant because it is the first time that objects from the Vatican Apostolic Library have been put on display in that great country."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, auxiliary of Lisbon, Portugal, as bishop of Porto (area 3,010, population 2,077,000, Catholics 1,881,000, priests 557, permanent deacons 16, religious 1,169), Portugal. He succeeds Bishop Armindo Lopes Coelho, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Domenico Mogavero of the clergy of the archdiocese of Palermo, Italy, under-secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Mazara del Vallo (area 1,374, population 235,409, Catholics 221,096, priests 94, religious 196), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Castelbuono, Italy in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1970.

 - Appointed Msgr. Claudio Giuliodori of the clergy of the archdiocese of Ancona-Osimo, Italy, director of the office of social communications of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia (area 745, population 139,600, Catholics 134,600, priests 202, permanent deacons 6, religious 240), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Osimo in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983.
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