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Monday, February 26, 2007


VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received delegates participating in the 13th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and in the international congress entitled "Christian conscience in support of the right to life," being celebrated in the Vatican on February 23 and 24.

  The right to life, the Holy Father said, "must be supported by everyone because it is fundamental with respect to other human rights." As John Paul II says in his Encyclical "Evangelium vitae," all human beings can, "by the light of reason, ... come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart, the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded."

  Christians, Benedict XVI went on, must react to the continual attacks against the right to life, safe in the knowledge that their "motivations have deep roots in natural law and can, therefore, be shared by all people of sound conscience." Yet, despite efforts to make "the contents of these motivations more widely known in the Christian community and in civil society, ... attacks against the right to life in the world have increased." In this context he referred to "pressures for the legalization of abortion in Latin American countries and in developing nations, also through the use of the liberalization of new forms of chemical abortion under the pretext of reproductive health," and to an "increase in population control policies."

  Benedict XVI highlighted developed nations' growing interest in biotechnological research and "the obsessive search for the 'perfect child'." There is, he said, "a new wave of eugenic discrimination," which "gains consensus in the name of the supposed good of the individual while, especially in the economically developed world, laws are being promoted for the legalization of euthanasia. All this is happening as ... pressure increases for the legalization of forms of cohabitation alternative to marriage and closed to natural procreation."

  For this reason, the Pope went on, it is necessary for Christian consciences to be "illuminated in order to recognize the true value of actions," and so as to be able "to distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, cultural pluralism and the overlay of interests do not help to this end."

  There is a need to reeducate people "in the desire to know the real truth, and in the defense of their own freedom of choice, against the inclination of the masses and the flattery of propaganda."

  The Pope emphasized the need "to open minds and hearts" during the various stages of life, to ensure that people "accept the fundamental duties upon which the existence of individuals and of the community depends. Only in this way will it be possible to ensure that the young understand the values of life, ... of marriage and of the family," and "appreciate the sanctity of love, the joy and responsibility of parenthood, and of collaborating with God in the giving of life." When "continuous and qualified formation" is lacking, it "becomes more difficult to pronounce upon the problems associated with biomedicine in the fields of sexuality, nascent life, procreation, and upon the way to treat and cure patients and the weaker groups of society."

  Benedict XVI called on scientists, doctors, legislators and politicians to contribute, "by teaching and by example," to "reawakening the clear and eloquent voice of conscience in many people's hearts."

  "When the value of human life is at stake, this harmony between magisterial function and lay commitment becomes uniquely important. Life is the primary good we have received from God, the foundation of all the others. Guaranteeing the right to life - for everyone and in the same way for everyone - is a duty upon which the future of humanity depends."
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, president of the 61st Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, accompanied by an entourage.

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

    - Archbishop-Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

    - Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia.

    - Bishop Mario Ceccobelli of Gubbio.

 - Pradap Pibulsonggram, ambassador of Thailand on his farewell visit.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Anil Couto, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Delhi, India, as bishop of Jullundur (area 51,120, population 44,908,643, Catholics 107,767, priests 117, religious 768), India. He succeeds Bishop Symphorian Thomas Keeprath O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Derek Fernandes, chancellor of the diocese of Belgaum, India, as bishop of Karwar (area 10,277, population 1,300,000, Catholics 53,870, priests 99, religious 227), India. The bishop-elect was born in Belgaum in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1979. He succeeds Bishop William Leonard D'Mello, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Raphy Manjaly, pastor of the cathedral of Agra, India, as bishop of Varanasi (area 21,418, population 19,044,428, Catholics 16,595, priests 202, religious 449), India. The bishop-elect was born in Vendere, India, in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983. He succeeds Bishop Patrick Paul D'Souza, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana; Archbishops Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, and Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey, Cuba; and Savino Pezzotta, president of the "Ezio Tarantelli" Foundation, Italy.

 - As consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Stefano Fontana of the diocese of Verona, Italy, professor of the "Nicolo Rezzara" Institute of Social Sciences, and director of the "Card. Van Thuan" International Observatory of the Church's Social Doctrine.
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VATICAN CITY, FEB 25, 2007 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus today, Benedict XVI dedicated his brief remarks to the subject of Lent, reminding the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square of the theme of his Lenten Message this year: "They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced," a quotation from the Gospel of St. John, in turn inspired by a messianic prophecy of Zechariah.

  "We enter the time of Lent," said the Pope, "with our gaze fixed upon Jesus' side. ... Only by turning our gaze to Jesus, Who died upon the Cross for us, can we understand and contemplate this fundamental truth: 'God is love'." And quoting his Encyclical "Deus caritas est" he added: "In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move."

  The Holy Father continued: "Contemplating Christ upon the Cross with the eyes of faith, we can understand the profundity of sin, how tragically serious it is and, at the same time, how measureless is the Lord's power of forgiveness and mercy. During these days of Lent, let us not remove our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and exalted spirituality. Contemplating Christ, we simultaneously feel we are contemplated by Him.

  "He Whom we have pierced with our sins," the Pope added, "never tires of pouring an endless torrent of merciful love upon the world. May humanity understand that only from this source is it possible to draw the spiritual energy indispensable for building the peace and happiness that all human beings tirelessly seek."

  Benedict XVI concluded by reminding people that today marks the beginning of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia, in which he too will participate. "I ask you," he said, "to accompany us with your prayers, which I will happily return in the quiet of the retreat, invoking divine power upon each of you, upon your families and upon your communities."
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