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Monday, March 5, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 5, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Lutheran Archbishop Anders Wejryd of Uppsala, Sweden, primate of the Swedish Church, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

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

    - Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Guido Fiandino.

    - Bishop Pier Giorgio Micchiardi of Acqui.

    - Bishop Sebastiano Dho of Alba.

    - Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta.

  On Saturday, March 3, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

 - Bishop Mauro Piacenza, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology.

 - Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, apostolic nuncio to Italy and to the Republic of San Marino.

 - Armando Luna Silva, ambassador of Nicaragua, on his farewell visit.

 - Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, and preacher of this year's spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 4, 2007 (VIS) - The Transfiguration of Jesus as recounted by St. Luke in today's Gospel provided the theme for the Pope's remarks before praying the Angelus at midday today with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Benedict XVI pointed out how the Evangelist says that "Jesus went up the mountain to pray with the Apostles Peter, James and John and, 'while He was praying,' there befell the dazzling mystery of the Transfiguration." The Holy Father also recalled that in the Gospel narrative Moses and Elijah appeared, talking to Christ "of His departure 'which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.'

  "Therefore," the Pope added, "Jesus listens to the Law and the Prophets who speak to Him of His death and resurrection. In His intimate dialogue with the Father, He does not depart from history, He does not avoid the mission for which He came into the world, though He knows that in order to reach glory He will have to pass through the Cross. On the contrary, Christ enters more deeply into this mission, adhering with all of Himself to the will of the Father; and He shows us that true prayer consists in uniting our will to the will of God.

  "For Christians," Pope Benedict went on, "prayer does not mean evading reality and the responsibilities reality brings, rather it means a complete assumption of those responsibilities, trusting in the faithful and infinite love of the Lord. For this reason, the confirmation of the Transfiguration is, paradoxically, the Garden of Gethsemane" when, "on the eve of His Passion, Jesus experienced mortal anguish and entrusted Himself to divine will.

  "At that moment, His prayer was a pledge for the salvation of us all. In fact, Jesus pleaded with the heavenly Father to 'save Him from death' and, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes, 'He was heard because of His reverent submission.' The proof of this is the Resurrection."

  Prayer, then, "is not an accessory, an optional extra, but a question of life or death. Only those who pray, in other words those who entrust themselves to God with filial love, can enter into eternal life, which is God Himself."

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father thanked everyone who had accompanied him "with prayer" during the week of spiritual exercises. "In this time of Lent," he said, "I encourage everyone to seek silence and contemplation, and to leave space for prayer and meditation upon the Word of God."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Kazimierz Nycz of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw (area 3,350, population 1,533,600, Catholics 1,439,600, priests 1,076, religious 3,011), Poland. The archbishop-elect was born in Stara Wies, Poland, in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1973, and consecrated a bishop in 1988.

 - Appointed Fr. Hector Guerrero Cordova S.D.B., former inspector of the Salesian Society in northern Mexico, as bishop-prelate of the territorial prelature of Mixes (area 10,000, population 151,000, Catholics 130,000, priests 31, permanent deacons 16, religious 73), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1968.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2007 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, yesterday participated in the 51st session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

  The session is considering the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled "'Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century:' Implementation of strategic objectives and action in the critical areas of concern and further actions and initiatives: The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."

  "Every day," the archbishop pointed out in his English-language talk, "violations of the rights of women, adolescents, and young girls are committed and even tolerated in many fields. Women bear the brunt of the world's child prostitution, sexual exploitation, abuse, domestic violence, child labor and human trafficking."

  "The mistreatment of women is a longstanding reality in many places and a disregard for the age and vulnerability of young girls in particular is especially repugnant. ... This appears to be due to the inferior status bestowed upon women in certain places and upon female infants in particular. In some local traditions they are thought of as a financial burden and are thus eliminated even before birth. In this way, abortion, often considered a tool of liberation, is ironically employed by women against women. Even those allowed to live are sometimes considered as if they were a piece of property best disposed of as soon as possible. ... Even the institution of marriage is sometimes misused to give a safe facade to sexual exploitation and slave labor by means of what are known as 'mail order brides' and 'temporary brides'."

  "In order to put an end to the violation of human rights of trafficked women and girls, it is not enough to sensationalize their tragic plight; rather there is a need to trace the question back to the market that exists due to the demand which makes such trade possible and profitable. Thus, if the reason behind the violence visited on women and girls is mostly cultural prejudice, exploitation and profit, which body should be mandated to intervene in order to overcome this situation?

  "This is a clear question of human rights," Archbishop Migliore added, "Nor should we limit the complexities of trafficking to a few social laws or customs, the construction of a refuge here and there and the social reinsertion of the women in question. ... Raising awareness is a simple and effective means to combat this phenomenon at the local level. Rural villages where the search for employment impels girls to seek work elsewhere need to know as a community how to deal openly with the risks to their young people. Organizations with a proven track record already exist and could assist communities in this way. Local and national politicians also need to be brought to account for their policies in this regard.

  "The promotion of women will be achieved not only by the legitimate vindication of women's rights. With that, there must also be established a fresh appreciation of authentically feminine values in the heart of our societies."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI sent a Letter to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, for the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, which falls today.

  In the text, written in Latin and dated February 8, the Pope thanks the cardinal for the "many and fruitful" services he has provided to the Church over these 50 years.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Pope received members of the research and executive committees of the Paul VI Institute of Brescia, Italy. The group was founded in 1979 and promotes studies into the life, thought and activities of Pope Paul VI, who governed the Church from 1963 to 1978.

  Benedict XVI recalled with gratitude how Paul VI had appointed him as archbishop of Munich, Germany and, three months later, as cardinal. That pontiff, he continued, "received the call of divine providence to guide the ship of Peter through a historical period marked by no small number of challenges and problems."

  Paul VI's missionary zeal "inspired him and encouraged him to undertake important apostolic trips, even to distant nations, and to make prophetic gestures of great ecclesial, missionary and ecumenical value. He was the first Pope to travel to the Land of Christ," where his visit "took on clear symbolic significance, indicating to the Church that the way of her mission is to follow the footsteps of Christ."

  The Holy Father indicated that "the secret of the pastoral activity that Paul VI carried out with such tireless dedication, sometimes making difficult and unpopular decisions, lay in his love for Christ. ... Until his last breath, his thoughts, energies and activities were for Christ and for the Church."

  Pope Benedict pointed out "how arduous a task it was for Paul VI to lead the Church in the period following Vatican Council II." However, "he did not let himself be conditioned by misunderstandings and criticisms, although he sometimes had to endure suffering and occasionally-violent attacks, yet he always remained a firm and prudent helmsman of the ship of Peter.

  "With the passing of the years," he added, "the importance of his pontificate for the Church and the world becomes ever clearer, as does the value of his exalted Magisterium, which inspired his successors and to which I too continue to refer."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 3, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, at the conclusion of the Roman Curia's spiritual exercises, the Pope expressed thanks, in the name of all those present, to Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, and preacher of this year's exercises.

  Over the course of the week dedicated to the spiritual exercises, the Pope told the preacher, "you taught us to lift our hearts towards the invisible, towards true reality. And you gave us the means by which we may respond every day to the challenges of that reality."

  The Holy Father said that during the first of the meditations, on the subject of angels, he how noted how his prie-dieu was decorated with an inlaid image of Christ surrounded by flying angels. "I imagined," said the Pope, "that these angels are able to fly because they are not part of the gravitation of the material things of the earth, but of the gravitation of love of the Risen Christ, and that we too would be able to fly if only we abandoned a little the gravitation of matter and entered the new gravitation of the love of the Risen One."

  Pope Benedict also thanked Cardinal Biffi for his "very accurate and precise diagnosis of our situation today." Above all, he said, "you showed us how behind so many phenomena of our time, apparently far removed from religion and from Christ, is a question, an expectation, a desire; and that the only true response to this desire ... is Christ."

  "Finally," the Pope concluded, "I would like to thank you for your realism, for your sense of humor and for your pragmatism. ... We have learned something, and your thoughts ... will stay with us, and not only over the following weeks."

  In a Message sent to the preacher of the spiritual exercises, the Pope writes: "You have helped is to meditate on Christ's lordship over the cosmos and over history, on His blessed Passion, on the mystery of the Church and on the Eucharist, as well as on the relationship of these supernatural truths with the world. To complete ... each day's theological reflections, you wisely presented the figures of certain 'witnesses' who, in various ways and with different styles, guide and sustain our journey towards Christ, fullness of life for all people and for the universe entire."
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