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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 1,645, population 7,060,750, Catholics 5,215,000, priests 941, permanent deacons 30, religious 2,825). The archbishop-elect was born in Sao Francisco, Brazil in 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1976, and consecrated a bishop in 2002.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father received a group of professors from the faculty of theology of Tubingen, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a communique concerning the meeting of the bilateral commission made up of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church.

  The communique indicates that this meeting, the seventh of the bilateral commission, took place in Jerusalem from March 11 to 13, was presided by Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia and Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, and considered the theme: "Freedom of Religion and Conscience and its Limits."

  "Freedom of choice is derived from God and therefore is not absolute, but must reflect divine will and law," reads the English-language communique. "Accordingly human beings are called to freely obey the divine will as manifested in the Creation and in His revealed word."

  "Secular society still requires religious foundations to sustain lasting moral values. Critical among these is the principal of the sanctity of human life and dignity."

  "While on principle the State should in no way limit freedom of religion for individuals and communities nor of moral conscience, it has the responsibility to guarantee the wellbeing and security of society, Accordingly it is obliged to intervene wherever and whenever a threat is posed by the promotion, teaching or exercise of violence and specifically terrorism and psychological manipulation in the name of religion."

  "It is legitimate for a society with a predominant religious identity to preserve its character, as long as this does not limit the freedom of minority communities and individuals to profess their alternative religious commitments, nor limit their full civil rights."

  "There is a special obligation upon religious leaders and communities to prevent the improper use of religion and to educate towards respect for diversity which is essential in order to ensure a healthy a, stable and peaceful society. In this regard, there is a special role for families, schools and the authorities of State and society as well as the media to impart these values to future generations."

  The declaration of the bilateral commission concludes with a call to religious and political leaders "to work determinedly to promote peace, dignity, security and tranquillity in the Holy Land for all its peoples and for the world as a whole."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a telegram of condolence, in the name of the Holy Father, to Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, for the many victims of two recent disasters in the country: an explosion in a mine and a fire in an old people's home

  "Profoundly saddened by the terrible tragedy in the mine of Novokuznetsk and the violent conflagration at the old people's home in the village of Kamyshevatskaya, with the tragic death of many people and large numbers of injured, the Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness to the citizens struck by these tragic events and to the entire population of the Russian Federation in these hours of anguish and, while raising fervent prayers to the Lord for the eternal repose of the deceased, he invokes heavenly consolation upon those weeping the loss of their loved ones. The Supreme Pontiff, in expressing his hopes for the speedy recovery of those injured in these incidents, offers his sincere condolences to relatives of the victims, invoking upon everyone abundant consolation from heaven."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the figure of St. Justin, philosopher and martyr, the most important of the Apologist Fathers of the second century. The audience took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by around 25,000 people.

  St. Justin, said the Pope, was born in Samaria around the year 100. He "long sought after the truth" by studying Greek philosophy before converting to Christianity after meeting a mysterious old man who spoke to him "of mankind's incapacity to satisfy his aspiration to the divine through his own efforts," then indicated "in the ancient prophets ... the path to God and 'true philosophy'," exhorting Justin to pray in order to open the "doors of light."

  After his conversion, Justin founded a school in Rome where he taught the new religion to his pupils free of charge. He was denounced for his activities and decapitated during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

  In his works "Justin seeks to explain, above all, the divine project of salvation that comes about in Jesus Christ, the Word of God," said the Holy Father. "All men and women, as rational beings, share in the Logos, they carry in themselves a 'seed' and can catch some glimmers of the truth.

  "Thus," he added, "the same Logos that was revealed in prophetic figures to the Jews in the ancient Law, was also partially manifested as 'seeds of truth' to the Greeks. ... And because Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in its entirety, it follows that 'everything of beauty that has ever been expressed by anyone belongs to us Christians'."

  Justin, in the conviction that Greek philosophy tends towards Christ, "believed that Christians could draw from that philosophy with complete confidence. ... The figure and work of Justin mark the ancient Church's decisive option in favor of philosophy, rather than of pagan religion," with which the early Christians rejected "any form of compromise."

  "In fact, pagan religion did not follow the paths of Logos but persisted along those of myth, even though myth was recognized by Greek philosophy as having no foundation in truth. Therefore the decline of paganism was inevitable, stemming as a logical consequence of the removal of religion - reduced to an artificial agglomeration of ceremonies and conventions - from the truth of existence."

  Justin and the other apologists chose "the truth of existence over the myth of convention. ... In an age such as our own, marked by relativism in its debate of values, religion and inter-religious dialogue, this is a lesson that must not be forgotten.

  At the end of today's catechesis, the Pope recalled that March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day. "May this anniversary," he said, "favor increased responsibility in the treatment of this sickness and an ever greater solidarity towards those who suffer from it. Upon them and their families I invoke the comfort of the Lord while encouraging the many initiatives the Church promotes in this field."
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