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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Zeno Hastenteufel of Frederico Westphalen, Brazil, as bishop of Novo Hamburgo (area 3,337, population 958,000, Catholics 722,000, priests 128, permanent deacons 19, religious 303), Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - On the question of the plenary meeting of the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel, due to have taken place tomorrow March 29, 2007, to consider certain questions associated with negotiations concerning article 10 para. 2a of the Fundamental Agreement (which was signed on December 30, 1993 and came into effect on March 10 1994), the Holy See Press Office is in a position to clarify the following:

  "On March 26, the Israeli delegation made known the impossibility of its participating in the meeting, due to the international political situation. The Holy See, while understanding the reasons, notes the circumstance with disappointment and hopes as soon as possible to be able to agree with the Israeli side a new date for calling the plenary."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 5.30 p.m. on Monday, April 2, Benedict XVI is due to preside at a Eucharistic concelebration marking the second anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II.


VATICAN CITY, MAR 28, 2007 (VIS) - During the general audience today, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon and "the first great theologian of the Church," who was born in Smyrna in the second century. The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 20,000 people.

  Irenaeus was a disciple of Bishop Polycarp who had known St. John the Evangelist. Moving to Gaul, he became one of the priests of the young Christian community of Lyon and, having been sent on a mission to Rome, managed to escape the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in which his predecessor, Bishop Pothinus, was martyred.

  Irenaeus, said the Pope, was above all a pastor "who defended true doctrine," in particular against the gnostic heresy "which considered the faith taught by the Church as a form of symbolism for simple people, ... while initiates and intellectuals, understanding what lay behind the symbols, would be able to create an elitist and intellectualist form of Christianity."

  Another feature of gnosticism was its dualism. "In order to explain the existence of evil in the world they held that alongside the good God was a negative force which produced material things."

  However Irenaeus, "solidly rooted in the biblical doctrine of creation ... defended the divine origin of matter, of the body ... no less than that of the Spirit." And "the heart of his doctrine is the 'rule of faith' and its transmission, ... which coincides with the Apostles' Creed."

  "Thus, authentic teaching is not that invented by intellectuals over and above the simple faith of the Church. The true Gospel is the one imparted by the bishops who received it from the Apostles in an uninterrupted chain. They taught no more than this simple faith, which is also the real profundity of God's revelation. ... There is no secret doctrine behind the shared creed of the Church, there is no superior form of Christianity for intellectuals."

  "In adhering to the faith publicly transmitted by the Apostles to their successors, Christians must follow what bishops say, they must especially consider the teaching of the Church of Rome ... which because of her antiquity has the greatest degree of apostolicity ... and has her origins in the columns of the apostolic college, Peter and Paul.

  According to Irenaeus, "apostolic tradition is 'public,' not private or secret. ... The contents of the faith transmitted by the Church were received from the Apostles and Jesus. ... The apostolic tradition is 'unique,' ... despite the diversity of languages and cultures." The transmission of apostolic tradition "does not depend upon the capacity of more or less learned men." It is "pneumatic," guided by the Holy Spirit "which makes the Church alive and young, rich in her many charisms."

  In his Italian-language greetings at the end of the audience, the Pope addressed bishops and faithful from dioceses in Sicily. The Sicilian bishops are currently undertaking their "ad limina" visit to Rome.

  "Through your example, support priests, consecrated people and the lay faithful of Sicily that they may continue to bear witness to Christ and His Gospel with renewed enthusiasm and zeal," the Holy Father told the prelates. "May no fear ever enter your hearts to agitate you. ... Those who follow Christ are not afraid of difficulties, those who trust in Him move forward confidently. Be builders of peace in legality and love, offering light to the men and women of our time who, though oppressed by the cares of everyday life, hear the call of the eternal truths."
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