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Friday, March 30, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Giuseppe Constanzo of Siracusa.

    - Bishop Vincenzo Manzella of Caltagirone.

    - Bishop Francesco Micciche of Trapani.

    - Bishop Francesco Sgalambro of Cefalu.

    - Bishop Ignazio Zambito of Patti.

    - Bishop Domenico Mogavero of Mazara del Vallo accompanied by Msgr. Mariano Crociata, diocesan administrator.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - On March 22, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, delivered a talk on the subject of religious freedom during the 4th session of the Human Rights Council.

  In his English-language address, the text of which was made public today, the archbishop makes clear the Holy See's concern for "the emergence of an apparent dilemma between respect due to religions and the right to religious freedom as if they were incompatible and mutually exclusive aspects. On the contrary, they are complementary values that cannot stand one without the other."

  "Any religion that preaches or condones violence, intolerance and hatred renders itself unworthy of the name. ... Respect of religion means respect of those who have chosen to follow it and practice it in a free and pacific way, in private and in public, individually or collectively."

  "In conclusion, a really democratic State values religious freedom as a fundamental element of the common good, worthy of respect and protection, and creates the conditions that allow its citizens to live and act freely."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - This morning Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, read out a Message from the Pope addressed to him and to participants in the ninth International Youth Forum, currently being held at Rocca di Papa near Rome on the theme: "Bearing witness to Christ in the world of work."

  In his Message, the Holy Father explains how the phenomenon of globalization has brought with it "a need for mobility that obliges many young people to emigrate and live far from their countries of origin and their families. This imbues many of them with a disquieting sense of insecurity that has indubitable repercussions on their ability, not only to imagine and plan their futures, but even to make a real commitment to marriage and the formation of a family."

  "All human activities," Benedict XVI writes, "should be an opportunity and an occasion for the growth of individuals and society, an opening to develop personal talents which must be valued and placed at the orderly service of the common good, in a spirit of justice and solidarity. For believers, the ultimate aim of work is the building of the Kingdom of God."

  "Today more than ever it is necessary and vital to proclaim 'the Gospel of work,' to live as Christians in the world of work and to become apostles among workers. But in order to achieve this mission we must remain united to Christ in prayer and an intense sacramental life. And to this end we must value Sunday, which is a day dedicated to the Lord."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Tetiana Izhevska, the new ambassador of the Ukraine to the Holy See. He opened his French-language speech to the diplomat by thanking her for the invitation of Victor Iouchtchenko, president of Ukraine, to visit his country.

  "Ukraine, which because of its geographical position has always had the vocation of being a gateway between East and West," said the Holy Father, "has over these years begun and developed a policy of openness and collaboration with other countries on the continent." He expressed his appreciation for this state of affairs which, he said, is contributing "to restoring Europe to its true dimension, ensuring conditions of fruitful exchange between ... the two cultural lungs that forged its history."

  "I am sure that the Ukrainian nation - its life, culture and institutions profoundly impregnated with the Gospel - will concern itself with carrying the dynamism of its identity to other nations, while preserving its original characteristics. Indeed it is vital, in a world ever more strongly marked by globalization, to favor a serious and profound dialogue between cultures and religions, not in order to reduce them all to some impoverished syncretism but to help them develop mutual respect and cooperate ... for the common good. This will enable a reduction of the ever-present sources of tension and conflict between groups and nations, and guarantee everyone the conditions for lasting peace and development."

  The Pope recalled "the good relations that exist between the government authorities and the Churches and ecclesial communities in Ukraine," where "believers enjoy religious liberty, an essential aspect of human freedom." In keeping with "a just distinction between the responsibilities of the religious and civil spheres, the State recognizes different forms of worship ... ensuring them equal rights before the law and thus allowing each ... to play its specific role for the common good of the nation."

  The Holy Father also considered the question of the Catholic Church's involvement in the education of young Ukrainians, praising the efforts "of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations to draw up a program concerning the teaching of Christian ethics in State schools."

  Finally, the Pope mentioned the Catholics who live in Ukraine, both those of the Latin rite and those of the Byzantine rite, highlighting their "concern for the permanent dialogue between the Eastern and Western traditions." The Holy Father thanked President Iouchtchenko for the concern he has shown for the bishops of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference of the Latin rite, and gave assurances of "the commitment of all Ukrainian Catholics to the wellbeing of the country."

  "I know that their desire is to bear daily witness to the Gospel through acts of solidarity, ... through a will to build peace and a desire to consolidate the values of the family founded upon marriage," Pope Benedict concluded. "I am also aware of their wish to progress along the path of unity with their Orthodox brethren and with their brothers and sisters in other Christian communities. I encourage them, then, always to be willing to consolidate ecumenical dialogue, which is such a vital way to overcome difficulties."


VATICAN CITY, MAR 30, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at a penitential celebration with thousands of young people from the diocese of Rome in preparation for the forthcoming World Youth Day. The Day is due to be held on Palm Sunday, April 1, on the theme: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

  "The heart of all mankind ... thirsts for love," said the Holy Father in his homily. "Christians, even more so, cannot live without love. Indeed, if they do not find true love they cannot even call themselves fully Christian because, ... 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.'

  "God's love for us," he added, "which began with the creation, became visible in the mystery of the Cross. ... A crucified love that does not stop at the outrage of Good Friday but culminates in the joy of the Resurrection ... and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love by which, this evening too, sins will be remitted and forgiveness and peace granted."

  This divine love "may be described with the term 'agape,' in other words 'the self-giving love of one who looks exclusively for the good of the other,' but also with the term 'eros'" because "it is also a love in which the heart of the Almighty awaits the 'yes' of His creatures." And "in the sacrifice of the Cross, God continues to present His love ... coming 'to beg' the love of His creatures."

  "With Baptism you were born to new life by virtue of the grace of God. However, since this new life has not suppressed the weakness of human nature, ... you are given the opportunity to use the Sacrament of Confession. ... And thus you experience the forgiveness of sins; reconciliation with the Church; the recovery, if lost, of the state of grace; ... peace and serenity of conscience and the consolation of the spirit; and an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian struggle."

  Christ "hopes we will allow ourselves to be attracted by His love and feel all its greatness and beauty, but this is not enough. Christ attracts us to Him in order to unite Himself to each one of us, so that, in our turn, we learn to love our brothers and sisters with His same love."

  "As you leave this celebration, with your hearts full of the experience of God's love, be prepared 'to dare' to love in your families, in your dealings with your friends and even with those who have offended you. Be prepared to bear a truly Christian witness" in all environments.

  Benedict XVI called upon newly-engaged couples to experience the period of their engagement "in the true love which always involves mutual, chaste and responsible respect. And should the Lord call some of you, dear young people of Rome, to a life of special consecration, be ready to answer with a generous and uncompromising 'yes'."

  "Dear young people, the world awaits your contribution for the building of the 'civilization of love.' ... Do not become discouraged and always have faith in Christ and in the Church."

  Following the liturgy the Pope put on a purple stole and entered the confessional to administer the Sacrament of Penance to six young people. Fifty-five priests joined him in administering the Sacrament to others present in the Vatican Basilica.
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