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Monday, April 2, 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for April is: "That, allowing himself to be enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, every Christian may answer enthusiastically and faithfully to the universal call to sanctity."

  His mission intention is: "That the number of priestly and religious vocations may grow in North America and the countries of the Pacific Ocean, in order to give an adequate answer to the pastoral and missionary needs of those populations."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 1, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, Benedict XVI addressed greetings in several languages to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Speaking French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Italian, the Pope addressed his remarks particularly to the young people participating in World Youth Day, recalling the theme of this year's event : "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

  "With great joy and enthusiasm," he said, "you have welcomed this new commandment of Christ, Who calls you to be His witnesses among your peers. Do not be afraid to follow Him faithfully."

  "I wish everyone a Holy Week rich in spiritual fruits and for this reason I invite you to experience it in intimate union with the Virgin Mary. From her we learn interior silence, the gaze of the heart, the loving faith to follow Jesus on the way of the Cross which leads to the joyous light of the Resurrection."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 1, 2007 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at a solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. The Holy Father blessed the palms and the olives and, following a procession from the obelisk in the square to the altar, celebrated the Eucharist.

  The Eucharistic liturgy was attended by 50,000 pilgrims, the majority of them young people from Rome and other dioceses currently celebrating 22nd World Youth Day, which has as its theme this year: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."

  In his homily, Benedict XVI affirmed that in the procession of Palm Sunday we, like the disciples who accompanied the Lord, acclaim Him "for all the prodigies we have seen. Yes, we too have seen and still see the prodigies of Christ: how He brings men and women to renounce the comfort of their lives and to put themselves entirely at the service of those who suffer; how He gives men and women the courage to oppose violence and lies, so as to make room in the world for truth; how, in secret, He induces men and women to do good to others, to create reconciliation where there was hatred, to create peace where there was enmity."

  The Palm Sunday procession, he continued, "is also a procession of Christ the King. ... To recognize Him as King means to accept Him as the One Who shows us the way, the One we trust and follow. It means accepting His Word day after day as a valid criterion for our lives. It means seeing in Him the authority to which we submit. We submit to Him because His authority is the authority of truth."

  The procession "is also an expression of our 'yes' to Jesus and of our readiness to follow Him wherever He may take us," said the Holy Father but, he added, "what does 'following Christ' actually mean? ... It is," he explained, "a fundamental decision to take no account of utility and profit, career and success, as the ultimate aim of our lives, but to recognize truth and love as authentic criteria. It is a choice between living only for ourselves, and giving ourselves for something greater. ... In following Him, we enter the service of truth and love. In losing ourselves we find ourselves again."

  The psalm of today's Mass, said the Pope, explains "what it means to ascend with Christ. 'Who shall ascend the Hill of the Lord?' the psalm asks, and indicates two essential conditions. Those who ascend and truly want to reach the heights, the real summit, must be people who ... look around them to seek God, to discover His Face."

  Turning to address young people, the Pope highlighted the importance, above all today, of "not letting oneself be buffeted from place to place in life; of not being satisfied with what others think and say and do. Study God and seek God. Do not let the question about God dissolve in our hearts - the desire for that which is greater, the desire to know Him and His Face."

  "The other very real condition for the ascent is this: those who have 'clean hearts and pure hands' can stand in the holy place. Pure hands are hands that are not used for acts of violence. They are hands that have not been dirtied with corruption and bribes." As for clean hearts: "A heart is clean that does not pretend and is not stained with lies and hypocrisy, a heart that remains transparent like spring water because it knows no duplicity. A heart is clean that is not led astray with the exhilaration of pleasure, a heart whose love is true and not just the passion of a moment."

  Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that "with the cross Jesus opened wide the door to God, the door between God and mankind. Now that door is open. But from the other side the Lord knocks with His cross, he knocks at the doors of the world, at the doors of our hearts, which are so often ... closed to God. And He speaks to us more or less like this: if the proofs that, in His creation, God gives you of His existence do not convince you to open yourself to Him, if the words of Scripture and the message of the Church leave you indifferent, then look at me, your Lord and your God. This is the appeal that, at this moment, we let penetrate our hearts."
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VATICAN CITY, MAR 31, 2007 (VIS) - In the Paul VI Hall at midday today, the Holy Father received 7,000 leaders and members of "Confartigianato," the Italian Confederation of Artisans which was founded in 1946.

  The Pope began his address to them by recalling that the confederation was established "on the principle of free and open membership for all geographical, sectorial and cultural components in the world of craftsmen and small industry, ... and has undoubtedly made a contribution to the construction of the modern Italian State. ... If, until a few decades ago, the artisan brought to mind something old and picturesque, ... today it rather means autonomy, creativity and personalization in the production of goods and services."

  After highlighting how work "pertains to the original condition of man," the Holy Father said: "The Church, faithful to the Word of God, does not cease to recall the principle that 'work is for man and not man for work.' She ceaselessly proclaims the primacy of man over the work of his hands, and recalls that the finality of all things - capital, science, technology, public resources and even private property - must be the true progress of the human person and the common good."

  Benedict XVI then went on to quote the words used by Servant of God John Paul II in his address to artisans during the Jubilee Year 2000: "You can restore strength and concrete form to those values that have always characterized your activities: the striving for quality, the spirit of initiative, the promotion of artistic qualities, liberty and cooperation, the equitable relationship between technology and the environment, the bond with the family and good neighborly relations."

  The Holy Father called on his audience to continue to protect "the artisanal culture of production, which can create great opportunities for economic progress and encounter between men and peoples. As Christians, may it be your commitment to live and bear witness to the 'Gospel of work,' aware that the Lord calls all the baptized to sanctity through their daily occupation.

  "On this subject," the Pope added, "St. Josemaria Escriva, a saint of our own times, noted: 'Since Christ took it into His hands, work has become for us a redeemed and redemptive reality. Not only is the background of man's life, it is a means and path of holiness. It is something to be sanctified and something which sanctifies'."

  The Holy Father concluded by assuring the members of Confartigianato that "in the school of the Family of Nazareth you will more easily learn how to unite a coherent life of faith with the efforts and difficulties of work, with personal profit and with a commitment to solidarity towards those in need."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 2, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today in the basilica of St. John Lateran, the closing session was held of the diocesan investigation into the life, virtues and fame of sanctity of Servant of God John Paul II, the first step in the process of beatification of the late pontiff who died on April 2, 2005.

  The diocesan phase was closed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome, with an address focussing upon the portrayal of the spiritual qualities of John Paul II. "At the beginning, at the center and at the peak of such a portrait," said the cardinal, "we cannot but put Karol Wojtyla's personal relationship with God. A relationship that was already strong, intimate and profound in his boyhood, and that never ceased to develop and grow stronger, producing fruits in all dimensions of his life.

  "Here, we are in the presence of the Mystery," he added. "In the first place the mystery of the preferential love with which God the Father loved this Polish boy, united him to Himself and then maintained this union; not saving him from the trials of life - on the contrary, associating him ever and anew to the cross of His Son - but also giving him the courage to love the cross, and the spiritual intelligence to see, through the cross, the face of the Father.

  "In the certainty of being loved by God and in the joy of returning this love, Karol Wojtyla found the meaning, unity and aim of his own life. All those who knew him, from near or only from afar, were struck by the richness of his humanity, by his complete fulfillment as a man. But even more illuminating and important is the fact that such fullness of humanity coincided, in the end, with his relationship with God, in other words with his sanctity."

  The opening session of the diocesan investigation took place in the same basilica on June 28 2005, less than three months after John Paul II's death, thanks to the fact that Benedict XVI waived the normal waiting period of five years after the death of a Servant of God.

  The diocesan investigation over, the acts and documents will now pass to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where all the material will be studied.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 2, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Italian Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, archbishop of Florence, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Claudio Maniago.

    - Archbishop Benvenuto Italo Castellani of Lucca.

    - Bishop Mansueto Bianchi of Pistoia.

    - Bishop Eugenio Binini of Massa Carrara-Pontremoli.

    - Archbishop Alessandro Plotti of Pisa.

    - Bishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro.

  On Saturday, March 31, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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

    - Bishop Giuseppe Malandrino of Noto.

    - Bishop Paolo Urso of Ragusa.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 2, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Pascal Wintzer of the clergy of the archdiocese of Rouen, France, vicar general, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Poitiers (area 12,989, population 750,000, Catholics 670,000, priests 290, permanent deacons 31, religious 576), France. The bishop-elect was born in Rouen in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1987.

  On Saturday, March 31, it was made public that he:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Nashik, India, presented by Bishop Thomas Bhalerao S.J., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Fr. Oscar Ngoy wa Mpanga C.S.Sp., provincial superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit and pastor at Lubumbashi, as bishop of Kongolo (area 44,206, population 700,000, Catholics 120,000, priests 36, religious 74), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Kyolo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and ordained a priest in 1992. He succeeds Jerome Nday Kanyangu Lukundwe, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Professor Onorato Bucci as a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Appointed as members of the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon," Laura Stocco, painter; Armando Torno, writer; and Domenico Siniscalco, sculptor.

 - Appointed Fr. Sabino Ardito S.D.B., as judicial vicar to the Lazio regional court of first instance for the causes of nullity of marriage.

 - Appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, as pontifical legate to the solemn opening celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. The event is due to take place in Fatima on May 12 and 13.
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