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Friday, April 20, 2007


VATICAN CITY, APR 18, 2007 (VIS) - Late today, the Holy See Press Office released a communique concerning this afternoon's meeting between His Holiness Benedict XVI and Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations Organization.

  "The meeting," the communique reads, "was part of a series of audiences that in the past Supreme Pontiffs, and in particular Pope John Paul II, have granted to secretaries general of the United Nations, as a sign, among other things, of the Holy See's appreciation for the vital role played by the UN in maintaining peace in the world and promoting the development of peoples.

  "Ban Ki-moon wished to meet the Holy Father in the course of his first trips to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, a few months after coming into office on January 1 this year, also in order to present him with an official invitation to visit the headquarters of the United Nations.

  "His Holiness and Ban Ki-moon discussed themes of mutual interest, such as restoring faith in multilateralism and reinforcing dialogue between cultures, and they did not fail to consider international questions deserving of particular attention.

  "Mention was also made of the contribution that the Catholic Church and the Holy See can give - on the basis of their identity and with their own specific means - to the activities of the United Nations in solving current conflicts and achieving agreement between States.

  "The audience with the Pope was followed by a fruitful encounter with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States."


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales S.D.B., apostolic vicar of El Peten, Guatemala, as metropolitan archbishop of Los Altos, Quetzaltenango-Tontonicapan (area 3,012, population 1,290,000, Catholics 1,037,000, priests 57, religious 165), Guatemala. The archbishop-elect was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1947, he was ordained a priest in 1976, and consecrated a bishop in 1997. He succeeds Archbishop Victor Hugo Martinez Contreras, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of the Papal Foundation, a Catholic organization based in the United States, for the occasion of their annual pilgrimage to Rome.

  "Since its inception," he said to them, speaking in English, "the Papal Foundation has sought to advance the Church's mission by supporting specific charities close to the heart of the Successor of Peter in his solicitude for all Churches. I willingly take this occasion to express my gratitude not only for the assistance which the Foundation has given to developing countries through grants supporting a variety of educational and charitable projects, but also through the many scholarships provided to pontifical universities here in Rome for lay faithful, priests and religious.

  "In this way," he added, "you are making a significant contribution to the formation of future leaders whose minds and hearts are shaped by the teaching of the Gospel, the wisdom of Catholic social teaching and a profound sense of communion with the Universal Church in her service to the entire human family."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "Today, April 20, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  "In the course of the talks - and in the light of the current situation in Sri Lanka - the need was reiterated to respect human rights and resume the path of dialogue and negotiation as the only way to put an end to the violence that is bloodying the island. The Catholic Church, which offers a significant contribution to the life of the country, will intensify her delicate task of forming consciences with the sole ambition of favoring the common good, reconciliation and peace."
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VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2007 (VIS) - During the second year of Benedict XVI's pontificate, 3,368,220 faithful and pilgrims participated in Rome in general and special audiences, in the Sunday Angelus and in liturgical celebrations presided by the Holy Father.

  According to statistics released by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, between April 20, 2006 and 19 April, 2007, a total of more than a million people participated in the Wednesday general audiences, with the peak being in May, and almost one and a half million attended the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.
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