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Thursday, May 3, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Archbishop Piero Biggio, apostolic nuncio, on April 18, at the age of 69.

 - Bishop Jose Anibal Casasola Sosa of Zacapa y Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, Guatemala, on April 27, at the age of 57.

 - Bishop Ramon Godinez Flores of Aguascalientes, Mexico, on April 20, at the age of 71.

 - Archbishop Kazimierz Majdanski, emeritus of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland, on April 29, at the age of 91.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Middlesbrough, England, presented by Bishop John Patrick Crowley, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Javier Navarro Rodriguez of San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, as bishop of Zamora (area 12,000, population 1,980,000, Catholics 1,618,846, priests 317, religious 928), Mexico.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (VIS) - On April 17, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, delivered a talk during an international conference called by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees to consider the humanitarian needs of refugees and internally displaced persons within Iraq and neighboring States.

  In his English-language talk, the text of which was made public today, Archbishop Tomasi pointed out that there are around two million internally-displaced Iraqis, while "two million others have already fled the country and between 40,000 and 50,000 are fleeing their homes each month."

  "Where war and violence have destroyed the social tissue and the unity of Iraq, judicious political choices and a non-discriminatory humanitarian engagement would be the first step to re-establish a pluralistic unity."

  "Displaced women, elderly and children bear the brunt of the tragedy," said the nuncio. "With the experience of daily violence and, even more tragically, with the killing of family members before their eyes, many children are traumatized and remain without professional care."

  The countries hosting displaced Iraqis cannot be ignored by the international community and must receive tangible and prompt solidarity. ... In fact, without this solidarity, the victims escaping violence are at risk of new forms of exploitation and of being deprived of health and education services, housing and employment possibilities."

  "While the first humanitarian need is peace, equally vital is a coordinated response that raises awareness of the immense crisis we face. Such a response must involve actors from States, civil society and the United Nations. In order to ameliorate the plight of all displaced people inside and outside the country, this response must enjoy a responsible participation of all Iraqis.

  "All humanitarian workers who have been delivering active assistance, notwithstanding risk and sacrifice," he added, "deserve appreciation from the global human family as well as adequate resources to carry out their mission. They serve as effective instruments, as shown, for example, by the tens of thousand of people of all backgrounds and convictions being helped daily by the Catholic charitable network in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt," as well as by local NGOs and other organizations.

  Archbishop Tomasi concluded his remarks be expression the Holy See's conviction that, "at this juncture of the Middle East crisis, vigorous leadership is demanded of the international community. Surely, the greatest challenge is to find a way for reconciliation, to reconstruct the will to dialogue, and to hope again so that peace may win. Generous, timely and coordinated humanitarian help for all the victims of such horrific violence will achieve justice for them and will begin the indispensable process of healing their tragic condition."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of a talk delivered on April 24 by Msgr. Franco Follo before the 176th session of the executive council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The council was meeting to discuss the "medium-term strategic project 2008-2013," and to consider the importance of inter-confessional and inter-religious dialogue for promoting respect and dialogue between cultures.

  Msgr. Follo, who is the Holy See permanent observer to UNESCO, delivered an address entitled "inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue is a vital necessity," a phrase pronounced by Benedict XVI on August 20, 2005, during a meeting with representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne, Germany. "Despite the fact that different cultures have different interpretations of reality," said the permanent observer, "they share the fundamental experience of the human condition: ... birth, death, work, sickness, social injustice, the environment, the protection of our planet."

  "Cultural exchanges," he went on, "also involve giving consideration to religions, ... because religious experience is often engraved in the very heart of culture." And "although religions have sometimes been the cause of violence in the history of humanity, ... it is also important to highlight how much they have contributed and can still contribute to social cohesion, to reconciliation and to peace."

  "If we turn to look at history," said Msgr. Follo, "we become aware of how much we owe to those who, in their way, favored communication between very different peoples." These include such figures as "St. Augustine, who after fifteen centuries appears to us as a 'bridge' between cultures: between ancient Africa and Rome, between the Greek east and the Latin world, between antiquity and the Middle Ages, and even between antiquity and modernity."

  "Figures such as these," concluded Msgr. Follo, "must encourage us to follow the path of cultural exchange. The mixing of peoples is right in an era of universalization. The future of humanity is at stake. Whatever differences there may be, all mankind forms a single family and this family has the vocation to live in unity and peace."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2007 (VIS) - In a declaration released yesterday afternoon on TG1 (the television news of RAI, the Italian State broadcaster), Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. affirmed that "the irreverent comments directed at the Pope and the Church during the May Day concert were clearly an act of irresponsibility. It is right to say so, and the trade union representatives were right to disassociate themselves" from those comments.

  Fr. Lombardi was referring to remarks made by one of the presenters of the concert, which is traditionally held on May 1 every year in the center of Rome. The presenter, Diego Rivera, said, among other things, that "the Pope does not believe in evolutionism," because "the Church has never evolved."

  Yesterday's edition of the Vatican daily newspaper, the "Osservatore Romano," described the comments by saying "it is a contemptible and terroristic act to throw stones, this time even against the Pope, while feeling protected by cries of approval from an easily excitable crowd."

  Speaking on TG1, the Holy See Press Office Director made it clear that, as both Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarciso Bertone S.D.B. had pointed out, "it would be as well for all of us to seek to diffuse tensions and to re-create conditions for serene dialogue in our society. In this way, it is right that what was an evident act of foolishness should not become a tragedy and an opportunity to re-ignite huge conflicts."
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