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Thursday, May 24, 2007


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father attended a performance of the "Resurrexi" Oratorio, presented in his honor by prelates of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) for his 80th birthday, which fell on April 16.

  "This evening," said the Pope at the end of the concert, "we have had another opportunity to meditate upon the marvelous event of Christ's Resurrection." He expressed his thanks to the composer and to the performers - the choir and the orchestra of the Arena of Verona - pointing out how the Oratorio evoked "figures and episodes from the Gospel which lead us back to the central mystery of our faith, the Resurrection of the Lord."

  "Easter," Pope Benedict went on, "is the heart of Christianity. For all believers and all ecclesial communities the meeting with Christ, crucified and risen, has great importance. Without this individual and community experience, without an intimate friendship with Jesus, faith remains superficial and sterile."

  Recalling the fact that Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa assumed the presidency of the CEI just a few months ago, Benedict XVI gave assurances of his "best wishes and constant prayer for the high office he is called to fulfill in the service of the Church in Italy."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican today at 11 a.m., Benedict XVI received Georgi Pirinski, president of the parliament of the Republic of Bulgaria. Later, at 11.30 a.m., he received Liubisha Georgievski, president of the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Both men, leading delegations from their respective countries, have come to Rome for the commemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

  Addressing the Bulgarian delegation, the Pope noted how their visit was an expression "of the desire to reaffirm their own European traditions, profoundly steeped in Evangelical values. Of course, given its origins, the history of Bulgaria precedes Christian revelation, however there can be no doubt that in the Gospel the country found a source of values capable of reinforcing the culture, identity and genius typical of its people."

  "Following the sad and austere period of communist domination," the Pope continued, "Bulgaria today is moving towards full integration with other European nations. ... It is my fervent wish that the cultural and spiritual foundations present in Bulgarian society may continue to be cultivated within the country, and that they ... may be proposed and defended in those organizations of which she is already an authoritative member. I particularly hope that Bulgaria and her people may conserve and promote the Christian virtues that came down to them from Sts. Cyril and Methodius, still pertinent and necessary today."

  The Holy Father told the Macedonian delegation that he shared their desire, "not only that the spiritual patrimony you have inherited be shared, but also that your particular identity be granted its due consideration by the other European peoples who are close to you in terms of tradition and culture."

  "My cordial wish," he concluded, "is that you will be able to conserve, always and faithfully, the heritage of your two saintly protectors, so that your voice, both in the civil and religious field, may be heard and given just consideration."


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican's Synod Hall, the Holy Father met with participants in the 57th general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which is being held this week.

  The Pope noted how the meetings he had held with Italian bishops during their "ad limina" visits over recent months had served to corroborate his "conviction that in Italy the faith is alive and profoundly rooted, and that the Church is an organization of the people, a capillary network close to individuals and families. ... The Catholic faith and the presence of the Church remain the great unifying factor of this beloved nation and a precious reservoir of moral energies for the future."

  Apart from these "positive elements," Benedict XVI also noted "the difficulties and snares" which, he said, "can grow with the passage of time and of the generations." In this context he warned against "a culture marked by moral relativism, poor in certainties and rich in demands, at times unjustified demands. We also feel the need to reinforce Christian formation through a more profound catechesis, and to this end the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be of great service.

  "There is also need," he added, "for a constant commitment to place God always at the center of the lives of our communities, giving primacy to prayer, to personal friendship with Jesus and, hence, to the call to sanctity. In particular, great concern must be shown for vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life."

  The Pope noted the connection between the theme of this general assembly - "Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world: the Church on her mission, 'ad gentes' and among us" - and the goals of the Ecclesial Congress of Verona, held in October 2006.

  What is important, he said, is "to announce and bear witness to Jesus Christ," to "those peoples who are opening to the faith for the first time, to the children of the peoples who now live and work in Italy, and to our own people who at times have abandoned the faith and who are anyway subject to the pressure of the secularizing tendencies that seek to dominate the society and culture of this country."

  "Today too, as the Declaration 'Dominus Iesus' reaffirmed, we must be fully aware that from the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true man living and present in the Church, comes the salvific unicity and universality of Christian revelation and, consequently, the essential task of announcing Jesus Christ to everyone."

  "Esteem and respect towards other religions and cultures, with the seeds of truth and goodness they contain, ... are especially necessary in our own times," said the Holy Father. "However, there must be no reduction in our awareness of the originality, fullness and unicity of the revelation of the true God Who in Christ was definitively given us, and nor can the Church's missionary vocation be diminished or weakened."

  The Pope then went on to refer to the bishops' "specific responsibility, not only towards the Churches entrusted to you but also towards the entire nation." And he added: "While fully and cordially respecting the distinction between Church and politics, between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, we cannot but concern ourselves with what is good for mankind," and specifically with "the common good of Italy." In this context the Pope mentioned "the Note approved by the Permanent Episcopal Council dealing with the family founded on marriage and with legislative initiatives concerning de facto unions," in which he identified "full harmony with the teaching of the Apostolic See."

  A recent demonstration in support of the family organized in Rome "at the initiative of the Catholic lay faithful but attended by many non-Catholics," said the Holy Father, "certainly contributed to making everyone more aware of the significance and role of the family in society, ... in the face of a culture that deludes itself that it favors happiness by a unilateral insistence on individual freedom."

  The Pope mentioned the "daily service to many forms of poverty, old and new, visible and hidden," and praised the work of Caritas and of volunteer organizations. He invited bishops to promote this service so that "everyone can see there is no separation between the Church, custodian of moral law, ... and the Church that invites the faithful to become good Samaritans and recognize a brother in each suffering person."

  Finally, Pope Benedict recalled the pastoral initiatives underway in preparation for the next World Youth Day, due to be held in Sydney, Australia in 2008. "We well know," he said, "that the Christian formation of the new generations is perhaps the most difficult, but the most supremely important, task the Church has to face."
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - "Latin Future: the language for building the identity of Europe" is the theme of an international congress to be held in Rome and the Vatican from May 25 to 26. The event is being promoted by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

  Professors, senators, writers and journalists from various countries, the majority Italian, are due to participate in the congress.

  On the first day Friday, May 25, discussions will focus on the question of "the role of Latin in the formation of Europe" and on the "modernity and significance of Latin for scientific and cultural progress."

  Among those present on Saturday, May 26, to consider the question of "policies to follow in order to support the study of Latin" will be Jan Figel, European Commissioner for Education, Training, and Culture, and Wang Huansheng, a member of the Academy of Social Sciences of Beijing, China.

  Before the closing address, due to be delivered by Msgr. Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, the winner of the "ad Fontes" journalism prize will be announced. The prize, now in its second edition, is awarded for the publication of articles on subjects associated with the importance of Classical languages in education and scientific and cultural development.


VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience, Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As members of the Congregation for Catholic Education: Cardinals Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada; William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, military ordinary for the United States of America; and Bishops Gil Antonio Moreira of Jundiai, Brazil, and Diego Coletti, of Como, Italy.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

 - As members of the presidential committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinals Christian Wiyghan Tumi, archbishop of Douala, Cameroon, and Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for the Family Carl Albert Anderson and Dorian Loundsbury Anderson, U.S.A.
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