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Monday, July 2, 2007


VATICAN CITY, JUL 2, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.

 - Seven prelates from the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Ramon Benito de la Rosa y Carpio of Santiago de los Caballeros.

    - Bishop Antonio Camilo Gonzalez of La Vega.

    - Bishop Diomedes Espinal de Leon of Mao-Monte Cristi, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Jeronimo Toma Abreu Herrera.

    - Bishop Julio Cesar Corniel Amaro of Puerto Plata.

    - Bishop Jesus Maria de Jesus Moya of San Francisco de Macoris.

    - Bishop Freddy Antonio de Jesus Breton Martinez of Bani.

 - Archbishop Michele Di Ruberto, secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

  On Saturday, June 30, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

 - Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli, archbishop emeritus of Florence, Italy.

 - Sunny Ebenyi Kingsley, ambassador of Nigeria, on his farewell visit.

 - Philip McDonagh, ambassador of Ireland, on his farewell visit.
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IN AN AUDIENCE WITH THE 46 METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS from 24 countries who received the pallium on Friday June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, the Pope said: "May the crosses on your pallium remind the members of the various Christian communities that they have to bear witness - through their words and throughout their lives - to the risen Christ with ever greater faithfulness to the Church, making all Catholics, wherever they may be, missionaries of the Gospel."

IN A LETTER ADDRESSED TO CARDINAL FRIEDRICH WETTER, archbishop emeritus of Munich and Freising, Germany, written in Latin and dated May 1, the Pope appoints him as special papal envoy to celebrations to mark the millennium of the archdiocese of Bamberg, Germany, due to be held on July 8. The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Gerhard Forch, pastor of the cathedral, and Msgr. Michael Hofmann, pastor of the parish of "Allerheiligen" in Nuremberg.

CARDINAL JEAN-PERRE RICARD, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, and president of the Conference of Bishops of France, has received a Letter from Benedict XVI to mark the centenary of the opening of the first Scout camp, on Brownsea Island, United Kingdom, on August 1, 1907. In his letter, the Pope recalls the founder of Catholic Scouts, Fr. Jacques Sevin S.J., and highlights how the movement continues to offer young people today "an education that forms strong personalities, rooted in Christ and desirous of living exalted ideals of faith and human solidarity."
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for July is: "That all citizens, individually and in groups, may be enabled to participate actively in the life and management of the common good."

  His mission intention is: "That, aware of their own missionary duty, all Christians may actively help all those engaged in the evangelization of peoples."
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VATICAN CITY, JUL 1, 2007 (VIS) - Prior to praying the Sunday Angelus today, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the theme of freedom and following Christ.

  Speaking from his study window to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI commented the Gospel of Luke's account of how Jesus set out "resolutely" towards Jerusalem, knowing that death on the cross awaited Him. In the expression 'resolutely'," said the Pope, "we see the free will of Christ," Who "in obedience to the will of the Father offered Himself for love.

  "It is in this obedience to the Father that Jesus fulfils His own freedom, as an informed choice motivated by love," the Pope added. "Who is freer than Him Who is the Almighty? Yet He did not practice His freedom as arbitrariness or dominion" but "as service. In this way he gave meaning to freedom, which otherwise would have remained as an 'empty' possibility of doing or not doing a particular thing. Like man's own life, freedom draws meaning from love."

  "Christian freedom is, then, anything but arbitrariness. It is to follow Christ in the giving of self even unto sacrifice on the cross. It may seem a paradox, but the high point of the Lord's freedom was on the cross: the pinnacle of love. On Calvary they cried: 'If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!' Yet He demonstrated His freedom ... by remaining on that scaffold to fulfil the Father's merciful will.

  "This experience has been shared by so many other witnesses of truth: men and women who have proven their freedom even in a prison cell or under threat of torture. 'The truth will make you free.' Those who belong to the truth will never be slaves of power, but will always know, freely, how to serve their brothers."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope said: "From Colombia we have received the sad news of the barbarous murder of 11 regional deputies of the department of Valle del Cauca, who had been held for more than five years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) While raising fervent prayers for them, I share the profound suffering of relatives, and of the beloved Colombian nation once again ravaged by fratricidal hatred. I renew my heartfelt appeal for an immediate end to all kidnappings and for all the victims of such inadmissible forms of violence to be restored to the affection of their loved ones."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 30, 2007 (VIS) - To accompany today's publication of the "Letter to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China," the Holy See Press Office has issued an explanatory note concerning the Church in China over the last 50 years.

  "The Catholic community in China has lived the past 50 years in an intense way," reads the English-language note, "undertaking a difficult and painful journey, which not only has deeply marked it but has also caused it to take on particular characteristics which continue to mark it today.

  "The Catholic community suffered an initial persecution in the 1950s, which witnessed the expulsion of foreign bishops and missionaries, the imprisonment of almost all Chinese clerics and the leaders of the various lay movements, the closing of churches and the isolation of the faithful. Then, at the end of the 1950s, various state bodies were established, such as the Office for Religious Affairs and the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics, with the aim of directing and 'controlling' all religious activity. In 1958 the first two episcopal ordinations without papal mandate took place, initiating a long series of actions which deeply damaged ecclesial communion.

  "In the decade 1966-1976, the Cultural Revolution, which took place throughout the country, violently affected the Catholic community, striking even those bishops, priests and lay faithful who had shown themselves more amenable to the new orientations imposed by government authorities.

  "In the 1980s, with the gestures of openness promoted by Deng Xiaoping, there began a period of religious tolerance with some possibility of movement and dialogue, which led to the reopening of churches, seminaries and religious houses, and to a certain revival of community life. The information coming from communities of the Catholic Church in China confirmed that the blood of the martyrs had once again been the seed of new Christians: the faith had remained alive in the communities; the majority of Catholics had given fervent witness of fidelity to Christ and the Church; families had become the key to the transmission of the faith to their members. The new climate, however, provoked different reactions within the Catholic community."

  "Attentively analyzing the situation of the Church in China, Benedict XVI is aware of the fact that the community is suffering internally from a situation of conflict in which both faithful and pastors are involved. He emphasizes, however, that this painful situation was not brought about by different doctrinal positions but is the result of the 'the significant part played by entities that have been imposed as the principal determinants of the life of the Catholic community.' These are entities, whose declared purposes - in particular, the aim of implementing the principles of independence, self-government and self-management of the Church - are not reconcilable with Catholic doctrine. This interference has given rise to seriously troubling situations. What is more, Bishops and priests have been subjected to considerable surveillance and coercion in the exercise of their pastoral office.

  "In the 1990s, from many quarters and with increasing frequency, bishops and priests turned to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Secretariat of State in order to obtain from the Holy See precise instructions as to how they should conduct themselves with regard to some problems of ecclesial life in China. Many asked what attitude should be adopted towards the government and towards state agencies in charge of Church life. Other queries concerned strictly sacramental problems, such as the possibility of concelebrating with bishops who had been ordained without papal mandate or of receiving the sacraments from priests ordained by these bishops. Finally, the legitimizing of numerous bishops who had been illicitly consecrated confused some sectors of the Catholic community."

  "During these years, Pope John Paul II on several occasions addressed messages and appeals to the Church in China, calling all Catholics to unity and reconciliation. The interventions of the Holy Father were well received, creating a desire for unity, but sadly the tensions with the authorities and within the Catholic community did not diminish."

  "The various problems which seem to have most seriously affected the life of the Church in China in recent years were amply and carefully analyzed by a special select commission made up of experts on China and members of the Roman Curia who follow the situation of that community.

  "When Pope Benedict XVI decided to call a meeting from January 19 to 20 during which various ecclesiastics, including some from China, took part, the aforementioned commission worked to produce a document aimed at ensuring broad discussion on the various points, gathering practical recommendations made by the participants and proposing some possible theological and pastoral guidelines for the Catholic community in China. His Holiness, who graciously took part in the final session of the meeting, decided, among other things, to address a Letter to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 30, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was the Letter of Benedict XVI to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China. The Letter, dated May 27 Feast of Pentecost, is divided into two parts - "the situation of the Church, theological aspects" and "guidelines for pastoral life" - and a conclusion. It has been published in Chinese, French, English and Italian.

  "Without claiming to deal with every detail of the complex matters well known to you," writes the Pope at the beginning of his Letter, "I wish through this letter to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelization in China, in order to help you discover what the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, 'the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of human history' wants from you."

  Addressing Catholic faithful in China, according to statistics 8-12 million strong, the Pope expresses his "sincere gratitude to the Lord for the deeply-felt witness of faithfulness offered by the Chinese Catholic community in truly difficult circumstances. At the same time, I sense the urgent need, as my deep and compelling duty and as an expression of my paternal love, to confirm the faith of Chinese Catholics and favor their unity with the means proper to the Church."

  The Holy See, he continues, "hopes for the opening of some form of dialogue with the authorities of the People's Republic of China. Once the misunderstandings of the past have been overcome, such a dialogue would make it possible for us to work together for the good of the Chinese people and for peace in the world.

  "I realize," the Pope adds, "that the normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China requires time and presupposes the good will of both parties. For its part, the Holy See always remains open to negotiations, so necessary if the difficulties of the present time are to be overcome."

  "The civil authorities are well aware that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, respectful and active contributors to the common good in their country, but it is likewise clear that she asks the State to guarantee to those same Catholic citizens the full exercise of their faith, with respect for authentic religious freedom."

  On the subject of communion between particular Churches and the universal Church, the Holy Father highlights how "in the Catholic Church which is in China, the universal Church is present. ... The whole of the Church which is in China is called to live and to manifest this unity in a richer spirituality of communion, so that, taking account of the complex concrete situations in which the Catholic community finds itself, she may also grow in a harmonious hierarchical communion."

  Chinese Catholics, writes Pope Benedict, are "aware of the problems [the Church] is seeking to overcome - within herself and in her relations with Chinese civil society - tensions, divisions and recriminations. ... The history of the Church teaches us, then, that authentic communion is not expressed without arduous efforts at reconciliation. Indeed, the purification of memory, the pardoning of wrong-doers, the forgetting of injustices suffered and the loving restoration to serenity of troubled hearts, ... these are urgent steps that must be taken if the bonds of communion between the faithful and the pastors of the Church in China are to grow and be made visible."

  On the subject of relations between ecclesial communities and the agencies of the State, Benedict XVI writes that "the claim of some entities, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church, to place themselves above the bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, does not correspond to Catholic doctrine, according to which the Church is 'apostolic ... in her origin because she has been built on the foundation of the Apostles'."

  The Holy Father highlights the fact that "the requisite and courageous safeguarding of the deposit of faith and of sacramental and hierarchical communion is not of itself opposed to dialogue with the authorities concerning those aspects of the life of the ecclesial community that fall within the civil sphere."

  Turning to consider the Chinese episcopate - 60 percent of the more than 100 prelates are over the age of 80 - the Pope says "it must not be forgotten that many bishops have undergone persecution and have been impeded in the exercise of their ministry, and some of them have made the Church fruitful with the shedding of their blood."

  "We must thank the Lord for this constant presence, not without suffering, of bishops who have received episcopal ordination in conformity with Catholic tradition, that is to say, in communion with the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and at the hands of validly and legitimately ordained bishops in observance of the rite of the Catholic Church.

  "Some of them, not wishing to be subjected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine consecration. The clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church's life. ... For this reason the Holy See hopes that these legitimate Pastors may be recognized as such by governmental authorities for civil effects too - insofar as these are necessary - and that all the faithful may be able to express their faith freely in the social context in which they live.

  "Other pastors, however, under the pressure of particular circumstances, have consented to receive episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate, but have subsequently asked to be received into communion with the Successor of Peter and with their other brothers in the episcopate. The Pope ... has granted them the full and legitimate exercise of episcopal jurisdiction."

  "Finally, there are certain bishops - a very small number of them - who have been ordained without the pontifical mandate and who have not asked for or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they are to be considered illegitimate, but validly ordained, as long as it is certain that they have received ordination from validly ordained bishops and that the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination has been respected. Therefore, although not in communion with the Pope, they exercise their ministry validly in the administration of the sacraments, even if they do so illegitimately. What great spiritual enrichment would ensue for the Church in China if, the necessary conditions having been established, these pastors too were to enter into communion with the Successor of Peter and with the entire Catholic episcopate!"

  The Holy Father insists that "the appointment of bishops by the Pope is the guarantee of the unity of the Church and of hierarchical communion." In this context, he expresses the hope that "an accord can be reached with the government so as to resolve certain questions regarding the choice of candidates for the episcopate, the publication of the appointment of bishops, and the recognition - concerning civil effects where necessary - of the new bishops on the part of the civil authorities."

  In the second part of his Letter, on the subject of "guidelines for pastoral life," the Pope presents a series of indications for Eucharistic concelebration and calls for the creation of the diocesan organizations provided for by canonical legislation. He also refers to "the need for an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy" and a "more careful vocational discernment." Then, addressing himself to the laity, he says: "You are called, today too, to incarnate the Gospel in your lives and to bear witness to it by means of generous and effective service for the good of the people and for the development of the country. ... Since the future of humanity passes by way of the family, I consider it indispensable and urgent that lay people should promote family values and safeguard the needs of the family."

  The Pope uses the Letter to revoke "all the faculties previously granted" by the Holy See to the Church in China in past years because "the increased opportunities and greater ease in communication" now enable Chinese Catholics to follow general canonical norms.

  The papal Letter concludes with the announcement of a "day of prayer for the Church in China" to be celebrated every May 24, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians. "I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 30, 2007 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received in audience prelates from the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference, who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Addressing the bishops, the Pope noted how their reports had highlighted a "concern for the challenges and difficulties that have to be faced at this moment of history," because "over the last few years many things have changed in the social, the economic and even the religious field, at times opening the way to religious indifference and to a certain moral relativism which influences Christian practices and which, indirectly, also affects the structures of society."

  "This religious situation," he went on, "calls out to you as pastors and requires that you remain united in order to make the presence of the Lord more palpable among mankind through joint pastoral initiatives that respond to the new realities. ... You bishops and priests in particular are called to an indispensable and profoundly committed mission: ensuring that the Church remains a place where the mystery of divine love is taught and lived."

  The Holy Father then went on to recall that "priests are in the front line of evangelization" and that, for this reason, bishops' relationship with them must not "be merely institutional" but "animated above all by charity." He also called for prayers that the Church in Puerto Rico may enjoy "many holy vocations, especially at the current time in which young people often find it difficult to follow the Lord's call into priestly or consecrated life."

  Turning to consider Puerto Rican society, the Pope noted "the spread of a mentality inspired by laicism which, more or less consciously, gradually leads to derision or ignorance of the sacred, relegating faith to a merely private sphere. ... A correct notion of religious freedom is not compatible with such an ideology which at times presents itself as the only voice of reason."

  Another "permanent challenge," said the Holy Father, is the family which "finds itself beset by the many snares of the modern world, such as overriding materialism" or "the lack of stability and faithfulness in couples." Hence "the need to intensify ... an incisive form of pastoral care of families, to help Christian couples accept the fundamental values of the Sacrament they have received."

  "The aforementioned religious indifference and the temptation of an easy moral permissiveness, as well as ignorance of the Christian tradition, ... exert a great influence over new generations. Young people have the right ... to be educated in the faith. For this reason, in the integral education of the very young, religious education must not be neglected, also in schools."

  Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that Catholics, "called to concern themselves with worldly affairs so as to order them in accordance with the divine will, must be courageous witnesses of their faith in the various areas of public life. Their participation in ecclesial life is, furthermore, fundamental and, at times, without their collaboration your apostolate as pastors would not reach 'all men in all times and places'."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 29, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with 46 metropolitan archbishops upon whom he imposed the pallium.

  In keeping with tradition, the Mass was attended by a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, made up this year of His Eminence Emmanuel (Adamakis), Greek Orthodox archbishop of France; His Eminence Gennadios (Limouris), metropolitan of Sassima and secretary of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox; and by the Deacon Andreas (Sofianopoulos) third deacon of the Patriarchal See of Fanar.

  In his homily the Holy Father made reference to Peter's declaration about Jesus which, he said, "according to all the Evangelists, .... occurred at a decisive moment in Jesus' life," when He was travelling towards Jerusalem "to carry out - with His death on the cross and resurrection - His salvific mission."

  "With His double question - 'what do people say?' and 'what do you say?' - Jesus invites His disciples to become aware of these differing perspectives. The people think Jesus is a prophet. This is not false, but it is not enough, it is inadequate. What is necessary, in fact, is a more profound vision, a recognition of the uniqueness and novelty of Jesus of Nazareth.

  "This is also true today," the Pope added, "many people approach Jesus, so to say, from the outside. Great scholars recognize His spiritual and moral stature and His influence on the history of humanity, comparing Him to Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and other sages and great figures of history. They do not, however, manage to recognize Him in His uniqueness."

  The Holy Father went on: "Often, also, Jesus is considered as one of the great founders of religions, from whom each individual may draw something to create a conviction of his own. And so, as then, today too people have different opinions about Jesus. And, as then, to we disciples of today Jesus repeats His question: 'who do you say that I am?' We wish to make Peter's response our own: ... 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God'."

  "Today, as in Jesus' time, it is not enough to possess the correct confession of faith. It is necessary to learn from the Lord, always and anew, the precise way in which He is the Savior and the road upon which we must follow Him. We must recognize that the cross is difficult to accept, even for believers. Instinct encourages us to avoid it and the tempter induces us to think that it is wiser to concern oneself with self-preservation than to lose one's own life for faithfulness to love.

  "What did the people to whom Jesus spoke find difficult to accept? What continues to be difficult to accept for many people today? It is difficult to accept the fact that He claimed to be not only one of the prophets, but the Son of God, and that He claimed the authority of God for Himself."

  "In the name of Sts. Peter and Paul," Pope Benedict concluded, "today we renew, together with our brothers who have come from Constantinople, ... our commitment to accept, in its entirety, Christ's will, which is to see us fully united."

  At midday, shortly after the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square in order to pray the Angelus.

  He greeted the delegation sent by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and said: "Our meetings, our reciprocal visits, the continuing dialogue are not ... merely simple gestures of courtesy or attempts to achieve compromise, but the sign of a shared will to do everything possible in order, as soon as possible, to achieve full communion. ... Part of this context is the 'Pauline Year' ... which will begin on 28 June 2008 and conclude on 29 June 2009, marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth" of St. Paul.

  After the Angelus, Benedict XVI announced that, in response to an invitation from Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Italy, he will make a pastoral visit to that city on October 21.
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this afternoon:

  "In the afternoon of today, June 28, Fouad Siniora, prime minister of Lebanon, met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial meeting provided an opportunity to examine the delicate situation in the region, with reference to the situation and the problems of Christian communities in the Middle East. The discussions then dwelt on the political difficulties of Lebanon, on the serious risks to its security, and on initiatives underway to overcome the current crisis. Particular emphasis was given to the need to relaunch dialogue among all components of society, each of which is called to contribute to the common good of the country. The international community is asked to accompany these efforts, so decisive for Lebanon and for all the Middle East."
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VATICAN CITY, JUN 28, 2007 (VIS) - This afternoon at the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the Walls in Rome, Benedict XVI celebrated the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The Pope greeted all those present at the ceremony, dedicating a special mention to members of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who have come to Rome to return the annual visit made by a Holy See delegation to Istanbul for the Feast of St. Andrew.

  "These meetings and initiatives," said the Pope, "are not simply an exchange of courtesies between Churches, but seek to express a joint commitment to do everything possible to hasten full communion between Christian East and West."

  "Ever since the beginning," he continued, "Christian tradition has considered Peter and Paul as inseparable the one from the other, even if they each had a different mission to accomplish: Peter was the first to confess faith in Christ, Paul obtained the gift of deepening the richness of that faith. ... With different charisms, they worked for the one cause: the construction of the Church of Christ."

  "In Rome, the bond linking Peter and Paul in their mission has, ever since the early centuries, taken on a very specific meaning. ... It could be said that today the Church of Rome celebrates its birthday, because these two Apostles laid her foundations."

  The Holy Father then explained that if tomorrow, June 29, Peter will be the focus of attention in the Vatican Basilica, today the leading role is Paul's, whose relics are kept in the basilica that bears his name. Paul, he said, "was 'set apart for the Gospel of God,' to spread the announcement of divine grace that, in Christ, reconciles man with God, with himself and with others."

  The Apostle of the Gentiles, said the Pope, "was anything but a gifted speaker," and hence "the extraordinary apostolic results he was able to achieve are not to be attributed to brilliant rhetoric or to refined apologetics and missionary strategies. The success of his apostolate depended above all on his personal involvement in announcing the Gospel of Christ with total dedication to Him, a dedication that feared no risks, difficulties or persecutions."

  "From this," he continued, "we can draw a very important lesson for all Christians: The activity of the Church is credible and effective only in as much as those who are part thereof are ready to pay their faithfulness to Christ in person. ... If such willingness is lacking, then the decisive argument of truth upon which the Church depends also fails. ... As in the beginning, today too Christ needs apostles ready to sacrifice themselves ... like St. Paul."

  "For this reason I am happy to announce officially," said Benedict XVI, "that we will dedicate a special jubilee year to the Apostle Paul from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009, for the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of his birth, which historians place between 7 and 10 AD."

  The Pope went on to explain that this "Pauline Year" will be celebrated particularly in Roman and that the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls will host "a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events, as well as pastoral and social initiatives." Furthermore, "special attention" will be given to penitential pilgrimages to the tomb of the Apostle while, all over the world in dioceses and places of worship dedicated to St. Paul, similar initiatives may be held.

  The Holy Father highlighted the fact that the Pauline Year will be characterized by its "ecumenical dimension" because "the Apostle of the Gentiles, particularly dedicated to bringing the Good News to all peoples, concerned himself with the unity and harmony of all Christians.

  "May he guide and protect us in this bi-millennial celebration," the Pope added in conclusion, "helping us to progress in a humble and sincere search for full unity among all members of the mystical Body of Christ."
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