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Wednesday, September 5, 2007


BENEDICT XVI HAS SENT A MESSAGE to delegates and participants in the Third European Ecumenical assembly, called by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and by the Conference of European Churches, which is being held in Sibiu, Romania, on the theme: "The light of Christ shines over all mankind. The hope for renewal and unity in Europe." In his Message, the Pope expresses the hope that the meeting will "create meeting spaces for unity within [a context of] legitimate diversity. In an atmosphere of mutual trust, and with the awareness that our shared roots are much deeper than our divisions, it will be possible to overcome a false sense of self-sufficiency and ... spiritually to experience the shared foundation of our faith."

THE POPE HAS SENT A LETTER TO FR. JOSEPH CHALMERS, prior general of the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, for the occasion of their general chapter which is due to be celebrated in September on the theme: "'In obsequio Jesu Christi.' A prayerful and prophetic community in a changing world." In his Letter, the Pope comments how the theme "well highlights the particular manner in which the Carmelite Order seeks to respond to God's love, through a life infused with prayer, fraternity and the prophetic spirit."
.../IN BRIEF/...                            VIS 20070905 (220)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning, Farouk al-Charaa, vice-president of the Syrian Arab Republic was received by His Holiness Benedict XVI, to whom he delivered a personal message from Bashar al-Asad, president of Syria. Farouk al-Charaa then went on to meet Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the course of the conversation, having highlighted the efforts being made by Syria to receive hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and the assistance expected from multilateral organizations, attention turned to the problems faced by Christians in the country, and to the decisive contribution the Syrian Arab Republic can make to the grave crises affecting many peoples in the Middle East."
OP/.../SYRIAN VICE-PRESIDENT                    VIS 20070905 (140)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, Benedict XVI turned his attention to an international symposium on the defense of the Arctic, which begins tomorrow on the west coast of Greenland under the presidency of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The theme of the meeting is: "The Arctic: Mirror of Life."

  Speaking English, the Pope said: "Care of water resources and attention to climate change are matters of grave importance for the entire human family. Encouraged by the growing recognition of the need to preserve the environment, I invite all of you to join me in praying and working for greater respect for the wonders of God's creation."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2007 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope travelled by helicopter from his summer residence at Castelgandolfo to the Vatican, where he landed shortly before 10 a.m. He then went to St. Peter's Square where he presided at his weekly general audience, attended today by 16,000 people.

  Continuing his series of catecheses on the Fathers of the Church, the Holy Father returned to consider the figure of St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) - who had also been the subject of last week's catechesis - highlighting how the bishop saint always "showed a highly elevated sense of man's dignity."

  For St. Gregory, "man's aim is to make himself like God ... through love, knowledge and the practice of virtues, ... in a perpetual and dynamic adherence to good, like a runner stretching forwards."

  However, "the perfection that makes us participants in God's own sanctity is not something granted forever," the Holy Father warned. Rather it is "a permanent journey, a constant commitment to progress ... because complete likeness to God can never be achieved, The history of each soul is that of a love ... open to new horizons, because God continually expands the possibilities of the soul, so as to make it capable of ever greater good."

  "In this journey of spiritual ascent, Christ is the Model and the Master Who shows us the beautiful image of God. Looking at Him, each of us discovers ourselves to be 'the painter of our own life' in which our will undertakes the work and our virtues are the colors at our disposal."

  "The value that St. Gregory gives to the word Christian is very important," said Pope Benedict, "because a Christian is one who bears the name of Christ, and one who bears the name of Christ must be like Him also in this life. ... But Christ, Gregory recalls, is also present in the poor," and he invites people to recognize the dignity of the poor, precisely because "they represent the Person of the Savior."

  The Holy Father concluded by saying that "the path to God, then, passes through prayer and pureness of heart, and through love for others. Love is the stairway that leads to God."

  At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted participants in various languages. Then, addressing Missionaries of Charity who have come to Rome for the tenth anniversary of the death of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, he highlighted how "the life and witness of this true disciple of Christ ... are an invitation for you and for the entire Church always to serve God faithfully in the poorest and the most needy."
AG/GREGORY OF NYSSA:MOTHER TERESA/...        VIS 20070905 (460)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 5, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, Benedict XVI attended a concert held in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo. The event was organized in his honor by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra for celebrations marking the 1000th anniversary of the archdiocese of Bamberg, Germany.

  In remarks made at the end of the concert, the Pope indicated that music "has the power to lead us back ... to the Creator of all harmony, creating a resonance within us which is like being in tune with the beauty and truth of God, with the reality which no human knowledge or philosophy can ever express."

  After thanking the conductor and the members of orchestra, as well as the organizers and promoters of the event, the Holy Father described the concert as "a gift which I interpret as being the sign of a special bond of affection between the archdiocese of Bamberg and Peter's Successor."

  "May your jubilee pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles and to Peter's current Successor," the Holy Father concluded, "strengthen your faith and joy in God, that you may become His witnesses in daily life."
AC/BAMBERG CONCERT/...                    VIS 20070905 (210)

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