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Friday, September 7, 2007


VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2007 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released yesterday afternoon by the Holy See Press Office concerning Benedict XVI's audience with Prince Saud Al Faisal, foreign minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  "In the course of the cordial meeting, various subjects of mutual interest were considered, principally: the defense of religious and moral values, the Middle East conflict, the political and religious situation in Saudi Arabia, the importance of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, and the contribution the faithful of various religions can make to promoting understanding between men and peoples. To this end, a hope was expressed for the implementation of joint initiatives in favor of peace."
OP/.../SAUDI ARABIA:AL FAISAL                VIS 20070907 (130)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2007 (VIS) - At 12.30 p.m. today, the Pope travelled from the airport of Vienna to the Salesian convent of the Visitation of Mary. There he changed cars and continued his journey by popemobile to Vienna's Am Hof Platz, site of the "Mariensaule" a bronze Marian column dating from 1667. The column is a copy of the marble original by the Italian sculptor Carlone located in front of the Castle of Wernstein.

  Arriving in the packed square shortly after 12.45 p.m., the Holy Father was greeted by the mayor of Vienna. He then entered Am Hof church where a thousand people were awaiting his arrival, among them the bishops of Austria.

  Subsequently, on a podium erected in front of the building and giving over Am Hof Platz, Pope Benedict was greeted by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, and the first liturgy of his pilgrimage began: a prayer vigil and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

  During the ceremony, various prayer intentions were read out, each of which was then delivered to the Holy Father accompanied a flower. The flowers, blessed by the Pope, were subsequently laid before the Blessed Sacrament and Benedict XVI then entrusted the prayer intentions to the intercession of the Virgin with these words:

  "Holy Mary, Immaculate Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, in you God has given us the model of the Church and of genuine humanity. To you I entrust the country of Austria and its people. Help all of us to follow your example and to direct our lives completely to God! Grant that, by looking to Christ, we may become ever more like Him: true children of God! Then we too, filled with every spiritual blessing, will be able to conform ourselves more fully to His will and to become instruments of His peace for Austria, Europe and the world."

  Following the prayer the Pope pronounced a brief address: "From earliest times," he said, "faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, has been linked to a particular veneration for His mother, for the woman in whose womb He took on our human nature" and to whose maternal love He commended "the beloved disciple and, with him, all humanity. In her maternal love, Mary continues to take under her protection people of all languages and cultures, and to lead them together, within a multiform unity, to Christ."

  "The Mariensaule, built by Emperor Ferdinand III in thanksgiving for the liberation of Vienna from great danger and inaugurated by him exactly 360 years ago, must also be a sign of hope for us today. How many persons, over the years, have stood before this column and lifted their gaze to Mary in prayer! ... We turn our gaze to Mary, because she points out to us the great hope to which we have been called, because she personifies our true humanity!"

  After the ceremony, Benedict XVI travelled to the nearby Judenplatz, which contains a commemorative monument to the Shoah by the artist Rachel Whiteread, an archaeological excavation revealing a medieval synagogue and a museum on the Jewish presence in the Middle Ages. Engraved in the paving stones around the monument are the names of the places in which more than 65,000 Austrian Jews lost their lives under Nazis rule.

  On his arrival there, the Pope was received by the Chief Rabbi and by the president of the Jewish community. He then paused for a few minutes of silent prayer.

  Thereafter, the Holy Father travelled to the apostolic nunciature in Vienna, where he had lunch.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 7, 2007 (VIS) - At 9.50 a.m. today, the Pope departed from Rome's Ciampino airport and, following a two-hour flight, landed in the international airport of Vienna / Schwechat, thus beginning his seventh apostolic trip outside Italy as Pontiff, As he descended from the plane, he was greeted by Heinz Fischer, president of the Republic of Austria, and by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna.

  Following a speech by the Austrian president, the Holy Father rose to address some words to the political civil and religious authorities present. "The culture of this country," he began, "is deeply imbued with the message of Jesus Christ and the activity which the Church has carried out in His name."

  "The reason for my coming to Austria," he continued, "is the 850th anniversary of the shrine of Mariazell. This Marian sanctuary in some way represents the maternal heart of Austria, and has always had a particular importance also for Hungarians and the Slavic peoples. It symbolizes an openness which not only transcends physical and national frontiers, but, in the person of Mary, reminds us of an essential dimension of human beings: their capacity for openness to God and His word of truth.

  "In this way," he added, "I would like, during these three days here in Austria, to go as a pilgrim to Mariazell" on "a journey made in the company of all the pilgrims of our time. ... Mariazell does not only represent 850 years of history, but shows us on the basis of that history, the way to the future."

  "Tomorrow - the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, the patronal feast of Mariazell - will bring me to that holy place. In the Eucharistic celebration in front of the basilica we will gather, as Mary has shown us, around Christ Who comes into our midst. We will ask Him to help us better to contemplate Him, to see Him in our brothers and sisters, to serve Him in them, and to walk with Him on the way that leads to the Father."

  "Pilgrimage means more than just journeying to a shrine. The journey back to our everyday life is also fundamental. Each week of our ordinary life begins with Sunday. ... and so we will celebrate Mass this Sunday in Saint Stephen's Cathedral."

  The Pope concluded: "I know that in Austria many people, on Sunday, the day of rest from work, and during their free time on other days of the week, engage in volunteer activities and service to others. Such commitment, offered generously and disinterestedly for the welfare of others, also marks the pilgrimage of our life."

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