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Friday, October 26, 2007


VATICAN CITY, OCT 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India.

 - Three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Gabon, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Jean-Vincent Ondo Eyene of Oyem.

    - Bishop Mathieu Madega of Port-Gentil.

    - Fr. Joseph Koerber C.S.Sp., apostolic prefect of Makokou.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20071026 (70)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique today:

  "This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Geir H. Haarde, prime minister of Iceland. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions, the mutual respect and esteem marking relations between Iceland and the Catholic Church were noted, as was the contribution the Church makes to society, especially in the educational and social fields. Certain international questions of joint interest were also examined, highlighting the need for an ever greater commitment on the part of the international community to promote peace, fight against poverty, and favor environmental protection."
OP/ICELAND PRIME MINISTER/HAARDE            VIS 20071026 (140)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 26, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Gabon, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit to Rome.

  At the beginning of his address to them, the Pope noted how the people of Gabon "sometimes let themselves be attracted by the consumerist permissive society, paying less attention to the poorest people of their country. I encourage them to increase fraternal sentiment and solidarity. Furthermore, a certain relaxation has been noted in the lives of Christians, taken in by the attractions of the world. It is my hope that their conduct become ever more exemplary in terms of spiritual and moral values."

  Benedict XVI identified one of the most vital tasks of the Church in Gabon as "transmitting the faith and acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Christian mystery. In order to meet the challenges they face, the faithful need a thorough formation that enables them to found their Christian life upon clear principles."

  In this way "ecclesial communities will be more vibrant and the faithful will draw strength from the liturgy and from individual, family and community prayer, so that, in all fields of social life, they become witnesses of the Good News and workers for reconciliation, justice and peace in this world of ours which needs these things more than ever."

  The Pope emphasized the need to pay particular attention to the youth of Gabon. In this context, he expressed the hope that the young may become "the first evangelizers of their peers. Many times, through friendship and sharing, people come to discover the person of Christ and to join themselves to Him."

  After then dwelling on the bishop's concern over the low numbers of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the Holy Father noted that "the seminary in Libreville must be watched over with particular care because the future of evangelization and of the Church are at stake." This, he said, " will not cease to be a stimulus so that, in each diocese, pastoral care of vocations develops and intensifies."

  The Holy Father encouraged priests and religious, and their families, to "mobilize themselves through prayer, attention to the youngest and a concern for transmitting the call of Christ, so that the vocations your country needs may arise and spread."

  Nor can we forget," he continued, "the role of Catholic education, in which teachers and educators have the mission of the integral education of the young. This task requires witness to and transmission of the faith, as well as attention to vocations."

  With reference to priests, the Pope stressed that, "living in constant intimacy with Christ, they will have a sharper awareness of the need to remain faithful to the commitments made before God and the Church, especially ... chastity and celibacy. In this way, they will experience their priestly ministry ever more as a service to the faithful."

  "They will find spiritual support in the brotherhood of priests, comforted by you who are father and brother to them," he told the bishops. "Thus, together, you will be able to implement joint pastoral projects that give fresh impetus to the mission. I encourage each priest to seek ... the good of the Church and not personal advantage, conforming his life and mission to the gesture of the washing of the feet. From such love, lived as disinterested service, profound joy will arise."
AL/.../GABON                            VIS 20071026 (580)


VATICAN CITY, OCT 26, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday evening, following a Eucharistic concelebration presided by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, to mark the beginning of the academic year at Roman Pontifical Universities, the Holy Father entered St. Peter's Basilica to greet the students gathered there.

  "Seek to create," the Pope told them, "a climate in which commitment to study and fraternal cooperation enable you to enrich one another, not only as concerns cultural, academic and doctrinal aspects, but also on a human and spiritual level."

  The Holy Father also reminded the students that Rome is a city "rich in historical memories, in masterpieces of art and culture, and above all in eloquent Christian testimony.

  "Over time," he added, "universities and ecclesiastical faculties came into being, now centuries old. There, entire generations of priests and pastoral workers were formed, including many great saints and illustrious men of the Church."

  Referring then to John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana," which refers to the need to consider "new problems" in the light of Christian revelation and to present truth "in a manner adapted to various cultures," Benedict XVI reaffirmed that such a commitment "is more pressing than ever in our post-modern age, in which the need is felt for a new evangelization, and which needs masters of faith and appropriately-trained heralds and witnesses of the Gospel."

  "The time you spend in Rome can and must serve to prepare you to undertake ... the task that awaits you in the various fields of apostolic activity. In our own time, the Church's evangelizing mission requires, not only that the Gospel message be spread everywhere, but that it penetrate deeply into the way people think, into their criteria of judgement and their behavior. In a word," he concluded, "all the culture of modern man must be permeated by the Gospel."

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