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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) - At his general audience this morning Benedict XVI turned his attention to Aphraates, known as "the Sage," an important Christian figure from 4th century Syria. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by around 15,000 people.

  The Pope explained how Christian communities in Syria at that time were essentially part of "the Semitic world from which the Bible itself emerged," an expression of a form of Christianity "with theological formulations that had not yet come into contact with different cultural trends but lived off its own forms of thought. These were Churches," he continued, "in which asceticism, under various forms of hermitic life, ... played an important role."

  "Aphraates was from an ecclesial community located on the frontier between Judaism and Christianity" that was "strongly linked to the Mother Church of Jerusalem and ... sought to remain faithful to the Judeo-Christian tradition of which it felt itself to be a product."

  The Holy Father noted the significance of the fact that "Aphraates defined himself as a 'disciple of Sacred Scripture,' ... which he considered to be his only source of inspiration." In his works "he often presents the salvation achieved by Christ as healing and, hence, Christ Himself as doctor. Sin on the other hand is seen as a wound which only penance can heal." Another important aspect of his writings is "his teaching on prayer and in particular on Christ as master of prayer."

  For Aphraates, "Christian life is focussed on the imitation of Christ," and he considered "humility to be one of the most appropriate virtues for the disciple of Christ" because "man's nature is humble and it is God who exalts it with His own glory. ... By remaining humble, even in their earthly surroundings, Christians may establish a relationship with the Lord."

  His vision of human beings and their corporeal reality, said the Pope, "is very positive: the human body ... is called to beauty, to joy and to light." And it is faith that "enables sincere charity, expressed in love for God and for others."

  Another key concept in Aphraates' thought is that of fasting, which the Syrian "Sage" understood "in its widest sense: ... abstention from food as a practice necessary in order to be charitable, ... abstention from vain or abhorrent words, abstention from anger and from the ownership of goods."

  Benedict XVI concluded by returning to Aphraates' teaching on prayer. "Prayer is achieved," he said, "when Christ dwells in the heart of Christians, inviting them to a coherent commitment of charity towards their fellows."
AG/APHRAATES/...                            VIS 20071121 (440)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope launched and appeal for peace in Somalia.

  "Distressing news is reaching us," he said, "concerning the precarious humanitarian situation in Somalia, and especially in Mogadishu, ever more profoundly afflicted by social insecurity and poverty. I am following the development of events with concern and appeal to all those with political responsibility, at both local and international level, to find peaceful solutions and bring relief to that dear people. I also encourage the efforts of those who, though facing insecurity and discomfort, remain in the region to bring aid and comfort to the inhabitants."
AG/PEACE SOMALIA/...                        VIS 20071121 (120)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a meeting was held of heads of dicastery and other heads of Vatican State and of organizations associated with the Holy See or administratively dependent on APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See).

  "The meeting was presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  "It was dedicated to presenting a number of important new measures concerning the salaries of personnel working in the service of the Vatican.

  "The principal and most innovative measure concerns the new parameters for the payment of staff (who are employed in a system of ten functional levels), and above all the introduction of 'classes of merit' within each individual level. This novelty brings an element of incentive and remuneration into the Vatican salary system, taking account - within each individual functional level - of factors such as dedication, professionalism, productivity and correctitude.

  "Other measures relate to management categories and to Regulations concerning lay management personnel.

  "All these measures will come into effect on January 1, 2008, though the 'classes of merit' will be gradually applied over time.

  "It should be recalled that, from January 1, new measures for overtime payments will also come into effect, completing those introduced over the last few months.

  "All these measures involve advantages for staff and, naturally, a greater outlay for the administrative offices, which are invited to follow wise management practices in order to be able to meet these new expenses, which are aimed at improving the treatment of staff."
OP/VATICAN SALARIES/...                    VIS 20071121 (290)


VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Isaac Amani Massawe of the clergy of the diocese of Moshi, Tanzania, pastor of the cathedral, as bishop of the same diocese (area 5,029, population 1,053,199, Catholics 658,000, priests 365, religious 1,976). The bishop-elect was born in Mango, Tanzania in 1951 and ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Bishop Amedeus Msarikie, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Paul Hwang Cheol-soo, auxiliary and diocesan administrator of Pusan, Korea, as bishop of the same diocese (area 3,267, population 5,456,348, Catholics 392,956, priests 263, religious 832).
NER:RE/.../MASSAWE:MSARIKIE:HWANG            VIS 20071121 (120)

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