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Friday, December 7, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jean-Marie Le Vert, auxiliary of Meaux, France, as bishop of Quimper, Cornouailles (area 6,785, population 856,000, Catholics 753,000, priests 381, permanent deacons 20, religious 808), France. He succeeds Bishop Clement Guillon C.I.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, apostolic nuncio to Spain, as Holy See permanent observer to the World Tourism Organization.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Oded Ben-Hur, ambassador of Israel, on his farewell visit.

 - Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - The 11th Meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome on November 20, under the presidency of Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of bishops, according to a communique made public today.

  During the meeting, attention was focussed on "the situation of the Church in the nations of Asia, ... the implementation of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Asia,' ... the influence exercised by the recent post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Sacramentum caritatis' on the various Churches of Asia, and proposals and suggestions for the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly which will have as its theme 'The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.'

  "The debate," the communique adds, "made it possible to create a broad overview of ecclesial life in Asia, and of the living conditions in civil society, which in many ways are favorable to Church activity. Nonetheless various areas of concern were identified, ... deriving from wars, the arms race, ethnic strife, violence, terrorism, repression and the various limits placed on freedom of conscience."

  "The primary victims of persecutions are minorities," the communique notes, "among them Christian minorities who are often forced to abandon their countries of origin, suffering violence also at the hands of fundamentalist groups. The lack of religious liberty takes various forms: limits to communication among bishops and between them and the Holy Father, ... the impossibility of creating episcopal conferences, difficulties in obtaining visas for pastoral card workers, limits on the building of places of workshop, and impediments to [religious] presence in public life."

  The communique also notes a number of positive aspects such as "the fraternal welcome shown to Christians who have fled in fear of their lives; the increase in the number of Catholics in regions where they have, up to now, been scarce; the faithfulness even unto the giving of life, as in the case of the four priests killed in Asia in 2006, ... an increase in vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, so that now Asians themselves have become missionaries to other particular Churches in Asia and on other continents."

  Moreover, "the Church remains open to dialogue with the great religions of Asia, making a notable contribution to tolerance and civil harmony, to reinforcing the State of law and the process of the democratization of society." The Church also exercises an important influence "through her social activities in schools and hospitals, and in favor of human promotion."

  The communique also notes how the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia" is "producing abundant fruits above all through programs of diocesan activities and bishops' pastoral letters," while the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis" is being "effectively disseminated, ... and translated into local languages such as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai."

  The next meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will be held on December 11 and 12, 2008.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Donald Tusk, prime minister of the Republic of Poland, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions focussed on the situation in the country, with particular reference to Christian moral and religious values which are part of the heritage of the Polish people. Mention was made of the traditionally good relations between Poland and the Holy See, which were given particular impetus during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Finally, attention turned to questions regarding Europe and the international role of Poland."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 7, 2007 (VIS) - This morning, in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" chapel, the Pope attended the first sermon of Advent, delivered, in keeping with tradition, by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household. The theme of this year's meditations is taken from the Letter to the Hebrews (1, 2): "He has spoken to us by a Son."

  The meditations will be attended by cardinals, archbishops, bishops, prelates of the Roman Curia and the Vicariate of Rome, and by the superiors general of the religious orders that form part of the "Cappella Pontificia."

  The remaining Advent sermons will be given on December 14 and 21.
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