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Monday, December 10, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Romano Rossi of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, pastor of the parish of "Nostra Signora di Coromoto," as bishop of Civita Castellana (area 1,552, population 224,700, Catholics 213,800, priests 184, permanent deacons 12, religious 473), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Montevarchi, Italy in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1971. He succeeds Bishop Divo Zadi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Francisco-Javier Lozano, apostolic nuncio to Croatia, as apostolic nuncio to Romania and Moldova.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 10, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Shawqi Jabriel Armali, director of the office of representation to the Holy See of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami P.S.S. of Nagasaki.

    - Bishop Paul Kenjiro Koriyama of Kagoshima.

    - Bishop Berard Toshio Oshikawa O.F.M. Conv. of Naha.

    - Bishop Dominic Ryoji Miyahara of Oita.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 9, 2007 (VIS) - At his Angelus prayer today, the second Sunday of Advent, Benedict XVI recalled how St. John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ, preaching in the desert, "put people on their guard, above all against the hypocrisy of those who felt secure for the simple fact of belonging to the Chosen People: before God, ... no one has the right to boast but must 'bear fruit worthy of repentance.'

  "As the journey of Advent continues," the Pope added, "as we prepare to celebrate the nativity of Christ, John the Baptist's call to conversion sounds out in our communities. It is a pressing invitation to open our hearts and to welcome the Son of God Who comes among us to make divine judgement manifest. The Father, writes St. John the Evangelist, does not judge anyone, but has entrusted the power of judgement to the Son, because He is the Son of man.

  "And it is today, in the present," the Pope added, "that we decide our future destiny. It is with our concrete everyday behavior in this life that we determine our eternal fate. At the end of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be evaluated on the basis of our likeness or otherwise to the Baby Who is about to be born in the poor grotto of Bethlehem, because He is the measure God has given humanity."

  He continued: "Through the Gospel John the Baptist continues to speak down the centuries to each generation. His hard clear words bring health to us, the men and women of this day in which even the experience and perception of Christmas often, unfortunately, reflects materialist attitudes. The 'voice' of the great prophet asks us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in the deserts of today, internal and external deserts, thirsting for the water of life which is Christ."

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope mentioned his forthcoming meeting with Roman university students, due to take place on December 13. "Dear young people," he said, "I hope you will come in large numbers so we may prepare for Christmas by invoking the gift of wisdom from the Holy Spirit for the entire university community."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2007 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to Rome's Piazza di Spagna to pay his traditional homage before the statue of Mary Immaculate. Along the route, the Holy Father greeted the thousands of people who were lining the streets to see him.

  Having reached the monument, a column with a statue of the Virgin standing in front of the recently-restored facade of the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, Benedict laid a basket of roses at the base and read a prayer.

  Mary Immaculate, said the Pope, "pursued her earthly pilgrimage borne up by an intrepid faith, an unshakeable hope and a humble and limitless love, following the footsteps of her son Jesus. With maternal solicitude she remained at His side from birth to Calvary where she was present at His crucifixion, full of pain but firm in hope. Subsequently she experienced the joy of the resurrection."

  "Does she, our heavenly mother, not invite us to avoid evil and to accomplish good, meekly following the divine love written in every Christian heart? Does she (who kept her own hope alive at the moment of harshest trial) not ask us not to lost hope when suffering and death knock at the door of our homes? Does she not ask us to look trustingly to our future? Does the Immaculate Virgin not exhort us to be brothers to one another, joined by the commitment to build together a more just, united and peaceful world?"

  The Pope highlighted how the Virgin "reminds us that we are all brothers and that God is our Creator and our Father. Without Him - or, worse still, against Him - we human beings will never be able to find the road that leads to love, we will never be able to defeat the power of hatred and violence, we will never be able to build a stable peace."

  In this context, Benedict XVI went on to exhort "people of all nations and cultures" to accept "this message of light and hope," to accept it "as a gift from the hands of Mary, mother of all humanity.

  "If life is a voyage," he added, "and this voyage is often dark, difficult and wearisome, what star can illuminate it?" Referring to his own recent Encyclical "Spe salvi," he went on: "in our joint voyage over the sea of history we have need of 'lights of hope,' that is of people who draw light from Christ 'and so guide us along our way.'

  "And who better than Mary," the Holy Father asked in conclusion, "can be a 'Star of Hope' for us? With her 'yes,' with the generous offer of the freedom she received from the Creator, she enabled the hope of millennia to become reality and to enter into this world and its history."

  Before concluding the ceremony, Benedict XVI addressed some words in French to pilgrims gathered in the Marian shrines of Lourdes and Fourviere in France, for the beginning of the jubilee year marking the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 8, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.

  In his remarks, the Holy Father indicated how today's feast is a celebration of "the mystery of God's grace which, from the first moment of her existence, surrounded the life of the creature destined to become the Mother of the Redeemer, preserving her from the contagion of original sin. Looking at her we recognize the greatness and beauty of God's project for each human being: to become holy and immaculate in love, in the image of our Creator.

  "What a great gift it is to have Mary Immaculate for a mother," Benedict XVI added. "A mother resplendent in beauty and transparent to the love of God." He then referred to young people of today who are, he said, "growing up in an atmosphere pervaded with messages that propose false models of happiness. These boys and girls risk losing hope because they often seem to be orphaned of that real love which fills life with meaning and joy."

  After highlighting how John Paul II had often presented Mary to young people as the "Mother of beautiful love," the Pope went on: "Many experiences show us, unfortunately, that adolescents, young people, and even children fall easy victims to the corruption of love, taken in by unscrupulous adults who ... draw them into the blind alleys of consumerism. Even the most sacred things such as the human body (the temple of God, of love and of life) thus become objects of consumption; and this is happening ever earlier, even before adolescence. How sad it is when children lose their sense of wonder, the enchantment of the most beautiful feelings, the value of respect for the body which is the manifestation of the individual and of his or her unfathomable mystery.

  "Of all this we are reminded by Mary Immaculate whom we contemplate in all her beauty and sanctity," the Pope concluded. "To her we faithfully address our prayer as spiritually we make the pilgrimage to Lourdes where today begins the special jubilee year for the 150th anniversary of her apparition in the grotto of Massabielle."
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