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Monday, December 17, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Pontifical Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

 - Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, apostolic nuncio to Iran.

  On Saturday, December 15, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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

    - Bishop Marcellino Daiji Tani of Saitama.

    - Bishop Peter Toshio Jinushi of Sapporo.

    - Bishop Martin Tetsuo Hiraga of Sendai.

    - Bishop Rafael Masahiro Umemura of Yokohama.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received postulators of the causes of beatification and canonization of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  The Pope began his address to them by mentioning the forthcoming 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister" with which, in 1983, John Paul II revised the procedures of the causes of saints in order to respond to the wishes of experts and pastors who were calling "for a more manageable procedure, while still maintaining solidity of research in this field, which is so important for the life of the Church.

  "Through beatifications and canonizations," the Pope added, the Church "gives thanks to God for the gift of those of His children who have responded generously to divine grace, honoring them and invoking them as intercessors." And the Church "presents these shining examples for the imitation of all the faithful, called through Baptism to sanctity, which its the aim and goal of every state of life."

  At the same time "ecclesial communities come to realize the need, even in our own time, of witnesses capable of incarnating the perennial truth of the Gospel in the real circumstances of life, making it an instrument of salvation for the entire world."

  "Saints, if correctly presented in their spiritual dynamism and historical reality, contribute to making the word of the Gospel and the mission of the Church more believable and attractive. Contact with them opens the way to true spiritual resurrection, lasting conversion and the flowering of new saints."

  "All those who work in the causes of saints," said Benedict XVI, "are called to place themselves at the exclusive service of truth. For this reason, during the diocesan enquiry, witness statements and documentary evidence should be gathered both when favorable and when contrary to the sanctity of the fame of sanctity or of martyrdom of the Servants of God."

  "Hence, the postulators' role is fundamental, both in the diocesan and apostolic stages of the process; their actions must be above criticism, inspired by rectitude and marked by absolute probity."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 16, 2007 (VIS) - Having returned to the Vatican following his visit this morning to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria del Rosario ai Maritiri Portuensi," the Pope appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered below.

  In his remarks, the Pope recalled how the third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as "Gaudete Sunday" because Christians are called to rejoice at the coming of the Lord. "Christian joy," he explained, "flows from this certainty. God is near. ... He is with us, in happiness and in pain, in health and in sickness."

  "Some people ask themselves," the Pope went on, "if this joy can still be felt today." The answer, he said, "is supplied by the lives of men and women of all ages and social conditions who are happy to consecrate their existence to others." In this context, the Holy Father mentioned Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, "an unforgettable witness of true evangelical joy."

  Mother Theresa, he continued, "experienced the trial of the dark night of faith, yet she continued to give everyone the smile of God. On one occasion she wrote: ... 'Being happy with God means loving like Him, helping like Him, giving like Him, serving like Him.'

  "Indeed, joy enters the heart of those who place themselves at the service of the smallest and the poorest," the Pope added. "God dwells in people who love in such a way, and the soul is infused with joy. If, on the other hand, people idolize happiness, they take the wrong path and it becomes truly difficult to discover the joy of which Jesus speaks.

  "And this, unfortunately, is what cultures that put individual happiness in place of God propose," he said. Emblematic of such a mentality "is the search for pleasure at all costs" and "the increasing use of drugs as an escape, a refuge in an artificial paradise which is subsequently revealed as merely illusory."

  "At Christmas too it is possible to take the wrong path," Pope Benedict concluded, "mistaking the true feast for one that does not open the heart to the joy of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help all Christians - and men and women searching for God - to reach Bethlehem and meet the Child Who was born for us, for the salvation and happiness of all mankind."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Sergio Pagano B., prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church.

 - Fr. Adriano Garuti O.F.M., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Lateran University, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebration of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside during the Christmas season:


 - Monday, 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. The Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

 - Tuesday, 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At noon from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will deliver his Christmas message to the world and will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

 - Monday, 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father will preside at first Vespers on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This will be followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" hymn of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the civil year, and the Eucharistic blessing.


 - Tuesday, 1: Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and 41st World Day of Peace which has as its theme: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace." In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m., the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of Mass.

 - Sunday, 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Holy Father to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

 - Sunday, 13: Baptism of Our Lord. Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 10 a.m., during which he will impart the Sacrament of Baptism to a number of children.


VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Addressing them in English, the Pope began by recalling the recently-deceased Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, who "in his person ... exemplified the bonds of communion between the Church in Japan and the Holy See."

  The Holy Father then mentioned last year's 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of Japan, inviting the prelates to follow the saint's footsteps. "Your task today," he said, "is to seek new ways of bringing alive the message of Christ in the cultural setting of modern Japan. Even though Christians form only a small percentage of the population, the faith is a treasure that needs to be shared with the whole of Japanese society."

  "The world is hungry for the message of hope that the Gospel brings. Even in countries as highly developed as yours, many are discovering that economic success and advanced technology are not sufficient in themselves to bring fulfilment to the human heart. ... Remind people that there is more to life than professional success and profit."

  Going on to quote from his Encyclical "Deus caritas est," the Holy Father encouraged the prelates to lead their faithful "towards 'that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others.' This is the great hope that Christians in Japan can offer their compatriots; it is not foreign to Japanese culture, but rather it reinforces and gives new impetus to all that is good and noble in the heritage of your beloved nation.

  "The well-merited respect which the citizens of your country show towards the Church, on account of her fine contribution in education, healthcare and many other fields, gives you an opportunity to engage with them in dialogue and to speak joyfully to them of Christ," he added.

  Young people, the Pope warned, "are at risk of being deceived by the glamour of modern secular culture" and its "false hopes." The resulting disillusion "not infrequently leads to depression and despair, even to suicide." In this context, he expressed the hope that "youthful energy and enthusiasm can be directed towards the things of God, which alone are sufficient to satisfy their deepest longings."

  Noting that over half of Japan's Catholic population is formed of immigrants, the Holy Father observed that this "provides an opportunity ... to experience the true catholicity of God's people. By taking steps to ensure that all are made to feel welcome in the Church," he told the bishops, "you can draw on the many gifts that the immigrants bring. At the same time, you need to remain vigilant in ensuring that the liturgical and disciplinary norms of the universal Church are carefully observed."

  In closing, the Pope had words of praise for "the accumulated wisdom of the ancient culture," of Japan and "her stance on the world political stage in the last 60 years." He told the prelates: "you have made the voice of the Church heard on the enduring importance of this witness, all the greater in a world where armed conflicts bring so much suffering to the innocent."

  In conclusion, the Pope recalled the forthcoming beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs, saying it "offers a clear sign of the strength and vitality of Christian witness in your country's history."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2007 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. yesterday, at the altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope presided at the funeral of the Austrian Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church, who died on December 12 at the age of 97.

  In his homily the Pope recalled how, in his spiritual testament, the late cardinal had written that "as a Salesian I follow the three ideals handed down to us by Don Bosco: love for the Eucharist, devotion to the Virgin Mary and faithfulness to the Holy Father."

  Cardinal Stickler "well knew," said the Holy Father, "that to love Christ is to love His Church, which is ever holy despite, as he himself notes in his spiritual testament, 'the sometimes scandalous weakness of we her representatives, in both past and present'."

  "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven," said Benedict XVI quoting the Gospel of Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount. "All of us, who through Baptism have been called to serve Jesus, know that we cannot and must not await praise and recognition in this world," he added.

  "The faithful disciple's true reward is 'in heaven;' it is Christ Himself. Let us never forget this truth! Let us never give in to the temptation to seek human success and support rather than counting only and always on Him Who came into the world to save us, and Who on the cross redeemed us. Whatever the service to which God calls us in His vineyard, let it always be motivated by humble adherence to His will."

  This, the Holy Father went on, "despite human frailties and weaknesses, was the guiding principle of the earthly life of the beloved Cardinal Stickler. ... A life totally dedicated, first to teaching and subsequently to the service of the Holy See."

  Pope Benedict recalled how as a young man Cardinal Stickler entered the novitiate of the Salesians. He was ordained a priest in 1937 and, between 1958 and 1966, was rector of the Salesian University. In 1971 he became prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and in September 1983 was appointed to the post of pro-librarian of Holy Roman Church. Two months later he was consecrated a bishop by John Paul II who, the following year, appointed him pro-archivist of Holy Roman Church and, in 1985, made him a cardinal.
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