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Friday, December 21, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Raymundo Sabio M.S.C., formerly a missionary in Korea, as apostolic prefect of the Marshall Islands (area 181, population 50,874, Catholics 4,601, priests 7, permanent deacons 1, religious 14). He succeeds Fr. James C. Gould S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic prefecture the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 21, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father held his traditional meeting with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and members of the Roman Curia, for the exchange of Christmas greetings.

  "The Curia is a 'working community'," said the Pope opening his address, "held together by bonds of fraternal love which the Christmas festivities serve to reinforce."

  He then went on to recall one of the significant events of the year that is drawing to a close: his trip to Brazil to meet with participants in the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, and with "the Church in the vast continent of Latin America."

  Referring specifically to his encounter with young people in the municipal stadium of Sao Paulo, he observed: "There are mass events which have the single effect of self-affirmation, in which people allow themselves to be carried away by the rhythm and the sounds, and end up deriving joy merely from themselves. On that occasion however, ... the profound communion which spontaneously arose between us caused us, by being with one another, to be for one another. It was not an escape from daily life but became a source of strength for accepting life in a new way."

  The Holy Father then went on to recall the canonization of Frei Galvao: "Each saint who enters into history," he said, "represents a small portion of Christ's return, a renewal of His entrance into time, showing us His image in a new light and making us sure of His presence. Jesus Christ does not belong to the past and He is not confined to a distant future. ... Together with His saints He is ... journeying towards us, towards our today."

  Still on the subject of his Brazil visit, the Pope recalled how at the "Fazenda da Esperanca" where "people who have fallen into the slavery of drugs, rediscover freedom and hope," he had felt "the renovating power of God's creation." And he went on: "We must defend creation, not only with a view to its utility, but for itself - as a message from the Creator, as a gift of beauty which is promise and hope," because "mankind has need of transcendence."

  Turning then to his meeting with Brazilian bishops in the cathedral of Sao Paulo, Benedict XVI highlighted how "the experience of 'effective and affectionate collegiality' of fraternal communion in the shared ministry, led us to feel the joy of catholicity. Over and above all geographical and cultural confines we are brothers, together with the Risen Christ Who has called us to His service."

  Having presided, in Aparecida, at the opening of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, which had as its theme "Disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life," Benedict XVI considered some possible objections to this choice of subject: "Was it not," he asked, "perhaps excessively concentrated on interior life at a time in which the great challenges of history - the urgent problems of justice, peace and freedom - require the complete commitment of all men and women of good will, and in particular of Christianity and the Church?"

  To answer this objection, the Holy Father proceeded, "it is necessary to understand the true meaning of the theme." The key idea is that of "finding life," he said, "and the theme presupposes that this objective ... is to be attained through discipleship of Jesus Christ and through commitment to His word and His presence."

  Being a disciple of Christ, the Pope said, "means in the first place coming to know Him" by listening to the Word. And to meet Christ "we must listen, then reply through prayer and through practicing what He tells us."

  "The disciple of Christ must also be a 'missionary,' a messenger of the Gospel," said the Pope, adding: "Here too the objection could be made as to whether it is still legitimate to 'evangelize' today? Should not all the religions and philosophies of the world coexist peacefully and together seek what is best for humanity, each in its own way?" And he went on: "of course, it is indisputable that we must coexist and cooperate with mutual tolerance and respect."

  In this context, Benedict XVI mentioned the letter sent to him by 138 Muslim religious leaders "bearing witness to their joint commitment to promoting peace in the world." In his reply, he said, "I expressed my convinced adherence to such noble sentiments, at the same time underlining the urgent need for a harmonious commitment in order to safeguard values, mutual respect, dialogue and collaboration. The shared recognition of the existence of the One God ... is a premise for joint action in defense of ... the dignity of all human beings, for the edification of a more just and united society."

  "Those who have recognized a great truth, those who have discovered a great joy, must pass it on, they cannot keep it to themselves. ... In order to reach fulfillment, history needs the announcement of the Good News to all peoples, to all men and women. How important it is for forces of reconciliation, of peace, of love and of justice to come together in humanity. ... How important it is, ... in the face of the sentiments and the reality of violence and injustice, for rival forces to be mobilized and reinforced.

  "And this," the Holy Father added, "is what happens in the Christian mission. Through the encounter with Jesus Christ and His saints," humankind "is re-equipped with those forces for good without which none of our plans for social order is realized but, faced with the enormous pressure of other interests contrary to peace and justice, remain as abstract theories."

  Then, definitively answering the question he had posed at the start of his talk, the Pope indicated that the Aparecida meeting was right "to give priority to discipleship of Jesus Christ and to evangelization," and that this was in no way a "misguided retreat into interior life." This, he explained, "is because the renewed encounter with Jesus Christ and His Gospel - and only that - revives the forces that make us capable of giving the right response to the challenges of our time."

  The Holy Father subsequently went on to consider the Letter he had sent in June to Catholic Church faithful in the People's Republic of China, in which he gave "certain guidelines for confronting and resolving, in a spirit of communion and truth, the delicate and complex problems of Church life in China. I also indicated the Holy See's willingness to undertake a serene and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, with the aim of finding a solution to the various problems concerning the Catholic community. ... It is my hope that, with the help of God, the Letter may produce the desired fruits."

  At the end of his address to the Curia, the Pope briefly mentioned his visit to Austria in September, and his meeting with young people in the Italian town of Loreto, "a great sign of joy and hope," he said.

  "We must not delude ourselves," the Holy Father said, "the secularism of our time and the pressure of ideological presumption (to which the secularist mentality with its exclusive claim to definitive rationality tends), present no small-scale problem." Nonetheless, he concluded, "we also know that the Lord maintains His promise: 'Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age'."

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