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Friday, December 28, 2007


VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father erected the new diocese of Techiman, (area 22,400, population 695,826, Catholics 79,645, priests 31, religious 23) Ghana, with territory taken from the dioceses of Sunyani and Konongo-Mampong, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Kumasi. He appointed Fr. Dominic Nyarko Yeboah of the clergy of the diocese of Sunyani as the first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Nsuta, Ghana in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1990.

  On Thursday, December 27, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Catamarca, Argentina presented by Bishop Elmer Osmar Ramon Miani, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Luis Urbanc.

 - Appointed Bishop Agustin Roberto Radrizzani S.D.B. of Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, as archbishop of Mercedes-Lujan (area 19,330, population 716,000, Catholics 687,360, priests 104, permanent deacons 2, religious 222), Argentina. The archbishop-elect was born in Avellanada, Argentina in 1944 he was ordained a priest in 1972 and consecrated a bishop in 1991. He succeeds Archbishop Ruben Hector Di Monte, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Monday, December 24, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed Bishop Richard Anthony Burke S.P.S. of Warri, Nigeria, as archbishop of Benin City (area 13,678, population 3,043,000, Catholics 363,000, priests 90, religious 154), Nigeria. The archbishop-elect was born in Clonmel, Ireland in 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 1996.

  On Saturday, December 22, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Antonio Jose Lopez Castillo of Calabozo, Venezuela, as archbishop of Barquisimeto (area 8,590, population 1,754,410, Catholics 1,142,504, priests 189, permanent deacons 22, religious 341), Venezuela. He succeeds Archbishop Tulio Manuel Chirivella Varela, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Gianni Ambrosio of the clergy of the archdiocese of Vercelli, Italy, general ecclesiastical assistant to the Catholic University of Milan, as bishop of Piacenza - Bobbio (area 3,715, population 290,000, Catholics 269,000, priests 348, permanent deacons 37, religious 414), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Santhia, Italy in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1968.

 - Appointed Fr. Wieslaw Lechowicz, rector of the major seminary of Tarnow, Poland, as auxiliary of the diocese of Tarnow (area 7,566, population 1,127,656, Catholics 1,121,775, priests 1,339, religious 1,276). The bishop-elect was born in Dabrowa Tarnowska, Poland in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987.

 - Appointed Cardinal John Patrick Foley as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

 - Appointed Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio to Ireland, as apostolic nuncio to Australia.

- Appointed Archbishop George Kocherry, apostolic nuncio to Ghana, as apostolic nuncio to Zimbabwe.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - Following are highlights of the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See for the months of August through December 2007.


 - 8: Cardinal Roger Etchegaray travels to Russia for the tenth anniversary of the consecration of the Catholic cathedral of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk. While passing through Moscow, Cardinal Etchegaray is received by His Beatitude Alexis II, patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, to whom he delivers a Message and a gift from the Holy Father.


 - 1: Pope visits the Italian shrine of Loreto where he presides at a national meeting of young people concluding the first year of the "Agora" of Italian youth, an event promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - 5: Holy Father receives in audience Farouk al-Charaa, vice-president of the Syrian Arab Republic, who gives the Pope a personal message from Bashar al-Asad, president of Syria.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Prince Saud Al Faisal, foreign minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 - 7-9: Holy Father Benedict XVI makes an apostolic trip to Austria for the 850th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine of Mariazell, the seventh trip outside Italy of his Pontificate.

 - 13: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Jozef Dravecky, the new ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See.

 - 14: Holy Father receives in audience Omar Hassan Ahmed El-Bashir, president of the Republic of Sudan.

 - 15: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Noel Fahey, the new ambassador of Ireland to the Holy See.

 - 15: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at the beatification of Servant of God Fr. Basile-Antonie Marie Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, at Le Mans, France.

 - 16: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. presides at the beatification of Servant of God Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski, founder of the Congregation of Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, at the Marian Shrine of Lichen-Wloclawek, Poland.

 - 16: In the Holy Father's name, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at the beatification of Servant of God Marie Celine of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a nun of the Second Order of St. Francis, at Bordeaux, France.

- 23: The Holy Father makes a pastoral visit pastoral visit to Velletri, south of Rome, the suburbicarian diocese of which he held the title from the year 1993 until his election to the pontificate in April 2005.

 - 24: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Jose Cuadra Chamorro, the new ambassador of Nicaragua to the Holy See.


 - 4: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italy's new ambassador to the Holy See.

 - 11: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Francis Kim Ji-young, the new ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See.

 - 12: Pope inaugurates the "Portone di Bronzo" (Bronze Door), the principal entrance to the Vatican Apostolic Palace, returning to service following almost two years of restoration work.

 - 13: Benedict XVI visits the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music at its headquarters, recently refurbished at the initiative of the Holy See and thanks to the support of various benefactors including the "Fondazione pro Musica Sacra e Arte Sacra."

 - 17: Holy Father announces the names of 23 prelates to be created cardinals in a consistory - the second of his pontificate - on November 24, the eve of the Feast of Christ the King.

 - 18: Holy Father receives in audience Michelle Bachelet, president of the Republic of Chile.

 - 19: Pope receives a delegation from the Mennonite World Conference, the first official Mennonite visit to Rome.

 - 19: Holy Father receives in audience Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

 - 20: Holy Father receives in audience Francois Bozize, president of the Central African Republic.

 - 21: Pope makes a pastoral visit to Naples, Italy, where he celebrates Mass and meets with participants in an International Meeting for Peace, organized by the Sant'Egidio Community.

 - 25: Holy Father receives in audience Zeljko Komsic, president of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 - 26: Holy Father receives in audience Geir H. Haarde, prime minister of Iceland.

 - 27: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Fausto Cordovez Chiriboga, the new ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the Holy See.

 - 27: Pope writes a Letter to Giovanni Maria Vian for the occasion of his appointment as director of "L'Osservatore Romano."

 - 28: Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presides at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square for the beatification of 498 martyrs of the 20th century in Spain.

 - 29: Holy Father receives in audience Oscar Nicanor Duarte Frutos, president of the Republic of Paraguay.


 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

 - 7: Holy Father receives in audience Calin Popescu Tariceanu, prime minister of Romania.

 - 8: Holy Father receives in audience Armando Guebuza, president of the Republic of Mozambique.

 - 12: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Suprapto Martosemoto, the new ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See.

 - 24: Holy Father holds an Ordinary Public Consistory, the second of his Pontificate, for the creation of 23 new cardinals.

 - 30: Publication of Benedict XVI's second Encyclical, "Spe Salvi," dedicated to the theme of Christian hope. The document takes its theme from a passage in the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: "spe salvi facti sumus" (in hope we are saved).


 - 5: Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes granted by the Holy Father through a decree published today and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

 - 6: Holy Father receives in audience Bamir Topi, president of the Republic of Albania.

 - 7: Holy Father receives in audience Donald Tusk, prime minister of the Republic of Poland.

 - 11: Publication of Benedict XVI's Message for the 41st World Day of Peace. The Day falls on January 1, 2008, and has as its theme: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace."

 - 13: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of seven new ambassadors to the Holy See: Chaiyong Satjipanon of Thailand, Alain Butler-Payette of Seychelles, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of Namibia, Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding of Gambia, Urmila Joella-Sewnundun of Suriname, Barry Desker of Singapore, and Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber of Kuwait.

 - 14: Publication of a "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization" prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by an explanatory summary.

 - 16: On his fifth visit as Pontiff to a Roman parish community, the Holy Father visits the parish of "Santa Maria del Rosario ai Maritiri Portuensi" where he celebrates Mass and presides at the consecration of the new church.

 - 20: Holy Father receives in audience Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 28, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for January is: "That the Church may strengthen her commitment to full visible unity in order to manifest in an ever growing degree her nature as community of love, in which is reflected the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

  His mission intention is: "That the Church in Africa, which is preparing to celebrate her Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, may continue to be the sign and instrument of reconciliation and justice in a continent which is still marked by war exploitation and poverty."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 26, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before midday today, feast of St. Stephen, deacon and protomartyr, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Pope recalled how St. Stephen "was stoned at the gates of Jerusalem and died, like Jesus, invoking forgiveness for his killers. The deep bond that unites Christ to His first martyr," said the Holy Father, "is divine Charity. And the same Love that brought the Son of God ... to obey even unto death on the cross, later brought the Apostles and martyrs to give their lives for the Gospel.

  "We must always highlight this distinctive characteristic of Christian martyrdom," the Pope added, "It is exclusively an act of love, towards God and towards man, including our persecutors."

  "Over the centuries, how many sons and daughters of the Church have followed their example," he exclaimed, "from the first persecutions of Jerusalem to those of the Roman emperors, and on to the ranks of martyrs of our own times. Today, in fact, not infrequently there comes news from various parts of the world of missionaries, priests, bishops, religious and lay faithful, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of their freedom or prevented from exercising it because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel. Sometimes people also suffer and die for communion with the Universal Church and faithfulness to the Pope."

  Benedict XVI then went on to mention the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le-Bao-Tinh - mentioned in the recent Encyclical "Spe salvi" - explaining how "suffering is transformed into joy by the force of hope that comes from faith" because "Christian martyrs, like Christ and by union with Him, intimately accept the cross and transform it into an action of love. What from outside is an act of brutal violence, from the inside becomes an act of love. ... Christian martyrs achieve the victory of love over hatred and death."

  The Pope concluded his remarks by calling for prayers "for all those suffering because of their faithfulness to Christ and His Church. Mary Most Holy, Queen of Martyrs, help us to be credible witnesses to the Gospel, answering enemies with the disarming power of truth and charity."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Holy Father pronounced his traditional Christmas Message from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

  Extracts of the Message are given below:

  "'A holy day has dawned upon us.' A day of great hope: today the Savior of mankind is born. The birth of a child normally brings a light of hope to those who are waiting anxiously.

  "The Creator of man became man in order to bring peace to the world. ... It is only the 'great' light manifested in Christ that can give 'true' peace to men: that is why every generation is called to welcome it, to welcome the God Who in Bethlehem became one of us." And, "if we are to recognize it, if we are to receive it, faith is needed and humility is needed."

  "Now, on this Christmas Day, when the joyful news of His saving birth continues to resound, who is ready to open the doors of his heart to the holy Child? ... Who is waiting for the dawn of the new day, keeping alight the flame of faith? Who has time to listen to His word and to become enfolded and entranced by His love? Yes! His message of peace is for everyone; He comes to offer himself to all people as sure hope for salvation."

  "May the light of Christ, which comes to enlighten every human being, shine forth and bring consolation to those who live in the darkness of poverty, injustice and war; to those who are still denied their legitimate aspirations for a more secure existence, for health, education, stable employment, for fuller participation in civil and political responsibilities, free from oppression and protected from conditions that offend against human dignity.

  "It is the most vulnerable members of society - women, children, the elderly - who are so often the victims of brutal armed conflicts, terrorism and violence of every kind, which inflict such terrible sufferings on entire populations. At the same time, ethnic, religious and political tensions, instability, rivalry, disagreements, and all forms of injustice and discrimination are destroying the internal fabric of many countries and embittering international relations. Throughout the world the number of migrants, refugees and evacuees is also increasing because of frequent natural disasters, often caused by alarming environmental upheavals.

  "On this day of peace, my thoughts turn especially to those places where the grim sound of arms continues to reverberate; to the tortured regions of Darfur, Somalia, the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia; to the whole of the Middle East - especially Iraq, Lebanon and the Holy Land; to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to the Balkans and to many other crisis situations that unfortunately are frequently forgotten.

  "May the Child Jesus bring relief to those who are suffering and may He bestow upon political leaders the wisdom and courage to seek and find humane, just and lasting solutions.

  "To the thirst for meaning and value so characteristic of today's world, to the search for prosperity and peace that marks the lives of all mankind, to the hopes of the poor: Christ - true God and true Man - responds with His Nativity. Neither individuals nor nations should be afraid to recognize and welcome Him."

  "Brothers and sisters from every continent, allow the light of this day to spread everywhere: may it enter our hearts, may it brighten and warm our homes, may it bring serenity and hope to our cities, and may it give peace to the world. This is my earnest wish for you who are listening. A wish that grows into a humble and trustful prayer to the Child Jesus, that His light will dispel all darkness from your lives and fill you with love and peace."

  Following his Message, the Pope extended Christmas greetings in 63 languages and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 24, 2007 (VIS) - The Pope tonight celebrated Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

  "The time came for Mary to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born Son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn," said the Pope, beginning his homily with a quote from the Gospel of Luke. "These words touch our heart every time we hear them" because "in some way mankind is awaiting God, waiting for Him to draw near.

  "But when the moment comes," the Pope added, "there is no room for Him. Man is so preoccupied with himself, he has such urgent need of all the space and all the time for his own things, that nothing remains for others - for his neighbor, for the poor, for God. And the richer men become, the more they fill up all the space by themselves. And the less room there is for others.

  "St. John, in his Gospel, went to the heart of the matter, giving added depth to St. Luke's brief account of the situation in Bethlehem: 'He came to His own home, and His own people received him not.' This refers first and foremost to Bethlehem," said the Holy Father, but "truly, it refers to all mankind: He through whom the world was made, the primordial Creator-Word, enters into the world, but He is not listened to, He is not received."

  "Thank God, this negative detail is not the only one, nor the last one that we find in the Gospel," said Pope Benedict, recalling "the maternal love of Mary, ... the fidelity of St. Joseph, the vigilance of the shepherds and ... the visit of the wise men."

  Hence, "there are those who receive Him, and thus, beginning with the stable, with the outside, there grows silently the new house, the new city, the new world. The message of Christmas makes us recognize the darkness of a closed world, and thereby no doubt illustrates a reality that we see daily. Yet it also tells us that God does not allow Himself to be shut out. He finds a space, even if it means entering through the stable; there are people who see His light and pass it on."

  The Pope continued: "In some Christmas scenes from the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the stable is depicted as a crumbling palace. It is still possible to recognize its former splendor, but now it has become a ruin, the walls are falling down - in fact, it has become a stable. Although it lacks any historical basis, this metaphorical interpretation nevertheless expresses something of the truth that is hidden in the mystery of Christmas."

  In the stable of Bethlehem, in the city of King David, "the Davidic kingship started again in a new way," the Holy Father explained. "The new throne from which this David will draw the world to himself is the Cross." And the new palace is "different from what people imagine a palace and royal power ought to be like. It is the community of those who allow themselves to be drawn by Christ's love and so become one body with Him, a new humanity. The power that comes from the Cross, the power of self-giving goodness, this is the true kingship."

  "Gregory of Nyssa, in his Christmas homilies, developed the same vision setting out from the Christmas message in the Gospel of John: 'He pitched His tent among us'," said the Holy Father. "Gregory applies this passage about the tent to the tent of our body, which has become worn out and weak, exposed everywhere to pain and suffering. And he applies it to the whole universe, torn and disfigured by sin. What would he say if he could see the state of the world today, through the abuse of energy and its selfish and reckless exploitation?"

  "Thus, according to Gregory's vision, the stable in the Christmas message represents the ill-treated world. What Christ rebuilds is no ordinary palace. He came to restore beauty and dignity to creation, to the universe: this is what began at Christmas and makes the angels rejoice. The earth is restored to good order by virtue of the fact that it is opened up to God, it obtains its true light anew, and in the harmony between human will and divine will, in the unification of height and depth, it regains its beauty and dignity. Thus Christmas is a feast of restored creation."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 24, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent his condolences for the death of Cardinal Aloisio Lorscheider O.F.M., archbishop emeritus of Aparecida, Brazil, who died on December 23 at the age of 83.

  The Pope sent two telegrams conveying his condolences, one to Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre, Brazil, where Cardinal Lorscheider died, and another to Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, of which the late cardinal was a member.

  In his telegrams, the Holy Father recalls the "constant and generous commitment" to the Church shown by Cardinal Lorscheider who was bishop of Santo Angelo then archbishop of Fortaleza before becoming archbishop of Aparecida. He was also a member of various congregations of the Holy See, as well as president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 23, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, in remarks before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father recalled that on the Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity we celebrate "the great mystery of love, which never ceases to amaze us. God became the Son of man that we may become children of God."

  "The evangelizing mission of the Church," the Pope said, "is a response to the cry 'come, Lord Jesus,' which traverses the entire history of salvation and continues to rise from the lips of believers. Come, Lord, to transform our hearts, that justice and peace may spread through the world.

  "This," the Holy Father added, "is what the 'Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization,' recently published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, seeks to recall. The document aims, in fact, to remind all Christians - in a situation in which the raison d'etre of evangelization is unclear even to many faithful - that 'the acceptance of the Good News in faith,' of itself leads people to communicate the salvation they have received as a gift."

  "To be touched by the presence of God, Who draws close to us at Christmas, is a priceless gift. ... There is nothing more beautiful, urgent and important than freely to pass on to mankind what we have freely received from God. Nothing can excuse or relieve us from this difficult but fascinating task. The joy of Christmas, ... while filling us with hope, at the same time prompts us to announce to everyone the presence of God among us."
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VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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