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Tuesday, December 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. P. Elio Greselin, S.C.J., former Provincial General of the Dehonian Fathers, as Bishop of Lichinga (area 129,362, population 1,084,682, Catholics 200,466, priests 29, religious 74), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in Tretto di Venza, Italy in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1965.

- Archbishop Mario Zenari, formerly Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, as Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.

- the following as consultants to the Congregation for the Clergy: Msgr. Giuseppe Sciacca, Prelate Auditor of the Roman Rota; Fr. Valerio Michele Adriano, of the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy; Fr. Davide Cito, of the personal prelature of Opus Dei and professor of Penal Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome; Fr. James Conn, S.J, professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Fr. Enrico dal Covolo, S.D.B., professor of Christian and Classical Letters at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome; Fr. Alberto Franzini, of the Diocese of Cremona, Italy; Fr. Martin Grichting, of the Diocese of Chur, Switzerland; Fr. David-Maria Jaeger, O.F.M., professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University "Antonianum", Rome; Fr. Moacyr Malaquias Junior, O.F.M., professor of Canon Patrimonial Law at the Pontifical University "Antonianum", Rome; Fr. Jesus Minambres, of the personal prelature of Opus Dei and professor of Administrative Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome; Fr. Luis Navarro, of the personal prelature of Opus Dei and dean of the Canon Law faculty at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome; Fr. Christoph Ohly, of the Diocese of Cologne and assistant to the chair of Canon Law at the Catholic University of Munich, Germany; Fr. Jan Sliwa, O.P., assistant dean and professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), Rome; and Dr. Richard Fitzgibbon, psychiatrist and member of the Catholic Medical Association of the United States of America.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Following is the biannual report of the major events related to the activities of the Holy Father Benedict XVI and the Holy See from August to December of 2008.


- 19: The Holy Father appointed Daniel Rudolf Anrig as commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard with the rank of Colonel.

- 23: The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, as special secretary of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in the Vatican from 5 to 26 October on the theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church". He substituted Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger, O.F.M. Cap., who had recently passed away.


- 5: On the liturgical memory of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Italian Episcopal Conference joined with Pope Benedict XVI in calling upon all Italian dioceses to observe a day of prayer and fasting for Christians in India.

- 6: Audience with the prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua on the completion of their "ad limina" visit.

- 6: Audience with Traian Basescu, President of Romania.

- 6: Cardinal Antonio Innocenti, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy and president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church and of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" died at the age of 93.

- 7: The Holy Father made a pastoral visit to Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy.

- 8: On the Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, the Holy Father sent an SMS to the youth who had participated in this year's World Youth Day in July in Sydney, Australia.

- 9: A letter from the Holy Father Benedict XVI to Bishop Luciano Monari of Brescia, Italy, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI was published.

- 12-15: The Holy Father made an apostolic visit to France, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes.

- 21: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: at 9:00am: the Pope celebrated Mass and dedicated a new altar at the cathedral of San Pancrazio in Albano, Italy.

- 21: Beatification of the Servant of God Vincenza Maria Poloni, Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, at Verona, Italy.

- 26: Audience with prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit:

- 27: Audience with Pavel Vosalik, new Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Holy See, on the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

- 28: Beatification of the Servant of God Michael Sopocko, Polish priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters of Merciful Jesus, in the square in front of the Divine Mercy Church of Bialystok, Poland.


- 3: International congress organized jointly by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and Sacred Heart Catholic University in Rome to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Paul VI's Encyclical "Humanae vitae".

- 4: Beatification of the Servant of God Francesco Pianzola, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace, in the cathedral of Vigevano, Italy.

- 4: Beatification of the Servant of God Francesco Giovanni Bonifacio, Italian priest and martyr, in the cathedral of Trieste, Italy.

- 4: The Holy Father Benedict XVI made an official visit to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinal Palace, Italy's official presidential residence, returning the visit to the Vatican made by the president on 20 November 2006.

- 5: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with the Synod Fathers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the opening of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will be meeting to consider the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church".

- 9: The Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with cardinals in the Vatican Basilica at 11:30 a.m. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

- 12: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Pope celebrated the Eucharist in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m., during which he canonised the Blesseds Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler, Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception (Anna Muttathupadathu), and Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran.

- 18: The Holy Father presided over the celebration of first Vespers of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Sistine Chapel, marking the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in the work of the current Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

- 19: Beatification of the Servants of God Louis Martin and Maria Zelia Guerin, lay persons, married couple, and parents of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, in Lisieux, France.

19: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary at Pompeii, Italy. At 10:00 a.m. he celebrated the Eucharist and offered the traditional supplication to the Virgin of Pompeii, and at 5:00 p.m. prayed the Holy Rosary with the gathered faithful.

26: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The closure of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican Basilica.

27: The Pope announced his intention to make an apostolic visit to Cameroon in March 2009 to entrust the working document of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to representatives of the episcopal conferences of Africa and to Angola to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of that country.


7: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Vytautas Alisauskas, new Ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See

8: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Wang Larry Yu-yuan, new Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Holy See.

13: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Sante Canducci, new Ambassador of the Republic of San Marino to the Holy See.

13: Audience with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

17: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Georges Chakib El Khoury, the Ambassador of Lebanon to the Holy See.

23-27: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians, whose See is located in the Lebanese town of Antelias, made an official visit to the Pope and the Church of Rome.

24: Beatification of the Servants of God Peter Kibe Kasui, Japanese priest of the Company of Jesus, and his 187 companions, killed in Japan between 1603 and 1639, at noon in the Nagasaki Big N. Stadium, Japan.

29: Beatification of the Servant of God Jose Olallo Valdes, Cuban professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1820-1889) in Plaza de la Caridad of Camaguey, Cuba.

30: First Sunday of Advent: Pastoral visit to the Roman basilica of San Lorenzo for the 1,750th anniversary of the martyrdom of the deacon saint as part of the Holy Father's annual visits to Roman parishes.


1: Audience with Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

4: Audience with prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Chile at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

5: Presentation of the Letters of Credence of Juan Pablo Cafiero, new Ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See

5: The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on the death of His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias at the age of 79.

12: Audience with prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Taiwan at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

12: Presentation of the Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "'Dignitas Personae': On Certain Bioethical Questions", published in seven languages.

12: United States Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. died at the age of 90.

13: Visit to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, housed in the Borromeo Palace.

18: Audience with 11 new ambassadors to the Holy See to receive their Letters of Credence: Isaac Chikwekwere Lamba (Malawi), Perols Ulla Birgitta Gudmundson (Sweden), Christian Sheka Kargbo (Sierra Leon), Elin Flygenring (Iceland), Paul Duhr (Luxembourg), Rajaonarivony Narisoa (Madagascar), Oscar Ayuso (Belize), Rafiaa Limam Baouendi (Tunisia), Amanzhol Zhankuliyev (Kazakhstan), Naser Muhamed Youssef Al Belooshi (Bahrain), and Pio Bosco Tikoisuva (Fiji Islands).

18: Audience with staff members, contributors, and advisors of Vatican Television (CTV) on the occasion of the celebration of CTV's 25th anniversary this year.

19: Audience with Graziano Luigi Triboldi, new ambassador of the Seychelles to the Holy See, on the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

19: Audience with members of the Labor Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment by John Paul II this coming 1 January.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for January is: "That the family ma become more and more a place of training in charity, personal growth and transmission of the faith".

 His mission intention is: "That the different Christian confessions, aware of the need for a new evangelization in this period of profound transformations, may be committed to announcing the Good News and moving towards the full unity of all Christians in order to offer a more credible testimony of the Gospel".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2008 (VIS) - During 2008, 2,215,000 faithful and pilgrims participated in a general or special audience, the prayer of the Sunday Angelus, or the liturgical celebrations presided over by the Holy Father.

 According to data on the year that is about to end provided by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, more than half a million people participated in the Wednesday general audiences - October being the month of heaviest attendance - and more than a million participated in the Sunday Angelus prayers in St. Peter's Square.
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Monday, December 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At noon today, the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Pope addressed the thousands who had gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.

The Holy Father affirmed that "the family of Jesus truly merits the title 'holy' because its sole desire was to fulfil the will of God, incarnate in the adorable presence of Jesus. On the one hand, it is a family like all others and as such is a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice, trust in Divine Providence, industriousness, solidarity, of all those values safeguarded and promoted by the family, contributing in a basic way to the formation of the fabric of every society".

"At the same time", he continued, "the family of Nazareth is unique, different from all others because of its singular vocation tied to the mission of the Son of God. Precisely with this uniqueness it signals to all families, Christian families primarily, the horizon of God, the sweet and demanding primacy of His will, the perspective of heaven to which we are destined".

Benedict XVI then addressed the thousands of persons gathered in Madrid's Plaza de Colon who were participating in a celebration to "pray for the family and dedicate themselves to work in support of it with strength and hope".

The family", he said, "is certainly a grace of God, which allows what He Himself is to be revealed: Love. An eternally gratuitous love that sustains faithfully and without limits, even in moments of difficulty or discouragement. These qualities are eminently incarnate in the Holy Family in which Jesus came to the world and was raised, coming to wisdom with the thoughtful care of Mary and the faithful tutelage of St. Joseph".

"Dear families", he continued, "do not let love, openness to life, and the incomparable bonds that unite your home be corrupted. Ask this continually of the Lord, praying together, that your intentions be illuminated by faith and exalted by divine grace on the path toward holiness. In this way, with the joy of sharing everything in love, you will give the world a beautiful witness of how important the family is for the human being and for society. The Pope is by your side, asking especially of the Lord for those in each family who have the greatest needs of health, work, comfort, and companionship".

The Holy Father concluded, recalling that the 6th World Encounter of Families will take place in Mexico City from 14 to 18 January 2009. "Let us pray for this important ecclesial event, entrusting all family to the Lord, especially those most affected by the difficulties of life and by the wounds of incomprehension and division. May the Redeemer, born in Bethlehem, give to all the serenity and strength of walking united the path of good."
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VATICAN CITY, 27 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation of Bishop Eduard Kojnok from the pastoral care of the diocese of Roznava, Slovakia, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Vladimir Filo, coadjutor bishop of the same diocese.

- Appointed Bishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Vicente, El Salvador, as bishop of San Salvador (area 3,295, population 2,868,000, Catholics 2,008,000, priests 233, permanent deacon 1, religious 1,437), El Salvador. He succeeds Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Sebelio Peralta Alvarez of Villarrica del Espiritu Santo, Paraguay, as bishop of San Lorenzo (area 1,944, population 831,000, Catholics 738,000, priests 44, permanent deacons 23, religious 109), Paraguay.

On 24 December, the Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Francisco Javier Del Valle Paredes as Bishop of Campo Mourao (area 12,544, population 361,000, Catholics 296,000, priests 61, permanent deacons 5, religious 106), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Isla Pocú, Paraguay in 1942 and was ordained a priest in 1976. He formerly held the position of diocesan administrator in the same diocese.

- Fr. Derek John Christopher Byrne, S.P.S. as Bishop of Guiratinga (area 36,666, population 155,900, Catholics 103,400, priests 16, religious 53), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1948 and was ordained a priest in 1973. He was formerly pastor of Santo Antonio Parish in the diocese of Juina, Brazil.

- Fr. Marek Mendyk as Auxiliary Bishop of Legnica (area 7,080, population 842,633, Catholics 780,000, priests 485, religious 295), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Gluszyca, Poland in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He was formerly director of the Catechetical section of the curia in the same diocese.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At noon today, on the Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr, the Holy Father appeared at the widow of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

In the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the Pope said, there is a detail that "during this Pauline Year should be highlighted: the note that 'the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul'".

The Holy Father observed, "St. Paul appears here for the first time, with his Hebrew name of Saul, in the role of a zealous persecutor of the Church. ... Shortly after the martyrdom of St. Stephen and still driven by his zeal against Christians, Saul was struck down by a light from heaven, the extraordinary experience in which the risen Christ appeared to him, spoke to him, and changed his life".

"Saul persecuted the Church and had even participated in the stoning of Stephen. He saw him stoned to death but above all had seen the way in which he died, ever like Christ, that is, praying and forgiving his killers. On the road to Damascus Saul understood that in persecuting the Church he was persecuting Jesus who had died and truly risen; Jesus, alive in His Church, was also alive in Stephen who he had seen die but who now certainly lived together with his risen Lord. We can almost say that in Christ's voice he heard that of Stephen and, as well as by his intercession, divine grace touched his heart".

"In St. Stephen", Benedict XVI concluded, "we see come to fruition the first fruits of the salvation that the Nativity of Christ offered to humanity: the victory of life over death, of love over hate, of the light of truth over the darkness of deception. We give thanks to God that this victory still today allows many Christians not to return evil with evil, but to respond with the strength of truth and love".

After praying the Angelus the Pope gave the following words: "At Christmastime our concern for those who find themselves in conditions of suffering or great difficulty is heightened. I think, among others, of the two consecrated Italian women, Maria Teresa Olivero and Caterina Giraudo, belonging to the Father de Foucauld Contemplative Missionary Movement, who have been held hostage for over a month and a half, together with a group of local members, in the village of El Waq in Northern Kenya. I want them to feel the solidarity of the Pope and all the Church in these moments. May the Lord who, being born, came to give us His love reach the heart of the kidnappers, that they free our sisters so that they might return to their selfless service with our poorest brothers and sisters! I invite you to pray for this without forgetting the many persons held hostage in other places around the world, of whom we do not always have clear news: I am thinking of those held hostage for political as well as other reasons in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At noon today, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Pope gave his traditional Christmas message and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.

Extracts of the message are given below:

"Every Christmas crib is a simple yet eloquent invitation to open our hearts and minds to the mystery of life. It is an encounter with the immortal Life which became mortal in the mystic scene of the Nativity ".

"This proclamation of hope - the heart of the Christmas message - is meant for all men and women. Jesus was born for everyone, and just as Mary, in Bethlehem, offered Him to the shepherds, so on this day the Church presents Him to all humanity, so that each person and every human situation may come to know the power of God's saving grace, which alone can transform evil into good, which alone can change human hearts, making them oases of peace".

"May the many people who continue to dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (cf. Lk 1:79) come to know the power of God's saving grace! May the divine Light of Bethlehem radiate throughout the Holy Land, where the horizon seems once again bleak for Israelis and Palestinians. May it spread throughout Lebanon, Iraq, and the whole Middle East. May it bring forth rich fruit from the efforts of all those who, rather than resigning themselves to the twisted logic of conflict and violence, prefer instead the path of dialogue and negotiation as the means of resolving tensions within each country and finding just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region".

"This light, which brings transformation and renewal, is besought by the people of Zimbabwe, in Africa, trapped for all too long in a political and social crisis which, sadly, keeps worsening, as well as the men and women of the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the war-torn region of Kivu, Darfur, in Sudan, and Somalia, whose interminable sufferings are the tragic consequence of the lack of stability and peace. This light is awaited especially by the children living in those countries, and the children of all countries experiencing troubles, so that their future can once more be filled with hope".

"Wherever the dignity and rights of the human person are trampled upon; wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good; wherever fratricidal hatred and the exploitation of man by man risk being taken for granted; wherever internecine conflicts divide ethnic and social groups and disrupt peaceful coexistence; wherever terrorism continues to strike; wherever the basics needed for survival are lacking; wherever an increasingly uncertain future is regarded with apprehension, even in affluent nations: in each of these places may the Light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart".

"Dear brothers and sisters, today, 'the grace of God our Saviour has appeared' (cf. Tit 2:11) in this world of ours, with all its potential and its frailty, its advances and crises, its hopes and travails. Today, there shines forth the light of Jesus Christ".

"God has come to meet us; He has shown us His face, full of grace and mercy! May His coming to us not be in vain! Let us seek Jesus, let us be drawn to His light which dispels sadness and fear from every human heart. Let us draw near to Him with confidence, and bow down in humility to adore him. Merry Christmas to all!".

Following his message, the Pope extended Christmas greetings in 64 languages and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" (to Rome and the world) blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Pope celebrated Midnight Mass tonight in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

"God stoops down", the Pope said in his homily. "This is a prophetic word", which "that night in Bethlehem, ... took on a completely new meaning. God's stooping down became real in a way previously inconceivable. ... He becomes a child and puts Himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child. The Creator who holds all things in His hands, on whom we all depend, makes Himself small and in need of human love. ... How, indeed, could His love for humanity, His solicitude for us, have appeared greater and more pure? ... The glory of the true God becomes visible when the eyes of our hearts are opened before the stable of Bethlehem".

The Holy Father recalled the Gospel of Luke that narrates the announcement to the shepherds, "people of very lowly status, people who were looked down upon by society at large. ... Luke tells us that they were 'keeping watch'. This phrase reminds us of a central theme of Jesus' message, which insistently bids us to keep watch, ... the command to stay awake, to recognize the Lord's coming, and to be prepared. Here too the expression seems to imply more than simply being physically awake during the night hour. The shepherds were truly 'watchful' people, with a lively sense of God and of His closeness. They were waiting for God, and were not resigned to His apparent remoteness from their everyday lives. .. And who are these people ... if not the poor, the watchful, the expectant, those who hope in God's goodness and seek him, looking to Him from afar?".

Quoting the Church Fathers the Pope explained that if at the moment of the announcement to the shepherds "the angels had known God in the grandeur of the universe, in the reason and the beauty of the cosmos that come from Him and are a reflection of him" then that night "something new had happened, something that astounded them. ... The God who sustains all things and bears them in His hands - He Himself had entered into human history, He had become someone who acts and suffers within history. From the joyful amazement that this unimaginable event called forth, from God's new and further way of making Himself known ... a new song was born, one verse of which the Christmas Gospel has preserved for us: 'Glory to God in the highest heavens and peace to His people on earth'. ... God's glory is in the highest heavens, but His high state is now found in the stable - what was lowly has now become sublime. God's glory is on the earth, it is the glory of humility and love. And even more: the glory of God is peace. Wherever He is, there is peace. He is present wherever human beings do not attempt, apart from him, and even violently, to turn earth into heaven. He is with those of watchful hearts; with the humble and those who meet Him at the level of His own 'height', the height of humility and love. To these people He gives His peace, so that through them, peace can enter this world".

"The medieval theologian William of Saint Thierry once said that God - from the time of Adam - saw that His grandeur provoked resistance in man, that we felt limited in our own being and threatened in our freedom. Therefore God chose a new way. He became a child. He made Himself dependent and weak, in need of our love. Now - this God who has become a child says to us - you can no longer fear me, you can only love me".

"In every child we see something of the Child of Bethlehem", exclaimed Benedict XVI. "Every child asks for our love. This night, then, let us think especially of those children who are denied the love of their parents. Let us think of those street children who do not have the blessing of a family home, of those children who are brutally exploited as soldiers and made instruments of violence, instead of messengers of reconciliation and peace. Let us think of those children who are victims of the industry of pornography and every other appalling form of abuse, and thus are traumatized in the depths of their soul. The Child of Bethlehem summons us once again to do everything in our power to put an end to the suffering of these children; to do everything possible to make the light of Bethlehem touch the heart of every man and woman. ... Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly entered into our night".

"And speaking of the Child of Bethlehem", he concluded, "let us think also of the place named Bethlehem, of the land in which Jesus lived, and which He loved so deeply. And let us pray that peace will be established there, that hatred and violence will cease. Let us pray for mutual understanding, that hearts will be opened, so that borders can be opened. Let us pray that peace will descend there, the peace of which the angels sang that night".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 DEC 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today the Pope called for an end to the violence in the Holy Land and asked the international community to do everything possible to help Israelis and Palestinians find a solution to the current conflict.

 "The Holy Land, which occupies the thoughts and sentiments of faithful around the world during these days of Christmas", the Holy Father said, "has again seen itself struck by an outbreak of unprecedented violence".

 "I am profoundly saddened by the deaths, the wounded, the material damage, the suffering, and the tears of the peoples victim to this tragic recurrence of attacks and reprisals".

 "The earthly homeland of Jesus", he exclaimed, "cannot continue being witness to such bloodshed that is repeated without end! I implore an end to the violence, which is to be condemned in all its forms, and the re-establishment of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I ask for a show of humanity and wisdom in all those who have some responsibility in this situation. I ask the international community to do everything possible to help the Israelis and Palestinians out of this dark alley and not to resign themselves - as I said a few days ago in the 'Urbi et Orbi' message - to the twisted logic of confrontation and violence, but to give precedence to the path of dialogue and negotiation".

 "We entrust to Jesus, the Prince of Peace", he concluded, "our fervent prayer for these intentions, and to Him, Mary, and Joseph we say: 'Oh family of Nazareth, expert in suffering, grant peace to the world'. Grant it today, above all, to the Holy Land!".
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed Fr. Laszlo Bocskei, Vicar General of Tomisoara, Romania, as Bishop of Oradea Mare, Gran Varadino, Nagyvarad of the Latin Rite (area 12,152, population 1,012,000, Catholics 106,700, priests 69, religious 63), Romania. The bishop-elect was born in Gataia, Romania in 1965 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He succeeds Bishop Jozsef Tempfli whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, December 22, 2008


THE POPE SENT AN APOSTOLIC LETTER to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, on the international scientific congress commemorating the 700th anniversary of the death - in that German city - of blessed John Duns Scotus. Highlighting that the Franciscan philosopher and theologian knew how "to join piety with scientific investigation", the Holy Father affirmed that "he made the effort to understand, explain, and defend the truth of the faith in the light of human reason" and "to demonstrate the consonance of all truths, natural and supernatural, that come from one and the same Source".

THE HOLY SEE AND THE FRENCH REPUBLIC signed an agreement this past 18 December in Paris, on the mutual recognition of grades and diplomas in higher education. On the part of the Holy See, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, was the signatory and, for France, Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, signed.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican the Holy Father had his traditional meeting with the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and members of the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings.

The Pope began his address recalling some of the anniversaries commemorated in 2008, including 50 years from the death of Pius XII and John XXIII's ascension to the papal throne, 40 years from the publication of the encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' and 30 years from the death of its author, Paul VI, as well as the inauguration, on 28 June, of the Pauline Year at the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, participated in by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

"The Pauline Year", the Holy Father affirmed, "is a year of pilgrimage not only in the sense of travelling to the Pauline places, but above all of the heart's pilgrimage, with Paul, to Jesus Christ. Paul definitively teaches us that the Church is the Body of Christ, that the Head and the Body are inseparable, and that that it is not possible to love Christ without love for His Church and its living community".

Benedict XVI then referred to three other important events of the year including the World Youth Day in Australia, "a great celebration of the faith", his two apostolic trips to the United States and to France, and the Synod of Bishops at which "pastors from all over the world gathered around the Word of God, which was lifted up among them".

During the Synod, on the one hand, the Pope explained, "we are again made aware of what God, through His Word, addresses to each of us" and "we understand that His Word is present so that we might draw near to one another". On the other hand "this Word has shaped a common history and wants to continue doing so", which is why "we can understand it properly and fully only in the 'we' of the community instituted by God: ever aware that we can never exhaust it completely because it has something new to say to each generation. ... God, in the end, always speaks in the present".

During the synodal assembly it was very important, he added, "to experience that Pentecost exists even today in the Church -- ... the various modes of the experience of God and world and the wealth of cultures are present in her and only thus is revealed the vastness of human existence and, through it, the vastness of the Word of God".

The "presence of the Word of God, God Himself at this moment in history", has been the conducting thread of this year's pastoral visits, whose "true meaning can only be of serving this presence", the Holy Father emphasized. "In those occasions the Church", he observed, "makes the faith publicly perceptible through her, and therefore also the question of God".

Focusing on World Youth Day, which "each time becomes more an object for analysis, which attempts to understand this species, so to speak, of 'youth culture'", the Pope recalled that some analysts consider it a "type of rock festival, in the ecclesial sense, with the Pope as its 'star'". Nevertheless, it has to be kept in mind that these days "do not consist solely in that week that is seen by the rest of the world" and that "beforehand there is a long exterior and interior journey leading up to them. The Cross, accompanied by the image of the Mother of the Lord, makes a pilgrimage throughout the world. ... The meeting with the Cross, which is touched and carried by the youth, becomes an interior encounter with the One who died on the Cross for us". This encounter "awakens the memory of God who desired to become human and suffer with us in the depths of the youth. And we see the woman whom He gave us as Mother. The official Youth Days are just the culmination of a long journey".

The Pope continually referred to "four dimensions of the theme 'The Holy Spirit'". First of all, "the faith in the Creator Spirit", he said, " is an essential content of the Christian Creed. ... In our faith regarding creation we encounter the ultimate foundation of our responsibility toward the earth. It is not simply our property to be exploited according to our interests and desires. Rather, it is a gift of the Creator".

While highlighting that the Church "cannot and should not limit herself to transmitting just the message of salvation to her faithful", the Holy Father said that it must also "protect the human being against self-destruction. It is necessary to have something like an ecology of the human being, understood in the proper manner. It is not a surpassed metaphysics when Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and demands that this order of creation be respected. ... That which is often expressed and understood by the term 'gender', is definitively resolved in the self-emancipation of the human being from creation and the Creator".

Secondly, he continued, the Spirit "also speaks, so to say, with human words, and has entered into history ... The Holy Spirit is the Word that we encounter in the writings of the Old and New Testaments. ... Reading Scripture together with Christ we learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in human words and we discover the unity of the Bible".

Benedict XVI commented that the third dimension of pneumatology is "the inseparability of Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is seen in possibly the most beautiful way in St. John's narration of the first apparition of the Resurrected Christ to His disciples: He breathed on them and in this way gave them the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the breath of Christ".

"The fourth dimension", he said, "emerges spontaneously as the connection between the Spirit and the Church". In this context he recalled that St. Paul "presented the Church as the Body of Christ and thus as the organism of the Holy Spirit, in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit join individuals into a single living being".

The Pope stressed that "the theme of 'The Holy Spirit' ... makes the entire breadth of the Christian faith visible. It is a breadth, which from the responsibility for creation and for the existence of the human being in harmony with creation, leads through the themes of Scripture and salvation history to Christ. From Christ it continues on to the living community of the Church in its orders and responsibilities as well as its immensity and freedom, which are expressed as much in the multiplicity of charisms as in the image of Pentecost with its multitude of languages and cultures".

"The Holy Spirit grants us joy. He is joy. ... This joy is the expression of happiness, of being in harmony with oneself, which is only possible if one is in harmony with God and His creation".

The Pope concluded expressing his wish at the end of this year, "that happiness be always alive in us and thus shine forth to the world in its tribulations".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At noon today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

"With Christmas near at hand", the Pope said, "we are invited to fix our gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried within her virginal womb for nine months: the mystery of God made human. This is the first cardinal point of redemption. The second is the death and resurrection of Jesus and these two inseparable points reveal a single divine plan: to save humanity and its history, taking them up entirely by completely taking on all the evils that oppress them".

"This mystery of salvation also has a historical dimension, a cosmic dimension: Christ is the sun of grace who with His light: 'transfigures and ignites the universe that awaits Him. The very placement of Christmas is tied to the winter solstice, when the days in the Northern hemisphere start to become longer. Regarding this, perhaps not everyone knows that St. Peter's Square is also a meridian: the great obelisk projects its shadow along a line that runs along the pavement toward the fountain under this window, and in these days the shadow is the longest of the entire year. This reminds us of the role of astronomy in marking the hours of prayer. For example, the Angelus is prayed in the morning, at noon, and in the evening".

"The fact that the winter solstice takes place today, 21 December, at this very hour, affords me the opportunity of greeting those who are participating in the initiatives of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, called to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first observations with the telescope. Among my predecessors ... there have been practicioners of this science, including Sylvester II, who taught it, Gregory XIII to whom we owe our calendar, and St. Pius X, who knew how to build sundials. If the heavens, in the beautiful words of the psalmist, 'tell of the glory of God', the laws of nature, which many scientists have studied over the years giving us an ever-better understanding of them, are a great incentive to contemplate the works of the Lord with gratitude".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father named Msgr. Enrico Vigano, previously assistant in the Office of Liturgical Celebrations, as office head in that department.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

- Professor Franco Miano, National President of the Italian Catholic Action with Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina, General Ecclesiastical Assistant.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the members of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology along with their grand chancellor, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.

In his address the Pope praised the "precious and fruitful cultural, literary, and academic work that the Institute carries out in the service of the Church and of culture in general", affirming that "in the traditional sphere of archaeology, the ordinary and specialized courses your Institute gives have great scientific importance, offering knowledge of paleo-Christian monuments, above all in Rome with wider references to other regions of the 'Orbis christianus antiquus', ".

"The Institute's admirable objective is precisely the study of the traces of ecclesial life through the centuries. You offer the opportunity, for those who choose this discipline, of being immersed in a complex reality, that of the first centuries of the Church, in order to 'understand' the past, making it present to people today".

"When this means describing the history of the Church", the Pope stated, "... the archaeologist's patient investigation cannot be separated from also penetrating into supernatural reality, without however, renouncing the rigorous analysis of archaeological finds".

The Holy Father then recalled that "the diffusion of artistic and historical culture in all areas of society gives human beings of today the means of rediscovering their roots and drawing upon cultural and spiritual elements that help build a truly human society. Each person and each society needs a culture open to the anthropological, moral, and spiritual dimensions of existence".

"The experience of your Institute proves that the study of archaeology, especially of paleo-Christian monuments, allows us to deepen our knowledge of the evangelical truth that has been handed down to us and offers the opportunity of following the masters and witnesses of the faith who have preceded us".

"Knowing the heritage of past Christian generations", the pontiff concluded, "allows those following to remain faithful to the 'depositum fidei' of the first Christian community and, following along the same path, continues to make the immutable Gospel of Christ resound in every age and place".


VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today Benedict XVI received in the Vatican the children and young adult representatives of Italian Catholic Action (ACI) for the traditional exchange of Christmas good wishes.

"Many say that youth", the Pope stated, "are capricious, that they are never happy with anything, that they run through games one after the other without ever being satisfied. You instead say to Jesus: 'You are enough for me'!".

"You are enough for us", he continued, "above all when we pray that You always hear our prayers that we might make the world a more beautiful and better place for all. You are enough for us because You forgive us when we have done wrong; You are enough for us because if we become lost You look for us and take us in Your arms like You did with the lost sheep. You are enough for us because You have a beautiful Mother who, before You died on the cross, You asked to be also our Mother".

The Holy Father emphasized that the youngest members of ACI "have many teachers who help you to live together, to pray, and to grow in knowledge of the Gospel. The true goal of Catholic Action is to help you become holy: that is why it helps you to meet Jesus, to love His Church, and to take interest in the world's problems. Isn't it true that you are taking care of children who are less fortunate than yourselves? Isn't it true that, with your 'month of peace' you show, even many adults, how to appreciate peace because you know how to live in peace amongst yourselves?".

"Pray to the Lord", he finished, "that He change the hearts of those who make weapons, that He make terrorists come to their senses, that He convert the hearts of those who are always thinking of war, and that He help humanity build a better future for all the children of the world".

Friday, December 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, President of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, with vice presidents: Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia and Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux, France, with General Secretary Fr. Duarte da Cunha and Assistant General Secretary Fr. Ferenc Janka.

- Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father named:

- Monsignor Berislav Grgic, parish administrator of Oberhaching and Deisenhofen in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Germany, as Bishop of Tromso (area 175,618, population 462,320, Catholics 1,881, priests 10, religious 31) in Norway. The bishop-elect was born in Novo Selo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.

- Archbishop George Panikulam, Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia and Apostolic Delegate to Somalia, as Apostolic Nuncio to Djibouti.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Graziano Luigi Triboldi, the new ambassador of the Seychelles to the Holy See.

  "When speaking of your country", the Pope said, "its beauty and the many resources it possesses are always to be recalled. To increase your potentials you have made important efforts to reduce the lack of education. In an often difficult world context, I am pleased to note your initiatives, which should count on the support of international institutions".

  In this context the Holy Father referred to the responsibility toward future generations and emphasized that it would be "unjust if the human beings of our age were to shirk their obligations and thus bring the weight of their decisions or their inaction onto the generations to come. This is not just in regard to stabilizing the economy, therefore, but above all means facing the questions of social justice. On the other hand, stabilizing national finances also offers a safer setting for economic activity and therefore protects the poorest and most vulnerable populations".

  "This commendable objective", he continued, "requires the cooperation of all and the duty of solidarity is elemental in achieving it. We recognize that social stability is tied not only to a just form of legislation but also to the moral quality of each individual". The Holy Father insisted that "educating the youth is the best path to ensure a lasting sense of solidarity" and once more praised "the efforts of your country to establish an educational system of quality" inviting all, "whatever their level of responsibility, to follow this path and to sow generously for the future".

  "Nevertheless", he added, "this interest for education would be useless if the institution of the family were too fragile. Families constantly need the help and support of political powers. There is a profound harmony between the duties of the family and those of the State. Encouraging synergy between the two means to work effectively for a future of peace and prosperity".

  "The local Church spares no effort to help families, supporting them with the light of the Gospel that brings out all the grandeur and beauty of the 'mystery' of the family, and helping them to assume their educational responsibilities".

  Finally, Benedict XVI greeted the Catholics of the Seychelles, inviting them to "build, together with your fellow citizens, a society in which each can find the path of personal and collective growth".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At noon today the Pope received members of the Labor Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment by John Paul II this coming 1 January.

  The Holy Father highlighted "the unique task that this office is called to carry out in the formation of personnel, so that the activity of the community of workers in the Holy See might be ever more effective and supportive. Another important service of your office is to foresee all possible discord regarding the workers of the Holy See and to seek, if necessary, solutions through sincere and objective dialogue, putting into practice the procedures necessitated by conciliation and arbitration".

  "Those who work in the different offices and departments of the Holy See", said Benedict XVI, "form a unique 'family', whose members are united not only functionally but also by the same mission, that of helping the Successor of Peter in his ministry at the service of the universal Church. The professional labor that is carried out here thus constitutes a 'vocation' that must be cultivated with care and an evangelic spirit, seeing in it a concrete path to holiness".

  "This demands", the Pope emphasized, "that the love for Christ and for one's brothers and sisters, together with a shared sense of Church, animate and inspire competency, commitment, professionalism, and an honest and proper dedication as well as an attentive and mature responsibility, in this way transforming the work itself, whatever it be, into a prayer. All of this can be considered a permanent formative and spiritual task to which all can give their support: cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, and lay persons".

  The Holy Father affirmed that the nearness of Christmas brought to his mind, "almost naturally, the labor crisis that currently worries all of humanity. ... The Christ Child, who was born on that Holy Night of Bethlehem to draw near us in our difficulties", he concluded, "looks with kindness on those who are sorely affected by this world crisis, awakening in them feelings of true solidarity".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon was made public the declaration of the delegation of the Holy See to the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly on the theme: "Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms".

  Archbishop Celestino Migliore affirmed that "the Holy See appreciates the attempts made in the 'Declaration on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity' - presented at the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008 - to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them".

  "At the same time, the Holy See notes that the wording of this Declaration goes well beyond the above-mentioned and shared intent".

  "In particular, the categories 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity', used in the text, find no recognition or clear and agreed definition in international law. If they had to be taken into consideration in the proclaiming and implementing of fundamental rights, these would create serious uncertainty in the law as well as undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards".

  "Despite the Declaration's rightful condemnation of and protection from all forms of violence against homosexual persons, the document, when considered in its entirety, goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms", the declaration emphasized.

  "The Holy See continues to advocate that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges States to do away with criminal penalties against them".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

- Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

- Archbishop Rino Passigato, Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Jorge Anibal Quintero Chacon, previously vicar general of the diocese of San Cristobal, Venezuela, as Bishop of Margarita (area 1,150, population 415,000, Catholics 351,000, priests 33, religious 37), Venezuela. The bishop-elect was born in Queniquea, Venezuela in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981.

- Bishop Felix Genn of Essen, Germany as Bishop of Munster (area 15,265, population 4,335,631, Catholics 2,042,889, priests 1,245, permanent deacons 254, religious 2,888), Germany.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of new ambassadors to the Holy See from Malawi (Isaac Chikwekwere Lamba), Sweden (Perols Ulla Birgitta Gudmundson), Sierra Leon (Christian Sheka Kargbo), Iceland (Elin Flygenring), Luxembourg (Paul Duhr), Madagascar (Rajaonarivony Narisoa), Belize (Oscar Ayuso), Tunisia (Rafiaa Limam Baouendi), Kazakhstan (Amanzhol Zhankuliyev), Bahrain (Naser Muhamed Youssef Al Belooshi), and the Fiji Islands (Pio Bosco Tikoisuva).

  The Pope addressed them jointly in French, then gave a personal message in writing regarding their respective countries to each of them.

  "The diversity of your provenance", said the Pope, "gives me cause to thank God for His creative love and for the multiplicity of His gifts, which never cease to surprise humanity. It is a teaching. At times diversity causes fear, which is why it is not to be wondered at if human beings prefer the monotony of uniformity. Some political-economic systems, claiming pagan or religious origins, have afflicted humanity for too long, attempting to render it the same through demagogy and violence. Those systems have reduced and continue to reduce the human being to a wretched slavery at the service of a single ideology or of an inhuman and pseudo-scientific economy".

  "We all know that there is no single political model. ... Each country has a characteristic genius and some 'demons', and each progresses along a path, which is at times painful but its own, toward a future that seems bright", the Pope observed, expressing the desire that "each people cultivate the qualities that characterize it in order to enrich others and to purify its 'demons', bringing them under control so that they might defend the greatness of human dignity".

  Benedict XVI then emphasized to each that one of the essential aspects of the duties as ambassador is "the search for and promotion of peace. ... An ambassador should be a peacemaker" and "peace is not just a political or military situation without conflict; rather it is the sum of conditions that allow concord among all and the personal development of each. ... Since Christ calls the peacemakers 'children of God' ... your mission ... is noble and elevated".

  "True peace", the Holy Father continued, "is not possible unless justice reigns ... which does not just refer to the social or even ethical spheres. It does not just refer to what is equitable or in conformity with the law. The Hebrew etymology of the word refers to what 'is adjusted'. God's justice is shown in the justness that puts all things in their place, all things in order, so that the world might be adjusted to God's plan and His order".

  "The noble mission of the ambassador", the Pope concluded, "therefore consists in employing your art so that all 'might be adjusted', so that the nation you serve might live not only in peace with others but also in accordance with the justice that it shows in the equity and solidarity of its international relationships and in which its citizens, enjoying peace, might live their beliefs freely and serenely and thus achieve God's 'justness'".

  In his letter addressed to the ambassador of Malawi, the Pope stated that "Africa is increasingly aware of the urgent need for unity and cooperation in facing the challenges of the future and ensuring sound and integral development for its people". In this sense he emphasized that "political leaders must have a deep sense of their duty to advance the common good, and thus be firmly committed to dialogue and readiness to transcend particular interests in the service of the whole body politic".

  To the Swedish diplomat, the Holy Father recalled that "maintaining a balance between competing freedoms represents one of the most delicate moral challenges faced by the modern State. ... the right to be defended against discrimination is sometimes invoked in circumstances that place in question the right of religious groups to state and put into practice their strongly held convictions, for example, concerning the fundamental importance for society of the institution of marriage, understood as a lifelong union between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life".

  Benedict XVI expressed a "great concern" to the representative of Luxembourg regarding "the text of the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide that is currently being debated in parliament". In this context the Pope highlighted "the serious duty the politicians responsible have to serve the good of the human being" and expressed the wish that the people of Luxembourg "always reaffirm the greatness and inviolable character of human life".

  In his message to the ambassador of Tunisia, the Pope stressed that "dialogue between cultures and religions is an inescapable need in our days in order to act together for peace and stability in the world and to promote a true respect of the person and of fundamental human rights. ... Building a society in which each person is recognized in their dignity also implies the respect of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion for each. The expression of authentic religious convictions is the truest sign of human freedom".

  Speaking of the positive role that religions can play in society, the Holy Father noted in his letter to the representative of Kazakhstan that "it is incumbent upon the State to guarantee full religious freedom, but it also has the duty of learning to respect what is religious, avoiding interference in matters of faith and the conscience of the citizen".

  To the ambassador of the Fiji Islands, Benedict XVI wrote that "the Pacific region faces many challenges at this time, not least the effects of climate change, especially on island populations, and the need to preserve natural resources. The beauty of God's creation is especially evident to those who live in the South Pacific".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Staff members, contributors, and advisors of Vatican Television (CTV) were received by the Holy Father this morning on the occasion of the celebration of CTV's 25th anniversary this year.

  After greeting Cardinal John Patrick Foley, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., General Director of CTV, Benedict XVI recalled the phrase "Videre Petrum" (to see the Pope) "a desire that has brought uncountable pilgrims to Rome" and which "can be fulfilled, at least in part, thanks to radio and television, which have allowed so many ... to participate in the ceremonies and events of the Vatican and the other places visited by the Pope in carrying out his ministry".

  "Your effort is, above all, a precious service for communion in the Church", added the Pope, "Your collaboration with Catholic television stations has been characteristic from your very inception" and "it is encouraging to know that not a few Catholic television stations in various regions of the world are connected to you. In this manner, a ever greater number of faithful can see, live or recorded, what happens at the center of the Church".

  "Television, however, is not seen only by Catholics. In offering your images to the major television stations of the world and the main state or commercial channels, you assist the proper and timely dissemination of information on life and the teaching of the Church in today's world, at the service of the dignity of the human being, of justice, and of dialogue and peace".

  Referring later to the transmission of liturgical ceremonies the Holy Father reaffirmed that "liturgy is truly the apex of the Church's life, the time and place of a profound relationship with God. Following the liturgical event through the attentive eye of the camera, which allows those who cannot be physically present to participate spiritually, is an arduous and noble task".

  "The images taken over the course of these years and that are now in storage make your archive an invaluable resource, not only for the production of current and future television programs, but also for the history of the Holy See and the Church. ... So that the Church might remain present with its message in the 'great Areopagus' of the mass media, as John Paul II said, and to not feel a foreigner to the places where a great many youth navigate in search of answers and meaning for their lives, you have to seek paths to spread, in new ways, the voices and images of hope through the electronic network that envelops our planet in an increasingly encompassing web".

  "Carry on!", the Pope concluded," ... Thanks to your work many people can feel closer to the heart of the Church".
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated the last general audience of 2008, celebrated in the Paul VI audience hall, to Christmas, "a universal festivity".

 "Even non-believers", he said, " perceive something extraordinary and transcendental, something intimate that touches our hearts in this yearly Christian event. It is the festivity that sings of the gift of life. The birth of a child should always be a joyful occurrence".

 "Christmas is the encounter with a new-born baby, wailing in a wretched grotto", the Holy Father added. "Contemplating Him in this crèche how can we not think of all the children who still today, in many regions of the world, are born amidst such poverty? How can we not think of those newborns who have been rejected, not welcomed, those who do not survive because of a lack of care and attention? How can we not think of the families who desire the joy of a child and do not have this hope fulfilled?"

 "Unfortunately, under the drive of a hedonist consumerism, Christmas runs the risk of losing its spiritual meaning, reduced to a mere commercial occasion to buy and exchange gifts. Actually, however, the difficulties, uncertainty, and the economic crisis that many families are living in these months, and which affects all humanity, can truly serve as a stimulus for rediscovering the warmth of the simplicity, friendship, and solidarity that are the typical values of Christmas. Stripped of its materialist and consumerist trappings, Christmas can become the opportunity to welcome, as a personal gift, the message of hope that emanates from the mystery of Christ's birth".

 "Nevertheless, all of this does not suffice to capture the value of this celebration we are preparing for in all its fullness. We know that it celebrates the central event of history: the Incarnation of the Divine Word for the redemption of humanity. ... 'Thus the recurring annual cycle of the mystery of our salvation is renewed that, promised at the beginning and given to the end of time, is destined to last without end'".

 "At Christmas, therefore, we do not limit ourselves to commemorating the birth of a great person. We do not celebrate, simply and in the abstract, the mystery of the birth of humanity or, in general, the mystery of life. ... At Christmas we recall something that is quite concrete and important for human beings, something essential to the Christian faith, a truth that St. John summarizes in these few words: 'The Word became flesh': This is a historical fact that St. Luke the evangelist is careful to place in a particular historical context: during the days of the decree of the first census of Caesar Augustus".

 "In the darkness of the night in Bethlehem a great light was lit: the Creator of the universe became flesh, indissolubly and eternally joining himself to human nature, to the point of being 'God from God, light from light' and at the same time truly human. By 'the Word' ... John also intends the 'Meaning'" and "the 'Meaning' that became flesh is not just a general idea inherent in the world; it is a Word addressed to us".

 "The Meaning has power: it is God. A good God who cannot be confused with some being on high and far away who cannot be reached, but God who made Himself our neighbor and who is very near to us", "God reveals Himself to us as a poor 'infant' in order to conquer our pride. ... He made Himself small in order to free us from the human delusion of grandeur that arises from pride; He freely became flesh so that we might be truly free, free to love Him".

 "Christmas", the Pope concluded, "is the privileged opportunity to contemplate the meaning and value of our existence. The nearness of this solemnity helps us to reflect, on the one hand, on the dramatic nature of a history in which human beings, wounded by sin, are perennially seeking happiness and a reason for living and dying; on the other hand, it exhorts us to contemplate the merciful goodness of God, who has come to meet humanity that He might communicate the saving Truth to us directly and make us to participate in His friendship and His life".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today was made public the final communique on the 11th Colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society (WICS), which took place in Rome from 15 to 17 December.

  The Catholic and Muslim participants, who briefly met with the Pope after today's general audience, agreed on the following:

1) The first and most important responsibility of religious leaders is one of a religious nature, according to their respective religious traditions, to faithfully fulfill them through teaching, good deeds and example, thus   serve their communities for the glory of God.

2) Considering the role religions can and should have in society, religious leaders also have a cultural and social role to play in promoting fundamental ethical values, such as justice, solidarity, peace, social harmony and the common good of society as a whole, especially the needy, the weak, migrants and the oppressed.

3) Religious leaders have a special responsibility towards youth, who require particular attention so that they do not fall victim to religious fanaticism and radicalism, receiving rather, a sound education thereby helping them to become bridge builders and peace makers.

4) Taking into consideration that crises of diverse nature, including in interreligious relations, are possible, on a national or international level, religious leaders should learn to prevent, cope with and remedy these particular situations, avoiding their degeneration into confessional violence. This requires a mutual respect and reciprocal knowledge, both cherishing personal relations and building confidence and mutual trust, so as to be able to confront together crises when they occur.


VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today was published the address of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 Archbishop Tomasi affirmed that "when a breach is caused between what is claimed and what is real through the search of so-called 'new' human rights, a risk emerges to reinterpret the accepted human rights vocabulary to promote mere desires and measures that, in turn, become a source of discrimination and injustice and the fruit of self-serving ideologies".

 "By speaking of the right to life, of respect for the family, of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, of freedom of religion and conscience, of the limits of the authority of the State before fundamental values and rights, nothing new or revolutionary is said and both, the letter and the spirit of the Declaration are upheld, and coherence with the nature of things and the common good of society is preserved".

 After noting that this anniversary of the Declaration, "leads us also to reflect on its implementation", Monsignor Tomasi said that "in a world of too many hungry people, too many violent conflicts, too many persons persecuted for their beliefs, there remains a long road to walk and the duty to eliminate every discrimination so that all persons can enjoy their inherent equal dignity".

 Archbishop Tomasi encouraged the UN and its specialized agencies "to faithfully translate the principles of the Declaration into action by supporting States in the adoption of effective policies truly focused on the rights and sense of responsibility of everyone".

 "Every human being", he concluded, "has the right to an integral development and 'the sacred right' to live in peace. On such premises, human rights are not just entitlement to privileges. They are rather the expression and the fruit of what is noblest in the human spirit: dignity, aspiration to freedom and justice, search for what is good, and the practice of solidarity. In the light of the tragic experiences of the past and of today, the human family can unite around these values and essential principles, as a duty toward the weakest and needier and toward future generations".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Wilhelm Schraml of Passau, Germany.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2008, (VIS) - Yesterday the XI Colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Islamic Call Society (WICS), a Muslim organization headquartered in Tripoli, Libya, began in Rome.

  In a communique made public yesterday afternoon it was stated that "this initiative forms part of a series of events held in various places, in 1976 and then regularly from 1989 to the present".

  The theme of the meeting in these days, which will culminate tomorrow morning, 17 December, with an audience with Benedict XVI is: "The Responsibility of Religious Leaders, Especially in Times of Crisis".

  The colloquium's five sessions are dedicated to presentations, part Catholic and part Muslim, and the development of three themes of reflection: "Religious Responsibility", "Cultural and Social Responsibility", and "Times of Crisis on the Path of Interreligious Dialogue".

  Twelve Catholic and twelve Muslim dignitaries and experts from various countries are participating in the event, which is presided over by, respectively, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Secretary General of WICS, Mohamed Ahmed Sherif.


VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has chosen the themes for the next three World Youth Days so as to help build a spiritual itinerary that will culminate in the World Youth Day celebrations scheduled to take place in Madrid, Spain from 16 to 21 August, 2011.

- 24th World Youth Day (2009): "We Have Set Our Hope on the Living God" (1 Tim 4:10)

- 25th World Youth Day (2010): "Good Teacher, What Must I do to Inherit Eternal Life?" (Mk 10:17)

- 26th World Youth Day (2011): "Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (cf Col 2:7).
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VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Following is list of prelates who have died in recent weeks:

- Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., of the U.S.A. on 12 December at the age of 90.

- Bishop Elie Amsini Kiswaya, emeritus of Sakania-Kipushi, Democratic Republic of the Congo on 11 December at the age of 80.

- Bishop George Martin Kuzma, emeritus of Van Nuys of the Ruthenians, U.S.A. on 7 December at the age of 83.

- Bishop Jose Maria Larrauri Lafuente, emeritus of Vitoria, Spain on 9 December at the age of 90.

- Bishop Ivan Semedi, emeritus of Mukacevo of the Byzantine Rite, Ukraine on 6 December at the age of 87.
.../DEATHS/...                            VIS 20081216 (110)

Monday, December 15, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2008, (VIS) - This morning at 10:45, The Holy Father travelled to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, arriving there a quarter of an hour later.

  The Pope met with the embassy staff and their families in the St. Charles Borromeo Chapel, which had recently been restored. The saint, who received the palace that currently houses the embassy as a gift from his uncle Pope Pius IV, actively worked with that Pope in governing the Church, as Benedict XVI recalled.

  The saint's life, the Holy Father said, "shows the dedication with which he carried out his episcopal ministry, promoting Church reform in the spirit of the Council of Trent, whose directives he carried out in an exemplary manner, always being close to the people, above all during the years of the plague, to the point of being named the 'Protector of Plague Victims' for his generous dedication".

  "St. Charles Borromeo's personal and spiritual experience", said the Pope, "demonstrates how divine grace transforms the heart of persons and makes them capable of a love for their brothers and sisters that can even become self-sacrifice".

  After blessing those present the Holy Father left the chapel to meet with representatives of the diplomatic corps to the Holy See who were accompanied by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Undersecretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

  Over the years, the Pope noted, the embassy has been visited by three pontiffs: Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. "The singular attention shown by the pontiffs for this diplomatic site", Benedict XVI affirmed, "would be sufficient to indicate the recognition of the important role that the Italian embassy has and continues to carry out in the intense and unique relations between the Holy See and the Italian Republic, as in the relations of mutual collaboration between the Church and the State in Italy".

  The Holy Father then referred to the Lateran Treaty that regulates the relationship between both institutions in Italy and whose 80th anniversary will be celebrated this coming 11 February.  "It is a very important and meaningful accord in the current world situation in which conflicts and tension among the peoples make it ever more necessary for all those who share the same ideals of justice, solidarity, and peace to work together".

  "This brief visit allows me to reaffirm that the Church is very aware that the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, that is to say, the distinction between State and Church, is a part of the fundamental structure of Christianity. ... This distinction and autonomy are respected and recognized by the Church which is happy with them, considering them a great progress for humanity and a fundamental condition for its freedom and for fulfilling its universal mission of salvation among the peoples".

  "At the same time", he concluded, "the Church feels the duty, following the dictates of her social doctrine founded 'on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being', of reawakening moral and spiritual forces in society, helping to make the will receptive to the demands of what is good. This is why, when the Church recalls the value that fundamental ethical principles have, not just for private but also and above all public life, she is in fact contributing to the guarantee and promotion of the dignity of the person and the well-being of society and in this sense fulfils the true and proper co-operation that is sought between State and Church".

  On finishing his visit the Pope returned to the Vatican shortly after 12:15.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2008, (VIS) - Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York, USA, on hearing that the United States Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles had died yesterday. He was 90 years old.

  The Holy father asked Cardinal Egan to convey his condolences "to his family, his confreres in the Society of Jesus, and to the academic community of Fordham University", where Fr. Dulles taught.

  "I join you in commending the late cardinal's noble soul to God, the Father of Mercies, with immense gratitude for the deep learning, serene judgment and unfailing love of the Lord and His Church which marked his entire priestly ministry and his long years of teaching and theological research".

  "At the same time I pray that his convincing personal testimony to the harmony of faith and reason will continue to bear fruit for the conversion of minds and hearts and the progress of the Gospel for many years to come".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2008, (VIS) - At noon today the Pope appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of persons who had gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among those gathered were many children who, as is traditional on the third Sunday of Advent, brought with them images of the Christ Child, which they place in their homes, schools, and churches at Christmastime, for the Pope to bless.

  The Holy Father recalled that this third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete Sunday" because, "returning to an expression of St. Paul's in his Letter to the Philippians", the Apostle says, "'The Lord is near'. This is the reason for our joy. But what does it mean that 'the Lord is near'? How are we to understand this 'nearness' of God? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Phillippi, clearly thought of Christ's return and called them to be joyful as it was certain".

  "Nevertheless", he continued, "Paul himself, in his Letter to the Thessalonians, tells us that nobody can know the moment of the Lord's coming and warns us against any alarm that Christ's return might be at hand. In this way the Church, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, already understood that the 'nearness' of God is not a question of space and time but rather a question of love: love draws near! This Christmas will come to remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith and, standing before the crèche, we will be able to taste Christian joy, contemplating in the new-born Jesus the face of God who out of love made himself close to us".

  Addressing the Roman boys and girls who had come with figures of the Christ Child, Benedict XVI invited them to join him in reciting the following prayer:

  "God, our Father, you so loved us even to the point of sending us your only son Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and bring us to you".

  "We ask that you bless these images of Jesus, who will soon come among us, as a sign of your presence and of your love in our homes".

  "Good Father, bless us as well, and our parents, our families, and our friends".

  "Open our hearts so that we might know how to receive Jesus with joy, doing always what he asks, and seeing him in all those who are in need of our love".

"We ask you in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son, who came to bring peace to the world. He lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen".

  After the Marian prayer the Pope said that "today in the diocese of Rome we celebrate the day of building new churches. In the past years new parishes have been established but there are still communities that have to deal with provisional and inadequate buildings. I give my heart-felt thanks to those who have supported this very important commitment of the diocese and I renew the invitation for us to help the Roman parishes build their church".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 DEC 2008, (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

- Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and President of the Bishops' Conference of France with Vice Presidents Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, Bishop of Lille, and Archbishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont, and the General Secretary, Monsignor Antoine Herouard.

- Fr. Julian Carron, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.
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Friday, December 12, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican basilica, after the traditional Eucharistic celebration for the Roman universities in preparation for Christmas  presided over by Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of Rome, Benedict XVI met with the students.

  The Holy Father affirmed that "the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle to the Gentiles is helping the entire Church to rediscover its proper and fundamental missionary vocation and, at the same time, to make full use of the inexhaustible theological and spiritual treasure of the Pauline letters".

  "I am convinced that for you, from a personal as well as the communal and apostolic point of view of the university, studying the person and message of St. Paul is a very enriching opportunity. This is why I will soon be presenting his Letter to the Romans to you," he said.

  Benedict XVI highlighted that this text "is without a doubt one of the most important cultural texts of all time. It is and continues to be principally a living message for the living Church". In this context, he expressed the desire that "it be substantial nourishment for your faith, leading you to believe more and better and also to reflect upon yourselves so that you might come to a 'mature' faith and, at the same time live this faith, putting it into practice according to the truth of Christ's commandment. Only in this way can the faith that one professes become 'credible' for others as well, who are conquered by the eloquent testimony of our deeds".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father received the bishops of the Taiwanese Episcopal Conference this morning at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

  In the speech addressed to them the Pope emphasized that the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Catholic Evangelization in Taiwan represented "an occasion to manifest ever more eagerly your oneness with each other and with our Lord as you together promote the Church's common apostolate".

    "This unity of mind and heart", he continued, "is evidenced by your desire to cooperate more closely in spreading the Gospel among non-believers and forming those already initiated into the Church through Baptism and Confirmation. I am pleased to note that you continue to coordinate a variety of institutions for this purpose, with due emphasis on the parish, the 'prime mover and pre-eminent place for catechesis'".

  Speaking then of the needs of priests and catechists, the Pope recalled that the programs of priestly formation should be "designed with due consideration for the variety of ages, life conditions and duties found among your clergy" and asked that the catechists be furnished '"with the necessary resources so that they may follow the example of Jesus in speaking the truth straightforwardly and in a way readily accessible to all".

  "Effective catechesis inevitably builds stronger families, which in turn give birth to new priestly vocations.  …  Parents, pastors, teachers, parish leaders, and all the members of the Church must set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, so that in finding him, they find themselves".

  Benedict XVI referred to the recent pastoral letter of his episcopate, "Social Concern and Evangelization", which "underscores the Church's need to engage actively in the promotion of family life". "Your deep concern for the good of families and society as a whole", he said, "moves you to assist couples in preserving the indissolubility of their marital promises. Never tire in promoting just civil legislation and policies that protect the sacredness of marriage. Safeguard this sacrament from all that can harm it, especially the deliberate taking of life in its most vulnerable stages".

  "The Church's solicitude for the weak similarly compels her to give special attention to migrants.  In several recent pastoral letters, you have indicated the essential role of the parish in serving migrants and raising awareness of their needs. I am also pleased to note that the Church in Taiwan has been actively advocating laws and policies that protect the human rights of migrants. As you know, many of those who arrive on your shores not only share in the fullness of the Catholic communion, but also carry with them the unique cultural heritage of their respective places of origin. I encourage you to continue welcoming them with affection so that they may receive the assiduous pastoral care that will assure them of their belonging to the 'family of the faith'".

  "Your apostolic bond with the Successor of Peter entails a pastoral responsibility for the universal Church across the globe. This particularly means, in your case, a loving concern for Catholics on the mainland, whom I constantly hold in prayer. You and the Christian faithful in Taiwan are a living sign that, in a justly ordered society, one need not fear to be a faithful Catholic and a good citizen. I pray that as part of the great Chinese Catholic family, you will continue to be spiritually united with your brethren on the mainland".
AL/TAIWAN/…                        VIS 20081212 (570)

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