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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Gallup, U.S.A. presented by Bishop Donald E. Pelotte S.S.S., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI received participants in the sixth meeting of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation of Tehran, Iran. They have been meeting to study the theme of: "Faith and Reason in Christianity and Islam".

  The participants in the meeting, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Mahdi Mostafavi, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation, agreed upon the following points:

  "Faith and reason are both gifts of God to mankind.

  "Faith and reason do not contradict each other, but faith might in some cases be above reason, but never against it.

  "Faith and reason are intrinsically non-violent. Neither reason nor faith should be used for violence; unfortunately, both of them have been sometimes misused to perpetrate violence. In any case, these events cannot question either reason or faith.

  "Both sides agreed to further co-operate in order to promote genuine religiosity, in particular spirituality, to encourage respect for symbols considered to be sacred and to promote moral values.

  "Christians and Muslims should go beyond tolerance, accepting differences, while remaining aware of commonalties and thanking God for them. They are called to mutual respect, thereby condemning derision of religious beliefs.

  "Generalisation should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions with Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.

  "Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them".


VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for May is: "That Christians may use literature, art and the mass media to greater advantage in order to favour a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person".

  His mission intention is: "That the Virgin Mary, Star of evangelisation and Queen of the Apostles, may still guide today with maternal affection the missionaries, both men and women, throughout the world, just as she accompanied the Apostles in the early stages of the Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Given below is the calendar of liturgical celebrations due to be presided over by the Holy Father between the months of May and August.


 - Saturday 3: At 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major, recitation of the Rosary

 - Sunday 11: Pentecost Sunday. Mass at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica.

 - Saturday 17 and Sunday 18: Pastoral visit to Savona and Genoa, Italy.

 - Thursday 22: Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Mass at 7 p.m. in the basilica of St. John Lateran, followed by a procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major for Eucharistic blessing.


 - Saturday 14 and Sunday 15: Pastoral visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, Italy.

 -Saturday 28: At 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, First Vespers for the solemn opening of the Pauline Year

 - Sunday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. Mass at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Blessing and imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops


 - Saturday 12 to Monday 21: Apostolic trip to Australia for World Youth Day in Sydney.


 - Friday 15: Solemnity of the Assumption, Mass at 8 a.m. in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 4 April, in which Benedict XVI appoints Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the eighth centenary of the translation of the relics of the Apostle Andrew to Amalfi, Italy. The event is due to be held on 8 May.

  The mission accompanying the cardinal will be made up of Msgr. Carlo Papa, vicar general of the archdiocese of Amalfi - Cava de' Tirreni, and Msgr. Riccardo Arpino, president of the cathedral chapter and chancellor of the Curia.


VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2008 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope dedicated his remarks to his recent apostolic trip to the U.S.A. and the headquarters of the United Nations, from 15 to 21 April.

  After recalling how the motive for his U.S. visit was the bi-centenary of the elevation of the country's first diocese, Baltimore, to the status of metropolitan archdiocese, and the foundation of the sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, the Holy Father affirmed that his aim had been "to announce to everyone the message that 'Christ is our Hope', the phrase which was the theme of my visit".

  During the meeting with President George Bush in the White House, said the Pope, "I had the opportunity to pay homage to that great country, which from its beginnings was built on the foundation of a harmonious union between religious, ethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy laicism, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but turned to advantage as the 'soul' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of the rights and duties of human beings".

  The Holy Father then went on to explain that he had supported his "brother bishops in their difficult task of spreading the Gospel in a society marked by no small number of contradictions, which also threaten the coherence of Catholics and even of the clergy. I encouraged them to make their voices heard on the moral and social questions of the day, and to form the lay faithful so they become good 'leavening' in the civil community on the base of that fundamental cell which is the family. In this context, I exhorted them to re-present the Sacrament of Marriage as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment in which to welcome and educate children.

  "The Church and the family, as well as schools", the Pope added, "must co-operate in offering young people a solid moral education. ... Reflecting upon the painful question of sexual abuse of minors by ordained ministers, I told the bishops of my closeness, and encouraged them in the task of binding wounds and strengthening their relationships with their priests".

  During the Eucharistic celebration held in the Nationals Stadium in Washington, said Pope Benedict, "we evoked the Holy Spirit" upon the Church in America that she "may face current and future challenges with courage and hope". And when meeting with representatives of other religions "in what may be considered as the homeland of religious freedom, I recalled how such freedom must be defended with congruous efforts to avoid all forms of discrimination and prejudice. I also highlighted the great responsibility religious leaders have, both in teaching respect and non-violence and in upholding the deepest questions of the human conscience".

  On the subject of his visit to U.N. headquarters in New York, the Pope pointed out that "providence gave me the opportunity to confirm" - on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - "the importance of that Charter, recalling its universal foundation, in other words the dignity of the person who was created by God in His image and likeness in order to co-operate in ... His great plan of life and peace".

  In St. Patrick's Cathedral the Pope had celebrated Mass for priests and consecrated people. "I will never forget", he said, "with how much warmth they congratulated me for the third anniversary of my election to the See of Peter. It was a moving moment, in which I particularly felt the support of all the Church for my ministry. And I could say the same about my meeting with young people and seminarians".

  At Ground Zero "I lit a candle and prayed for all the victims of the terrible tragedy" of 11 September 2001, said the Pope. And he concluded his reminiscences of his U.S. visit with the Eucharistic celebration in New York's Yankee Stadium which he described as "a feast of faith and of brotherhood. ... To that Church which now faces the challenges of the present time, I had the joy of announcing "Christ our Hope', yesterday, today and forever".

  Prior to the audience, the Pope blessed a statue of St. John Leonardi (1541-1609), founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, which has been placed in a niche on the exterior wall of the Vatican Basilica. On 8 august 2006, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by virtue of the powers granted by Benedict XVI, proclaimed him patron saint of pharmacists.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council.

  Vesakh, the main Buddhist festivity, marks three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. It is held during the full moon of the month of May because, according to tradition, Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away in that period.

  This year's message - published in English, French and Italian - is entitled "Christians and Buddhists: Caring for the Planet Earth". It indicates that "preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for everyone. Many governments, NGOs, multi-national companies, and research and tertiary institutes, in recognising the ethical implications present in all economic and social development, are investing financial resources as well as sharing expertise on bio-diversity, climate change, environmental protection and conservation.

  "Religious leaders too", the message adds, "are contributing to the public debate. This contribution is of course not just a reaction to the more recent pressing threats associated with global warming. Christianity and Buddhism have always upheld a great respect for nature and taught that we should be grateful stewards of the earth. Indeed it is only through a profound reflection on the relationship between the divine Creator, creation and creatures that attempts to address environmental concerns will not be marred by individual greed or hampered by the interests of particular groups.

  "On a practical level can we Christians and Buddhists not do more to collaborate in projects which confirm the responsibility that falls to each and everyone of us? Recycling, energy conservation, the prevention of indiscriminate destruction of plant and animal life, and the protection of waterways all speak of careful stewardship and indeed foster goodwill and promote cordial relations among peoples. In this way Christians and Buddhists together can be harbingers of hope for a clean, safe and harmonious world".

  The message concludes by expressing the hope that such ideas may be promoted "within our respective communities through public education and our good example in respecting nature and acting responsibly towards our one common planet Earth".
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Monday, April 28, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Seven prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de la Habana, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Alfredo Victor Petit Vergel and Juan de Dios Hernandez Ruiz S.J.

    - Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey.

    - Bishop Mario Eusebio Mestril Vega of Ciego de Avila.

    - Bishop Domingo Oropesa Lorente of Cienfuegos.

    - Bishop Marcelo Arturo Gonzalez Amador of Santa Clara.

 - Archbishop Joseph Marino, apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh, accompanied by members of his family.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 APR 2008 (VIS) - A press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office presented the results of a survey into "the reading of the Scriptures in a number of countries (U.S.A., UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia". The research was promoted by the Catholic Biblical Federation and by GFK-Eurisko.

  Participating in the press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni, Italy, who is also president of the Catholic Biblical Federation; and Luca Diotallevi, co-ordintaor of the research group and professor of sociology at the University of "Roma Tre".

  Presenting the results of the survey, Archbishop Ravasi dwelt on the need to underline the importance of the Bible, commenting that the philosopher Blaise Pascal was right to affirm that Scripture contains passages that console people of all conditions and other passages that disquiet them.

  Bishop Paglia explained that with a view to the forthcoming Synod on "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church", due to be held in October, the Catholic Biblical Federation "had felt it would be useful to undertake research in a number of countries in the world - while bearing in mind the various Christian traditions - in order to acquire concrete information on Christians' relationship with Scripture".

  The survey, he said, "confirmed in full Vatican Council II's pastoral intuition to exhort the faithful to rediscover Scripture as the primary source of spiritual life". It also reaffirmed "the bond that exists between the Bible and the Eucharist", because "the majority of those interviewed indicated the Sunday celebration as the place in which they habitually listen to the Word of God".

  In examining "the role of the Bible in ecumenical dialogue", the survey highlighted how "Scripture remains the most effective 'place' Christians have to progress together along the path of unity. ... The answers also showed that there no longer exists that diversity among the various Christian traditions - a diversity evident in the past - concerning their relationship with Scripture".

  Another factor to emerge was "the considerable expectations that the men and women of our time have towards Holy Scripture" which "is considered with great respect by everyone". Among Christians "it is widely held that the Bible contains the Word of God, that it is an inspired work capable of giving meaning to life, and that it has far greater authority than other ecclesial manifestations", although the values it contains "are difficult to put into practice".

  For this reason, said Bishop Paglia, one of the great challenges is "the responsibility of preaching, which on the basis of the Scripture must constitute an authoritative appeal to believers and to all those who seek".

  "Listening to the Scriptures favours the cohesion of listeners", he said. "Indeed, listening to the Word of God truly 'makes' the Church". Hence "reading Scripture in the company of the Church" makes it possible to avoid "the two most dangerous obstacles: a fundamentalist reading, ... and an individualist pseudo-psychological reading which leads readers to reflect themselves in the pages".

  The prelate concluded his remarks by highlighting the need "to find space for the 'schools of the word', the 'schools of the Gospel', and the 'schools of reading and listening to the Bible'. ... It is in this perspective", he said, "that we must see 'lectio divina', the oldest and riches method of listening to Scripture" which must be given "new spaces and new forms until it becomes the habitual way of approaching the Word of God in our Christian communities".

  For his part Professor Diotallevi explained that some 13,000 interviews had been completed during the course of the survey, which he described as "the most systematic scientific undertaking yet attempted to compare, on an international scale, levels and forms of familiarity with the Scriptures of Christian tradition among the adult population".

  "The Bible in the areas we examined", he said, "is not the text of a minority but an important point of reference present - in different degrees and ways - in the life and culture of broad majorities of the population. ... It may be affirmed that between a third and a quarter of adults in the countries examined have read a Bible passage at least once in the last 12 months".

  Professor Diotallevi noted the existence of "a gap dividing the Anglo-Saxon world from central and eastern Europe". In the former, "the sensation of the closeness of God is anything but extinct and the practice of prayer is anything but marginal. A very large majority of people look to the Bible as a source of truth, as the source of a message that has to do with life".

  It also emerged from the survey that "the practice of reading the Bible depends statistically, more than on shared religious beliefs, on participation in events and groups which already adopt this practice. ... Reading the Bible in no way echoes political polarisation between 'right' and 'left'", said Professor Diotallevi noting in conclusion the prevalence among the populations examined "of a position favourable to studying the Bible in schools. In particular those in favour exceed 50 percent in Russia, Poland, Italy, UK and Germany".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Regina Coeli with pilgrims gathered below.

  In his remarks, the Pope mentioned the recently-concluded ordination of 29 new priests in St. Peter's Basilica. "Fresh lymph is infused into the tissues of the ecclesial and civic communities", he said, recalling how he had invited the ordinands "to spread the joy of the Gospel through the world. Where Christ is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit and is accepted with an open heart, society, though full of so many problems, becomes a 'city of joy' - to quote the title of a famous book on the work of Mother Teresa in Calcutta".

  The Holy Father referred to his apostolic visit to the United States, where he encountered "great vitality and a resolute desire to live and bear witness to faith in Jesus". He then went on to greet the Oriental Churches which are celebrating Easter today, asking God to help them "in the difficult situations in which they often have to live and bear witness to the Gospel".

  Following the Regina Coeli, the Pope launched appeals for three African regions, where news "continues to cause profound suffering and intense concern". Somalia, Darfur and Burundi.

  In Somalia, and especially in Mogadishu, he said, "armed conflicts render the humanitarian situation ever more dramatic for that dear people, who for too many years have been oppressed by the burden of brutality and poverty".

  "In Darfur, despite a few momentary glimmers of hope, the tragedy continues for hundreds of thousands of defenceless and abandoned people".

  Finally, the Pope turned his attention to Burundi, calling on all sides involved in recent conflict "to return without delay to the path of dialogue and reconciliation", especially "following the bombardments of recent days which terrorised the inhabitants of the capital Bujumbura".

  He concluded: "I trust that local political authorities, the leaders of the international community and all people of good will make every effort to put an end to the violence and to honour the commitments they have taken on, so as to lay solid foundations for peace and development".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, the sixth Sunday of Easter, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica during which he ordained 28 deacons from the diocese of Rome and one from the Pontifical Urban College.

  Thirteen of the new priests from the diocese of Rome come from the city's major seminary, nine from the "Redemptoris Mater" College, and the other six from the "Almo Collegio Capranica", the Priestly Society of the Sons of the Cross and the Seminary of the Virgin of Divine Love.

  In his homily Holy Father noted how his ordination of new priests usually takes place on the fourth Sunday of Easter, "Good Shepherd" Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, but that this year it had had to be postponed because of preparations for his apostolic trip to the United States.

  "The icon of the Good Shepherd, more than any other, seems to highlight the role and ministry of the priest in the Christian community", observed the Holy Father before turning his attention to today's biblical readings which, he said, "throw light from a different angle on the mission of priests".

  Benedict XVI examined the first reading, the passage in the Acts of the Apostles narrating the persecution in Jerusalem against the first Christian converts, the scattering of the disciples including Philip's flight to Samaria, and his preaching being welcomed there "with great joy".

  "Bringing the Gospel to everyone, that everyone may experience the joy of Christ and that there may be great joy in every city; what could be more beautiful than this? What could be greater? What could create greater enthusiasm than helping to spread the Word of Life throughout the world, than communicating the living water of the Holy Spirit? Announcing and bearing witness to this joy: this is the very heart of your mission", said the Pope to the ordinands.

  "These are elemental words for all priests", he told them. "To collaborate in other people's joy - in an often sad and negative world - the fire of the Gospel must burn within each of you, the joy of the Lord must live in you. Only then will you be able to convey and multiply this joy, bringing it to everyone, especially those who are sad and disillusioned".

  The Holy Father then went on to consider the rite of laying on of hands, which also figures in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, highlighting how "such a sign is inseparable from prayer, of which it is a silent continuation. Without saying a word the consecrating bishop - and after him the other priests - places his hands on the heads of the ordinands, thus expressing an invocation to God to effuse His Spirit upon them, to transform them and to make them participants in the priesthood of Christ".

  "A meeting of two freedoms comes about in that silent prayer: the freedom of God, working though the Holy Spirit, and the freedom of man, ... a mysterious Trinitarian 'movement' which brings the Holy Spirit and the Son to dwell in the disciples. ... Without love for Christ, which is put into effect by observing His commandments, people exclude themselves from the Trinitarian movement and begin to turn in on themselves, losing the capacity to receive or communicate God".

  Benedict XVI encouraged the new priests "to adore Christ the Lord in your hearts: that is, carve our a personal relationship of love with Him" in which "to live, purify, illuminate and sanctify all other relationships".

  "Our hope, your hope, is God in Jesus and in the Spirit", the Pope concluded. "From today, that hope becomes in you a 'priestly hope', the hope of Jesus the Good Shepherd Who dwells within you and shapes your desires in accordance with His divine Heart: a hope of life and forgiveness for the people who will be entrusted to your pastoral care; ... a hope of openness to faith and to the meeting with God for those who will come to you in their search for peace; a hope for peace and comfort for the suffering and the injured of life".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Korea, as apostolic nuncio to Mongolia.

 - As consultors of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Archbishop Kevin John Patrick McDonald of Southwark, Great Britain; Bishop William Francis Murphy of Rockville Centre, U.S.A.; Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa O.F.M. Custos of the Holy Land; Fr Joseph Sievers, director of the Cardinal Agostino Bea Institute at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University; and Fr. Lawrence E. Frizzel, director of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, U.S.A.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the Letter, written in Latin and dated 27 March, in which Benedict XVI appoints Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to ceremonies commemorating the new Christian Millennium in Ethiopia. The event will coincide with the Ethiopian National Eucharistic Congress, to be held in Addis Ababa from 2 to 4 May.

  The mission accompanying Cardinal Dias will be made up of Fr. Tsegaye Kenini of the archdiocese of Addis Ababa, former secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariate, and Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse M.C.C.I., superior general of the Combonian Missionary Fathers in Ethiopia and president of the conference of religious superiors major of Ethiopia.


VATICAN CITY, 26 APR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope addressed to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, to mark the hundredth anniversary of an annual pilgrimage by young people from the province of Paris. This year's pilgrimage, which takes them to Lourdes, is being held from 22 to 27 April.

  In his Letter to the cardinal, who is also president of the Conference of Bishops of France, the Holy Father mentions the fact that 2008 marks the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle.

  Benedict XVI calls on young people to imitate Mary's response when she was "invited to follow an amazing yet disconcerting journey. Her readiness led her to experience a joy of which all previous generations had sung", he writes.

  "Our 'yes' to God", the Pope continues, "makes the font of true happiness gush forth. It frees the 'I' from everything that closes it in on itself. It brings the poverty of our lives into the richness and power of God's plan, without restricting our freedom and our responsibility. ... It conforms our lives to Christ's own life".

  The Holy Father then encourages the young "enthusiastically to celebrate the joy of loving Christ and of believing and hoping in Him, and trustingly to follow the path of initiation you have before you. I particularly invite you", he writes, "to take up the witness of your ancestors in the faith, and to learn to welcome the Word of God - in silence and meditation - so that it can mould your hearts and produce generous fruits in you".

  This pilgrimage, Pope Benedict concludes, "is also a good time to allow yourselves to be asked by Christ: 'What do you want to do with your lives?' May those among you who feel the call to follow Him in the priesthood or in consecrated life - as have so many young participants in these pilgrimages - reply to the Lord's call and put yourselves totally at the service of the Church, with a life completely dedicated to the Kingdom of heaven. You will never be disappointed".

Friday, April 25, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

 - Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, accompanied by Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, vice-president of the same conference, and by Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami P.S.S. of Nagasaki, and Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe S.D.B. of Takamatsu.

 - Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

 - Bishop-elect Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.Ss.R., of Garanhuns, Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a declaration by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning the meeting between the Holy Father and Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, prior to yesterday evening's concert in the Paul VI Hall:

  "During the meeting, which lasted around 15 minutes and was characterised by great cordiality, the great questions of the world situation today were examined, with particular reference to the Holy Father's recent address to the General Assembly of the United Nations: the dignity of the human person; the foundations of human rights and the international community's commitment to their protection and promotion; the dialogue between reason and faith at the service of the integral development of the person and the harmonious advancement of the human community; and the dialogue between the great religions and their contribution to peace in the world.

  "The President of the Republic, also in the name of the Italian people, passed on his warmest congratulations to the Holy Father for the third anniversary of his Pontificate and for his recent birthday. For his part, the Holy Father renewed the expression of his feelings of affection and close participation in the affairs of the beloved Italian people, giving assurances of constant thoughts in his prayers".


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican, the Pope attended a concert marking the third anniversary of his election to the Pontificate, offered in his honour by Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic,.

  The Giuseppe Verdi symphony orchestra and choir of Milan conducted, respectively, by Oleg Caetani and Erina Gambarini, played pieces by Luciano Berio, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven.

  The Pope followed the concert from the central passage of the Paul VI Hall where he was seated next to President Napolitano, and his elder brother Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

  At the end of the concert, Benedict XVI thanked the Italian president for the concert in which, he said, "I discern a further sign of the great affection the Italian people nurture for the Pope".

  Having extended his gratitude to the choir and the orchestra, the Holy Father encouraged the Giuseppe Verdi Foundation "to continue the prestigious artistic and cultural journey they have begun, which, I am aware, is also enhanced by their commitment to use music to mitigate situations of human difficulty, such as in hospitals and prisons".

  The Pope then went on to refer to "the spiritual value of the art of music which, in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul, marked and sometimes injured by its earthly condition. There is a profound and mysterious relationship between music and hope, between song and eternal life", he said. "It is no coincidence that Christian tradition shows the spirits of the blessed as they sing in chorus, captivated and enraptured by the beauty of God. But true art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality, rather it calls us to 'irrigate' that reality, to make it sprout that it may bring forth fruits of goodness and peace.

  "The magnificent rendering we have just heard", the Holy Father added, "reminds us furthermore of the value and the universal importance of artistic heritage". In this context he mentioned the young, who can draw "new inspiration" from such heritage "in order to build a world founded on justice and solidarity, putting the multiform expressions of world culture to good account at the service of mankind".

  Benedict XVI mentioned the importance that "educating people to recognise true beauty has for the formation of the young", and he explained how art "contributes to refining their souls and leads towards the construction of a society open to the ideals of the spirit.

  "Italy, with is exceptional artistic heritage, can, in this regard, play an important role in the world", he concluded. "The quantity and quality of monuments and works of art the country possesses effectively make it a universal 'messenger' of all the values which art, at one and the same time, expresses and promotes. In the same way, the festive nature of song and music are a constant invitation to believers and to men and women of good will to commit themselves to giving humanity a future rich in hope".
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Thursday, April 24, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland; Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Paola Bignardi, co-ordinator of the international forum of Italian Catholic Action; Matteo Calisi, president of the Catholic Fraternity of "Comunita e Associazioni Carismatiche di Alleanza", Italy; Henrique Elias, procurator of the Christian Life Association, Peru; Katarina Hulmanova, co-ordinator of the forum of Catholic organisations of the Bishops' Conference of Slovakia; Pilar Jensen of the Institute of Families of Schonstatt, Chile; Guy Maginzi, secretary general of the Community of Christian Life, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Josep Miro i Ardevol, founder of "E. Cristians" and animator of the Conventions of Christians for Europe, Barcelona, Spain; Michelle Moran, president of International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, Great Britain; Norbert Muller, professor of the University of Mainz, Germany; Balazs Schanda, dean of the faculty of law at the Peter Pazmany Catholic University of Budapest, Hungary; Guilherme Vaz, director of Education and Technology, Mumbai, India; Lola Velarde, president of the European Institute for Family Policy, Spain, and Karol Zyczkowski, professor of the Jagellonica University of Krakow, Poland.

 - As consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity: Bishop Carlo Mazza of Fidenza, Italy; Msgr. Piero Coda of the diocese of Frascati, Italy; Fr. Julian Carron, president of the Communion and Liberation association, Spain; Helen Alvare, professor at the Catholic University of America, U.S.A.; Edio Costantini, president of the Italian Sporting Centre; Moyses de Azevedo, founder of the Shalom Community, Brazil; Guillermo Leon Escobar-Herran, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Salvatore Martinez, president of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, Italy, and Danuta Piekarz, Poland.

 - Angelika Nussberger, professor of public law and director of the "Institut fur Ostrecht" at the University of Cologne, Germany, as an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio to Croatia.

 - Four prelates from the Caucasus on their "ad limina visit:

    - Archbishop Nechan Karakeheyan, apostolic administrator of the ordinariate for Catholics of Armenian rite resident in Greece, and ordinary for Armenian Catholics of Eastern Europe, accompanied by Archbishop Vartan Kechichian C.A.M., coadjutor emeritus of the ordinariate for Armenian Catholics of Eastern Europe.

    - Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto C.S.S., apostolic administrator of the Caucasus of the Latins.

    - Fr. Jan Capla S.D.B., superior of the "sui iuris" mission to Baku, Azerbaijan.

  This afternoon, he is scheduled to receive in audience Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, for the occasion of the concert offered by the president to the Holy Father to mark the third anniversary of his election to the pontifical throne.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2008 (VIS) - On 17 April, Msgr. Renato Volante, Holy See permanent observer to the Rome-based United Nations Organisation for Food and Agriculture (FAO), participated in the FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil, on 17 and 18 April.

  In his talk, the prelate praised the work FAO accomplishes in collaboration with various governments to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. He also reaffirmed the support of the Holy See, "with her essentially ethical perspective, for those political and social options capable of providing a concrete and coherent response to current needs. It is clear that the lack of adequate nutrition not only impedes the full development of the personality of men and women, but also constitutes an evident negation of their rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life, of which nutrition is an indispensable component".

  This conference, said Msgr. Volante, shows how the main requirement is "to transfer to the human dimension those forces ... which technology and new scientific research make it possible apply to agriculture and, hence, to food production".

  Going on to refer to one of the central questions being examined at the Brasilia meeting, that of food security, the permanent observer indicated that this involves "considering not only the difficulties in agricultural production provoked by environmental and territorial factors" but also "those deriving from unfavourable trade policies, ... caused by the absence of progress in multilateral negotiations on trade in agricultural products". In this context, he also recalled how the economy of many countries "depends almost exclusively on the export of a limited number of typical products, while their food security depends on the importation of many food products".

  Agricultural reform continues to be an "open and problematic question", he said, "and its slow evolution in countries of the region confirms the need to adopt land ownership strategies and laws that can be effectively implemented. ... All agricultural reform must take account of the situation of smallholders and of indigenous communities, whose traditions are often far distant from the institutions and from the advantages offered by new production criteria. ... This is a priority objective to which the Catholic Church gives great attention, and in which she remains ready to collaborate using her structures, and through forms of association and co-operation".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced three beatification ceremonies due to take place over coming days:

  Candelaria de San Jose (nee Susana Paz Castillo Ramirez), virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Carmelite Sisters of the Third Regular Order of Venezuela. Her beatification is scheduled for Sunday 27 April in the stadium of the Central University of Caracas, Venezuela.

  Maria Maddalena of the Incarnation (nee Caterina Sordini), virgin and foundress of the Order of Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Her beatification is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday 3 May in the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran.

  Maria Rosa Flesch (nee Margherita), virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Mary of the Angels. Her beatification is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday 4 May in the cathedral of Trier, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received prelates from the southern Caucasus region on their "ad limina" visit.

  "Since the fall of the Soviet Union", said the Pope in his address to them, "your peoples have seen significant social changes along the road to progress. Yet difficult situations persist: many are the poor, the unemployed, and the refugees whom war has forced from their homes". Nonetheless, he noted, "the flame of the Gospel" has not been extinguished in the Caucasus, "despite there having been no lack of violent confrontations, both internal and from outside, which have caused many victims, among whom the Church includes many martyrs of the faith".

  The Holy Father described the Catholic community in the region as "a small flock" in which "Catholics of Armenian, Latin and Chaldean rite coexist with Orthodox, Armenian-Apostolic, Jews and Muslims. In such a multi-religious context", he said, "it is important for Catholics to continue and to intensify their collaboration with other Churches and with the followers of other religions, as already happens in many places".

  Pope Benedict associated himself with the Catholic communities' aspiration to see their juridical status recognised, and expressed the hope that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue may lead to a "growth in the fraternity which must characterise relations between Churches, respectful of one another despite differences that still exist".

  The Pope then encouraged the prelates to support their faithful so as to ensure that "in the face of difficulties, the joy of professing the faith and of belonging to the Catholic Church never diminishes".

  "Pray, and bring others to pray, that workers may never be lacking in the vineyard of the Lord. Continue to promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. It is necessary to ensure that future generations in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia have saintly priests who live their vocation with joy and generously dedicate themselves to caring for all the faithful".

  The Holy Father also invited the prelates to support families who, he said, "are facing no small number of difficulties and are affected by those wounds and those attacks on human life which, unfortunately, take place in so many other parts of the world. ... Educate Christian spouses to 'bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage'".

  "I know", said Benedict XVI, "how many efforts you make to spread the Gospel of hope. I am particularly struck by the attention ... you reserve for the needs of the poor and of people in difficulties, thanks also to the precious contribution of religious and laity".

  Finally, the Pope encouraged the prelates of the Caucasus to find time for periodic meetings "to verify the pastoral plans you have drawn up, especially as concerns preparation for the Sacraments. Such plans aim above all at the formation of the consciences of the faithful according to evangelical ethics, with a particular attention for the young".
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Dimitrios Salachas of the clergy of the apostolic exarchate for Greek Catholics of Byzantine Rite, Greece, as apostolic exarch of the same exarchate (Catholics 2,300, priests 10, religious 14). The bishop-elect was born in Athens, Greece in 1939 and ordained a priest in 1964. He succeeds Bishop Anarghyros Printesis, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same exarchate the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 210 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Appointed Fr. Jacques Danka Longa of the clergy of the diocese of Kara, Togo, rector of the John Paul II major seminary, as coadjutor of the same diocese (area 10,590, population 920,000, Catholics 123,288, priests 67, religious 94). The bishop-elect was born in Sokode, Togo in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1992.

 - Appointed Fr. Lazlo Nemet SVD, secretary of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference, as bishop of Zrenjanin (area 9,387, population 560,809, Catholics 65,746, priests 25, permanent deacons 1, religious 16), Serbia. The bishop-elect was born in Odzaci, Serbia in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict XVI pronounced a homily following the funeral Mass for the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who died on Saturday 19 April at the age of 72.

  The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

  The Holy Father traced the biography of the youngest cardinal created by John Paul II in the consistory of 1983, recalling his priestly ordination in 1960, his work as auxiliary bishop of Bogota in the 1970s, as president of the Latin American Episcopal Council from 1979 to 1983, as president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia from 1987 to 1990, and his appointment as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 1990.

  The Pope highlighted "the zeal and passion" with which the cardinal worked over the last 18 years, "his tireless activity in safeguarding and promoting the family and Christian marriage" as well as "the courage with which he defended the non-negotiable values of human life".

  Among the late cardinal's achievements, the Pope mentioned "the 'Lexicon', which is a valuable formational text for pastoral care workers and an instrument for dialogue with the modern world on the fundamental themes of Christian ethics. We cannot", he added, "but be grateful for the tenacious battle he fought to defend the truth of familial love and to spread the gospel of the family".

  "The late cardinal drew his love for the truth about mankind and for the gospel of the family from the belief that each human being and each family reflects the mystery of God Who is Love", said the Pope. He also recalled the Synod of 1997 during which the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family "proposed a highly effective form of spirituality for those committed to realising the divine plan for the family; and he highlighted the fact that if science does not dedicate itself to understanding life and to educating for life, it will lose the most important battles in the fascinating and mysterious field of genetic engineering".

  Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, whose motto was "Veritas in caritate", dedicated "his entire life to affirming the truth", said the Pope. This, he explained, was because "the truth of love" always remained the bedrock of the cardinal's life. While still in Colombia, he sought "to discover the significance of genuine liberation in the area of theology" and later, in Rome, he dedicated himself to "proclaiming and spreading the gospel of life and the gospel of the family, as a collaborator of the Holy Father".

  "May the generosity of the lamented cardinal - which translated into multiple works of charity, especially in support of children in various parts of the globe - encourage us to use all our own physical and spiritual resources for the Gospel, may it spur us on to work in defence of human life, and help us to look constantly to the goal of our earthly pilgrimage".
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 22 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Hugo Nicolas Barbaro, spiritual director of the prelature of Opus Dei in Argentina, as bishop of the diocese of San Roque de Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena (area 71,303, population 495,000, Catholics 422,000, priests 37, permanent deacons 6, religious 126), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Vicente Lopez, Argentina in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1980. He succeeds Jose Lorenzo Sartori, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced today that at 11 a.m. on Sunday 27 April Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, metropolitan archbishop of Paris, France, will take possession of the title of San Luigi dei Francesi, Largo Santa Giovanna d'Arco 5, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 APR 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, delivered an address on 9 April before the 41st session of the Economic and Social Council's Commission on Population and Development.

  Speaking English, Archbishop Migliore said that "migration and the urbanisation of societies should not be purely measured in terms of their economic impact. In finding ways to address the serious challenges posed by massive internal and trans-national migrations, let us not forget that at the heart of this phenomenon is the human person".

  "New environmental, social and economic problems emerge with the birth of mega cities", he said. "But one of the most pressing and painful consequences of rapid urbanisation is the increasing number of people living in urban slums. As recently as 2005 over 840 million people around the world lived in such conditions".

  Such people, he warned, "become trapped in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and marginalisation. ... They feel powerless to demand even the most basic public services" and "policy makers and civil society actors must put these people and their concerns among the priorities in their decision-making".

  "If", Archbishop Migliore concluded "we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, greater concern must be given to those communities, in which approximately 675 million still lack access to safe drinking water and two billion live without access to basic sanitation. National and international policies would do well to ensure that rural communities have access to higher quality and more accessible social services".


VATICAN CITY, 22 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 27 April, the Holy Father Benedict XVI is due to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica, during which he will confer priestly ordination upon 29 deacons of the diocese of Rome.
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Monday, April 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 21 APR 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence for the death of Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The cardinal died in Rome on Saturday 19 April at the age of 72.

  In his telegram, addressed to the late cardinal's brother Anibal, the Holy Father writes:

  "Having received the sad news of the death of the beloved Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to you, to your brothers Flavio and Asdrubal, and to all your relatives. I feel close to all of you at this painful time, and I ask God, by the intercession of Our Lady of Chiquinquira, to grant eternal repose to this tireless pastor, so generously committed to the service of the Church and of the Gospel of life.

  "His wide-ranging ministerial work - as priest and auxiliary bishop of Bogota, as archbishop of Medellin, secretary and president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and, finally, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family - is clear evidence of his profound love for the Church and his dedication to the noble cause of promoting marriage and the Christian family.

  "At this time, I am pleased to grant you a comforting Apostolic Blessing, which I happily extend to all those who helped him, and to the bishops, priests, religious communities and faithful who accompanied him closely with their friendship and collaboration".

  At the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica at 11 a.m. on Wednesday 23 April, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate Mass with other members of the college.

  The Pope will then preside at the funeral liturgy, pronounce the homily, and administer the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. local time today, the Pope arrived at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport at the end of his visit to the United States. The farewell ceremony was held in the presence of political and civil authorities; U.S. cardinals; the president, vice-president and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and 5,000 faithful from the diocese of Brooklyn where the airport is located, led by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

  Following a greeting pronounced by U. S. Vice-President Richard B. Cheney, the Pope delivered the final address of his trip.

  The Holy Father spoke of his "deep appreciation" for the welcome he had received, thanking U.S. President Bush "for kindly coming to greet me at the start of my visit, and ... Vice-President Cheney for his presence here as I depart".

  "Once again I offer prayerful good wishes to the representatives of the see of Baltimore, the first archdiocese, and those of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, in this jubilee year".

  To his brother bishops and to "the officers and staff of the episcopal conference who have contributed in so many ways to the preparation of this visit", the Pope extended his "renewed gratitude for their hard work and dedication. With great affection I greet once more the priests and religious, the deacons, the seminarians and young people, and all the faithful in the United States, and I encourage you to continue bearing joyful witness to Christ our Hope, our Risen Lord and Saviour, Who makes all things new and gives us life in abundance".

  The Holy Father identified "one of the high-points" of his visit as "the opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations". In this context, he also thanked Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general, "for his kind invitation and welcome".

  Benedict XVI went on: "Looking back over the 60 years that have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I give thanks for all that the Organisation has been able to achieve in defending and promoting the fundamental rights of every man, woman and child throughout the world, and I encourage people of good will everywhere to continue working tirelessly to promote justice and peaceful co-existence between peoples and nations.

  The visit to Ground Zero, said the Pope, "will remain firmly etched in my memory, as I continue to pray for those who died and for all who suffer in consequence of the tragedy that occurred there in 2001. For all the people of America, and indeed throughout the world, I pray that the future will bring increased fraternity and solidarity, a growth in mutual respect, and a renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.

  "With these words, I take my leave, I ask you to remember me in your prayers, and I assure you of my affection and friendship in the Lord. May God bless America!"

  The papal aircraft took off at 8.30 p.m. local time (2.30 a.m. in Rome). Following a flight of slightly more than eight hours, his plane is due to land at Rome's Ciampino airport at 10.45 a.m., whence the Pope will travel by car to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 2.30 p.m. local time today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in New York's Yankees Stadium, which since 1923 has been the home ground of the New York Yankees baseball team.

  Before the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope made a tour of the stadium by popemobile, receiving a rapturous welcome from the 60,000 people gathered there. The Mass commemorated the bicentennial of the dioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, created 200 years ago with territory taken from the mother see of Baltimore.

  In his homily, Benedict XVI recalled that today's celebration "is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past 200 years. ... In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole".

  Commenting on the readings, the Holy Father highlighted how they show "the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness.

  "Here", he added, "we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church's unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programmes, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God's indefectible gift to His Church. .... The Church's unity is 'apostolic'. It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles, ... and it is born of what the Scriptures call 'the obedience of faith'".

  The Pope then went on to explain how the words "authority" and "obedience" represent "a 'stumbling stone' for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ, ... we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom ... is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love".

  "And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on 'the mind of Christ', new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world".

  "In these 200 years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly", Benedict XVI observed. "We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land"

  "In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and co-operating with their neighbours in shaping a vibrant, democratic society. Today's celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations".

  The Holy Father invited all those present to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God. This, he said, "also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending His reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as Vatican Council II put it, 'there is no human activity - even in secular affairs - which can be withdrawn from God's dominion'".

  "As 'a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation', follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you!", exclaimed Pope Benedict at the end of his homily. "Find the courage to proclaim Christ, ... and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in Him. These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world - including the most defenceless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother's womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door, let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice".
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Sunday, April 20, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) - In New York at 9.30 a.m. local time today, the Pope visited Ground Zero, the name now used to refer to the site once occupied by the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

  On 11 September 2001 two aircraft crashed into the twin towers, destroying them and a number of neighbouring buildings in a terrorist attack which cost the lives of 2,896 people. The site today is a vast 80-metre deep crater, surrounded by a fence and marked with a cross.

  In 2002 the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre was put out for tender in a competition won by the architect Daniel Libensky. Today, Ground Zero is a construction site where work is scheduled to finish in the year 2012. The main building of the new complex will be the "Freedom Tower", 541 metres high.

  Benedict XVI arrived at Ground Zero accompanied by Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York. Awaiting him there were Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the city; David A. Paterson and John Corzine, respectively governors of New York and of New Jersey; 24 people representing the forces that responded to the attack of 11 September, and a number of injured and relatives of the victims.

  The Holy Father kneeled for a few minutes of silent prayer for the victims of the attack, then lit a candle before pronouncing the following prayer:

  "O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

  "We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here -
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on 11 September 2001.

  "We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

  "We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

  "God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

  "God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all".

  The prayer over, the Pope greeted survivors of the attack, relatives of some of the victims, and members of the rescue squads. Finally, he imparted his blessing to those present.

  After the ceremony, the Holy Father returned to his residence where he bid farewell to the staff of the Holy See permanent mission to the United Nations in New York before having lunch in private.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2008 (VIS) - Today at 4.30 p.m. local time, the Holy Father met with young people and seminarians at New York's St. Joseph's Seminary.

  Following a welcome speech delivered by Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, three representatives of the 20,000 young people presented the Pope with bread, rice and maize as a symbol of the richness of their various traditions. A group of young people then sang him "Happy Birthday" in German.

  The Pope began his address by referring to the six images on display at the meeting. "Images", he said, "of six ordinary men and women who grew up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honours them as Venerable, Blessed, or Saint: ... St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Fr. Felix Varela. ... Each responded to the Lord's call to a life of charity and each served Him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of New York".

  "And what of today?" the Pope asked. "Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighbourhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way", he said.

  After highlighting the fact that young Americans today "are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness", the Holy Father recalled how his own adolescence was "marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew - infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion - before it was fully recognised for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good".

  "Let us thank God", said the Pope, "that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights".

  "The power to destroy does, however, remain", he warned. "To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. ... During the beautiful Easter vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds!" And "what might that darkness be?" the Pope asked. "What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope?" In this context, he recalled young people "affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation - especially of girls and women".

  Another "area of darkness - that which affects the mind - often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations", said the Pope. Hence "the fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded" because "it can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda".

  The Holy Father noted that "often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person, ... and in truth's place - or better said its absence - an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism".

  "Dear friends", he told the young people "truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One Whom we can always trust. ... Ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in".

  "How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfilment and lasting happiness? ... Christ's light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ's way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace".

  Benedict XVI then turned his attention to "four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.

  "What matters most", he added, "is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. ... Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore Him in the Eucharist. Let His word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness".

  "Through the liturgy, the 'work of Jesus' is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. ... Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the Sacraments, Jesus is at work".

  The Pope then referred to "new injustices" stemming "from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation", he said. "We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds".

  He invited the young men and women to express their gratitude to "parents, grandparents and godparents, ... they made it possible for you to receive the greatest gift of your life", Baptism. "On that day you entered into the holiness of God Himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ".

  Turning then to address the 300 seminarians from east coast dioceses present at the gathering, the Pope told them: "The People of God look to you to be holy priests. ... I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. ... Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit".

  The Holy Father also underlined the generous contribution made by religious and by regular priests "to the mission of the Church. ... The wondrous array of charisms proper to each religious institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury. ... Through the discovery of charisms, which yield such a breadth of spiritual wisdom, I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of apostolic or contemplative service".

  "The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ", said Pope Benedict in conclusion, telling the young people present that within the Church "you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. ... You are Christ's disciples today. Shine His light upon this great city and beyond".

  Finally, the Pope bid farewell to his audience "until we meet again in Sydney this July for World Youth Day!"
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Saturday, April 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2008 (VIS) - This morning, the Pope visited the New York headquarters of the United Nations Organisation where, on his arrival, he was welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general, and Srgjan Kerim, current president of the General Assembly.

  Benedict XVI is the third Pontiff to address the U.N. General Assembly. Pope Paul VI did so on 4 October 1965, and John Paul II on two occasions: 2 October 1979 and 5 October 1995.

  Following a private meeting with the secretary general, the Holy Father went to the General Assembly where he addressed representatives of the 192 member States.

  Excerpts from the Holy Father's address are given below:

  "Through the United Nations, States have established universal objectives which, even if they do not coincide with the total common good of the human family, undoubtedly represent a fundamental part of that good. The founding principles of the Organisation - the desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian co-operation and assistance - express the just aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should underpin international relations. ... The United Nations embodies the aspiration for a 'greater degree of international ordering', inspired and governed by the principle of subsidiarity, and therefore capable of responding to the demands of the human family through binding international rules and through structures capable of harmonising the day-to-day unfolding of the lives of peoples. This is all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world's problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the international community.

  "Indeed, questions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development, and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of globalisation.  In the context of international relations, it is necessary to recognise the higher role played by rules and structures that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and therefore to safeguard human freedom. These regulations do not limit freedom. On the contrary, they promote it when they prohibit behaviour and actions which work against the common good, curb its effective exercise and hence compromise the dignity of every human person".

  "Here our thoughts turn also to the way the results of scientific research and technological advances have sometimes been applied. Notwithstanding the enormous benefits that humanity can gain, some instances of this represent a clear violation of the order of creation, to the point where not only is the sacred character of life contradicted, but the human person and the family are robbed of their natural identity. Likewise, international action to preserve the environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must not only guarantee a rational use of technology and science, but must also rediscover the authentic image of creation. This never requires a choice to be made between science and ethics: rather it is a question of adopting a scientific method that is truly respectful of ethical imperatives.

  "Recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect. ... Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty".

  "The principle of 'responsibility to protect' was considered by the ancient 'ius gentium' as the foundation of every action taken by those in government with regard to the governed. ... Now, as then, this principle has to invoke the idea of the person as image of the Creator, the desire for the absolute and the essence of freedom. The founding of the United Nations, as we know, coincided with the profound upheavals that humanity experienced when reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly violated. ... When faced with new and insistent challenges, it is a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach, limited to determining 'common ground', minimal in content and weak in its effect.

  "This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ... Human rights are increasingly being presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of international relations. At the same time, the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the rights recognised and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the high-point of God's creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilisations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks".

  "The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict. ... The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights. Today, though, efforts need to be redoubled in the face of pressure to reinterpret the foundations of the Declaration and to compromise its inner unity so as to facilitate a move away from the protection of human dignity towards the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests".

  "Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based. This aspect is often overlooked when the attempt is made to deprive rights of their true function in the name of a narrowly utilitarian perspective. Since rights and the resulting duties follow naturally from human interaction, it is easy to forget that they are the fruit of a commonly held sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity among the members of society, and hence valid at all times and for all peoples".

  "As history proceeds, new situations arise, and the attempt is made to link them to new rights. Discernment, that is, the capacity to distinguish good from evil, becomes even more essential in the context of demands that concern the very lives and conduct of persons, communities and peoples".

  "Discernment, then, shows that entrusting exclusively to individual States, with their laws and institutions, the final responsibility to meet the aspirations of persons, communities and entire peoples, can sometimes have consequences that exclude the possibility of a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person. On the other hand, a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favours conversion of heart, which then leads to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace. This also provides the proper context for the inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support, just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity".

  "Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian - a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer. ... It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves - their faith - in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one's rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order".

  "My presence at this Assembly is a sign of esteem for the United Nations, and it is intended to express the hope that the Organisation will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family. It also demonstrates the willingness of the Catholic Church to offer her proper contribution to building international relations in a way that allows every person and every people to feel they can make a difference".

  "The United Nations remains a privileged setting in which the Church is committed to contributing her experience 'of humanity', developed over the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it at the disposal of all members of the international community. This experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their journey of faith and their search for God in this world. Recognition of this dimension must be strengthened if we are to sustain humanity's hope for a better world and if we are to create the conditions for peace, development, co-operation, and guarantee of rights for future generations".

  Having completed his address, the Holy Father met with the president of the General Assembly and, subsequently, with the president of the U.N. Security Council, a post currently held by Dumisani Kumalo, South African ambassador.

  Click here to read the complete text of the Holy Father's address.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2008 (VIS) - This afternoon, having lunched with bishops of the archdiocese of New York, the Pope travelled by car to the city's St. Joseph's Seminary, where he was welcomed by the rector, Msgr. Gerald T. Walsh.

  The Pope first went to the seminary chapel where he met with a group of 50 disabled children. One of them addressed a greeting to the Holy Father in the name of all of them, after which Pope Benedict made some remarks of his own.

  "God", he said, "has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve Him and society in various ways. ... Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God's unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life".

  Benedict XVI encouraged the young people "to pray every day for our world, ... including those who have yet to come to know Jesus. And please do continue to pray for me", he concluded. "As you know I have just had another birthday. Time passes!"
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VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2008 (VIS) - In New York at 9.15 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the city's neo-Gothic St. Patrick's Cathedral. As he arrived, the Holy Father was greeted by Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, Msgr. Robert T. Ritchie, the rector of the cathedral, and Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York.

  The celebration of Mass for the Universal Church, which coincided with the third anniversary of Benedict XVI's election to the pontifical throne, was dedicated to clergy and religious of U.S. east coast dioceses, where New York is located.

  "In this country", said the Holy Father in his homily, "the Church's mission has always involved drawing people 'from every nation under heaven' into spiritual unity, and enriching the Body of Christ by the variety of their gifts. As we give thanks for past blessings, and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America".

  The Church, he went on, "is called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life. ... The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must be the heart of the new evangelisation. For true life - our salvation - can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love which are God's gracious gift.

  "This", he added, "is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a world where self-centredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people's hearts. ... Perhaps we have lost sight of this: in a society where the Church seems legalistic and 'institutional' to many people, our most urgent challenge is to communicate the joy born of faith and the experience of God's love".

  Benedict XVI then dwelt on some features of the cathedral building itself, associating them with the mission of priests and religious within the Church.

  "The first", he said, "has to do with the stained glass windows. ... From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendour. ... It follows", he explained, "that we, who live the life of grace within the Church's communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.

  "This is no easy task in a world which can tend to look at the Church, like those stained glass windows, 'from the outside': a world which deeply senses a need for spirituality, yet finds it difficult to 'enter into' the mystery of the Church. Even for those of us within, the light of faith can be dimmed by routine, and the splendour of the Church obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members. It can be dimmed too, by the obstacles encountered in a society which sometimes seems to have forgotten God and to resent even the most elementary demands of Christian morality".

  "Yet the word of God reminds us that, in faith, we see the heavens opened, and the grace of the Holy Spirit lighting up the Church and bringing sure hope to our world".

  The second feature the Pope considered was the architecture of the cathedral, "like all Gothic cathedrals, a highly complex structure, whose exact and harmonious proportions symbolise the unity of God's creation. ... Does this not bring to mind our need to see all things with the eyes of faith, and thus to grasp them in their truest perspective, in the unity of God's eternal plan? This requires, as we know, constant conversion, and a commitment to acquiring 'a fresh, spiritual way of thinking'. ... Is not this ongoing 'intellectual' conversion", he asked, "as necessary as 'moral' conversion for our own growth in faith, our discernment of the signs of the times, and our personal contribution to the Church's life and mission?".

  In this context, Pope Benedict expressed the view that "one of the great disappointments which followed Vatican Council II, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church's mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. ... In this way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today's world".

  "Here, within the context of our need for the perspective given by faith, and for unity and co-operation in the work of building up the Church, I would like say a word about the sexual abuse that has caused so much suffering. I have already had occasion to speak of this, and of the resulting damage to the community of the faithful. Here I simply wish to assure you, dear priests and religious, of my spiritual closeness as you strive to respond with Christian hope to the continuing challenges that this situation presents. I join you in praying that this will be a time of purification for each and every particular Church and religious community, and a time for healing".

  "The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven. Here too, we can see a symbol of the Church's unity, which is the unity ... of a living body composed of many different members, each with its own role and purpose".

  "Certainly within the Church's divinely-willed structure there is a distinction to be made between hierarchical and charismatic gifts. Yet the very variety and richness of the graces bestowed by the Spirit invite us constantly to discern how these gifts are to be rightly ordered in the service of the Church's mission".

  "In the finest traditions of the Church in this country", the Pope concluded, addressing the priests and religious, "may you also be the first friend of the poor, the homeless, the stranger, the sick and all who suffer. Act as beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world, and encouraging young people to discover the beauty of a life given completely to the Lord and His Church".

  At the conclusion of Mass the Holy Father made some off-the-cuff remarks concerning his Petrine ministry:

  "At this moment I can only thank you for your love of the Church and Our Lord, and for the love which you show to the poor Successor of St. Peter. I will try to do all that is possible to be a worthy successor of the great Apostle, who also was a man with faults and sins, but remained in the end the rock for the Church. And so I too, with all my spiritual poverty, can be for this time, in virtue of the Lord's grace, the Successor of Peter. It is also your prayers and your love which give me the certainty that the Lord will help me in this my ministry. I am therefore deeply grateful for your love and for your prayers. My response now for all that you have given to me during this visit is my blessing, which I impart to you at the conclusion of this beautiful celebration".
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