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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Friday, May 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments today published a decree authorising the celebration, on 25 January 2009, of Mass for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which falls on that Sunday, the third in Ordinary Time.

  The decree, signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, respectively prefect and secretary of the congregation, explains that the authorisation has been given because of the Pauline Year, due to be inaugurated by the Holy Father on 28 June 2008 to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles.


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ, in order to be able to communicate the strength of His love to every person they meet".

  His mission intention is: "That the International Eucharistic Congress of Quebec in Canada may lead to an ever greater understanding that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the source of evangelisation".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Sydney, Australia, for the 23rd World Youth Day was made public today. The trip is due to take place from 12 to 21 July.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 12 July, landing at 9.15 a.m. (Australian time) at the airport of Darwin/RAAF Military Base. After a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Sydney's Richmond airport. Having landed there, the Pope will travel to a private residence where he will remain until the morning of Thursday 17 July.

  On 17 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will participate in the welcome ceremony at Sydney's Government House, after which he will pay a courtesy visit to the governor general and meet with the prime minister. Following a brief display of traditional Aboriginal dances and songs, he will then board the ship "Sydney 2000" and be taken to the city's East Darling Harbour where he will be welcomed by young people.

  On Friday 18 July he will again celebrate a private Mass after which, at 10.30 a.m., he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting in the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney before going on to meet with representatives of other religions in the cathedral chapter. Having lunched with a number of young people, he will pronounce a prayer for the beginning of the Way of the Cross in the square in front of St. Mary's Cathedral. At 6.45 p.m. he will meet a group of disadvantaged young people at the Sacred Heart church of Notre Dame University.

  At 9.30 a.m. on Saturday 19 July, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Mary's Cathedral with Australian bishops, seminarians and novices, and consecrate the building's new altar. Having had lunch with the bishops, that evening he will travel to the Randwick Racecourse to preside at a prayer vigil with young people.

  At 10 a.m. on Sunday 20 July, he will preside at Mass for 23rd World Youth Day and pray the Angelus at Randwick Racecourse. At 6 p.m. on the same day, he will deliver an address during a meeting of benefactors and organisers of the 23rd World Youth Day in the chapter house of St. Mary's Cathedral.

  On Monday 21 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will travel to The Domain in Sydney where he will bid farewell to the 23rd World Youth Day volunteers, and pronounce an address. He will then go directly to Sydney's international airport, where he will be greeted by the authorities before departing by plane for Darwin. Following a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Rome where the Holy Father is due to arrive at around 11 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Message to His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during a meeting with the Patriarch.

  In the text of his English-language Message, the Pope writes that the cardinal's visit to Russia "offers me a welcome opportunity to extend my cordial greetings, to express my esteem for your ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church and to restate my appreciation for your commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox".

  "It is with joy", the Holy Father adds, "that I reflect on the experience of growing closeness between us, accompanied by the shared desire to promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever deeper communion. I think with gratitude of the recent visit of Your Holiness to Strasbourg and Paris, and the warm welcome given to the Catholic archbishop of the archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow during the Christmas celebrations last year.

  "Another sign of fraternity and friendship towards the Catholic Church is to be seen in the invitation extended to Cardinal Kasper by His Eminence Kirill, metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to visit that eparchy on the occasion of his name-day. This is not only a sign of personal goodwill, but also a gesture towards the Catholic Church which Cardinal Kasper represents".

  "During his time in Russia", writes the Pope, "Cardinal Kasper will visit Kazan to venerate the icon of the Mother of God which my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, conveyed to Your Holiness through the good offices of Cardinal Kasper. ... This icon bears a likeness to all the other venerable icons of the Mother of God. ... It also offers an opportunity for encounter with Muslims, who show great respect for Mary, the Mother of God".

  The Pope notes haw the Russian Patriarch "has been increasingly committed to dialogue with other Christians and the members of other religions" and reaffirms his own "deep gratitude" for, and "prayerful interest" in, "the signs of friendship and trust which your Church and its representatives have demonstrated in various ways".

  Reiterating his gratitude to Alexis II for his dialogue "with different ecclesial, religious and social bodies", Benedict XVI concludes: "May the Risen Saviour grant you health, peace and inner joy, and may he bring us closer to each other, that we may undertake together our journey towards full communion in Him".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Speaking English, the Pope began his remarks by highlighting how "the Church in Myanmar is known and admired for its solidarity with the poor and needy. This has been especially evident", he told the prelates, "in the concern you have shown in the aftermath of the cyclone Nargis".

  "During these difficult days, I know how grateful the Burmese people are for the Church's efforts to provide shelter, food, water, and medicine to those still in distress", he said, assuring the bishops that the Universal Church "is joined spiritually with those who mourn the loss of loved ones. ... May God open the hearts of all so that a concerted effort may be made to facilitate and co-ordinate the ongoing endeavour to bring relief to the suffering and rebuild the country's infrastructure.

  "The Church's mission of charity", he added, "shines forth in a particular way through the religious life. ... I am pleased to note that an increasing number of women are responding to the call to consecrated life in your region", he said.

  "Similar signs of hope are seen in the rising number of vocations to the priesthood. These men are both 'called together' and 'sent out to preach' to be examples of faithfulness and holiness for the People of God".

  The Holy Father encouraged the prelates of Myanmar "to continue making the necessary sacrifices to ensure that seminarians receive the integral formation that will enable them to become authentic heralds of the new evangelisation".

  "The Church's mission to spread the Good News depends on a generous and prompt response from the lay faithful to become labourers in the vineyard. They too are in need of a robust and dynamic Christian formation which will inspire them to carry the Gospel message to their workplaces, families, and to society at large".

  The Pope then went on to refer to the reports the bishops had presented to him, in which they had mentioned "the enthusiasm with which the laity are organising many new catechetical and spiritual initiatives, often involving great numbers of young people". And he encouraged the bishops "to remind those under your care to turn continually to the nourishment of the Eucharist through participation in the liturgy and silent contemplation".

  "Your active participation in the First Asian Mission Congress has led to new initiatives for promoting goodwill with Buddhists in your country", he told them. "In this regard, I encourage you as you develop ever better relations with Buddhists for the good of your individual communities and of the entire nation".

  Before concluding his remarks, Benedict XVI expressed his "sincere gratitude" to the prelates for "your faithful ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances and setbacks often beyond your control".

  Recalling that that next month the Church "inaugurates a special Jubilee Year in honour of St. Paul", the Pope concluded: "Paul exhorts us to keep our gaze fixed on the glory that awaits us so as never to despair in the pain and sufferings of today".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Sotero Phamo of Loikaw.

    - Bishop Peter Hla of Pekhon.

    - Bishop Isaac Danu of Taungngu.

    - Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray of Mawlamyine.

    - Bishop John Hsane Hgyi of Pathein.

    - Bishop Gregory Taik Maung, apostolic administrator "sede plena" of Pyay.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" today announced that from 2 to 6 June a series of spiritual exercises will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, under the direction of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household.

  Some 500 men and women from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, leaders of the Catholic Church's mission of charity, will participate in the initiative. The Holy Father has sent them a Message in which he "invites all to intensify their friendship with the Lord Jesus. This divine dimension of love characterises the Church's charitable organisations and makes their activity irreplaceable".

  The "Cor Unum" English-language communique continues: "The generosity of people today and their willingness to help whenever catastrophe strikes, such as the tsunami or the cyclone in Myanmar, is truly impressive. At the same time, Christians are convinced that, beside material assistance, human affliction needs a message of hope that only Christ can give though faith-filled witness. The Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', the dicastery of the Holy See charged with orienting and co-ordinating the Church's charitable activities, has proposed this gathering as a school for deepening faith".

Thursday, May 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Gerardo Alimane Alminaza of the clergy of the diocese of Bacolod, Philippines, rector of the Sacred Heart Seminary, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Jaro (area 5,303, population 2,333,141, Catholics 2,125,446, priests 228, religious 710), Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in San Jose, Philippines in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1986.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina.

    - Archbishop Matthias U Shwe of Taunggyi.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Matilda of Canossa, the Papacy and the Empire (history, art and culture at the origins of the Romanesque) is the title of a forthcoming exhibition, which was presented this morning in the Vatican Museums.

  The exhibition will be inaugurated on 31 August and run until 11 January 2009, and will have two separate sites: the Casa di Mantegna in Mantua and the abbey of San Benedetto Po. It focuses on the biographical and political events of Matilda's life as a starting point to examine and interpret a period of confrontation between Popes and Emperors which led to the demarcation and separation of the two powers (religious and secular) and thus laid the foundations of the modern conception of power in the West.

  Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115), a powerful feudal landowner and ardent supporter of the Papacy in the controversy over investitures, dominated the area of Italy immediately north of the Papal States.

  The exhibition - using works of art, documents and artefacts from various museums in Italy and Europe - reveals a world undergoing a profound transformation. Matilda's fame and the need to make her a symbol of support for the Papacy created a myth that has lasted down until our own time, and over history has inspired such figures as Dante, Giulio Romano and Gianlorenzo Bernini who recreated her figure in masterpieces of literature, painting and sculpture.


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday in the Vatican, the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary meeting for the purpose of advancing negotiations concerning article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel of 30 December 1993.

  According to a communique released yesterday afternoon, the Holy See delegation was headed by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, and the Israeli delegation by Aaron Abramovich, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  The work of the plenary meeting of the commission "took place in a climate of great cordiality and good will, and accomplished significant progress towards the shared goal, both substantially and in terms of putting in place procedures to improve desired effectiveness and on-going negotiations", says the communique.

  The next meeting of the plenary will be held in Israel in the first half of December this year, "in the meantime the commission will continue upon its task at the 'working level'".


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope met with members of the Italian Episcopal Conference, who are currently holding their general assembly in the Vatican's Synod Hall. The central theme of their deliberations has been evangelisation and education among the new generations.

  The Pope opened his address to them by affirming that the "educational emergency" he has referred to on a number of previous occasions "assumes a very specific form: that of the transmission of the faith to the new generations". In this field "we must negotiate the obstacles placed in our way by relativism, by a culture that puts God within parenthesis and discourages all truly committed choices, and in particular definitive choices, rather privileging ... self-affirmation and immediate satisfaction".

  To face these difficulties, said the Pope, bishops have at their disposal "many charisms and forms of evangelising energy" which they must "accept with joy". Particularly important, he went on, "are personal relationships, especially sacramental confession and spiritual guidance. Each of these moments represents an opportunity given to us to help our young people see the face of the God Who is the true friend of mankind".

  "The current educational emergency raises the question of an education that is truly educational", an education that "re-establishes full and integral formation of the person as the centre of its focus. ... It is, in fact, fair to ask whether the quality of teaching would not be improved by a simulating comparison between educational centres established - while respecting universally valid teaching programmes - by popular groups concerned with interpreting the educational choices of individual families".

  Benedict XVI indicated that Italy "needs to overcome a difficult period in which economic and social dynamism seemed to weaken, faith in the future diminished, and the poverty of many families led to a growing sense of insecurity". In this context, he also noted "signs of a new climate" due to "a more serene relationship between political forces and the institutions" which has been inspired by "a more acute sense of a shared responsibility for the future of the nation. ... There exists, in fact, a widespread desire to resume the journey, to face and resolve at least the most urgent and pressing problems, to open a new season of economic (but also civic and moral) growth".

  "As bishops we cannot fail to make our own specific contribution, so that Italy may see a period of progress and harmony", he said. "To this end we must first of all bear frank witness to the fact that ... the fundamental problem of mankind today remains the problem of God. No other human and social problem can truly be solved if God does not return to the centre of our lives".

  "Within the framework of a healthy and well-understood laicism, it is important to resist all tendencies to consider religion, and in particular Christianity, as a purely private matter", said the Holy Father.

  He laid particular emphasis on the prelates' concern for "the family founded on marriage, ... in order to encourage a culture favourable, and not hostile, to the family and to life, and to ask public institutions for coherent policies that recognise the central role families play in society, especially in generating and educating children". Furthermore, he added, "our commitment to the dignity and protection of human life in all moments and conditions must remain strong and constant".

  "We cannot close our eyes and remain silent in the face of the poverty, discomfort and social injustice that afflict such a large part of humankind, and that require generous commitment from everyone. ... Of course, our readiness to help must come about while respecting the laws which undertake to ensure the well-ordered progress of social life, both within a State and towards those who come from outside".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of nine new ambassadors to the Holy See: Ahmada Rweyemamu Ngemera of Tanzania; Nyine S. Bitahwa of Uganda; Wesley Momo Johnson of Liberia, Hissein Brahim Taha of Chad; Debapriya Bhattacharya of Bangladesh; Sergei F. Aleinik of Belarus; Alexandre Cece Loua of Guinea, Tikiri Bandara Maduwegedera of Sri Lanka, and Obed Wadzani of Nigeria.

  Addressing the diplomats as a group, the Pope expressed the view that "the primordial gauge in political matters is the search for justice, so as to ensure that the dignity and rights of human beings are always respected and that all the inhabitants of a country may share in the wealth of their nation. The same holds true for the international sphere".

  "The international community", he continued, "is also called to act - over and above simple justice - by showing its solidarity with the poorest and ensuring a better distribution of wealth, enabling especially those countries whose wealth resides in the soil or under the soil to be the primary beneficiaries thereof. Rich countries cannot appropriate what comes from other lands".

  "Justice and solidarity must mean that the international community oversees the distribution of resources", said the Holy Father, highlighting how "it is also necessary to develop ... fraternal relations in order to create well-balanced societies where harmony and peace can reign, and to regulate any problems that may arise through dialogue and negotiation, without using any form of violence which always affects the weakest and poorest people".

  Benedict XVI explained how "solidarity and fraternity are a definitive expression of the fundamental love which we must show our brothers and sisters, because all people with responsibility in public life are primarily called to make their mission one of service to their compatriots and, in a broader sense, to all the inhabitants of the planet".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by indicating that, "for their part, the local Churches will not fail to do everything possible to make their contribution to the wellbeing of their compatriots, sometimes in difficult situations. Their desire is tirelessly to continue serving human beings, all human beings, without discrimination of any kind".

  In his speech, delivered in written form, to the ambassador of Tanzania, the Pope recalls how the country, "is also held in esteem for the important role undertaken by its political leaders in the process of pacification of the Great Lakes Region" and for its "generous hospitality to refugees fleeing from hostilities in neighbouring countries". The Holy Father also notes certain negative trends such as "an increase in the regional traffic of arms and interruptions in important initiatives of dialogue and reconciliation", and affirms that the Holy See "continues to exhort all who hold responsibility in the region not to loose confidence in the value of dialogue, but to explore with an open mind and follow all possibilities that may lead to the conclusion of a lasting peace".

  In his discourse to the Ugandan representative, the Pope notes the country's achievements "in the fields of education, development and health care, especially in the struggle against HIV/AIDS with dedicated attention to those affected and a successful policy of prevention based on continence and the promotion of faithfulness in marriage". He also praises "the culmination of efforts to formalise peace agreements and to bring to a conclusion the long years of warfare marked by cruel and senseless violence", expressing the hope that all displaced people may "return to their homes and resume a peaceful and productive existence".

  Benedict XVI informs the ambassador of Liberia of his satisfaction over "the decision by the International Monetary Fund ... to take steps towards cancelling Liberia's debt". He also underlines the importance of the "educational apostolate", noting how "many of your children and young people have been traumatised by the experience of war, some of them forced to become soldiers and to abandon their education, resulting in low levels of literacy across the population. The Church in such circumstances seeks to offer the people hope, to give them faith in the future".

  The Pope tells the ambassador of Chad that "the quality of relations between religious communities living in Chad, especially between Christians and Muslims, is an important element on the country's path to reconciliation".

  "I am confident that your country's active participation in bodies such as the United Nations Organisation will contribute to the 'culture of peace' which Bangladesh desires to build at home and abroad", writes the Pope in his speech to the Bangladeshi ambassador.

  "Considered as an integral part of the life and destiny of Belarus", Pope Benedict says to that country's representative, "the Catholic Church looks forward to continuing to exercise her role in society through her various structures and institutions", which "seek only to serve men and women and all of society through the transmission of universal values inspired by the Gospel. In this regard the Catholic Church in Belarus, from both the Latin and Byzantine traditions, does not ask for special privileges but only to contribute to the growth and development of the country. All she requests is the freedom to be able to fulfil serenely the mandate received from the divine Founder in service of His creation. In this same spirit and with the same sense of mutual responsibility, the Catholics of Belarus are committed to moving forward in the area of ecumenical dialogue, especially with the Orthodox Church in your country".

  To the ambassador of Guinea, the Pope expresses the hope that "following the painful trials the nation has been through, active co-operation may consolidate stability and encourage fraternity among the people". He also makes clear his hope that the international community may support such efforts.

  To the diplomat from Sri Lanka, Benedict XVI notes how "Catholics in Sri Lanka, together with other Christians, are united with many Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims in the ardent longing for lasting peace in the country and a definitive end to long-standing grievances. Sadly, violence continues to take its toll on the populace, causing grave concern to the Holy See and the international community". He also mentions the government's decision to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate cases of human rights violations, making particular reference to "Fr. Jim Brown and his assistant, whose whereabouts are still unknown, almost two years after their disappearance".

  Finally, the Holy Father praises Nigeria for the dynamism it "has introduced into the struggle against corruption and crime and the strengthening of the rule of law. ... I pray that politicians and social workers, professional people in the fields of economy, medicine and law, police officers and judges, and all involved in combating crime and corruption will work together diligently for the protection of life and property, supported by the loyal co-operation of all citizens. The Church will not fail to make her specific contribution by offering an integral education based on honesty, integrity and love of God and neighbour".
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Francisco de Assis Dantas de Lucena, of the clergy of the diocese of Caico, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Sao Francisco de Assis", as bishop of Gurarabira (area 4,553, population 420,000, Catholics 357,000, priests 38, permanent deacons 5, religious 69), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Jardim do Serido, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991.

 - Fr. Irineu Gassen O.F.M., pastor of the parish of "Sao Joao Batista" in the diocese of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, as bishop of Vacaria (area 15,932, population 206,900, Catholics 187,600, priests 52, permanent deacons 1, religious 223), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1968.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life today published an Instruction entitled: "The Service of Authority and Obedience", presented this morning at an assembly of male and female superiors general being held at the Salesianum in Rome.

  "In the first place, the text examines the theme of religious obedience", says a communique released by the congregation, "the root of which is seen in that search for God and for His will which is particular to believers. ... Christian and religious obedience does not, then, appear simply as the implementation of ecclesiastical or religious laws and rulings, but as the momentum of a journey in search of God which involves listening to His Word and becoming aware of His design of love - the fundamental experience of Christ Who, out of love, was obedient unto His death on the cross.

  "Authority in religious life", the communique adds, "must be understood in this light, in other words, as a way to help the community (or institute) to seek and achieve the will of God. Obedience, then, is not justified on the basis of religious authority, because everyone in a religious community (first and foremost the authorities themselves) are called to obedience, Authority places itself at the service on the community so that God's will may be sought and achieved together".

  "The question of religious authority must be placed in the context of the great shared commitment to obedience, ... the theme that opens and closes this document", says the communique. The Instruction also considers "the delicate matter of 'difficult obedience', that in which what is requested of the religious is particularly hard to carry out, or in which the subject feels he sees 'things which are better and more useful for his soul than those which the superior orders him to do'. ... Drawing from a still-relevant text of Paul VI, the document also dwells upon the possibility of 'objections of conscience' in the subject who must obey".

  "The Instruction seeks to recall, above all, that obedience in religious life can give rise to difficult moments, to situations of suffering in which it is necessary to refer back to the Obedient One par excellence, Christ. ... It must, moreover, be borne in mind that authority too can be 'difficult', experiencing moments of discouragement and fatigue which can lead to resignation or inattention in exercising an appropriate guidance ... of the community".

  "The reference to conscience helps people to consider obedience not just as a passive and irresponsible execution of orders, but as a conscious shouldering of commitments ... which are a real actuation of the will of God".

  "If the document contains a serene and faith-motivated exhortation to obedience, it also offers a vast and coherent set of guidelines for the exercise of authority", such as "inviting people to listen, favouring dialogue, sharing, co-responsibility, ... and the merciful treatment of the people" entrusted to authority.

  The Instruction, the communique concludes, "gives particular resonance to the religious community as a place in which, under the guidance of the superior, a form of 'community discernment' must be exercised in decision-making. This practice, for the implementation of which important suggestions are offered, does not however eliminate the role of authority ... And it must not be forgotten that, by ancient tradition, the highest authority within religious institutes resides in the general chapter (or similar institution), which is a collegial body".


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience today, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Gregory the Great, who was Bishop of Rome from 590 to 604 and whom "tradition deemed worthy of the title of 'Magnus', the Great".

  Gregory, said the Holy Father, "truly was a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church". He was born in Rome in 540 to a rich and noble family, which stood out "for its attachment to the Christian faith and for its service to the Apostolic See".

  Benedict XVI recalled how Gregory first entered upon an administrative career, becoming prefect of Rome in 572. "However such a life cannot have satisfied him for shortly afterwards he decided to abandon all public office and withdraw to his house on the 'Clivius Scauri', beginning life as a monk". In this way "he acquired a profound knowledge of Holy Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church, which he later used in his own works".

  Gregory's skills and experience caused Pope Pelagius II to appoint him as deacon and send him as ambassador to Constantinople "to help surmount the last vestiges of the Monophysite controversy and, above all, to obtain the emperor's support in the struggle to counteract the pressure of the Lombards". A few years later, "he was called back to Rome by the Pope who made him his secretary". When Pelagius II died, Gregory succeeded him in the See of St. Peter. It was the year 590.

  A large number of documents have been conserved from Gregory's pontificate, said the Pope, "thanks to the 'Registro' which includes around 800 of his letters. ... Among the problems afflicting Italy and Rome at that time, was one of particular weight in both civil and ecclesial life: the question of the Lombards". Gregory established "fraternal relations with them, with a view to a future peace founded on mutual respect and the serene coexistence of Italians, Greeks and Lombards".

  Negotiations with the Lombard king, Agilulf "led to a truce which lasted for nearly three years (598-601), after which it proved possible to stipulate a more stable armistice in 603", said the Holy Father. "This positive result was possible also thanks to the contacts which the Pope had, in the meantime, established with Queen Theodelinda, a Bavarian and a Catholic. ... Little by little Theodelinda managed to lead the king to Catholicism, thus preparing the way for peace". The "beautiful" story of this queen, said the Pope, "demonstrates the importance of women in the history of the Church".

  "Pope Gregory was also active in the field of social work. With the income of the considerable patrimony which the See of Rome possessed in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grain, helped those in need, assisted poverty-stricken priests, monks and nuns, paid the ransom of citizens who had fallen prisoner to the Lombards, and bought armistices and truces".

  "Gregory", the Pope explained, "undertook these intense activities despite poor health which often forced him to keep his bed for days on end. ... Notwithstanding the difficult conditions in which he had to work, he managed, thanks to the holiness of his life and his abundant humanity, to conquer the trust of the faithful, achieving what, for his own time and for the future, were truly grand results".

  "He was a man immersed in God. The desire for God was perpetually alive in the depths of his soul and precisely for this reason he always remained close to others, to the needs of the people of his time. At a time of disaster - a desperate time - he managed to create peace and bring hope. This man of God shows us", Benedict XVI concluded, "where the true sources of peace are, where true hope comes from, and thus he is also a guide for us today".
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2008 (VIS) - During a press conference held this morning, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, presented the results of the recently-completed restoration of the Valerii Mausoleum, one of the most important monuments of the Roman necropolis located under the Vatican Basilica.

  The mausoleum, which dates from the 2nd century AD and is famous for its stucco decorations, is located in the middle of the route through the old necropolis that leads to the tomb of St. Peter. The stuccowork was in need of restoration because it had been damaged by the instability of the microclimate in the necropolis and by earlier restoration using inappropriate materials.

  The operation, which lasted ten months and was undertaken by a team of experts specialising in underground restorations, was carried out using scalpels, mini drills and, for the most delicate areas, laser equipment. Furthermore, by studying stucco fragments conserved in the storerooms of the Fabric of St. Peter's, it was also possible to recompose three hermae.

  Finally, the monument was enclosed within a glass cover, so it may be viewed without affecting the delicate balance of the internal microclimate, which is constantly monitored by a high-precision computerised system. New illumination, using fibre optic cables, makes it possible to admire the coloured surfaces, frescoed to imitate polychrome marble, and the white stucco decorations, modelled to replicate marble statues.

  The restoration work was made possible thanks the help of the "Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra". Present at the press conference alongside Cardinal Comastri were Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Maria Cristina Carlo Stella, bureau chief of the Fabric; Pietro Zander, head of conservation for the Vatican necropolis; Adele Cecchini, restorer, and Hans-Albert Courtial, president of the "Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Vatican Publishing House has recently released a new edition of the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, comprising information on the main aspects of Catholic Church activity in various countries for the period 2000-2006.

  Over these seven years, the Catholic presence in the world has remained stable at around 17.3 percent of the total population. In Europe, despite the fact that 25 percent of all Catholics live there, the growth in the number of faithful was less than one percent. In the Americas and in Oceania their numbers grew, respectively, by 8.4 percent and 7.6 percent; in Asia they remained more or less stable with respect to population growth, whereas in Africa they increased from 130 million in 2000 to 158.3 million in 2006.

  The number of bishops in the world went up from 4,541 in 2000 to 4,898 in 2006, an increase of 7.86 percent.

  The number of priests also increased slightly over this seven-year period, passing from 405,178 in 2000 to 407,262 in 2006, an overall rise of around 0.51 percent. In Africa and Asia their numbers increased (respectively, by 23.24 percent and 17.71 percent), in the Americas they remained stable, while they fell by 5.75 percent in Europe and 4.37 percent in Oceania.

  The number of diocesan priests increased by two percent, going from 265,781 in 2000 to 271,091 in 2006. By contrast, the number of regular priests showed a constant decline, down by 2.31 percent to 136,000 in 2006. Of the continents, only in Europe was there a clear reduction in priests: in 2000 they represented 51 percent of the world total, in 2006 just 48 percent. On the other hand, Asia and Africa together represented 17.5 percent of the world total in 2000 and 21 percent in 2006. The Americas remained steady at around 30 percent, and Oceania a little more than one percent.

  Non-ordained religious numbered 55.057 in the year 2000 and 55,107 in 2006. Comparing this data by continent, Europe showed a strong decline (down by 12.01 percent), as did Oceania (16.83 percent), the Americas remained stable, while Asia and Africa increased (respectively, by 30.63 percent and 8.13 percent).

  Female religious are almost double the number of priests, and 14 times that of non-ordained male religious, but their numbers are falling, from 800,000 in 2000 to 750,000 in 2006. As for their geographical distribution, 42 percent reside in Europe, 28.03 percent in America and 20 percent in Asia. The number of female religious has increased in the most dynamic continents: Africa (up by 15.45 percent) and Asia (up by 12.78 percent).

  The Statistical Yearbook of the Church also includes information on the number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan and religious seminaries. In global terms, their numbers increased from 110.583 in 2000 to more than 115.000 in 2006, a growth of 4.43 percent. In Africa and Asia their numbers went up whereas Europe saw a reduction of around 16 percent.
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Monday, May 26, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Albert Thevenot M. Afr., provincial superior for Canada of the White Fathers, as bishop of Prince-Albert (area 118,834, population 186,400, Catholics 49,942, priests 55, permanent deacons 1, religious 102), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Treherne, Canada in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1980. He succeeds Bishop Blaise-Ernest Morand, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 24 May, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of the clergy of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, president of the ecclesiastical tribunal of first appeal of Ammam, Jordan, as metropolitan archbishop of Alger (area 54,927, population 9,663,000, Catholics 3,000, priests 41, permanent deacons 2, religious 100), Algeria. The archbishop-elect was born in Khirbeh, Jordan in 1951 and ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Archbishop Henri Teissier, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser S.A.C., adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works, as bishop of Warszawa-Praga (area 3,300, population 1,113,000, Catholics 1,088,000, priests 650, religious 1,623), Poland. He conserves his personal title of archbishop.

 - Appointed Msgr. Piergiuseppe Vacchelli of the clergy of the diocese of Cremona, Italy, under secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference and president of the committee for charitable initiatives in support of the Third Word, as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Longardore di Sospiro, Italy in 1937 and ordained a priest in 1961.

 - Appointed Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, apostolic nuncio to Uruguay, as apostolic nuncio to Bulgaria.

 - Appointed Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, apostolic nuncio, as apostolic nuncio to Uruguay.

 - Elevated Msgr. Paolo De Nicolo, regent of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, to the dignity of bishop.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

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

    - Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng of Mandalay.

    - Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw.

    - Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang of Hakha, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Felix Lian Khen Thang.

    - Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng of Lashio.

  On Saturday 24 May, he received in separate audiences:

 - Four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Albania, on their ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Rrok K. Mirdita of Tirane-Durres, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop George Frendo O.P.

    - Bishop Cristoforo Palmieri C.M. of Rreshen.

    - Bishop Hil Kabashi O.F.M., apostolic administrator of southern Albania.

 - Archbishop Luciano Suriani, apostolic nuncio to Bolivia, accompanied by members of his family.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2008 (VIS) - On 19 May, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva, delivered an address during a diplomatic conference on cluster munitions being held in Dublin, Ireland.

  Speaking English Archbishop Tomasi, head of the Holy See delegation to the conference which is being held from 19 to 30 May, underlined the Holy See's insistence on "the priority of human dignity, of the interests of the victims, the priority of prevention and stability, and on the concept of security based on the lowest level of armament. Peace transcends by far the framework of military considerations. Peace is not just the absence of war".

  "In a globalised and more inter-dependent world, the problems of some are the problems of all" said the archbishop, warning that "what is not done today, will have to be done tomorrow with a supplement of suffering, of economic costs, and of deeper wounds to heal".

  He referred to moves underway to resolve the problem of cluster munitions, indicating that that "such efforts should be considered by the political and military leadership, and by the people of their countries, as a necessary but quite rewarding participation in the construction of a more peaceful and more secure world, where everyone enjoys greater security".

  "In this as in other contexts", he added, "co-operation and partnership are essential for success. A partnership between States, United Nations, international organisations, the Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs, is the secret to a common success and an indispensable element to reach the object of the future instrument. Victims should have a privileged place in this plan, their role should be an active one from start to finish".

  Archbishop Tomasi concede that "States have a right to defend peace, security and the stability of peoples under their responsibility" but, he said, "this can be better achieved without recourse to the arms race and to war".

  After recalling Paul VI's 1965 address to the U.N. General Assembly when the then Pope had said "one cannot love with offensive arms in hand", the head of the Holy See delegation reminded his listeners that "the eyes of peoples, of victims, of affected countries, are focused on this diplomatic conference, and all wait from us a courageous decision, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded the world" during the Angelus prayer of 18 May.

  "The world awaits an act of faith in the human person and his highest aspirations to live in peace and security, a commitment to make solidarity the most splendid expression of the unity of the human family and of its common destiny".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope addressed a special greeting to Chinese pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square, who have come to Rome from all over Italy for the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which was celebrated yesterday 24 May.

  "I entrust to the merciful love of God those of your fellow citizens who died as a consequence of the earthquake that struck a vast area of your county", the Holy Father told them.

  He then went on to renew his "personal closeness to those who are living through a period of anguish and tribulation. With the fraternal concern of everyone, may the people of those areas soon return to the normality of daily life.

  "Together with you, I ask Mary Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, to support the 'commitment of those within China who, amid their daily labours, continue to believe, to hope and to love, that they may not be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus', always being 'credible witnesses' of His love and remaining 'united to the rock of Peter upon which the Church is built'".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Feast of the Eucharist, as celebrated at Corpus Christi, was the theme of remarks that Benedict XVI addressed to faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, before praying the Angelus today.

  "The Lord and Creator of all things became a 'grain of wheat' to be sown in our land, in the furrows of our history", said the Pope. "He became bread in order to be .... shared; ... He became our food in order to give us life, His own divine life".

  "The Eucharist is a school of charity and solidarity", he went on. "Those who nourish themselves on the bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before people who, even in our own time, are without daily bread. Many parents have great difficulty in feeding themselves and their children. It is an ever more serious problem which the international community struggles to resolve. The Church not only prays to 'give us this day our daily bread' but, following the example of her Lord, seeks in all ways 'to multiply the five loaves and the two fish', through countless initiatives of human promotion and participation so that no-one may lack what they need to live".

  "May the Feast of Corpus Christi be an occasion to increase this authentic concern for our brothers and sisters, especially the poor", said Benedict XVI and he concluded by calling upon the Virgin Mary "from whom the Son of God drew flesh and blood", to intercede to this end.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released by the Holy See Press Office on the afternoon of Friday 23 May, concerning the position of Giuseppe Profiti, director of the "Bambino Gesu" paediatric hospital in Rome.

  "While making clear its total faith in, and desire to collaborate with, the Italian investigating authorities, the Property of the 'Bambino Gesu' paediatric hospital expresses its complete solidarity with the incumbent president, Professor Giuseppe Profiti, who is currently the subject of an enquiry concerning the Italian province of Liguria and the public offices he held in the past.

  "Professor Giuseppe Profiti, who last January assumed responsibility for directing the 'Bambino Gesu' hospital, internationally recognised in the field of paediatric research and treatment, has given daily proof of dedication and great professionalism, also garnering the support of his staff, all of them dedicated in a joint effort to respond with excellence to the request for health from their young patients who, from Italy and abroad, come trustingly to the paediatric hospital, property of the Holy See.

  "The solidarity of individuals and of institutions translates on the ground into continuing daily efforts ... in support of those who suffer, following Professor Profiti's organisational and methodological guidelines, in the hope that the activity of the magistrates will soon clarify the professor's position and enable him to resume his work".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 27 March, to Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, appointing him as special papal envoy to celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of the Poor, due to be held at the shrine of Banneux, Belgium on 31 May.

  Cardinal Danneels will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Karl Gatzweiler and Fr. Joseph Bodeson, members of the cathedral chapter of Liege, Belgium.


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received in separate audiences Nikola Gruevski, prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, then Ivajlo Kalfin, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of the Republic of Bulgaria. Both men, leading delegations from their respective countries, have come to Rome for the commemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

  In his address to the Macedonian delegation, the Pope indicated that the "shining spiritual witness" of Sts. Cyril and Methodius "points to a perennial truth which must be rediscovered to an ever greater degree: only when hope comes from God, is it trustworthy and secure".

  "This hope becomes tangible reality when people of good will in all parts of the world, like the brothers Cyril and Methodius, imitating Jesus' example and faithful to His teaching, tirelessly dedicate themselves to laying the foundations of friendly coexistence among peoples, respecting the rights of each and seeking the good of everyone".

  In his audience with the delegation from the Republic of Bulgaria, the Holy Father told them that the memory of the two saints "stimulates believers, both Orthodox and Catholics, in their desire to spur the country to probe more deeply into its rich Christian heritage, the origins of which go back to the tireless initiative of these two great evangelisers from Salonika".

  "The work of evangelisation, undertaken with apostolic zeal by Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the lands inhabited by the Slav peoples" is still important today, said Pope Benedict, because "it represents a model for the inculturation of faith" valid "even for the post-modern age. The Gospel does not undermine the authentic elements it finds in the various cultural traditions, but helps mankind of all times to recognise and achieve the real good, illuminated by the splendour of truth".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how "the rediscovery of Christian roots is important for building a society in which the spiritual and cultural values arising from the Gospel remain present", values that "draw nourishment from constant union with God, as is evident from the lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius who strove relentlessly to weave relationships of mutual understanding and cordiality between different peoples, and between diverse cultures and ecclesial traditions".

Friday, May 23, 2008


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

 - Erected the new ecclesiastical province of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, separating it from the ecclesiastical province of Kuching and raising the diocese of Kota Kinabalu to the status of metropolitan archdiocese with the suffragan dioceses of Keningau and Sandakan . He appointed Bishop John Lee Hiong Fun-Yit Yaw of Kota Kinabalu as first metropolitan archbishop of Kota Kinabalu. The archbishop-elect was born in Kota Kinabalu in 1933, he was ordained a priest in 1964 and consecrated a bishop in 1987.

  On Thursday 22 May, it was made public that he gave his assent to the canonical election carried out by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church of Fr. Taras Senkiv O.M., spiritual director of the major seminary of Ivano-Frankivsk, as auxiliary of Stryj of the Ukrainians (area 4,100, population 418,000, Catholics 372,307, priests 212, permanent deacons 2, religious 63), Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Bilobozhytsia, Ukraine in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1982.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced four beatification ceremonies due to take place over coming days:

  Marta Wiecka, virgin, Polish professed sister of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. At 11 a.m. on Saturday 24 May in Lviv, Ukraine.

  Servant of God Maria Giuseppina di Gesu Crocefisso Catanea (nee Giuseppina), virgin, Italian professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. At 5 p.m. on Sunday 1 June in the cathedral of Naples, Italy.

  James Ghazir Haddad (ne Khalil), Lebanese professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Cross in Lebanon. At 10 a.m. on Sunday 22 June in the Centre Ville of Beirut, Lebanon.

  Josepha (nee Hendrina Stenmanns), virgin, German religious and co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 29 June in Steyl Telegen, Netherlands.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today, in a homily he pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica following a Mass for the soul of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Benedict XVI recalled the figure of the late prelate, dean emeritus of the College of Cardinals, who died on 13 May at the age of 86.

  The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and by other members of the college.

  "The truth, of which the Word of God powerfully reminds us, is that nothing and no-one, not even death, can resist the omnipotence of His faithful and merciful love. This is our faith, founded on Christ's resurrection; this is the constant assurance which the Lord repeats, today as always".

  "It is in this perspective of faith and hope in the resurrection that we recall the venerable Cardinal Bernardin Gantin" who "to the end dedicated himself with affable willingness to the service of God and his fellows, maintaining faith in the motto he chose at the moment of his episcopal ordination: 'In tuo sancto servitio'".

  The Holy Father spoke of the character of the cardinal, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, which he described as "a marvellous blend of the characteristics of the African soul with those of the Christian spirit, of African culture and identify with evangelical values. He was the first African prelate to occupy roles of great responsibility in the Roman Curia".

  Benedict XVI then went on to speak of the experiences he had shared with Cardinal Gantin "which enabled me to gain ever greater appreciation of his prudent wisdom, as well as his solid faith and sincere adherence to Christ and to His Vicar on earth, the Pope. Fifty-seven years of priesthood, 51 years of episcopate and 31 as cardinal: this is the summary of a life spent for the Church".

  The Pope enumerated the various stages of the cardinal's life: his priestly ordination in 1951; his consecration as bishop in 1957 at the age of just 34; the period he spent as archbishop of Cotonou, capital of his native country of Benin, when he was the first metropolitan of Africa. In 1971, called by Pope Paul VI, he came to Rome as adjunct secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. A few years later he became secretary of that Congregation and, in 1976, also became president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace". Paul VI made him a cardinal in 1977, and in 1984 John Paul II appointed him as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

  "This friend and brother of ours to whom we today pay homage", said Benedict XVI, "was permeated with love for Christ ... which made him affable and ready to listen and talk to everyone". Christ's love "encouraged him to look, as he used to say, always to the essentials of the life that lasts, without losing himself in the side issues which quickly pass". It "made him see his role in the various offices of the Curia as a service devoid of human ambitions".

  "In Cardinal Gantin's pastoral ministry there emerges a constant love for the Eucharist, source of individual sanctity and of solid ecclesial communion, which has its visible foundation in Peter's Successor. And it was in this very basilica, celebrating his last Mass before leaving Rome, that he highlighted the unity the Eucharist creates in the Church. In his homily he quoted the famous phrase of the African bishop St. Cyprian of Carthage: ... 'From here the one faith shines out through the world; from here arises the unity of the priesthood'. This", the Pope concluded, "could be the message we draw from Cardinal Gantin, as his spiritual testament".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received participants in a congress promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who have been meeting to reflect upon the identity and mission of communications faculties in Catholic universities.

  "It is self-evident that at the heart of any serious reflection on the nature and purpose of human communications there must be an engagement with questions of truth. ... The art of communication is by its nature linked to an ethical value, to the virtues that are the foundation of morality. In the light of that definition, I encourage you, as educators, to nourish and reward that passion for truth and goodness that is always strong in the young".

  Benedict XVI exhorted his listeners "to promote truth in information, bringing our peers to reflect upon events, with the aim of being educators of human beings and builders of a better world. It is also necessary to promote justice and solidarity, and at all times to respect the value and dignity of individuals, who have the right not to be injured in matters concerning their private life".

  "It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which allow us to share knowledge and information more rapidly and efficiently, were not to be accessible to people who are already socially and economically marginalised"; or if such instruments were "used to increase the distance that separates those people from the new networks being developed at the service of social life, information and learning".

  "It would also be a serious matter", said the Holy Father "if the globalising tendency in the world of communications were to weaken or eliminate traditional customs and local cultures, especially those that have managed to strengthen family and social values, love, solidarity and respect for life". In this context, he expressed his appreciation to religious communities which, "despite the high financial cost and the vast human resources required, have opened Catholic universities in developing countries".

  Recalling how, during the course of the congress, attention had turned to the matter of the identity of Catholic universities and schools, the Pope pointed out that "such identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students; it is above all a question of conviction, of truly believing that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man become clear".

  "As experts in the theory and practice of communication, and as educators who are training a new generation of communicators, yours is a privileged role, not only in your students' lives, but also in the mission of your local Churches ... to make the Good News of God's love known to everyone".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Albania, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address to them the Holy Father recalled how, "following the dark night of the communist dictatorship", the Church in Albania "was providentially able to recover, thanks also to the apostolic strength" of Servant of God John Paul II who visited the country in 1993, "reconstituting the Catholic hierarchy for the good of believers and of the Albanian people".

  The Pope told the prelates "to promote in your actions and initiatives that unity which must express the basic and life-giving mystery of the one Body of Christ, in communion with Peter's Successor. ... The shared responsibility of bishops" is essential "in order to face the problems and difficulties of the Church in Albania", he said.

  "I encourage you all to evangelical prudence", he went on, "while maintaining an attitude of authentic charity and recalling that the ecclesial cannons are a means to the orderly promotion of communion in Christ and the higher good of the one flock of the Redeemer. This concerns evangelising and catechistic activity and may also be expressed through commitment in the social field". In this context, Pope Benedict mentioned healthcare, education, and factors "which favour positive collaboration among the various elements of society and their respective religious traditions".

  Faced with the phenomenon of emigration, both within and outside the country, the Pope highlighted the need to engage in dialogue with bishops from other countries, "in order to offer necessary and urgent pastoral assistance. I understand the difficulties of a lack of clergy. I am also aware of the generosity of many of your priests, who work in precarious situations, committed to offering their ministry to the Catholic faithful of Albanian origin in foreign lands".

  "Among your priorities, may the promotion of vocations always be a primary concern. On this the future of the Church in Albania depends".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by congratulating the prelates on the agreements signed recently with the Republic of Albania. "I trust that these provisions may help towards the spiritual reconstruction of the country, given the positive role the Church plays in society", he said.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the 97th "Deutscher Katholikentag" ecclesial meeting, which was inaugurated yesterday in the German city of Osnabruck. The event, attended by some 50,000 people, is due to come to an end on Sunday.

  Commenting on the theme chosen for the meeting - "He brought me out into a broad place" - the Pope writes that "no small number of people today ... are afraid that the faith may limit their lives, that they may be constrained in the web of the Church's commandments and teachings, and that they will no longer be free to move in the 'broad space' of modern life and thought".

  However, "only when our lives have reached the heart of God will they have found that 'broad space' for which we were created. A life without God does not become freer and broader. Human beings are destined for the infinite", he explains.

  "The heart that has opened itself to God", writes Benedict XVI, has become "generous and broad in its turn". Such a one does not need to seek happiness and success "or to give weight to the opinions of others". He is "free and generous, open to the call of God" and "can give all of himself faithfully because he knows - wherever he goes - that he is safe in God's hands".

  "We trust that the meeting with God, in His word and in the celebration of the Eucharist, may open our hearts and transform us into gushing fonts of faith for others".

  The Holy Father particularly asks the lay faithful to ensure "that the future not be moulded exclusively by others; intervene with imagination and persuasive ability in the debates of the present time. ... Using the Gospel as your parameter, participate actively in the political and social life of your country. As lay Catholics, dare to participate in creating the future, in unison with priests and bishops!"

  In closing his Message, the Pope addresses the young people present at the meeting, telling them that he hopes to see many of them at World Youth Day, due to be held in Sydney, Australia in July.


VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the square in front of Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran, then presided at the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

  In his homily, the Pope spoke of the significance of today's Solemnity through the three fundamental gestures of the celebration. Firstly "our coming together around the altar of the Lord to be together in His presence", secondly "the procession, walking with the Lord", and finally "kneeling before the Lord in adoration".

  Explaining the first of these gestures, the Holy Father quoted St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, where it is written that "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus'. ... In these words", said the Pope, "we feel the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound revolution in human history, which we may experience in the Eucharist where people of different ages, sexes, social conditions and political ideas come together in the presence of the Lord. The Eucharist can never be a private matter. ... The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric or exclusive about it. ... We remain united, over and above our differences, ... we open to one another in order to become a single thing in Him".

  Concerning the second of these gestures, that of "walking with the Lord", Benedict XVI affirmed that "with the gift of Himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus ... raises us up again ... and puts us on the journey with the power of this Bread of life. ... The procession of Corpus Christi teaches us that the Eucharist wants to free us from all distress and discomfort ... so that we can resume the journey with the strength God gives us in Jesus Christ".

  "Without the God-with-us, the God Who is near, how can we sustain the pilgrimage of life, either individually or as a society or a family of peoples?" asked the Pope. "The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the God Who does not leave us to journey alone, but puts Himself at our side and shows us the way. Indeed, it is not enough to keep going, it is important to see where we are going! Progress is not enough if there are no criteria of reference".

  Finally, the third element of Corpus Christi, that of "kneeling in adoration before the Lord", is "the most valuable and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today, ... it is a profession of freedom: those who bow to Jesus cannot and must not prostrate themselves before any earthly power, however strong", said the Pope.

  As Christians "we prostrate ourselves before God, Who first bowed down towards man ... to save him and give him life, Who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet. Adoring the Body of Christ means believing that there, in that piece of bread, Christ is truly present and gives real meaning to life, to the vast universe as to the smallest of creatures, to the whole of human history as to the briefest of lives".

  Following Mass, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic procession that passed along Rome's Via Merulana to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Along the way, thousands of faithful prayed and sang, accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. An open vehicle transported the Sacrament in a mostrance, before which the Holy Father prayed.
HML/CORPUS CHRISTI/...                        VIS 20080523 (610)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Jorge Alves Bezerra S.S.S., vice-provincial and master of novices in the diocese of Tres Lagoas, Brazil, as bishop of Jardim (area 69,972, population 370,000, Catholics 254,000, priests 17, permanent deacons 1, religious 37), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Joao de Meriti, Brazil in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1985.

 - Fr. Philip Dickmans of the clergy of the diocese of Hasselt, Belgium, fidei donum priest in the archdiocese of Palmas, Brazil, as bishop of Miracema do Tocantins (area 45,985, population 193,194, Catholics 140,350, priests 16, religious 26), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Herk-de-Stad, Belgium in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1990.

 - Fr. Theirry Scherrer of the clergy of the archdiocese of Aix, France, pastor of the Saint-Sauveur cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, as bishop of Laval (area 5,175, population 285,338, Catholics 270,000, priests 195, permanent deacons 12, religious 564), France. The bishop-elect was born in Versailles, France in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1988.

 - Fr. Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of the clergy of the archdiocese of Paris, France, private secretary to the cardinal archbishop of Paris and professor at the "Faculte Notre-Dame"; and Fr. Renauld de Dinechin, also of the clergy of Paris, pastor of the "Bl. Frederic Ozanam" parish in Cergy, as auxiliaries of Paris (area 105, population 2,144,700, Catholics 1,286,820, priests 1,206, permanent deacons 91, religious 3,195). Bishop-elect Moulins-Beaufort was born in Landau, Germany in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1991. Bishop-elect Dinechin was born in Lille, France in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1988.
NER:NEA/.../...                            VIS 20080521 (270)


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - On 16 May, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, pronounced a discourse during the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council.

  "Investing in long-term and sustainable agriculture programmes at the local and international levels remains central to the development prospects of so many", he said in his English-language remarks. "This investment must be done in a way that addresses the prices of food commodities as well as the distribution and production of food around the world, in particular in Africa".

  Noting the fact that "seventy percent of the world's poor live in the same rural areas where widespread chronic malnourishment continues to persist" archbishop Migliore explained that this "illustrates that in addressing sustainable development we must continue to focus not merely upon those who consume food commodities but also upon those who produce it.

  "Greater investment in small-holder farmers which enables them to increase production in a sustainable manner would provide an important element to addressing the continued presence of chronic hunger and malnourishment in certain regions", he concluded.


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2008 (VIS) - During this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to Romanus the Melodist, a Syrian "theologian, poet, composer and permanent deacon who resided in a monastery on the outskirts of Constantinople in the sixth century". Before delivering his catechesis in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father visited the Vatican Basilica to greet faithful gathered there.

  Romanus, the Pope explained, belongs to "that sizeable group of theologians who transformed theology into poetry" and whose numbers include "St. Ephrem the Syrian, ... St. Ambrose, ... St. Thomas Aquinas, ... and St. John of the Cross. Faith is love and so creates poetry and music. Faith is joy and so creates beauty".

  The Melodist "has gone down in history as one of the most characteristic authors of liturgical hymns" at a time in which "homilies were practically the only occasion for the faithful to receive catechistic guidance". His was "a lively and original way of presenting the catechesis. ... Through his compositions we get an idea of the creativity ... the theology, the aesthetics and the sacred hymns of that time".

  In his musical homilies, known as "kontakia", Romanus "did not use the solemn Byzantine Greek of the court, but a simple Greek closer to the language of the people. ... The power of conviction of his preaching was founded on the great coherence between his words and his life".

  Benedict XVI then went on to examine some of the focal points of the poet-theologian's teaching: "the unity of God's actions in history, ... the unity between creation and the history of salvation, the unity between the Old and New Testaments".

  Another aspect the Pope highlighted was Romanus' "doctrine on the Holy Spirit". On the subject of the Pentecost, he said, the poet "underlined the continuity that exists between the ascended Christ and His Apostles, in other words the Church, and he exalted missionary activity in the world". In the Christological field, "he did not enter into the conceptual problem ... which so lacerated the unity not only of theologians but also of the Church". Instead, he preached "the Christology of the great Councils, remaining close to popular piety. ... The concepts of the Councils arose from popular piety, from the knowledge of the Christian heart. Hence he underlined the fact that Christ is true God and true man, ... a single person".

  Romanus' moral teachings, the Holy Father observed, "were particularly concerned with the Final Judgement. He led us to that moment of truth of our lives - the meeting with the righteous Judge - and so advised conversion through penance, fasting and charity, which for him was the most important of all the virtues".

  "Vibrant humanity, ardent faith and profound humility impregnate the music of Romanus the Melodist", said Pope Benedict. "This great poet and composer reminds us of all the wealth of Christian culture which was born of faith, born of hearts that encountered Christ. From this contact with the Truth that is love ... all great Christian culture came into being".

  "If faith remains alive, this cultural heritage does not die, ... it remains. Icons also speak today to hearts that believe. They are not just things of the past. Cathedrals are not medieval monuments, but places where we can meet God and one another. Great music, Gregorian chants, Bach, Mozart, are not things of the past. They exist with the vitality of our liturgy and our faith. If faith is alive, Christian culture does not become a thing of the past".

  "And if faith remains alive", the Holy Father concluded, "we too can respond to the constantly-repeated imperative: ... 'Sing to the Lord a new song!' Creativity, innovation, new song, new culture and the presence of all cultural heritage", he concluded, "are not things that exclude one another but a single reality. They are the presence of God's beauty, the joy of being His children".
AG/ROMANUS THE MELODIST/...                    VIS 20080521 (670)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, dean emeritus of the College of Cardinals, on 13 May at the age of 86.

 - Bishop Jorge Mario Avila del Aguila C.M., emeritus of Jalapa, Guatemala, on 3 May at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Donald William Montrose, emeritus of Stockton, U.S.A., on 7 May at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Ignacio Prieto Vega I.E.M.E., emeritus of Hwange, Zimbabwe, on 9 May at the age of 85.
.../DEATHS/...                            VIS 20080520 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Neil Tiedemann C.P., provincial consultor of the Passionist Fathers, as bishop of Mandeville (area 3,282, population 582,000, Catholics 8,800, priests 43, religious 34), Jamaica. The bishop-elect was born in New York in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Bishop Christophe Dufour of Limoges, France, as coadjutor archbishop of Aix (area 4,580, population 861,000, Catholics 691,000, priests 175, permanent deacons 14, religious 381), France. The archbishop-elect was born in Armentieres, France in 1947, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 2001.
NER:NEC/.../TIEDEMANN:DUFOUR                VIS 20080520 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in separate audiences four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Albania, on their ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Angelo Massafra O.F.M. of Shkodre-Pult, accompanied by former Auxiliary Bishop Zef Simoni.

    - Bishop Ottavio Vitale R.C.I. of Lezhe.

    - Bishop Lucjan Avgustini of Sape.
AL/.../...                                VIS 20080520 (60)


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2008 (VIS) - According to a note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 24 May, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City and president of the Fabric of St. Peter's, will take possession of the new diaconate of San Salvatore in Lauro, in Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro 15, Rome.

  At midday on Sunday 25 May, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, will take possession of the title of San Pietro in Montorio, in Piazza di San Pietro in Montorio 2, Rome.

  The communique further announces that at 7 p.m. on Friday 30 May, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will take possession of the diaconate of the Sacred Heart of Christ the King, in Viale Mazzini 32, Rome.
OCL/POSSESSION DIACONATE TITLES/...            VIS 20080520 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Social Communications is promoting the First Congress of Faculties of Communication of Catholic Universities, which is due to be held from 22 to 24 May in Rome's Pontifical Urban University.

  The conference, which will be attended by professors in communication from Catholic universities in various countries, aims, according to communique on the event, "to strengthen and expand the co-operative relationship" between the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and representatives of Catholic universities, and "to give the council a fuller understanding of the range of activities taking place in these institutions and a greater appreciation of the qualifications, talents and skills of those who work within them".

  "The opening speech of the congress will outline the changing world of communications and the challenges that face all those dedicated to the academic formation of future professional communicators", reads the communique.

  Subsequent sessions of the congress will be dedicated to such themes as: "The identity and mission of communications faculties in Catholic universities in various geographical and ecclesiastical contexts"; "The ethical formation of communicators"; and "Preparing the study programme; how can study programmes in Catholic university faculties reflect the specific mission of universities?"
.../CONGRESS FACULTIES COMMUNICATION/...            VIS 20080520 (210)

Monday, May 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Msgr. Miguel Maury Buendia, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Madrid, Spain in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1980.

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Rojas Rojas, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Caceres, Philippines, as bishop-prelate of Libmanan (area 1,862, population 530,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 35, religious 15), Philippines. He succeeds Bishop Prospero N. Arellano, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial prelature the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

  On Saturday, 17 May, it was made public that he appointed Fr. Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta, vicar general of the archdiocese of Semarang, Indonesia, as bishop of Bandung (area 24,449, population 40,000,000, Catholics 100,000, priests 81, religious 165), Indonesia. The bishop-elect was born in Solo/Surakarta, Indonesia in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1977.
NN:NER:RE/.../...                            VIS 20080519 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - Jean-Pierre Razafy-Andriamihaingo, ambassador of Madagascar, on his farewell visit.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20080519 (50)


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today a press conference was held to present the Holy See's Pavilion in "Expo Zaragoza 2008", an international exposition due to be held in the Spanish city of Zaragoza from 14 June to 14 September on the theme: "Water and sustainable development".

  Among those participating in the press conference were Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace"; Archbishop Manuel Urena Pastor of Zaragoza; Francisco Vazquez Vazquez, Spanish ambassador to the Holy See; Juan Alberto Belloch Julbe, mayor of Zaragoza, and Emilio Fernandez-Castano commissioner general of the Expo.

  In his remarks, Cardinal Martino expressed the hope that the forthcoming exposition "will provide an opportunity to explore and raise awareness of water in the life of the world. This will be important for two reasons. First, the Social Doctrine of the Church recognises the nature of water as life-giving. ... Satisfying the needs of all, especially of those who live in poverty, must guide the use of water and of the services connected with it", he said.

  "The second reason takes us back to our faith. At our Baptism, water was used as a sign of cleansing and new life. ... Water is life giving - both physical and spiritual; it is through water that we are invited to share in the life of Christ".

  After recalling that one of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals is to halve, by the year 2015, the number of people unable to access safe drinking water, the cardinal concluded by highlighting the fact that "clean water and safe sanitation are acknowledged as essential elements in the lives of every human being".

  The Holy See pavilion, then, aims to invite reflection upon this dual dimension of water: the divine and the human.

  Visitors will follow a guided tour divided into three stages. The first presents water as the source of life; the second contains a collection of works of art associated with water and its role in the history of salvation; and the third is dedicated to the importance of solidarity, recalling that many people have only limited access to this vital element and underlining the need to work together to solve the problem.

  The Holy See will also participate in other activities promoted by Expo Zaragoza 2008, her main contribution being an international ecological congress to be held from 10 to 12 July on the theme: "The ecological question: the life of man in the world". It has been organised by the archdiocese of Zaragoza and the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace", and will be attended by numerous international experts on the subject.
OP/EXPO ZARAGOZA/MARTINO:URENA                VIS 20080519 (460)


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At 11 a.m. on Friday 23 May, at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, accompanied by other members of the College, will celebrate Mass for the soul of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

  Cardinal Gantin died in Paris, France, on 13 May at the age of 86. He was the former dean of the College of Cardinals and held the title of the suburbicarian church of Palestrina.

  At the end of Friday's Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI will pronounce a discourse and impart his apostolic blessing.
OCL/MASS GANTIN/SODANO                        VIS 20080519 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 150 representatives of the Pontifical Missionary Works (POM), a group of organisations at the service of the Pope and bishops "to put into effect the missionary mandate to evangelise people unto the ends of the earth". The POM is currently celebrating its plenary assembly.

  Having greeted Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Pope began his remarks by recalling how the POM "was an important tool in the hands of my predecessors, who elevated it to the rank of 'Pontifical' and urged bishops to establish it in their own dioceses". He also reminded his listeners that Vatican Council II "had delved deeply into the nature and mission of particular Churches, recognising their full dignity and missionary responsibility.

  "The mission", the Pope added, "is a task and duty of all Churches, which ... share staff and resources in order to achieve it. ... It is a mission of communion. To counter the seeds of the fragmentation of humanity, which daily experience shows to be so deep-rooted in mankind because of sin, the local Church opposes the unifying power of the Body of Christ".

  "Thanks to the ideas it has developed over these decades, the Pontifical Missionary Works has become part of ... the new paradigms of evangelisation, and of the ecclesiological model of communion between Churches. Clearly the POM is Pontifical but it is, by right, also episcopal, in as much as it is an instrument in the hands of bishops to achieve Christ's missionary mandate".

  As the Church prepares to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, Benedict XVI affirmed that the Apostle "understood on the road to Damascus, then experienced in the course of his later ministry, that redemption and mission are acts of love. It was love of Christ that impelled him to follow the roads of the Roman empire as a herald ... of the Gospel. ... It is love that must impel us to announce to all mankind, frankly and courageously, the truth that saves. ... Mankind awaits Christ".

  The Holy Father concluded: "Jesus' words: 'go therefore and make disciples of all nations' ... still represent an obligation for the whole Church and for each individual member of Christ's faithful. This apostolic commitment is a duty and an indispensable right, an expression of religious freedom which has its corresponding ethical-social and ethical-political dimensions. The Pontifical Missionary Works is called to make the 'Missio ad Gentes' the model for all pastoral activity".

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