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Friday, June 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 400 representatives from the Vicariate of Rome for a ceremony marking the retirement from office of the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the appointment of his successor, Cardinal Agostino Vallini.

  "The closing years of last century, and the first years of the new were a truly extraordinary time", said the Pope, "and all the more so for people who, like us, had the good fortune to experience them alongside a true giant of the faith and of the mission of the Church, my venerated predecessor".

  Collaborating closely with John Paul II, "we were 'drawn along' by his exceptional spiritual strength, rooted in prayer, in profound union with the Lord Jesus Christ and in filial intimacy with His Most Holy Mother. John Paul II's missionary charisma had ... a decisive influence on his pontificate, in particular on the period of preparation for the Jubilee 2000. And this was directly evident in the diocese of Rome, the Pope's own diocese, thanks to the constant commitment of the cardinal vicar and his collaborators".

  As an example of such commitment Benedict XVI mentioned "the Rome Citizens' Mission and the 'Dialogues in the Cathedral', manifestations of a Church which, at the very moment in which she was gaining a greater awareness of her own diocesan identity, ... opened herself ... to a missionary mentality ... destined to last not just the length of a season, but ... to become permanent".

  The Pope explained how Cardinal Ruini, who was appointed vicar of Rome in 1991, showed great concern for the mission, a concern "backed up by an outstanding capacity for theological and philosophical reflection. ... The apostolate, especially in our own time, must be constantly nourished by thought in order to explain the significance of gestures and actions which otherwise lapse into sterile activism", he said.

  Referring to fields in which Cardinal Ruini and the then Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had worked together, the Pope recalled the diocesan ecclesial conferences "called to respond to the most urgent pastoral questions, while taking account of the social and cultural context of the city".

  The Holy Father also mentioned the "cultural project", an initiative of the Italian Church which calls attention "to the Church's place in society; in other words the desire of the Christian community - responding to the mission of its Lord - to be present among men and women, and in history, with a plan for mankind, family and social relationships, inspired by the Word of God and expressed through dialogue with the culture of the time.

  "In this, dear cardinal", the Pope added, "you have given an example that goes beyond the initiatives of the moment, an example of commitment to 'thinking the faith' in absolute conformity to the Magisterium of the Church, with careful attention to the teachings of the bishop of Rome and, at the same time, while constantly listening to the questions that arise from contemporary culture and from the problems of modern society".

  In closing, Benedict XVI greeted Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the new vicar of the diocese of Rome and until now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Welcoming him to his new office, the Pope said "I entrust it to you bearing in mind the pastoral experience you gained first as auxiliary in the great archdiocese of Naples, then as bishop of Albano, to which experiences you add proven gifts of wisdom and cordiality".
AC/VICARIATE ROME/RUINI:VALLINI                VIS 20080627 (600)

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