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Wednesday, January 2, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 2 JAN 2008 (VIS) - During the year 2008, the VIS bulletin will be transmitted every week from Monday to Friday, except on the following days:

11 February (Monday)

19 March (Wednesday)
20 March (Holy Thursday)
21 March (Good Friday)
24 March (Easter Monday)
25 March (Tuesday)

1 May (Thursday)
22 May (Thursday)

The entire month of August

8 December (Monday)
24 December (Wednesday)
25 December (Thursday)
26 December (Friday)
31 December (Wednesday)
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Sale, Australia, presented by Bishop Jeremiah Joseph Coffey, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Paulo Francisco Machado, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Juiz de Fora, Brazil, as bishop of Uberlandia (area 13,852, population 830,000, Catholics 612,000, priests 64, permanent deacons 19, religious 119), Brazil.

  On Saturday, 29 December 2007, it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Stefan Regmunt, auxiliary of Legnica, as bishop of Zielona Gora-Gorzow (area 10,805, population 1,119,214, Catholics 1,035,994, priests 609, religious 338), Poland. He succeeds Bishop Adam Dyczkowski, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Sandomierz, Poland, presented by Bishop Marian Kazimierz Zimalek, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At the first general audience of 2008, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 7,000 people, the Pope dedicated his catechesis to the Virgin Mary's title of Mother of God, the solemnity of which falls today.

  The Holy Father recalled that "Theotokos" or "Mother of God" was "the title officially attributed to Mary in the fifth century, at the Council of Ephesus of 431". On that occasion, solemn confirmation was given, "on the one hand, to the unity of the two natures (the divine and the human) in the person of the Son of God and, on the other, to the legitimacy of attributing to the Virgin the title of Theotokos" against those who, "in an attempt to safeguard the full humanity of Jesus", suggested she be called "Christotokos" or "Mother of Christ", the which represented "a threat to the doctrine of the full unity of divinity and humanity in Christ".

  Following the Council of Ephesus, "Marian devotion underwent an enormous expansion, and many churches dedicated to the Mother of God were built. Outstanding among them was St. Mary Major here in Rome.

  "The doctrine concerning Mary, Mother of God, was again confirmed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451", the Holy Father added, "and Vatican Council II included it in the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church 'Lumen gentium'".

  "All the other titles attributed to the Virgin Mary have their foundation in her vocation as Mother of the Redeemer", he said: the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church. "It was right, then, that on 21 November 1964, during Vatican Council II, Paul VI solemnly attributed to Mary the title of 'Mother of the Church'".

  Benedict XVI continued: "Precisely because she is the Mother of the Church, the Virgin is also mother to each of us, who are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. ... At the culminating moment of His messianic mission, Jesus left each of His disciples, as a precious legacy, His own mother the Virgin Mary".

  "In these first days of the year, we are invited to give attentive consideration to the importance of Mary's presence in the life of the Church and in our own lives. Let us entrust ourselves to Her that she may guide our steps in this new period of time the Lord has given us to live, and help us to be true friends of her Son and courageous architects of His Kingdom in the world, a Kingdom of light and truth".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, shortly after the Mass he celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI addressed some remarks to pilgrims who had gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer.

  "We have begun the new year and I hope that it will prove serene and fruitful for everyone", said the Pope. "I entrust it to the heavenly protection of the Virgin Mary who is today evoked in the liturgy with her greatest title, Mother of God".

  "And it is precisely in the name of Mary", the Holy Father went on, "Mother of God and of man, that for the last 40 years the first day of the year has marked the World Day of Peace. The theme I have chosen for the anniversary this time is: 'The Human Family, a Community of Peace'. The same love that builds the family, the vital cell of society, and keeps it united, favours the creation among the people of the earth of relationships of solidarity and collaboration, ... appropriate to members of the one human family".

  The Pope noted the existence of a "close bond between the family, society and peace" then, quoting from his Message for the World Day of Peace, added: "whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace".

  Furthermore, he continued still quoting his Message, "'we do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters'. It is then, truly important that each of us shoulders his or her responsibilities before God, recognising in Him the original source of their own existence and that of others. From this awareness arises the commitment to make humanity a real community of peace administered by a common law that fosters 'true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protects the weak from oppression by the strong'".

  The Holy Father concluded: "May Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace, support the Church in her tireless activities at the service of peace, and help the community of peoples - who in 2008 will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - to follow a path of true solidarity and stable peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God and the 41st World Day of Peace, which has as its theme this year: "The Human Family, a Community of Peace".

  At the beginning of his homily, the Pope asked for "the gift of peace for our families, for our cities, for the entire world".

  "We all aspire", he went on, "to live in peace. But real peace, the peace announced by the angels on Christmas night, is not simply an achievement of man's or the result of political agreements; it is above all a divine gift to be constantly implored and, at the same time, a commitment to be shouldered patiently while remaining ever obedient to the Lord's commands".

  Benedict XVI recalled how in his Message for World Peace Day this year he had emphasised "the close relationship that exists between the family and the construction of peace in the world. The natural family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, is a 'cradle of life and love' and 'the first and indispensable teacher of peace'". For this reason, he went on, the family is "the 'primary agency of peace' and 'the denial or even the restriction of the rights of the family, by obscuring the truth about man, threatens the very foundations of peace'.

  "Because humanity is 'one great family'", he added, "if it wishes to live in peace it cannot but draw inspiration from those values upon which the family community is founded and supported".

  Referring then to the mystery of Mary's divine maternity, the Holy Father said that "if in the Child born of her we recognise the eternal Son of God and we accept Him as our only Saviour, we may be called - and we truly are - children of God: children in the Son".

  "The Child crying in the manger, though apparently similar to all the children of the world, is at the same time completely different. He is the Son of God, He is God, true God and true man. This mystery - the incarnation of the Word and the divine maternity of Mary - is a great mystery and certainly not easy to understand with merely human intelligence. However, at the school of Mary, we may capture with the heart that which the eyes and the mind alone are unable to perceive or to contain".

  "Only be conserving in our hearts", the Pope concluded, "in other words by discovering a unity in all our life experiences, can we, following Mary, enter into the mystery of a God Who, for love, became man and calls us to follow Him along the path of love; a love to be translated day after day into generous service to our brothers and sisters".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 DEC 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. today, the Pope presided at first Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the year, and the Eucharistic blessing.

  The day's Gospel reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians, which touches on "the liberation of man achieved by God through the mystery of the Incarnation", said the Pope, "discreetly mentions the woman by whom the Son of God entered into the world".

  "Mary is the Mother of the Saviour", said the Holy Father. "She is also our mother because, in her unique maternal relationship with the Son, she shared His mission, for us and for the salvation of all mankind. ... Thus Mary represents the Church's most authentic image: the person in whom the ecclesial community must continually discover the authentic meaning of its own vocation and mystery".

  The Word Incarnate "became like us to make us like Him: children in the Son and, hence, men and women free from the law of sin. Is this not one of the main reasons to give thanks to God ... for the numerous benefits and the constant assistance we have experienced over the course of the last twelve months?" It is for this reason, the Pope explained, "that this evening each Christian community comes together to sing the 'Te Deum', the traditional hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity".

  The Pope called upon the Lord "in His mercy" to help individuals and families whose lives "are weighed down by serious shortages and poverty which prevent them from looking trustingly to the future". Many people, he went on, "especially the young, are attracted by the false exaltation or, more accurately, the profanation of the body and the trivialisation of sexuality".

  The Holy Father dwelt upon "the many challenges ... associated with consumerism and secularism", pointing out how, "even in Rome we notice that deficit of hope and trust in life which constitutes the 'dark' evil of modern Western society". Nonetheless, he noted, "there is no shortage of lights and of reasons for hope" for which we must "implore special divine blessing".

  Benedict XVI then went on to refer to the diocesan community of Rome and its commitment to respond to the "educational emergency", which is "the difficulty we find in transmitting to new generations the basic values of existence and of correct behaviour.

  "Without clamour and with patient trust", he added, "we seek to confront that emergency, especially within the family". In this context, the Pope noted how efforts by parishes and associations over recent years have ensured that the pastoral care of families "continues to develop and is producing fruit".

  May the Lord, said Pope Benedict, "protect the missionary initiatives that involve the world of youth. These are increasing and see a now considerable number of young people assume the responsibility and the joy of announcing and witnessing the Gospel".

  The Pope concluded by highlighting how "Christ is our 'dependable' hope. ... Let us call on the Lord to make each of us a true ferment of hope in our various fields of activity, that we may build a better future" for the whole world.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2007 (VIS) - Today, Feast of the Holy Family, the Pope appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus.

  Addressing the thousands of faithful gathered below his window, the Holy Father explained how today "we celebrate the mystery of a God Who chose to be born of a woman, the Blessed Virgin, and to enter this world in the same way as all mankind. Thus He sanctified the family, filling it with divine grace and fully revealing its vocation and its mission".

  Benedict XVI recalled a phrase much repeated by John Paul II - "the good of the individual and of society is closely connected to the 'good health' of the family" - indicating that "for this reason the Church is committed to defending and promoting the holiness and the natural dignity of the married state and its superlative value".

  He then went on to address participants in a Meeting of Families being held today in Madrid, Spain, inviting Christian families "to experience the loving presence of the Lord in their lives" and encouraging them, "by drawing inspiration from Christ's love for mankind, to bear witness before the world of the beauty of human love, of marriage and of the family".

  The family, "founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, is the privileged place in which human life is welcomed and protected, from its beginning to its natural end. For this reason parents have the fundamental right and obligation to educate their children in faith and in the values that lend dignity to human existence.

  "It is worth working for the family and for marriage", the Pope added, "because it is worth working for humankind, the most precious beings created by God". In this context, he called upon children "to love and pray for their fathers and siblings" and upon young people, "stimulated by their parents' love, generously to pursue their own matrimonial, priestly or religious vocation". To the elderly and the sick he expressed the hope "that they may find the assistance and understanding they need" and, finally, to married couples he said: "may you always rely on the grace of God, that your love may become ever more fruitful and faithful".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 DEC 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon it was made public that the Holy Father sent a telegram of condolence, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore, president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, for the recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan People's Party:

  "Following the brutal terrorist attack in which Ms Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan People's Party, was fatally wounded, the Holy Father expresses sentiments of deep sympathy and spiritual closeness to the members of her family and to the entire Pakistani nation. He prays that further violence will be avoided and that every effort will be made to build a climate of respect and trust, which are so necessary if good order is to be maintained in society and if the country's political institutions are to operate effectively".

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