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Monday, January 14, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 14 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Eight prelates from the Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions (CELRA), on their "ad limina" visit:

    - His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, accompanied by Coadjutor Archbishop Fouad Twal; Bishop Salim Sayegh, patriarchal vicar for Jordan; Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, patriarchal vicar for Israel; Fr. Umberto Barato O.F.M., patriarchal vicar for Cyprus; and Bishop Kamal Hanna Bathish, patriarchal vicar general emeritus.

    - Bishop Giuseppe Bausardo S.D.B., apostolic vicar of Alexandria, Egypt.

    - Bishop Camillo Ballin M.C.C.I., apostolic vicar of Kuwait.

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France and president of the Conference of Bishops of France, accompanied by Archbishops Hippolyte Simon of Clermont, and Laurent Ulrich of Chambery, vice-presidents, and by Fr. Antoine Herouard, secretary general.

 On Saturday, 12 January, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

 - Archbishop Beniamino Stella, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, having celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel where he administered the Sacrament of Baptism to 13 infants, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square, to pray the Angelus with the thousands gathered there.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled how today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord closes the liturgical period of Christmas. It was, he said, Christ's "first public appearance" following "thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth".

  His Baptism was, at one and the same time, "christophany and theophany" explained Benedict XVI, "Jesus showed Himself as 'Christ', a Greek term translating the Hebrew 'Messiah' which means anointed, yet He was not anointed with oil like the kings and the high priests of Israel, but with the Holy Spirit". In this context, the Pope referred to the Gospel of St. Matthew which recounts how at the moment of Jesus' Baptism "the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove".

  "The profound significance" of this, the Holy Father went on, "only emerges at the end of Christ's earthly life, in His death and resurrection. By having Himself baptised by John together with sinners, Jesus began to take upon Himself the burden of sin of all humanity, as the Lamb of God Who 'takes away' the sin of the world. This mission He accomplished on the cross, when he also received His 'Baptism'.

  "In fact", he added, "by dying He 'immersed' Himself in the love of the Father and disseminated the Holy Spirit so that believers in Him might be reborn from that never-ending font of new and eternal life. The whole of Christ's mission may be summed up in this way: Baptism in the Holy Spirit to free us from the slavery of death and 'open us to heaven', in other words ... to true and full life".

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI remarked on the World Day of Migrants and Refugees which is being celebrated today and has as its theme young migrants. "Many are the young people", the Pope observed, "who for various reasons are compelled to live far from their families and their countries. Girls and minors are particularly at risk", he said, noting that "some children and adolescents were born and grew up in refugee camps" and that "they too have a right to a future".

  The Holy Father went on to express his appreciation for "those who work in favour of young migrants, their families and their integration into the workplace and schools". He invited ecclesial communities "to welcome with open arms the young, the very young and their parents, seeking to understand their stories and to favour their insertion into society".

  Finally, the Holy Father addressed some words to young immigrants themselves, inviting them to join their peers in building "a more just and fraternal society, undertaking your duties, respecting laws, and never letting yourselves be tempted into violence".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Pope presided at Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during which he administered the Sacrament of Baptism to 13 infants, children of Vatican employees.

  "In Baptism", said the Holy Father in his homily, "young human beings receive new life, the life of grace that makes them capable of entering into a personal relationship with the Creator, and this lasts forever, for all eternity.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "man is capable of extinguishing this new life through sin, reducing himself to a situation described by Holy Scripture as 'second death'".

  He continued: "While for other creatures, who are not called to eternity, death means only the end of their earthly lives, in us sin creates an abyss which risks swallowing us up forever, if God in heaven does not stretch out His hand to us".

  The Pope went on to explain the "mystery of Baptism" in these terms: "God wished to save us, and so He went Himself to the bottom of the abyss of death so that all mankind, even those who have fallen so low as no longer to be able to see heaven, may find the hand of God to which to cling, and so come out of the shadows and see the light for which they were created.

  "We all feel, we all have an interior perception that our existence is a desire for a life [of] fullness and salvation. This fullness of life is given to us in Baptism".

  "The aim of Christ's existence", the Pope said, "was precisely that of giving mankind the life of God and His spirit of love, in order to enable each human being to draw from this never-ending source of salvation. ... It is for this reason that Christian parents bring their children to the baptismal font as soon as possible, knowing that the life they have communicated to them invokes a fullness, a salvation, that only God can give. And in this way the parents become God's collaborators, transmitting to their children not only physical but also spiritual life".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by addressing the parents of the new-born infants, saying: "Of course, to grow up strong and healthy, these boys and girls will have need of material care and a lot of attention, however what is most necessary, indeed indispensable, to them is to know, love and serve God faithfully, so as to have eternal life. Dear parents, be for them the first witnesses of authentic faith in God!"

  A note issued by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff explains that "the wooden platform with a special altar" usually brought in for the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord was not used for this year's ceremony in the Sistine Chapel. "It was deemed better to celebrate at the old altar so as not to disturb the beauty and harmony of this architectural masterpiece, maintaining the celebratory aspects of its structure and making use of a possibility contemplated by liturgical norms".

  For this reason, at certain moments during the Mass, the Pope had "his back to the congregation and his gaze on the Cross". Nonetheless, the note explains, "the ordinary Missal was used".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., archbishop of Quebec, Canada, and Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger O.F.M. Cap. of Bolzano-Bressanone, Italy, respectively as relator general and special secretary of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in the Vatican from 5 to 26 October on the theme: "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church".

 - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as a member of the Special Council for America of the Synod of Bishops.

 - Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda, Cameroon, as a member of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

 - Msgr. Joseph Marino, nunciature counsellor in Great Britain, as apostolic nuncio to Bangladesh, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Birmingham, U.S.A. in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979.

 - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Thomas Yayi Boni, president of the Republic of Benin. The illustrious guest subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions, attention was focused on the difficult socio-economic situation the country is experiencing, aggravated also by last October's floods.

  "Pleasure was expressed at the good relations that exist between Church and State, and the president voiced his thanks, as he had at an earlier meeting with the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", for the significant contribution Catholics make to the development of the country, in the fields of education, healthcare and human promotion".
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