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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Felix Anthony Machado of the clergy of Vasai, India, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, as bishop of the diocese of Nashik (area 57,532, population 20,295,000, Catholics 86,750, priests 111, religious 406), India, with the personal title of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Remedy, India in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1976.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father recalled that the day after tomorrow, 18 January, marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which this year is St. Paul's invitation to the Thessalonians: "Pray without ceasing".

  This time the Week "has special significance because a hundred years have passed since its inception", said the Pope reiterating St. Paul's call to "pray without ceasing" and addressing it "to the whole Church".

  He went on: "It is indeed necessary to pray without ceasing, insistently asking God for the great gift of unity among all the Lord's disciples. May the endless strength of the Holy Spirit move us to a sincere commitment to seek unity, so that all together we may profess that Jesus is the one Saviour of the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Continuing the catechesis he began last week on the subject of St. Augustine, in today's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope considered the final years in the life of that Doctor of the Church.

  The Holy Father highlighted how, four years before his death, St. Augustine had appointed a successor, Heraclius, as bishop of Hippo, because he "wished to dedicate the years that remained to him to a more profound study of Holy Scripture".

  "What followed were four years of extraordinary intellectual activity" during which time the saint also "intervened to promote peace in the African provinces which were being assailed by barbarian tribes from the south", said the Pope. He then quoted St. Augustine's own words - "it is a higher glory to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war" - and highlighted how the siege of Hippo by the Vandals in 429 brought great suffering to the saint.

  "Though he was old and tired, Augustine remained at the breach, comforting himself and others with prayer and meditation on the mysterious designs of Providence. ... If, indeed, the world grows old, Christ is ever young, and so I invite you: 'Do not refuse to be rejuvenated with Christ, Who tells you not to fear as 'your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle'," said Pope Benedict quoting from the sermons of Augustine. "Hence Christians must not be dejected but make every effort to help those in need", he added.

  After recalling how "Augustine's house-monastery used to open its doors to welcome his colleagues in the episcopate who came asking for hospitality", the Holy Father noted that the Doctor of the Church, finally free of commitments, took advantage of his time "to dedicate himself with greater intensity to prayer. He used to say that no-one, bishop, religious or lay person, however irreproachable their behaviour, could face death without adequate penance, and it was for this reason that he continually and tearfully repeated the penitential psalms which he had so often recited with his people".

  The bishop of Hippo died on 28 August 430, said the Pope, "at some uncertain date his body was transferred to Sardinia and thence, around 725, to the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro in Pavia, where it rests today".

  "We discover him 'living' in his writings", said Pope Benedict. "When I read the works of St. Augustine, I do not get the impression that here is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago, rather that he is man of today, a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, to us, with his fresh and topical faith".

  In the saint's works, "we see the permanent relevance of his faith, of the faith that comes from Christ, the eternal Word incarnate, Son of God and Son of man. And we see", the Holy Father concluded, "that this is not yesterday's faith, even though it was preached yesterday, it is today's because Christ really is - yesterday, today and forever - the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and so find the path of life".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Pope will not make the visit he was scheduled to make tomorrow, 17 January, to Rome's "La Sapienza" University for the inauguration of the academic year, according to a communique released yesterday evening by the Holy See Press Office.

  The communique reads: "In the wake of the widely-publicised events of the last few days relating to the Holy Father's visit to Rome's 'La Sapienza' University which, at the invitation of the rector, was to have taken place on Thursday, 17 January, it was considered opportune to postpone the event. The Holy Father will, nonetheless, send the text of the speech he had been due to pronounce".

  The "events" to which the note refers include a petition to the rector signed by 67 professors asking for the invitation to Benedict XVI to be withdrawn, and protests by groups of students who yesterday occupied the rector's office to demand the right to demonstrate within the university campus on the day of the Pope's visit.

  The signatories of the petition take exception to a talk given by the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990, and in particular to a phrase he used on that occasion to the effect that "in Galileo's time the Church remained much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The trial against Galileo was reasonable and just". The future Pope's remarks, a quote from a work by the philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, were made in the context of a talk on the crisis of confidence in science, in which he used the example of changing attitudes towards the case of Galileo.
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