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Monday, January 28, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Eight prelates of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc of the Ukrainians, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Bohdan Dzyurakh C.SS.R., Dionisio Lachovicz O.S.B.M., and Wasyl Ihor Medwit O.S.B.M., and by Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, apostolic visitor for Greek-Catholic Ukrainian faithful in Italy.

    - Archbishop Ihor Vozniak C.SS.R. of Lviv of the Ukrainians.

    - Bishop Milan Sasik S.M., apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mukacheve of the Byzantine rite.

    - Fr. Demetrius Hryhorak, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Buchach of the Ukraninas.

 - Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.

  On Saturday, 26 January, he received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua.

 - Carlos Luis Custer, ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See, on his farewell visit.

 - Fr. Adolfo Nicolas S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

 - Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received participants in an inter-academic conference entitled "The changeable identity of the individual", promoted by the "Academie des Sciences de Paris" and by the Pontifical Academy of Science.

  In his address to them, Benedict XVI first expressed his joy and their inter-academic collaboration which, he said, "opens the way to vast and ever more profound multidisciplinary research".

  In our time, said the Pope, "the exact sciences, both natural and human, have made prodigious advances in their understanding of man and his universe". However at the same time "there is a strong temptation to circumscribe human identity and enclose it with the limits of what is known. ... In order to avoid going down this path it is important not to ignore anthropological, philosophical and theological research, which highlight and maintain the mystery of human beings, because no science can say who they are, where they come from and where they go. The knowledge of human beings is then, the most important of all forms of knowledge".

  "Human beings always stand beyond what can be scientifically seen or perceived", the Pope affirmed. "To overlook the question of man's 'being' inevitably leads to refusing the possibility of research into the objective truth of being ... and, effectively, to an incapacity to recognise the foundation upon which human dignity rests, from the embryo until natural death".

  "Starting from the question of the new being, who is produced by a fusion of cells and who bears a new and specific genetic heritage", the Holy Father told his audience, "you have highlighted certain essential elements in the mystery of man". Man, said the Pope is "characterised by his otherness. He is a being created by God, a being in the image of God, a being who is loved and is made to love. As a human he is never closed within himself. He is always a bearer of otherness and, from his origins, is in interaction with other human beings".

  "Man", said the Pontiff, "is not the result of mere chance, of converging circumstances, of determinism, of chemical inter-reactions. Man is a being who enjoys a freedom which ... transcends his nature and is a sign of the mystery of otherness that dwells within him. ... This freedom, which is characteristic of human beings, means they can guide their lives to a goal" and "highlights how man's existence has a meaning. In the exercise of his authentic freedom, the individual realises his vocation, he is fulfilled and gives form to his deepest identity".

  "Human beings have the specific ability of discerning what is good", the Pope concluded. "In our own time, when the progress of the sciences attracts and seduces for the possibilities it offers, it is more necessary than ever to educate the consciences of our contemporaries to ensure that science does not become the criterion of good, that man is still respected as the centre of creation, and that he does not become the object of ideological manipulation, arbitrary decisions, or abuses".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope addressed a special greeting to children from Catholic Action who had come to St. Peter's Square in the company of their parents and educators on a traditional annual visit marking the closure of their "month of peace".

  "Dear young friends", said the Holy Father, "I know you work in favour of your peers who are suffering the effects of war and hunger. Continue along this path, which Jesus showed us, to build true peace!"

  Assisted by two of the children, the Holy Father theb released two doves from the window of his study. The birds did not fly back into the apartment as they had on previous occasions causing the Pope to remark with a smile: "This time it went well, sometimes they come back".

  Benedict XVI then recalled that today is also the World Day of Leprosy Sufferers, instituted 55 years ago by Raoul Follereau. "I send my affectionate greetings to everyone suffering from this disuse", he said, "giving assurances of my special prayers which I extend to those who, in one way or in another, work at their side, and in particular to volunteers of the Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square, to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope commented today's Gospel reading, explaining how "it presents the beginning of Christ's public mission", a mission that "essentially consisted in preaching the Kingdom of God and in healing the sick", and that served "to show that the Kingdom is near and, in fact, is already among us".

  The Holy Father then went on to point out that Jesus began to preach in Galilee, an outlying area of the Jewish nation where the prophet Isaiah had announced that "the people immersed in darkness would see a great light".

  "In Jesus' day the term 'gospel' was used by Roman emperors for their proclamations, Whatever the contents, these were defined as 'good news', in other words as announcements of salvation, because the emperor was considered to be lord of the world and all his edicts as harbingers of good. Thus, applying this word to Jesus' preaching had a strong critical significance as if to say: God, not the emperor, is the Lord of the world and the true Gospel is that of Christ.

  "The 'good news' that Jesus proclaimed may be summed up in these words: 'The Kingdom of God - or Kingdom of Heaven - is near'. ... This does not of course refer to an earthly kingdom demarcated in time and space but announces that it is God Who reigns, that it is God Who is Lord, and that His lordship is present, current, it is taking place.

  "The novelty of Christ's message", the Pope added, "is that it is in Him that God has drawn near, that He reigns among us, as the miracles and healing He accomplished show".

  "Wherever Jesus comes, the creative Spirit brings life and mankind is healed from sickness of body and spirit. God's lordship, then, is shown in the integral healing of man. With this, Jesus wished to reveal the face of the true God, the near God, full of mercy for every human being".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, apostolic nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, as apostolic nuncio to Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.

 - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinals Roger Michael Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, U.S.A., and Edward Michael Egan, archbishop of New York, U.S.A., as members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Msgr. Francesco Di Felice of the clergy of the diocese of Teramo-Atri, Italy, as a consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

 - Bishop Pavel Posad of Litomerice, Czech Republic, as auxiliary of Ceske Budejovice (area 12,500, population 748,000, Catholics 295,500, priests 157, permanent deacons 17, religious 175), Czech Republic.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  At the beginning of his address, the Holy Father told his audience that this year's commemoration of the first centenary of the re-establishment of the apostolic tribunal of the Roman Rota, as endorsed by Pope St. Pius X in 1908 with the Apostolic Constitution "Sapienti consilio", provided an appropriate occasion to reflect upon "the jurisprudence of the Rota within the context of the administration of justice within the Church".

  "Any juridical system must seek to offer solutions", said the Pope. And in seeking such solutions, "apart from prudently assessing each individual case in its own uniqueness, the same general principles and norms of justice must be applied. Only in this way is it possible to create a climate of trust around the tribunal's activities and to avoid the arbitrariness of subjective criteria".

  "These considerations may be perfectly applied to ecclesiastical tribunals. ... The need for unity in the essential criteria of justice and the importance of being able to reasonably foresee the significance of judicial decisions, is a particularly important ecclesial good for the interior life the People of God and for their institutional testimony to the world".

  "Sentences must always be founded on shared principles and norms of justice." said the Holy Father adding that such a requirement, "which is common to all legal systems, has particular consequence for the Church" because what is at issue is communion. "This implies the protection of everything that is shared by the Universal Church", and is "especially entrusted to the Supreme Authority and to the bodies that 'ad normam iuris' participate in its sacred power".

  Benedict XVI highlighted the Roman Rota's notable achievements in the area of marriage over the last 100 years, indicating how the tribunal is still "called to undertake an arduous task which has great influence on the work of all other tribunals: that of determining the existence or otherwise of the married state, which is intrinsically anthropological, theological and juridical".

  "Law cannot be reduced to a mere collection of positive rules which tribunals are called to apply", said the Pope. "The only solid foundation for legal work consists in conceiving of it as a real exercise in 'prudentia iuris', a prudence that is nowise arbitrary or relativist. ... Only in this way do legal maxims acquire their true value and avoid becoming a compilation of abstract and repetitive laws, exposed to the risk of subjective and arbitrary interpretations.

  "Hence", he added, "the objective assessment of the facts in the light of the Magisterium of the Church constitutes an important aspect of the activity of the Roman Rota, and has great influence on the work of ministers of justice in the tribunals of local Churches".

  The Holy Father went on to highlight how, "through such work in the causes of nullity of marriage, concrete reality may be objectively judged in the light of criteria that constantly reaffirm the truth of indissoluble marriage, which is open to all men and women in accordance with the designs of God".

  Due to the universal nature of the Church and the diversity of juridical cultures in which she operates, said the Pope, "there is always a risk of the formation of 'sensim sine sensu' (local forms of jurisprudence), ever more distant from the common interpretation of positive laws and even from Church doctrine on matrimony". In this context, the Holy Father expressed the hope that attention be given to "the right ways to ensure that the jurisprudence of the Rota is ever more characterised by its unity, and is effectively accessible to all who work in justice, so as to find uniform application in all the tribunals of the Church".

  The contributions of the ecclesiastical Magisterium concerning the juridical aspects of marriage, including talks by the Pontiff to the Rota, "must be considered from this realistic viewpoint", said Benedict XVI "They constitute an immediate guide for the work of all the tribunals of the Church, in as much as they teach with authority what is essential with respect to the married state".

  In closing his address to them, the Pope encouraged members of the Roman Rota to use this hundredth anniversary as an occasion to increase their efforts "with an ever deeper ecclesial sense of justice, which is a true service to salvific communion".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Pope presided at the celebration of the second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The ceremony, which marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was attended by representatives from other Churches and ecclesial communities.

  In his homily the Holy Father referred to the conversion of St. Paul, pointing out that the saint's "knowledge that only divine grace could have achieved such a conversion never abandoned him".

  "At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are more aware than ever of how much the work of recreating unity, which requires all our energy and commitment, is in any case infinitely beyond our capacities. ... It is not in our power to decide when and how this unity will be fully achieved. Only God can do so".

  Benedict XVI recalled the theme of this year's Week of Prayer - "pray without ceasing" - indicating that this "invitation addressed by St. Paul to the Thessalonians retains all its validity. Faced with the weakness and sin that prevent the full communion of Christians" the exhortations of the Apostle "have retained all their pertinence, and this is especially true for the command to "pray without ceasing'", he said.

  "What would become of the ecumenical movement without individual and joint prayer 'that they may all be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you'? Where can we find that 'extra drive' of faith, charity and hope of which our search for unity has such need today? Our desire for unity should not be confined to sporadic occasions but should become an integral part of our whole life of prayer. ... There is, then, no form of genuine ecumenism that does not have its roots in prayer".

  The Pope dwelt on the figure of Fr. Paul Wattson, who a century ago launched the idea of an Octave of prayer for Christian unity and, giving thanks to God for "the great movement of prayer which, for a hundred years, has accompanied and supported believers in Christ in their search for unity", he said: "The ship of ecumenism would never have left port if it had not been moved by this broad current of prayer and driven along by the breath of the Holy Spirit".

  Benedict XVI also spoke of the religious and monastic communities which have over these days "invited and assisted their members 'to pray continually' for the unity of Christians", and he mentioned Sr. Maria Gabriella dell'Unita as one of the outstanding figures who prayed for this goal during the last century. At her beatification ceremony in 1983, John Paul II "highlighted the three elements on which the search for unity is built: conversion, prayer and the cross", said Pope Benedict.

  "Ecumenism has great need, today as yesterday, of the great 'invisible monastery', ... of that immense community of Christians of all traditions who, without noise or fuss, pray and offer their lives that unity may be achieved".

  After greeting representatives from the World Council of Churches and from the various Churches and ecclesial communities present at St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Pope reminded them that the Year dedicated to St. Paul will be inaugurated in the basilica, on 28 June. "May his tireless fervour to build the Body of Christ in unity help us to pray ceaselessly for the full unity of all Christians".
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