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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, 2 February, Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic, archbishop emeritus of Parana, Argentina, will take possession of the title of Our Lady of Sorrows in Piazza Buenos Aires, Viale Regina Margherita 81, Rome.
OCL/POSSESSION TITLE/KARLIC                VIS 20080129 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the 2008 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The text, dated 30 October 2007, has as its title a verse from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: "Christ made Himself poor for you".

  Extracts from the Message are given below:

  "Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: 'You cannot serve God and mammon'.

  "Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbour's needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favour of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church.

  "According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbour".

  "In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. ... In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.

  "The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden. ... This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbour, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the centre of attention".

  "In today's world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbour, in imitation of Jesus Christ".

  "In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. ... Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbour in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy".

  "What is more: St. Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins. ... As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing what we possess with the poor disposes us to receive such a gift".

  "Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. ... In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of poverty, cast into the Temple treasury 'all she had to live on'".

  We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus' passion and death, who, as St. Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty; He gave His entire Self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarised perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus become a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence, Love, then, gives almsgiving its true value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the 2008 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The theme of this year's Message is: "Christ made Himself poor for you".

  Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes and Msgrs. Karel Kasteel and Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, respectively president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Hans-Peter Rothlin, president of the Catholic association Aid to the Church in Need.

  Cardinal Cordes affirmed that in his Message this year the Pope "presents certain reflections on alms and fundraising". He also noted that, alongside Christmas, "the period leading up to Easter is also traditionally dedicated in many countries to special fundraising campaigns".

  He went on: "Despite the fact that the struggle against hunger has seen some successes from a financial point of view", it must be highlighted that "the structural costs of assistance organisations are sometime surprisingly high" and "at times can reach slightly less than 50 percent of their revenue".

  In the 2008 Message, he said, the Holy Father "wishes to highlight, on the basis of the faith, the implications giving has for the spirit of the donor". Using the words and stories of the Gospel, the Pope "places the gift of the donor in the light of revelation".

  "In the first place", said Cardinal Cordes, "the Pope shows - above all to practising Christians - the indissoluble bond between piety and caring for the needy". The Holy Father also "speaks of the intentions of the donor. At a time in which such great honour is paid to benefactors it is certainly appropriate to call attention to the spirit of a benefactor's gesture, which is not to look to the glorification of self but to the glorification of the Father Who is in heaven. The love of God is at the root of all good actions accomplished by man".

  The president of "Cor Unum" noted how the Holy Father comments on the evangelical episode of the widow who gave everything she had to live on. In this context he affirmed that "the value of our gifts is measured not on the basis of the amount stamped on the coins. Before God it is only the hand of the donor that determines the importance of a gift. Its value depends on the ... thoughts and intentions that have caused the person to give".

  Subsequently, Hans-Peter Rothlin spoke about Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the association Aid to the Church in Need, recalling that it is "not an order or an ecclesial community, but a 'Work' that has the aim of helping the Church wherever she is not capable of carrying out her mission without external assistance".

  In the "Spiritual Guidelines" written by Fr. van Straaten in 2002 shortly before his death, the founder "does not use the word 'alms' but speaks of offerings" and indicates that "the majority of his 'benefactors' were and remain simple people who do not possess great wealth, but are, rather, like the widow of the Gospel who makes her offering in secret ... then goes on her way".

  The text of the "Spiritual Guidelines" also make it clear, said Mr Rothlin, that those who distribute the offerings "must never forget that 'they are not just administrating money, but above all the charity of our benefactors'. Here we find come to the central point of the Holy Father's Message, which could be entitled: 'The secret of almsgiving is charity'", he said.

  The association founded by Fr. van Straaten collects funds in 17 nations and has some 600,000 benefactors, and it is, Mr Rothlin concluded, "a meeting place for the world Church where the children of God, from all places, come together in supernatural love and enrich one another. For donors it is a grace to know they are united with those whom Jesus called 'blessed' because of their poverty and suffering, ... while recipients experience the joy of being united to those who, for their mercy, are also called 'blessed'".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to His Eminence Seraphim, metropolitan of Karystia and Skyros, for the death of His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, who passed away on 28 January at the age of 69.

  The Pope gives assurances of his spiritual closeness to all those mourning the death "of this distinguished pastor of the Church of Greece", then goes on: "The fraternal welcome which His Beatitude gave my predecessor Pope John Paul II on the occasion of his visit to Athens in May 2001, and the return visit of Archbishop Christodoulos to Rome in December 2006, opened a new era of cordial co-operation between us, leading to increased contacts and improved friendship in the search for closer communion in the context of the growing unity of Europe.

  "I and Catholics around the world pray that the Orthodox Church of Greece will be sustained by the grace of God in continuing to build on the pastoral achievements of the late archbishop, and that in commending the noble soul of His Beatitude to our heavenly Father's loving mercy you will be comforted by the Lord's promise to reward His faithful servants".

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