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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence for the death of Fra' Andrew Bertie, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who passed away on 7 February at the age of 79.

  In the telegram, addressed to Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, ad interim head of the Knights of Malta until the election of a new Grand Master, the Pope expresses his condolences to all members of the Order and highlights "the achievements of this respected man of culture, and the generous commitment he showed in carrying out his exalted role, especially in support of the most needy, as well as his love for the Church and his shining witness to evangelical principles".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress on the theme: "Woman and man, the 'humanum' in its entirety". The event was organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the twentieth anniversary of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on the dignity and vocation of women "Mulieris dignitatem".

  "The relationship between man and woman in their respective specificity, reciprocity and complementarity is without doubt a central aspect of the 'anthropological question' which is so decisive to contemporary culture", said the Pope, going on to mention the many documents the Church has dedicated to this theme, from "Mulieris dignitatem" to John Paul II's 1995 "Letter to Women", as well as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in The Church and in the World".

  "The fundamental anthropological truths of man and woman, their equality of dignity and their unity, the deep-rooted and profound diversity between male and female and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, to collaboration and communion", said the Pope, "are based on the foundation of the dignity of each person created in the image and likeness of God, Who 'created them male and female' avoiding indistinct uniformity and flat and impoverished equality, as well as massive and confrontational difference".

  "Hence, when man or woman seek to become autonomous and completely self-sufficient, they risk being trapped in a form of self-realisation that considers the overcoming of all natural, social and religious barriers as the conquest of freedom, when in fact it reduces them to a state of oppressive solitude".

  The Holy Father highlighted the need for "fresh anthropological research which, on the basis of the great Christian tradition, brings together the latest scientific progress and modern cultural sensibilities, thus contributing to a deeper understanding of .. female identity", as well as of "male identity which is also not infrequently the subject of partial and ideological studies".

  Benedict XVI also recalled how at the opening of last year's Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean he had mentioned "the persistence of a male chauvinist mentality, ignorant of the 'newness' of Christianity which recognises and proclaims the equal dignity and responsibility of women and men.

  "There are places and cultures", the Pope added, "in which women are discriminated against and undervalued for the mere fact of being women, where even religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressures are brought to bear to uphold the inequality between the sexes, and where women are subject to acts of violence, ... and exploited for the purposes of publicity".

  "In the face of such serious and persistent phenomena, there is an ever more urgent need for the commitment of Christians to become promoters of a culture that grants women, in law and in everyday life, the dignity that is theirs by right".

  The Pope continued: "God gave man and woman ... a specific vocation and mission in the Church and in the world". In this context he also mentioned the family, describing it as "a community of love open to life, the fundamental cell of society" in which man and woman "together play an indispensable role in life.

  "From their conception, children have the right to a father and mother to take care of them and accompany them as they grow. For its part, the State must support with adequate social policies everything that promotes the stability and unity of marriage, the dignity and responsibility of the spouses and their right ... to be educators of their children".

  Benedict XVI concluded by invoking the intercession of Our Lady "to help the women of our time to accomplish their vocation and their mission in the ecclesial and civil communities".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in the National Assembly of the Italian Federation for Spiritual Exercises who have been meeting over recent days to reflect on the theme: "Towards a truly Eucharistic Christian spirituality".

  The Pope recalled how the federation came into being and developed "by accepting the incessant exhortations on the need for prayer and the primacy of spiritual life as expressed by my venerated predecessors, Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. ... Such insistence on the need for prayer still has great relevance and importance".

  "Alongside other forms of spiritual retreat, ... there should be no lessening of participation in spiritual exercises, characterised as they are by that climate of complete and profound silence which favours an individual and community encounter with God and the contemplation of the face of Christ. It is impossible to over-stress the importance of this requirement, which I and my predecessors have often underlined.

  "During a period in which the influence of secularisation is becoming ever stronger, while at the same time there exists a widespread need to encounter God, there should be no lack of opportunities for intense listening to His Word in silence and in prayer", the Pope added. "Privileged locations for such spiritual experiences are houses of spiritual exercises which, to this end, must be given material support and supplied with adequate staff".

  The Holy Father encouraged pastors to ensure that houses of spiritual exercises do not lack "well-trained leaders and workers to act as guides and ... animators, possessed of those doctrinal and spiritual qualities which make them true masters of the spirit, impassioned experts of the Word of God, and faithful to the Magisterium of the Church.

  "A good course of spiritual exercises helps participants to renew their joy and taste for the liturgy, in particular the dignified celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and, above all, of the Eucharist. It helps them rediscover the importance of the Sacrament of Penance, which is the goal of the path of conversion and a gift of reconciliation, as well as of the value and meaning of Eucharistic adoration. During the exercises", the Holy Father concluded, "it is also possible to rediscover the full and authentic significance of the Rosary and ... of the Way of the Cross".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Below is the calendar of liturgical celebrations due to be presided over by the Holy Father between the months of February and April.


- Sunday 24. Third Sunday of Lent. Pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Liberatrice a Monte Testaccio. At 9 a.m., celebration of the Eucharist.


- Saturday 1. At 11 a.m. in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, consistory for certain causes of canonisation.

 - Sunday 9. Fifth Sunday of Lent. Pastoral visit to the International Youth Centre and the church of San Lorenzo in Piscibus. At 10 a.m., celebration of the Eucharist.

- Thursday 13. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, penitential celebration with young people from the diocese of Rome.

- Sunday 16. Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

- Thursday 20. Holy Thursday. In the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m., Chrism Mass. In the Basilica of St. John Lateran at 5.30 p.m., the beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.

- Friday 21. Good Friday. In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m., celebration of the Lord's Passion. Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9.15 p.m.

- Saturday 22. Holy Saturday. Easter vigil at 9 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica.

- Sunday 23. Easter Sunday. Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. At midday, from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.


 - Wednesday 2. In St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m., Mass for Pope John Paul II.

 - Tuesday 15 to Monday 21. Apostolic trip to the U.S.A.

 - Sunday 27. At 9 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, priestly ordination of deacons from the diocese of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Justo Mullor Garcia, apostolic nuncio.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Today, the first Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus, reminding them that the beginning of this liturgical period means "dedicating particular attention to the spiritual struggle to oppose the evil that exists in the world, in each one of us, and around us".

  Lent, the Pope went on, means "looking evil in the face and preparing oneself to combat its effects, especially in its causes, even unto its ultimate cause which is Satan. It means not offloading the problem of evil onto others, onto society or onto God, but recognising our own responsibilities and consciously shouldering them".

  For this reason, its is important for Christians to listen "to Jesus' invitation for each to take up his or her own 'cross' and follow Him with humility and faith. The cross, however heavy it may be, is not a synonym of misfortune, of a calamity to be avoided, but an opportunity to follow Christ and thus to acquire strength in the fight against sin and evil.

  "Thus", he added, "entering into Lent means renewing the individual and community decision to face up to evil together with Christ. The way of the Cross is, in fact, the only one that leads to the victory of love over hatred, of sharing over selfishness, of peace over violence".

  The Holy Father then went on to remark that the beginning of Lent this year coincides with the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes (11 February 1858). "The message the Virgin Mary continues to proclaim at Lourdes", he said, "recalls the words that Jesus pronounced at the very beginning of His public mission: ... 'Convert and believe in the Gospel', pray and do penance. Let us welcome Mary's invitation, which echoes that of Christ, and ask her to enable us 'to enter' with faith into Lent, to live this period of grace with inner joy and generous commitment".

  The Pope concluded his pre-Angelus remarks by entrusting the sick and their carers to the Virgin Mary, recalling that tomorrow, 11 February, marks the World Day of the Sick.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 4 p.m. today, Feast of Out Lady of Lourdes and 16th World Day of the Sick, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, celebrated Mass for the sick and for pilgrims of UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines), and of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

  At the beginning of his homily, the cardinal recalled that today marks the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle.

  Commenting on certain aspects of Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of the Sick - in which the Pope highlights the intimate bond between the Eucharistic mystery, Mary's role in the project of salvation and the reality of human suffering - Cardinal Lozano asked: "Is it possible to experience the suffering of Christ in our own suffering, to find therein happiness and joy? The answer", he went on, "can only come from the Holy Spirit, fusing our suffering with that of Christ through His infinite Love".

  The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's suffering, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, going on to explain that "the reality of the mystery of suffering - which in Christ becomes positive, creative, redeeming, happiness and joy, while not ceasing to be extremely painful - is the Eucharist. Participation in the Eucharist is the authentic way to make our own suffering part of Christ's suffering. This is Eucharistic communion. The Eucharist is thus our cross and our resurrection. It is the only true remedy to pain. It is the medicine of immortality".

  "In order to respond to the full love of the cross", said Cardinal Lozano, we must pronounce "an unreserved 'yes' to the mysterious plan of the Redeemer, a 'yes' that means fullness of Love. This complete 'yes' of love is the Immaculate Conception of our dear Mother, Mary", who participated "on Calvary as the co-redeemer of the Saviour. ... Christ on the cross suffered all the pains that his Most Holy Mother suffered. And she in Christ suffers all our pains, she assumes them and knows how to commiserate with us. Out suffering is also her suffering".

  He went on: "Suffering has value in as much as the death of Christ inherently comprehends His resurrection. In other words, suffering has value in as much as it leads towards the destruction of suffering, Thus suffering itself, understood in a Christian sense, encourages us to struggle against suffering in this life, as an anticipation of the resurrection.

  "Hence the Eucharist, as participation in Christ's suffering, encourages us to care for our sick brothers and sisters", the cardinal added. "We must share the joy of the resurrection, overcoming the daily manifestation of death in sickness. Here is the engine that drives us forward to combat all infirmities and bring health to everyone. From here arises the obligation to progress constantly in the art and science of medicine and to continue its extraordinary modern developments".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Today, the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that:

 - At 11 a.m. on Sunday, 17 February, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, metropolitan archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will take possession of the Title of St. Andrew al Quirinale, Via del Quirinale 29, Rome.

 - At 7 p.m. on Sunday, 17 February, Cardinal John Njue, metropolitan archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya, will take possession of the Title of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Via Flaminia 732/T, Rome.

- At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 20 February, Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo, metropolitan archbishop of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., will take possession of the Title of St. Eusebius, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II 12/A, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Rafael Ramon Conde Alfonzo of Margarita, Venezuela, as bishop of Maracay (area 7,014, population 1,685,000, Catholics 1,393,000, priests 83, permanent deacons 16, religious 127), Venezuela.

 - Fr. Michael Gregory Campbell O.S.A., episcopal vicar and pastor of the parish of St. Augustine in the diocese of Westminster, England, as coadjutor of the diocese of Lancaster (area 2,900, population 1,200,000, Catholics 124,256, priests 179, permanent deacons 50, religious 178), England. The bishop-elect was born in Larne, Northern Ireland in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1971.

  On Monday, 11 February, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Bishop Vincent Barwa, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Ranchi, India as bishop of Simdega (area 2,323, population 519,700, Catholics 169,188, priests 98, religious 203), India. He succeeds Bishop Joseph Minj, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Ivan Sasko of the clergy of the archdiocese of Zagreb, Croatia, professor of liturgy at the Faculty of Theology of Zagreb, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 13,495, population 1,546,064, Catholics 1,272,277, priests 787, religious 1,829). The bishop-elect was born in Divan in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1992.

  On Saturday, 9 February, it was made public that he appointed Fr. Carlos Simon Vazquez of the clergy of the diocese of Coria-Caceres, Spain, professor at the "San Pedro de Alcantara" Theological Institute of Caceres and at the "Facultad Teologica del Norte de Espana" in Burgos, as under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
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