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Friday, February 15, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to bishops all over the world, and to their respective Churches, asking them, in the Pope's name, to continue giving spiritual and material support to the Catholic community in the Holy Land. The letter has been made published in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German.

  "The absence of peace", says the cardinal in the English-language version of the letter, "exacerbates the many long-standing problems as well as the poverty afflicting the region of the Holy Places. That absence also contributes to the creation of new difficulties. Thus, we must recognise that Christians who reside there are a priority for the attention of the entire Catholic Church, together with that of all other Churches and ecclesial communities".

  The cardinal notes that "the Good Friday Collection has a special relevance", before going on to express the hope that "every local Church shall participate in the effort to further our commitment to charity. The Congregation for the Oriental Churches, by virtue of papal directive, co-ordinates this initiative, and does so with exactitude and fairness. Always, the goal is to assist with the everyday requirements of Christian life.

  "In this way", he adds, "the Latin community openly supports the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Franciscans who are Custodians of the Holy Land, and all those belonging to the Eastern Catholic Churches. The desire of the Holy See is that the charitable outreach by all Catholics will not simply be viewed as occasional, but as so continuous and profound that the future may be welcomed with hope. Nor is this programme of charitable distribution based upon religious, cultural or political distinctions. Rather, it seeks especially to equip the younger generations to take their place in society in a manner which renders them competent and able to transmit the worth of their Catholic education and formation.

  "We cannot overlook, however, those numerous other challenges which are serious and urgent. For example, there is the ever present matter of immigration, bringing with it the risk that Christian communities can be deprived of their most important human resources. We must seek to safeguard Christianity's historic legacy by striving to preserve those 'living communities' in which the Mystery of Christ, our Peace, is cherished and celebrated".

  "May I also take this opportunity to commend the various particular Churches for their many contributions on behalf of the Holy Land. I would mention, for instance, a word of gratitude to those who participate in pilgrimages, and those who volunteer their time and talents. This brings to mind the highly laudable care rendered by parishes and by the families of religious, and as is evident in their various institutions, foundations and associations". Cardinal Sandri concludes his letter by encouraging his fellow bishops "to authorise once again this 'Collection for the Holy Land' owing to the merit of its objectives and its specific characteristics".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2008 (VIS) - On 13 February, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, participated in a "Forum to Fight Human Trafficking" held in Vienna, Austria, from 13 to 15 February.

  Speaking English, Archbishop Marchetto defined human trafficking as "one of the most shameful phenomena of our era. ... It is well known", he went on, "that poverty, as well as the lack of opportunities and of social cohesion, push people to look for a better future despite the related risks, making them extremely vulnerable to trafficking.

  "Moreover", he added, "it should be emphasised that, nowadays, several factors contribute to the spread of this crime, namely, the absence of specific rules in some countries, the victims' ignorance of their own rights, the socio-cultural structure and armed conflicts.

  "The Holy See encourages all kinds of just initiatives aimed at eradicating this immoral and criminal phenomenon and at promoting the welfare of the victims. The Palermo Protocol and the successive regional conventions have introduced an exhaustive international legislation against trafficking in human beings. Moreover, the Holy See notes with satisfaction the coming into force, at the beginning of this month, of the Council of Europe's Convention against trafficking in human beings".

  In this context, the archbishop recalled that the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples also monitors "the issue of the victims of human trafficking, considered to be the slaves of modern times".


VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Castries, Saint Lucia, presented by Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Robert Rivas O.P.
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