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Monday, February 18, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, at the conclusion of the Roman Curia's spiritual exercises, the Pope expressed thanks, in the name of all those present, to the preacher Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J. The theme of this year's exercises was: "Let us welcome Christ, our High Priest. 'Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession'".

  In his remarks, the Pope recalled how Jesus knelt before Peter to wash his feet. This image, he said, "was always before my eyes" and "spoke to me. I saw that it was here, through such behaviour, through such an act of extreme humility, that Jesus' new priesthood was fulfilled. It was fulfilled precisely in the act of solidarity with us, with our weaknesses, our suffering, our trials, even unto death.

  "With new eyes I also saw Jesus' red clothing, which speaks to us of His blood", the Pope added. And addressing Cardinal Vanhoye he went on: "You showed us how Jesus' blood was, through His prayer, 'oxygenated' by the Holy Spirit. And thus it became a force of resurrection and a source of life for us".

  The Holy Father also noted how Peter had asked the Lord to wash not only his feet but also his head and hands, commenting: "It seems to me that - beyond that specific moment - this expresses the difficulty faced by St. Peter and by all the Lord's disciples in understanding the amazing novelty of Jesus' priesthood, of this priesthood which is debasement, solidarity with us, and thus gives us access to the true shrine: the risen body of Jesus.

  "Throughout the period of his discipleship and ... until his own crucifixion, St. Peter had to listen ever and anew to Jesus, in order to enter more deeply into the mystery of His priesthood, the priesthood that Christ communicated to the Apostles and to their successors. In this context, the figure of Peter seems to me like one of us today. You", he concluded, still addressing Cardinal Vanhoye, "have helped us to listen to the voice of the Lord, to relearn the meaning of His priesthood and of ours. You have helped us to participate in Christ's priesthood and thus to receive a new heart, the heart of Jesus, as the centre of the mystery of the new Covenant".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2008 (VIS) - A communique made public today announces that Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", the Vatican dicastery that promotes the Holy See's charitable activities, has travelled to India to meet with bishops of that country's episcopal conference who are meeting in plenary assembly at Jamshedpur.

  The assembly is reflecting on the Church's charitable commitments in the light of the Encyclical "Deus caritas est", and will give particular attention to the question of the Christian roots of charity.

  The cardinal's trip to India, which will last until 19 February "will strengthen the witness of the Catholic Church in the field of charity where she continues to make her presence felt through many works of charity. Christians in India run 20 percent of primary schools, 25 percent of support structures for widows and orphans, and 30 percent of centres for the disabled, lepers and AIDS sufferers".

  "India, with its 1.2 billion inhabitants", the communique explains, "is a nation in full economic and social expansion, and this fact has important consequences for the charitable organisations active there. The mission of the 'diakonia' remains indispensable, both for the poor and for the essence of the Church herself. 'Diakonia' being an ecclesial activity, the bishop or ordinary plays a fundamental role. His, in fact, is the final responsibility for charitable activity. It is in this particular field that Cardinal Cordes will encourage the Indian prelates".

  The first stage of the cardinal's visit will take him to the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He will then go on to visit the shelters for the poor she founded.


VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope made an appeal for dialogue and reconciliation in Lebanon.

  "I am following the persistent manifestations of tension in Lebanon with concern", he said. "For almost three months the country has been unable to elect a head of State. Efforts to resolve the crisis and the support offered by many important figures of the international community, though they have not yet achieved a result, confirm the intention to find a president for all the Lebanese, and thus to lay the foundations for overcoming the current divisions.

  "Unfortunately, there is also no shortage of causes for concern, especially because of the unusual verbal violence, and of people who place their trust in the force of arms and the physical elimination of their adversaries.

  "Together with the Maronite patriarch and all Lebanese bishops, I ask you to join my prayer to Our Lady of Lebanon that she may encourage the citizens of that dear nation, and in particular the politicians, to work tenaciously for reconciliation, for a truly sincere dialogue, for peaceful coexistence and for the good of a homeland profoundly felt as being shared".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented the Instruction "Sanctorum Mater" for conducting diocesan or eparchial enquiries in the causes of saints.

  Cardinal Saraiva was accompanied by Archbishop Michele Di Ruberto and Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  In his remarks, the cardinal affirmed that the aim of the document "is to contribute to ensuring that current norms for the diocesan inquiry of a cause of beatification and canonisation are applied with ever greater care".

  The Instruction is divided into six sections, said Cardinal Saraiva, going on to explain: "The first draws attention to the need for a true reputation of holiness before beginning a process, and explains the duties and roles of the petitioner, the postulator and the competent bishop. The second part describes the preliminary phase of the cause which extends as far as the 'Nihil Obstat' of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The third section concerns the instruction of the cause. The fourth part concentrates on the gathering of documentary proof and the fifth on the gathering of proof from witnesses. Finally, the sixth section of the document outlines the procedures for the closing of the inquiry".

  The cardinal then went on to consider the reasons for the publication of the document, pointing out that 25 years have passed since the promulgation by John Paul II of the Apostolic Constitution 'Divinus Perfectionis Magister', and of the 'Normae servandae' by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Since then, he said, "in some dioceses, certain provisions of the law have not always been understood and, consequently, not been put into practice with the necessary meticulousness, the which has sometimes made it necessary for the congregation to supply clarifications or to ask diocesan curias to correct errors".

  Furthermore, he added, "dioceses do not always have access to specialised individuals with practical experience of the various procedures involved in a cause of canonisation". For this reason, "it is evident that a practical document, such as this Instruction, was useful, indeed necessary".

  "When the current legislation on causes of saints came into force", said the cardinal outlining another reason for the publication of the present document, "an unfounded idea became widespread that the traditional methodology ... had been substituted by some kind of historical-critical investigation". And he identified the reason for this confusion in "the fact that the term 'inquisitio' used in Latin (the only official text) to designate the procedure of the diocesan phase of a cause of canonisation was translated in Italian as 'inchiesta' (inquiry)". This Instruction, then, highlights "the importance of procedure" in causes of beatification and canonisation, "and accurately highlights the norms that must be observed".

  Turning to the last reason for which the document was published, Cardinal Saraiva noted how, "in the move from the earlier legislation to that in force today, it was unclear to some people that a serious and rigorous verification of the fame of sanctity or martyrdom, undertaken in dioceses, is a prior requirement of absolute importance. Hence, a procedure must not be begin without irrefutable proof that the Servant of God ... is held to be a saint or martyr by a considerable number of faithful, who invoke him or her in their prayers and attribute graces and favours to his or her intercession".

  Thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, there have been 20 beatification ceremonies during which 563 Servants of God were beatified (36 confessors and 527 martyrs), including 48 diocesan priests, 485 male and female religious, and 30 lay people, for a total of 509 men and 54 women.

  The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has presided at 31 ceremonies, 18 in Italy and 13 in other countries (Mexico, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, France, Poland and Austria).

  The canonisation ceremonies celebrated thus far during the pontificate of Benedict XVI number four (three in Rome and one in Brazil), during which 14 people were canonised (two bishops, four priests, five male religious and three female religious).

  The current total of saints and blesseds of this pontificate is 577.


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience members of the council for relations between the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the International Union of Superiors General.

  On Saturday, 16 February, he received in audience Cardinal Albert Vanhoye S.J., preacher of the spiritual exercises.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Eugenio Dal Corso P.S.D.P. of Saurimo, Angola, as bishop of Benguela (area 49,920, population 2,303,000, Catholics 1,116,000, priests 132, religious 477), Angola. He succeeds Bishop Oscar Lino Lopes Fernandes Braga, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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