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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the address Benedict XVI delivered yesterday to members of the executive committee of the International Union of Superiors General, who were meeting in the Vatican to reflect on "some particularly relevant and important aspects of consecrated life".

  "We are all aware how, in modern globalised society, it is becoming ever more difficult to announce and bear witness to the Gospel", said the Pope. "The process of secularisation which is advancing in contemporary culture does not, unfortunately, spare even religious communities.

  "Nonetheless", he added, "we must not be discouraged, because if (as has been said) many clouds are gathering on the horizon of religious life today, there also exist (indeed they are constantly growing) signs of a providential reawakening which gives rise to consolation and hope.

  "The Holy Spirit blows powerfully throughout the Church, creating a new commitment to faithfulness, both in the historical institutes and, at the same time, in new forms of religious consecration that reflect the needs of the times. ... What characterises these new forms of consecrated life is a shared desire ... for a radical form of evangelical poverty, for faithful love of the Church, and for generous dedication to the needy with particular attention to that spiritual poverty which so markedly characterises the modern age".

  The Pope subsequently went on to refer to "the orders and congregations with a long tradition in the Church", noting how they have suffered a "difficult crisis due to the ageing of members, a more or less accentuated fall in vocations and, sometimes, a spiritual and charismatic 'weariness'".

  Although describing this crisis as "worrying", Benedict XVI highlighted certain positive signs, "especially when communities have chosen to return to the origins and live in a way more in keeping with the spirit of the founder. In almost all recent general chapters of religious institutes the recurring theme has been precisely that of rediscovering the original charism, to then incarnate it and renew it in the present".

  Such rediscovery "has helped give institutes a promising new ascetic, apostolic and missionary impulse", said the Pope and he concluded: "It is along this road that we must continue, praying to the Lord to bring to full fruition the work He began".
AC/CONSECRATED LIFE/...                    VIS 20080219 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2008 (VIS) - On Saturday, 1 March, to mark the Sixth European Day for Universities, the Holy Father will preside at a Marian prayer vigil in the Paul VI Hall. The theme of the vigil will be: "Europe and the Americas together to build a civilisation of love".

  The Day has been promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities.

  The university students gathered in the Paul VI Hall will be linked by satellite to other students in various European and American cities: Naples, Italy; Bucharest, Romania; Toledo, Spain; Avignon, France; Minsk, Belarus; Washington DC, U.S.A.; Mexico City, Mexico; Havana, Cuba, Aparecida, Brazil, and Loja, Ecuador.

  At 5 p.m. the Holy Father will lead the praying of the Rosary, then address some words to the participants before distributing copies of his Encyclical "Spe salvi" to a number of student representatives.

  Also for the occasion of this European Day, a congress is due to be held at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University from 28 February to 1 March on the theme: "Europe and the Americas together towards integral and solidary development". The event has been promoted by the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities together with the European Commission's office in Italy, and the Italian ministries for communication, for university research and for foreign affairs".

  The congress will begin with opening addresses on the theme of "The shared roots and historical ties of the relationship between Europe and the Americas" to be given by Florencio Hubenak of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina "Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires", and by Bianca Maria Tedeschini Lalli of the "Universita degli Studi Roma Tre".

  The meeting will then continue with three main sessions, the first on: "Europe and the Americas in the global society", the second on: "The role of university formation in facing development challenges", and the third on: "University cultures and models in globalisation".

  The meeting will come to an end on the morning of 1 March with two round table discussions on "The brain drain problem: U.S.A. - Latin America - Europe" and "Experiences of and prospects for university co-operation for integral and solidary development".
.../EUROPEAN DAY UNIVERSITIES/...                VIS 20080219 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Valter Dario Maggi, pastor and secretary of the episcopal commission for education of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Guayaquil (area 18,711, population 3,357,000, Catholics 3,022,000, priests 339, permanent deacons 25, religious 678), Ecuador. The bishop-elect was born in Brignano Gera d'Adda, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1985.
 - Fr. Joseph Ponniah, vicar general of Trincomalee-Batticaloa, India, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 8,397, population 1,545,129, Catholics 68,174, priests 66, religious 131). The bishop-elect was born in Thannamunai, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1980.
NEA/.../MAGGI:PONNIAH                        VIS 20080219 (120)

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