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Thursday, February 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the credential letters of Viadeta Jancovic, Serbia's new ambassador to the Holy See.

  In his speech to the diplomat, the Pope affirmed that the Holy See "greatly values its diplomatic links with Serbia, and hopes thereby to offer encouragement to the continuing efforts to build a future of peace, prosperity, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence throughout the region, as Serbia and its neighbors seek to take their proper place within Europe".

  Few countries in the continent of Europe escaped the ravages of war in the last century", said the Holy Father, "and all can learn from the lessons of the recent past.  As you work towards a more secure future, it is vital to remember that the identity and the rich cultural tradition of your nation, as of all European nations, is deeply rooted in the heritage of Christian faith and the Gospel of love".

  "If we choose to live by the values drawn from our Christian roots", Benedict XVI observed, "we discover the courage to forgive and to accept forgiveness, to be reconciled with our neighbors, and to build together a civilization of love in which all are accepted and respected.  I know how deeply the Serb people have suffered in the course of recent conflicts and I wish to express my heartfelt concern for them and for the other Balkan nations affected by the sad events of the last decade".

  "The Holy See", he added, "shares your earnest desire that the peace which has been achieved will bring lasting stability to the region.  In particular, with regard to the current crisis in Kosovo, I call upon all interested parties to act with prudence and moderation, and to seek solutions that favor mutual respect and reconciliation".

  "Not least among the various divisions between the peoples of Europe are those resulting from the tragic loss of Christian unity over the past thousand years", the Pope recalled. He then expressed joy for the progress in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Serbia in recent years and for the beneficial collaboration made in various areas. "I earnestly hope that these positive developments will continue to bear fruit", he said, "in particular through joint exploration of Christian social doctrine".

  The Holy Father next spoke of the Serbia's geographical situation on the border between Eastern and Western Christianity that offers "a unique opportunity to promote ecumenical dialogue, while its familiarity with Islam, both through its encounter with the Ottoman Empire and through the presence of many Muslims in the region today, opens up rich possibilities for progress in inter-religious dialogue.  Both of these processes are of the utmost importance in establishing greater mutual understanding and respect between peoples and nations in the modern world".

  "Freedom of religion is an indispensable element in building the kind of society in which such harmony can develop, and the steps taken by Serbia in recent years to guarantee this fundamental human right are greatly appreciated", Benedict XVI said.

  "The plan to restore to churches and religious communities property which had been nationalized by the Yugoslav Federation and the introduction of religious teaching in schools have contributed to the spiritual renewal of your country, and in this regard an important example has been given from which other governments can learn".

  "I pray that this openness to religious values in society," he concluded, "will continue to grow, so that public debate may be truly nourished by the principles derived from faith".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants of the Society of Jesus' general congregation, with the newly named superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, which has been meeting in Rome from 7 January.

  The Pope encouraged those present and all their brothers in the Society to continue in their faithfulness to the mission received from God, "in full fidelity to the original charism in the ecclesial and social context that characterizes this beginning of the millennium".

  "The Church", he said, "urgently needs persons of solid and deep faith, of serious culture, and of genuine human and social sensitivity; of priests and religious who dedicate their lives to living at the margins in order to bear witness and help further the understanding that there exists a profound harmony between faith and reason, between evangelical spirit and a thirst for justice and dedication to peace".

 "The Society of Jesus, Benedict XVI continued, "faithful to its best tradition, should continue forming its members with great attention to the sciences and to virtue, without conforming to mediocrity, because the task of confrontation and dialogue in very diverse social and cultural situations with the different mentalities of today's world is one of the most difficult and costly there is".

  "In the attempt to build bridges of understanding and dialogue with those who do not belong to the Church or who have difficulty in accepting its positions and messages, you must loyally take charge of the Church's fundamental right to remain faithful to its mandate and adhere completely to the Word of God as well as to the Magisterium's charge of conserving the truth and unity of Catholic doctrine in its entirety".

  The Pope emphasized that "this holds not only for the vow of each Jesuit. As you work as members of an apostolic body you have to also remain attentive that your works and institutions always maintain a clear and explicit identity so that the goal of your apostolic activity is neither ambiguous nor obscure and so that many others might share your ideals and might effectively and enthusiastically join with you, collaborating in your vow of service to God and as human beings".

  "The themes that are debated and questioned today, such as the salvation of all in Christ, sexual morality, and marriage and the family, should be considered in the context of contemporary reality, maintaining, however, that harmony with the Magisterium that avoids the provocation of confusion and uncertainty in the People of God".

  The Holy Father encouraged the Jesuit fathers to "continue and to renew" their mission among and with the poor. "For us", he said, "the option for the poor is not ideological but rather is born of the Gospel". Besides making the "effort to understand and fight the structural causes" of  injustice and poverty, he added, "it is necessary to fight the deep roots of evil in the very heart of the human being, the sin that separates us from God, without forgetting to care for the most urgent needs of others in Christ's spirit of charity".

  Finally, referring to the Spiritual Exercises, "which from its origins have characterized your Society", the Pope asked that they "continue making them a precious and effective instrument for the spiritual growth of souls. (…) The Spiritual Exercises represent a particularly precious journey and method for seeking and encountering the face of God in and around us and in all things; for coming to know his will and putting it into practice".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - At 11.30 a.m. today in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present an international congress entitled "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects", due to be held in the Vatican on February 25 and 26 under the auspices of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
  Participating in today's press conference were Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Joseph Capizzi, professor of Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America, and member of the Foundation "Culture and Life" (USA); Monsignor Maurizio Calipari, one of the academy's moral theologians and bioethics professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family; and Zbigniew Zylicz, the medical director of "Dove House Hospice" in Hull, East Yorkshire (England).

  Bishop Sgreccia briefly summarized the goal of the assembly, which will focus on the moment "in which human fragility is felt most deeply, a moment often intensified by solitude and suffering (…) but one which is very important in the Christian vision because the physical body crumbles and the subject's history comes to an end but they draw near the entrance to full life, eternal life".

  This moment of passage is the assembly's specific subject", added the prelate. "We once again", he said, "sense the need to further define the terms of what is and is not licit in the therapeutic sphere, above all in order to respond to the various doubts and continuing debate in the field of medical assistance. The program proposes many ethical themes with the expectation of clarifying with balance and precision, as best as possible, the limits of the therapy and assistance given to the terminally ill and dying. There will also be discussions of cultural and anthropological nature. Above all, we will present the aspects concerning assistance: how society and the Christian community can be mobilized, palliative care, but the main focus will be on treatments that respond to precise ethical questions".

  Monsignor Calipari affirmed that "besides ensuring greater possibilities for life and better health conditions for many, new techniques in medical assistance can sometimes carry with them a greater affront than personal suffering to the patient without there being, or even contrary to there being, a real perspective of benefit."

  "What should be done in these cases?", he asked. "What criteria should be adopted to be able to express an ethical and functional judgment on the use of means of conserving life that is well-grounded and justifiable"?

  Professor Calipari proposed the outline of "a new systematic standard of evaluation that would dynamically join the concepts of 'proportionality/disproportionality' (which is chronologically more recent) and 'ordinariness/extraordinariness' (more traditional), without depriving them of their differences and their characteristics". From this would derive, he continued, a norm that "could represent a precise reference for the concrete decisions on the choice for and recourse to the different means of conserving life. The result of this effort  is called 'the principle of ethical on the use of the means of conserving life".

  Professor Zylicz continued the presentation, speaking on the theme of palliative care, hospices, and household assistance. "Although the concept of the hospice is very Christian, hospices do accept people of all faiths and religions."

  "Death", he continued, "should be seen as a part of life, a normal event. The death of a loved one can even be an important moment of personal growth. People working in hospices struggle with many ethical dilemmas, such as (artificial) food and hydration, intensive symptom control, which may result in the earlier death of a patient, anguish and terminal sedation, and, finally, with the increasing societal demands of euthanasia."
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience Renato Guarini, the rector of La Sapienza University in Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi M.Sp.S., previously bishop of Nuevo Laredo in Mexico, as bishop of Tepic (area 22,777, population 1,115,208, Catholics 1,073,321, priests 210, religious 270), Mexico. He succeeds Bishop Alfonso Humberto Robles Cota, whose resignation from the pastoral care of that diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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