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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope concluded his series of catecheses on the figure of St. Augustine. Before the audience, the Holy Father went to the Vatican Basilica to greet pilgrims who had been unable to find a place in the hall.

  St. Augustine "is one of the great converts of Christian history" said Benedict XVI. Reading the "Confessions", he went on, "it is easy to see that Augustine's conversion was neither sudden nor fully achieved right from the start. Rather it may be defined as a ... journey, and remains as a model for each one of us".

  "St. Augustine was, ever since the beginning, an impassioned searcher after the truth. ... and the first stage of his journey of conversion ... consisted precisely in his gradual approach to Christianity". He received a Christian education from his mother Monica and, despite having lived a wild youth, "always felt a profound attraction to Christ".

  The saint's "passion for mankind and for truth ... made him seek God, great and inaccessible". But "Faith in Christ, led him to understand that the apparently distant God is not in fact distant. He has come close to us, making Himself one of us. In this context, faith in Christ was the culmination of Augustine's long search along the path of truth. ... This path must be followed with courage and, at the same time, with humility, while remaining open to the permanent purification of which each one of us has need".

  St. Augustine, the Pope recalled, "was reluctantly ordained a priest in Hippo and assigned to the service of the faithful", in which role "he continued to live with Christ, but while serving everyone. He found this very difficult at the start, but he understood that only by living for others, and not just for his own private contemplation, could he truly live with Christ and for Christ. Renouncing a life of pure meditation he learned, often with difficulty, to place the fruits of his intellect at the service of others, to communicate his faith to the common people, ... and thus to live for them in that city which he had made his own. ... This was his second conversion".

  The Pope then went on to identify another stage in Augustine's journey "which we could call his third conversion and which brought him daily to ask forgiveness of God. ... We have a perennial need to be washed by Christ, ... to be renewed by Him". We need "the humility to recognise that we are all sinners, constantly journeying until God definitively gives us His hand and introduces us to eternal life". With such humility Augustine lived and died.

  "Having converted to Christ Who is truth and love", the Pope continued, "Augustine followed Him throughout his life and stands as a model for all human beings who seek after God. ... Today too, as in his time, humankind needs to know this fundamental reality and, above all, to put it into practice: God is love and meeting Him is the only answer to the disquiet of our hearts".

  Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis with a prayer that "every day we may be able to follow the example of this great convert, meeting in every moment of our lives, as he did, the Lord Jesus, the One Who saves us, purifies us and gives us true joy, true life".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2008 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. yesterday returned to the Vatican following his six-day journey to Cuba to commemorate the tenth anniversary of John Paul II's visit there. The late Pope's trip was the subject of a Message sent by Benedict XVI to the Cuban bishops on 21 February.

  On Monday 25 February, Cardinal Bertone met with Felipe Perez Roque, foreign minister of Cuba. Following the meeting the cardinal announced that both Raul Castro, the new Cuban president, and the Catholic Church wish to respond to the needs of the Cuban people "bearing in mind the difficulties, above all those caused by the economic embargo" against Cuba. Repeating the words of John Paul II, the cardinal described the embargo as "unjust and ethically unacceptable". Ten years ago the late Pontiff had highlighted how the economic blockade is "an oppression for the people of Cuba", not a means "to help the Cuban people achieve dignity and independence" and "a violation of the people's independence".

  Answering journalists' questions, the cardinal also affirmed that he had not asked the Cuban government for an amnesty but for "gestures of reconciliation", adding that the Church considers the recent release of certain prisoners as "a positive gesture".

  Cardinal Bertone also made it clear that he had personally asked the government of the United States to facilitate the reunion of Cuban emigres with their relatives still on the island, saying this would be a humanitarian gesture and everything possible was being done to achieve it.

  Yesterday's meeting with the new Cuban president, Raul Castro, marked the close of the cardinal's visit to Cuba.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Adair Jose Guimaraes of the clergy of the diocese of Uruacu, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Nossa Senhora Aparecida" in Minacu, as bishop of Rubiataba-Mozarlandia (area 26,797, population 96,700, Catholics 75,700, priests 17, religious 18), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Mara Rosa, Brazil in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986. He succeeds Bishop Jose Carlos de Oliveira C.SS.R., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Earl A. Boyea, auxiliary of Detroit, U.S.A., as bishop of Lansing (area 16,098, population 1,801,941, Catholics 230,981, priests 194, permanent deacons 90, religious 535), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Carl F. Mengeling, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Erected the new diocese of Floriano (area 60,930, population 193,111, Catholics 173,799, priests 29, religious 51) Brazil, with territory taken from the diocese of Oeiras-Floriano, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Teresina. He appointed Bishop Augusto Alves da Rocha of Oeiras-Floriano as first bishop of the new diocese.

 - Appointed Fr. Juarez Sousa Da Silva of the clergy of the diocese of Campo Maior, Brazil, study director at the major inter-diocesan seminary "Sagrado Coracao de Jesus" in the archdiocese of Teresina, as bishop of Oeiras (area 15,096, population 133,140, Catholics 119,826, priests 12, religious 8), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Barras, Brazil in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1994.

 - Maurizio Prato, consultor of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as international auditor of the same prefecture.
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