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Monday, March 3, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late yesterday afternoon:

  "The Holy Father Benedict XVI was immediately informed of the kidnapping of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, which took place yesterday afternoon during an attack in which the prelate's two bodyguards and his driver were killed. Archbishop Rahho had just completed the Way of the Cross, a religious rite which the faithful in Iraq hold very dear. This suggests that the criminal action was premeditated.

  "Saddened by this latest deplorable act, which is a powerful blow to the whole Church in the country and especially the Chaldean Church, the Pope feels close to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, and to the entire sorely-tired Christian community, as well as to the relatives of the victims. The Supreme Pontiff invites the Universal Church to join his fervent prayer that reason and humanity may prevail in the perpetrators of the kidnapping and that Archbishop Rahho may be returned as soon as possible to his flock. He also renews his hope that the Iraqi people rediscover the path to reconciliation and peace".

  For his part Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who is currently visiting Amman, Jordan, has made an urgent appeal for the immediate release of the Iraqi prelate.

  During a Eucharistic celebration held on 29 February in the Church of St. Mary of Nazareth in the Latin Vicariate of the Jordanian capital, the cardinal expressed his own closeness to and solidarity with the Catholic community in Iraq.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2008 (VIS) - During the ordinary public consistory held this morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI declared that the following Blesseds will be canonised in a ceremony to be held on Sunday 12 October: Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler (nee Verena), Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception (nee: Anna Muttathupandathu), and Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran.

  A number of cardinals then expressed to the Pope their desire to pass from the order of deacons to the order of priests. The College of Cardinals is divided into three orders: of bishops, of priests and of deacons. Cardinals in the order of bishops are each assigned one of the seven suburbicarian churches or suffragan dioceses (Ostia, Albano, Frascati, Palestrina, Porto-Santa Rufina, Sabina-Poggio Mirteto, Velletri); cardinal patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches are also members of the order of bishops. Cardinals of the order of priests receive a title or church within the city of Rome; the order of priests includes cardinal diocesan archbishops and bishops, as well as others. The order of deacons includes cardinals who are not diocesan bishops.

  At the request of Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, the diaconate of San Saba has been elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title and assigned to the same cardinal.

  At the request of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the diaconate of the Most Holy Name of Mary at the Forum of Trajan has been elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title and assigned to the same cardinal.

  At the request of Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti, the diaconate of St. Agnes in Agone has been elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title and assigned to the same cardinal.

  At his request, Cardinal James Francis Stafford has relinquished the diaconate of Jesus the Good Shepherd at Montagnola and been assigned the presbyteral title of San Pietro in Montorio.

  At the request of Cardinal Giovanni Cheli, the diaconate of Sts. Cosmas and Damian has been elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title and assigned to the same cardinal.

  Finally, in the wake of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos' move to the order of priests, the Holy Father confirmed Cardinal Agostino Caccavillan, deacon of Holy Guardian Angels at Citta Giardino, in the office of proto-deacon.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2008 (VIS) - A prayer vigil was held in the Paul VI Hall at 5 p.m. today for the occasion of the sixth European Day for Universities. The initiative has been being promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities on the theme: "Europe and the Americas together to build a civilisation of love".

  During the gathering there were satellite linkups with university students in the cities of 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 6 p.m. the Holy Father arrived to pray the Rosary. He then extended greetings in various languages, both to the young people present in the Paul VI Hall and to those following events from the European and American cities.

  "Christianity", said the Pope, "is a profound and powerful link between the so-called old continent and what has been called the 'new world'". In this context he recalled "the fundamental position that Holy Scripture and Christian liturgy occupy in the culture and art of European and American peoples.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "so-called 'western civilisation' has also partly betrayed its Gospel inspiration. What is needed, then, is an honest and sincere reflection, an examination of conscience. It is necessary to discern between what serves to build the 'civilisation of love' according to the design that God revealed in Jesus Christ, and what runs counter to it".

  Addressing young Europeans and Americans, Benedict XVI said: "God calls you to co-operate, alongside your peers all over the world, so that the lifeblood of the Gospel may renew the civilisation of these two continents and of humanity entire.

  "The great European and American cities are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, but they often lack this lifeblood, which is capable of ensuring that differences do not become the cause of division and conflict but of mutual enrichment.

  "The civilisation of love", said the Pope, "is 'conviviality', in other words a respectful and peaceful coexistence that finds joy in its differences in the name of a shared vision which the Blessed Pope John XXIII founded on the four columns of love, truth, freedom and justice".

  He went on: "This, dear friends, is the duty I consign to you today: be disciples of and witnesses to the Gospel, because the Gospel is the good seed of the Kingdom of God, in other words the civilisation of love! Be builders of peace and of unity!"

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by identifying one "sign of this Catholic unity" in the initiative of giving each of the students present a CD copy of his recent Encyclical "Spe salvi" in five languages.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, presented by Archbishop Francois Marie-Wolff Ligonde, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot, apostolic administrator "sede plena" of the same archdiocese.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Port-de-Paix, Haiti, presented by Bishop Frantz Colimon S.M.M., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Pierre-Antoine Paulo O.M.I.

- Appointed Bishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Hinche, Haiti, as metropolitan archbishop of Cap-Haitien (area 2,200, population 1,463,520, Catholics 778,110, priests 72, religious 135), Haiti. The archbishop-elect was born in Jeremie, Haiti in 1938, he was ordained a priest in 1974 and consecrated a bishop in 1987. He succeeds Archbishop Hubert Constant O.M.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Leon Kalenga Badikebele, nunciature counsellor in the apostolic nunciature to Japan, as apostolic nuncio to Ghana, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Kamina, Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1982.

 - Appointed Daniele Dalvai as counsellor of Vatican City State.

 - Appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the New Christian Millennium in Ethiopia, due to be held in Addis Ababa from 2 to 4 May on the occasion of the Ethiopian National Eucharistic Congress.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

  The Sunday liturgies of Lent, the Pope remarked "take us on a true Baptismal journey". If last Sunday Jesus promised the Samaritan woman the gift of "living water", today with the healing of the blind man He shows Himself as "light of the world" and next Sunday, with the raising of Lazarus, as "the resurrection and the life".

  He continued: "Water, light and life are symbols of Baptism, the Sacrament that 'immerses' believers in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, freeing them from the slavery of sin and giving them eternal life".

  The Pope noted how in today's Gospel reading the disciples, in keeping with the mentality of the time, believe the man is blind as a consequence of his sins or those of his parents, but "Jesus rejects this prejudice" and His words enable us to hear "the living voice of God, which is wise and providential Love".

  The Holy Father explained: "Faced with a man debilitated by his limitations and his suffering, Jesus does not think of any possible sins but of the will of God Who created the man for life. ... He enters into immediate action: mixing dust with His own saliva to make mud which He spreads over the blind man's eyes. This gesture alludes to the creation of man, which the Bible recounts with the symbol of dust moulded and animated with the breath of God".

  "In healing man, Jesus achieves a new creation. But that episode of healing gives rise to animated discussion because Jesus performs it on the Sabbath and thus, according to the Pharisees, breaks the precept of the feast day. Thus, at the end of the narrative, Jesus and the blind man both find themselves 'driven out' by the Pharisees: the One because He violated the law, the other because, despite the cure, he was still branded as a sinner since birth".

  "To the blind man Jesus reveals that He has come into the world for judgement, to separate the curable blind from those who will not let themselves be healed because they believe they are healthy. Indeed, in man there is a strong temptation to build a system of ideological security, even religion itself can become an element of this system, as can atheism or laicism, but by doing so he remains blinded by his own selfishness".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "Let us allow ourselves to be healed by Jesus Who can and wants to give us the light of God! Let us confess our blindness, our short-sightedness and, especially, what the Bible calls the 'great sin': pride".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for the release of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who was kidnapped last Friday.

  "I join the appeal made by the patriarch, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, and his collaborators", said the Pope, "that the beloved prelate, who is also in delicate health, may be promptly released. At the same time I raise a pray for the souls of the three young men who were with him at the moment of his kidnapping and were killed. Furthermore, I express my closeness to all the Church in Iraq and in particular to the Chaldean Church, which has suffered another serious blow, as I encourage pastors and faithful to remain strong and firm in hope. May those who control the destiny of the beloved people of Iraq increase their efforts ... to ensure that [Iraqis] may rediscover peace and security and not be denied the future to which they have the right".

  The Pope then went on to recall how over the last few days "tension between Israel and the Gaza Strip has reached very serious levels.

  "I renew my urgent appeal to the authorities, both Israeli and Palestinian, to stop this spiral of violence, unilaterally and unconditionally. Only by showing absolute respect for human life, even that of the enemy, can we hope to give a future of peace and coexistence to the young generations of those peoples who both have their roots in that Holy Land. I invite the entire Church to raise prayers to the Almighty for peace in the land of Jesus and to show attentive and effective solidarity to both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian".

  Finally, the Holy Father referred to the recent discovery of the corpses of two young Italian brothers who disappeared from their home more than a year ago. "A very sad end", he said, "that affected me deeply as it did many people. I wish to take this opportunity to launch a cry in support of childhood: Let us look after our little ones! We must love them and help them to grow. I say this to parents, but also to institutions. In launching this appeal, my thoughts go to children all over the world, and especially to the most defenceless, exploited and abused. I entrust each child to the heart of Jesus Who said: 'Let the little children come to me'".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released a communique announcing that Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has postponed his visit to Armenia, which was scheduled to have taken place from 2 to 6 March.

  "Considering the situation that has arisen in Armenia following protests there and the state of emergency declared by the government, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., secretary of State, will not travel to Yerevan today as had been planned.

  "The visit, still not cancelled, may take place over coming days with a different programme. His visit to Azerbaijan remains unchanged".


VATICAN CITY, 3 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, rector major of the Salesians, and to participants in the 26th general chapter of the congregation which begins today in Rome.

  In his Message, dated 1 March, the Holy Father writes that the theme chosen for this general chapter - "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle" (Give me souls, take away all else) - expresses "that same programme of spiritual and apostolic life which Don Bosco made his own".

  "It is vitally important for the Salesians to draw continual inspiration from Don Bosco, to know him, study him, love him, imitate him, invoke him and make their own that apostolic passion which flows from the heart of Christ".

  The theme to be studied over coming days "expresses in synthesis the mysticism and asceticism of Salesians" writes the Pope, indicating that "it is necessary to overcome the dispersive effects of activism and to cultivate the unity of spiritual life by acquiring a profound mysticism and a solid asceticism. This nourishes apostolic commitment and is a guarantee of effectiveness in pastoral activity. It is in this that each Salesian's path to sanctity must consist, and on this that the formation of new vocations to Salesian consecrated life must concentrate".

  The Holy Father expresses the view that "evangelisation must be the principal and priority frontier" in the Salesian mission. "In pluri-religious settings and in secularised ones, it is necessary to find new ways to make the figure of Jesus known, especially to the young, so they may become aware of His perennial attraction".

  "It is important to help young people to turn their interior resources to account as dynamism and positive desire; to bring them into contact with ideas rich in humanity and evangelical values; to encourage them to become active members of society through work and participation in the common good".

  Benedict XVI thanks the congregation "for the research and educational activities of the Pontifical Salesian University". Going on to refer to the "educational emergency" that exists in many parts of the world, he writes: "The Church needs the contribution of scholars to study the methodology of educational and formative processes, the evangelisation of the young and their moral education, together finding answers to the challenges of post-modernity and inter-culturality, and of social communications, while at the same time seeking to come to the help of families".

  In this context, the Pope affirms that "education is one of the key points of the modern anthropological problem, to the solution of which I am sure that the Pontifical Salesian University will not fail to make a precious contribution".

  At the end of the Message, Benedict XVUI recalls that 2015 will mark the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco, and expresses the hope that the anniversary may stimulate Salesians "to be ever more 'credible signs of God's love for the young', and to ensure that the young truly do become the hope of the Church and society".


VATICAN CITY, 3 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president of the Italian Episcopal conference.

 - Eight prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, archbishop of Guatemala, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Jose Ramiro Pellecer Samayoa, Mario Enrique Rios Mont C.M., Gustavo Rodolfo Mendoza Hernandez, and Raul Antonio Martinez Paredes.

    - Bishop Victor Hugo Palma Paul of Escuintla.

    - Bishop Julio Edgar Cabrera Ovalle of Jalapa en Guatemala.

    - Bishop Bernanbe de Jesus Sagastume Lemus O.F.M. Cap. of Santa Rosa de Lima.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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