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Friday, March 7, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences who work, the Pope said in his address to them "in a field that is of great interest for the life of the Church".

  The Holy Father noted how during the pontificate of Leo XIII, "historiography was guided by the spirit of the times and hostile to the Church". Hence, that Pope "opened the archives of the Holy See to researchers ... in the conviction that the study and description of the true history of the Church could not but be favourable to her".

  Today "it is no longer just a question of tackling a historiography hostile to Christianity and to the Church", he went on. "Today it is historiography itself that is going through a serious crisis, having to fight for its very existence in a society ruled by positivism and materialism. These two ideologies have led to a boundless enthusiasm for progress which ... influences the view of life of large sectors of society. The past thus appears as a dark backdrop against which the present and future glitter with misleading promise".

  "Typical of this mentality is a lack of interest in history", said Benedict XVI, "which translates into the marginalisation of the historical sciences". This in turn leads to "a society which, heedless of its own past and hence lacking criteria acquired through experience, is no longer capable of harmonious coexistence or joint commitment in realising future aims. Such a society is particularly vulnerable to ideological manipulation.

  "This danger is becoming ever greater because of an excessive emphasis given to modern history", he added, "especially when research in this field is conditioned by a methodology which draws inspiration from positivism and sociology", ignoring "other important aspects of historical reality, even entire epochs".

  "Even when its does not specifically concern ecclesiastical history, historical analysis nonetheless contributes to describing the life context in which the Church has carried out and continues to carry out her mission. ... There can be no doubt that Church life and activity have always been determined (facilitated or made more difficult) by the various historical contexts. The Church is not of this world, but she lives in it and for it".


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received participants in a course on the "internal forum" organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  In his remarks, the Holy Father reflected on the administration of the Sacrament of Penance in our own day "which unfortunately", he said, "is losing the notion of sin. What is needed today is to ensure that people who confess experience that divine tenderness for penitent sinners which so many Gospel episodes express with intense emotion".

  Referring to the episode of the sinful woman in the Gospel of Luke, the Pope highlighted "the eloquent message that emerges from this Gospel passage: to those who love much God forgives everything. Those who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own 'I' and their hearts harden in sin. On the other hand, those who recognise themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and from Him obtain grace and forgiveness. ... What is most important is to make it clear that in the Sacrament of Penance - whatever the sin committed - if sinners recognise it humbly and entrust themselves to the priest confessor, they will always experience the soothing joy of God's forgiveness".

  Noting how there currently exists "a certain disaffection" with the Sacrament of Penance, the Pope indicated that "when we insist only on the accusation of sin (although this must exist, and it is necessary to help the faithful understand its importance), we run the risk of relegating to second place what is, in fact, essential, in other words the personal meeting with God, Father of goodness and mercy".

  Pastors, and especially confessors, must, said the Holy Father, "emphasise the close link between the Sacrament of Penance and an existence decisively oriented to conversion", so that "the grace of the Sacrament may support and nourish the commitment to be faithful disciples of the Lord".

  "If this incessant longing is lost", he concluded, "the celebration of this Sacrament unfortunately risks becoming a formality which does not penetrate the fabric of everyday life. On the other hand, if people (though animated by a desire to follow Jesus) do not confess regularly, little by little they risk slowing spiritual rhythm until it weakens and perhaps even stops".
AC/SACRAMENT PENANCE/...                    VIS 20080307 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, who subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions provided an opportunity to evoke the good relations that exist between the Catholic Church and the Grand Duchy and to examine a number of questions of mutual interest concerning the current situation of the country. Specific reference was made to the defence of human life and to the ongoing legislative process aimed at the liberalisation of euthanasia.

  "Attention also turned to the international situation, in particular to the future of Europe, to the Middle East and the presence of Christians, to conflicts in various parts of the world and to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue".
OP/AUDIENCE/LUXEMBOURG:JUNCKER            VIS 20080307 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of an address delivered by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, during the 62nd U.N. General Assembly which met on 11 and 12 February to consider the theme: "Addressing Climate Change: the United Nations and the World at Work".

  "The use of 'clean technologies'", said the archbishop speaking English, "is an important component of sustainable development. To help industrialising countries avoid the errors that others committed in the past, highly industrialised countries should share with the former their more advanced and cleaner technologies".

  "Moreover, markets must be encouraged to patronise 'green economics' and not to sustain demand for goods whose very production causes environmental degradation. Consumers must be aware that their consumption patterns have direct impact on the health of the environment".

  "Indeed, the challenge of climate change is at once individual, local, national and global. Accordingly, it urges a multilevel co-ordinated response, with mitigation and adaptation programmes simultaneously individual, local, national and global in their vision and scope. ... It demands a global alliance for the adoption of a co-ordinated international political strategy towards a healthy environment for all".
DELSS/CLIMATE CHANGE/U.N.:MIGLIORE            VIS 20080307 (210)


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales S.D.B. of Los Altos, Quetzaltenango-Totonicapan.

    - Bishop Rodlofo Francisco Bobadilla Mata C.M. of Huehuetenango.

    - Bishop Alvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos.

  This evening, he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20080307 (90)

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