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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed

 - Fr. Guido Zendron of the clergy of the archdiocese of Trento, Italy, "fidei donum" priest of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, as bishop of Paulo Afonso (area 28,328, population 359,000, Catholics 264,000, priests 29, religious 43), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Lisignago, Italy in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1978.

 - Fr. Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.Ss.R., bureau chief at the Congregation for the Clergy, as bishop of Garanhuns (area 8,734, population 612,000, Catholics 551,000, priests 41, religious 123), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Recife, Brazil, in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Prior to this morning's general audience, which was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received a large group of Italian students in the Vatican Basilica.

  "Schools today", the Pope told them, "face significant challenges in the field of educating new generations. For this reason, schools cannot just be places for imparting ideas but are called to offer pupils the opportunity to fathom cultural, social, ethical and religious messages.

  "Teachers", he added, "cannot fail to perceive the moral dimension of all human knowledge, because man knows in order to act and action is the fruit of his knowledge. In modern society which is marked by profound changes, you, dear young people who wish to follow Christ, must take care to update your spiritual formation, seeking an ever greater understanding of the contents of faith. Thus you will be able to respond without hesitation to those who ask you the reasons for your adherence to the Lord".

  The Holy Father then moved on to the Paul VI Hall where thousands of faithful from all over the world were awaiting his arrival. He dedicated his catechesis today to two early Christian writers: Boethius and Cassiodorus.

  Benedict XVI recalled how Boethius was born to a noble family in Rome in the year 480, and became a senator at the age of 25. "Despite his dedication to public life he did not neglect his studies", said the Pope, "dedicating himself in particular to a profound examination of philosophical-religious themes. In this field ... he used the categories of Greek philosophy to present the Christian faith, investigating the possibility of a synthesis between the Hellenistic-Roman legacy and the evangelical message. Precisely for this reason, Boethius has been called the last great representative of ancient Roman culture and the first of the mediaeval intellectuals.

  "His best-known work is the 'De consolatione philosophiae', which he wrote to give a meaning to his unjust imprisonment. In fact, having defended his friend the senator Albinus, who was on trial, Boethius was accused of plotting against King Theodoric. ... Tried and condemned to death, he was executed on 23 October 524.

  "Precisely because of his dramatic end" said the Pope, Boethius can, "from within his own experience, also speak to modern man, and above all to the vast numbers of people who suffer his same fate as a result of the injustice that exists in such a large part of 'human justice'".

  "For Boethius philosophy is the true medicine of the soul, he says that man can experience true happiness only in his own interior. And in any case God remains the supreme good towards which all human beings tend, even without knowing it".

  Returning to consider Boethius' time as a prisoner, the Pope defined as "particularly absurd" the situation of people who, like the philosopher, suffer torture and death "for no other reason than that of their political and religious ideals. Boethius, symbol of the vast numbers of people unjustly imprisoned in all times and all places is, in fact, a means of access to the contemplation of the ... Crucified Christ of Golgotha".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, a Calabrian who was born in 485 and died around 580. He was "a contemporary of Boethius" and "a man of high social standing who dedicated himself to political and cultural life like few others in the Western Roman world of his time".

  With the intention of "recovering, conserving and handing down the immense cultural patrimony of the ancients" Cassiodorus "founded 'Vivarium', a monastic community organised in such a way that the intellectual life of the monks was seen as precious and indispensable" yet without neglecting "the monastic and Christian commitment to spiritual values and to charitable activity among the poor".

  In Cassiodorus' teachings, said the Pope, "especially in the treatise 'De anima' and in 'Institutiones divinarum litterarum', prayer ... has a central position as a form of nourishment necessary for everyone. ... The search for God with the aim of contemplating Him - says Cassiodorus - remains the permanent objective of monastic life. He adds, however, that with the help of divine grace, it is possible to draw greater benefit from the revealed Word by using scientific advancements and the 'profane' tools of culture".

  "We", the Pope concluded, "live in a time of meeting between cultures, of the danger of violence that destroys cultures, and of the necessary commitment to transmit the great values and to teach new generations the path to reconciliation and peace. We find this path by turning to the God with a human face, the God Who revealed Himself to us in Christ".
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