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Monday, March 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy See and the Principality of Andorra signed an agreement that "further consolidates the traditional ties of collaboration that exist between the two parties", according to a communique made public today.

  The note recalls that Andorra "has always maintained a special relationship with the Catholic Church" and that "in 1993 the principality adopted a Constitution that maintains the system of co-principality dating back to 1278. ... The co-princes - who are the bishop of Urgell and the president of the French Republic - together and indivisibly perform the functions of head of State".

  The agreement is made up of a preamble and 16 articles divided into six parts that cover the following subjects: the bishop of Urgell, the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Andorra, canonical marriage, the teaching of religions in schools, the economic system of the Catholic Church in Andorra.

  For the Holy See, the document was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and for Andorra by Albert Pintat, head of government. The agreement will come into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification.


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Th Holy See Press Office today published the programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to the United States of America, including his visit to the headquarters of the United Nations, due to take place from 15 to 21 April.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at midday on Tuesday 15 April and land at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington at 4 p.m. local time, where he will be greeted by U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife.

  The welcome ceremony will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday 16 April, after which the Pope will make a courtesy visit to the U.S. president at the White House. That afternoon he will preside at the celebration of Vespers and hold a meeting with U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

  Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on Thursday 17 April in the Nationals Stadium in Washington. At 5 p.m. on the same day he will participate in a meeting with representatives from Catholic universities at the Catholic University of America, also in Washington, then meet with representatives of other religions in the city's Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre.

  On the morning of Friday 18 April, the Holy Father will travel from Washington to New York where, at 10.45 a.m., he is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. That evening he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting at the church of St. Joseph in New York.

  At 9.15 a.m. on Saturday, 19 April, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with priests and religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will then lunch with bishops of the archdiocese of New York and, at 4.30 p.m., preside at a meeting with young people and seminarians at the seminary of St. Joseph.

  On Sunday 20 April, Benedict XVI is to visit "Ground zero" where he will pray for the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001. At 2.30 p.m. he will celebrate Mass at New York's Yankee Stadium.

  The departure ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on the same day, at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport. The papal plane is due to land at the Roman airport of Ciampino at 10.45 a.m. local time on Monday 21 April.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, the Pope presided at a Mass for the soul of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who died in tragic circumstances following his kidnapping on 29 February.

  The Pope spoke of his closeness to the members of the "beloved Church which suffers, believes and prays in Iraq" and expressed the hope that "in the faith they may find the strength not to lose heart in the difficult situation they are experiencing".

  The Holy Father then went on to recall the liturgy of Holy Week which presents the last days of Jesus' earthly life. "Those hours", he said, were marked by a clear "contrast between truth and lies, between the mildness and rectitude of Christ and the violence and dishonesty of His enemies". The Lord "felt the approach of His violent death, He felt the net of His persecutors tightening around Him, ... the anguish and fear, up to the crucial moment in Gethsemane". But Christ "experienced all this immersed in communion with the Father and comforted by the 'anointing' of the Holy Spirit".

  The Pope mentioned today's Gospel reading on the anointing of Christ in Bethany, then enumerated Archbishop Rahho's own "anointings" during his life, from Baptism and Confirmation to his Ordination as a priest and then bishop. "But I am also thinking", he went on, "of the many 'anointings' of filial affection and spiritual friendship ... which his faithful gave him and which accompanied him in the terrible hours of his kidnapping and his painful detention (where perhaps he was already wounded when he arrived), and even unto his agony, his death and that unworthy grave where his mortal remains were found.

  "Those sacramental and spiritual anointings were a guarantee of resurrection, a guarantee of the true and full life that the Lord Jesus came to give us", he added.

  Benedict XVI also remarked on the reading from the Prophet Isaiah on the Servant of the Lord who will bring, proclaim and establish justice. "The insistence on this term", said the Pope, "cannot pass unobserved". The Servant "faced with an unjust condemnation bears witness to the truth, remaining faithful to the law of love".

  The Holy Father went on: "On this path, Archbishop Rahho took up his cross and followed the Lord Jesus, thus he contributed to bringing justice to his martyred country and to the whole world, bearing witness to the truth. He was a man of peace and dialogue ... with a particular fondness for the poor and the disabled. ... May his example sustain all Iraqis of good will, Christians and Muslims, to build peaceful coexistence founded on human fraternity and mutual respect".

  He concluded: "Over these days, in profound union with the Chaldean community in Iraq and abroad, we have wept his death and the inhuman way in which he was compelled to end his earthly life. But today in this Eucharist ... we wish to give thanks to God for all the good He achieved in Archbishop Rahho. ... At the same time, we hope that, from heaven, he may intercede with the Lord to obtain for the faithful in that sorely-tried land the courage to continue to work for a better future".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Following this morning's solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday, the Pope prayed the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  "At the end of this solemn celebration during which we have meditated upon the Passion of Christ", said the Holy Father, "I wish recall the lamented Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mossul of the Chaldeans, Iraq, who died so tragically a few days ago. His beautiful witness of faithfulness to Christ, to the Church, and to his people whom he chose never to abandon despite numerous threats, compel me to raise a strong and heartfelt cry: stop the massacres, stop the violence, stop the hatred in Iraq! At the same time I make an appeal to the Iraqi people who for five years have been suffering the consequences of a war that has provoked the breakdown of civil and social life: Dear Iraqi people, raise your heads and yourselves become the primary rebuilders of your national life! May reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and respect for civil coexistence among tribes and ethnic and religious groups be the solidary path to peace in God's name!"

  Finally, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to young people gathered in St. Peter's Square and invited them to participate in the forthcoming World Youth Day, which will be held in Sydney, Australia, from 15 to 20 July.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2008 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 9.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at a solemn liturgical celebration for Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. The Pope blessed the palms and the olives, then walked in procession with cardinals, bishops and 270 young people from the obelisk in the square to the altar where he celebrated the Eucharist.

  The Eucharistic liturgy was attended by 50,000 pilgrims, most of them young people from Rome and other dioceses currently celebrating 23rd diocesan World Youth Day (WYD) which has as its theme this year: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses". Diocesan WYD is a prelude to international WYD, due to be held in Sydney, Australia, from 15 to 20 July.

  In his homily, the Holy Father commented on today's Gospel reading concerning Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His arrival at the Temple to find it full of traders, animals and money changers "who occupied the place of prayer with their stalls".

  "This must also make us, as Christians, think today", said the Holy Father. "Is our faith open and pure enough, so that on the basis of that faith even 'pagans' - people who are currently searching and posing questions - may see the light of the one God, come together in the atria of faith to join our prayer and, perhaps, become worshippers themselves?

  "Does," the Holy Father added, "an awareness that greed is idolatry penetrate to our hearts and our way of life? Do we not in various ways actually let idols enter even the world of our faith? Are we ready to let ourselves be purified anew by the Lord, allowing Him to remove from us and from the Church everything that is contrary to Him?"

  "In the place of cruel sacrifices and offers of food, comes the body of Christ", said Pope Benedict. "He Himself comes to replace them. Only 'endless love', only the love which, for man, gives itself totally to God, is true worship and true sacrifice".

  "Against the trade in animals and the exchange of money, Christ places His own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the Temple. He does not come as destroyer, He does not come with the revolutionary's sword, He comes with the gift of healing".

  Christ "dedicates Himself to those who, through their infirmity, are forced to the extremes of life and to the margins of society. Jesus reveals God as the One Who loves, and His power as the power of love. And thus He informs us what will always remain part of the true worship of God: healing, service, curative goodness".

  The Pope went on to recall the children who acclaimed Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and said: "He, Who embraces the world entire, made Himself small to meet us, to direct our steps towards God".

  He went on: "To recognise God we must abandon the pride that blinds us, that pushes us away from God as if He were our competitor. To meet God we must become capable of seeing with the heart. We must learn to see with a young heart that is not encumbered by prejudice or obscured by interests".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by encouraging those present to join "the procession of young people of that time, a procession that crosses all of history. Together with the youth of the whole world let us go and meet Jesus. Let us be guided by Him towards God, to learn from God Himself the right way to be human".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Martin Pablo Perez Scremini, auxiliary of Montevideo, Uruguay, as bishop of Florida (area 22,6000, population 124,100, Catholics 91,300, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 80), Uruguay. He succeeds Bishop Raul Horacio Scarrone Carrero, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Charles Edward Tamba of the clergy of Kenema, Sierra Leone, rector of St. Paul's Major Seminary in Freetown, as archbishop of Freetown and Bo (area 20,251, population 1,396,494, Catholics 80,000, priests 59, religious 29), Sierra Leone. The archbishop-elect was born in Kainkordu, Sierra Leone in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Appointed Fr. Henry D'Souza, executive secretary of the media office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, as bishop of Bellary (area 24,973, population 4,590,000, Catholics 26,328, priests 79, religious 317), India. The bishop-elect was born in Kinnigoly, India in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1976.

 - Appointed Archbishop Mario Giordana, apostolic nuncio to Haiti, as apostolic nuncio to Slovakia.

 - Appointed Msgrs. Jorge Raigosa Alzate and James Anthony McDaid, officials at the Congregation for the Clergy, as bureau chiefs at the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

 - Fr. Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, superior general of the Legion of Christ.

 - Mario Morcone, extraordinary prefect commissioner for the local authorities of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in private audience Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee: Caterina), Italian foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1847-1903).

 - Servant of God Francesco Pianzola, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace (1881-1943).

 - Servant of God Jose Olallo Valdes, Cuban professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God (1820-1889).


 - Servant of God Aurelio Bacciarini, Swiss bishop, apostolic administrator of Lugano (1873-1935).

 - Servant of God Michael McGivney, American diocesan priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus (1852-1890).

 - Servant of God Joaquim Alves Bras, Portuguese diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of Co-operators of the Family (1899-1966).

 - Servant of God Giocondo Pio Lorgna, Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Dominican Sisters of Blessed Imelda (1870-1928).

 - Servant of God Michelangelo Longo da Marigliano (ne: Michelangelo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1811-1886).

 - Servant of God Mariano Roasenda da Torino (ne: Paolo), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1906-1972).

 - Servant of God Francisco de la Pasion Gondra Muruaga (ne: Victoriano), Spanish professed priest of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (1910-1974).

 - Servant of God Clemente Vismara, Italian priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (1897-1988).

 - Servant of God Gemma Giannni (nee: Eufemia), Italian foundress of the Missionary Congregation of Sisters of St. Gemma Galgani (1884-1971).

 - Servant of God Tarsilla del Crocefisso Osti (nee: Tarsilla), Italian professed religious of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1895-1958).

 - Servant of God Leopoldo Sanchez Marquez de Alpandeire (ne: Francisco Tomas), Spanish professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1864-1956).

 - Servant of God Serafino Riminucci da Pietrarubbia (ne: Pietro), Italian professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1875-1960).

 - Servant of God Margarita Amengual Campaner, Spanish laywoman (1888-1919).

 - Servant of God Luigia Mazzotta, Italian laywoman (1900-1922).
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Miltiadis Hiskakis, the new ambassador of Greece to the Holy See.

  In his English-language address to the diplomat, the Pope recalled the "valiant efforts" made by the recently deceased Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and all Greece, "to mend the breach between Christians in the East and West". He also gave assurances of his constant prayers for the "fruitful ministry and good health" of Christodoulos' successor, His Beatitude Ieronymos.

  After reiterating his "eagerness to work together as we travel the road towards Christian unity", the Holy Father recalled that "honesty and trust will be required from all parties if the important questions raised by this dialogue are to continue to be addressed effectively".

  Referring to the forthcoming Jubilee Year marking the bi-millennial anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, the Pope indicated that it "will be a particularly auspicious occasion to intensify our ecumenical endeavours. ... This brilliant 'Apostle to the Gentiles' dedicated his energies to preaching the wisdom of the cross of Christ amidst the people of Greece, who were formed by the highly sophisticated Hellenistic culture".

  "The vibrant exchange between Hellenistic culture and Christianity allowed the former to be transformed by Christian teaching and the latter to be enriched by Greek language and philosophy. ... Even today, visitors to Athens can contemplate Paul's words - now etched on the monument overlooking the Areopagus - which he proclaimed to the learned citizens of the 'polis'. He spoke of the one God in whom 'we live and move and have our being'".

  St. Paul's words, said Pope Benedict, "still resound in the hearts of men and women today. They can help our contemporaries to appreciate more deeply their human dignity, and thus promote the good of the entire human family. It is my hope that the Pauline Year will become a catalyst that will spark reflection upon the history of Europe and stir its inhabitants to rediscover the inestimable treasure of values they have inherited from the integral wisdom of Hellenistic culture and the Gospel".

  Benedict XVI went on to thank the ambassador "for the assurance of your government's resolve to address administrative issues concerning the Catholic Church in your nation. Among these, the question of its juridical status is of particular significance. The Catholic faithful, though few in number, look forward to the favourable results of these deliberations. Indeed, when religious leaders and civil authorities work together to formulate fair legislation in regard to the life of local ecclesial communities, the spiritual welfare of the faithful and the good of all society are enhanced".

  Turning to consider the international arena, the Pope commended "Greece's efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, especially in the surrounding area of the Mediterranean basin".

  In conclusion the Pope recalled "the devastation caused by the wildfires that raged through Greece last summer. I continue to remember in my prayers those who were affected by this disaster", he said.
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