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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Monday, March 31, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Three prelates from the Antilles Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Robert Rivas O.P. of Castries, St. Lucia, apostolic administrator of Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    - Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica, apostolic administrator of Saint John's-Basseterre, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

    - Bishop Vincent Darius O.P. of Saint George's in Grenada, Grenada.

 - Nurlan Danenov, ambassador of Kazakhstan, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the 26th General Chapter of the Salesian Society of Don John Bosco which is, he told them, taking place "in a period of great social, economic and political changes", of "more intense communication among peoples", and of "lively debate on the spiritual values that give meaning to existence".

  In this context, the Pope particularly highlighted how "the appeals addressed to us by young people, especially their questions on fundamental problems, indicate the intense desire they nourish for full life, authentic love and constructive freedom. These are situations which cry out to the very heart of the Church and her capacity to announce Christ's Gospel today".

  He then went on to remark on the theme chosen for the general chapter, "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle", indicating that "its aim is to reawaken apostolic passion in each individual Salesian and in the entire congregation. This will help better to define the profile of Salesians, that they may become more aware of their identity as people consecrated 'for the glory of God'" and "of their pastoral commitment 'to the salvation of souls'.

  "Don Bosco", the Holy Father added, "wished the continuity of his charism in the Church to be guaranteed by the choice of consecrated life. Today too the Salesian movement can grow in charismatic faithfulness only if it continues to maintain a strong and vibrant nucleus of consecrated people".

  "The entire congregation must constantly strive to be 'a living memorial of Jesus' way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brethren'. ... May Christ be the focus of your lives! ... It is here that ardent love for the Lord Jesus is born, the aspiration to become one with Him, adopting His feelings and way of life: faithful abandonment to the Father and dedication to the evangelising mission which must characterise all Salesians".

  Benedict XVI then went on to consider "the process of secularisation which is gaining ground in modern culture" and which "unfortunately does not even spare communities of consecrated life. Hence it is necessary to be cautious with lifestyles that risk abating evangelical witness, rendering pastoral activity ineffective and weakening the vocational response".

  The Pope called on the participants in the chapter to help their companions "in protecting and reviving their faithfulness to the call. ... May the Word of God and the liturgy be sources of Salesian spirituality! And especially, may 'lectio divina' practised daily by each Salesian, and the Eucharist celebrated in the community every day, provide nourishment and support".

  The Pope encouraged the Salesians "to form lay people with apostolic hearts, inviting everyone to proceed in that sanctity of life which creates courageous disciples and true apostles".

  Referring then to his recent Letter to the faithful of the diocese of Rome concerning the "great educational emergency", the Holy Father pointed out that "the most serious aspect of the emergency is the sense of discouragement afflicting many educators, in particular parents and teachers, in the face of the difficulties of their role today".

  In this context, he indicated that "at the roots of the crisis in education is a crisis of trust in life which, in the final analysis, is a lack of trust in God Who called us to life.

  "In the education of the young it is extremely important that the family should play an active role", the Pope added. "So often it is either unable to make its specific contribution, or it is absent. The predilection for and commitment to young people, so characteristic of Don Bosco's charism, must be translated into a like commitment to the involvement and formation of families. ... To care for families is not to subtract force from efforts on behalf of the young, rather it makes those efforts more lasting and effective. I encourage you, then, to study ways to implement this commitment. ... This will be an advantage in the education and evangelisation of the young".

  The Holy Father concluded by underlining the need for "solid formation" for all members of the congregation, "not resting content with mediocre results, overcoming the difficulties of vocational fragility, favouring strong spiritual accompaniment and guaranteeing, through permanent formation, educational and pastoral excellence".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2008 (VIS) - Today at midday the Pope prayed the Regina Coeli with thousands of pilgrims gathered at his Castelgandolfo residence, where he is currently spending a few days rest. Faithful in St. Peter's Square were able to follow the event through a television linkup The Pope is due to return to the Vatican this evening.

  In opening remarks, the Holy Father recalled how during the Jubilee Year 2000 "Servant of God John Paul II ordained that throughout the Church the Sunday after Easter, apart from being 'in Albis' Sunday, should also be called Divine Mercy Sunday. The pronouncement coincided with the canonisation of Faustina Kowalska, a humble Polish nun, who was born in 1905, died in 1938, and was a zealous messenger of the Merciful Jesus.

  "Mercy", the Pope added, "is the central nucleus of the evangelical message. ... Merciful love also illuminates the face of the Church and shows itself both through the Sacraments - especially the Sacrament of Penance - and through works of charity. ... From divine mercy, which brings peace to hearts, arises authentic peace for the world, peace between peoples, and among various cultures and religions".

  He proceeded: "Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II was also an apostle of Divine Mercy. That unforgettable Saturday 2 April 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, was the eve of the second Sunday of Easter. And many people remarked upon the singular coincidence which brought together two dimensions: the Marian (the first Saturday of the month), and that of Divine Mercy".

  "It is here" said Benedict XVI, that John Paul II's "long and multifaceted pontificate has its central core; his entire mission at the service of the truth about God and man and of peace in the world is summed up in this statement he himself pronounced at Krakow-Lagiewniki in 2002, inaugurating the great Shrine of Divine Mercy: 'Apart from God's mercy there is no other source of hope for human beings'. His message, then, like that of St. Faustina, leads us back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God's mercy. Constantly contemplating that face is the legacy he left us and that we joyfully accept and make our own".

  The Pope then recalled that the First World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy will be held in Rome next week, to be inaugurated with a Mass in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday 2 April, the third anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

  "We place the congress under the celestial protection of Most Holy Mary 'Mater Misericordiae'. To her we entrust the great cause of peace in the world, that God's mercy may achieve that which is impossible for merely human efforts, and infuse hearts with the courage for dialogue and reconciliation".

  Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father greeted the numerous pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, especially those who had participated in that morning's Mass for the Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. "May the intercession of St. Faustina and of Servant of God John Paul II help you to be true witnesses of merciful love", said Pope Benedict. "As an example to follow, I wish to indicate Mother Celestina Donati, foundress of the Congregation of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph Calasanzio, who will be proclaimed a Blessed in Florence today".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Elevated the diocese of Lille (area 2,288, population 1,580,000, Catholics 1,070,000, priests 577, permanent deacons 61, religious 935), France, to the status of metropolitan church, assigning it as suffragans the archdiocese of Cambrai (former metropolitan see) and the diocese of Arras. He appointed Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Chambery, France, as the first metropolitan archbishop of the new metropolitan church.

 - Appointed Fr. Petro Herkulan Malchuk O.F.M., bursar of the Ukrainian province of the Order of Friars Minor, as auxiliary of Odessa-Simferopol of the Latins (area 113,363, population 10,100,000, Catholics 18,000, priests 37, religious 50), Ukraine. The bishop-elect was born in Sloboda Rashkiv, Moldova in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1992.

 - Appointed Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the apparition of the "Vierge des Pauvres", due to take place at the shrine of Banneux, Belgium on 31 May.

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