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Monday, April 21, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 21 APR 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence for the death of Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. The cardinal died in Rome on Saturday 19 April at the age of 72.

  In his telegram, addressed to the late cardinal's brother Anibal, the Holy Father writes:

  "Having received the sad news of the death of the beloved Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to you, to your brothers Flavio and Asdrubal, and to all your relatives. I feel close to all of you at this painful time, and I ask God, by the intercession of Our Lady of Chiquinquira, to grant eternal repose to this tireless pastor, so generously committed to the service of the Church and of the Gospel of life.

  "His wide-ranging ministerial work - as priest and auxiliary bishop of Bogota, as archbishop of Medellin, secretary and president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and, finally, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family - is clear evidence of his profound love for the Church and his dedication to the noble cause of promoting marriage and the Christian family.

  "At this time, I am pleased to grant you a comforting Apostolic Blessing, which I happily extend to all those who helped him, and to the bishops, priests, religious communities and faithful who accompanied him closely with their friendship and collaboration".

  At the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica at 11 a.m. on Wednesday 23 April, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate Mass with other members of the college.

  The Pope will then preside at the funeral liturgy, pronounce the homily, and administer the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio".
TGR/DEATH LOPEZ TRUJILLO/...                VIS 20080421 (330)


VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. local time today, the Pope arrived at New York's John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport at the end of his visit to the United States. The farewell ceremony was held in the presence of political and civil authorities; U.S. cardinals; the president, vice-president and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and 5,000 faithful from the diocese of Brooklyn where the airport is located, led by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.

  Following a greeting pronounced by U. S. Vice-President Richard B. Cheney, the Pope delivered the final address of his trip.

  The Holy Father spoke of his "deep appreciation" for the welcome he had received, thanking U.S. President Bush "for kindly coming to greet me at the start of my visit, and ... Vice-President Cheney for his presence here as I depart".

  "Once again I offer prayerful good wishes to the representatives of the see of Baltimore, the first archdiocese, and those of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, in this jubilee year".

  To his brother bishops and to "the officers and staff of the episcopal conference who have contributed in so many ways to the preparation of this visit", the Pope extended his "renewed gratitude for their hard work and dedication. With great affection I greet once more the priests and religious, the deacons, the seminarians and young people, and all the faithful in the United States, and I encourage you to continue bearing joyful witness to Christ our Hope, our Risen Lord and Saviour, Who makes all things new and gives us life in abundance".

  The Holy Father identified "one of the high-points" of his visit as "the opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations". In this context, he also thanked Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general, "for his kind invitation and welcome".

  Benedict XVI went on: "Looking back over the 60 years that have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I give thanks for all that the Organisation has been able to achieve in defending and promoting the fundamental rights of every man, woman and child throughout the world, and I encourage people of good will everywhere to continue working tirelessly to promote justice and peaceful co-existence between peoples and nations.

  The visit to Ground Zero, said the Pope, "will remain firmly etched in my memory, as I continue to pray for those who died and for all who suffer in consequence of the tragedy that occurred there in 2001. For all the people of America, and indeed throughout the world, I pray that the future will bring increased fraternity and solidarity, a growth in mutual respect, and a renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.

  "With these words, I take my leave, I ask you to remember me in your prayers, and I assure you of my affection and friendship in the Lord. May God bless America!"

  The papal aircraft took off at 8.30 p.m. local time (2.30 a.m. in Rome). Following a flight of slightly more than eight hours, his plane is due to land at Rome's Ciampino airport at 10.45 a.m., whence the Pope will travel by car to the Vatican.
PV-U.S.A./FAREWELL/NEW YORK                VIS 20080421 (540)


VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) - At 2.30 p.m. local time today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in New York's Yankees Stadium, which since 1923 has been the home ground of the New York Yankees baseball team.

  Before the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope made a tour of the stadium by popemobile, receiving a rapturous welcome from the 60,000 people gathered there. The Mass commemorated the bicentennial of the dioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, created 200 years ago with territory taken from the mother see of Baltimore.

  In his homily, Benedict XVI recalled that today's celebration "is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past 200 years. ... In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole".

  Commenting on the readings, the Holy Father highlighted how they show "the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness.

  "Here", he added, "we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church's unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programmes, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God's indefectible gift to His Church. .... The Church's unity is 'apostolic'. It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles, ... and it is born of what the Scriptures call 'the obedience of faith'".

  The Pope then went on to explain how the words "authority" and "obedience" represent "a 'stumbling stone' for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ, ... we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom ... is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love".

  "And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on 'the mind of Christ', new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world".

  "In these 200 years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly", Benedict XVI observed. "We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land"

  "In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and co-operating with their neighbours in shaping a vibrant, democratic society. Today's celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations".

  The Holy Father invited all those present to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God. This, he said, "also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending His reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as Vatican Council II put it, 'there is no human activity - even in secular affairs - which can be withdrawn from God's dominion'".

  "As 'a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation', follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you!", exclaimed Pope Benedict at the end of his homily. "Find the courage to proclaim Christ, ... and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in Him. These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world - including the most defenceless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother's womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door, let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice".
PV-U.S.A./HOMILY YANKEES STADIUM/NEW YORK                VIS 20080421 (880)

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