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Friday, April 25, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

 - Archbishop Peter Takeo Okada of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, accompanied by Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, vice-president of the same conference, and by Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami P.S.S. of Nagasaki, and Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe S.D.B. of Takamatsu.

 - Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

 - Bishop-elect Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.Ss.R., of Garanhuns, Brazil.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a declaration by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning the meeting between the Holy Father and Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, prior to yesterday evening's concert in the Paul VI Hall:

  "During the meeting, which lasted around 15 minutes and was characterised by great cordiality, the great questions of the world situation today were examined, with particular reference to the Holy Father's recent address to the General Assembly of the United Nations: the dignity of the human person; the foundations of human rights and the international community's commitment to their protection and promotion; the dialogue between reason and faith at the service of the integral development of the person and the harmonious advancement of the human community; and the dialogue between the great religions and their contribution to peace in the world.

  "The President of the Republic, also in the name of the Italian people, passed on his warmest congratulations to the Holy Father for the third anniversary of his Pontificate and for his recent birthday. For his part, the Holy Father renewed the expression of his feelings of affection and close participation in the affairs of the beloved Italian people, giving assurances of constant thoughts in his prayers".


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2008 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican, the Pope attended a concert marking the third anniversary of his election to the Pontificate, offered in his honour by Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic,.

  The Giuseppe Verdi symphony orchestra and choir of Milan conducted, respectively, by Oleg Caetani and Erina Gambarini, played pieces by Luciano Berio, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven.

  The Pope followed the concert from the central passage of the Paul VI Hall where he was seated next to President Napolitano, and his elder brother Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

  At the end of the concert, Benedict XVI thanked the Italian president for the concert in which, he said, "I discern a further sign of the great affection the Italian people nurture for the Pope".

  Having extended his gratitude to the choir and the orchestra, the Holy Father encouraged the Giuseppe Verdi Foundation "to continue the prestigious artistic and cultural journey they have begun, which, I am aware, is also enhanced by their commitment to use music to mitigate situations of human difficulty, such as in hospitals and prisons".

  The Pope then went on to refer to "the spiritual value of the art of music which, in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul, marked and sometimes injured by its earthly condition. There is a profound and mysterious relationship between music and hope, between song and eternal life", he said. "It is no coincidence that Christian tradition shows the spirits of the blessed as they sing in chorus, captivated and enraptured by the beauty of God. But true art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality, rather it calls us to 'irrigate' that reality, to make it sprout that it may bring forth fruits of goodness and peace.

  "The magnificent rendering we have just heard", the Holy Father added, "reminds us furthermore of the value and the universal importance of artistic heritage". In this context he mentioned the young, who can draw "new inspiration" from such heritage "in order to build a world founded on justice and solidarity, putting the multiform expressions of world culture to good account at the service of mankind".

  Benedict XVI mentioned the importance that "educating people to recognise true beauty has for the formation of the young", and he explained how art "contributes to refining their souls and leads towards the construction of a society open to the ideals of the spirit.

  "Italy, with is exceptional artistic heritage, can, in this regard, play an important role in the world", he concluded. "The quantity and quality of monuments and works of art the country possesses effectively make it a universal 'messenger' of all the values which art, at one and the same time, expresses and promotes. In the same way, the festive nature of song and music are a constant invitation to believers and to men and women of good will to commit themselves to giving humanity a future rich in hope".
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