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Monday, May 5, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 5 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received 33 new recruits to the Pontifical Swiss Guard accompanied by their families and by other members of the Corps. In keeping with tradition, the new recruits will swear their oath of allegiance tomorrow, 6 May, in a ceremony to be held in the Vatican.

  In his talk to them, delivered in German, French and Italian, the Pope pointed out how, five centuries after the foundation of the Corps, "the spirit of faith remains unchanged which encourages young Swiss to leave their beautiful land to come and serve the Pope in the Vatican. The love for the Catholic Church remains the same", he said, "to which you bear witness, rather than with words, with your bodies which, thanks to the characteristic uniforms, are easily recognisable at the entrance to the Vatican and to pontifical audiences. Your historic uniforms speak ... of your commitment to serve God by serving the 'servant of His servants'".

  Benedict XVI called on the new recruits "above all to assimilate this Christian and ecclesial spirit which is the foundation and the motor of all the activities you will undertake. Always cultivate prayer and spiritual life, also by taking advantage of the crucial presence of your chaplain. Be open, straightforward and loyal. Learn how to appreciate the differences of personality and character that exist among you, because under the uniform each one is a unique and irreplaceable person called by God to serve His Kingdom of love and peace".

  The Swiss Guard, said the Pope, "is also a school of life", and he explained to the recruits how during their period of service in the Vatican "many of your predecessors were able to discover their own vocation: to Christian marriage, to the priesthood, to consecrated life. This is a reason to praise God, but also to appreciate your Corps".

  The Holy Father concluded by thanking all members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard for the "generosity and dedication with which you work in the service of the Pope. May the Lord reward you and fill you with abundant heavenly fruits".
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VATICAN CITY, 4 MAY 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Regina Coeli today, the Pope addressed some remarks to 150,000 members of Catholic Action: adults, young people and children from Italy and 40 other countries around the world who were gathered in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the foundation of their organisation. Before the papal audience, they had participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

  Opening his address, the Holy Father mentioned the Saints, Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God "who grew up in the ranks of Catholic Action" and whose images bedecked the colonnade of St. Peter's Square.

  "Is it not perhaps possible, even today", Benedict XVI asked the young people and adults, "to make your lives a testimony of communion with the Lord, one that becomes a real masterpiece of saintliness? Is that not the goal of your association? This will be possible if Catholic Action continues to remain faithful to its own profound roots of faith, nourished by full adhesion to the Word of God, by unconditional love for the Church, by judicious participation in civic life, and by a constant commitment to education".

  "Respond generously to this call to sanctity, using the forms most in keeping with your condition as lay people!" cried the Pope. "Continue to allow yourselves to be inspired by the three great 'commissions' that my venerated predecessor Servant of God John Paul II entrusted to you at Loreto, Italy, in 2004: contemplation, communion and mission".

  The Pope then recalled how Catholic Action came into being as an "association of faithful marked by a special and direct link with the Pope, soon becoming a precious form of 'collaboration of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy'. ... This vocation still remains valid today", he said. "I encourage you, then, generously to continue your service to the Church".

  Italy, said the Holy Father, "has always been able to rely on men and women who, formed by your association, are willing to provide disinterested service to the cause of the common good, in order to create a just ordering of society and the State". And he went on: "Always be 'citizens worthy of the gospel' and 'ministers of Christian wisdom for a more human world'. This is the theme of your assembly and the commitment you assume today before the Italian Church, which is here represented by you, by the priests that assist you, by the bishops and by their president".

  Benedict XVI also highlighted the "educational emergency" facing the Church in Italy, and called upon his audience to be "tireless heralds and well-prepared and generous educators. In a Church called to face demanding trials of faithfulness, and tempted to adaptation, be courageous witnesses and prophets of evangelical radicalism; in a Church that daily faces a relativist, hedonist and consumer mentality, make room for rationalism under the banner of a faith that befriends intelligence, both in the area of popular mass culture and of more elaborate and more profound research; in a Church which calls people to the heroism of sanctity, respond without fear, trusting always in the mercy of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 4 MAY 2008 (VIS) - On today's Solemnity of the Ascension, Benedict XVI prayed the Regina Coeli from the atrium of the Vatican Basilica with thousands of faithful from Italian Catholic Action and other pilgrims who filled St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope recalled how following the Ascension "the first disciples remained together in the Cenacle around the Mother of Jesus, fervently awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had promised".

  "In His farewell discourses to His disciples, Jesus had given great emphasis to the importance of His 'return to the Father', as the coronation of His mission. He, in fact, came into the world to bring man back to God, not theoretically - like a philosopher or a sage - but in a real sense, as a shepherd leading his sheep to the fold. And it was entirely for us that Jesus experienced in His own person this 'exodus' towards the heavenly homeland".

  "It is for this reason that the Father was pleased with Him and 'highly exalted' Him, restoring Him to the fullness of His glory, but now with our humanity. God in man - man in God: this is now a real not a theoretical truth. Hence Christian hope, founded in Christ, is not an illusion but, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, 'a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul'".

  "And what", the Pope asked, "does man in all times need if not this: a solid anchor for his existence? Here again, then, is the stupendous sense of Mary's presence among us. Turning our gaze to her, as the first disciples did, we are immediately transported to the reality of Jesus. The Mother leads back to the Son, Who is no longer among us physically but awaits us in the house of the Father. Jesus invites us not to remain gazing upwards, but to stay together, united in prayer, invoking the gift of the Holy Spirit".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This evening Benedict XVI presided at the praying of the Rosary in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major, "Marian temple par excellence" in which, as the Holy Father recalled, the image of Mary "Salus Populi Romani" is venerated.

  "In the experience of my generation", he said, "May evenings evoke pleasant memories of vespertine appointments to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. ... Today we together confirm that the holy Rosary is not some pious practice relegated to the past, a prayer of distant times to be thought of nostalgically. Indeed, the Rosary is experiencing what is almost a new springtime".

  "In the modern world which is so dispersive, this prayer helps us to place Christ at the centre, as did the Virgin who meditated upon everything that was said about her Son and upon what He Himself did and said. When we recite the Rosary we relive important monuments of the history of salvation, we again go over the various stages of Christ's mission. With Mary we turn our hearts to the mystery of Jesus".

  "May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace that emanates from these mysteries, so that through us this grace can 'irrigate' society, starting with our everyday relationships, purifying it from many negative forces and opening it to the novelty of God.

  "The Rosary", the Pope added, "when it is prayed in an authentic manner - not mechanically and superficially, but profoundly - brings peace and reconciliation. It contains the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the heart of each Hail Mary".

  Benedict XVI then called on those present to ensure they remained united to Mary during these days leading up to Pentecost, "invoking a renewed effusion of the Holy Spirit for the Church". He also entrusted them with "the most urgent intentions" of his ministry: "the needs of the Church, the great problems of humanity, peace in the world, the unity of Christians, and dialogue between cultures", as well as the pastoral objectives of the diocese of Rome, and the "solidary development" of Italy.
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VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope to Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, appointing him as special papal envoy to celebrations marking the 1350th anniversary of the birth of St. Willibrord, due to be held in Luxembourg from 11 to 13 May.

  Cardinal Danneels will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Mathias Schiltz, vicar general of the archdiocese of Luxembourg and by Fr. Andre Heiderscheid, provost of the cathedral chapter of Luxembourg.
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VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who are meeting to study the theme: "Pursuing the common good: how solidarity and subsidiarity can work together".

  Addressing them in English, the Holy Father told the participants that the "heart of the matter" facing them was "how can solidarity and subsidiarity work together in the pursuit of the common good in a way that not only respects human dignity, but allows it to flourish?"

  "Solidarity", he said, "refers to the virtue enabling the human family to share fully the treasure of material and spiritual goods, and subsidiarity is the co-ordination of society's activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities".

  The Holy Father highlighted the relationship between the four main principles of Catholic social doctrine (human dignity, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity), explaining that "we can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing 'solidarity' and 'subsidiarity', and one vertical, representing the 'common good'. This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good".

  Solidarity and subsidiarity, he went on, "have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny. ... The responsibility of Christians to work for peace and justice, their irrevocable commitment to build up the common good, is inseparable from their mission to proclaim the gift of eternal life to which God has called every man and woman".

  The Pope assured participants in the plenary assembly that their discussions "will be of service to all people of good will, while simultaneously inspiring Christians to embrace more readily their obligation to enhance solidarity with and among their fellow citizens, and to act upon the principle of subsidiarity by promoting family life, voluntary associations, private initiative, and a public order that facilitates the healthy functioning of society's most basic communities".

  "When those responsible for the public good attune themselves to the natural human desire for self-governance based on subsidiarity, they leave space for individual responsibility and initiative, but most importantly, they leave space for love, which always remains 'the most excellent way'".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks with words of encouragement to members of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences "to survey both the 'vertical' and 'horizontal' dimensions of solidarity and subsidiarity. In this way, you will be able to propose more effective ways of resolving the manifold problems besetting mankind at the threshold of the third millennium, while also bearing witness to the primacy of love, which transcends and fulfils justice as it draws mankind into the very life of God".


VATICAN CITY, 5 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. tomorrow May 6 in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, 33 new recruits will be sworn in as members of the Pontifical Swiss Guards in the presence of members of the Roman Curia, diplomatic representatives and civil and religious authorities from Switzerland.  Twenty will take their oath in German, 11 in French, one in Italian and one in Romansch.

  The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependant on the Holy See. Its main duties were to guard the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces.

  The day will start at 7:30 a.m. with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. for the Swiss Guards, their families and friends. At 9 a.m., Archbishop Fernando Filoni, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, will confer military decorations on members of the corps, and the commander of the guards will place a laurel wreath at the monument honouring the fallen members of the corps.

  May 6, in fact, is the date chosen for the swearing-in ceremony of the new guards because on that day in 1527, 147 members of the Swiss Guards lost their lives during the Sack of Rome protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V.

  To become a guard, one must be a Swiss Catholic male under the age of 30, unmarried, over 174 cm (5' 8") in height and with a professional diploma or high school degree. The candidate must have attended Swiss military school. Guards live inside Vatican City. The minimum term of service is 25 months.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 MAY 2008 (VIS) - According to a note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday 10 May, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay, India, will take possession of the title of St. Paul of the Cross a "Corviale", in Via Poggio Verde 319, Rome.

  The communique also announces that at 5.30 p.m. on Sunday 11 May, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" will take possession of the new diaconate of St. Lawrence in Piscibus, Via Padre Pancrazio Pfeiffer, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Six prelates from the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Gyorgy Udvardy, Ferenc Cserhati and Janos Szekely.

    - Bishop Lajos Papai of Gyor.

    - Bishop Antal Spanyi of Szekesfehervar.

 - His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury.

  On Saturday, 3 may, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

 - Three prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Emilio Aranguren Echeverria of Holguin, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Hector Luis Lucas Pena Gomez.

    - Bishop Alvaro Julio Beyra Luarca of Santismo Salvador de Bayamo y Manzanillo.
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