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Friday, May 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments today published a decree authorising the celebration, on 25 January 2009, of Mass for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which falls on that Sunday, the third in Ordinary Time.

  The decree, signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, respectively prefect and secretary of the congregation, explains that the authorisation has been given because of the Pauline Year, due to be inaugurated by the Holy Father on 28 June 2008 to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles.


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: "That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ, in order to be able to communicate the strength of His love to every person they meet".

  His mission intention is: "That the International Eucharistic Congress of Quebec in Canada may lead to an ever greater understanding that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the source of evangelisation".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Sydney, Australia, for the 23rd World Youth Day was made public today. The trip is due to take place from 12 to 21 July.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 12 July, landing at 9.15 a.m. (Australian time) at the airport of Darwin/RAAF Military Base. After a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Sydney's Richmond airport. Having landed there, the Pope will travel to a private residence where he will remain until the morning of Thursday 17 July.

  On 17 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will participate in the welcome ceremony at Sydney's Government House, after which he will pay a courtesy visit to the governor general and meet with the prime minister. Following a brief display of traditional Aboriginal dances and songs, he will then board the ship "Sydney 2000" and be taken to the city's East Darling Harbour where he will be welcomed by young people.

  On Friday 18 July he will again celebrate a private Mass after which, at 10.30 a.m., he is due to participate in an ecumenical meeting in the crypt of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney before going on to meet with representatives of other religions in the cathedral chapter. Having lunched with a number of young people, he will pronounce a prayer for the beginning of the Way of the Cross in the square in front of St. Mary's Cathedral. At 6.45 p.m. he will meet a group of disadvantaged young people at the Sacred Heart church of Notre Dame University.

  At 9.30 a.m. on Saturday 19 July, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Mary's Cathedral with Australian bishops, seminarians and novices, and consecrate the building's new altar. Having had lunch with the bishops, that evening he will travel to the Randwick Racecourse to preside at a prayer vigil with young people.

  At 10 a.m. on Sunday 20 July, he will preside at Mass for 23rd World Youth Day and pray the Angelus at Randwick Racecourse. At 6 p.m. on the same day, he will deliver an address during a meeting of benefactors and organisers of the 23rd World Youth Day in the chapter house of St. Mary's Cathedral.

  On Monday 21 July, having celebrated Mass in private, the Pope will travel to The Domain in Sydney where he will bid farewell to the 23rd World Youth Day volunteers, and pronounce an address. He will then go directly to Sydney's international airport, where he will be greeted by the authorities before departing by plane for Darwin. Following a brief stopover, his flight will proceed to Rome where the Holy Father is due to arrive at around 11 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Message to His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during a meeting with the Patriarch.

  In the text of his English-language Message, the Pope writes that the cardinal's visit to Russia "offers me a welcome opportunity to extend my cordial greetings, to express my esteem for your ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church and to restate my appreciation for your commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox".

  "It is with joy", the Holy Father adds, "that I reflect on the experience of growing closeness between us, accompanied by the shared desire to promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever deeper communion. I think with gratitude of the recent visit of Your Holiness to Strasbourg and Paris, and the warm welcome given to the Catholic archbishop of the archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow during the Christmas celebrations last year.

  "Another sign of fraternity and friendship towards the Catholic Church is to be seen in the invitation extended to Cardinal Kasper by His Eminence Kirill, metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to visit that eparchy on the occasion of his name-day. This is not only a sign of personal goodwill, but also a gesture towards the Catholic Church which Cardinal Kasper represents".

  "During his time in Russia", writes the Pope, "Cardinal Kasper will visit Kazan to venerate the icon of the Mother of God which my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, conveyed to Your Holiness through the good offices of Cardinal Kasper. ... This icon bears a likeness to all the other venerable icons of the Mother of God. ... It also offers an opportunity for encounter with Muslims, who show great respect for Mary, the Mother of God".

  The Pope notes haw the Russian Patriarch "has been increasingly committed to dialogue with other Christians and the members of other religions" and reaffirms his own "deep gratitude" for, and "prayerful interest" in, "the signs of friendship and trust which your Church and its representatives have demonstrated in various ways".

  Reiterating his gratitude to Alexis II for his dialogue "with different ecclesial, religious and social bodies", Benedict XVI concludes: "May the Risen Saviour grant you health, peace and inner joy, and may he bring us closer to each other, that we may undertake together our journey towards full communion in Him".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Speaking English, the Pope began his remarks by highlighting how "the Church in Myanmar is known and admired for its solidarity with the poor and needy. This has been especially evident", he told the prelates, "in the concern you have shown in the aftermath of the cyclone Nargis".

  "During these difficult days, I know how grateful the Burmese people are for the Church's efforts to provide shelter, food, water, and medicine to those still in distress", he said, assuring the bishops that the Universal Church "is joined spiritually with those who mourn the loss of loved ones. ... May God open the hearts of all so that a concerted effort may be made to facilitate and co-ordinate the ongoing endeavour to bring relief to the suffering and rebuild the country's infrastructure.

  "The Church's mission of charity", he added, "shines forth in a particular way through the religious life. ... I am pleased to note that an increasing number of women are responding to the call to consecrated life in your region", he said.

  "Similar signs of hope are seen in the rising number of vocations to the priesthood. These men are both 'called together' and 'sent out to preach' to be examples of faithfulness and holiness for the People of God".

  The Holy Father encouraged the prelates of Myanmar "to continue making the necessary sacrifices to ensure that seminarians receive the integral formation that will enable them to become authentic heralds of the new evangelisation".

  "The Church's mission to spread the Good News depends on a generous and prompt response from the lay faithful to become labourers in the vineyard. They too are in need of a robust and dynamic Christian formation which will inspire them to carry the Gospel message to their workplaces, families, and to society at large".

  The Pope then went on to refer to the reports the bishops had presented to him, in which they had mentioned "the enthusiasm with which the laity are organising many new catechetical and spiritual initiatives, often involving great numbers of young people". And he encouraged the bishops "to remind those under your care to turn continually to the nourishment of the Eucharist through participation in the liturgy and silent contemplation".

  "Your active participation in the First Asian Mission Congress has led to new initiatives for promoting goodwill with Buddhists in your country", he told them. "In this regard, I encourage you as you develop ever better relations with Buddhists for the good of your individual communities and of the entire nation".

  Before concluding his remarks, Benedict XVI expressed his "sincere gratitude" to the prelates for "your faithful ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances and setbacks often beyond your control".

  Recalling that that next month the Church "inaugurates a special Jubilee Year in honour of St. Paul", the Pope concluded: "Paul exhorts us to keep our gaze fixed on the glory that awaits us so as never to despair in the pain and sufferings of today".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Sotero Phamo of Loikaw.

    - Bishop Peter Hla of Pekhon.

    - Bishop Isaac Danu of Taungngu.

    - Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray of Mawlamyine.

    - Bishop John Hsane Hgyi of Pathein.

    - Bishop Gregory Taik Maung, apostolic administrator "sede plena" of Pyay.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" today announced that from 2 to 6 June a series of spiritual exercises will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, under the direction of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household.

  Some 500 men and women from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, leaders of the Catholic Church's mission of charity, will participate in the initiative. The Holy Father has sent them a Message in which he "invites all to intensify their friendship with the Lord Jesus. This divine dimension of love characterises the Church's charitable organisations and makes their activity irreplaceable".

  The "Cor Unum" English-language communique continues: "The generosity of people today and their willingness to help whenever catastrophe strikes, such as the tsunami or the cyclone in Myanmar, is truly impressive. At the same time, Christians are convinced that, beside material assistance, human affliction needs a message of hope that only Christ can give though faith-filled witness. The Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', the dicastery of the Holy See charged with orienting and co-ordinating the Church's charitable activities, has proposed this gathering as a school for deepening faith".

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