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Friday, June 6, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium.

 - Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales, archbishop of Manila, Philippines.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2008 (VIS) - On 30 May, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva, delivered an address at the close of a diplomatic conference on cluster munitions being held in Dublin, Ireland.

  Speaking English, the head of the Holy See delegation to the conference, which took place from 19 to 30 May, indicated that "the protection and care of the victims of cluster munitions, the prevention of their suffering, and the addition of a related new chapter in international humanitarian law, have been clear and compelling objectives of the Holy See from the very beginning of the process that has led to this diplomatic conference. These goals have been achieved", he said.

  Archbishop Tomasi highlighted three of the results achieved with the new Convention on Cluster Munitions: "First", he said, "the new convention opens up a wider care for victims of cluster munitions by including their families and communities".

  "Second, the new convention recognises 'the specific role and contribution of relevant actors'", including State parties, United Nations bodies, international organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society, who provide "care to the victims as well as human, financial and technical co-operation".

  Finally, said the permanent observer, "the new convention is an achievement in itself but also a positive message to pursue efforts by the international community in the overall disarmament and arms control negotiations".

  On 4 June, Archbishop Tomasi delivered another English-language address, also made public today, during the 8th session of the Human Rights Council held in Geneva.

  "The universal value of human dignity", he said on that occasion, "requires the promotion and protection of all human rights without distinction of any kind". Referring then to the new Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), he noted how it "represents a positive step towards a fair social and international order".

  "The new optional protocol, through an inquiry and communication system, gives the possibility to individuals and groups to seek justice from violations, and it reinforces existing mechanisms for an effective monitoring of the activity of States", he explained.


VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister of the Republic of Italy, accompanied by Gianni Letta and Paolo Bonaiuti, under-secretaries of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, and by other members of his entourage. Subsequently, Silvio Berlusconi met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions various questions concerning the situation in Italy and the Catholic Church's contribution to the life of the country were examined, questions upon which the Holy Father had dwelt during his recent discourse to the plenary assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Attention also turned to certain matters associated with the implementation of the current Agreements between the Holy See and Italy. Finally some aspects of the international situation were considered, such as the situation in the Middle East and the prospects for the spiritual, ethical and social development of the European continent.

  "The two sides reiterated their desire to continue their constructive collaboration at the bilateral level and in the context of the international community".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his English-language remarks to the prelates, the Pope pointed out that their visit to Rome coincides with preparations for the Pauline Year, and he invited them to follow the example of that Apostle, "outstanding teacher and courageous witness to the truth of the Gospel".

  "The Church's faith in Jesus is a gift received and a gift to be shared; it is the greatest gift which the Church can offer to Asia", said the Pope quoting the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia". And he went on: "Happily, the peoples of Asia display an intense yearning for God. In handing on to them the message that you also received, you are sowing the seeds of evangelisation in fertile ground.

  "If the faith is to flourish, however", he added, "it needs to strike deep roots in Asian soil, lest it be perceived as a foreign import, alien to the culture and traditions of your people. Mindful of the manner in which St. Paul preached the Good News to the Athenians, you are called to present the Christian faith in ways that resonate with the 'innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul', so that people will welcome it and make it their own".

  The Holy Father proceeded with his discourse to the bishops: "In particular, you need to ensure that the Christian Gospel is in no way confused in their minds with secular principles associated with the Enlightenment. On the contrary, by 'speaking the truth in love' you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism. You can help them to respond to the urgent challenges posed by the Enlightenment, familiar to Western Christianity for over two centuries, but only now beginning to have a significant impact upon other parts of the world. While resisting the 'dictatorship of positivist reason' that tries to exclude God from public discourse, we should welcome the 'true conquests of the Enlightenment' - especially the stress on human rights and the freedom of religion and its practice".

  "This Pauline apostolate", said Pope Benedict, "requires a commitment to inter-religious dialogue, and I encourage you to carry forward this important work, exploring every avenue open to you. I realise that not all the territories you represent offer the same degree of religious liberty, and many of you, for example, encounter serious difficulties in promoting Christian religious instruction in schools".

  "In the context of open and honest dialogue with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the followers of other religions present in your respective countries, you assist your fellow citizens to recognise and observe the law 'written on their hearts' by clearly articulating the truth of the Gospel.

  "In this way, your teaching can reach a wide audience and help to promote a unified vision of the common good. This in turn", the Pope concluded, "should help to foster growth in religious freedom and greater social cohesion between members of different ethnic groups, which can only be conducive to the peace and well-being of the entire community".
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