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Monday, June 16, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 8 p.m. today Benedict XVI landed at the airport of Brindisi where he was welcomed by the religious and civil authorities of the region. He then travelled by car to the city centre where he was greeted by the local population, and especially by young people.

  The Pope recalled how Brindisi had once been "a place of embarkation for the East", and that it is still "a port open to the sea", where of late many refugees from Eastern Europe have arrived to find "refuge and assistance".

  "Such solidarity forms part of the virtues that make up your rich civil and religious heritage", he said. "Among the values rooted in your land, I would like to mention that of respect for life, and especially attachment to the family which today faces attacks from many forces that seek to weaken it. How necessary and important it is, even in the face of these challenges, that all people of good will undertake to defend the family, the solid foundation upon which to build the life of all society".

  Turning then to address young people, the Holy Father explained how he well understood both their enthusiasm for life and the problems afflicting them. "In particular", he said, "I understand the burden weighing upon many of you, and upon your future, because of the dramatic problem of unemployment. ... In the same way, I know that your youth is threatened by the lure of easy earnings, and by the temptation to find refuge in artificial paradises or to allow yourselves to be attracted by warped forms of material satisfaction.

  "Do not let yourselves be ensnared by the trap of evil", he added. "Seek a life rich in values, in order to create a more just society, one more open to the future. ... It is up to you ... to ensure that progress becomes a greater good for everyone. And the path of goodness, as you know, has a name: it is called love".

  "The love of God has the sweet and compassionate face of Jesus Christ", said the Holy Father, "and thus", he told the young people, "we have come to the heart of the Christian Message: Christ is the answer to your queries and problems. ... Follow Him faithfully. And, in order to be able to meet Him, love His Church, feel responsible for her, do not seek to avoid being - each in his or her own environment - courageous protagonists".

  "You are the young face of the Church. Do not fail, then, to make your contribution so the Gospel she proclaims may spread everywhere. Be apostles to your peers".

  Following the meeting, the Holy Father travelled to the residence of the archbishop of Brindisi-Ostuni where he spent the night.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Today at 3.30 p.m., the Pope departed from Rome's Ciampino airport and, following an hour-long flight, landed at a military airfield in Galatina in the Italian region of Puglia. From there he travelled by helicopter to the heliport of Punta Ristola at Santa Maria di Leuca and thence by car to the shrine of Santa Maria "de finibus terrae".

  After venerating the image of the Virgin Mary held at the shrine, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the square in front of the building.

  "In this site, which is historically so important for the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary", he said at the beginning of his homily, "I wished the liturgy to be dedicated to her, Star of the Sea, Star of Hope".

  "By following the Star of Mary we find guidance on our journey and hold our course towards Christ, especially in the darkest and most turbulent moments", said the Pope.

  After noting how, according to tradition, the area had been evangelised by the Apostle Peter, the Holy Father expressed the view that "Peter's faith and Mary's faith come together in this shrine. ... Together they will help you", he told his audience, "to 'start again from Christ', to renew your faith and ensure it responds to the needs of our time.

  "Mary", he added, "teaches you always to listen to the Lord in the silence of prayer, to welcome His Word with generous readiness and with the profound desire to offer yourselves and your lives to God".

  As for St. Peter, said Pope Benedict, "he will teach you to feel and believe with the Church, firm in the Catholic faith; he will give you the taste and passion for unity, for communion, making you feel the joy of walking together with your pastors. At the same time, he will communicate to you the urgency of the mission, of sharing the Gospel with everyone, of carrying it to the ends of the earth".

  "'De finibus terrae', the name of this holy place, is very beautiful and evocative", said the Holy Father. "It reminds us that the Church has no boundaries, that she is universal. ... The Church in Puglia has a particular vocation to be a bridge between peoples and cultures".

  However, he said, "it serves no purpose to launch ourselves to the ends of the earth, if first we do not love one another, if we do not help one another within the Christian community. ... In a context that tends to give ever more encouragement to individualism, the first service of the Church is that of educating people to a sense of social duty, of concern for others, of solidarity and sharing".

  "Here in Salento, as throughout southern Italy", the Pope concluded, "ecclesial communities are places where the young generations can learn hope, not as a form of utopia, but as a lasting trust in the power of good".

  After the Mass, the Holy Father returned to Punta Ristola whence a half-hour helicopter flight took him to Brindisi.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

    - Archbishop Evarist Pinto of Karachi.

    - Bishop Max John Rodrigues of Hyderabad in Pakistan.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Antoine Zanga, the new ambassador of Cameroon to the Holy See.

  Through the ambassador the Pope greeted the civil and religious authorities of Cameroon, and invited the Catholics of that county "always to be an active part of the 'res publica', ... spreading fundamental human and Christian values for the life of society, for the development of the nation and for the wellbeing of everyone".

  "Your country like so many others in Africa", the Holy Father told the diplomat, "suffers from the current economic situation which affects so many families who lack the minimum requirements to meet their most elemental needs and which does not favour the growth of the nation. Yet there are internal factors that could help. All nations musty seek their own economic and social stability, using their own means and respecting their institutions. It is important to support micro-projects which provide local employment, at the same time combating illegal trafficking and corruption. Hence, I invite all Cameroonians to become ever more aware of the common good".

  "It is also to be hoped that the international community, providing concrete and appropriate forms of assistance and by economic planning on a world-scale, may contribute to breaking the vicious circle of under-development and poverty. Furthermore, it is necessary to take into account phenomena ... such as natural disasters, global warming, epidemics, war and terrorism".

  The Holy Father then went on to express his hope that the international institutions with which the authorities in Cameroon collaborate "in order to diminish or cancel external debt, and with a view to a fairer distribution of wealth", may favour "a new economic and social drive for the good of all inhabitants and to give young people hope in a better future".

  Referring to the increasing numbers of refugees arriving from neighbouring States, the Pope invited "the countries of this region to respond more fully to the requirements of peace and security, and to counteract the violence of which both innocent people and the Church are victims". Benedict XVI recalled the tragic deaths of Msgr. Yves Plumey, of the Jesuit Engelbert Mveng and of the Claretian Anton Probst, highlighting how "one of the fundamental duties of political leaders is to offer their citizens a peaceful society". Leaders must "undertake to put an end to those tensions which regularly generate conflicts, so that dialogue and respect for legitimate cultural diversity between social and ethnic groups may prevail, in order to build and unify the nation".

  Benedict XVI launched a call to "everyone involved in the sale or traffic of arms, often concerned only with profit, to reflect upon the consequences of their actions", and he expressed the hope that the international community may intervene alongside local authorities in this area.

  Finally, the Pope mentioned the Church's own efforts, much appreciated by local people, in the field of healthcare and education in Cameroon. "Local ecclesial communities, missionaries and Catholic charity institutions", he concluded, "seek above all the good and development of the population".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Cleveland, U.S.A. presented by Bishop Alexander James Quinn, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Petrus Boddeng Timang, pastor of the cathedral of Makassar, Indonesia, as bishop of Banjarmasin (area 37,530, population 3,135,000, Catholics 18,200, priests 22, religious 22), Indonesia. The bishop-elect was born in Malakri, Indonesia in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1974. He succeeds Bishop Fransiskus Xaverius Rocharjanta Prajasuta M.S.F., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Yves Marie Monot C.S.Sp., apostolic administrator of Ouesso, Republic of Congo, as bishop of the same diocese (area 66,044, population 90,000, Catholics 24,989, priests 9, religious 19). The bishop-elect was born in Pont-l'Abbe, France in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1972.

- Appointed Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, as special papal envoy to the Third American Missionary Congress (CAM3) and the Eighth Latin American Missionary Congress (COMLA8), due to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 12 to 17 August.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a communique from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue concerning the 14th meeting of the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee, which was held in the Vatican from 11 to 13 June.

  The Catholic delegation was headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, while the Islamic delegation was headed by Professor Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

  "The theme was 'Christians and Muslims as Witnesses of the God of Justice, of Peace and of Compassion in a World Suffering from Violence'", explains the English-language communique. "The topic was treated from a religious point of view according to the teaching of our two religious traditions. Both sides agreed on the following points:

  "(1) From the inherent dignity of each human being stem fundamental rights and duties.

  "(2) Justice is a priority in our world. It requires, beyond the implementation of the existing legal provisions, the respect of the fundamental needs of individuals and peoples through an attitude of love, fraternity and solidarity. There can be no true and lasting peace without justice.

  "(3) Peace is a gift from God and also requires the commitment of all human beings, and particularly believers, who are called to be vigilant witnesses to peace in a world afflicted by violence in many forms.

  "(4) Christians and Muslims believe that God is compassionate and therefore they consider it their duty to show compassion towards every human person, especially the needy and the weak.

  "(5) Religions, if authentically practised, effectively contribute in promoting brotherhood and harmony in the human family".

  The communique concludes by explaining that participants were received in audience by Benedict XVI "who encouraged them to continue their endeavours for the promotion of justice and peace".


VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Today at 4.45 p.m., the Pope met with priests, deacons and seminarians in Brindisi's cathedral of St. Lawrence.

  The Holy Father told priests in particular that in order to ensure "your faith is always strong and vigorous, it is important, as you well know, to nourish it with assiduous prayer. Be, then, models of prayer, become masters of prayer", he told them.

  "The moment of prayer is the most important moment in a priest's life, the moment in which divine grace acts most effectively, making his ministry fruitful. Prayer is the first service to be offered to the community".

  The Pope expressed his joy at the inauguration of the new archiepiscopal seminary - which will be called Benedict XVI - and explained that "the careful preparation of seminarians and the permanent formation of priests and of other pastoral care workers are priority concerns for the bishop to whom, as a wise pastor, God has entrusted the mission of guiding the people of God living in this city.

  "Another opportunity of spiritual growth for your community", the Holy Father added, "is the diocesan synod, the first since Vatican Council II and since the unification of the two dioceses of Brindisi and Ostuni. This is a chance to relaunch the apostolic commitment of the entire archdiocese, but it is above all a special moment of communion which helps you to rediscover the value of fraternal service".

  The Holy Father indicated that the synod, which is currently being held, has the task of "helping your local Church, in all its elements, to rediscover the meaning and the joy of service: a service for love. This holds true, above all, for you, dear priests, moulded after Christ 'Head and Pastor' and always ready to guide His flock. Recognise the gift you have received, and be joyful for it! Be generous in performing your mission! Base it on assiduous prayer and on permanent cultural, theological and spiritual formation!"

  At the end of his address, Benedict XVI invited the whole archdiocese to prepare for the Pauline Year, which is due to begin on 28 June. "It could be an occasion for a generous relaunch of missionary activity, for a more profound announcement of the Word of God, welcomed, meditated upon, and translated into a fruitful apostolate, as happened with the Apostle of the Gentiles", he said.

  Immediately after the meeting, the Pope travelled to the airport of Brindisi-Casale where he boarded a plane for Rome. An hour later he landed at Ciampino airport and from there travelled to the Vatican by car.


VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass on the Sant'Apollinare quay of the port of Brindisi, and before praying the Angelus, the Pope reiterated the "Christian message of co-operation and peace among all peoples, especially among who live around this sea, the ancient cradle of civilisations, and those of the Near and Middle East".

  The Holy Father then recalled some words he had pronounced two months ago before the U.N. General Assembly in New York, saying: "The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage. What is needed is a deeper search for ways of pre-empting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation".

  The Pope implored the protection of the Virgin Mary over the region, over Italy, Europe, and the entire world, against "the storms that threaten the faith and true values. Enable the young generations", he asked her, "to put out into the deep, facing the journey of life with Christian hope".

  Following the Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI returned to the archbishop's residence where he lunched with bishops of the Puglia region.
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