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Thursday, June 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 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 Lawrence John Saldanha of Lahore.

    - Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, Pakistan.
AL/.../...                                VIS 20080619 (50)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

  "This morning Joseph Kabila Kabange, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was received in audience by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in the apostolic palace. The president and his minister for foreign affairs subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The discussions focused on the political and social situation in the country, with particular reference to the eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. The importance of respecting human rights was reiterated, in order to put an end to the suffering of the civilian population and build a more just and united society. Regional aspects of the question were also considered, with the hope being expressed that the forthcoming implementation of the 'Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region' may mark a decisive turning point in the promotion of the peace and wellbeing of all inhabitants of the area.

  "Concerning the future of the country, particular emphasis was given to the importance of the education and formation of the young, for whom the Church is always ready to make her specific contribution.

  "Other topics of joint interest were also examined, such as the importance of dialogue and collaboration, also in resolving the problem of the restoration of certain properties of the Church which were nationalised several decades ago.

  "President Kabila invited the Holy Father to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo".
OP/AUDIENCE/KABILA                        VIS 20080619 (270)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received participants in the annual Meeting of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), to whom he indicated that the "everyday life and the special mission" of the Eastern Churches, "especially at the ecumenical and the inter-religious level, must be supported by the entire Catholic Church".

  The Pope spoke of ROACO's concern for religious communities in Armenia and Georgia "which were among the first to receive the light of Christ", affirming that "by living humbly and fraternally with other Christian Churches, and by generously serving the poor, these Catholic communities, small though they are, can express in a very practical manner the communion of love proper to the universal Catholic Church".

  Benedict XVI then described his continuing apprehension for the difficult situation of Christians in Iraq, recalling the figure of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul of the Chaldeans, who died in tragic circumstances after being kidnapped on 29 February this year.

  Turning his attention to Lebanon, the Holy Father spoke of his "gratitude and relief" at the fact that the country has apparently "found the path of dialogue and understanding", and he reiterated his hope that "Lebanon may respond decisively to her vocation to be - for the Middle East and the entire world - a sign of the real possibility for peaceful and constructive coexistence between human beings". He then went on to mention Fr. Jacques Ghazir Haddad who will be beatified next Sunday in Beirut, speaking of his hope that the example of the new blessed "may touch the hearts of young Lebanese, showing them the sweetness of an evangelical life at the service of the poor and the weak, and bringing them to become faithful witnesses of the Catholic faith in the Arab world".

  Finally, Pope Benedict recalled a recent visit by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and by some of his collaborators in the Roman Curia, to the Latin- and Eastern-rite communities in the Holy Land. The "cause" of these communites, said the Pope, "is vital for the entire Church. I share their trials and their hopes and fervently pray that I may be able to visit them in person, just as I pray that certain signs of peace, which I greet with immense hope, may soon be put into effect.

  "I appeal to the leaders of nations", he added, "that the Middle East - in particular the Holy Land, Lebanon and Iraq - may be offered its longed-for peace and social stability, while respecting the fundamental rights of the person, including that of real religious freedom. Peace", the Pope concluded, "is the only way to face the serious problem of displaced people and refugees and to halt immigration, especially Christian immigration which affects the Oriental Churches so deeply. I entrust these wishes to Blessed John XXIII, a sincere friend of the East and the Pope of 'Pacem in terris'".
AC/.../ROACO                            VIS 20080619 (510)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  "The seeds of the Gospel, sown in your region by zealous missionaries in the sixteenth century", said the Pope in his English-language talk, "continue to grow despite conditions that sometimes hinder their capacity to take root".

  He asked the prelates "to assure your clergy of my spiritual closeness to them as they carry out [their] task", then went on to indicate that "the centrality of the Eucharist, both through the worthy celebration of the Lord's Supper and in silent adoration of the Sacrament, should be especially apparent in the lives of priests and bishops. This will lead the laity to follow your example and come to a deeper appreciation for the Lord's abiding presence among them", he said.

  The Eucharist "reorients the way Christians think, speak and act in the world and makes present the salvific meaning of Christ's death and resurrection, thus renewing history and vivifying all creation. The breaking of the bread reminds us again and again that the absurdity of violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through His glorious resurrection".

  "Eucharistic spirituality", said the Holy Father, "embraces every aspect of the Christian life. This is evident in the emerging vitality of ecclesial movements within your dioceses. ... By exhorting the members of these movements and all the faithful to listen attentively to the word of God and to cultivate a habit of daily prayer, may your people foster genuine fellowship and create ever expanding networks of charitable solicitude for their neighbours".

  "The 'theologate' in Karachi, the programme of philosophy in Lahore and your minor seminaries are vital institutions for the future of the Church in Pakistan", said the Holy Father. "Never doubt", he told the Pakistani prelates, "that your investment of human and material resources will ensure a solid formation for your candidates for the priesthood.

  "Generous collaborators", he added, "are also to be found among members of religious orders who can help to enhance programmes of priestly formation and strengthen bonds of co-operation between religious and diocesan clergy.

  "Of particular urgency at the present time is the task of preparing these men - and indeed all catechists and lay leaders - to become effective promoters of inter-religious dialogue. They share a responsibility with all Christians in Pakistan to foster understanding and trust with members of other religions by constructing peaceful forums for open conversation".

  The Pope also recalled how other Catholic institutions such as "hospitals, schools, social and charitable agencies ... continue to serve the common good of the Pakistani people" by responding "to the concrete needs of others".

  In this context, the Pope concluded by encouraging the bishops "to build on the noble example of service to neighbour etched in the history of these institutions. Priests, religious and the lay faithful in your dioceses, by caring for the sick, helping young people grow in knowledge and virtue, and meeting the needs of the poor, reveal the human face of God's love for each and every person".
AL/.../PAKISTAN                            VIS 20080619 (540)

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