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Thursday, June 26, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei, Taiwan, as a member of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

 - Johan Ickx, official of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of Firmin Mboutsou, the new ambassador of Gabon to the Holy See. In his address to the diplomat the Pontiff highlighted the good relations that have existed between the Holy See and that African State for 40 years.

  "The Church contributes", said the Holy Father, "and wishes to contribute ever more to educating men, women and children, without distinction, respecting people and their cultures, and transmitting to each the spiritual and moral values indispensable for human development. In the same way, over her long history, she participates in healthcare education". In this context, the Pope expressed the hope that, through agreement, Gabon "may fully recognise and support this charitable service" which "will have beneficial effects on religious presence and on the dynamism of structures in the fields of social work and healthcare".

  Benedict XVI then went on to refer to agreements concerning education signed in 2001, expressing his hope that they "become established at the diocesan level, as concerns education at all levels, especially that of higher education. The Church", he said, "wishes to maintain and develop quality teaching", and this "requires the support of the authorities and of the various services of the State".

  Speaking of the "organisation of pastoral care in the armed forces" in Gabon, the Pope stressed the importance of the military "being able to form Christian communities under the guidance of a pastor capable of recognising and respecting the special status of the military world".

  The Holy Father invited the "authorities and men and women of good will, especially on the beloved continent of Africa, to commit themselves ever more intensely to building a peaceful, fraternal and united world".

  "Without justice", he said, "without fighting all forms of corruption, without respecting the rules of law, true peace is impossible and citizens will clearly find it difficult to put faith in their leaders. Indeed, without respect for the freedom of each individual, it is not possible to speak of peace". In this context, the Pope indicated that the Church is ready to provide collaboration and support for "all those people whose primary concern is to build a society respectful of the most elemental rights of human beings".

  Benedict XI concluded by highlighting how "the future is often seen in relation to purely economic questions, which lie at the origin of numerous conflicts. The inhabitants of the country must be the primary beneficiaries of the nation's natural wealth, and do everything possible to protect the planet, leaving future generations a truly inhabitable world capable of feeding all its people".


VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Honduras, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  "The Honduran people", the Pope told the prelates, "is characterised by a profound religious spirit which finds expression, among other things, in the numerous and deep-rooted practices of popular devotion. These practices, duly purified of elements alien to the faith, must become a practical instrument for announcing the Gospel. On the other hand, as happens elsewhere, the spread of secularism and the proselytism of sects represent a source of confusion for many faithful, also provoking the loss of a sense of belonging to the Church".

  "An awareness of the enormous difficulties hindering your pastoral mission, far from discouraging you, should serve as a stimulus for a bold and far-reaching effort of evangelisation, founded - rather than on the effectiveness of material means and human plans - on the power of the Word of God, faithfully accepted, humbly experienced and trustingly announced", said Benedict XVI to the bishops

  He then went on to highlight the "priceless" help of priests in the "vital task of announcing the Good News". And he invited the prelates to ensure their seminaries always have "the best formators and the most appropriate material resources, so that future priests may garner that human and spiritual ... maturity which the faithful need and have the right to expect from their pastors". He also recalled how, "despite the recent increase in vocations, the shortage of priests" is "rightly one of your chief concerns".

  "One field deserving of particular attention", the Pope continued, "is that of marriage and the family, the solidity and stability of which is such a benefit to the Church and society. In this respect, it is right to recognise the important step taken by including an explicit recognition of marriage in your country's Constitution, although you well know it is not enough to possess good legislation if then we do not undertake the necessary cultural and catechetical labours that highlight "the truth and beauty of marriage, a perpetual alliance of life and love between a man and a woman".

  "Alongside the announcement of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments, the service of charity forms an essential part of the Church's mission", said Pope Benedict. Hence "bishops, as successors of the Apostles", must be "the foremost leaders of this service of charity in the particular Churches".

  "I well know how you are affected by the poverty in which so many of your fellow citizens live, and by the increase in violence, emigration, environmental destruction, corruption and shortcomings in education, alongside other serious problems. As ministers of the Good Shepherd you have - through word and deed - worked intensely to assist the needy. I exhort you", the Holy Father concluded, "to continue through your ministry to show the merciful face of God, strengthening the network of charity in your diocesan and parish communities with particular concern for the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned".
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