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Friday, June 27, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and archpriest of the papal basilica of St. John Lateran. He succeeds Cardinal Camillo Ruini, whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of Saint Louis, U.S.A., as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Essen, Germany, presented by Bishop Franz Grave, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Ludger Schepers of the clergy of Essen, Germany, pastor and dean of Duisburg, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 1,877, population 2,602,494, Catholics 919,948, priests 589, permanent deacons 77, religious 580). The bishop-elect was born in Oberhausen, Germany in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon, on their "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macao, China, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Two prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Honduras, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Luis Sole Fa C.M. of Trujillo

    - Bishop Jean Louis Giasson P.M.E. of Yoro.

 - Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid, ambassador of Sudan, on his farewell visit.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the bishops of the Chinese dioceses of Hong Kong and Macao, on the occasion of their "ad limina" visit.

  These two particular Churches, said the Holy Father, are "called to be witnesses to Christ, to look forward in hope and to announce the Gospel facing up to the new challenges that the people of Hong Kong and Macao must embrace".

  He pointed out the need for "an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy" highlighting how this "is an intrinsic requirement of the gift and sacramental ministry received; and it proves necessary in every age. It is particularly urgent today, not only because of rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions of individuals and peoples among whom the priestly ministry is exercised, but also because of that 'new evangelisation' which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church".

  "Catholic schools offer an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations. This crucial aspect of personal growth is what motivates Catholic parents, and those from other religious traditions, to seek out Catholic schools".

  "The Catholic schools of your two dioceses have given significant impulse to the social development and cultural growth of your people. Today these educational centres face new difficulties; be assured that I am with you, and I encourage you to ensure that this important service will never fall by the wayside".

  The Holy Father thanked the bishops "for the affection and devotion you have shown to the Holy See in different ways. As I congratulate you on the many achievements of your well-organised diocesan communities, I encourage you to even greater commitment in the search for adequate means of presenting the Christian message of love in a more comprehensible way to the world in which you live", he said.

  "I also encourage your dioceses to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance". In this context the Pope expressed his recognition for "the invaluable service" of "the charitable organisation Caritas of both dioceses".

  Benedict XVI concluded by saying: "I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your brother bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 400 representatives from the Vicariate of Rome for a ceremony marking the retirement from office of the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the appointment of his successor, Cardinal Agostino Vallini.

  "The closing years of last century, and the first years of the new were a truly extraordinary time", said the Pope, "and all the more so for people who, like us, had the good fortune to experience them alongside a true giant of the faith and of the mission of the Church, my venerated predecessor".

  Collaborating closely with John Paul II, "we were 'drawn along' by his exceptional spiritual strength, rooted in prayer, in profound union with the Lord Jesus Christ and in filial intimacy with His Most Holy Mother. John Paul II's missionary charisma had ... a decisive influence on his pontificate, in particular on the period of preparation for the Jubilee 2000. And this was directly evident in the diocese of Rome, the Pope's own diocese, thanks to the constant commitment of the cardinal vicar and his collaborators".

  As an example of such commitment Benedict XVI mentioned "the Rome Citizens' Mission and the 'Dialogues in the Cathedral', manifestations of a Church which, at the very moment in which she was gaining a greater awareness of her own diocesan identity, ... opened herself ... to a missionary mentality ... destined to last not just the length of a season, but ... to become permanent".

  The Pope explained how Cardinal Ruini, who was appointed vicar of Rome in 1991, showed great concern for the mission, a concern "backed up by an outstanding capacity for theological and philosophical reflection. ... The apostolate, especially in our own time, must be constantly nourished by thought in order to explain the significance of gestures and actions which otherwise lapse into sterile activism", he said.

  Referring to fields in which Cardinal Ruini and the then Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had worked together, the Pope recalled the diocesan ecclesial conferences "called to respond to the most urgent pastoral questions, while taking account of the social and cultural context of the city".

  The Holy Father also mentioned the "cultural project", an initiative of the Italian Church which calls attention "to the Church's place in society; in other words the desire of the Christian community - responding to the mission of its Lord - to be present among men and women, and in history, with a plan for mankind, family and social relationships, inspired by the Word of God and expressed through dialogue with the culture of the time.

  "In this, dear cardinal", the Pope added, "you have given an example that goes beyond the initiatives of the moment, an example of commitment to 'thinking the faith' in absolute conformity to the Magisterium of the Church, with careful attention to the teachings of the bishop of Rome and, at the same time, while constantly listening to the questions that arise from contemporary culture and from the problems of modern society".

  In closing, Benedict XVI greeted Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the new vicar of the diocese of Rome and until now prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Welcoming him to his new office, the Pope said "I entrust it to you bearing in mind the pastoral experience you gained first as auxiliary in the great archdiocese of Naples, then as bishop of Albano, to which experiences you add proven gifts of wisdom and cordiality".
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