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Monday, June 30, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Stanislaw Tillich, minister-president of the Free State of Saxony, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil C.SS.R., major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India.

 - Nevine Simaika Halim Abdalla, ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, on her farewell visit.

  On Saturday, 28 June, he received in separate audiences:

 - Giovanni Alemanno, mayor of Rome.

 - Leonida L. Vera, ambassador of the Philippines on her farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received 40 metropolitan archbishops accompanied by members of their families. The archbishops yesterday received the pallium during a Eucharistic celebration held in the Vatican basilica.

  The Holy Father greeted each of the metropolitan archbishops in their respective languages. Then, addressing them as a group, he affirmed that "the image of an organic body applied to the Church is one of the powerful and characteristic elements of the doctrine of St. Paul. In this Jubilee Year dedicated to him, I wish to entrust each of you to his celestial protection. May the Apostle of the Gentiles help each of you to make the communities entrusted to your care grow in unity and mission, in harmonious and co-ordinated pastoral activity, animated by constant apostolic zeal".

  "The condition of service for all pastors is love for Christ, which must come before everything", said the Pope. He then recalled Jesus' question to Peter: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" saying "may it ever resound in our hearts and stimulate our ever fresh and passionate response: 'Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you'. It is from this love for Christ that the mission to 'feed my sheep' arises, a mission that may be summarised above all in His own testimony: ... 'follow me'".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were 40 new metropolitan archbishops, upon whom he imposed the pallium. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I was also present at the ceremony.

  The Pope and Bartholomew I entered St. Peter's Square together, preceded by an Orthodox and a Latin deacon bearing the Gospel.

  Following the reading of the Gospel in Latin and Greek the Holy Father presented the Ecumenical Patriarch to the assembly, after which each of them pronounced a homily.

  In his homily Benedict XVI spoke of the two Apostles, patrons saints of Rome. "Through their martyrdom", he said, "through their faith and their love, the two Apostles show where true hope lies. They founded a new kind of city, one that must be formed ever and anew in the midst of the old human city which is threatened by the opposing forces of sin and human selfishness".

  "We could say that their martyrdom was, in the deepest sense, like giving a fraternal embrace. They died for the one Christ and, in the witness for which they gave their lives, they became one single entity. In the New Testament we can, so to say, follow the development of that embrace, the creation of unity in witness and in the mission".

  The Pope highlighted the fact that although Paul "usually went only to places in which the Gospel had not already been announced, Rome was an exception. There he found a Church the faith of which was the talk of the world. Going to Rome was part of the universality of his mission as an envoy to all peoples, ... it was an expression of the catholicity of his mission. Rome must make the faith visible to the whole world, it must be a place of encounter in the one faith".

  Turning to consider Peter, the Holy Father recalled how "he left the presidency of the Christian-Judaic Church to James the Less in order to dedicate himself to his true mission, the ministry for the unity of the one Church of God made up of Jews and pagans".

  "The perpetual mission of Peter", he went on, is "to ensure the Church never becomes identified with a single nation, with a single culture or a single State. That she always remains the Church of everyone. That she unites humankind beyond all frontiers and, amidst the division of this world, brings God's peace, the reconciliatory power of His love".

  Addressing the archbishops who were about to receive the pallium, the Holy Father told them that the gesture of imposing it upon their shoulders "reminds us of the shepherd who takes the lost sheep across his back, the sheep that cannot find its way home, and brings it back to the fold. In this sheep the Fathers of the Church saw the image of the entire human race, of all human nature, which is lost and no longer knows the way home"; and the Pastor that brings it home "is the eternal Word of God Himself". Yet nonetheless, God "also wants men 'to carry' alongside Him. Being a pastor of the Church of Christ means sharing in this task".

  In this way, he said, "the pallium becomes a symbol of our love for Christ the Shepherd, and of our loving together with Him. ... It becomes a symbol of the call 'to love them all' with the power of Christ ... that they might find Him and, in Him, themselves".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by expressing the view that the pallium "speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion of Pastor and flock, just as it is a reference to apostolicity, to communion with the faith of the Apostles upon which the Church is founded".

  At the end of the Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father pointed out that since this year the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul falls on a Sunday, "the entire Church, and not just the Church of Rome, celebrates it solemnly".

  "Of course", said the Pope referring to the Pauline Year which he officially inaugurated yesterday, "its focal point will be Rome, in particular the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls and the place of the saint's martyrdom at the Three Fountains. But it will involve the entire Church, beginning with Tarsus where Paul was born, and the other Pauline sites ... in what is now Turkey, as well as the Holy Land and the island of Malta where the Apostle arrived after having been shipwrecked and sowed the fertile seed of the Gospel.

  "The truth is", he added, "that the horizon of the Pauline year cannot but be universal, because St. Paul was, par excellence, the Apostle to those who were 'far off' from the Jews and who 'by the blood of Christ' were 'brought near'. Hence, even today, in a world that has become 'smaller' but where many have still not met the Lord Jesus, the Jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to become missionaries of the Gospel".

  "As the liturgy says, the charisms of the two great Apostles are complementary in the edification of the one People of God, and Christians cannot render valid witness of Christ if they are not united among themselves".

  Benedict XVI concluded by inviting everyone to pray "for these great intentions: the Pauline Year, evangelisation, communion in the Church and full unity among all Christians, entrusting them to the celestial intercession of Most Holy Mary Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Benedict XVI presided at the celebration of first Vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, which also marked the opening of the Pauline Year. Among those participating in the ceremony were the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives from other Churches and Christian communities.

  The Holy Father, Bartholomew I, delegates from other Christian confessions, and monks from the abbey of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls walked in procession to the portico of the basilica where, before the statue of the saint, the Pope lit a candle from a brazier which will remain burning for the entire Pauline year. After the Pope the ecumenical patriarch and the representative of the primate of the Anglican communion also lit candles. The procession then entered the basilica through the Pauline Door.

  "We are gathered around the tomb of St. Paul, who was born 2000 years ago in Tarsus in Cilicia, in modern-day Turkey", said the Pope in his homily. "For us, Paul is not a figure of the past whom we recall with veneration. He is also our master, the Apostle and announcer of Jesus Christ to us too. Hence we are gathered here not to reflect upon a past history which has been left irrevocably behind. Paul wishes to speak to us today". Thus, the Pope explained, the Pauline Year serves "to listen to him and to learn from him, as from a master, the faith and the truth in which the reasons for the unity of Christ's disciples are rooted".

  "It is of great joy to me", said the Holy Father, "that the opening of the Pauline year should have a particularly ecumenical character, thanks to the presence of many delegates and representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities, whom I welcome with all my heart". They include "the Patriarch Bartholomew I, ... fraternal delegates of Churches that have especially close ties to the Apostle Paul (Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece) and that form the geographical setting of the Apostle's life before his arrival in Rome, ... and brethren from various Churches and ecclesial communities of East and West".

  "We are gathered here to ask ourselves about the great Apostle of the Gentiles. We ask ourselves not just who Paul was, but above all who he is. ... His faith was the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ with an entirely personal love; it was an awareness of the fact that Christ faced death not for some unidentified cause, but for love of him - of Paul - and that, being Risen, He loves him still. Christ gave Himself for him. ... His faith was not a theory, an opinion on God and on the world, His faith was the impact of God's love on his heart. And so this faith was love for Jesus Christ".

  The Holy Father then recalled how many people see Paul as "combative" noting that, "in fact, there was no lack of disputes on the Apostle's path. He did not seek superficial harmony. ... The truth was too great for him to be disposed to sacrifice it in the name of exterior success. The truth he experienced in his encounter with the Risen One was, for him, well worth struggle, persecution and suffering. But his deepest motivations were the fact that he was loved by Jesus Christ and his desire to transmit this love to others. ... Only on this basis can the fundamental concepts of his message be understood".

  Focusing then on one of Paul's "keywords: freedom", the Pope explained that "Paul, as a man loved by God, was free. ... This love was the 'law' of his life and, thus, it was the freedom of his life". Paul "spoke and acted moved by the responsibility of love. Freedom and responsibility are inseparably united. ... Those who love Christ as Paul loved Him can truly do as they please, because their love is united to the will of Christ and thus to the will of God; because their will is anchored in truth and because their will is not simply their own will - the decisions of an autonomous 'I' - but is integrated into the freedom of God".

  The Pope then went on to consider Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, when the Risen Christ proclaimed "I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting". By "persecuting the Church", said Benedict XVI, "Paul was persecuting Jesus" Who "identifies Himself with the Church as one single subject". This exclamation which transformed Saul's life "contains the entire doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ has not withdrawn to heaven, leaving a group of followers on earth to pursue 'His cause'. the Church is not an association that seeks to promote a particular cause" but "the person of Jesus Christ Who, even when Risen remained as 'flesh'. ... He has a body. He is personally present in His Church".

  "Through all this we glimpse the Eucharistic mystery, in which Christ continually gives His Body and makes us His Body", said the Pope and, noting with regret the laceration of this Body, asked Christ to overcome all divisions so that union "may once again become reality".

  Finally, the Holy Father recalled Paul's words to Timothy shortly before his heath: "Join with me in suffering for the Gospel". The Pope went on to note that the "duty of announcement and the call to suffer for Christ are inseparable. ... In a world where lies are so powerful, truth is paid with suffering. Those who wish to avoid suffering, to keep it away, keep away life itself and its greatness; they cannot be servants of truth or servants of the faith. ... Where there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself loses value. The Eucharist - the focus of our being Christian - is founded on Jesus' sacrifice for us, it was born of the suffering of love".

  "It is of this self-giving love that we live. It gives us the courage and the strength to suffer with Christ and for Him in this world, knowing that this is the way our lives become great, and mature, and true".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience Anibal Cavaco Silva, president of the Republic of Portugal, who subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with States, according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.

  "During the cordial discussions", the text reads, "attention turned to various questions of common interest, concerning the current situation of the country. Highlighting the good relations that exist between the Catholic Church and Portugal, attention dwelt on the implementation of the 2004 Concordat.

  "The discussions also touched on certain current aspects of international affairs, with particular reference to Europe and to Portugal's commitment towards certain African and Asian countries".


VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican at midday today, the Holy Father received His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, who has come to Rome to participate in the opening of the Pauline Year and in the celebration of Mass for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  In his remarks, Benedict XVI spoke of his happiness at learning that the patriarch had also called a Pauline Year to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles. "This happy coincidence", he said, "highlights the roots of our shared Christian vocation and the significant harmony of feelings and of pastoral commitment we are experiencing. For this I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who guides our path to unity with the strength of His Spirit.

  "St. Paul", the Pope added, "reminds us that full communion between all Christians has its foundation in 'one Lord, one faith, one Baptism'. ... To the Christians of Corinth, among whom discord had arisen, St. Paul did not hesitate to make a strong call for them all to remain in agreement, for there to be no divisions among them, and for them to unite in the same mind and purpose".

  The Holy Father noted how in our world, with its "persistent divisions and conflicts, men and women feel a growing need for certainty and peace. However, at the same time, they remain lost, as if ensnared by a certain form of hedonist and relativist culture which throws doubt upon the very existence of truth. The Apostle's guidance in this matter is extremely helpful in encouraging efforts aimed at seeking full unity among Christians, which is so necessary in order to offer humankind of the third millennium an ever more resplendent witness of Christ, Way, Truth and Life. Only in Christ and in His Gospel can humanity find the answer to its deepest hopes".

  "May the Pauline Year", he concluded, "help Christian people to renew their ecumenical commitment, and may there be an intensification of joint efforts on the journey to the full communion of all Christ's disciples. And as part of that journey, your presence here today is certainly an encouraging sign".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Juan del Rio Martin of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, as military ordinary archbishop for Spain. The archbishop-elect was born in Ayamonte, Spain in 1948, he was ordained a priest in 1974 and consecrated a bishop in 2000.

 - Accepted the resignation from the diocese of Wabag, Papua New Guinea, presented by Bishop Hermann Raich S.V.D., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Arnold Orowae.

  On Saturday, 28 June, it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Bishop Anthony Muheria of Embu, Kenya as bishop of Kitui (area 36,246, population 1,128,000, Catholics 250,000, priests 61, religious 119), Kenya.

 - Appointed Bishop Jozef Wrobel S.C.I. of Helsinki, Finland, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Lublin (area 9,108, population 1,069,136, Catholics 1,039,879, priests 1,314, religious 903), Poland.

 - Appointed Fr. Basilio Athai, rector of the major seminary of St. Michael in the archdiocese of Taunggyi, Myanmar, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 26,850, population 1,540,000, Catholics 7,450, priests 33, religious 92). The bishop-elect was born in Kyekadaw, Myanmar in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1984.
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