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Friday, September 19, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - The Infanta Cristina de Borbon of Spain, accompanied by Ignacio Urdangarin Liebaert, Duke of Palma, and an entourage.

 - Four prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Panama, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Uriah Ashley of Penonome.

    - Bishop Oscar Mario Brown Jimenez of Santiago de Veraguas.

    - Bishop Anibal Saldana Santamaria O.A.R., prelate of Bocas del Toro.

    - Bishop Pedro Hernandez Cantarero C.M.F., apostolic vicar of Darien.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20080919 (90)


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today published its annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan. The Message bears the signatures of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council, and has as its theme this year (1429 AH / 2008 AD): "Christians and Muslims: Together for the dignity of the family."

  The Message has been published in various languages. Excerpts from the English version are given below:

  "During this month Christians close to you have shared your reflections and your family celebrations; dialogue and friendship have been strengthened. Praise be to God!"

  "This friendly rendezvous gives us an opportunity to reflect together on a mutually topical subject which will enrich our exchange and help us to get to know each other better, in our shared values as well as in our differences: ... the subject of the family.

  "One of the documents of Vatican Council II, 'Gaudium et Spes', which deals with the Church in the modern world, states: 'The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family. Hence Christians and all men who hold this community in high esteem sincerely rejoice in the various ways by which men today find help in fostering this community of love and perfecting its life'".

  "These words give us an opportune reminder that the development of both the human person and of society depends largely on the healthiness of the family! How many people carry, sometimes for the whole of their life, the weight of the wounds of a difficult or dramatic family background? ... Christians and Muslims can and must work together to safeguard the dignity of the family, today and in the future.

  "Given the high esteem in which both Muslims and Christians hold the family, we have already had many occasions, from the local to the international level, to work together in this field. The family, that place where love and life, respect for the other and hospitality are encountered and transmitted, is truly the 'fundamental cell of society'.

  "Muslims and Christians must never hesitate, not only to come to the aid of families in difficulty, but also to collaborate with all those who support the stability of the family as an institution and the exercise of parental responsibility, in particular in the field of education. I need only remind you that the family is the first school in which one learns respect for others, mindful of the identity and the difference of each one. Inter-religious dialogue and the exercise of citizenship cannot but benefit from this".
OP/RAMADAN MESSAGE/TAURAN:CELATA                    VIS 20080919 (470)


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Panama, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his remarks to them, the Pope highlighted the bishops' initiatives "to sow the Word of God in the hearts of Panamanians and to accompany them on their journey to maturity in the faith, that they may become authentic disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ".

  One "reason for joy", the Holy Father said, is "the fruitful missionary activity of priests, religious and lay people". This, he said, "contrasts the growing secularisation of society ... that invades all aspects of daily life, encourages a mentality in which God is effectively absent from human life and conscience, and often uses the communications media to spread individualism, hedonism, and ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of marriage, the family and Christian morals".

  In order to face these challenges, said the Pope, what is needed is "profound knowledge of the Lord Jesus and sincere love for Him". This is to be achieved through "mediating upon Sacred Scripture, adequate doctrinal and spiritual formation, constant prayer, the frequent receipt of the Sacrament of Penance, conscientious and active participation in Mass, and the practice of works of charity and mercy".

  Referring then to the pastoral care of youth and of vocations, Benedict XVI encouraged the prelates to pray to the Lord that He "may send many holy vocations to the priesthood, to which end the correct discernment of candidates is also necessary, as is apostolic zeal and the witness of communion and fraternity among priests".

  "Such a lifestyle", he went on, "must be inculcated beginning in the seminary, where the focus must be on serious academic discipline, time and space for daily prayer, the dignified celebration of the liturgy, adequate spiritual guidance, and the intense cultivation of human, Christian and priestly virtues. In this way, praying and studying, seminarians will be able to build within themselves the man of God that the faithful have the right to expect in their ministers".

  After emphasising the fact that many Panamanian families face difficulties "that threaten the stability of conjugal love, responsible parenthood and the harmony and stability of homes", the Holy Father pointed out that "enough effort can never be made to develop a vigorous pastoral care of families, so that people may discover the beauty of the vocation to Christian marriage, defend human life from conception to natural end, and build homes in which children are educated in love for the truth of the Gospel and in solid human values".

  Given the current situation in the country, it is particularly urgent "for the Church in Panama to continue to provide lights that may help to solve the serious human problems of the present, promoting a moral consensus of society on fundamental values. To this end it is of vital importance to divulge the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which enables a more profound and systematic knowledge of the ecclesial guidelines which must be applied, especially by the laity, in the political, social and economic fields".

  "In this way", Pope Benedict concluded, "Christian hope may illuminate the people of Panama, who thirst to know the truth about God and about man amidst the phenomena of poverty, youth violence, deficiencies in education, healthcare and housing, harassment by innumerable sects and corruption, which, to various degrees, disturb their lives and prevent their integral development".
AL/.../PANAMA                                    VIS 20080919 (590)

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