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Thursday, September 25, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father, in accordance with article 30 para. 1 of the Statute of the Italian Episcopal Conference, appointed Bishop Mariano Crociata of Noto, Italy, as secretary general of that conference for a five-year period.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Ramiro Moliner Ingles, apostolic nuncio to Albania.

 - Five prelates from the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Nicolas Contugno Fanizzi S.D.B. of Montevideo.

    - Bishop Arturo Eduardo Fajardo Bustamante of San Jose de Mayo.

    - Bishop Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira of Minas.

    - Bishop Martin Pablo Perez Scremini of Florida, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Raul Horacio Scarrone Carrero.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P. and Msgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, respectively prefect, secretary and under-secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presented a document entitled: "Reform of the Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences".

  The text, which has been published in English, French, Spanish and Italian, is made up of three sections: Structure of Higher Institutes of Religious Sciences (HIRS), Process of Erecting an HIRS, and Final Norms.

  Study in HIRS, the document reads "has three primary goals. Its first aim is the promotion of the religious formation of the laity and of those in consecrated life in order that they might better participate in the task of evangelisation of the secular world in which they live. This role emphasises also the assumption of professional duties in ecclesial life and in the installation of a Christian sensibility in society. Its second goal is to prepare candidates for the many diverse lay ministries and services to the Church. And its third goal is to prepare teachers of religion at all school levels below the university level".

  "All the teachers, whatever their position, should always be distinguished by the suitability of their knowledge of their fields, by an upright life, the integration of doctrine, the commitment to their work, such that they might more effectively contribute to the mission of the Institute. The teaching should be animated by a commitment to Divine Revelation, by fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and by respect for scientific truth".

  On the subject of students, the documents states that "the HIRS should be open to all faithful Catholics - lay and religious - marked by their moral conduct and the prior studies they may have done in this area, who desire to receive a strong preparation in Religious Sciences".

  The new Instruction, which substitutes a preceding norm published by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 1987, has the aim, said Cardinal Grocholewski quoting from the document, "of regularising the varied HIRS that exist in the universal Church in order to ensure appropriate academic and scientific levels, in fidelity to the Magisterium, and of responding to the requests of local Churches that desire to erect new Institutes".

  The cardinal highlighted how the principal novelties concern "the period of study in HIRS, which will now last for a period of five years, structured into two cycles: an initial three-year cycle at the end of which candidates receive a Baccalaureate in Religious Sciences, and a subsequent two-year cycle culminating in a Licence in Religious Sciences. The old norm", he explained, "made provision for a single period of study lasting four years".

  Other novelties include "the extension to these Institutes of the names of academic degrees utilised in Ecclesiastical Faculties (Baccalaureate and License, and not 'Magisterium'), and the fact that for the first time the necessary number of permanent teaching staff has been established (there must be at least five or, if the Institute offers only the first cycle of studies, at least four). Other innovations", the cardinal went on, include "the need for a sufficient number of students in each Institute (in ordinary circumstances no fewer than 75), the fact that permanent staff members of HIRS may not be permanent staff members of other academic institutions, and the more precise definition of the roles and tasks of academic authorities, both those shared with Theological Faculties (chancellor, president or dean, and the council of the Faculty), and those specific to the HIRS (moderator, director and council of the Institute)".

  In his remarks, Archbishop Brugues explained that the document being presented this morning "follows in the wake of one of the great intuitions of Vatican Council II: the importance of the laity". In order for lay people to perform their specific role, from "catechesis and teaching in Catholic schools and universities", to "leadership roles in Catholic action movements and Christian-inspired communications media, ... they must receive due formation. They have the right to ask for it and the Church has the duty to offer it to them".

  To this end, the archbishop went on, "student priests will receive the formation dispensed by Ecclesiastical Faculties, while lay people are invited to turn to the Higher Institutes of Religious Studies". These, he explained, "are two separate itineraries, differentiated above all by the kind of teaching and the stages of formation". It is hoped that the programme devised for lay people will "provide them with a new opportunity to participate in a more profound study of the truth, and create a fusion between the faith of the Church - clearly universal in its scope - and the particular cultures of the local Churches", while always seeking "a formation founded on excellence".

  The presentation was concluded by Msgr. Zani who, after examining the situation of Higher Institutes of Religious Studies in the world, noted that "we cannot expect to reduce within a single rigid model of formation for lay people, the plurality and diversity of the formative institutions that exist today, many of which are already recognised by the Holy See".

  "In any case it is necessary that when academic institutes that award ecclesiastical degrees are created, ... two fundamental criteria indicated in the Vatican Council II Declaration 'Gravissimum educationis' be respected: ... the appropriate distribution of higher institutes in the various parts of the world and the guarantee of their academic standards and exalted cultural goals".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received participants in a seminar entitled: "Beyond the Educational Emergency. Catholic schools at the service of young people". The seminar has been promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference's Study Centre for Catholic Schools to mark the tenth anniversary of its foundation.

  Highlighting the importance of the mission of Catholic schools, the Pope quoted from a document of the Italian Episcopal Conference entitled "Catholic Schools in Italy Today", where it is written that "Catholic schools are an expression of the right of all citizens to freedom of education, and of their corresponding duty of solidarity in the construction of civil coexistence".

  "In order to be selected and appreciated, Catholic schools must be understood in their educational aims", said the Holy Father. To this end a "mature awareness" is necessary, "not only of their ecclesial identity and cultural programme, but also of their civil importance which should be considered not as a defence of special interests but as a precious contribution to creating the common good of all Italian society".

  Thanks to the collaboration of various Italian educational institutions and organisations, noted Benedict XVI, over these ten years the Study Centre for Catholic Schools has "been able to undertake a careful monitoring of the situation of Catholic schools in Italy, dedicating particular attention to the question of parity and reform. ... In this context, it has been noted that attendance in Catholic schools in some regions of Italy has grown with respect to the preceding decade, although serious - and sometimes even critical - situations persist.

  "It is", the Holy Father added in conclusion, "precisely in the context of the renewal wished for by all people who have the good of the young and the country to heart that we must favour real equality between State schools and private schools, so as to grant parents appropriate liberty of choice on the schools their children attend".
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