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Monday, November 17, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 15 NOV 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the 23rd plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who have been meeting to examine the theme: "Twenty years after 'Christifideles laici': memory, development, new challenges and tasks".

  The Pope began by explaining how the Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles laici" represents "an organic reassessment of Vatican Council II's teaching on the laity: their dignity as baptised persons, their vocation to sanctity, their membership of the ecclesial communion, their involvement in building Christian communities and in the mission of the Church, their witness in all areas of social life and their commitment to serve the integral growth of the individual and the common good of society".

  The Exhortation serves as a guide "for discernment and for the intensification of the Church's lay commitment in the face of the social changes of recent years", said Benedict XVI. It also "indicates the 'criteria of ecclesiality' which are necessary, on the one hand, for pastors' own discernment and, on the other, for the development of associations of faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities".

  "The current cultural and social situation makes this kind of apostolic activity even more urgently necessary, so as fully to share the treasure of grace and sanctity, of charity, doctrine, culture and works of which ... Catholic tradition is composed. The new generations are not only the chief recipients of such transmission, ... but also those whose hearts await proposals of truth and happiness to which to render Christian witness, as already happens in such a marvellous way. I myself was able to observe as much during the recent World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia".

  Benedict XVI then went on to praise the Pontifical Council for the Laity for the importance it gives to "the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society" because "men and women, equal in their dignity, are called to enrich one another in communion and collaboration, not only in marriage and the family, but in all dimensions of society".

  Finally, the Pope exhorted the pontifical council "to continue to show diligent pastoral care for the formation, witness and collaboration of the lay faithful in all those situations in which the authentic quality of human life in society is implicated".

  He concluded: "I particularly reiterate the urgent need for evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of the new generation of Catholics involved in political life, that they may remain coherent to the faith they profess, uphold their moral rigour, capacity for cultural judgement, professional competency and passion for service of the common good".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 NOV 2008 (VIS) - The Pope today received participants in the Twenty-third International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The meeting, which had as its theme this year "Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children", was held in the Vatican from 13 to 15 November.

  The Holy Father indicated how the meeting had thrown light on the difficult conditions experienced by "large numbers of children in vast regions of the earth" and how, despite the fact that medical advances have considerably reduced infant mortality, "much remains to be done in this field. Suffice it to recall", he said, "that four million newborn infants under the age of 26 days die every year".

  "Today's challenge is to prevent the emergence of many illnesses once typical of childhood and, overall, to favour the growth, development and maintenance of a correct state of health for all children".

  After highlighting the difficulty in achieving "a proper balance between the continuation and abandonment of treatment so as to ensure adequate care for the young patients without giving way to the temptation of experimentalism", the Pope recalled how the focus of all medical activity "must always be the authentic good of the child, considered in his or her dignity as a human being with full rights. Children must, then, always be cared for with love, to help them face suffering and sickness, even before birth, in a way appropriate to their situation.

  "Bearing in mind the emotional impact of the sickness the child must undergo, and of the treatment, which at times can be particularly invasive, it is important to ensure constant communication with the relatives",  Benedict XVI added.

  "The sick, and especially children, have a particular understanding of the language of tenderness and love as expressed though sensitive, patient and generous service, which in believers is animated by the desire to show the same predilection that Jesus showed for children", he said.

  The Holy Father highlighted how "all human beings have an inherent value because created in the image of God, to Whose gaze they appear even more precious the weaker they seem in the eyes of man. With how much love, then, must we welcome a child not yet born and already affected with sickness". In this context he also mentioned "the orphaned or abandoned children of poverty and family disintegration, ... the innocent child victims of AIDS or war, ... and children who die through poverty drought or hunger.

  "The Church", he added, "does not forget these the smallest of her children and if, on the one hand, she applauds the initiatives of the richer nations to improve the conditions for their development, on the other she feels the compelling duty to call for greater attention to be paid to these brothers and sisters, so that, thanks to our joint solidarity they may look upon life with trust and hope".

  Benedict XVI concluded by thanking people "who commit their energies and material resources" to helping children. And he expressed particular appreciation "for our own 'Bambino Gesu' Hospital and the many Catholic social-healthcare associations and institutions which, following the example of Jesus Christ the Good Samaritan and animated by charity, bring human, moral and spiritual support and relief to so many suffering children, who are the objects of God's special love".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 NOV 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 30 October, in which he appoints Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the Jubilee year of the Cistercian abbey of Waldsassen, Germany, due to be held on 23 November 2008, the 875th anniversary of its foundation.

  The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Thomas Denter O. Cist., former abbot of Marienstatt, and Fr. Gabriel K. Lobendanz O. Cist., spiritual assistant to the abbey of Waldsassen.


VATICAN CITY, 15 NOV 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. as pontifical legate to celebrations marking the Sixth World Meeting of Families, scheduled to take place in Mexico City, Mexico from 13 to 18 January 2009.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the penultimate Sunday of the liturgical year, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope explained how today's Gospel reading of the parable of the talents, "invites us to be vigilant and industrious while awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus at the end of time".

  The talents in the parable "represent the wealth the Lord left to us in inheritance, in order that we may might make it grow: His Word deposited in the Holy Gospel", said the Pope. "Today's parable stresses the attitude with which we must welcome and appreciate this gift.

  "The wrong attitude is that of fear", he added. "This happens, for example, to those who, having received Baptism, Communion and Confirmation, bury these gifts under a layer of prejudice, under a false image of God that paralyses faith and works. ... Yet the parable also highlights the good fruits brought by the disciples who ... did not hide the gift ... but made if fructify by sharing it with others. What Christ has given us is multiplied when we give it to others".

  "This evangelical teaching" he concluded "has also had a socio-historical effect, promoting an active and enterprising mentality among Christian peoples. But its central message concerns the spirit of responsibility with which we must welcome the Kingdom of God: responsibility toward God and towards humankind".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus this morning, the Pope recalled the fact that 21 November, the liturgical feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, also marks "por orantibus" Day, an initiative dedicated to cloistered religious communities.

  "Let us thank the Lord", he said, "for the sisters and brothers who have embraced this mission dedicating themselves completely to prayer, and who live off what they receive from divine Providence. Let us in our turn pray for them and for new vocations, and undertake to support the material needs of monasteries, Dear sisters and brothers, yours is an indispensable presence in the Church and in the world. I remain close to you and I bless you with great affection".

  Benedict XVI then went on to mention "in a special way all those who have died as a result of traffic accidents. We pray for their eternal rest and for the consolation of their families who grieve their loss. ... I implore everyone - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed carefully the words of St. Paul in the liturgy of the Word today: 'stay sober and alert'. Our behaviour on the roads should be characterised by responsibility, consideration and a respect for others. May the Virgin Mary lead us safely along streets and highways throughout the world", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Georges Chakib El Khoury, the new ambassador of Lebanon to the Holy See, to whom he expressed the hope that the Lebanese people "may courageously continue their efforts to build a united and solidary society".

  "The millennial history of the country, and the place it occupies at the centre of a complex region, give it a fundamental mission to contribute to peace and harmony among everyone", said the Holy Father.

  After highlighting how "because of its experience of life and of inter-community and inter-cultural collaboration, Lebanon is a 'treasure' that has been entrusted to all the Lebanese people", the Pope expressed the hope that "the international community may protect and value the country and, through real commitment, may contribute to preventing it becoming a land in which regional and global conflicts are played out. Lebanon must, then, be a laboratory in which to seek effective solutions to the conflicts that  have long troubled the Middle East".

  "The election of the president of the Republic, the formation of a government of national unity and the approval of a new electoral law", he said, "will favour national cohesion and contribute to the true coexistence of the various components of the nation. ... I hope that, leaving particular interests to one side and healing the wounds of the past, everyone will make an effective commitment to the path of dialogue and reconciliation so that the country may progress in stability".

  "The tensions that still exist demonstrate the need to continue down the path opened some months ago with the Doha Agreement, in order to build Lebanese institutions together", Pope Benedict noted. "In this commitment to the common good, people must be guided by an unshakeable certainty: each member of the Lebanese people must feel Lebanon as their home and know that their own concerns and legitimate expectations are effectively taken into consideration, while showing reciprocal respect for the rights of others".

  "To this end", the Holy Father went on, "it is necessary to promote and develop true education for peace, reconciliation and dialogue, directed above all at the young generations. ... Lasting peace, which is the profound aspiration of all Lebanese, is possible only if everyone gives fundamental importance to the will to live together in the same land, and considers justice, reconciliation and dialogue as the appropriate context in which to resolve the problems of individuals and groups".

  On this subject, Benedict XVI underlined how building a society "which ensures all its members a free and dignified life" calls for "increasingly tight co-operation between all sides of the nation, based on trusting relationships between individuals and communities".

  "The Holy See", he said, "always follows events in Lebanon very closely and pays particular attention to the efforts made to find a definitive solution to the problems facing the country. Particularly sensitive to the sufferings undergone for so long by the people of the Middle East, the Holy See continues with determination its commitment to peace and reconciliation in Lebanon and throughout that region so beloved to all believers".

  Finally the Holy Father, recalling the recent beatification of Fr. Jacques Ghazir Haddad, "apostle of mercy", greeted the Catholic community in Lebanon, inviting its members to become "architects of unity and fraternity".


VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

 - Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

 - Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo O.F.M., archbishop of Seville, Spain.

  On Saturday, 15 November he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier, O.P. pro-theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household.

 - Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.
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