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Monday, December 1, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the from the office of auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Argentina, presented by Bishop Horacio Benites Astoul, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Barrancabermeja, Colombia, as bishop of Cucuta (area 2,200, population 816,000, Catholics 734,000, priests 129, permanent deacons 7, religious 277), Colombia.

  On Saturday 29 November it was made public that he accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Sacramento, U.S.A. presented by Bishop William K. Weigand, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, U.S.A.

 - Bishop Cristian Enrique Contreras Molina O.M. of San Felipe, Chile, on his "ad limina" visit.

  On Saturday 29 November he received in separate audiences five prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Chile, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Juan Florindo Agurto Munoz O.S.M. of San Carlos de Ancud.

    - Bishop Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic of Linares.

    - Bishop Enrique Troncoso Troncoso of Melipilla.

    - Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua.

    - Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The International Theological Commission is celebrating its plenary session from 1 to 5 December in the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae", under the chairmanship of Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary general of the commission.

  The commission, which has a five-year mandate that expires this year, will study the matters presented for it to examine, says a communique published today. In particular, a draft document on natural moral law entitled "The search for universal ethics. A new look at natural law", will be presented for members' approval. The draft document will still have to follow the procedures laid down in the Statutes before any publication. This will be followed by a detailed discussion on the theme: "Meaning and method of theology".

  At the end of their plenary assembly, the members of the International Theological Commission will be received in audience by the Holy Father.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions took into consideration the present situation in Sri Lanka", reads an English-language communique, "in order to underline the necessity of meeting the basic needs of the deeply-affected civilian population and consolidating the path of dialogue and negotiation, which is the only way to reach a just and lasting political solution to the ongoing conflict.

  "The hope was also expressed that the Catholic Church would continue to enjoy the full right to religious freedom, thus enabling her to make a significant contribution to the life of the country through her religious witness, her educational, healthcare and charitable initiatives, and her commitment to work for the common good, reconciliation and peace".


VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That, faced by the growing expansion of the culture of violence and death, the Church may courageously promote the culture of life through all her apostolic and missionary activities".

  His mission intention is: "That, especially in mission countries, Christians may show through gestures of brotherliness that the Child born in the grotto in Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received the rector, professors, students and technical and administrative staff of the University of Parma, Italy.

  In his address to them, the Pope referred to "the 'lesson' left to us by St. Peter Damian" (1007-1072), who completed his studies in Parma and later became a cardinal and reformer of his time.

  University students, said Benedict XVI, "cannot but be sensitive to St. Peter Damian's spiritual heritage: ... the happy blend of hermit life and ecclesial activity, the harmonious tension between the two fundamental poles of human existence: solitude and communion".

  "New generations today", he said, "are exposed to a twofold danger, due mainly to the spread of new information technologies. On the one hand, they run the risk of a growing reduction in their capacity for concentration and mental application on an individual level; on the other, that of isolating themselves individually in an increasingly virtual reality. In this way the social dimension is dispersed in a thousand fragments, while the individual dimension turns in on itself and tends to close off to constructive relations with others".

  After recalling that St. Peter Damian "was one of the great reformers of the Church after the year 1000", the Pope pointed out that "all authentic reform must be, first and foremost, spiritual and moral; that is, it must start from people's consciences. ... If we want a human environment to improve in quality and efficiency, we must first of all ensure that each person begins by reforming him or herself, correcting that which can harm the common good or hinder it in any way".

  "The goal of the reforming activities of St. Peter Damian and of his contemporaries was to ensure the Church became free, primarily in spiritual terms, but also in historical ones. In the same way, the validity of university reform finds its confirmation in freedom. Freedom to teach, freedom to pursue research, freedom of the academic institution from economic and political power. This does not mean isolating the university from society ... nor pursuit of private interests by profiting from public resources. ... Truly free, according to the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, is the person, community or institution that fully responds to its own nature and goals".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2008 (VIS) - As is traditional for the Feast of St. Andrew, the Pope has written a Message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The Message was delivered during the course of a visit to Istanbul by Cardinal Walter Kapser, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

  In the English-language Message for the feast day of the patron of the patriarchate of Constantinople, the Pope mentions Bartholomew I's three visits to Rome this year, the last of which was to participate in the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in October

  "We reflect with joy and thanksgiving that the relations between us are entering progressively deeper levels as we renew our commitment to the path of prayer and dialogue", the Pope writes.

  "We trust that our common journey will hasten the arrival of that blessed day when we will praise God together in a shared celebration of the Eucharist. The inner life of our Churches and the challenges of our modern world urgently demand this witness of unity among Christ's disciples", he concludes.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2008 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Holy Father invited people to pray "for the many victims of the brutal terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and of the clashes in Jos, Nigeria, as well as for the injured and for everyone who has been affected by the violence, in whatever way.

  "The causes and circumstances of these tragic events are different", he added, "but the horror and censure at the outbreak of so much cruel and senseless violence is one and the same. We ask the Lord to touch the hearts of people who delude themselves by thinking this is the way to resolve local or international problems, and we feel urged to give an example of mildness and love in order to build a society worthy of God and man".

  Pope Benedict then turned his attention to the recent Latin American Meeting of Prison Pastoral Care, promoted by the Episcopal Council for Latin America, expressing his encouragement "to those who work in favour of men an women who have lost their liberty, but not their dignity.

  "Also in cases such as these", he concluded, "fundamental human rights have to be respected and attempts made at recovery and re-education so as to enable prisoners to be reintegrated into society. I express my closeness to them, I remember them in my prayers and I bless them, inviting them not to feel alone and to maintain hope in the Lord, Who is always faithful to His promises of salvation and Who comes to visit His vineyard, which He Himself planted among men".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the First Sunday of Advent, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with the thousands of pilgrims gathered there.

  Advent, which opens the new liturgical year, "invites us to reflect upon the dimension of time", said the Pope. Many people in our own day, he noted, complain of "a lack of time, because the rhythm of daily life has become so frenetic for everyone. Yet even on this subject, the Church has 'good news' to bring. God gives us His time. We always have little time. For the Lord, especially, we do not know how, or sometimes do not want to, find it. And yet God has time for us. ... He gives us His time, because He entered history with His word and His works of salvation, opening it to eternity and making it a history of alliance.

  "From this point of view", he added, "time is, in itself, already a fundamental sign of God's love: a gift which man ... can either value or waste, understand its significance of superficially ignore".

  The Pope then went on to identify the three cardinal moments of time which mark the history of salvation: creation, incarnation-redemption, and 'parusia' which includes the final judgement. "These three moments, however, are not to be understood in mere chronological succession", he said. "Creation is, indeed, the origin of everything but it is also continuous and operates over the entire span of cosmic development, until the end of time. Incarnation-redemption too, although it took place at a specific historical moment, the period of Jesus' time on earth, nonetheless extends its range of action to all time that preceded and followed. And in their turn the second coming and final judgement, decisively anticipated in the Cross of Christ, exercise their influence on the behaviour of mankind in all ages".

  "The Lord comes continually into our lives. ... On this first Sunday we are again powerfully presented with Jesus' call to "remain vigilant" because "at a time that only God knows each will be called to account for his or her life. This means", he concluded, "detachment from worldly things, sincere penitence for one's errors, effective charity towards others and, above all, humble and trusting abandonment in the hands of God, our tender and merciful Father".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2008 (VIS) - Today, the First Sunday of Advent, the Pope celebrated morning Mass at the Roman Basilica of San Lorenzo, in order to commemorate the 1,750th anniversary of the martyrdom of the deacon St. Lawrence.

  In his homily the Holy Father spoke of the significance of Advent, explaining that "it means remembering the first coming of the Lord in the flesh, with our minds on His definitive return; at the same time, it means recognising that Christ is present among us and is our travelling companion in the life of the Church which celebrates His mystery".

  "In this perspective Advent becomes for all Christians a time of expectation and hope, a privileged time in which to listen and reflect, allowing ourselves to be guided by the liturgy which invites us to go out towards the Lord Who comes".

  "'Come Lord Jesus', this ardent invocation of the early Christian community must also become our constant aspiration, the aspiration of the Church in all ages which longs and prepares for the meeting with her Lord: 'Come today, Lord, help us, enlighten us, give us peace, help us to overcome violence, come Lord, we pray in these weeks, Lord bring Your face to shine and we will be saved'".

  The Pope went on to focus on St. Lawrence, highlighting how "his solicitude for the poor, his generous service to the Church of Rome in the field of charity work, and his faithfulness to the Pope to the point of following him in the supreme trial of martyrdom ... are known to everyone".

  Benedict XVI then reminded the faithful of "a particularly dramatic event in the centuries-long history of your basilica, an event which took place during World War II, on 19 July 1943, when a violent bombardment inflicted grave damage to the building and to the entire neighbourhood, spreading death and destruction. History will never forget the indelible memory of the generous act undertaken on that occasion by my venerated predecessor, Pius XII, who immediately set out to save and console the hard-hit people among the smouldering ruins.

  "Nor do I forget", he added, "that this basilica houses the tombs of two other great figures", Blessed Pope Pius IX and Alcide De Gasperi "who was the wise and provident guide of Italy during the difficult post-war years of reconstruction and, at the same time, an outstanding statesman with a broad-ranging Christian vision of Europe".

  After mentioning the invitation in today's Gospel 'to remain vigilant', the Holy Father explained how this means "to follow the Lord, to chose what He chose, to Love what He loved, to conform our lives to His. Vigilance means spending every instant of our time within the horizon of His love without allowing ourselves to be cast down by the inevitable difficulties and daily problems. This is what St. Lawrence did, this is what we must do, and we ask the Lord to give us His grace, that Advent may become a stimulus for everyone to advance in this direction".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2008 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at first Vespers for the First Sunday of Lent.

  "Advent is, par excellence, the spiritual season of hope", said the Pope in his homily. "During that time the entire Church is called to become hope, for herself and for the world. ... All the people of God resume their journey, attracted by this mystery: that our God is the 'God Who comes' and calls us to come out and meet Him, ... first and foremast in that universal form of hope and expectation which is prayer".

  The Pope indicated the Psalms as the most exalted form of prayer, and quoted Psalm 141: "I call upon You, O Lord; come quickly to me". This, he said, "is the cry of a person who senses great danger. But it is also the cry of the Church among the many perils that surround her and threaten her sanctity, that irreprehensible integrity of which the Apostle Paul speaks and which must be conserved for the coming of the Lord.

  "In this invocation resounds the cry of all the just, of all those who wish to resist evil and the enticements of iniquitous wellbeing, of pleasures offensive to human dignity and to the condition of the poor", the Holy Father added. "At the beginning of Advent, the liturgy of the Church once again makes this cry her own and raises it to God 'as incense' ... which is a symbol of prayer, of the effusions of people's hearts towards God".

  "In the cry of the mystical Body we recognise the voice of the Head, the Son of God Who has taken our trials and temptations upon Himself to give us the grace of His victory". In praying the Psalms, "the Church relives the grace of this compassion, of this 'coming' of the Son of God into human anguish until touching its very depths. The cry of hope of Advent expresses, then, ... all the gravity of our condition, our extreme need for salvation. Which is to say that we await the Lord not as some beautiful decoration to a world already saved, but as the only way of liberation from mortal danger".

  Referring again to Psalms 141 and 142, which form part of today's liturgy, Benedict XVI pointed out that "they guard us from any temptation to evade and flee reality, they protect us from a false hope which could perhaps seek to enter Advent and so make us proceed towards Christmas forgetting the drama of our individual and community existence".

  The Holy Father concluded by saying that "a reliable hope, one that does not deceive, cannot but be a 'Paschal' hope, as we are reminded ... by the canticle of the Letter to the Philippians with which we praise the Christ incarnate, crucified and risen, universal Lord".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as his extraordinary special envoy on a special mission to ceremonies marking the 30th anniversary of the pontifical mediation between Argentina and Chile over the Beagle Channel. The event is due to be held in Monte Aymond, Argentina, on 5 December.

  The mission accompanying the cardinal will be made up of Archbishop Adriano Bernardini and Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, respectively apostolic nuncios to Argentina and Chile, and of the following representatives from the Argentinean and Chilean episcopate: Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin S.D.B. of Rio Gallegos, and Bishop Francisco Javier Prado Aranguiz SS.CC., emeritus of Rancagua.


VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received a group of students from the pontifical seminaries of the Italian regions of the Marche, Puglie, Abruzzo and Moliese. The audience marked the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of these regional seminaries.

  The mission of priests, said the Holy Father, "is to scatter with open hands the Word of God over the fields of the world". This Word, "which brings eternal life, is Christ Himself, the only One Who can change the human heart and renew the world. And yet we may ask ourselves: does modern man still feel the need for Christ and His message of salvation?"

  "In a climate sometimes marked by a rationalism which closes in on itself and considers the empirical sciences as the only paradigm of knowledge, all the rest becomes subjective and, as a consequence, religious experience also risks being seen as a subjective choice, not essential and decisive for life", Said Benedict XVI.

  He then went on to highlight how "contemporary man often seems confused and concerned about his future, seeking certainties and eager for secure points of reference. Mankind of the third millennium, as in all ages, has need of God and sometimes seeks Him without even realising". In this context he emphasised the fact that Christians, "and especially priests" are called "to respond to this profound longing of the human heart and to offer everyone, using means and methods in keeping with the needs of the time, the unchangeable Word of eternal life which is Christ, Hope of the world.

  "In the light of this important mission", he added, "the years spent in the seminary assume great importance, a time dedicated to formation and discernment, years in which priority must be given to the constant search for a personal relationship with Jesus".

  In this year dedicated to St. Paul, the Pope suggested the seminarians take the Apostle as "a model from which to draw inspiration in your preparation for the apostolic ministry", and he called upon the future priests to imitate St. Paul in tirelessly seeking "Jesus through listening to, reading and studying Sacred Scripture, through prayer and individual meditation, through the liturgy and all daily activities".

  The Holy Father concluded by expressing the hope that the regional seminaries may "also become 'houses' in which to welcome vocations, so as to give even greater momentum to vocational pastoral care, with particular concern for the world of youth, educating young people to the great evangelical and missionary ideals".
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