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Friday, December 5, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Karl Gosler of the clergy of the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, Italy, canon penitentiary and teacher of moral theology, as bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone (area 7,400, population 482,650, Catholics 468,650, priests 565, permanent deacons 12, religious 890). The bishop-elect was born in Tscherms-Cermes, Italy in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1968.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia Herzegovina.

 - Georges Santer, ambassador of Luxembourg on his farewell visit.

 - Anne Plunkett, ambassador of Australia, on her farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church for the death of His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All the Russias.

  "I was profoundly saddened to receive news of the death of His Holiness Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and of All the Russias, and with fraternal affection I wish to convey to the Holy Synod and to all the members of the Russian Orthodox Church my most sincere condolences, assuring you of my spiritual closeness at this very sad time. In my prayer I beseech the Lord to welcome into His Kingdom of eternal peace and joy this tireless servant, and to grant consolation and comfort to all those who mourn his passing, Mindful of the common commitment to the path of mutual understanding and co-operation between Orthodox and Catholics, I am pleased to recall the efforts of the late Patriarch for the rebirth of the Church, after the severe ideological oppression which led to the martyrdom of so many witnesses to the Christian faith. I also recall his courageous battle for the defence of human and gospel values, especially in the European continent, and I trust his commitment will bear fruit in peace and genuine progress, human, social and spiritual. At this sad time of loss, as his mortal remains are consigned to the earth in the sure hope of the resurrection, may the memory of this servant of Gospel of Christ be a support for those who are now in sorrow and an encouragement for those who will benefit from his spiritual legacy as leader of the venerable Russian Orthodox Church".

  For his part, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has issued a note expressing his own sadness at the death of the patriarch, who "was called to guide the Russian Orthodox Church in a period of great change. ... His leadership has enabled that Church to face the challenges of transition from the Soviet era to the present with renewed interior vitality".

  The cardinal recalls his "many meeting with His Holiness, who always made a point of expressing his goodwill towards the Holy Father and his desire to strengthen collaboration with the Catholic Church. His personal commitment to improving relations with the Catholic Church, in spite of the difficulties and tensions which from time to time have emerged, has never been in doubt".
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VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre were received in audience this morning by the Holy Father. The Grand Master of the Order is Cardinal John Patrick Foley, and the Grand Prior is His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins.

  The Equestrian Order has been meeting in Rome for the occasion of its "world consultation", a five-yearly meeting of lieutenants, delegates and members to assess the situation of the Catholic community in the Holy Land, study the activities of the Order and establish guidelines for the future.

  In his remarks to them Benedict XVI referred to the history of the Order, which came into being as "a 'guard of honour' for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord", and since its foundation "has attracted the particular concern of Roman Pontiffs, who have given it the spiritual and juridical instruments necessary for it to carry out its specific form of service".

  "An ancient and glorious link binds your equestrian fraternity to the Holy Sepulchre of Christ, where the glory of His death and resurrection is celebrated in a unique way. This is what constitutes the central focus of your spirituality. May Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, be the centre of your lives, of all your projects and of your individual and community programmes".

  The Pope exhorted the knights and ladies of the Order to be, "in our time, builders of a tangible hope", one that aims "to build a new humanity inspired by the evangelical values of justice, love and peace. How much need for justice and peace the Land of Jesus has!" he exclaimed. "Continue to work to this end, and never tire of praying ... for this aspiration to be realised.

  "Ask the Lord to make you 'convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love among your brothers and sisters'. Ask Him, with the power of His love, to favour your constant work in support of the ardent desire for peace in those communities, weighted down over the years by a climate of uncertainty and danger".

  The Pope went on: "My affectionate thoughts go out to those dear Christian peoples who continue to suffer because of the political, economic and social crisis of the Middle East, made even more burdensome by the grave situation in the world. And I reserve a particular expression of spiritual closeness for our many brethren in the faith who have been forced to emigrate. How can we not share the suffering of those communities so sorely tried?"

  "In these days of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the eyes of our faith turn to Bethlehem ... and to all places sanctified by the passage of the Redeemer. We ask Mary ... to make us aware of her maternal protection for our brothers and sisters who live there and have to face no small number of difficulties every day".


VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received participants in the plenary session of the International Theological Commission. The meeting coincided with the conclusion of the commission's five-year mandate, the seventh since it was created.

  Referring in his remarks to a soon-to-be-approved draft document entitled "The search for universal ethics. A new look at natural law", the Holy Father pointed out "the urgent need, in the current situation of culture and of civil and political society, to create the conditions necessary to raise awareness of the indispensable value of natural moral law".

  "Natural law", he went on, "is the authentic guarantee everyone has to live free and respected in their dignity as human beings, and to feel they are defended from any form of ideological manipulation and all abuses perpetrated on the basis of the law of the strongest".

  Commenting then on the question of the "meaning and method of theology", which the members of the commission have been studying over the last five years, Benedict XVI indicated that "the real task of theology is to enter into the Word of God, to seek to understand it and to make it understood in our world, and thus to find the answer to our great questions".

  "Methods in theology cannot be constituted only on the basis of criteria and norms common to other academic disciplines, but must above all observe the principles and norms deriving from the Revelation, and from faith in its personal and ecclesial dimensions".

  After highlighting how "the fundamental virtue of theologians is that of seeking obedience to the faith, which makes them collaborators of truth", the Pope affirmed that "obedience to truth does not mean giving up research or the effort of thought. Restiveness of thought, which in the life of believers can certainly never be fully placated because they too are searching for and studying the Truth, will nonetheless be a restiveness that accompanies and stimulates them on their pilgrimage of thought towards God, and in this way it will bear fruit".
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VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Juan Pablo Cafiero, the new ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See.

  In his address to the diplomat, the Pope described Argentina as "a place of profound Christian traditions which have planted and cultivated important customs, thus creating the specific identity and religiosity of a people who long to progress and to offer the best of themselves to the international community".

  "The evangelical message", he went on, "has taken deep root in the country giving abundant fruit, especially in illustrious deeds that have enriched others with the exemplary witness of human and Christian virtues". In this context the Holy Father mentioned the young Mapuche Blessed Ceferino Namuncura who was, he said, "a splendid sign of how Christ, Who truly is the Word incarnate, ... is not foreign to any culture or person; quite the opposite, the answer for which all cultures long in their hearts is what gives them their true identity, uniting humankind while respecting differences".

  "In exercising her mission the Church always seeks to promote the dignity of human beings and to elevate them for the good of everyone. ... Without seeking to become a political player she aspires, with the independence of her moral authority, to co-operate faithfully and openly with all leaders of the temporal world in the noble goal of achieving a civilisation of justice, peace, reconciliation, solidarity, and of those other ideals that can never be rescinded or left at the mercy of party consensus, as they are engraved in the human heart and correspond to truth".

  "The 21st century is showing us with increasing clarity the need to forge personal, family and social life in keeping with these elemental values, which exalt the individual and the entire community. Among these we must highlight support for the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, ... defence of human life from conception to natural end, eradication of poverty, ... the struggle against corruption, adopting means to assist parents in their inalienable right to educate their children in their own ethical and religious convictions, and promoting young people that they may become men and women of peace and reconciliation".

  "In this light", the Holy Father concluded, "today in the presence of a delegation from this Apostolic See, the presidents of Argentina and Chile are meeting to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the mediation undertaken by ... John Paul II to resolve the dispute between the two nations over the demarcation of their borders at the southern tip of the continent. The monument to be built at Mount Aymond will stand as an eloquent witness and serve to tighten further the bonds of fraternity and understanding of both countries which, thanks to the efforts of their leaders and institutions, and their shared cultural, social and religious ideals, were able to abandon the path of confrontation and show that through dialogue and largeness of heart dignified, stable and lasting peace can be achieved, as is right among wise and civilised peoples".


VATICAN CITY, 5 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, in the presence of the Holy Father and of the Pontifical Family, the first sermon for Advent was delivered in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

  This year's sermons, pronounced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap, preacher of the Pontifical Household, have as their theme: "'When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman'. Going with St. Paul to meet the Christ Who comes". The preacher, according to a note published today, will reflect upon the role of Christ in the thought and life of the Apostle of the Gentiles. The next two sermons will be held on 12 and 189 December.
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