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Tuesday, December 9, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

 - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Mario Agnes, former director of the "Osservatore Romano".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, participated recently in the sixteenth ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The event, attended by foreign ministers from the 56 members States of the OSCE, was held in Helsinki, Finland, on 4 and 5 December.

  In his English-language address to the assembly, pronounced on 4 December, Archbishop Mamberti focused on the question of the right to religious freedom, saying that "the Holy See promotes this right, demands that it be universally respected, and views with concern the increasing episodes of violence, as well as the ongoing acts of discrimination and intolerance against Christians and members of other religions".

  Turning his attention to the "scourge of trafficking in human beings", he affirmed that "the root causes of this phenomenon include economic factors, such as the imbalance between rural and urban wealth levels and the desperate desire to escape poverty. Juridical and political factors also contribute to the problem, such as the absence of legislation, and the ignorance of parents and trafficked persons of their rights under the law".

  "Globalisation and the increased movement of people can also make vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, easier prey for traffickers, who clearly have no regard for the dignity of the human person, and who view people as mere commodities to be bought and sold, used and abused at will.

  "There is", he added, "a further aspect which must be acknowledged and collectively addressed if this abhorrent human exploitation is to be effectively confronted. I am referring to the trivialisation of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries which fuels a decline in moral values and leads to the degradation of men and women and even the abuse of children".

  The secretary for Relations with States concluded by underscoring "the commitment of the Catholic Church to uphold the dignity of every human life, especially the most vulnerable", and assuring "full support in efforts of the OSCE to eliminate the scourge of trafficking, in particular of women and children, prostitution, and forced labour".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2008 (VIS) - This morning during his audience with Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Holy Father authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Blessed Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw (1822-1895).

 - Blessed Arcangelo Tadini, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth (1846-1912).

 - Blessed Francesc Coll y Guitart, Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1812-1875).

 - Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (1911-1938).

 - Blessed Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne), French foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor (1792-1879).

 - Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, Italian foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart (1839-1894).


 - Servant of God Giacinto Bianchi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of Missionary Daughters of Mary (1835-1914).

 - Servant of God Andreas Van Den Boer (ne Jan), Dutch professed brother of the Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy (1841-1917).

 - Servant of God Marie Clare of the Child Jesus Galvao Meixa de Moura Telles e Albuquerque (nee Libania do Carmo), Portuguese foundress of the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1843-1899).
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VATICAN CITY, 8 DEC 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with 40,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Today's solemnity, said the Pope, "reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: original sin, ... and the victory over that sin of the grace of Christ, a victory that shines out sublimely in Mary Most Holy".

  "The existence of what the Church calls 'original sin'," he explained, "is unfortunately overwhelmingly obvious, if only we look around ourselves, and above all within ourselves. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent that it is self-evident and raises within us the question: where does it come from? For believers in particular, the question is even deeper: if God, Who is absolute good, has created everything, whence does evil come?

  "The first pages of the Bible", the Holy Father added, "answer this fundamental question which faces every human generation, with the story of creation and the fall of the first fathers. God created everything for existence, in particular he created human beings in His own image. He did not create death, this entered the world through the envy of the devil who, rebelling against God, also drew men into deceit, inducing them to rebel. This is the drama of freedom, which God accepts completely for the sake of love, while promising that a Son born of woman will crush the head of the ancient serpent".

  He went on: "From the beginning, the 'eternal counsel', to use Dante's expression, has a 'preordained term': the Woman predestined to become mother of the Redeemer, ... of the One Who humbled Himself to the utmost in order to lead us back to our original dignity. This Woman ... has a face and a name: 'full of grace', as the angel called her ... in Nazareth. She is the new Eve, wife of the new Adam, destined to be mother of all the redeemed, ... the first to be liberated from the original fall of our first fathers".

  "In Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines out on the face of Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy Father travelled to Rome's Piazza di Spagna to pay his traditional homage at the statue of Mary Immaculate.

  Before arriving in the square, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity to greet the Dominican Friars and the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, in the presence of thousands of faithful, he blessed a basket of roses which was placed at the foot of the column bearing Mary's statue.

  Benedict XVI spoke of his visit three months ago to the French shrine of Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous, the celebrations of which have lasted throughout 2008 and come to an end today. "Belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception existed many centuries before the Lourdes apparitions", he said, "but those apparitions came by way of a divine seal after my venerated predecessor Blessed Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1854".

  In Mary, he went on, we recognise "the 'smile of God', the immaculate reflection of the divine light, in her we find new hope amidst the problems and dramas of the world". Commenting then on the offer of roses to the Virgin, he said "all roses have their thorns ... which for us represent the difficulties, sufferings and evils that have marked and continue to mark the lives of individuals and of our communities. To a mother we present our joys but we also entrust our concerns, certain of finding in her the comfort not to lose heart and the support to continue our journey".

  The Pope then entrusted to Mary "the 'smallest' of our city: first and foremost children, especially those who are seriously ill, the disadvantaged and those suffering the consequences of difficult family situations", also "the elderly who are alone, ... immigrants struggling to adjust, families striving to make ends meet, and those who cannot find or have lost employment".

  He continued: "Mary, teach us to show solidarity towards those in difficulty, to bridge the ever-increasing social disparities; help us to cultivate a more lively sense of the common good, of respect for the common weal, ... and to make our contribution for a more just and united society".

  "Your beauty", Pope Benedict went on, "ensures us that the victory of love is possible, indeed that it is certain. It assures us that grace is stronger than sin and that hence redemption from any form of slavery is possible. Mary, you help us to believe in goodness more trustingly; you encourage us to remain vigilant and not to give in to the temptation of facile forms of evasion, to face reality ... with courage and responsibility".

  "Be a loving mother to our young people, that they may have the courage to be 'sentinels of the morrow'", the Pope concluded, "and give this virtue to all Christians that they may become the soul of the world at this difficult moment of history".


VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope to Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, presidents respectively of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Culture, for the occasion of a day of study promoted by their two dicasteries on the theme: "Dialogue between Cultures and Religions".

  "Modern Europe as it enters the third millennium is the fruit of two millennia of civilisation", the Pope writes. "Its roots lie both in the vast and ancient heritage of Athens and Rome and, above all, in the fruitful soil of Christianity, which has proved capable of creating new cultural heritages while absorbing the original contributions of each civilisation".

  After highlighting the importance of "reflecting upon the ancient roots in which abundant lymph has flowed over the course of the centuries", Benedict XVI indicates that although "many Europeans seem to ignore Europe's Christian roots, these roots remain alive and should show the way and nourish the hope of millions of citizens who share the same values".

  The Holy Father invites believers "to promote initiatives of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, in order to stimulate collaboration on subjects of mutual interest, such as the dignity of human beings, the search for the common good, the creation of peace, and development". In this context he emphasises how "such dialogue, in order to be authentic, must avoid giving in to relativism and to syncretism and be animated by sincere respect for others and by a generous spirit of reconciliation and fraternity.

  "I encourage", he adds in conclusion, "all those who dedicate their efforts to building a welcoming, united Europe, one ever more faithful to its roots. In particular I exhort believers to contribute not only to safeguarding the cultural and spiritual heritage that distinguishes them and that is an integral part of their history, but to show increasing commitment to seeking new ways to face the great challenges of the post-modern age. Among these I limit myself to mentioning the defence of human life at every stage, the protection of the rights of the individual and the family, the creating of a more just and united word, respect for creation, and inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue".


VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain, as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He succeeds Cardinal Francis Arinze, whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 6 December it was made public that he appointed Fr. Ulrich Boom of the clergy of the diocese of Wurzburg, Germany, pastor at Miltenberg, as auxiliary of Wurzburg (area 8,531, population 1,341,481, Catholics 854,106, priests 762, permanent deacons 55, religious 1,422). The bishop-elect was born in Alsstatte, Germany in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1984.
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