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Monday, December 15, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2008, (VIS) - This morning at 10:45, The Holy Father travelled to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See, arriving there a quarter of an hour later.

  The Pope met with the embassy staff and their families in the St. Charles Borromeo Chapel, which had recently been restored. The saint, who received the palace that currently houses the embassy as a gift from his uncle Pope Pius IV, actively worked with that Pope in governing the Church, as Benedict XVI recalled.

  The saint's life, the Holy Father said, "shows the dedication with which he carried out his episcopal ministry, promoting Church reform in the spirit of the Council of Trent, whose directives he carried out in an exemplary manner, always being close to the people, above all during the years of the plague, to the point of being named the 'Protector of Plague Victims' for his generous dedication".

  "St. Charles Borromeo's personal and spiritual experience", said the Pope, "demonstrates how divine grace transforms the heart of persons and makes them capable of a love for their brothers and sisters that can even become self-sacrifice".

  After blessing those present the Holy Father left the chapel to meet with representatives of the diplomatic corps to the Holy See who were accompanied by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Undersecretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

  Over the years, the Pope noted, the embassy has been visited by three pontiffs: Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. "The singular attention shown by the pontiffs for this diplomatic site", Benedict XVI affirmed, "would be sufficient to indicate the recognition of the important role that the Italian embassy has and continues to carry out in the intense and unique relations between the Holy See and the Italian Republic, as in the relations of mutual collaboration between the Church and the State in Italy".

  The Holy Father then referred to the Lateran Treaty that regulates the relationship between both institutions in Italy and whose 80th anniversary will be celebrated this coming 11 February.  "It is a very important and meaningful accord in the current world situation in which conflicts and tension among the peoples make it ever more necessary for all those who share the same ideals of justice, solidarity, and peace to work together".

  "This brief visit allows me to reaffirm that the Church is very aware that the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, that is to say, the distinction between State and Church, is a part of the fundamental structure of Christianity. ... This distinction and autonomy are respected and recognized by the Church which is happy with them, considering them a great progress for humanity and a fundamental condition for its freedom and for fulfilling its universal mission of salvation among the peoples".

  "At the same time", he concluded, "the Church feels the duty, following the dictates of her social doctrine founded 'on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being', of reawakening moral and spiritual forces in society, helping to make the will receptive to the demands of what is good. This is why, when the Church recalls the value that fundamental ethical principles have, not just for private but also and above all public life, she is in fact contributing to the guarantee and promotion of the dignity of the person and the well-being of society and in this sense fulfils the true and proper co-operation that is sought between State and Church".

  On finishing his visit the Pope returned to the Vatican shortly after 12:15.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2008, (VIS) - Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York, USA, on hearing that the United States Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles had died yesterday. He was 90 years old.

  The Holy father asked Cardinal Egan to convey his condolences "to his family, his confreres in the Society of Jesus, and to the academic community of Fordham University", where Fr. Dulles taught.

  "I join you in commending the late cardinal's noble soul to God, the Father of Mercies, with immense gratitude for the deep learning, serene judgment and unfailing love of the Lord and His Church which marked his entire priestly ministry and his long years of teaching and theological research".

  "At the same time I pray that his convincing personal testimony to the harmony of faith and reason will continue to bear fruit for the conversion of minds and hearts and the progress of the Gospel for many years to come".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2008, (VIS) - At noon today the Pope appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of persons who had gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among those gathered were many children who, as is traditional on the third Sunday of Advent, brought with them images of the Christ Child, which they place in their homes, schools, and churches at Christmastime, for the Pope to bless.

  The Holy Father recalled that this third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete Sunday" because, "returning to an expression of St. Paul's in his Letter to the Philippians", the Apostle says, "'The Lord is near'. This is the reason for our joy. But what does it mean that 'the Lord is near'? How are we to understand this 'nearness' of God? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Phillippi, clearly thought of Christ's return and called them to be joyful as it was certain".

  "Nevertheless", he continued, "Paul himself, in his Letter to the Thessalonians, tells us that nobody can know the moment of the Lord's coming and warns us against any alarm that Christ's return might be at hand. In this way the Church, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, already understood that the 'nearness' of God is not a question of space and time but rather a question of love: love draws near! This Christmas will come to remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith and, standing before the crèche, we will be able to taste Christian joy, contemplating in the new-born Jesus the face of God who out of love made himself close to us".

  Addressing the Roman boys and girls who had come with figures of the Christ Child, Benedict XVI invited them to join him in reciting the following prayer:

  "God, our Father, you so loved us even to the point of sending us your only son Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and bring us to you".

  "We ask that you bless these images of Jesus, who will soon come among us, as a sign of your presence and of your love in our homes".

  "Good Father, bless us as well, and our parents, our families, and our friends".

  "Open our hearts so that we might know how to receive Jesus with joy, doing always what he asks, and seeing him in all those who are in need of our love".

"We ask you in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son, who came to bring peace to the world. He lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen".

  After the Marian prayer the Pope said that "today in the diocese of Rome we celebrate the day of building new churches. In the past years new parishes have been established but there are still communities that have to deal with provisional and inadequate buildings. I give my heart-felt thanks to those who have supported this very important commitment of the diocese and I renew the invitation for us to help the Roman parishes build their church".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 DEC 2008, (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

- Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris and President of the Bishops' Conference of France with Vice Presidents Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, Bishop of Lille, and Archbishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont, and the General Secretary, Monsignor Antoine Herouard.

- Fr. Julian Carron, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.
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