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Friday, February 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - During a meeting with pastors and clergy of the diocese of Rome which took place yesterday in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI answered eight questions put to him concerning such matters as the world economic crisis, the formation of priests, evangelisation, the educational emergency and the value of the liturgy.

  Benedict XVI explained that the Church has the duty to present a reasonable and well-argued criticism of the errors that have led to the current economic crisis. This duty, he said, forms part of the Church's mission and must be exercised firmly and courageously, avoiding moralism but explaining matters using concrete reasons that may be understood by everyone.

  Referring to his forthcoming social Encyclical, the Pope then presented a synthetic overview of the crisis, analysing it at two levels. First he considered the macroeconomic aspects, highlighting the shortcomings of a system founded on selfishness and the idolatry of money, which cast a shadow over man's reason and will and lead him into the ways of error. Here the Church is called to make her voice heard - nationally and internationally - in order to help bring about a change of direction and show the path of true reason illuminated by faith, which is the path of self-sacrifice and concern for the needy.

  The second aspect of the Holy Father's analysis concerned the sphere of microeconomics. Large-scale projects for reform, he said, cannot come about unless individuals alter their ways. If there are no just people, then there can be no justice. Hence he invited people to intensify their humble, everyday efforts for the conversion of hearts, an undertaking that above all involves parishes whose activity is not just limited to the local community but opens up to all humanity.

  Turning his attention to the question of evangelising work among people who have moved away from the faith, the Pope underlined the importance of personal witness from individuals who live not for themselves but for others. Such witness must be associated with the Word, he remarked, because it is the Word that gives credibility to witness by revealing that the faith is not a philosophy or a utopia, but a truth that becomes life.

  To this end, Pope Benedict continued, what we need are priests and catechists who have cultural training, but above all who are capable of speaking to modern man with the simplicity of truth, in order to show people that God is not, in fact, some distant being but a person Who talks and acts in the lives of all human beings.

  On the subject of the liturgy, the Pope commented that it is like a school in which to learn the art of being human and to experience familiarity with Christ. The Eucharist in particular must be lived as a sign and seed of charity, he said.

  Answering a question concerning the significance of the Bishop of Rome's mission, the Holy Father explained that it is a guarantee of the universality of the Church. The Church does not identify with any particular culture because it transcends nationalism and frontiers to welcome all peoples, respecting their own particular richness and characteristics.

  Finally, responding to a question on the educational emergency, Benedict XVI indicated that what is lacking today is a shared view of the world, an ethical orientation that keeps man from falling prey to arbitrariness. Thus, while faith remains open to all cultures, it is also their criterion for discernment and guidance.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall today, The Pope received members of the Belgian associations "Pro Petri Sede" and "Etrennes Pontificales," both of which offer annual financial aid for the needs of the Holy See.

  "The Pauline Year", said the Holy Father addressing the group in French, "by meditating on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, enables us to become aware of the fact that the Church is a Body pulsating with a single life, the life of Jesus. Hence, each member of the ecclesial body is profoundly bonded to all the others and cannot ignore their needs. Nourished by the same Eucharistic bread, the baptised cannot remain indifferent when bread is lacking from the tables of other human beings".

  "This year", he went on, "you have once again responded to the call to open your hearts to the needs of the disinherited, so that those members of Christ's Body suffering poverty may be helped and thus enabled to live better lives and be freer to bear witness to the Good News".

  "Entrusting the fruit of your savings to Peter's Successor", said Benedict XVI, "you enable him to carry out real and active charity, the sign of his solicitude for all Churches, for all the baptised, for all human beings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart in the name of the people whom your generosity will help as they struggle against the evils that threaten their dignity. If we fight against all forms of poverty we give peace more chance to come and take root in our hearts".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the role of women may be more appreciated and used to good advantage in every country in the world".

  His mission intention is: "That, in the light of the Letter addressed to them by Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the Popular Republic of China may commit themselves to being the sign and instrument of unity, communion and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was the final declaration of the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Vatican) and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions (Cairo, Egypt). The meeting was held in Rome on 24 and 25 February.

  The English-language declaration explains that the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue - an institution established in 1998 - was jointly presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.

  The theme of the meeting - "The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace with Particular Reference to the Role of Religions" - was presented from the Catholic point of view by Bernard Sabella, associate professor emeritus of sociology at Bethlehem University, and from the Islamic standpoint by Sheikh Ali Shahata.

  A the end of the meeting the participants agreed on the following:

  "1. Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity.

  "2. ... No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.

  "3. Religious leaders, especially Muslims and Christians, have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.

  "4. A culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.

  "5. The media have a major role and responsibility in the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.

  "6. Recognising the strong link between peace and human rights, special attention was given to the defence of the dignity of the human person and his or her rights, especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.

  "7. Youth, the future of all religions and of humanity itself, need special care in order to be protected from fanaticism and violence, and to become peace builders for a better world.

  "8. Mindful of the suffering endured by the peoples of the Middle East due to unresolved conflicts, the participants, in respect of the competence of political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice".

  The next meeting of the joint committee is due to be held in Cairo on 23 and 24 February 2010.


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Masud Barazani, president of the Autonomous Kurdish Region in Iraq.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, auxiliary of Awka.

    - Bishop Joseph O. Egerega, apostolic vicar of Bomadi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Hyancinth Oroko Egbebo M.S.S.P.

    - Bishop Timothy Joseph Carroll S.M.A., apostolic vicar of Kontagora.

 - Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta O. Cist. of Belem do Para, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 5,940,000, Catholics 3,606,000, priests 605, permanent deacons 63, religious 1,392), Brazil. He succeeds Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid S.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI led a penitential procession from the church of Sant'Anselmo on Rome's Aventine Hill to the nearby basilica of Santa Sabina where he presided at a Eucharistic celebration. During the ceremony the ashes were imposed upon him by Cardinal Jozef Tomko, titular of Santa Sabina, after which the Pope himself imposed the ashes upon cardinals, bishops and a number of faithful.

  In his homily the Pope highlighted how "the call to conversion emerges as the dominant theme" in today's liturgy. Having then recalled how the Church is currently celebrating the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, he explained that the Apostle was "aware of having been chosen as an example. This exemplarity status concerns conversion, the transformation of his life brought about thanks to the merciful love of God".

  "St. Paul recognised that everything in him was the work of divine grace, yet he did not forget the need to accept freely the gift of new life received at Baptism".

  "How can we fulfil our baptismal vocation?" the Holy Father asked. "How can we emerge victorious from the battle between the flesh and the spirit, between good and evil, the battle that characterises our lives? Today's Gospel reading shows us three useful means to this end: prayer, alms and fasting.

  "In this context", he added, "we also find useful references in the life and writings of St. Paul". The Apostle exhorts us to "persevere" in prayer, and to "pray without ceasing". On the subject of almsgiving, he speaks of "the great collection in favour of our poor brethren" and underlines how "charity is the apex of a believer's life. ... He does not expressly mention fasting, but he often calls for sobriety as a characteristic of people called to live in vigilant expectation of the Lord".

  "May Lent", said Pope Benedict concluding his homily, "marked by more frequent contact with the Word of God, by more intense prayer, and by a severe and penitential lifestyle, be a stimulus to convert and to love our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and needy".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In a traditional annual appointment at the beginning of Lent, the Holy Father met this morning in the Vatican's Hall of Blessings with pastors and clergy of the diocese of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: Fr. Priamo Etzi O.F.M., dean of the faculty of canon law at Rome's Pontifical "Antonianum" University, and Fr. Stephane Oppes O.F.M. professor at the faculty of philosophy of the same university.

 - Fr. Thomas Rosica C.S.B. as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a Message to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the start today, Ash Wednesday, of the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent. This year the campaign has as its theme: "Peace is the fruit of justice".

  In his Message the Pope refers to the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, and recalls how the final document of that gathering described the "clear signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God, in the individual and community experience of the Beatitudes, in the evangelisation of the poor, ... in universal access to the goods of creation, in mutual, sincere and fraternal forgiveness, ... and in the struggle not to succumb to the temptation of becoming slaves to evil".

  "Lent calls us to an unfailing struggle to do good, precisely because we know how difficult it is for us, as human beings, to dedicate ourselves seriously to the practice of justice, a justice more than ever necessary for a coexistence based on peace and love and not on hatred and indifference. Yet we know that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organisation of society, nothing can remove the pain of sickness, misunderstanding, solitude, the death of people we love, or an awareness of our own limitations".

  "Our Lord", the Holy Father writes, "abhors injustice and condemns those who practice it; yet He respects individual liberty and for this reason allows it to exist, because it forms part of the human condition after original sin. Despite this His heart, full of love for human beings, brought Him to shoulder, along with the cross, all our torments: our suffering, our sadness, our hunger, our thirst for justice. Let us ask him for the strength to bear witness to the same feelings of peace and reconciliation that inspired Him on the Sermon on the Mount, in order to achieve eternal Beatitude".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - On 20 February Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, participated in the tenth special session of the Human Rights Council, which focused on the world economic crisis and its repercussions on human rights.

  Speaking English, the prelate noted how the current crisis "has created a global recession causing dramatic social consequences, including the loss of millions of jobs and the serious risk that, for many of the developing countries, the Millennium Development Goals may not be reached. The human rights of countless persons are compromised, including the right to food, water, health and decent work".

  "In a recent document, the World Bank estimates that, in 2009, the current global economic crisis could push an additional 53 million people below the threshold of two dollars a day. This figure is in addition to the 130 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 by the increase in food and energy prices".

  "It is well known", the permanent observer went on, "that low-income countries are heavily dependent upon two financing flows: foreign aid and migrant remittances. Both flows are expected to decline significantly over the next months, due to the worsening of the economic crisis. ... The delegation of the Holy See would like to focus on a specific case in this crisis: its impact on the human rights of children, which exemplifies, as well, what is symptomatic of the destructive impact on all other social and economic rights. At present some important rights of poor people are heavily dependent on official aid flows and on workers' remittances. These include the right to health, education, and food. In several poor countries, in fact, educational, health and nutritional programmes are implemented with the help of aid flows from official donors. Should the economic crisis reduce this assistance, the successful completion of these programs could be threatened".

  "If the reduction of both aid and remittances continue, it will deprive children of the right to be educated creating a double negative consequence", noted Archbishop Tomasi. "Lower educational investment today, in fact, will be translated into lower future growth. At the same time, poor nutrition among children significantly worsens life expectancy by increasing both child and adult mortality rates. The negative economic consequences of this go beyond the personal dimension and affect entire societies".

  The nuncio then went on to consider another consequence of the crisis "that could be particularly relevant for the mandate of the United Nations: All too often, periods of severe economic hardship have been characterised by the rise in power of governments with dubious commitments to democracy. The Holy See prays that such consequences will be avoided in the present crisis, since they would result in a serious threat for the diffusion of basic human rights for which this institution has so tenaciously struggled.

  "The last fifty years have witnessed some great achievements in poverty reduction", he added in conclusion. "These achievements are at risk, and a coherent approach is required to preserve them through a renewed sense of solidarity, especially for the segments of population and for the countries more affected by the crisis".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye of Awgu.

    - Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi.

    - Bishop Francis Emmanuel Ogbonna Okoboi of Nsukka.

    - Bishop Anthouny Okonkwo Gbuji, emeritus of Enugu.

    - Msgr. John Williams, diocesan administrator of Maiduguri.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the apostolic prefecture of Western Sahara, presented by Fr. Acacio Valbuena Rodriguez O.M.I., upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Rodolfo Luis Weber of the clergy of the archdiocese of Porto Alegre, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Nossa Senhora das Gracas" in Gravatai, as bishop prelate of Cristalandia (area 66,365, population 158,700, Catholics 157,000, priests 24, permanent deacons 1, religious 58), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Bom Principio, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He succeeds Bishop Heriberto Hermes O.S.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial prelature the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Commission for Latin America today published its annual message for Hispanic-American Day, which is celebrated annually in the dioceses of Spain. This year the Day falls on Sunday 1 March.

  In the message Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and Archbishop Octavio Ruiz Arenas, respectively president and vice president of the commission, explain that this year's theme - "America with Christ. Live the mission" - highlights "two intimately related questions. On the one hand it reminds us of the call to go out into the world to 'make disciples' of Jesus; on the other it reaffirms a conviction that has its foundation in the Master's promise: 'I am with you always, to the end of the age'"

  "At the present time Latin America needs to recover and reaffirm the Christian values that lie at the root of its culture and traditions", they write. "There is an urgent necessity to bring the light of the Gospel to public, cultural, economic and political life".

  "How", the two prelates ask, "can we respond to these challenges? How can we find an authentic and truly satisfactory solution to an ever-changing reality in which the values propagated by contemporary culture are in ever greater contrast with the reality of the Gospel?" The Holy Father in his inaugural address to the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida (2007) "reminded us of a great truth: 'only those who recognise God know reality and are able to respond to it adequately and in a truly human manner'".

  "Faced with the crisis of faith in Latin America today", write Cardinal Re and Archbishop Ruiz, "there is a pressing need to make Christ known, and to announce His Word to the men and women of the continent. To this end we must base our missionary efforts, and all of our lives, upon the rock of the Word of God".

  "Announcing the Gospel, as is evident from the Apostle Paul's missionary activity, does not consist in the unfeeling transmission of a doctrine but, fundamentally, in bearing witness to an individual experience of meeting a person, Jesus Christ. He is the only reality with the power to open the hearts of men and women to contact with the Truth. Hence, it is only united to Christ, only with Christ, that America can live its mission!"

  The message concludes by inviting people, on this Hispanic-American Day, "to shoulder missionary commitment in the Continent of Hope", and encourages priests and religious "to feel in their hearts the ardour of being bearers of the Word 'unto the ends of the earth', and not to be afraid to respond generously to the apostolic mission".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father promoted:

 - Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to the order of bishops, assigning him the suburbicarian see of Palestrina.

 - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, to the order of priests. Cardinal Vallini retains his diaconate of St. Peter Damian ai Monti, elevated "pro hac vice" to presbyteral title.
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Monday, February 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father visited the Major Roman Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust.

  The Pope presided at a "lectio divina" for the seminarians on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians, held in the seminary's major chapel.

  Commenting on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles in his Letter to the Galatians - "you were called to freedom" - Benedict XVI asked: "What is freedom? How can we be free? St. Paul helps us to understand this complex question of freedom" when he says "do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another".

  Pope Benedict went on: "The absolute self who depends on nothing and no-one seems truly and definitively to possess freedom. I am free if I depend on no-one, if I can do anything I want. Yet this absolute exaltation of self is 'flesh', in other words degradation of man. It is not the conquest of freedom. Libertinism is not freedom, rather it is the failure of freedom".

  "Paradoxically, freedom is achieved through service", he said. "Our truth is that we are, first and foremost, creatures, creatures of God, and we live in a relationship with the Creator. We are relational beings, and only by accepting this fact do we enter the truth. Otherwise we fall into lies and there, in the end, we destroy ourselves. ... The only human freedom is shared freedom".

  "Man has need of order, of laws, in order to realise his freedom, which is a freedom he shares with others. ... If there is no shared truth about man, ... all that remains is positivism and people get the impression of something imposed from outside, even violently imposed. Hence this rebellion against order and laws, as if they represented a form of slavery".

  This Letter, the Holy Father continued, "contains a reference to the rather sad situation of the Galatians themselves, when Paul writes: 'If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another'".

  "We see similar things happen today when, rather that entering into communion with Christ, with the Body of Christ which is the Church, everyone wants to be better than everyone else and, with intellectual arrogance, wants to make it known that they are best. This gives rise to destructive polemics, to a caricature of the Church, which should be of one heart and soul.

  "In St. Paul's warning we must also find a call to examine our own consciences today: not thinking we are better than others, but discovering ourselves in the humility of Christ, in the humility of the Virgin Mary, entering the obedience of the faith. In this way the great spaces of truth and freedom in love open before us".

  At the end of the ceremony the Pope dined with the seminarians, before returning to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at an ordinary public consistory for the causes of canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Blessed Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary (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 Jozef Damian de Veuster, Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS) (1840-1889).

 - Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation (1272-1348).

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

 - Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1360-1431).

 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee Caterina), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1847-1903).

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

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

  At the end of the ceremony, the Pope announced that the canonisation of Blesseds Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Gertrude (Caterina) Comensoli, and Caterina Volpicelli will take place on Sunday 26 April.

  The canonisation of Blesseds Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francesc Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, and Mary of the Cross (Jeanne) Jugan will take place on Sunday 11 October.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope received participants in a congress entitled: "New frontiers of genetics and the dangers of eugenics". The congress, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life for the occasion of its twenty-fifth general assembly, was held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on 20 and 21 February.

  Scientific progress, said the Holy Father, "enables us to achieve not just an earlier and more effective diagnosis of genetic ailments, but also to produce forms of treatment that can alleviate the suffering of sick people and, in some cases, even give them the hope of regaining their health".

  Collaboration among the various branches of science, said Benedict XVI, "makes it possible to avoid the risk of genetic reductionism which tends to identify individuals exclusively in terms of genetic information and its interaction with the environment. It must be stressed that man will always be greater than the elements that form his body. He has, in fact, the power of thought which always tends towards the truth about himself and the world".

  "Each human being, then, is much more than an individual combination of genetic information transmitted by his or her parents. ... The arrival of a new person into the world is always a new creation", he said.

  "If, then, we wish to enter into the mystery of human life, no branch of science must isolate itself claiming to possess the final word. Rather, it must participate in the shared vocation to reach the truth, though with the different methodologies and subject matter proper to each of the sciences".

  Referring then to the danger of eugenics, the Holy Father noted how, despite its having been condemned in the past, "worrying manifestations of this odious practice", still persist. "A new mentality is insinuating itself", he said, "one that tends towards a different view of life and of personal dignity founded on personal desires and individual rights. The tendency is to favour operative capacity, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty, to the detriment of other dimensions of existence which are not considered to be worthy. In this way, we diminish the respect that is due to each human being, even in the presence of a defect in his or her development or of a genetic ailment which may manifest itself during the course of a person's life; while children whose lives are judged as being unworthy to be lived are penalised from conception.

  "It is necessary", he added, "to reiterate the fact that all discrimination against ... individuals, people or ethnic groups on the basis of differences in real or presumed genetic factors is an attack on the entire human race. What must be forcefully underlined is that all human beings, by the very fact of having been born, enjoy equal dignity. Biological, mental and cultural development, or the state of a person's health, must never become a factor for discrimination".

  Benedict XVI went on: "We must consolidate a culture of acceptance and of love, showing real solidarity towards those who suffer and breaking down the barriers that society often puts up to discriminate against people affected by disabilities or serious illness or, worse still , to select and reject life in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection. If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the earliest stages of his development, this means that medical biotechnology submits to the will of the strongest. Faith in science must not make us forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 26 January, in which he appoints Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as his special envoy to celebrations marking seven hundred years since the beginning of the Roman Pontiffs' exile in the French city of Avignon (1309-1377). The event will be held in Avignon on 9 and 10 March.

  Accompanying Cardinal Poupard on his mission will be Fr. Jean Philibert, rector of the metropolitan cathedral of "Notre-Dame des Doms" in Avignon, and Fr. Daniel Brehier, pastor of Carpentras and president of the diocesan commission for sacred art.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration late this morning:

  "The communications media not infrequently attribute to the 'Vatican' - meaning by that the Holy See - comments and points of view that cannot in fact automatically be attributed thereto. In fact, when the Holy See wishes to make an authoritative announcement it uses appropriate means and methods (communiques, notes, declarations).

  "No other form of pronouncement has the same value.

  "Inappropriate attributions have taken place, even recently. The Holy See, in its representative institutions, shows respect towards the civil authorities who, in their legitimate authority, have the right and the duty to safeguard the common good".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday afternoon:

  "The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has publicly expressed the disdain and protest of Christians over a television programme transmitted in recent days by the Israeli private television station 'Channel 10', in which the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary were ridiculed with blasphemous words and images.

  "The government authorities, immediately alerted by the apostolic nuncio, gave prompt assurances that they would intervene to interrupt such transmissions and obtain a public apology from the station.

  "While expressing solidarity with Christians of the Holy Land and deploring such a vulgar and offensive act towards the religious sentiments of believers in Christ, we note with sadness how such serious offence is directed against Jesus and Mary of Nazareth, who were themselves children of Israel".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  The Holy Father commented on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which relates how Jesus healed a paralysed man and forgave his sins. This, said the Pope, shows that Christ "had the power not only to heal the sick body, but also to forgive sins; indeed, physical recovery is a sign of the spiritual healing which His forgiveness produces. In fact, sin is a sort of paralysis of the spirit from which only the power of God's merciful love can free us, enabling us to stand up and resume our journey along the path of goodness.

  "This Sunday also marks the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter", he added, "an important liturgical solemnity highlighting the ministry of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The Cathedra of Peter symbolises the authority of the Bishop of Rome, who is called to offer his particular form of service to the entire People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul the Church of Rome was recognised as possessing the prime role in the whole Catholic community, as testified by St. Ignatius of Antioch in the second century. ... This unique and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reiterated by Vatican Council II".

  The Holy Father completed his reflections by calling upon the faithful to pray for him, that he may "faithfully realise the exalted task that divine Providence has entrusted to me as the Successor of the Apostle Peter". Finally, he recalled that Lent begins this Wednesday, 25 February, with the rite of the imposition of the ashes.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, Vietnam, for the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of the same see. The cardinal died on 22 February at the age of 89.

  "With great sadness I learned the news of the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of Hanoi and your predecessor, and I wish to express my fervent union in prayer with all the bishops of Vietnam, with the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi and the rest of the country, with the family of the late cardinal, and with all people affected by this loss. I ask God the Father, from Whom all mercy comes, to welcome into His peace and light this eminent pastor who, through difficult circumstances, was able to serve the Church with great courage and generous loyalty to the See of Peter, tirelessly dedicating himself to the announcement of the Gospel. To you, to your auxiliary, to the bishops of Vietnam, to priests and religious, to the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi, as well as to the relatives of the late cardinal and everyone participating in the funerary rites, I impart a heartfelt apostolic blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

 - Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio to Panama.

 - Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Valerian Okeke of Onitsha.

    - Bishop Michael Odogwu Elue of Issele-Uku.

    - Bishop George Jonathan Dod of Zaria.

    - Bishop Michael Nnachi Okoro of Abakaliki.

  On Saturday 21 February he received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20090223 (100)


VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee as metropolitan archbishop of New York (area 12,212, population 5,676,566, Catholics 2,554,454, priests 1,712, permanent deacons 377, religious 4,358), U.S.A. He succeeds Cardinal Edward M. Egan, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 21 February it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Andrzej Dziega of Sandomierz, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Szczecin-Kamien (area 12,754, population 1,060,120, Catholics 1,000,000, priests 655, religious 371), Poland. The archbishop-elect was born in Radzyn Podlaski, Poland in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1977 and consecrated a bishop in 2002. He succeeds Archbishop Zygmunt Kaminski, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Vincent Nguyen Van Ban, director for the formation of seminarians in the diocese of Quy Nhon, Vietnam, and professor at the major seminary of Nha Trang, as bishop of Ban Me Thuot (area 21,723, population 2,608,397, Catholics 338,690, priests 106, religious 385), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1993.

 - Appointed Msgr. Joseph Spiteri, nunciature counsellor at the Section for Relations with States, as apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Sliema, Malta in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - Appointed Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the ninth centenary of the death of St. Anselm, due to be held in Aosta, Italy from 19 to 26 April.
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Friday, February 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Pope today received participants in a meeting of the governing council of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year.

  Speaking English he said: "When wealthy countries and developing nations come together to make joint decisions and to determine specific criteria for each country's budgetary contribution to the Fund, it can truly be said that the various member States come together as equals, expressing their solidarity with one another and their shared commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger. In an increasingly interdependent world, joint decision-making processes of this kind are essential if international affairs are to be conducted with equity and foresight".

  Continuing his remarks, the Holy Father underlined "the emphasis placed by IFAD on promoting employment opportunities within rural communities, with a view to enabling them, in the long term, to become independent of outside aid. ... In this sense the 'rural credit' projects, designed to assist smallholder farmers and agricultural workers with no land of their own, can boost the wider economy and provide greater food security for all.

  "These projects", he added, "also help indigenous communities to flourish on their own soil, and to live in harmony with their traditional culture, instead of being forced to uproot themselves in order to seek employment in overcrowded cities, teeming with social problems, where they often have to endure squalid living conditions".

  "The principle of subsidiarity requires that each group within society be free to make its proper contribution to the good of the whole. All too often, agricultural workers in developing nations are denied that opportunity, when their labour is greedily exploited, and their produce is diverted to distant markets, with little or no resulting benefit for the local community itself".

  The Holy Father expressed his thanks for IFAD's achievements over the last thirty years, affirming the need "for renewed determination to act in harmony and solidarity with all the different elements of the human family in order to ensure equitable access to the earth's resources now and in the future".

  "The goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, as well as promoting food security and rural development, far from being over-ambitious or unrealistic, become", he concluded, "imperatives binding upon the whole international community".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received forty counsellors and members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who have just complete a plenary session during which they examined the current situation of education to the priesthood in Latin American seminaries.

  The Pope recalled how the commission was established in 1958 by Pius XII who, "faced with a lack of priests and missionaries, felt the need to create a Holy See institution to intensify and co-ordinate development efforts in support of the Church in Latin America". For his part, John Paul II "continued and intensified this initiative with the aim of underlining the particular pastoral solicitude felt by Peter's Successor towards the pilgrim Churches in those beloved lands".

  "Last year", he went on, "I received many bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean on their 'ad limina' visits, with whom I discussed the situation of the particular Churches entrusted to their care. ... I accompany them all with my prayers, that they may joyfully and faithfully continue to undertake their service to the People of God, also by promoting the 'Continental Mission' which is beginning to be implemented as a result of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean", held in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007.

  The theme chosen for this mission - "disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life" - continues "to guide the efforts of the members of the Church in those beloved countries", said the Holy Father.

  "When I described my apostolic visit to Brazil before members of the Roman Curia, I asked myself: Was Aparecida right, when seeking life for the world, in giving priority to discipleship of Christ and evangelisation? Was this not a mistaken withdrawal into interior life? To this I replied resoundingly: No! Aparecida was right precisely because a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ and His Gospel - and only that - can create forces which give us the power to find adequate responses to the challenges of our time".

  "For all of us", Pope Benedict went on, "the seminary was a decisive moment of discernment and preparation. There, in profound dialogue with Christ, we fortified our desire to root ourselves deeply in Him. Over those years we learned to feel at home in the Church. ... For this reason I am pleased that your plenary assembly focused attention on the current situation in the seminaries of Latin America".

  "In order to create priests who accord to the dictates of Christ's heart, we have to trust in the action of the Holy Spirit more that in human strategies and calculations, and faithfully ask God, 'Lord of the harvest', to send many holy vocations to the priesthood. ... At the same time, the need for priests to face the challenges of today's world must not induce us to discard the careful discernment of candidates, nor to overlook the necessary, even rigorous, demands that must be made in order for their formative process to produce exemplary priests".

  "And so", he concluded, "the pastoral recommendations of this assembly must be seen as a vital source of illumination for the efforts of bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in the delicate field of formation for the priesthood. Today more than ever it is important for seminarians ... to aspire to the priesthood exclusively out of the desire to be true disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ and, in communion with their bishops, make Him present through their ministry and the witness of their lives".


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - On 16 and 17 February a Holy See delegation led by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, travelled to Vietnam at the invitation of the government there, where it participated in the first session of the Vietnam - Holy See Working Group on bilateral diplomatic relations. The meeting was held in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

  "At the meeting", an English-language joint communique states, "Vice Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong emphasised Vietnam's consistent policy on the freedom of belief as well as the achievements and current situation on religious affairs in Vietnam's recent years. Vice Minster Cuong expressed his wish for the Holy See's active contribution to the life of the Catholic community in Vietnam, the strengthening of solidarity between religions and of the entire Vietnamese population, and the strong cohesion of the Catholic Church in Vietnam with the nation through practical contributions to national reconstruction".

  Msgr. Parolin "took note of the explanations made by the Vietnamese delegation on the policy of freedom of religion and belief, recognising that positive progress has been made in religious life in Vietnam, and wished that the remaining unsolved maters in bilateral relations between Vietnam and the Holy See could be settled with goodwill through sincere dialogue. Msgr. Parolin emphasised the Holy See's policy to respect the independence and sovereignty of Vietnam, by which the Church's religious activities will not be conducted for political purposes. He also stressed that the Church in its teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, working for the common good of the country".

  "The two sides also acknowledged the encouraging development in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See since 1990" and agreed that "efforts should be made to promote bilateral ties".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan.

    - Bishop John Niyiring O.S.A. of Kano.

    - Bishop Martin Igwemezie Uzoukwu of Minna.
AL/.../...                                VIS 20090220 (60)

Thursday, February 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 150 members of the community of the Pius Pontifical Latin American College in Rome. The institution, "alma mater" to more than four thousand students, was founded in 1858, originally as a centre for seminarians and, over the last three decades, for deacons and priests.

  The Pope described the members of the community as heirs "to a rich human and spiritual heritage, which must be perpetuated and enriched by a serious dedication to the various ecclesiastical disciplines and a joyful experience of the universality of the Church".

  Highlighting the fact that the seminarians are the fruit "of the sowing of Christ's message of redemption over history", the Holy Father recalled how they come from various countries "in which for more than five hundred years courageous missionaries made Jesus, our Saviour, known to people. Thus, through Baptism, those people opened themselves to the life of grace which made them adopted children of God. Furthermore, they received the Holy Spirit which made their cultures fruitful, purifying them, developing the seeds that the incarnate Word had placed in them, and guiding them along the paths of the Gospel".

  "Your bishops", he told his audience, "have sent you to the Pontifical Latin American College that you may be filled with the wisdom of the crucified Christ and that, returning to your dioceses, you may place this treasure at the disposal of others through the various tasks you will be given. This means that you must put your time in Rome to good use. Application to study and rigorous research ... will create in you a spiritual life rooted in the Word of God and nourished by the incomparable richness of the Sacraments.

  "Love for and adherence to the Apostolic See is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean", the Pope added before going on to recall his own 2007 visit to the Brazilian city of Aparecida for the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean. "Through my presence there", he said, "I sought to encourage bishops as they reflected on a fundamental aspect of the revival of the faith of the pilgrim Church in those beloved lands: that of leading all the faithful to become 'disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life'".

  In closing, the Holy Father invited the members of the Pontifical College "enthusiastically to embrace this spirit, already manifest in the dynamism with which dioceses have begun, or are beginning, the 'Continental Mission' proclaimed at Aparecida, an initiative that will facilitate the implementation of catechetical and pastoral programmes aimed at the formation and development of evangelised and missionary-oriented Christian communities".


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

  "This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom who, along with the other members of his entourage, then met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial conversations dealt with the present global economic crisis and the duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less-developed countries, and to foster co-operation on projects of human promotion, respect for the environment and sustainable development. Hope was expressed for a renewed commitment on the part of the international community in settling ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. Finally, several bilateral themes were brought up, of interest above all for the Catholic community in the United Kingdom".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met yesterday, 18 February, at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, to continue negotiations on the "Economic Agreement" concerning fiscal and property matters, according to a communique released today.

  "The meeting was characterised by great cordiality and a spirit of co-operation. Progress was achieved, and the delegations renewed their joint commitment to conclude the Agreement as soon as possible. The next meeting of this working-level commission will take place on 7 April".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The annual spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia are due to begin on 1 March, the first Sunday of Lent. This year's meditations will be directed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  The theme of the spiritual exercises, which will take place in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, is: "The priest meets Jesus and follows Him".

  The retreat will begin at 6 p.m. with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing. Over the following days there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m.; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.

  The spiritual exercises will come to an end on Saturday 7 March with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

  During the retreat all audiences will be cancelled, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 4 March .
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Charles Hammawa of Jalingo.

    - Bishop James Naanman Daman O.S.A. of Shendam.

    - Bishop Christopher Shaman Abba of Yola.

    - Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, apostolic nuncio to Burundi, as apostolic nuncio to Guatemala.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 15,000 people, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to St. Bede the Venerable.

  Bede was born around the year 672 in the English region of Northumbria. When he was seven years old his family entrusted his education to the abbot of a nearby Benedictine monastery and he became, the Holy Father explained, "one of the most outstanding scholars of the early Middle Ages. ... His teaching and the fame of his writings brought him many friends among the principal personages of his day, who encouraged him to continue his work, which brought benefits to so many people".

  "Sacred Scripture was the constant source of Bede's theological reflections". He considered "the events of the Old and New Testaments jointly" as "a way towards Christ", a testament to the same faith, "though expressed using different signs and institutions".

  As an example of this, Benedict XVI mentioned Bede's interpretation of the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem: "Just as pagans also helped to build the ancient Temple by supplying materials and the technical experience of their master builders, so the edification of the Church involved apostles and masters who came not just from the ancient Hebrew, Greek or Latin peoples, but also from the new peoples, among whom Bede mentions the Irish Celts and the Anglo-Saxons".

  The Pope then dwelt upon some of the saint's written works, such as the "'Chronica Maiora' in which he establishes a chronology which would become the basis of the universal calendar 'ab incarnatione Domini', ... and his 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People', for which he is known as the father of English historiography.

  "The characteristic traits of the Church which Bede sought to underline are: catholicity, seen as faithfulness to tradition while remaining open to historical developments, and as the search for 'unity in diversity', ... and apostolicity and 'Romanitas'. In this context Bede considered it vitally important to convince the Churches of the Celts and the Picts to celebrate Easter together, in accordance with the Roman calendar".

  "Bede was also a great master of liturgical theology, ... educating the faithful to celebrate the mysteries of the faith with joy, and to reflect those mysteries coherently in their lives while awaiting their full manifestation in the return of Christ".

  "Thanks to his approach to theology - which involved a combination of the Bible, liturgy and history - Bede has a modern message for the various 'states' of Christian life", said the Pope. "He reminds scholars of two essential tasks: scrutinising the marvels of the Word of God so as to present them in a manner attractive to the faithful, and explaining dogmatic truths while avoiding heretical complications and keeping to 'Catholic simplicity', with the attitude of the meek and humble to whom it pleases God to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom".

  For their part, pastors "must give priority to preaching, not only through sermons and hagiographies, but also by using icons, processions and pilgrimages". To consecrated people, "Bede recommends focus on the apostolate, both by collaborating with bishops in various kinds of pastoral activities in support of young Christian communities, and by offering themselves for evangelising missions".

  The scholar saint also affirmed that Christ "wants an industrious Church, ... one intent on cultivating other fields and vineyards, .... in other words on introducing the Gospel into the social fabric and cultural institutions". He also "exhorted the lay faithful to be assiduous in their religious education, ... He taught them how to pray continuously, ... offering all their actions as a spiritual sacrifice in union with Christ".

  The Venerable Bede died in May of the year 735. "It is a fact", Pope Benedict concluded, "that with his works he made an effective contribution to the construction of a Christian Europe".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "Following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

  "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Nigri P.I.M.E., auxiliary of Florianopolis, Brazil, as bishop of Blumenau (area 3,740, population 580,400, Catholics 407,000, priests 59, permanent deacons 31, religious 93), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Angelico Sandalo Bernardino, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Berlin, Germany presented by Bishop Wolfgang Weider, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Fr. Matthias Heinrich of the clergy of the archdiocese of Berlin, Germany, canon of the metropolitan chapter and episcopal vicar for the personnel department in the pastoral office of the archiepiscopal curia, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 31,200, population 5,794,507, Catholics 392,701, priests 385, permanent deacons 27, religious 791). The bishop-elect was born in Berlin in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1981.

 - Confirmed the election of Fr. Anselm van der Linde O. Cist., secretary of the Cistercian Congregation of Mehrerau and professor of religion at the "Collegium Sancti Bernardi", as abbot ordinary of the territorial abbey of Wettingen-Mehrerau, Austria.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent the following English-language telegram, made public yesterday afternoon, to Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk, archbishop of Seoul, Korea, for the death of Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, archbishop emeritus of the same see. The cardinal died yesterday at the age of 86.

  "Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to all the people of Korea. Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Kim's long years of devoted service to the Catholic community in Seoul and his many years of faithful assistance to the Holy Father as a member of the College of Cardinals, I join you in praying that God our merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labours and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of the heavenly kingdom. To Cardinal Kim's relatives and all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present a forthcoming academic congress entitled: "New frontiers of genetics and the dangers of eugenics". The congress, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life for the occasion of its twenty-fifth general assembly, is due to take place in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on 20 and 21 February.

  Participating in today's presentation were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, respectively president and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Bruno Dallapiccola, professor of genetic medicine at Rome's "La Sapienza" University.

  "The congress will be attended", Archbishop Fisichella explained, "by scientists from a number of universities, who will examine the question from various points of view: from the strictly biomedical to the legal; from the philosophical and theological to the sociological".

  "Thanks to the great work undertaken over the last ten years, above all that of Francis Collins on the Human Genome Project, it is possible to map thousands of genes and thus achieve an understanding of various types of disease; this often offers a real possibility of overcoming heredity ailments".

  "The aim of this congress is to verify whether, in the field genetic experimentation, there are aspects that tend towards - or effectively implement - eugenic practices", said the archbishop. Such practices "find expression in various scientific, biological, medical, social and political projects, all of them more or less interrelated. These projects require an ethical judgement, especially when it is sought to suggest that eugenic practices are being undertaken in the name of a 'normality' of life to offer to individuals".

  "Such a mentality, which is certainly reductive but does exist, tends to consider that some people are less valuable than others, either because of the conditions in which they live, such as poverty or lack of education, or because of their physical state, for example the disabled, the mentally ill, people in a 'vegetative state', or the elderly who suffer serious disease".

  "Not always do the requirements of medical science meet with the approval philosophers or theologians", said the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. "If, on the one hand, certain people frequently succumb to the temptation to consider the body in purely material terms, on the other, a concern to ensure the fundamental unity of each individual ... is something that must not be marginalised or overlooked".

  "Of course research aimed at alleviating individual suffering must increase and develop", he concluded, "yet at the same time we are called to ensure the increase and development of an ethical conscience, without which all achievements would remain limited and incomplete".

  The Human Genome Project "is one of the great undertakings of the beginning of this new millennium", said Msgr. Carrasco in his remarks. "If for medicine, and not only for medicine, a knowledge of the human genome is absolutely essential, it is equally important to identify its ethical, legal and social consequences", he added.

  "Today", said the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, "eugenics represents the principal discriminatory utilisation to which the discoveries of genetic science can be put. This is what the congress aims to examine. Obviously, the main objective is to call people's attention to the considerable benefits we may obtain from genetic research if, as seems correct and appropriate, it attracts the efforts of researchers and public and private investments, while overcoming any temptation to follow the deceptive shortcuts presented by eugenics".

  In his comments Professor Dallapiccola indicated that "the proliferation of genomic analyses is destined not only to make people's lives more dependent on medicine, but also to transform the role of doctors. ... The post-genome era risks producing a further involution of the figure of the doctor, who is perhaps destined to become a 'genomicist', in other words a specialist in interpreting the sophisticated data emerging from some highly-technological instrument".

  "We must", he concluded, "take a critical stance, both towards 'reductionists' who believe the sequence of the human genome is sufficient to clarify the meaning of human life, and towards 'determinists' who hold that they can predict people's biological destiny, simply be examining their DNA".

Monday, February 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Pope highlighted how "Almighty God has blessed the Church in your country with generous growth. This is especially visible in the number of new Christians who have received Christ into their hearts and accept joyfully the Church as 'the pillar and bulwark of the truth'.

  "The abundant priestly and religious vocations are also a clear sign of the work of the Spirit among you", he added, recalling how "the expansion in the Church calls for special care in diocesan planning and the training of personnel through ongoing activities of formation in order to facilitate the necessary deepening of the faith of your people". This, he explained, requires a number of basic steps: "teaching the art of prayer, encouraging participation in the liturgy and the Sacraments, wise and relevant preaching, catechetical instruction, and spiritual and moral guidance. From this foundation faith flourishes in Christian virtue, and gives rise to vibrant parishes and generous service to the wider community".

  "The celebration of the liturgy is a privileged source of renewal in Christian living", said the Pope commending the bishops' efforts "to maintain the proper balance between moments of contemplation and external gestures of participation and joy in the Lord". Referring then to one of the themes of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops for Africa, that of ethnic unrest, he said: "The marvellous image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the gathering of innumerable men and women from every tribe and tongue and people and nation who have been ransomed by the blood of Christ, encourages you to confront the challenge of ethnic conflict wherever present, even within the Church".

  The Holy Father expressed his appreciation "to those of you who have accepted a pastoral mission outside the limits of your own regional or linguistic group and I thank the priests and people who have welcomed and supported you. ...There is no place in the Church for any kind of division. ... All believers, especially seminarians and priests, will grow in maturity and generosity by allowing the Gospel message to purify and overcome any possible narrowness of local perspectives".

  He also highlighted "the bishop's task of sustaining the important social and ecclesial reality of marriage and family life. With the co-operation of well prepared priests and lay people, experts and married couples, you will exercise with responsibility and zeal your solicitude in this area of pastoral priority".

  Benedict XVI also focused on the "important service to the nation" offered by the prelates through their "commitment to inter-religious dialogue especially with Islam, where with patience and perseverance, strong relations of respect, friendship and practical co-operation are being forged with other religious people".

  "Your dedication to derive from Catholic principles enlightened comments on current national problems is greatly appreciated. The natural law, inscribed by the Creator on the heart of every human being, and the Gospel, properly understood and applied to civic and political realities, do not in any way reduce the range of valid political options. On the contrary, they constitute a guarantee offered to all citizens of a life of freedom, with respect for their dignity as persons, and protection from ideological manipulation and abuse based on the law of the strongest".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by telling the prelates to "continue to exercise your episcopal authority in the struggle against unjust practices and corruption and against all causes and forms of discrimination and criminality, especially the degrading treatment of women and the deplorable practice of kidnapping. By promoting Catholic Social Doctrine you offer your loyal contribution to your country and assist in the consolidation of a national order based on solidarity and a culture of human rights".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in a congress organised to mark the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City State.

  "For people who work in the daily service of the Holy See, or for those who live in Rome, it is taken for granted that at the heart of the city lies a small sovereign State. Yet not everyone knows that this is the result of a tormented historical process. A process that led to the foundation [of this State], motivated by exalted ideals of faith and by a far-sighted awareness of the ends its was intended to serve".

  After highlighting how Pius XI was the "principal architect and protagonist of the Lateran Pacts", and "the true founder and primary builder of Vatican City State", Benedict XVI explained how that Pontiff "guided the Church in the difficult years between the two World Wars. ... He also had to face the difficulties and persecution which the Church suffered in such countries as Mexico and Spain, and the confrontation with the totalitarian regimes that arose and established themselves over those years".

  "Vatican City State, which came into being following the Lateran Pacts and in particular following the Lateran Treaty, was considered by Pius XI as a way of guaranteeing the Church her necessary independence from all human power, and giving her and her Supreme Pastor the chance to accomplish fully the mandate received from Christ the Lord".

  This eightieth anniversary, he went on, "is a reason to express our profound thanks to the Lord, Who guides the destiny of His Church in the often turbulent events of history, and assists His vicar on earth in carrying out his role of 'Christianae religionis summus Antistes'".

  Despite the fact that the "Civitas Vaticana" is "a minute and undefended State, possessing no fearsome armies, ... it has been and still is the centre of constant activities that radiate forth in favour of solidarity and the common good", he said.

  "Vatican City State, which contains treasures of faith, of history and of art, is custodian to a precious heritage for all humanity. From its heart, where the Pope lives near the tomb of Peter, there incessantly arises a message of true social progress, of hope, reconciliation and peace".

  The Pope concluded by expressing the hope that "Vatican City State may increasingly become a true 'city on the hill', illuminated by the sincerity and generous dedication of those who work there at the service of the ecclesial mission of Peter's Successor".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed the presidents delegate, relator general and special secretaries for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which is due to be held in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October on the theme: "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You are the salt of the earth, ... you are the light of the world'".

  The presidents delegate are Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Senegal, Dakar, and Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

  The relator general is Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, and the special secretaries are Archbishop Damiao Antonio Franklin of Luanda, Angola, and Bishop Edmond Djitangar of Sarh, Chad.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. on Saturday 21 February, an ordinary public consistory will be held for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Blessed Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

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

 - 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.

- Blessed Jozef Damian de Veuster, Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS).

 - Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation.

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

 - Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee Caterina), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

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

 - Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Bruno Musaro, apostolic nuncio to Peru.

 - Six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Richard Anthony Burke S.P.S. of Benin City, apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Warri, accompanied by Bishop John 'Oke Afareha, auxiliary of Warri.

    - Bishop Gabriel Ghieakhomo Dunia of Auchi.

    - Bishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Uromi.

    - Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos.

    - Bishop John Francis Moore S.M.A. of Bauchi.

  On Saturday 14 February he received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Krzysztof Zadarko of the clergy of the diocese of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, Poland, former official of the episcopal curia, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 14,640, population 924,000, Catholics 909,000, priests 542, religious 395). The bishop-elect was born in Slupsk, Poland in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.

  On Saturday 14 February it was made public that he appointed Fr. Sebastian Francis Shah O.F.M., former minister provincial of the Order of Friars Minor in Pakistan, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Lahore (area 23,069, population 26,510,000, Catholics 385,000, priests 82, religious 291), Pakistan. The bishop-elect was born in Padri-Jo-Goth, Pakistan in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 15 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below.

  Commenting upon the Gospel reading from today's Mass, in which St. Mark recounts Jesus' miraculous healing of a leper, the Pope explained how "according to ancient Jewish Law leprosy was considered not just as an illness but as the most serious form of 'impurity'. It was the priest's task to diagnose it and declare as unclean the sick person, who then had to leave the community ... until his recovery, if any, a recovery that had to be properly certified. Leprosy, then, constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its cure a sort of resurrection.

  "In leprosy", he added, "we may see a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of the heart and has the power to distance us from God. It is not in fact the physical sickness of leprosy, as established by the ancient laws, that separates us from Him, but guilt, spiritual and moral evil. ... The sins we commit distance us from God and, if not humbly confessed with trust in divine mercy, they go so far as to produce the death of the soul". The Holy Father then observed how Christ during His Passion "would become as a leper, made unclean by our sins, separated from God: and He would do this for love, in order to obtain reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation for us".

  "In the Sacrament of Penance the crucified and risen Christ, through His ministers, purifies us with His infinite mercy, He restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers and sisters, He makes us the gift of His love, His joy and His peace".

  Benedict XVI concluded by inviting the faithful "to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, which we must increasingly rediscover today in the value and importance it has for our lives as Christians".
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Friday, February 13, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI attended a concert commemorating the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City State. Our Lady's Choral Society and the RTE Concert Orchestra, both from Dublin, Ireland, played the "Messiah" by Georg Friedrich Handel. At the end of the performance, the Holy Father pronounced some brief remarks.

  "This concert", he said, "which celebrates such a significant anniversary for Vatican City State, is one of a series of events organised for this occasion, on the theme: 'A small territory for a great mission'. ... I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to solemnise such an important moment for the Catholic Church. Commemorating eighty years of the 'Civitas Vaticana', we feel the need to pay homage to all the past and present protagonists of these eight decades of history of this small parcel of land.

  "Firstly", he added, "I would like to recall the most important of those protagonists, my venerated Pius XI who, in announcing the signing of the Lateran Pacts and, especially, the foundation of Vatican City State, chose to use an expression of St. Francis of Assisi. He said that the new sovereign status was for the Church, as it had been for St. Francis, 'just enough body to hold the soul together'.

  "Let us ask the Lord, Who guides the fortunes of the 'Ship of Peter' among the not-always easy events of history, to continue to watch over this small State. Above all, let us ask Him to help, with the power of His Spirit, Peter's Successor who stands at the helm of this ship, that he may faithfully and effectively undertake his ministry as the foundation of unity of the Catholic Church, which has its visible centre in the Vatican whence it expands to all the corners of the earth".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is commemorating its twenty-fifth anniversary. The idea to create this institution arose following John Paul II's first trip to Africa, when he visited Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in May 1980. It was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984.

  The anniversary was marked with a meeting of the foundation's management board held in Ouagadougou on 10 February. The celebrations will conclude with a Mass to be celebrated in that African city on 15 February.

  "The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the real involvement of local people. Therefore it undertakes the training of animators ("cadres moyens"), and of healthcare workers, engineers, ... agronomists, and livestock and forest farmers ("cadres techniques"). One particularly important characteristic of the foundation is its openness to the different religions of local inhabitants, and thus it is also an instrument of inter-religious dialogue".


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

 - Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

 - Three prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Augustine Tochikwu Ukwoma of Orlu, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Gregory O. Ochiagha.

    - Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Umuahia.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20090213 (100)

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