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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity has organised an international meeting of World Youth Day organisers, in preparation for the next World Youth Day, which is due to be held in Madrid, Spain, in 2011. The meeting will take place in Rome from 3 to 5 April.

  "This is the first international meeting of WYD organisers in preparation for Madrid", reads an English-language note published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. "The organising committees of Sydney 2008 and Madrid 2011 will be present. There will be delegates at the meeting from around 70 countries and representatives from 35 international Catholic communities, associations and movements, a total of around 150 people".

  The sessions will begin on 3 April with a greeting by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Evaluation of Sydney 2008 will take place with Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of that city, and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher O.P. speaking of the fruits of the event as experienced in their archdiocese and throughout Australia. Fr. Eric Jacquinet will moderate a discussion which will enable the impact of WYD at a local level to be evaluated, and which will explore how WYD can serve as a model for the regular pastoral care of youth. Mass presided by Cardinal Pell will conclude the day's sessions.

  "Towards Madrid 2011" is the theme for the sessions of 4 April. Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, and Auxiliary Bishop Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez will talk about the Church in Spain, and present the reasons, challenges and expectations of this new phase in World Youth Days. A number of young Spaniards will also speak, and some initial information about organisational planning will be presented. Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will present Benedict XVI's Message for 24th World Youth Day, after which Cardinal Rylko will make some concluding remarks.

  On 5 April, Palm Sunday, participants will attend the Mass celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter's Square during which, in a traditional hand-over ceremony, the Australians will consign the World Youth Day cross to the Spaniards. A tangible "passing of the baton among the youth of the world", the note concludes, "which places before us as a point of reference the stark reality of the Cross, the hope that springs from the Resurrection".
CON-L/WYD MEETING/RYLKO                        VIS 20090331 (410)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That the Lord may bless farmers' work with an abundant harvest and sensitise the richer populations to the drama of hunger in the world".

  His mission intention is: "That the Christians who operate in the territories where the conditions of the poor, the weak and the women and children are most tragic, may be signs of hope, thanks to their courageous testimony to the Gospel of solidarity and love".
BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/APRIL/...                VIS 20090331 (100)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Message of Benedict XVI for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is due to be celebrated on 3 May, the fourth Sunday of Easter, and which has as its theme this year: "Faith in the divine initiative - the human response". The Message has been published in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Polish.

  Extracts from the text are given below:

  "The exhortation of Jesus to His disciples: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest' has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting".

  "The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity".

  "In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God's initiative of choosing some to follow His Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be His privileged ministers and witnesses. ... Responding to the Lord's call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today He continues to call together workers into His vineyard.

  "While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakeable certitude that the One Who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfilment of the Kingdom is He, the Lord, Who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow Him according to the mysterious plans of His merciful love.

  "Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer".

  "What is asked of those who are called ... is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction".

  "In the Eucharist, that perfect gift which brings to fulfilment the plan of love for the redemption of the world, Jesus offers Himself freely for the salvation of mankind. ... It is priests who are called to perpetuate this salvific mystery from century to century. ... In the celebration of the Eucharist it is Christ Himself Who acts in those whom He chooses as His ministers; He supports them so that their response develops in a dimension of trust and gratitude that removes all fear, even when they experience more acutely their own weakness, or indeed when the experience of misunderstanding or even of persecution is most bitter".

  "To believe in the Lord and to accept His gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to His plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord Who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love".

  "This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life. ... Attracted by Him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness".

  "The response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God Who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfilment, ... expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord's invitation. ... Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'co-responsibility', responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of His Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One Who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit.

  "An emblematic human response, full of trust in God's initiative, is the generous and unmitigated 'Amen' of the Virgin of Nazareth, uttered with humble and decisive adherence to the plan of the Most High. ... I want to entrust to her all those who are aware of God's call to set out on the road of the ministerial priesthood or consecrated life.

  "Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with Him".
MESS/WORLD DAY VOCATIONS/...                VIS 20090331 (890)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday afternoon:

  "The Holy Father, sharing the concern of the families, and of everyone worried about the safety of the three Red Cross workers kidnapped on the island of Jolo in the Philippines, wishes to raise his voice and make an appeal that humanitarian values and reason may prevail over violence and intimidation.

  "The Holy Father, in the name of God, asks for the hostages to be released and calls upon the authorities to favour a peaceful solution to the dramatic situation".
OP/RELEASE HOSTAGES/PHILIPPINES                VIS 20090331 (110)

Monday, March 30, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Suwon, Korea, presented by Bishop Paul Choi Deok-ki, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon.

  On Saturday 28 March it was made public that the Holy Father appointed:

 - Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Italy, as his special envoy to closing celebrations marking the millennium of the dedication of the co-cathedral of Sarsina, Italy, due to take place on 31 May.

 - Msgr. Adriano Tessarollo of the clergy of the diocese of Vicenza, Italy, pastor of the parish of "San Pietro Apostolo in Schio", as bishop of Chioggia (area 1,000, population 124,000, Catholics 123,000, priests 121, permanent deacons 3, religious 155), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Tezze sul Brenta, Italy in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971.
RE:NA:NER/.../...                            VIS 20090330 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Four prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Fabriciano Sigampa of Resistencia.

    - Bishop Hugo Manuel Hugo Manuel Salaberry Goyeneche S.J. of Azul, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Emilio Bianchi di Carcano.

    - Bishop Adolfo Armando Uriona F.D.P. of Anatuya.

 - Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Arabia, accompanied by Bishop Camillo Ballin M.C.C.J., apostolic vicar of Kuwait.

 - Frere Alois, prior of Taize.
  On Saturday 28 March he received in separate audiences.

 - Bishop Walter Mixa, military ordinary for Germany.

 - Three prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Charbel Georges Merhi of San Charbel en Buenos Aires of the Maronites.

    - Bishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Santa Rosa.

    - Bishop Juan Horacio Suarez of Gregorio de Laferrere.

  Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20090330 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of ceremonies to be presided over by Benedict XVI during Holy Week.

 - Sunday 5 April: Palm Sunday and Our Lord's Passion; 24th World Youth Day on the theme: "We have placed our hope in the living God". At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

 - Thursday 9 April: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Chrism Mass. At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, beginning of Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. Collection to be given to the Catholic community in Gaza.

 - Friday 10 April: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of Our Lord. Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9.15 p.m.

 - Saturday 11 April: Easter Saturday. At 9 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, beginning of Easter Vigil.

 - Sunday 12 April: Easter Sunday. At 10.15 a.m., Mass in St. Peter's Square. At midday, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.
OCL/HOLY WEEK CELEBRATIONS/...                VIS 20090330 (210)


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of the Holy Face of Jesus, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope, who is due to speak at length about his recent visit to Africa in his next general audience, highlighted how during his visit to the continent he had been particularly impressed by people's joy "at being part of the one family of God" and by "the strong sense of the sacred which was palpable during liturgical celebrations. ... The visit", he went on, "gave me a better view and understanding of the situation of the Church in Africa, her various experiences and the challenges she has to face at the current time".

  Going on then to quote from today's Gospel where, in the imminence of His Passion, Christ says: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit", the Pope highlighted Jesus' readiness to do the will of God, which is "to give eternal life to us who have lost it. For this to happen, though, Jesus has to die, like a grain sown by God the Father in the world. Only in this way, in fact, can a new humanity take seed and grow, free from the sway of sin and capable of living fraternally, like sons and daughters of the one Father Who is in heaven.

  "In the great feast of faith we experienced together in Africa", Benedict XVI added, "we felt this new humanity to be alive, though with its human limitations. There, where missionaries, like Jesus, gave and continue to give their lives for the Gospel, we gather abundant fruits. To them - religious and lay people - goes my gratitude for the good that they do. It was for me a beautiful sight to see the fruit of their love for Christ and to appreciate the profound recognition Christians have for them. Let us give thanks to God for them and pray to Mary Most Holy that Christ's message of hope and of love may be spread throughout the world".

  After the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father gave his "affectionate greetings to the large numbers Africans who live in Rome", many of whom were in St. Peter's Square accompanied by Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. "You have come", said the Pope, "to express your joy and recognition for my apostolic trip to Africa. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I pray for you, for your families and for your home countries".
ANG/AFRICA/...                            VIS 20090330 (470)


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the fifth Sunday of Lent, the Pope visited the parish of the Holy Face of Jesus, located in the Magliana neighbourhood in the western sector of the diocese of Rome. The church, dedicated to St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1982, took the name of Holy Face of Jesus in 2001.

  Before Mass, the Holy Father greeted people gathered outside the church under heavy rain. "Unfortunately it is raining, but the sun is on its way", he told them. "We know that the sun, though it may be hidden, exists; that God is near, that He helps us and accompanies us. In this way do we wish to progress towards Easter, knowing that suffering and difficulties are part of our life, but aware that behind them is the sun of divine goodness".

  In his homily during the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope encouraged the parishioners to place themselves at the service of others in the present time of "economic and social crisis", so as to counter fear and solitude, maintaining trust in God. In this context he identified a model of charity in St. Maximilian Kolbe who sacrificed his own life in Auschwitz concentration camp in order to save the life of another prisoner.

  "In our times, marked by a generalised social and economic crisis, there is a particular merit in the efforts you are making, especially though parish Caritas and the Sant'Egidio Community, to respond ... to the requirements of the poor and needy", he told his congregation.

  Commenting upon the Gospel of St. John of this fifth Sunday of Lent, the Pope exhorted the faithful to seek to share Jesus' state of mind in the period running up to Easter, reliving the mystery of His crucifixion, death and resurrection, not as mere spectators but as protagonists.

  Turning then to address young people, the Holy Father said: "Allow yourselves to be attracted by Jesus. Looking at His Face with the eyes of faith, ask Him: Jesus, what do You want me to do with You and for You? Listen to Him and, guided by His Spirit, accept the plans He has for each one of you".
HML/.../HOLY FACE OF JESUS                    VIS 20090330 (380)


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received 7,000 young volunteers of the Italian "Servizio Civile".

  The Pope thanked them for the generosity with which they carry out their mission of peace. Commenting then on the final part of the Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution "Guadium et spes", which focuses on the subject of peace among peoples, he remarked: "unfortunately wars and violence are unending, and the search for peace is always arduous.

  "At a time marked by the danger of possible planetary conflict", he added, "Vatican Council II - with this text - made a strong condemnation of the arms race". The Council Fathers made it clear, he said, that "new approaches based on reformed attitudes must be taken to remove this trap and to emancipate the world from its crushing anxiety through the restoration of genuine peace".

  "Today, as then, the true conversion of hearts is the right way, the only way, that can lead each of us, and humanity entire, to the peace we all long for".

  "Be, then", Pope Benedict told the young people, "always and everywhere, instruments of peace, decisively rejecting selfishness and injustice, indifference and hatred, in order to spread ... justice, equality, freedom, reconciliation, acceptance and forgiveness in all communities".

  "Each of you", the Holy Father went on, "through your experience of voluntary work, can reinforce your social awareness, achieve a closer knowledge of people's problems and become an active promoter of true solidarity. The main objective of the Italian national 'Servizio Civile', is clearly an educational one: to teach the young generations to cultivate a sense of responsibility towards people in need and the common good".

  "Life is a mystery of love", Benedict XVI told the young volunteers, "which is more truly our own the more we donate it; or rather, the more we donate our own self, making a gift of ourselves, our time, our resources and our qualities for the good of others".

  "May this", he concluded, "always be the logic of your lives. Not just now when you are young, but also tomorrow when you hold - I hope - important positions in society and form a family. May you remain people ready to sacrifice yourselves for others, willing even to face suffering for good and for justice".
AC/.../VOLUNTEER SERVIZIO CIVILE                        VIS 20090330 (400)


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2009 (VIS) - In a communique published today the Holy See Press Office announces that the commission established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of importance concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China will meet in the Vatican from 30 March to 1 April.

  "Said commission includes superiors of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia with responsibility in this area, as well as certain representatives of the Chinese episcopate and of religious congregations", reads the communique.

  "The first plenary meeting, which took place from 10 to 12 March 2008, had as its theme the Letter the Holy Father Benedict XVI addressed to Chinese Catholics on 27 May 2007. The meeting considered how that pontifical document was received, both inside and outside China. Participants also reflected upon the theological principles that inspired the Letter in order to understand the prospects arising therefrom for the Catholic community in China.

  "During the next plenary meeting, certain aspects of the life of the Church in China will be examined in the light of the same Letter. Particular attention will be given to important ongoing religious questions".

Friday, March 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the following communique:

  "In the Vatican Apostolic Palace this morning, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience President Demetris Christofias of the Republic Cyprus. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions focused on certain questions concerning the situation in country, and its future. For his part, President Christofias illustrated the condition of many churches and Christian buildings in the north of the island. The two sides expressed their mutual hope that the ongoing negotiations between the parties may reach a solution to the longstanding question of Cyprus.

  "Ideas were also exchanged on the international situation regarding, among other things, the continent of Africa.

  "Finally, emphasis was given to the importance of good relations between Catholics and Orthodox and between Catholics and Muslims, who are all called to work together for the good of society and for peaceful coexistence among peoples".
OP/AUDIENCE PRESIDENT/CYPRUS                VIS 20090327 (190)


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Juan Ruben Martinez of Posadas.

    - Bishop Mariano Moreno Garcia O.S.A., prelate of Cafayate.

    - Archbishop Carlos Jose Nanez of Cordoba.

    - Bishop Jose Angel Rovai of Villa Maria.

  This evening, he is scheduled to received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AL:AP/.../...                                VIS 20090327 (90)

Thursday, March 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to the Holy Land, due to take place from 8 to 15 May, was made public today.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9.30 a.m. on 8 May, landing at Queen Alia airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman, at 2.30 p.m. At 3.30 p.m. he is due to visit the city's "Regina Pacis" Centre, then make a courtesy visit to the Jordanian monarchs at the al-Husseinye royal palace.

  On the morning of Saturday 9 May he will visit the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, and bless the cornerstone of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University.

  Having visited the Hashemite Museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman, he will meet with Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities. Later that day he will preside at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.

  On the morning of Sunday 10 May the Holy Father will celebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli at the international stadium in Amman. That afternoon he is scheduled to visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism, where he will bless the cornerstones of the Latin and Greek-Melkite churches.

  On Monday 11 May, having celebrated Mass in private at the apostolic nunciature in Amman, he will travel by plane to Tel Aviv, Israel, where the welcome ceremony is due to take place at 11 a.m. in the city's Ben Gurion airport. That afternoon he will make a courtesy visit to the president of Israel at the presidential palace in Jerusalem. Subsequently he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial and hold a meeting with organisations for inter-religious dialogue.

  On Tuesday 12 May he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall and meet with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Hechal Shlomo Centre. At midday he is due to pray the Regina Coeli with ordinaries of the Holy Land in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and to make a brief visit to the co-cathedral of the Latins. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

  At 9 a.m. on Wednesday 13 May the Holy Father will deliver an address on the square in front of the presidential palace in Bethlehem then celebrate Mass in Manger Square at 10 a.m. At 12.30 p.m. he will lunch with the ordinaries of the Holy Land, the Franciscan community and the papal entourage at the Casa Nova monastery in Bethlehem

  That afternoon, following a private visit at 3.30 p.m. to the Grotto of the Nativity, Benedict XVI will travel to the Caritas Baby Hospital and, shortly thereafter, to the Aida Refugee Camp, where he will deliver an address. At 6 p.m. he will make a courtesy visit to the president of the Palestine National Authority in the presidential palace of Bethlehem, after which the departure ceremony will take place on the square in front of the palace.

  At 10 a.m. on Thursday 14 May the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Mount of Precipice in Nazareth. At 3.50 p.m. he will meet the Israeli prime minister in the city's Franciscan convent, and at 4.30 p.m. greet religious leaders of Galilee in the auditorium of the Basilica of the Annunciation, where he will pronounce an address. Later he will travel to the Grotto of the Annunciation where at 5.30 p.m. he will preside at Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and pastoral workers.

  On Friday 15 May the Pope will celebrate an early private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic delegation to Jerusalem, then attend an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. After this he will visit the Holy Sepulchre and the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James in Jerusalem.

  Following the departure ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv, the papal plane is due to take off at 2 p.m. bound for Rome where it is expected to land at Ciampino airport at 4.50 p.m. Roman time.
OP/PROGRAMME PAPAL TRIP/HOLY LAND            VIS 20090326 (720)


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. on Thursday 2 April, Benedict XVI will preside at a Mass marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II.

  A note from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff explains that young people from the diocese of Rome are particularly welcome at the ceremony, as a preparation for World Youth Day, which is due to be celebrated this year at the diocesan level on 5 April.
OCL/ANNIVERSARY DEATH/JOHN PAUL II            VIS 20090326 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Sergio Osvaldo Buenanueva.

    - Bishop Hector Sabatino Cardelli of San Nicolas de los Arroyos.

    - Archbishop Alfonso Rogelio Delgado Evers of San Juan de Cuyo

    - Bishop Ramon Alfredo Dus of Reconquista.

    - Bishop Ricardo Oscar Faifer of Goya.

    - Bishop Marcelo Raul Martorell of Puerto Iguazu.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
AL:AP/.../...                                VIS 20090326 (110)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world encouraging them to participate in the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday.

  In the letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, then secretary of the same congregation, now president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the two prelates express the Church's "profound concern" for the position of Christians, particularly following the conflict in Gaza.

  They also underline how Benedict XVI "constantly comforts Christians, and all the inhabitants of the Holy Land, with special words and gestures, coupled with his desire to make a pilgrimage in the historical footsteps of Jesus".

  "The wounds opened by violence make the problem of emigration more acute, inexorably depriving the Christian minority of its best resources for the future. The Land that was the cradle of Christianity risks ending up without Christians".

  Cardinal Sandri and Archbishop Veglio make an appeal to help "our Christian brothers and sisters of the Holy Land who, along with other inhabitants of vast areas of the Middle East, have long aspired after that peace and tranquillity which are still so much under threat".

  The Congregation for the Oriental Churches interprets the Pope's "loving solicitude" for the ecclesial community in the Holy Land, "again exhorting all Catholics to contribute, also with material resources, to the upkeep of the Holy Sites".

  The prefect and secretary of the dicastery give assurances that "Churches of the Latin rite and of the various Eastern rites, which benefit from this vital aid, express their recognition with constant prayers for the particular Churches of the whole world".

  A document drawn up by the Custody of the Holy Land and a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, details the projects undertaken using the 2008 collection.

  Apart from providing study grants for priests and seminarians from the Holy Land to study in pontifical universities, various restoration projects were carried out in, among other places: Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Haifa, Magdala, Nazareth and Nablus (the Shechem of antiquity). Funds were also distributed to support parishes, families, schools and universities, and - through the Custody of the Holy Land - to various cultural projects, such as the faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology of the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem.

  The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has published a special prayer for Benedict XVI's forthcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 8 to 15 May, in the hope that "this visit will be for the Holy Land a moment of renewal and a time of particular grace".
.../COLLECTION HOLY LAND/SANDRI                VIS 20090325 (460)


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia, as apostolic nuncio to Latvia.

 - Appointed Fr. Francois Kalist of the clergy of Bourges, France, episcopal vicar for the formation of adults and diocesan delegate for ecumenism, as bishop of Limoges (area 11,085, population 481,000, Catholics 398,000, priests 106, permanent deacons 6, religious 179), France. The bishop-elect was born in Bourges in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Elevated the territorial prelature of Libmanan (area 1,862, population 530,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 35, religious 15), Philippines, to the rank of diocese, with the same territorial configuration as before, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Caceres. He appointed Bishop Jose Rojas Rojas, prelate of Libmanan, as the first bishop of the new diocese.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the territorial prelature of Aiquile, Brazil, presented by Bishop Adalberto Rosat O.F.M., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jorge Herbas Balderrama O.F.M.

 - Appointed Fr. Walter Jehova Hera Segarra O.F.M., minister provincial and vice president of the Ecuadorian Conference of Religious, as apostolic vicar of the apostolic vicariate of Zamora en Ecuador (area 10,556, population 126,900, Catholics 121,000, priests 24, religious 66), Ecuador. The bishop-elect was born in Bulan, Ecuador in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1992.
NN:NER:ECE:RE/.../...                            VIS 20090325 (240)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2009 (VIS) - During his return to Rome, following his apostolic visit to Cameroon and Angola, Benedict XVI again made remarks to journalists accompanying him on the flight.

  The Holy Father said that during the course of his visit he had been particularly impressed by "this almost exuberant cordiality, this delight, of a rejoicing Africa. I felt they saw in the Pope ... the personification of the fact that we are the children and the family of God. This family exists and we, with all our limitations, are part of it, and God is with us. ... I was also moved by the spirit of meditative absorption in liturgy, the powerful sense of the sacred; in the liturgies there was no self-presentation of groups, no self-animation, but the presence of the sacred, of God Himself; even the movements were always movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence".

  He went on: "I was also profoundly affected by the death of two girls during the stampede of people entering the Stadio dos Coqueiros, on Saturday. I prayed, and continue to pray, for them. ... All of us pray and hope that in the future things may be organised in such a way that this does not happen again".

  "I conserve a special memory", the Holy Father continued, "of the Cardinal Leger Centre. It touched my heart to see a world of so much suffering, all the suffering, sadness and poverty of human existence; but also to see how State and Church work together to help those who suffer. ... It is, I believe, evident that by helping the suffering man becomes more human, the world becomes more human".

  Finally Benedict XVI mentioned the publication of the "Instrumentum laboris" for the forthcoming Synod for Africa. "On the afternoon of St. Joseph's Day", he said, "I met with members of the Special Council for Africa, twelve bishops who spoke to me of the situation in their local Churches, their proposals, their expectations. Thus there emerged a detailed picture of the situation of the Church in Africa, how she moves, how she suffers, what she does, what are her hopes, her problems. There is much I could say, for example the Church in South Africa, which has gone through a difficult but substantially successful experience of reconciliation, now uses her experiences in an attempt at reconciliation in Burundi, and she seeks to do something similar, though facing enormous difficulties, in Zimbabwe".
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Monday, March 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 4.20 p.m. today, the Holy Father went to Stadio dos Coquieros in the Angolan capital city of Luanda. On arrival he toured the stadium - which has a capacity of 30,000 - by popemobile greeting the crowds of young people he had come to meet.

  Commenting on the theme of the meeting, taken from the Book of Revelation, "Behold the dwelling of God is with men", the Pope assured the young people that "God makes all the difference, ... and more! God changes us; He makes us new!".

  "God is the future of a new humanity, which is anticipated in His Church. When you have a chance, take time to read the Church's history. You will find that the Church does not grow old with the passing of the years. Rather, she grows younger, for she is journeying towards her Lord, day by day drawing nearer to the one true fountain overflowing with youthfulness, rebirth, the power of life".

  He then addressed some remarks to young Angolans who have been maimed or disabled as a result of the war or landmines. "I think of the countless tears that have been shed for the loss of your relatives and friends", he said. "It is not hard to imagine the dark clouds that still veil the horizon of your fondest hopes and dreams".

  "See how Jesus does not leave us without an answer; He tells us one thing very clearly: renewal starts from within; you will receive a power from on high. The power to shape the future is within you.

  "It is within you", he added, "but how? Just as life exists within a seed. That is how Jesus explained it at a critical juncture in His ministry. ... Jesus spoke about the sower who sows in the field of the world, and He explained that the seed is His word and His miracles of healing. These are so few in comparison to the immense needs and demands of everyday life. And yet, deep within the seed, the future is already present, since the seed contains tomorrow's bread, tomorrow's life. The seed seems almost nothing. But it is the presence of the future, the promise already present. When it falls on good soil, it produces fruit, thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold".

  "In your midst", he told the young people, "you have the new Bread, the Bread of future life, the Blessed Eucharist, which nourishes us and pours out the life of the Trinity into the hearts of all people".

  "He gives Himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to others, for love of Him. This is the way that leads to life; it can be followed only by maintaining a constant dialogue with the Lord and among yourselves". Yet "the dominant societal culture is not helping you to live by Jesus' word or to practise the self-giving to which He calls you in accordance with the Father's plan".

  After encouraging his young audience not to be "afraid to make definitive decisions", the Pope added: "You do not lack generosity - that I know! But the idea of risking a lifelong commitment, whether in marriage or in a life of special consecration, can be daunting. You might think: ...'Can I make a life-long commitment now, without knowing what unforeseen events lie in store for me? By making a definitive decision, would I not be risking my freedom and tying my own hands?' These are the doubts you feel, and today's individualistic and hedonist culture aggravates them. Yet when young people avoid decisions, there is a risk of never attaining full maturity".

  "Take courage!", he cried. "Dare to make definitive decisions, because in reality these are the only decisions which do not destroy your freedom, but guide it in the right direction, enabling you to move forward and attain something worthwhile in life. There is no doubt about it: life is worthwhile only if you take courage and are ready for adventure, if you trust in the Lord Who will never abandon you. Young people of Angola, unleash the power of the Holy Spirit within you, the power from on high!

  "Trusting in this power, like Jesus, risk taking a leap and making a definitive decision. Give life a chance", the Holy Father concluded. "This is the life worthy of being lived, and I commend it to you from my heart. May God bless the young people of Angola!".

  At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father went back to the apostolic nunciature, where he dined and spent the night.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today Benedict XVI arrived at Cimangola Square, 14 km from the Angolan capital Luanda. Having toured the site by popemobile greeting the thousands of people present, at 10 a.m. he presided at Mass with bishops of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), which brings together the episcopal conferences of Angola and Sao Tome, Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

  At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope expressed his condolences for the death of two young people, crushed by the crowds entering the Stadio dos Coquieros for his meeting with Angolan youth yesterday afternoon.

  "We entrust these two young people to Jesus", he said," that He may welcome them into His kingdom. I express my solidarity and my most heartfelt condolences to their families and friends because they had come to see me". The Holy Father also gave assurances of his prayers for the 89 people injured in the same incident, "in the hope of their speedy recovery".

  In his homily, the Pope commented on the first reading of the Mass, and its summons to the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. "Its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can 'destroy everything of value'", he said.

  "The call to return and rebuild God's Temple has a particular meaning for each of us", he went on. "God is calling us to acknowledge the power of His presence within us, to reappropriate the gift of His love and forgiveness, and to become messengers of that merciful love ... in every sector of social and political life".

  Going on to point out that today in Angola is a day of prayer and sacrifice for national reconciliation, the Holy Father said: "The Gospel teaches us that reconciliation ... can only be the fruit of conversion, ... a new way of thinking. It teaches us that only the power of God's love can change our hearts and make us triumph over the power of sin and division".

  "It is to preach this message of forgiveness, hope and new life in Christ that I have come to Africa", Pope Benedict explained. Referring then to the forthcoming Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, he asked people "to pray for this intention: that every Christian on this great continent will experience the healing touch of God's merciful love, and that the Church in Africa will become 'for all, through the witness borne by her sons and daughters, a place of true reconciliation'".

  "This is the message that the Pope is bringing to you and your children. You have received power from the Holy Spirit to be the builders of a better tomorrow for your beloved country. In Baptism you were given the Spirit in order to be heralds of God's Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace. ... Be faithful to that gift! Be confident that the Gospel can affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young. Be grateful, then, for the light of Christ! Be grateful for those who brought it, the generations of missionaries who contributed - and continue to contribute - so much to this country's human and spiritual development".

  Benedict XVI then considered today's Gospel which explains how the light of God came into the world but people preferred the darkness to the light. "Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa. ... We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men's hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society - a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values.

  "And what", he added, "of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?

  "Yet the word of God is a word of unbounded hope. ... God does not give up on us! He continues to lift our eyes to a future of hope, and He promises us the strength to accomplish it. ... He gave us His commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us!"

  "Radiate the light of faith, hope and love in your families and communities! Be witnesses of the holy truth that sets men and women free! You know from bitter experience that, in comparison with the sudden, destructive fury of evil, the work of rebuilding is painfully slow and arduous. Living by the truth takes time, effort and perseverance: it has to begin in our own hearts, ... in the little acts by which we demonstrate that we love our neighbours, all our neighbours, regardless of race, ethnicity or language, and by our readiness to work with them to build together on foundations that will endure".

  The Pope concluded his homily by addressing young people: "You are the hope of your country's future, the promise of a better tomorrow", he told them. "The Church needs your witness! Do not be afraid to respond generously to God's call, whether it be to serve Him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you".

  Trust in God's promises, and live in His truth", the Holy Father concluded. "In this way, you will build something destined to endure, and leave to future generations a lasting inheritance of reconciliation, justice and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Following today's Mass, Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in Cimangola Square in the Angolan capital, Luanda.

  "Our prayer rises today from Angola, from Africa, and embraces the whole world", said the Pope. "May the men and women from throughout the world who join us in our prayer, turn their eyes to Africa, to this great continent so filled with hope, yet so thirsty for justice, for peace, for a sound and integral development that can ensure a future of progress and peace for its people".

  "Inspired by faith in God and trust in Christ's promises, may the Catholics of this continent become ever more fully a leaven of evangelical hope for all people of good will who love Africa, who are committed to the material and spiritual advancement of its children, and the spread of freedom, prosperity, justice and solidarity in the pursuit of the common good.

  "May Mary, Queen of Peace, continue to guide Angola's people in the task of national reconciliation following the devastating and inhuman experience of the civil war", he added. "Here in Southern Africa, let us ask Our Lady in a particular way to intercede for peace, the conversion of hearts, and an end to the conflict in the neighbouring Great Lakes region. May her Son, the Prince of Peace, bring healing to the suffering, consolation to those who mourn, and strength to all who carry forward the difficult process of dialogue, negotiation and the cessation of violence".

  Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father returned to the apostolic nunciature where he had lunch.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 4.45 p.m. today, in the parish of Santo Antonio located in a densely populated area on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola, the Pope met with representatives of Catholic movements for the promotion of women.

  Two female members of the movements spoke to the Holy Father of their problems and hopes.

  In his remarks the Pope called everyone "to an effective awareness of the adverse conditions to which many women have been - and continue to be - subjected, paying particular attention to ways in which the behaviour and attitudes of men, who at times show a lack of sensitivity and responsibility, may be to blame".

  After highlighting the need to "recognise, affirm and defend the equal dignity of man and woman", Benedict XVI explained how both are "called to live in profound communion through a reciprocal recognition of one another and the mutual gift of themselves, working together for the common good through the complementary aspects of masculinity and femininity.

  "Who today", he added, "can fail to recognise the need to make more room for the reasons of the heart'? In a world like ours, dominated by technology, we feel the need for this feminine complementarity, so that the human race can live in the world without completely losing its humanity. Think of all the places afflicted by great poverty or devastated by war, and of all the tragic situations resulting from migrations, forced or otherwise. It is almost always women who manage to preserve human dignity, to defend the family and to protect cultural and religious values".

  The Pope lamented the fact that "history records almost exclusively the accomplishments of men, when in fact much of it is due to the determined, unrelenting and charitable action of women".

  "No-one today should doubt that women have 'a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life, and this right must be affirmed and guaranteed, also, where necessary, through appropriate legislation. This acknowledgement of the public role of women should not however detract from their unique role within the family. Here their contribution to the welfare and progress of society, even if its importance is not sufficiently appreciated, is truly incalculable'".

  Furthermore, "a woman's personal sense of dignity is not primarily the result of juridically defined rights, but rather the direct consequence of the material and spiritual care she receives in the bosom of the family.

  "The presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society, that it should be recognised, commended and supported in every possible way. For the same reason, society must hold husbands and fathers accountable for their responsibilities towards their families".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how "the building up of every Christian family takes place within the larger family, the Church, which sustains the domestic family and holds it close to her heart, giving it the assurance that it is protected, now and in the future, by the 'yes' of the Creator".

  The meeting concluded, the Pope travelled to the apostolic nunciature where he dined and spent the night.


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today Benedict XVI travelled from the apostolic nunciature in the Angolan capital Luanda to the city's 4 de Fevereiro airport, arriving at 10 a.m. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and the country's civil, military and religious authorities were waiting there to bid the Holy Father farewell.

  Having thanked everyone for the efforts made during the course of his visit, the Pope delivered a brief address:

  "I thank God that I have found the Church here to be so alive and full of enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message", he said. "She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person". The Pope also expressed his joy at having "known a courageous people determined to begin again. Despite the problems and obstacles, the people of Angola intend to build their future by travelling along paths of forgiveness, justice and solidarity".

  He also launched an appeal "that the just realisation of the fundamental aspirations of the most needy peoples should be the principal concern of those in public office, since their intention - I am sure - is to carry out the mission they have received not for themselves but for the sake of the common good. Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods. If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity: solidarity between generations, solidarity between nations and between continents, which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth's resources among all people".

  From the African continent "where the incarnate Word in person found refuge. I ask God to grant His protection and assistance to the countless refugees who have fled their country, and are now at large, waiting to be able to return home. ... God loves you like sons and daughters; He watches over your days and your nights, your labours and your aspirations.

  "Dear Brothers and Sisters, friends from Africa, dear Angolans, take heart!" he added. "Never tire of promoting peace, making gestures of forgiveness and working for national reconciliation, so that violence may never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancour over fraternal love. This is all possible if you recognise one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in heaven".

  The departure ceremony complete, the Holy Father's plane took off at 10.30 a.m., bound for Rome where it is due to land at around 6 p.m. today.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, auxiliary of San Diego, U.S.A., as bishop of Oakland (area 3,798, population 2,466,692, Catholics 406,947, priests 433, permanent deacons 112, religious 843), U.S.A.
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Saturday, March 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today, the Holy Father travelled to Luanda's "Palacio do Povo" where he was received by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Following a private meeting with the head of State, the Pope pronounced an address before the country's civil and political authorities, and the diplomatic corps accredited to Angola.

  "You are the protagonists and witnesses of an Angola which is on the road to recovery", the Pope told them. "In the wake of the twenty-seven-year civil war that ravaged this country, peace has begun to take root, bringing with it the fruits of stability and freedom. The government's tangible efforts to establish an infrastructure and to rebuild the institutions fundamental to development and the well-being of society have begun to foster hope among the nation's citizens. Multilateral agencies too have made their contribution, determined to overcome particular interests in order to work for the common good. There is also the example of those honest teachers, medical workers, and civil servants who, on meagre wages, serve their communities with integrity and compassion, and there are countless others who selflessly undertake voluntary work at the service of the most needy. May God bless them abundantly! May their charity multiply!

  "Angola knows that the time has come for Africa to be the Continent of Hope", he added. "All upright human conduct is hope in action. Our actions are never indifferent before God. Nor are they indifferent for the unfolding of history. Friends, armed with integrity, magnanimity and compassion, you can transform this continent, freeing your people from the scourges of greed, violence and unrest and leading them along the path marked with the principles indispensable to every modern civic democracy: respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity, a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals, and - most pressing - a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all.

  "In my Message for the World Day of Peace this year", Pope Benedict went on, "I drew particular attention to the need for an ethical approach to development. In fact, the peoples of this continent are rightly calling out, not simply for more programmes and protocols, but for a deep-seated, lasting conversion of hearts to sincere solidarity. Their plea to those serving in politics, public service, international agencies, and multinational companies is simply this: stand alongside us in a profoundly human way; accompany us, and our families and our communities.

  "Social and economic development in Africa bring into partnership national leadership together with regional initiatives and international resolve. Such partnerships require that African nations be seen not simply as the receivers of others' plans and solutions. African men and women themselves, working together for the good of their communities, should be the primary agents of their own development. In this regard, there are a growing number of effective initiatives which merit support. Among them are: the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region, together with the 'Kimberley Process', the 'Publish What You Pay Coalition' and the 'Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative'. Their common goal is to promote transparency, honest business practice and good governance.

  "In regard to the international community as a whole, of pressing importance are co-ordinated efforts to address the issue of climate change, the full and fair implementation of the development commitments of the Doha round and likewise the implementation of the oft-repeated promise by developed countries to commit 0.7 percent of their Gross National Product for official development assistance. This undertaking is all the more necessary in view of the world's current financial turmoil, and must not become one of its casualties".

  The Holy Father then spoke of his delight "at being among families" during his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola. "Indeed", he observed, "I think that those who come from other continents can learn afresh from Africa that 'the family is the foundation on which the social edifice is built'.

  "Yet", he added, "the strains upon families, as we all know, are many indeed: anxiety and ignominy caused by poverty, unemployment, disease and displacement. ... Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma. I must also mention a further area of grave concern: the policies of those who, claiming to improve the 'social edifice', threaten its very foundations. How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' healthcare! How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health.

  "You will always find the Church, in accordance with the will of her divine Founder, standing alongside the poorest of this continent. I wish to assure each of you that" through her many initiatives she "will continue to do all she can to support families - including those suffering the harrowing effects of HIV/AIDS - and to uphold the equal dignity of women and men, realised in harmonious complementarity. The Christian spiritual journey is one of daily conversion. To this the Church invites all leaders so that the path opened for all humanity will be one of truth, integrity, respect and compassion".

  Having completed his address, the Pope travelled to the apostolic nunciature, where he met with bishops of Angola and Sao Tome.


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today at the apostolic nunciature in Luanda, the Pope met with bishops of Angola and Sao Tome.

  "God will reward you", he told the prelates, "for all the apostolic work which you have accomplished in difficult conditions, both during the war and at the present time, in spite of so many limitations, thus helping to give the Church in Angola and in Sao Tome and Principe that dynamism which everyone acknowledges".

  Referring then to the challenges they have to face, he recalled the fact that, "as a corrective to a widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive and, even more, tends to make its ultimate measure the individual and his personal caprice, we hold out another measure: the Son of God, Who is also true man. Christ is the measure of true humanism. The Christian marked by an adult and mature faith is not one who is borne along by the waves of fashion and the latest novelties, but one who lives deeply rooted in the friendship of Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good, and it provides us with the criterion for discerning between error and truth".

  "Culture and models of behaviour are nowadays more and more conditioned and shaped by the images set forth by the communications media. For this reason, I wish to acknowledge your praiseworthy efforts to develop, in this area too, a communications strategy which will enable you to provide everyone with a Christian interpretation of human events, problems and realities".

  The Holy Father dwelt upon the "difficulties and threats" facing families, which "are particularly in need of evangelisation and practical support, since, in addition to the fragility and lack of inner stability of so many conjugal unions, there is the widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage.

  "In your pastoral concern which extends to every human being", he added, "continue to raise your voice in defence of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family's proper role in the Church and in society, at the same time demanding economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children".

  The Pope spoke of his joy "that your nations have so many vibrant communities of faith, a committed laity devoted to many works of the apostolate, and a significant number of vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life, especially the contemplative life. They represent a genuine sign of hope for the future", he said.

  Noting that the clergy is becoming "increasingly indigenous", he praised "the work which has been patiently and heroically carried out by the missionaries in proclaiming Christ and His Gospel and in giving birth to the Christian communities for which you today are responsible".

  Pope Benedict urged the prelates "to be deeply concerned for your priests, attentive to their continuing formation on both the theological and spiritual levels, and alert to the conditions in which they live and exercise their specific mission, so that they can be authentic witnesses of the Word they proclaim and the Sacraments they celebrate.

  "In the gift of themselves to Christ and to the people whom they shepherd, may they remain faithful to the demands of their state of life, and live out their priestly ministry as a true path to holiness, striving to become saints and in this way to raise up new saints all around them".

  At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI dined with the bishops of Angola and Sao Tome, and his entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the church of Sao Paulo in Luanda, Angola. The church, built by the Capuchin Fathers in 1935, has been the property of the Salesians since 1982. The ceremony was attended by bishops, priests, religious, members of ecclesial movements and catechists of Angola and Sao Tome.

  "St. Paul, the patron saint of the city of Luanda and of this splendid church, ... speaks to us from personal experience about this God Who is rich in mercy", said the Holy Father in his homily. "I feel great joy to be here today with you, my fellow-workers in the Lord's vineyard, where you labour daily to prepare the wine of divine mercy and to pour it out as balm on the wounds of your people who have suffered so many tribulations".

  The decisive event in the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles, noted Benedict XVI, "was his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. ... The Apostle saw the Risen Jesus; and in Him he beheld the full stature of humanity. As a result Paul experienced an inversion of perspective; he now saw everything in the light of this perfect stature of humanity in Christ".

  "'Let us make haste to know the Lord', the Risen One!" he exclaimed. "As you know, Jesus, perfect man, is also our true God. In Him, God became visible to our eyes, to give us a share in His divine life. With Him a new dimension of being, of life, has come about, a dimension which integrates matter and through which a new world arises".

  This new dimension "comes to each of us through faith and Baptism. This Sacrament is truly death and resurrection, transformation and new life. ... I live, but no longer I. In a certain way, my identity has been taken away and made part of an even greater identity; I still have my personal identity, but now it is changed and open to others as a result of my becoming part of Another: in Christ I find myself living on a new plane".

  "Through this process of our 'Christification' by the working and grace of God's Spirit, the gestation of the Body of Christ in history is gradually being accomplished in us. At this moment I would like to go back in thought five centuries, to the years following 1506, when, in these lands, then visited by the Portuguese, the first sub-Saharan Christian kingdom was established, thanks to the faith and determination of the king, Dom Alphonsus I Mbemba-a-Nzinga, who reigned from 1506 until his death in 1543. The kingdom remained officially Catholic from the sixteenth century until the eighteenth, with its own ambassador in Rome. You see how two quite different ethnic groups the Bantu and the Portuguese were able to find in the Christian religion common ground for understanding, and committed themselves to ensuring that this understanding would be long-lasting, and that differences - which undoubtedly existed, and great ones at that - would not divide the two kingdoms! For Baptism enables all believers to be one in Christ.

  "Today it is up to you", he added, "to offer the Risen Christ to your fellow citizens. So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers. Who can go to them to proclaim that Christ has triumphed over death and all those occult powers? Someone may object: 'Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves'.

  "But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real - indeed, the most real thing of all - is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life".

  "Let us enable human poverty to encounter divine mercy", the Pope concluded. "The Lord makes us His friends, He entrusts Himself to us, He gives us His Body in the Eucharist, He entrusts His Church to us. ... Let us embrace His will, like St. Paul: 'Preaching the Gospel ... is a necessity laid upon me; woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!'"

  At the end of Mass, the Holy Father travelled back to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Erected the new diocese of Namibe (area 57,097, population 1,195,779, Catholics 270,294, priests 12, religious 27) Angola, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Lubango, making it a suffragan of the same metropolitan church. He appointed Fr. Mateus Feliciano Tomas, chancellor of the archdiocese of Huambo and pastor of the cathedral, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Chinguar, Angola in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1983.

 - Appointed Fr. Giovanni Migliorati M.C.C.I., secretary general of the apostolic vicariate of Awasa, Ethiopia, and rector of the major seminary there, as apostolic vicar of the same vicariate (area 75,000, population 6,067,000, Catholics 173,000, priests 47, religious 69). The bishop-elect was born in Pavone Mella, Italy in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1969. He succeeds Bishop Lorenzo Ceresoli M.C.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same apostolic vicariate the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Friday, March 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 4 p.m. today, the Holy Father went to Yaounde's Cardinal Leger National Rehabilitation Centre which specialises in assisting young people suffering from handicaps or traumas. The centre was founded in 1972 by Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger P.S.S., archbishop emeritus of Montreal, Canada, who at the end of his pastoral mandate retired to Africa to dedicate himself to humanitarian activities.

  On arrival, Benedict XVI was greeted by the Cameroonian minister for social affairs, the director of the Cardinal Leger Centre, and the bishop in charge of health pastoral care. The ceremony was attended by pupils of the centre and by two hundred sick people from various hospitals in Cameroon.

  "You are not alone in your pain, for Christ Himself is close to all who suffer. He reveals to the sick and infirm their place in the heart of God and in society", said the Pope in his remarks, noting how in the Gospels Christ often shows us, "through specific actions, His fraternal tenderness and benevolence towards all the broken-hearted, all whose bodies are wounded.

  "This centre is named after Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger", the Pope added, "a son of Canada who came among you to bring relief to bodies and souls. As I stand here today, I am mindful of all the people in hospitals, ... who suffer from a disability, mental or physical. I also think of those whose flesh bears the scars of wars and violence. I remember too all the sick and, especially here in Africa, the victims of such diseases as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. I know how actively engaged the Catholic Church in your country is in the fight against these terrible afflictions, and I encourage you to pursue this urgent task with great determination".

  In the presence of atrocious torment "we feel powerless and we cannot find the right words. Before a brother or sister plunged into the mystery of the Cross, a respectful and compassionate silence, a prayerful presence, a gesture of tenderness and comfort, a kind look, a smile, often achieve more than many words. This was the experience of a small group of men and women, including the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John, who followed Jesus in the depths of His suffering at the time of His Passion and His death on the Cross".

  Among this group, the Pope explained "was an African, Simon of Cyrene, ... [who] took part, at the price of his own suffering, in the infinite suffering of the One Who ransomed all men, including His executioners".

  "It is hard to accept to carry someone else's cross. Only after the resurrection could he have understood what he had done. Brothers and sisters, it is the same for each of us: in the depths of our anguish, of our own rebellion, Christ offers us His loving presence even if we find it hard to understand that He is at our side. Only the Lord's final victory will reveal for us the definitive meaning of our trials.

  "Can it not be said", the Holy Father asked, "that every African is in some sense a member of the family of Simon of Cyrene? Every African who suffers, indeed every person who suffers, helps Christ to carry His Cross and climbs with Him the path to Golgotha in order one day to rise again with Him. ... Since the resurrection, and right up to our own time, there have been countless witnesses who have turned, with faith and hope, towards the Saviour of mankind, recognising His presence at the heart of their suffering. May the Father of mercies graciously grant the prayers of all who turn to Him. He answers our call and our prayer, as and when He wishes, for our good and not according to our desires".

  Pope Benedict invited sick people to "gaze upon the Crucified One, with faith and courage, for from Him come life, comfort, and healing", and to turn to St. Joseph, "an intercessor for bodily health ... [and] for the health of the soul".

  "All of you, doctors and researchers, have the task of putting into practice every legitimate form of pain relief; you are called, in the first place, to protect human life, you are the defenders of life from conception to natural death. For every person, respect for life is a right and at the same time a duty, since all life is a gift from God.

  "With you", he concluded, "I would like to give thanks to the Lord for all who, in one way or another, work in the service of the suffering. I encourage priests and those who visit the sick to commit themselves to an active and friendly presence in their hospital chaplaincy, or to assure an ecclesial presence in the home, for the comfort and spiritual support of the sick".

  Having blessed the sick people and the students of the Cardinal Leger Centre, the Pope returned to the apostolic nunciature where he met with members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde, Cameroon, at 6.30 p.m. today, the Holy Father met with the twelve members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops who come from the following African States: Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Algeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, Congo, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Madagascar and Egypt.

  The Pope began his address by indicating once again how the African continent "has been blessed by our Lord Jesus Himself. ... God chose your continent to become the dwelling-place of his Son. In Jesus, God drew near to all men and women, of course, but also, in a particular way, to the men and women of Africa".

  Highlighting then "some significant moments in the Christian history of this continent", Benedict XVI recalled how Mark the Evangelist "bore witness in Africa to the death of the Son of God on the Cross".

  "The Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God spread rapidly in North Africa, where it raised up distinguished martyrs and saints, and produced outstanding theologians. ... With the arrival of Europeans ... in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the sub-Saharan peoples encountered Christ. ... In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, sub-Saharan Africa saw the arrival of missionaries, men and women from throughout the West, from Latin America and even from Asia".

  The Holy Father described African catechists as "the inseparable companions of the missionaries in evangelisation. ... In evoking their glorious memory, I greet and encourage their worthy successors who work today with the same selflessness, the same apostolic courage and the same faith as their predecessors. May God bless them generously!"

  He also mentioned the "numerous saints" of Africa, including "the martyrs of Uganda, the great missionaries Anne-Marie Javouhey and Daniele Comboni, as well as Sr. Anuarite Nengapeta and the catechist Isidore Bakanja, without forgetting the humble Josephine Bakhita".

  Turning his attention to the theme of the Second Special Assembly for Africa, which focuses on reconciliation, justice and peace, the Holy Father pointed out that in order "to carry out her mission well, the Church must be a community of persons reconciled with God and among themselves. In this way, she can proclaim the Good News of reconciliation to contemporary society, which unfortunately experiences in many places conflicts, acts of violence, war and hatred".

  "The local or regional wars, massacres and genocides perpetrated on the continent must challenge us in a special way: if it is true that in Jesus Christ we belong to the same family and share the same life - since in our veins there flows the Blood of Christ Himself, Who has made us children of God, members of God's Family - there must no longer be hatred, injustice and internecine war".

  He continued: "The Church, as the Family of God in Africa, made a preferential option for the poor at the First Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In this way she showed that the situation of dehumanisation and oppression afflicting the African peoples is not irreversible; on the contrary, she set before everyone a challenge: that of conversion, holiness and integrity.

  "The Son, through Whom God speaks to us, is Himself the Word made flesh", the Holy Father added, underlining the urgent need "that Christian communities increasingly become places of profound listening to the word of God and meditative reading of Sacred Scripture".

  "In the Eucharist, it becomes clearly evident that our life is a relationship of communion with God, with our brothers and sisters, and with all creation. The Eucharist is the source of a unity reconciled in peace", he said.

  "In His flesh He has reconciled all peoples. In the power of the Holy Spirit, I appeal to everyone: 'Be reconciled to God!'. No ethnic or cultural difference, no difference of race, sex or religion must become a cause for dispute among you. You are all children of the one God, our Father, Who is in heaven. With this conviction, it will then be possible to build a more just and peaceful Africa, an Africa worthy of the legitimate expectations of all its children".

  The meeting over, the Pope dined with members of the special council, and with the cardinals and bishops of his entourage.


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Having bid farewell to the staff of the apostolic nunciature in Cameron's capital city of Yaounde, at 9 a.m. today the Pope travelled to the city's Nsimalen airport, where he was met by head of State, President Paul Biya, and other civil and religious authorities.

  The Pope delivered a brief address expressing thanks for the warm welcome the country had shown him, and appreciation for the efforts made to ensure the success of his visit.

  He asked people "to continue praying that the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops will prove to be a time of grace for the Church throughout the continent, a time of renewal and rededication to the mission to bring the healing message of the Gospel to a broken world".

  The Holy Father also recalled some salient moments of his stay in Cameroon, including the visit to the Cardinal Leger Centre where "it was most moving to observe the care that is taken of the sick and the disabled, some of the most vulnerable members of our society. That Christ-like compassion is a sure sign of hope for the future of the Church and for the future of Africa".

  He also mentioned his meeting with representatives of the Muslim community. "As we continue on our journey towards greater mutual understanding", he said, "I pray that we will also grow in respect and esteem for one another, and strengthen our resolve to work together to proclaim the God-given dignity of the human person, a message that an increasingly secularised world needs to hear".

  Finally the Pope highlighted "the historic moment of the promulgation of the 'Instrumentum Laboris' of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Truly this is a moment of great hope for Africa and for the whole world", he said and invited the people of Cameroon "to seize the moment the Lord has given you. Answer His call to bring reconciliation, healing and peace to your communities and your society.

  "Work to eliminate injustice, poverty and hunger wherever you encounter it!", he cried.

  Having completed his remarks, at 10.30 a.m. the Pope boarded his aircraft and departed for the Angolan capital Luanda, the second stage of his apostolic trip to Africa.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Following a two-hour flight from Yaounde, Cameroon, the Holy Father's plane landed at 4 de Fevereiro airport in the Angolan capital city of Luanda.

  As he descended from the aircraft, the Pope was greeted by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, then by Archbishop Damiao Antonio Franklin of Luanda, president of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome.

  Having greeted other State dignitaries and listened to President dos Santos's welcome speech, the Pope pronounced his address.

  He began by explaining that, although his African trip was limited to Yaounde and Luanda, he wanted everyone to know "that I keep very much in my heart and in my prayers Africa in general and the people of Angola in particular, whom I warmly encourage to continue along the path of peace-building and reconstruction of the country and its institutions".

  After recalling John Paul II's visit to the country in June 1992, Benedict XVI pointed out that in his own country, Germany, "peace and fraternity are dear to the hearts of all people, in particular those, like myself, who have known war and division between family members from the same nation as a result of inhuman and destructive ideologies, which, under the false appearance of dreams and illusions, caused the yoke of oppression to weigh down upon the people. You can therefore understand how keenly aware I am of dialogue as a way of overcoming every form of conflict and tension and making every nation - including your own - into a house of peace and fraternity".

  "Your land is abundant and your nation is mighty", he told the Angolan people. "Make use of these advantages to build peace and understanding between peoples, based upon loyalty and equality that can promote for Africa the peaceful future in solidarity that everyone longs for and to which everyone is entitled. To this end, I ask you: do not yield to the law of the strongest! God has enabled human beings to fly, over and above their natural tendencies, on the wings of reason and faith. If you let these wings bear you aloft, you will easily recognise your neighbour as a brother or sister, born with the same fundamental human rights.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "within the borders of Angola, there are still many poor people demanding that their rights be respected. The multitude of Angolans who live below the threshold of absolute poverty must not be forgotten. Do not disappoint their expectations.

  "This is a huge task, requiring greater civic participation on everyone's part. It is necessary to involve the whole of Angolan civil society in this effort; but society needs to grow stronger and more articulated, both among its constitutive elements and in its dialogue with the government, before it can take up the challenge. Before there can be a society that is truly solicitous for the common good, there have to be common values, shared by all".

  The Pope concluded by reiterating the "immediate occasion" for his Angolan visit: "To be together with one of the oldest Catholic communities in sub-equatorial Africa, to strengthen it in its faith in the risen Jesus and to join its sons and daughters in praying that this time of peace in Angola, in justice and fraternity, may prove lasting, allowing the community to carry out the mission that God has entrusted to it for the good of its people within the family of nations".

  The welcome ceremony over, the Holy Father travelled to the apostolic nunciature where he had lunch.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This evening, in the minor basilica of Marie Reine des Apotres, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Benedict XVI presided at the first Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Bishops, priests and religious, seminarians and deacons all participated in the ceremony, as did various ecclesial movements and members of other Christian confessions in Cameroon.

  "Speaking to the crowd and to His disciples, Jesus declared: 'You have only one Father'", said the Pope in his homily. "There is but one fatherhood, that of God the Father, the one Creator of the world, 'of all that is seen and unseen'. Yet man, created in the image of God, has been granted a share in this one paternity of God. St. Joseph is a striking case of this. ... He is not the biological father of Jesus, Whose Father is God alone, and yet he lives his fatherhood fully and completely.

  "To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth", he added. "St. Joseph, in this sense, gave proof of great devotion. For the sake of Christ he experienced persecution, exile and the poverty which this entails".

  "You are called to live out this fatherhood in the daily tasks of your ministry", Benedict XVI told priests, recalling how the Constitution "Lumen gentium" exhorts them, "as their fathers in Christ", to "care for the faithful whom they have spiritually begotten by Baptism and instruction".

  "The ministerial priesthood entails a profound relationship with Christ Who is given to us in the Eucharist" which, the Holy Father reminded clergy, must "be the centre of your ecclesial mission. ... In celebrating this Sacrament in the Lord's name and in His person, the person of the priest cannot occupy centre stage" for "he is a servant, a humble instrument pointing to Christ Who offers Himself in sacrifice for the salvation of the world".

  Pastoral ministry, the Pope explained, "demands many sacrifices, yet it is also a source of great joy. Trusting in your bishops, united fraternally to the whole presbyterate and supported by the portion of the People of God commended to your care, you will be able to respond faithfully to the Lord who has called you, just as he called Joseph to watch over Mary and the Child Jesus!"

  When Mary responded to the angel's call, she was already betrothed to Joseph, the Holy Father observed, adding: "In addressing Mary personally, the Lord already closely associates Joseph to the mystery of the Incarnation. Joseph agreed to be part of the great events which God was beginning to bring about in the womb of his spouse". Taking Mary into his home "he welcomed the mystery that was in Mary and the mystery that was Mary herself. He loved her with great respect, which is the mark of all authentic love. Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing".

  Drawing inspiration from Joseph, all men and women can, then, "come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to Him".

  The Pope then turned to address representatives of ecclesial movements, inviting them to "be attentive to those around you" so as to "reveal the loving face of God to the poor, especially by your works of mercy, your human and Christian education of young people, your programmes for the advancement of women, and in so many other ways".

  "By your unreserved fidelity to your commitments, you are for the Church a sapling of life, springing up to serve the coming of God's Kingdom. At all times, and especially whenever your fidelity is put to the test, St. Joseph reminds you of the value and meaning of your promises".

  Reflecting upon the husband of Mary "invites us to ponder his vocation in all its richness, and to see him as a constant model for all those who have devoted their lives to Christ in the priesthood, in the consecrated life or in the different forms of lay engagement. Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in His way. Joseph is a 'just man'".

  "The life of St. Joseph, lived in obedience to God's word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church. His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of His plan to gather together all mankind into one family, ... one ecclesia".

  The Pope concluded his homily by addressing some remarks to followers of other Christian confessions: "This quest for unity among the disciples of Christ represents a great challenge for us", he said. "It leads us first of all to be converted to the Person of Christ, to let ourselves be drawn more and more to Him. In Him, we are called to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church and the Holy Father's own name day, Benedict XVI met with a group of representatives from the Muslim community of Cameroon, at the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde.

  In his comments the Holy Father noted how "Cameroon is home to thousands of Christians and Muslims, who often live, work and worship in the same neighbourhood".

  "I believe", he went on, "a particularly urgent task of religion today is to unveil the vast potential of human reason, which is itself God's gift and which is elevated by revelation and faith. Belief in the one God, far from stunting our capacity to understand ourselves and the world, broadens it".

  "Although [God's] infinite glory can never be directly grasped by our finite minds in this life, we nonetheless catch glimpses of it in the beauty that surrounds us. When men and women allow the magnificent order of the world and the splendour of human dignity to illumine their minds, they discover that what is 'reasonable' extends far beyond what mathematics can calculate, logic can deduce and scientific experimentation can demonstrate; it includes the goodness and innate attractiveness of upright and ethical living made known to us in the very language of creation.

  "This insight", he added, "prompts us to seek all that is right and just, to step outside the restricted sphere of our own self-interest and act for the good of others. Genuine religion thus widens the horizon of human understanding and stands at the base of any authentically human culture. It rejects all forms of violence and totalitarianism: not only on principles of faith, but also of right reason. Indeed, religion and reason mutually reinforce one another since religion is purified and structured by reason, and reason's full potential is unleashed by revelation and faith".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by encouraging his Muslim hearers "to imbue society with the values that emerge from this perspective and elevate human culture, as we work together to build a civilisation of love. May the enthusiastic co-operation of Muslims, Catholics and other Christians in Cameroon be a beacon to other African nations of the enormous potential of an inter-religious commitment to peace, justice and the common good!"


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 9.35 a.m. today, the Holy Father arrived at the Amadou Ahidjo stadium in Cameroon's capital city of Yaounde. The stadium is named after the country's first president following its independence, Having toured the field by popemobile, Benedict XVI went to the sacristy and, at 10 a.m., began the celebration of a Mass marking the publication of the "Instrumentum laboris", or working document, of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

  On today's Feast of St. Joseph, the Holy Father wished "a very happy feast day to all those who, like myself, have received the grace of bearing this beautiful name. ... Joseph is the man who gives God the greatest display of trust", he said.

  "Dear fathers and mothers", the Pope asked, "do you have trust in God Who has called you to be the fathers and mothers of His adopted children? Do you accept that He is counting on you to pass on to your children the human and spiritual values that you yourselves have received?"

  "At a time when so many people have no qualms about trying to impose the tyranny of materialism, with scant concern for the most deprived, you must be very careful. Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular, place themselves at risk if they do not recognise the true Author of Life! ... Do not let yourselves be captivated by selfish illusions and false ideals! Believe! ... Only Christ is the way of Life".

  "Just as on other continents, the family today ... is experiencing a difficult time; but fidelity to God will help see it through. Certain values of the traditional life have been overturned. Relationships between different generations have evolved in a way that no longer favours the transmission of accumulated knowledge and inherited wisdom. Too often we witness a rural exodus ... [and] the quality of family ties is deeply affected by this. Uprooted and fragile members of the younger generation who often - sadly - are without gainful employment, seek to cure their pain by living in ephemeral and man-made paradises".

  "Sometimes the African people too are constrained to flee from themselves and abandon everything that once made up their interior richness. Confronted with the phenomenon of rapid urbanisation, they leave the land, physically and morally: not as Abraham had done in response to the Lord's call, but as a kind of interior exile which alienates them from their very being, from their brothers and sisters, and from God Himself.

  "Is this", the Pope added, "an irreversible, inevitable development? By no means! More than ever, we must 'hope against all hope'. ... The first priority will consist in restoring a sense of the acceptance of life as a gift from God. According to both Sacred Scripture and the wisest traditions of your continent, the arrival of a child is always a gift, a blessing from God. Today it is high time to place greater emphasis on this: every human being, every tiny human person, however weak, is created 'in the image and likeness of God'".

  "Sons and daughters of Africa, do not be afraid to believe, to hope, and to love; do not be afraid to say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that we can be saved by Him alone. ... 'Hoping against hope': is this not a magnificent description of a Christian?

  "Africa", he added, "is called to hope through you and in you! With Jesus Christ, who trod the African soil, Africa can become the continent of hope! We are all members of the peoples that God gave to Abraham as his descendants. Each and every one of us was thought, willed and loved by God. Each and every one of us has a role to play in the plan of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  "If discouragement overwhelms you, think of the faith of Joseph; if anxiety has its grip on you, think of the hope of Joseph, that descendant of Abraham who hoped against hope; if exasperation or hatred seizes you, think of the love of Joseph, who was the first man to set eyes on the human face of God in the person of the Infant conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary".

  "Like Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home, that is to say do not be afraid to love the Church. Mary, Mother of the Church, will teach you to follow your pastors, ... to heed what they teach you and to pray for their intentions. ... Those preparing for marriage, treat your future spouse as Joseph did; those of you who have given yourselves to God in celibacy, reflect upon the teaching of the Church, our Mother: 'Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes and confirms it. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with His people'".

  Benedict XVI then encouraged fathers so take St. Joseph as their model. "He who kept watch over the Son of Man is able to teach them the deepest meaning of their own fatherhood", he said. "In the same way, each father receives his children from God, and they are created in God's own image and likeness. St. Joseph was the spouse of Mary. ... Dear fathers, like St. Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God, where they must be".

  "As you face the challenges of life, take courage", the Pope then told young people. "Your life is priceless in the eyes of God!"

  Finally the Pope turned "to the children who no longer have a father, or who live abandoned in the poverty of the streets, to those forcibly separated from their parents, to the maltreated and abused, to those constrained to join paramilitary forces that are terrorising some countries, I would like to say: God loves you, He has not forgotten you, and St. Joseph protects you!"

  At the end of the Mass, the Pope consigned the "Instrumentum laboris" to the presidents of African national and regional episcopal conferences, saying: "My heartfelt wish is that the work of the Synodal Assembly will contribute to an increase in hope for your peoples and for the entire continent; that it will help to inspire each of your local Churches with new evangelical and missionary zeal in service to reconciliation, justice and peace".
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