Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Friday, May 29, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AP/.../... VIS 20090529 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of eight new ambassadors to the Holy See: Danzannorov Boldbaatar of Mongolia; Chitra Narayanan of India; Charles Borromee Todjinou of Benin, Robert Carey Moore-Jones of New Zealand; George Johannes of South Africa; Beyon Luc Adolphe Tiao of Burkina Faso; Neville Melvin Gertze of Namibia, and Rolf Trolle Andersen of Norway. The Holy Father first addressed the diplomats as a group, then gave each of them a speech in written form concerning issues specific to his or her own country.

The Pope began his remarks by assuring the ambassadors that the Catholic communities in their respective nations "wish to collaborate fraternally in national development by making the best contribution they can, a contribution rooted in the Gospel".

"A commitment to serving peace and the consolidation of fraternal relations among nations constitutes the core of your diplomatic mission", said the Pope. "Today, in the midst of a worldwide social and economic crisis, people must regain an awareness of the need to struggle ... in order to establish true peace, with the aim of constructing a more just and prosperous world. Injustices, often so manifest, among or within nations, like all processes that contribute to dividing or marginalising peoples, represent attacks against peace and create a grave risk of conflict".

Peace, the Holy Father went on, "cannot be built but by intervening firmly to eliminate the inequality engendered by unjust systems, and so allowing everyone a standard of living that enables them to live a dignified and prosperous existence. Such inequalities have become even more evident because of the current financial and economic crisis which has also had various repercussions on low-income countries". Among these, the Pope mentioned "the tailing off of foreign investment, the fall in demand for raw materials and the tendency for international aid to diminish", as well as "the drop in remittances of emigrants, likewise victims of the recession which also affects their host countries".

"The crisis could become a catastrophe for the inhabitants of weaker countries", warned Benedict XVI, highlighting how economic woes also have another effect, because "the desperation they bring forces some people to anguished efforts to seek solutions that enable them to survive from day to day. Unfortunately, such efforts are often accompanied by individual or collective acts of violence that can further destabilise already-weakened societies", he said.

The Holy Father then explained how some States, in the face of the crisis, "rather than diminishing aid to the most defenceless nations, have suggested increasing it. Other developed countries should follow this example so that the neediest countries are able to sustain their economies and consolidate social measures designed to protect the most needy sectors of the population". He also launched an appeal for "greater fraternity and solidarity, and real global generosity", and for "developed countries to rediscover a sense of proportion and sobriety in their economies and lifestyles".

"You must not ignore", the Pope told the ambassadors, "new forms of violence that have arisen over recent years and that, alas, seek support from the Name of God to justify dangerous acts. ... This had sometimes led to the view that religions are a threat to societies, and they have been attacked and discredited by claiming that they are not agents for peace. Religious leaders have the duty to accompany and enlighten believers so as to ensure they become increasingly saintly and interpret divine words in the light of truth".

"It is necessary favour the resurgence of world in which religions and societies can open to one another, thanks to the openness that religions practice within and among themselves. This will be an authentic testimony to life. This will create a space for positive and necessary dialogue. By making her contribution to the world, the Catholic Church wishes to bear witness to her positive vision of man's future", the Holy Father concluded.

In the written address delivered to the ambassador from India, the Holy Father speaks of his deep concern for Christians who have suffered from outbreaks of violence in some areas within your borders" and appeals "to all to show respect for human dignity by rejecting hatred and renouncing violence in all its forms".

To the South African representative, Benedict XVI expresses the hope "that in the current struggle against poverty and corruption, courage and wisdom will again prevail", the courage and wisdom shown by the people of South Africa in facing past injustices. Referring then to HIV/AIDS, he gives assurances that "the Church takes seriously her part in the campaign against the spread of [the disease] by emphasising fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it. At the same time she already offers much assistance on a practical level to people suffering from this affliction on your continent and throughout the world".
CD/LETTERS OF CREDENCE/... VIS 20090529 (820)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Letter in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Quirinus, due to take place in Krk, Croatia, on 4 June. The Letter, written in Latin, is dated 4 April.

The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Ivan Kordic, vicar general in charge of the promotion and co-ordination of the pastoral care of families in the diocese of Krk, and Msgr. Franjo Velcic, provost of the cathedral chapter of Krk, professor of Church history and patrology at the theological faculty of Zagreb and archivist of the diocesan Curia.


VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican, the Holy Father met participants in the general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is meeting from 25 to 29 May to examine the theme: "The educational question: the urgent task of education".

The Pope noted how over these days the bishops are reflecting and discussing how to establish "an educational project that stems from a coherent and complete vision of man, which can arise only from the perfect image and realisation of him we have in Jesus Christ".

"At a time in which relativistic and nihilistic concepts of life exercise a powerful enticement, a time in which the very legitimacy of education is placed in doubt, the principal contribution we can make is that of bearing witness to our trust in life and in man, in his reason and in his capacity to love", said the Holy Father.

"The difficulty in forming authentic Christians interweaves and melds with the difficulty of creating responsible and mature men and women", the Pope explained. He also emphasised the importance that "an awareness of truth and goodness, and free adherence to these values, should be at the core of the educational project, so as to give form to a process of overall development. For this reason", he went on, "alongside an appropriate curriculum that identifies the aim of education in the light of the model to be followed, there is a need for authoritative educators to whom new generations can look with trust".

"A true educator places himself in the front line and knows how to unite authority and exemplarity in the task of educating those entrusted to his care. We ourselves are aware of this, having been given the role of guides among the People of God, guides whom the Apostle Peter invites to tend God's sheep and to 'be examples to the flock'".

The Pope then referred to the forthcoming Year for Priests, recalling how priestly ministry "is a service to the Church and to Christian people, requiring a profound spirituality ... nourished by prayer and by intense personal union with the Lord, in order to be able to serve our brothers and sisters through preaching, the Sacraments, orderly community life and help for the poor. All priestly ministry reveals ... the importance of commitment to education, so that people may grow freely and responsibly as mature and conscientious Christians.

"There can be no doubt that the Christian spirit gives renewed vitality to that sense of solidarity so profoundly rooted in the hearts of the Italian people", Benedict XVI added, going on to mention the recent earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy and his own visit to the areas affected. There, he said "I personally witnessed the mourning, the pain and the disasters produced by that terrible event, but also the strength of spirit of those people and the movement of solidarity that immediately arose throughout Italy". In this context, the Pope also praised the initiatives promoted by the CEI through Caritas.

He then turned to consider the economic crisis which "has hit the global community so hard. ... Despite the measures taken at various levels, the social effects of the crisis are still being felt, and seriously felt, especially by the weakest strata of society and by families". Benedict XVI also mentioned the fact that the collections raised at Mass next Sunday will be used for the "Loan of Hope" initiative, a CEI aid programme for families affected by the crisis which he described as "an eloquent testimony of the mutual sharing of burdens, .... a moving announcement of the interior conversion generated by the Gospel and a touching expression of ecclesial communion".

Finally, the Holy Father considered a particular form of ecclesiastical charity in Italy, "intellectual" charity, of which "one significant example is the commitment to promote a widespread mentality in support of life in its every aspect and moment, with particular concern for lives marked by conditions of fragility and precariousness. Such commitment is well expressed in the manifesto 'Free to live, loving life unto the end', which sees the Italian Catholic lay people working together to ensure the country does not lack an awareness of the complete truth about man and promotion of the authentic good of people and society".

"Thus", the Pope concluded, "our minds return to the central theme of your assembly - the urgent task of education - which must be rooted in the Word of God and requires spiritual discernment, cultural and social programmes, and gratuitous and united witness".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. John Oliver Barres of the clergy of the diocese of Wilmington, U.S.A., diocesan chancellor, as bishop of Allentown (area 7,183, population 1,184,000, Catholics 276,662, priests 279, permanent deacons 105, religious 450) U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Port Chester, U.S.A. in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1989. He succeeds Edward P. Cullen, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Lee Anthony Piche of the clergy of the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A., pastor of St. Andrew's church, vicar general and moderator of the Curia, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 17,225, population 3,082,000, Catholics 852,000, priests 484, permanent deacons 217, religious 1,142). The bishop-elect was born in Minneapolis in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984.


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2009 (VIS) - In this morning's general audience, the Pope continued with his series of catechesis on the great writers of the Eastern and Western Church in the Middle Ages, turning his attention today to St. Theodore the Studite.

Addressing more than 15,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope explained how St. Theodore was born in the year 759 "to a noble and religious family". At the age of twenty-two he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Sakkudion but, because of his opposition to the adulterous marriage of the emperor Constantine VI, was exiled to Thessalonika in 796. He was able to return to Sakkudion the following year thanks to the intervention of the empress Irene, who also encouraged the saint to move to the monastery of Studios in order to evade the incursions of the Saracens.

St. Theodore "became the head of the resistance against the iconoclast emperor Leo V the Armenian". This again led "to his being exiled in various places in Asia Minor. Finally he was allowed to return to Constantinople, but not to his monastery". He died in the year 826.

"Theodore stands out in Church history as one of the great reformers of monastic life", said Pope Benedict, "and, alongside Patriarch St. Nicephorus of Constantinople, as a defender of sacred images during the second stage of iconoclasm".

The saint also emphasised "the necessity for order and submission on the part of his monks ... so that the monastery could go back to being a truly organic community, a real family or, as he said, a true 'Body of Christ'". This was because persecutions had forced the monks to disband.

The Holy Father went on: "One of Theodore's basic convictions was that monks, more than others, have a commitment to observe Christian duties with greater rigour and intensity in order to offer a sign, an indication, to all Christians. This is why they make a special profession, ... almost a 'new Baptism'".

"The commitment to poverty, chastity and obedience", said the Pope, "distinguishes monks from those who live in the world". Yet personal poverty, "an essential element of monasticism, also shows the rest of us a way to follow. The renunciation of private property, freedom from material things, sobriety and simplicity have radical validity only for monks, but the spirit of such renunciation is the same for everyone. We must not depend upon material things, we must learn renunciation, simplicity, austerity and sobriety. Only in this way can a united society develop and the great problem of poverty in this world be overcome".

"The main forms of renunciation are those imposed by obedience", which St. Theodore "describes as the 'martyrdom of submission'". In this context the Holy Father noted how "the social fabric cannot function if each exclusively follows his or her own path. ... Legality - in other words, submission and obedience to the rules of the common life and the common good - is the only thing that can heal a society, and ego itself, from the pride of being at the centre of the world".

"For Theodore the Studite, one important virtue - equal to the virtues of obedience and humility - was 'philergia', that is, love for work. ... He did not, then, allow monks, under the pretext of prayer or contemplation, to dispense themselves from work, which is in fact the means to discover God".

Benedict XVI also highlighted how St. Theodore was "the spiritual father of his monks", always ready "to listen to the confidences of everyone. He also gave spiritual advice to many people outside the monastery".

Theodore's Rule, "known by the name of 'Hypotyposis'", was codified shortly after his death and "adopted with a few modifications on Mount Athos, ... It remains", noted the Pope, "highly relevant".

The Holy Father concluded by warning of the "numerous perils that today threaten the unity of the shared faith and push us towards a dangerous kind of spiritual individualism. It is necessary to work to defend and develop the perfect unity of the Body of Christ, a unity in which the peace of order and sincere personal relationships in the Spirit can come together harmoniously".
AG/ST. THEODORE STUDITE/... VIS 20090527 (720)


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of Rome, Benedict XVI inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the diocese of Rome. The congress, which is due to last until 29 May, has as its theme: "Church membership and pastoral co-responsibility".

On his arrival the Holy Father was welcomed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar general for the diocese of Rome. In his address, the Pope called on ecclesial moments to work in harmony with the diocese, with "a true sense of belonging to the Church", and highlighted the need for a redoubling of commitment on the part of lay people, who are called "not merely to be collaborators of the clergy" but to shoulder their own specific responsibilities in the life of the Church.

He then dwelt on various erroneous tendencies such as that of tending to identify the Church with her hierarchy while forgetting that, in fact, everyone is part of her "from the Pope to the most recently baptised", or that of conceiving of the People of God in sociological and political terms, while overlooking the novelty of the Church.

In this context, Benedict XVI spoke of the good fruits of Vatican Council II, and rejected those forms of interpretation that consider the Council as a break in the continuity of Church tradition.

The Pope invited young people "to experience the beauty of being Church" in a world where individualism reigns and a sense of belonging is being lost. He also suggested the creation of missionary groups in the workplace, where many people spend most of their time, and highlighted the need for "adequate pastoral care on environment issues".

Recalling then how many baptised people do not feel they form part of the ecclesial community and that few lay people, though they call themselves Catholic, are ready to work in the various fields of pastoral activity, the Holy Father encouraged pastors to favour a climate of spiritual and apostolic growth in their flock and to reach out to the population of Rome.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Bangui, Central African Republic, presented by Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Appointed Fr. Jose Moko Ekanga P.S.S., rector of the "Jean XXIII" Seminary in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as bishop of Idiofa (area 40,000, population 2,264,000, Catholics 1,131,000, priests 101, religious 133), Democratic Republic of the Congo. The bishop-elect was born in Kinshasa in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1986.

- Appointed Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as president of the management board of the Vatican Television Centre.

- Appointed Fr. Joaquin Alliende, president of the Aid to the Church in Need Association, as a member of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".
RE:NER:NA/.../... VIS 20090526 (150)


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 7.30 p.m. today in the basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of Rome, Benedict XVI will inaugurate the ecclesial congress of the diocese of Rome, which is due to last until 29 May and has as its theme: "Church membership and pastoral co-responsibility".

According to a communique released by the vicariate of Rome, pastors, priests, religious and lay faithful of the parishes, associations and movements of the diocese are all invited to participate in the event. The congress will come to an end at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 29 May with an address by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome.
.../ROME DIOCESAN CONGRESS/... VIS 20090526 (130)

Monday, May 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Nikola Kekic, rector of the Greek-Catholic seminary of Zagreb, Croatia and pastor of the co-cathedral of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, as bishop of the eparchy of Krizevci for the faithful of Byzantine rite (Catholics 21,354, priests 28, religious 58), Croatia. The bishop-elect was born in Stari Grad, Croatia in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970. He succeeds Bishop Slavomir Miklovs, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same eparchy the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 201 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

On Saturday 23 May it was made public that he appointed Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the archdiocese of Ayacucho, Peru, due to take place on 20 July.


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

- Rita Levi Montalcini, professor emeritus of neurobiology at the C.N.R. Institute of Neurobiology, winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1986, and member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

- Bartolomej Kajtazi, ambassador of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on his farewell visit.

On Saturday 23 May he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

- Thirteen prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno S.J. of Huancayo.

- Bishop Jaime Rodriguez Salazar M.C.C.J. of Huanuco.

- Bishop Richard Daniel Alarcon Urrutia of Tarma.

- Bishop Antonio Santarsiero Rosa O.S.I. of Huacho

- Bishop Julian Garcia Centeno O.S.A., apostolic vicar of Iquitos.

- Bishop Santiago Maria Garcia de la Rasilla Dominguez S.J., apostolic vicar of Jaen en Peru.

- Bishop Gaetano Galbusera Fumagalli S.D.B., apostolic vicar of Pucallpa.

- Bishop Francisco Gonzalez Hernandez O.P., apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado.

- Bishop Juan Tomas Oliver Climent O.F.M., apostolic vicar of Requena.

- Bishop Alberto Campos Hernandez O.F.M., apostolic vicar of San Jose del Amazonas.

- Bishop Anton Zerdin O.F.M., apostolic vicar of San Ramon.

- Bishop Jose Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde C.P., apostolic vicar of Yurimaguas.

- Bishop Jose Ignacio Alemany Grau C.SS.R., emeritus of Chachapoyas.

- Archbishop Beniamino Stella, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.
AP:AL/.../... VIS 20090525 (270)


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released a note concerning the publication on the Holy See website, as of 24 May, of the Compendium of the Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Church in China.

The note recalls how on 27 May 2007 the Pope sent a Letter to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China.

Through that Letter, the Holy Father intended "to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelisation in China, in order to help Chinese Catholics discover what the Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, 'the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history', wants from them", the English-language note says.

"The usefulness of the Letter has been confirmed by the highly favourable reception given to it by the Chinese Catholics who had access to it. From the information that is arriving from China, it is clear that the papal document has given rise not only to study sessions exploring its content but also to many pastoral initiatives: it is becoming a reliable point of reference for the resolution of the various problems that the Catholic community is having to address on both the doctrinal level and the practical, disciplinary level.

"On the second anniversary of the publication of the papal Letter, the Holy See is offering the Church in China a 'Compendium' which, following the catechetical literary genre of questions and answers, presents once again the basic elements expressed by Benedict XVI.

"The Compendium faithfully reproduces, both in structure and language, the content of the original Letter, quoting extended passages from it. With the addition of some footnotes and two short appendices, the Compendium is presented as an authoritative tool facilitating a deeper understanding of His Holiness' thought on some particularly delicate points.

"The Holy Father has approved the Compendium and has authorised its publication as a document of the Apostolic See. The document will be available on the official website of the Holy See in Chinese (using simplified and traditional characters) and English, from 24 May".


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Holy Father in which he appoints 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. The Letter, written in Latin, is dated 2 April.

The names of the members of the mission accompanying Cardinal De Giorgi have also been made public. They are: Fr. Fabrizio Messina Checchetti, prior of the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria del Monte in Cesena, Italy, and Msgr, Pierluigi Tonelli, pastor of the parish of the Madonna delle Rose, also in Cesena.


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, led by Archbishop Beniamino Stella, president of that institution.

The Pope told the priests that service in apostolic nunciatures, for which they are training, "may to some extent be considered as a specific priestly vocation, a pastoral ministry that involves a particular approach to the world and to its often highly complex social and political problems".

"The dialogue with the modern world that is asked of you, as well as your contact with people and the institutions they represent, require an inner strength and a spiritual firmness capable of safeguarding - indeed of giving ever more prominence to - your Christian and priestly identity". This, he explained, is necessary in order to avoid "the negative effects of the worldly mentality and not allow yourselves to be attracted or contaminated by an overly earthly logic".

"In moments of darkness and inner difficulty", Benedict XVI told the priests, "turn your gaze to Christ. ... Always remember that it is vital and fundamental for the priestly ministry, however practised, to maintain a personal bond with Christ, He wants us as His 'friends', friends who seek intimacy with Him, who follow His teaching and who undertake to make Him known and loved by everyone.

"The Lord", the Pope added, "wants us to be saints, in other words entirely 'His', not concerned with building a career that is interesting and comfortable in human terms, not seeking success and the praise of others, but entirely dedicated to the good of souls, ready to do our duty unto the end, aware of being 'useful servants' and happy to offer our poor contribution to the spreading of the Gospel".

The Holy Father called upon his audience to be "men of intense prayer who cultivate a communion of love and life with the Lord. Without this solid spiritual base, how would it be possible to continue our ministry? Those who work in the Lord's vineyard in this way know that what is achieved with dedication, with sacrifice and for love, is never lost".

The Year of Priests, which is due to begin on 19 June, "represents a valuable occasion to renew and strengthen your generous response to the Lord's call, in order to intensify your relationship with Him", the Pope concluded. "Use this opportunity to the utmost so as to be priests in accordance with the dictates of Christ's heart, like St. Jean Marie Vianney, 'Cure of Ars', the 150th anniversary of whose death we are preparing to celebrate".


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today, after celebrating Vespers, the Pope travelled by car to the Polish military cemetery at Montecassino which contains the bodies of 1,052 soldiers who died in the battle of May 1944 against German forces occupying the hill on which the abbey stands.

The Holy Father lit a votive candle and recited the following prayer for the fallen of all countries in all wars:

"O God, our Father,
endless source of life and peace,
welcome into Your merciful embrace
the fallen of the war that raged here,
the fallen on all wars that have bloodied the earth.
Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,
which in the reflection of Your splendour
illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.
You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity
a glorious witness of Your love for us,
You, Who in our Lord Christ
gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,
but fruitful in Your redeeming power,
grant those who yet suffer
for the blind violence of fratricidal wars
the strength of the hope that does not fade,
the dream of a definitive civilisation of live,
the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.
Give us your Paraclete Spirit
so that the men of our time
may understand that the gift of peace
is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,
and that while awaiting the day that does not end
we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.
Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,
the inestimable gift of Your love,
You Who live and reign for ever and ever

Having completed his visit to the cemetery, the Holy Father travelled back to the abbey. There he greeted the civic authorities who had welcomed him on his arrival in the morning, then boarded his helicopter, arriving back in the Vatican at 7.30 p.m.


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. today, having had lunch at the Italian abbey of Montecassino, the Holy Father met with the monastic community there and greeted those responsible for organising his visit. He and the monks then walked in procession singing the "Laudes regiae" to the basilica of the abbey for the celebration of Vespers.

The ceremony began at 5 p.m. and was attended by Benedictine abbots, monks and nuns from various communities. Having been greeted by Dom Pietro Vittorelli, ordinary abbot of Montecassino, the Holy Father pronounced his homily.

He began by recalling how over its history the abbey has been "destroyed and rebuilt four times, the last following the bombardments of World War II sixty-five years ago. ... Montecassino, like the ancient oak planted by St. Benedict, has been 'pruned' by the violence of war, but has grown back stronger than before".

St. Benedict abandoned everything to follow Jesus and, "incarnating the Gospel in his own life, became the initiator of a vast movement of spiritual and cultural renewal in the West", said the Pope. Referring then to the account of St. Gregory the Great, who explains how St. Benedict "was 'raised aloft' by an indescribable mystical experience", the Holy Father highlighted the fact that the saint "received this divine gift not to satisfy his intellectual curiosity but so that the charism God had granted him could reproduce in the monastery the life of heaven itself, recreating the harmony of the creation through contemplation and work.

"Rightly so, then", the Pope added, "the Church venerates him as an 'eminent master of monastic life and as a 'doctor of spiritual wisdom in his love for prayer and work'. ... St. Benedict was a shining example of sanctity and indicated Christ to his monks as the one great ideal to follow. He was a master of civilisation who, while presenting a harmonious and balanced view of divine needs and of man's ultimate goal, remained well aware of the requirements and reasons of the heart, teaching and fomenting true and constant fraternity so that, in the interplay of social relationships, a unity of spirit capable of building and nourishing peace should not be lost".

The Holy Father went on: "It is no coincidence that the word 'Pax' welcomes and visitors at the door of this abbey", which "stands as a silent admonition to reject all forms of violence and build peace: in families, in communities, among peoples and in all humankind".

Following St. Benedict's example, "monasteries have, over the course of the centuries, become lively centres of dialogue, of meeting and of beneficial fusion among different peoples, brought together by the evangelical culture of peace. Through work and example, the monks were able to teach the art of peace, giving tangible form to the three elements identified by Benedict as being necessary to conserve the unity of the Spirit among mankind: the cross, which is the very law of Christ; the book, in other words culture; and the plough, which stands for work, mastery over matter and time".

He continued: "Thanks to the work of monasteries, divided into the threefold daily commitment to prayer, study and work, entire peoples on the European continent have known real liberation and beneficial moral, spiritual and cultural development, being educated in a sense of continuity with the past, real activity for the common good, and openness to God and the transcendental. Let us pray that Europe may always appreciate this heritage of Christian principles and ideals which represent such an immense cultural and spiritual resource.

"This is possible", the Pope added in conclusion, "but only if we accept the constant teaching of St. Benedict: ... that seeking God is man's fundamental task. Human beings do not realise themselves fully, they cannot be truly happy, without God. ... From this place where his mortal remains lie, the patron saint of Europe still invites everyone to continue his work of evangelisation and human promotion".

Following Vespers the Holy Father venerated the relics of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, buried behind the major altar of the basilica.


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope pronounced some remarks to the thousands of people gathered in Cassino's Piazza Miranda, which from today will be known as Piazza Benedetto XVI.

Referring to what he described as "the need of all humankind fully to savour the richness and power of Christ's peace", the Holy Father recalled how the word "Pax" is written over the entrance to the abbey of Montecassino and to all Benedictine abbeys.

"As you know", he continued, "on my recent visit to the Holy Land I myself became a pilgrim of peace, and today - in this land marked by the Benedictine charism - I have the opportunity to emphasise once again that peace is primarily a gift of God, and therefore its power lies in prayer".

The gift of peace however, Benedict XVI explained, "is entrusted to human endeavour. ... It is therefore vital to cultivate an authentic life of prayer in order to ensure that social progress comes about peacefully. ... Only by learning, with the grace of Christ, to struggle against and defeat the evil in ourselves and in our relations with others can we become authentic builders of peace and of civil progress.

"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace", he added, "help all Christians, in their various vocations and life situations, to be witnesses to the peace that Christ gave us", the peace He "left us as a mission to be carried out always and everywhere".

The Pope then recalled how today, 24 May, "liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians - who is venerated with great devotion in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, China - marks the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. My thoughts go to all the Chinese people", he said. "In particular, I send a most affectionate greeting to Catholics in China and I exhort them, on this day, to renew their communion of faith in Christ and of faithfulness to Peter's Successor. May our joint prayer obtain an effusion of gifts from the Holy Spirit so that unity among Christians, and the catholicity and universality of the Church, may always become more profound and visible".

Benedict XVI then greeted those present in various languages, expressing the hope that the spiritual witness of St. Benedict "may help the people who live on the European continent to be faithful to their Christian roots and to build a united and cohesive Europe, founded on the search for justice and peace".

Having completed the Marian prayer, the Holy Father travelled by car to the abbey of Montecassino where he had lunch with the Benedictine monks. On his way there he made a brief stop at the "Casa della Carita" (House of Charity), a structure that helps people in need such as the poor and immigrants. There he unveiled a plaque in honour of his visit and blessed and inaugurated the building.


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 10.15 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Piazza Miranda in the Italian town of Cassino, where he arrived by helicopter from the Vatican.

Focusing his homily on the Ascension of the Lord, which in Italy and many other countries of the world is celebrated today, the Pope told the 20,000 people present that "heaven does not mean a place above the stars, but something much more daring and sublime. It means Christ Himself, the divine Person Who fully and forever welcomes humankind, the One in whom God and man are always inseparably united. And we approach heaven, or rather we enter heaven, in the extent to which we approach Jesus and enter into communion with Him. Hence, today's Solemnity of the Ascension invites us to profound communion with Christ, Who died and rose again, and is invisibly present in the lives of each one of us".

The Holy Father also mentioned the Rule of St. Benedict which indicates that nothing should be placed before Christ. "This", he said, "does not distract us, on the contrary it encourages us to commit ourselves to building a society in which solidarity is expressed through tangible signs". In this context he recalled how Benedictine spirituality "suggests an evangelical programme summarised in the motto: 'ora et labora et lege' (prayer, work and culture)".

He explained: "In the first place, prayer, which is the greatest heritage St. Benedict left to his monks, ... is the silent path that leads directly to Gods' heart; it is the breath of the soul that restores peace to us amid the storms of life". The Pope likewise expressed to his listeners the hope that "attentive listening to the divine Word may nourish your prayers and make you prophets of truth and love in a shared commitment to evangelisation and human promotion".

On the subject of work, Benedict XVI indicated that "humanising the world of work is typical of the soul of monasticism". In this context he spoke of his solidarity "with people living in situations of worrying insecurity, workers made redundant or who have even lost their jobs. May the blight of unemployment which affects this land induce leaders of public life, employers and others in a position to do so, to seek, with everyone's help, convincing solutions to the employment crisis, creating new jobs and safeguarding families".

"How can we fail to recall that the family today has an urgent need for better protection, because it is threatened at its very roots?" the Pope asked. "I am thinking too of young people who struggle to find dignified employment that enables them to build a family of their own. I would like to say to them today: do not lose heart, dear friends, the Church will not abandon you!"

The Holy Father also mentioned the care Benedictines dedicate to culture and education. "I know", he said, "that in preparation for my visit you recently held a conference on the theme of education so as to arouse in everyone a strong determination to transmit to young people the irreplaceable values of our human and Christian heritage. In the cultural efforts being made today with the aim of creating a new humanism you, faithful to the Benedictine tradition, rightly intend to emphasise attention to weak and fragile man, to the disabled and to immigrants".

The Pope concluded: "It is not difficult to see that your community, this portion of the Church that lives around Montecassino, is heir to and repository of the mission - impregnated with the spirit of St. Benedict - to proclaim that no-one and nothing in our lives must dislodge Jesus from first place; the mission to build, in Christ's name, a new humanity that welcomes and helps the weakest".

Friday, May 22, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences sixteen prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Adriano Tomasi Travaglia O.F.M., Guillermo Martin Abanto Guzman, Raul Antonio Chau Quispe.

- Bishop Kay Martin Schmalhausen Panizo S.C.V, prelate of Ayaviri.

- Bishop Mario Busquets Jorda, prelate of Chuquibamba.

- Bishop Jose Maria Ortega Trinidad, prelate of Juli.

- Bishop Juan Carlos Vera Plasencia M.S.C., prelate of Caraveli.

- Bishop Domenico Berni Leonardi O.S.A., prelate of Chuquibambilla.

- Bishop Miguel La Fay Bardi O. Carm., prelate of Sicuani.

- Bishop Ricardo Garcia Garcai, prelate of Yauyos.

- Bishop Fortunato Pablo Urcey O.A.R., prelate of Chota.

- Bishop Sebastian Ramis Torrens T.O.R., prelate of Huamachuco.

- Bishop Rafael Alfonso Escudero Lopez-Brea, prelate of Moyobamba.

- Bishop Miguel Irizar Campos C.P. of Callao.

- Bishop Raimundo Revoredo Ruiz C.M., prelate emeritus of Juli

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
AL:AP/.../... VIS 20090522 (200)


VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming pastoral visit to Cassino and Montecassino, Italy, was made public today. The visit is due to take place this Sunday, 24 May.

The Holy Father will depart from the Vatican heliport at 9 a.m. and is expected to land at Cassino's Salveti sports ground half an hour later. At 10.15 a.m. he will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration and pronounce a homily in the city's Piazza Miranda. Then, having prayed the Regina Coeli, he will travel by car to the abbey of Montecassino, making a brief stop on the way at the "Casa della Carita" (House of Charity) in Cassino.

At 1.30 p.m. the Holy Father will have lunch at the abbey of Montecassino. Then, having addressed a brief greeting to the monastic community, at 5 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with Benedictine abbots and communities of Benedictine monks and nuns in the basilica of the abbey, where he will also pronounce a homily. Subsequently he will make a private visit to the Polish military cemetery at Montecassino.

The Pope will depart by helicopter at 6.30. p.m. and is expected to reach the Vatican at 7 p.m.


VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received in separate audiences first Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, then Gjeorge Ivanov, president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Both men, each accompanied by his wife and leading a delegation, have come to Rome for the commemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

In his address to the Bulgarian delegation, the Pope highlighted how the spiritual heritage of these two saints, co-patrons of Europe, "has marked the lives of the Slavic peoples; their example has supported the witness and faithfulness of countless Christians who, over the centuries, consecrated their lives to spreading the message of salvation, while at the same time working for the construction of a more just and united society".

"May their spiritual witness abide in you nation", he added, "so that Bulgaria, thanks also to this source of light and hope, may make an effective contribution to building a Europe faithful to its Christian roots. And may the values of solidarity and justice, of freedom and peace ... find even greater force and solidity in Christ's eternal teaching, as translated into the lives of His disciples in all times".

Then, speaking English in his audience with the delegation from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Holy Father indicated that the memory of Sts. Cyril and Methodius "invites all of us who are united by the one faith in Jesus Christ, to contemplate their heroic evangelical witness. At the same time we are challenged to conserve the patrimony of ideals and values that they have transmitted by word and deed".

"Your beloved homeland, marked by the influence of these two great saints, seeks to become more and more a place of peaceful encounter and dialogue between the country's many social and religious spheres. My hope, which I renew today with all my heart, is that you may continue to progress on this path".


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Salvador Gimenez Valls, auxiliary of Valencia, Spain, as bishop of Menorca (area 701, population 86,976, Catholics 78,695, priests 40, religious 61), Spain.
NER/.../GIMENEZ VIS 20090522 (40)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S.A., as bishop of Saginaw (area 18,006, population 751,000, Catholics 144,000, priests 100, permanent deacons 15, religious 111), U.S.A.

- Piero Antonio Bonnet as sole judge of Vatican City State while also maintaining him in his position as judge of the Tribunal.

- Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, adjunct judge of the Tribunal, as judge of the Tribunal.


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Jordanian Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies (R.I.I.F.S.) and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, held their first meeting in Amman, Jordan, from 18 to 20 May. The theme of the event was "Religion and Civil Society".

According to an English-language communique published at midday today, the R.I.I.F.S. delegation was led by Ambassador Hasan Abu Numah, director of the institute, and the Vatican delegation by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

At the end of this their first meeting the participants agreed upon "the importance of civil society for a sound and integral development of individuals and communities, recognising the particular and indispensable contribution that civil society can provide as a valuable forum for dialogue in the context of the responsible exercise of freedom.

"The participants", the communique adds, "stressed the importance of educating youth in the values of mutual respect and in the culture of dialogue, rejecting violence, so as to promote peaceful coexistence on the basis of full citizenship.

"They highlighted the relevance of democracy and the rule of law in a State that respects ethnic, cultural and religious diversities and implements equality among citizens, on the basis of the respect of human dignity and the ensuing fundamental human rights, particularly freedom and justice.

"Religions", the participants note, "have a specific role to play in civil society, offering motivations for the citizen's contributions to the common good that are based on faith in God and which transcend political expediency and search of power".

The communique concludes by indicating how "the participants stressed the role that religions can play in strengthening social participation and cohesion, thereby giving their specific support to the building of a stable and prosperous State, based on the principle of subsidiarity".

The next meeting is due to take place in Rome within two years and will be "preceded by a preparatory meeting where the theme and modalities will be defined".


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience, celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope made a brief appeal for World Communications Day, due to be held on Sunday 24 May.

Speaking English, the Holy Father recalled how in his Message for the Day this year "I am inviting all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilise them in a positive way and to realise the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world.

"The new technologies", he added, "have brought about fundamental shifts in the ways in which news and information are disseminated and in how people communicate and relate to each other. I wish to encourage all those who access cyberspace to be careful to maintain and promote a culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish.

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world! Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God's infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"
AG/NEW TECHNOLOGIES/... VIS 20090520 (230)


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his remarks during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, to a review of his recent apostolic trip to the Holy Land from 8 to 15 May, describing it as a "pilgrimage par excellence to the sources of the faith, and at the same time a pastoral visit to the Church that lives" there.

Addressing the 20,000 faithful gathered in the square, the Holy Father recalled the first stage of his trip, which took him to Jordan where he visited Mount Nebo whence Moses saw the Promised Land but died without reaching it, and Bethany Beyond the Jordan where Jesus was baptised by John. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo "speaks to us of our status as pilgrims", he said, "suspended between an 'already' and a 'not yet', between a promise so great and beautiful as to support us on our journey, and a realisation that surpasses us, and even surpasses this world. The Church experiences this eschatological and pilgrim 'disposition' in her own being".

The Pontiff also referred to his blessing of the cornerstones of two new churches being built at Bethany, affirming that this was "a sign of the Hashemite Kingdom's openness and respect for religious freedom and for Christian tradition. This fact merits great admiration. ... How important it is for Christians and Muslims to co-exist peacefully and in mutual respect!" he exclaimed. "I therefore prayed that this should also become a reality elsewhere, thinking particularly of Christians who live in the difficult situation of neighbouring Iraq.

"Jordan", he added, "has a large Christian community, which has grown with the influx of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. Their presence in society is significant and appreciated, also because of their educational and charity work focused on human beings independent of their beliefs or their ethnic or religious background".

"As a sign of the Church's commitment to the field of culture, I also blessed the cornerstone of the University of Madaba, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. I felt great joy in launching this new academic and cultural institution, because it is a tangible expression of the fact that the Church promotes the search for truth and the common good, offering a suitable open space for all those who wish to dedicate themselves to such research, a vital premise for genuine and fruitful dialogue between civilisations".

The Holy Father then went on to speak of his visit to Israel where, "from my arrival, I presented myself as a pilgrim of faith in the Land where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, and, at the same time, as a pilgrim of peace, imploring God that there, where He became man, all people may live as His children, that is, as brothers and sisters".

"In that Land blessed by God at times its seems impossible to escape the spiral of violence. But nothing is impossible for God and for those who trust in Him! For this reason, faith in the one God, just and merciful, which is the most precious resource those people have, must have the power to release all its potential of respect, reconciliation and collaboration". The Pope went on to explain how he had expressed this hope to the Grand Mufti and the heads of the Muslim community of Jerusalem, to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and to organisations dedicated to inter-religious dialogue.

Pope Benedict went on: "Jerusalem is the crossroads of the three great monotheistic religions, and its very name - 'city of peace' - is an expression of God's plan for humankind: to make it one large family. ... This is what Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to bear witness to, so as to honour with their acts the God to Whom they pray with their mouths. This is what I had in my heart, in prayer, as I visited Jerusalem's ... Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock, symbolic places of Judaism and Islam respectively".

The Pope also recalled his visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. "Each human being is scared" he said, "and his name is written in the heart of the eternal God. The great tragedy of the Shoah must never be forgotten! May it, indeed, always be in our memories as a universal reminder of the sacred respect due to human life, which always possesses infinite value".

The primary goal of the apostolic trip "was to visit the Catholic communities in the Holy Land, and this happened on various occasions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth", said Benedict XVI, recalling how in the Cenacle he had met the Custos of the Holy Land "to meditate together upon our vocation of being one, of forming one body and one spirit, and transforming the world with the mild power of love".

Yet "the culminating moments of communion with the Catholic faithful were, above all, the Eucharistic celebrations", such as the one in the Valley of Josaphat where the Pope spoke of Christ's resurrection "as a power of hope and peace for that city and for the whole world", and the one in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, "also attended by faithful from Gaza whom I had the joy of comforting in person, assuring them of my special closeness".

"Bethlehem, the place where the heavenly song of peace sounded out for all mankind", the Holy Father added, "is a symbol of the distance that still separates us from achieving that promise: insecurity, isolation, uncertainty, poverty. All this has caused many Christians to move away, but the Church continues her journey, supported by the faith and bearing witness to love with tangible works of service to our brothers and sisters, such as, for example, the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem ... and humanitarian work in the refugee camps".

The Pontiff's Holy Land trip also took him to the Aida refugee camp where, he said, "I assured the families there of the closeness and support of the universal Church, inviting everyone to seek peace through non-violent methods, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi". Benedict XVI also spoke of the closing Mass of the Year of the Family he had presided in Nazareth, where he "prayed for all families and for a rediscovery of the beauty of marriage and family life", and mentioned his meeting in the Basilica of the Annunciation with pastors, priests, religious and laity of Galilee, where "we sang our faith in the creative and transforming power of God".

The Holy Father's trip concluded on 15 May with a visit to the Holy Sepulchre and with "two important ecumenical meetings in Jerusalem: at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and ... at the Armenian Patriarchal Apostolic Church".

He concluded: "I am happy to be able to recapitulate the entire itinerary I was able to make in the sign of Christ's resurrection. Despite the vicissitudes that over the centuries have affected the Holy Places, despite the wars, the destruction and, alas, the conflicts among Christians, the Church has continued her mission, moved by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, She is on a journey to full unity, that the world may believe in the love of God and experience the joy of His peace".
AG/HOLY LAND TRIP/... VIS 20090520 (1230)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Bishop George M. Anathil S.V.D., emeritus of Indore, India, on 3 May at the age of 76.

- Bishop Carlos Jose Boaventura Kloppenburg O.F.M., emeritus of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, on 8 May at the age of 89.

- Bishop David Picao, emeritus of Santos, Brazil, on 30 April at the age of 85.
.../DEATHS/... VIS 20090519 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Tomorrow, 20 May, the Vatican Publishing House will issue a postage stamp (of the value of 60 euro cents), and the corresponding postmark, to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day. The postage stamp shows a sketch by Maria Carmela Perrini depicting the "Codex Vaticanus".

As part of the same initiative, the first edition of a bimonthly magazine entitled "Editoria Vaticana", also published by the Vatican Publishing House, will likewise be presented tomorrow, as will the results of a survey into the books most read by priests, in collaboration with the "Rogate" magazine for priestly vocations.

Monday, May 18, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday evening:

"This afternoon the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"During the cordial discussions, the president was pleased to express his thanks to the Holy Father for the attention he has always dedicated to Poland. Certain bilateral and regional questions were also considered, noting the affinity of the positions of the Holy See and Poland in various international fields".


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Ten prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Isidro Barrio Barrio of Huancavelica.

- Bishop Norbert Klemens Strotmann Hoppe M.S.C. of Chosica.

- Bishop Emiliano Antonio Cisneros Martinez O.A.R. of Chachapoyas.

- Bishop Daniel Thomas Turley Murphy O.S.A. of Chulucanas.

- Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte O.F.M. of Trujillo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jose Javier Travieso Martin C.M.F.

- Bishop Jose Carmel Martinez Lazaro O.A.R. of Cajamarca.

- Bishop Angel Francisco Simon Piorno of Chimbote.

- Bishop Jose Eduardo Velasquez Tarazona of Huaraz.

- Bishop Ivo Baldi Gaburri of Huari.

- Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski, apostolic nuncio to the Republic of Congo and Gabon, accompanied by members of his family.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.
AP:AL/.../... VIS 20090518 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a Message to Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy, for the initiatives planned by the diocese - among them a Jubilee Year - to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of the Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who died in Beijing, China on 11 May 1610.

Matteo Ricci, who was born in Macerata on 6 October 1552, was, the Pope writes, "gifted with profound faith and extraordinary cultural and academic genius". He "dedicated long years of his life to weaving a profound dialogue between West and East, at the same time working incisively to root the Gospel in the culture of the great people of China. Even today, his example remains as a model of fruitful encounter between European and Chinese civilisation".

"In considering his intense academic and spiritual activity, we cannot but remain favourably impressed by the innovative and unusual skill with which he, with full respect, approached Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions. It was, in fact, this approach that characterised his mission, which aimed to seek possible harmony between the noble and millennial Chinese civilisation and the novelty of Christianity, which is for all societies a ferment of liberation and of true renewal from within, because the Gospel, universal message of salvation, is destined for all men and women whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.

"What made his apostolate original and, we could say, prophetic, was the profound sympathy he nourished for the Chinese, for their cultures and religious traditions", the Holy Father adds. Ricci was likewise "a model of dialogue and respect for the beliefs of others" and "made friendship the style of his apostolate during his twenty-eight years in China".

The Jesuit remained faithful to this style of evangelisation to the end of his life, "using a scientific methodology and a pastoral strategy based, on the one hand, on respect for the wholesome customs of the place, which Chinese neophytes did not have to abandon when they embraced the Christian faith and, on the other, on his awareness that the Revelation could enhance and complete" those customs. As the Fathers of the Church did in the time of the encounter between the Gospel and Greco-Roman culture, the author of the "Treatise on Friendship" undertook his "farsighted work of inculturation of Christianity in China by seeking constant understanding with the wise men of that country".

"Following his example, may our own communities, which accommodate people from different cultures and religions, grow in a spirit of acceptance and of reciprocal respect", the Holy Father concludes.


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

The Holy Father began his remarks to them by speaking of the unity of the Church which, he said, "is never definitively achieved and must be constantly constructed and perfected, without surrendering to difficulties, be they objective or subjective, and with the aim of showing the true face of the Catholic Church, one and unique".

After highlighting how "the authentic unity of the Church is always an inexhaustible source of the spirit of evangelisation", the Pope expressed his joy at the fact that the prelates had adapted their pastoral programmes to accommodate "the missionary impulse promoted by the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated in Aparecida, and especially the 'Continental mission', with a view to ensuring that each member of the faithful aspires to sanctity through a personal rapport with the Lord Jesus, loving Him with perseverance and conforming their own lives to evangelical criteria so as to create ecclesial communities of intense Christian life".

"This means relaunching the missionary spirit, not out of fear of the future, but because the Church is a dynamic presence, and the true disciple of Jesus Christ takes pleasure in freely transmitting His divine Word to others and sharing with them the love that flowed from His open side on the cross".

Benedict XVI encouraged the prelates "to unite all the living energies of your dioceses that they may start out again from Christ irradiating the light of His face, especially to brothers and sisters who, perhaps because they feel unappreciated or not sufficiently recognised in their spiritual and material needs, seek answers to their anxieties in other religious experiences".

"Assiduous pastoral visits to ecclesial communities (including the most remote and humble), prolonged prayer, careful preparation of preaching, paternal concern for priests, families, young people, catechists and other pastoral care workers, are the best ways to instil in everyone an ardent desire to be messengers of the Good News of salvation, and will at the same time open the hearts of those around you, especially the sick and those most in need".

The Holy Father highlighted "the beneficial presence of selfless men and women of consecrated life" in Peru. In this context he called on the bishops to continue their "fraternal accompaniment and encouragement" of such people so that, "living the evangelical counsels according to their own charism, they may continue their robust witness of love for God, unshakeable adherence to Church Magisterium and willing collaboration with diocesan pastoral programmes".

The Pope concluded by mentioning those Peruvians "without work or adequate educational and healthcare provisions, and those who live in the suburbs of the great cities or in isolated areas. My thoughts also go to those who have fallen pray to drug addiction and violence. We cannot ignore these our weakest brothers and sisters, beloved unto God, ... Christ's charity urges us on".
AL/.../PERU VIS 20090518 (520)


VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Before praying the Regina Coeli this morning, the Holy Father dedicated some remarks to his recent visit to the Holy Land, thanking everyone who had helped to make "such an important apostolic trip" a success: The Latin patriarch; the pastors of the Church in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories; the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land; the civil authorities in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the forces of law and order. He also expressed his gratitude to all the priests, religious and lay people who had accompanied him on his pilgrimage or prayed for him.

"This pilgrimage to the Holy Places was also a pastoral visit to the faithful who live there, a service to the unity of Christians, to dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and to the construction of peace", said the Holy Father. "The Holy Land, a symbol of God's love for His people and for all humankind, is also a symbol of the freedom and peace that God wills for all His children".

Nonetheless, he went on, "the history of yesterday and today shows that this very land has also become a symbol of quite the opposite, that is, of interminable divisions and conflict between brothers. How is this possible? It is right that such a question should enter our hearts, even though we know that a mysterious plan of God touches that Land ... where He 'sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins'.

"The Holy Land" Benedict XVI added, "has been called a 'fifth Gospel', because here we can see, even touch, the truth of the history that God achieved with man: from the sites of Abraham's life to the sites of Jesus' life. ... Yet we can say more: the Holy Land by its very history may be considered a microcosm encapsulating God's demanding journey with humanity".

Pope Benedict then turned to consider the dramatic situation in Sri Lanka, giving assurances of his "spiritual closeness to civilians in the combat area in the north of the country: thousands of children, women and elderly people from whom the war has taken years of life and hope".

"On this subject", he added, "I would like once again to launch a pressing appeal to the belligerents to facilitate the evacuation" of civilians, "and to this end I add my voice to that of the United Nations Security Council which just a few days ago asked for guarantees for their safety and security".

He concluded: "I also ask humanitarian institutions, including Catholic ones, to use all possible means to meet the urgent food and medical requirements of the refugees".
ANG/HOLY LAND SRI LANKA/... VIS 20090518 (460)


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted:

- The resignation from the diocese of Bossangoa, Central African Republic, presented by Bishop Francois-Xavier Yombandje, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Malakal, Sudan, presented by Bishop Vincent Mojwok Nyiker, upon having reached the age limit.

- The resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of San Francisco, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Ignatius C. Wang, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 16 March, in which he appoints Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as his special envoy to preside at the election of the new minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor. The ceremony is due to take place during the Order's general chapter in Assisi, Italy, on 4 June.

Cardinal Saraiva will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Francesco Patton O.F.M., secretary of the general chapter, and by Fr. Bruno Ottavi O.F.M., minister provincial of the Seraphic Province of Assisi.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Given below are the words used by the Holy Father at his meeting with journalists during his return flight to Rome yesterday, following his pilgrimage to the Holy Land which lasted from 8 to 15 May.

"Dear friends, thank you for your work", the Pope told the journalists. "I can imagine how difficult it must have been, with so many problems and transfers, etc. Yet I would like to thank you for accepting all these difficulties in order to inform the world about this pilgrimage and thus encourage others to visit those holy sites.

"I already gave a brief summary of this trip in my address at the airport, and I do not want to add much. I could cite many details: the moving descent to the lowest point on earth, on the River Jordan, which for us was also a symbol of the descent of God, the descent of Christ into the deepest areas of human existence.

"The Cenacle, where the Lord gave us the Eucharist, where the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit, took place; also the Holy Sepulchre and many other impressions, but I do not think this is the moment to dwell upon them.

"Yet nonetheless I could make a brief mention. I had three fundamental impressions. The first was that everywhere I went - in all areas, Muslim, Christian, Jewish - I found a decided openness to inter-religious dialogue, to encounter, to collaboration among religions. It is important that everyone should see this not just as an action, let us say, inspired by political motives in the particular situation, but as the fruit of a shared nucleus of faith; because to believe in the one God Who created us all and is Father of us all, to believe in this God Who created humankind as a family, to believe that God is love and wants love to be the dominant force in the world, implicates this coming together, this need for encounter, for dialogue, for collaboration as a requirement of faith itself.

"The second point is that I found a truly encouraging ecumenical atmosphere. We held many very cordial meetings with the Orthodox world; I was also able to speak to a representative of the Anglican Church and two Lutheran representatives. It is evident that this atmosphere of the Holy Land also encourages ecumenism.

"Thirdly, great difficulties exist - we know it, we saw it and we felt it. Yet I also saw that there is a profound desire for peace on all sides. The difficulties are more visible, and we must not hide them, they exist and they must be clarified. Yet what is not so visible is the shared desire for peace and brotherhood, and I feel we must also speak of this, encourage everyone in this desire to find the solutions, the by-no-means-easy solutions, to these difficulties.

"I came as a pilgrim of peace. Pilgrimage is an essential element in many religions: in Islam, in Judaism, in Christianity. It is also the image of our own lives, which are a march forwards towards God and thus towards the communion of humankind.

"I came as a pilgrim and I hope that many will follow this example, thus encouraging the unity of the people of this Holy Land and becoming in their turn messengers of peace. Thank you!"

Friday, May 15, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 15 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 1.30 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv where Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister, were waiting to greet him.

In his farewell address, the Holy Father noted how he had "had fruitful discussions with the civil authorities both in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories", and "witnessed the great efforts that both governments are making to secure people's wellbeing".

He referred to his meetings with leaders of the Catholic Church and of other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, as well as with heads of other religions. "This land", he said, "is indeed a fertile ground for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and I pray that the rich variety of religious witness in the region will bear fruit in a growing mutual understanding and respect".

He also recalled how on the day of his arrival he and President Peres had together planted an olive tree in the garden of the latter's residence. "The olive tree, as you know, is an image used by St. Paul to describe the very close relations between Christians and Jews. Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans how the Church of the Gentiles is like a wild olive shoot, grafted onto the cultivated olive tree which is the People of the Covenant. We are nourished from the same spiritual roots. We meet as brothers, brothers who at times in our history have had a tense relationship, but now are firmly committed to building bridges of lasting friendship".

Benedict XVI described his visit to the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem as "one of the most solemn moments of my stay in Israel". While his meeting with Holocaust survivors "brought back memories of my visit three years ago to the death camp at Auschwitz, where so many Jews ... were brutally exterminated under a godless regime that propagated an ideology of anti-Semitism and hatred. That appalling chapter of history must never be forgotten or denied. On the contrary, those dark memories should strengthen our determination to draw closer to one another as branches of the same olive tree, nourished from the same roots and united in brotherly love".

He went on: "I came to visit this country as a friend of the Israelis, just as I am a friend of the Palestinian people. Friends enjoy spending time in one another's company, and they find it deeply distressing to see one another suffer. No friend of the Israelis and the Palestinians can fail to be saddened by the continuing tension between your two peoples. No friend can fail to weep at the suffering and loss of life that both peoples have endured over the last six decades".

"No more bloodshed!", he cried in an appeal to the inhabitants of the Holy Land. "No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the vicious circle of violence.

"Let there be lasting peace based on justice", the Pope added, "let there be genuine reconciliation and healing. Let it be universally recognised that the State of Israel has the right to exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed borders. Let it be likewise acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let the two-State solution become a reality, not remain a dream. And let peace spread outwards from these lands, let them serve as a 'light to the nations', bringing hope to the many other regions that are affected by conflict".

He went on: "One of the saddest sights for me during my visit to these lands was the wall. As I passed alongside it, I prayed for a future in which the peoples of the Holy Land can live together in peace and harmony without the need for such instruments of security and separation, but rather respecting and trusting one another, and renouncing all forms of violence and aggression".

"I know how hard it will be to achieve that goal. I know how difficult is your task, and that of the Palestinian Authority. But I assure you that my prayers and the prayers of Catholics across the world are with you as you continue your efforts to build a just and lasting peace in this region".

Having completed his address, the Pope boarded his plane, a B777 belonging to El Al, to begin his return journey to Rome.
Copyright © VIS - Vatican Information Service