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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...[]

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Friday, October 30, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - We remind our readers that will be no VIS service next Monday, November 2, All Souls Day. Service resumes on Tuesday, November 3.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received the credential letters of the new ambassador of Panama, Delia Cardenas Christie.

In his address, the Pope highlighted that "the identity of Panama, which for centuries has been forged as a mosaic of ethnicities, peoples, and cultures, presents itself as an eloquent sign to the human family that peaceful co-existence between persons of diverse origins in a climate of communion and cooperation is possible". In this sense, he encouraged all its citizens "to work toward greater social, economic, and cultural equality between the distinct sectors of society, renouncing selfish interests, strengthening solidarity, and reconciling wills, so that, in the words of Pope Paul VI,  'the scandal of glaring inequalities' might be uprooted."

The Pope emphasized that "the Gospel message has played an essential and constructive role in shaping Panama's identity, forming part of the nation's spiritual patrimony and cultural heritage".

"The Church's presence holds particular relevance in the area of education and in assisting the poor, the sick, the weak, the imprisoned, and immigrants, as well as in the defence of aspects as basic as the commitment to social justice, the fight against corruption, the work toward peace, the inviolability of the right to life from the moment of conception until natural death as well as in safeguarding the family based on marriage between a man and a woman. These are irreplaceable elements for creating a healthy social fabric and building a dynamic society, precisely because of the stability of the moral values sustaining, ennobling, and dignifying it".

The Pope continually referred to the commitment of Panamanian authorities "in strengthening democratic institutions and public life rooted upon strong ethical pillars. In this respect they have spared no efforts to promote an efficient and independent juridical system and to act in all areas with honor, transparency in community activism, and professionalism and diligence in resolving the problems affecting the citizens. This will favor the development of a just and fraternal society in which no sector of the population is forgotten or doomed to violence or marginalization".

  "The valuable role Panama is playing in the political stability of Central America bears noting," he highlighted, "in moments where the current situation shows how the consistent and harmonic progress of the human community does not depend solely on economic development or technological discoveries".

  The Holy Father concluded by pointing out that "these aspects necessarily have to be carried out with those of an ethical and spiritual nature because a society advances primarily when in it abounds in persons with inner righteousness, faultless conduct, and the resolute will to work toward the common good, and who also impart to further generations a true humanism, sown within the family and cultivated at school so that the welfare of the nation be the fruit of the fundamental growth of the person and of all persons".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received participants in the conference sponsored by the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) for the International Year of Astronomy accompanied by Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City.

  The Pope recalled that the International Year of Astronomy coincides with the 400 year anniversary of Galileo's first observations of the heavens made with a telescope and added; "As you know, the history of the Observatory is in a very real way linked to the figure of Galileo, the controversies which surrounded his research, and the Church's attempt to attain a correct and fruitful understanding of the relationship between science and religion".

  "I take this occasion," he continued, "to express my gratitude not only for the careful studies which have clarified the precise historical context of Galileo's condemnation, but also for the efforts of all those committed to ongoing dialogue and reflection on the complementarity of faith and reason in the service of an integral understanding of man and his place in the universe".

  The pontiff observed that "the International Year of Astronomy is meant not least to recapture for people throughout our world the extraordinary wonder and amazement which characterized the great age of discovery in the sixteenth century.  (…)  Our own age, poised at the edge of perhaps even greater and more far-ranging scientific discoveries, would benefit from that same sense of awe and the desire to attain a truly humanistic synthesis of knowledge which inspired the fathers of modern science".

  "As we seek to respond to the challenge of this Year -- to lift up our eyes to the heavens in order to rediscover our place in the universe -- how can we not be caught up in the marvel expressed by the Psalmist so long ago?  Contemplating the starry sky, he cried out with wonder to the Lord: 'When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place, what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man, that you should care for him'?".

  "It is my hope," the Pope concluded, "that the wonder and exaltation which are meant to be the fruits of this International Year of Astronomy will lead beyond the contemplation of the marvels of creation to the contemplation of the Creator, and of that Love (…) which, in the words of Dante Alighieri, 'moves the sun and the other stars'".


VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for November is: "That all the men and women in the world, especially those who have responsibilities in the field of politics and economics, may never fail in their commitment to safeguard creation".

  His mission intention is: "That believers in the different religions, through the testimony of their lives and fraternal dialogue, may clearly demonstrate that the name of God is a bearer of peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in separate audiences:

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

- Professor Angelo Caloia.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kohima, India, presented by bishop Jose Mukala, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the code of canon law.

- Appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Great Britain, as member of  the Congregation for Bishops and for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Social Communications "has, for some time now, been following the surprising and rapid evolution of the means of communication growing in the involvement of the magisterium of the Church". With these words, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of that dicastery, presided over by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, which is examining the role of new technologies in the media during these days.

  The Holy Father cited Paul VI's pastoral instruction "Communio et Progressio" and John Paul II's "Aetatis Nova", "two important documents that have favoured and promoted greater awareness on the themes tied to communication in the Church".

  He also recalled John Paul II's encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" that affirms: "Involvement in the mass media, however, is not meant merely to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel. There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the 'new culture' created by modern communications".

  "Effectively," Benedict XVI said, "modern culture is established, even before its content, in the very fact of the existence of new forms of communication that use new languages; they use new technologies and create new psychological attitudes. All of which supposes a challenge for the Church, which is called to announce the Gospel to persons in the third millennium, maintaining its content unaltered but making it understandable, thanks also to the instruments and methods in tune with today's mentality and culture".

  At the same time, the Pope referred to his last message for the World Communications Day in which he encouraged "those responsible for communication in all areas, to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and worth of the human being, a dialogue rooted in the sincere search for truth and friendship (…) capable of developing the gifts and talents of each and of putting them at the service of the human community".

  "In this way the Church exercises that which can be defined as a "deaconate of culture" in today's "digital continent", using its means to announce the Gospel, the only Word that can save the human being. The task of enriching the elements of the new culture of the media, beginning with their ethical aspects, falls to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as well as serving as orientation and guide in helping the particular churches understand the importance of communication, which represents a key point that cannot be overlooked in any pastoral plan".

  Concluding, the pontiff recalled the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Film Archive founded by Blessed John XXIII, which possesses a "rich cultural patrimony pertaining to all humanity" and he encouraged to continuing collection and cataloguing of images "that document the path of Christianity through the suggestive witness of the image".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the credential letters of the new ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Akbar Naseri.

  Speaking of Iran, the Pope affirmed that "it is a great nation that possesses eminent spiritual traditions and its people have a profound religious sensibility. This can be reason to hope for a greater openness and confident collaboration with the international community. For its part, the Holy See is always willing to work in harmony with those who serve the cause of peace and promote the dignity that the Creator endowed to all human beings".

  "Today," he continued, "we must hope for and sustain a new phase of international cooperation, more concretely rooted in humanitarian principles and in the effective assistance of those who suffer, one less dependent on the cold calculation of exchange and technological or economic benefits".

  Benedict XVI emphasized that "faith in the one God should draw all believers closer and urge them to work together to defend and promote the fundamental human values".  In this context he recalled that "among universal rights, religious freedom and the freedom of conscience occupy a fundamental place because they are the origin of all other freedoms. The defence of other rights that arise from the dignity of persons and peoples, particularly the protection of life, justice, and solidarity, should also be the object of true collaboration".

  "As I have already had repeated occasion to emphasize, the establishment of cordial relations between believers of different religions is an urgent need in our day, in order to build a world that is more human and that conforms more to God's plan of creation".

  The Pope stressed that "Catholics have been present in Iran from the first centuries of Christianity and have always been an integral part of the nation's life and culture".

  "The Holy See", he added, "trusts the Iranian authorities to strengthen and guarantee Christians the freedom of professing their faith and of assuring the Catholic community conditions essential to its existence, especially the possibility of counting on sufficient religious personnel and their ability to move within the country to ensure religious service to the faithful".

  The Holy Father emphasized that "the Holy See, by its nature and its mission, is directly interested in the life of the local churches and wishes to make all the necessary efforts to help the Catholic community in Iran keep alive the signs of Christian presence in a spirit of benevolent understanding with all".

  Finally, addressing the Catholics who live in Iran, the Pope assured them that he is "near to them and prays that they persevere in maintaining their own identity and remaining rooted to their land, generously working with all their compatriots in the development of the nation".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This is the calendar of celebrations that the Holy Father will preside over from the end of November 2009 until January 2010.


- Saturday 28. At 17 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of first Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent.


- Tuesday 8. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. At. 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the Virgin.

- Thursday 24. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 10 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass.

- Friday 25. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 12 p.m. the Pope will impart the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica.

- Thursday 31. At 18 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Holy Father will preside over first Vespers in thanksgiving for the closing year.


- Friday 1. Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, and the 43rd World Day of Peace. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of Holy Mass.

-Wednesday 6. Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany. At 10 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of Holy Mass.

-  Sunday 10. Feast of the Lord's Baptism. At 10 p.m. in the Sistine Chapel, celebration of Holy Mass and baptism of children.

- Monday 25. Feast of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. At 5:30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul without the Walls, celebration of Vespers.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father received today in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as members of the Directive Council of the Holy See's Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of the Quality in Universities and Ecclesiastical Faculties (AVEPRO) Msgr. Piero Coda, President of the Italian Theological Association; Fr. Philippe Curbelié, Dean of the Theology Faculty of the Institut Catholique of Toulouse (France); Fr. Friedrich Bechina, F.S.O., Official of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Sjur Bergan, Director of the Department of Higher Education and Research on the Council of Europe; Paolo Blasi, former Rector of the University of Studies in Florence (Italy); Jan Sadlak, Director of the European Centre for Higher Education (UNESCO-CEPES) in Bucharest (Romania); and Annick Johnson, Director of the same organization.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2009 (VIS) - During this Wednesday's General Audience celebrated in St. Peter's Square the Pope spoke about a series of events that, during the twelfth century, created a renaissance in Latin theology.

  "During this time," he explained, "a relative peace reigned in Western Europe, which ensured society's economic development, consolidated political structures, and favored vibrant cultural activity thanks also to contact with the East. The benefits of the vast movement known as the Gregorian Reform were felt in the Church, which led to "a greater evangelical purity in the Church, above all in the clergy" and an expansion of religious life. As fruits of this development, figures such as St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure would appear in the thirteen century.

  Benedict XVI affirmed that in this context two different models of theology arose: that of "monastic theology" and that of "scholastic theology". Regarding the first, the monks "were devoted to the Sacred Scriptures and one of their main activities consisted in lectio divina, that is, a meditative reading of the Bible". It was precisely the 2008 Synod of Bishops on "the Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church" that recalled the importance of this aspect.

  "As monastic theology is listening to the Word of God", he said, "it is necessary to purify one's heart to welcome it and, above all, one must be full of fervor to encounter the Lord. Theology therefore becomes meditation, prayer, a song of praise, and the impetus for sincere conversion".

  The Holy Father emphasized that "it is important to reserve a certain time each day for meditation on the Bible so that the Word of God will be the lamp that illuminates our daily path on earth".

  Continuously referring to the method of "scholastic theology", the Pope pointed out that "it is not easy for modern mentality to understand. The quaestio, which consisted of a theme for discussion," was essential to its process.

  "The organization of the quaestiones led to the compilation of evermore extensive syntheses, the so-called summae that were vast dogmatic-theological treatises. Scholastic theology sought to present the unity and harmony of Christian Revelation with a method, called precisely 'scholastic', that grants faith in human reason".

  Benedict XVI concluded by emphasizing that "faith and reason, in reciprocal dialogue, tremble with joy when they are both animated by the search for intimate union with God. … Truth is sought with humility, welcomed with wonder and gratitude: in a word, knowledge only grows if one loves the truth".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI will make a pastoral visit to the Italian towns of Brescia and Concesio next Sunday, 8 November, according to a communique of the Holy See Press Office.

  The Holy Father will take off from Ciampino Airport in Rome at 8:30 and will land an hour later at the Alfredo Fusco Military Airport in Ghedi (Brescia). He will then make a private visit to the parish church of Botticino Sera where he will venerate the mortal remains of St. Arcangelo Tadini.

  He will then visit the cathedral of Brescia and, at 10:30, concelebrate Holy Mass and pray the Angelus in Paul VI Square. In the afternoon he will meet with the organizers of the visit at the Paul VI Pastoral Center. At 16:45 he will go to the house in Concesio where Pope Paul VI was born and to the institute's new site dedicated to the Populorum Progressio pope.

  At 17:30, in the Vittorio Montini Auditorium of the Paul VI Institute in Concesio, he will give a speech during the official conference for the inauguration of the institute's new site and the presentation of the Pope Paul VI International Prize.

  At 18:15, the Pope will visit St. Anthony's Parish in Concesio where Giovanni Battista Montini (future Pope Paul VI) was baptized and will give an address.

  Benedict XVI will return at 19:00 from the Airport of Brescia and will land at Ciampino Airport one hour later where he will be then be taken back to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2009 (VIS) - A presentation of the exhibit "To the Heights of History. Matteo Ricci (1552-1610): Between Rome and Peking" was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office. Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums and organizer of the exhibit, led the presentation.

  The exhibit, in the Charlemagne Wing of the colonnade in St. Peter's Square (30 October 2009-24 January 2010), was organized by the Committee for the Celebration of the Fourth Centenary of Fr. Matteo Ricci in collaboration with the Vatican Museums, the General Curia of the Company of Jesus, and the Pontifical Gregorian University.

  Speaking at the exhibit's presentation were Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia (Italy); Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums; Giovanni Morello, President of the Foundation for the Heritage and Artistic Activities of the Church; Adriano Ciaffi, President of the Committee for the Celebrations of the Fourth Centenary of the Death of Fr. Ricci; and Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See's Press Office.

   Matteo Ricci's "extraordinary missionary adventure", Bishop Giuliodori explained, "led him to build, for the first time in history, a true bridge of dialogue and exchange between Europe and China. (…) Besides paying homage to this giant of the faith and friendship between peoples, the exhibit seeks to provide all with an opportunity to learn about and be inspired by a model of evangelization of the Gospel culture and inculturation that, in many aspects, has no equal in the history of humanity".


VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

-Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck, former auxiliary bishop of Munster (Germany) as bishop of Essen (area 1,877, population 2,590,021, Catholics 909,117, priests 577, religious 555, permanent deacons 78) in Germany.

-Fr. Milton Kenan Junior, pastor of the parish of "Nossa Senhora Aparecida" and diocesan co-ordinator for pastoral care in Bebedouro, Brazil,  as auxiliary bishop of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 7,346,000, Catholics 5,363,000, priests 851, religious 2,802, permanent deacons 40) in Brazil. The bishop-elected was born in Taiuva (Brazil) in 1963 and ordained priest in 1987.

-Fr. Joseph M. Siegel, pastor of the parish of the Visitation in Elmhurst (USA), as auxiliary bishop of Joliet in Illinois (area 10,920, population 1,842,000, Catholics 667,000, priests 268, religious 718, permanent deacons 199) in the United States. The bishop-elected was born in Joliet (Illinois, USA) in 1963 and ordained priest in 1988.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2009 (VIS) -  Today, the Pope's message to His Holiness Karekin II on the tenth anniversary of his election and enthronement as Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians was made public.

  "I know of your personal commitment to dialogue, cooperation and friendship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church," the Holy Father writes, "clearly expressed by the various meetings that have taken place recently between Your Holiness and the Successor of Peter. I pray that the good relations that have been established between us may continue to grow in the years ahead."

  Benedict XVI emphasizes that "recovery of freedom for the Church in Armenia towards the end of the last century brought joy to Christians throughout the world. The immense task of rebuilding the ecclesial community fell upon Your Holiness's shoulders.  What has already been achieved, in such a short time, is truly remarkable: new initiatives have flourished for the Christian education of the young, for the training of clergy, the creation of new parishes, the building of new churches and community centres, as well as the promotion of Christian values in the social and cultural life of the nation."

  The Pope concludes the message asking God that "through the intercession of Saint Gregory the Illuminator," founder and patron of the Armenian Apostolic Church, "we may be ever more closely united in a holy bond of Christian faith, hope and love."
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Monday, October 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2009 (VIS) - During the twentieth and final General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held this morning in the Synod Hall, the relator general, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, continued reading out the final list of propositions which he had begun during the session of yesterday afternoon. Subsequently the final vote on the propositions took place, using the procedure "placet" or "non placet". The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.

  At 1 p.m. the participants in the Synod attended a luncheon with the Holy Father in the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

  Cardinal Sarr pronounced some words thanking the Pope for the "paternal concern, respect and diligence he had shown towards Africa and its peoples, the Churches of the continent and all their members" since the beginning of the Synod.

  At the end of lunch the Pope addressed those present, expressing his satisfaction for the progress made by the Synod, the theme of which - reconciliation, justice and peace - "was not", he said, "an easy challenge".

  "The subject matter", he went on, "clearly had strong political implications, even though it is obvious that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of the mind, a 'metanoia', without the newness that arises from the meeting with God.

  "Yet even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fundamental", the Pope added, "the political dimension is also very real because without political achievements the novelties of the Spirit are not normally realised".

  Hence the temptation could have been to politicise the theme, to speak less as pastors and more as politicians, and thus in a sphere which is not our own".

  Benedict XVI went on: "The other danger was that, precisely in order to escape this temptation, we should retreat into a purely spiritual world, an abstract, beautiful but unrealistic world. Yet a pastor's words must be realistic, they must touch reality but within the perspective of God and of His Word.

  "Maintaining this equilibrium means, on the one hand, remaining true to reality, careful to speak about what is really there and, on the other, not falling into purely political solutions. This means using words that are concrete but spiritual.

  "This", the Pope concluded, "was the great problem facing the Synod, and it seems to me that, thanks to God, we managed to resolve it. For me this is another cause to give thanks because it facilitates the preparation of the post-Synodal document".

  Before concluding his remarks, the Pope announced that he had decided to appoint Cardinal Turkson as the new president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in which role he succeeds Cardinal Renato Martino.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The working sessions of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops concluded this morning with the approval of the fifty-seven propositions which the Synod Fathers have presented to Benedict XVI.

  By order of the Pope, a provisional and unofficial version of the propositions has been made public by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. This is the third time that Benedict XVI has allowed the publication of the closing propositions of a Synodal assembly. Normally the propositions are given privately to the Pope for him to consider while preparing the Apostolic Exhortation, the official closing document of a Synod.

  The first proposition aims at fomenting greater ecclesial communion at all levels, encouraging co-operation within the Church. The Synod Fathers wish to stimulate existing structures of ecclesial communion, at the same time promoting others such as, for example, the establishment of continent-wide councils for the clergy, the laity and Catholic women.

  The prelates launch a "heartfelt appeal to all those who are at war in Africa and make their people suffer so much: 'Stop the hostilities and be reconciled!'" They likewise invite the international community "to give strong support to the struggle against all the manoeuvres which destabilise the African continent".

  In proposition 20 the Synod Fathers affirm as "unacceptable" article 14 of the Maputo Protocol. The article concerns the reproductive rights of women, "authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus". Yet, they say, this is "in contradiction with human rights and the right to life. It trivialises the seriousness of the crime of abortion and devalues the role of childbearing".

  On the subject of the environment - another recurring theme of the Synod - the Synod Fathers note "an irresponsible degradation and senseless destruction of the earth, which is 'our mother'. In complicity with those who exercise political and economic leadership in Africa, some businesses, governments and multinational and trans-national companies engage in business that pollute the environment, destroy flora and fauna, thus causing unprecedented erosion and desertification of large areas of arable land".

  The bishops also express their concern for "fifteen million migrants who are looking for a homeland and a place of peace. ... The principle of the universal destination of created goods and the Church's teachings on human rights, freedom of movement and the rights of migrant workers are increasingly violated by the world's restrictive migration policies and laws against Africans", they say.

  In another of their propositions the Synod Fathers call for the defence of the family and of human life, which is facing the threat of "abortion, the devaluation of maternity (child-bearing), the distortion of the notion of marriage and the family itself, the ideology of divorce and a new relativist ethic".

  On the subject of women in Africa, the prelates "condemn all acts of violence against women, such as the battering of wives, the disinheritance of daughters, the oppression of widows in the name of tradition, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, trafficking in women and several other abuses such as sex slavery and sex tourism. All other inhumane and unjust acts against women are equally condemned".

  In another of the propositions, they describe HIV/AIDS as "a pandemic, together with malaria and tuberculosis, which is decimating African populations and severely damaging their economic and social life". AIDS sufferers in Africa "are victims of injustice, because they often do not receive the same quality of treatment as in other places. The Church asks ... that African patients receive the same quality of treatment as in Europe". The Synod Fathers also call for "pastoral support which helps couples living with an affected spouse to inform and form their consciences, so that they might choose what is right, with full responsibility for the greater good of each other, their union and their family".

  "This Synod", reads another proposition, "calls for the total and universal abolition of the death penalty".

  Finally the Synod Fathers underline the importance of "the professional training and ethical formation of journalists to promote a culture of dialogue which avoids division, sensationalism, disinformation and the offensive trivialisation of human suffering, all of which could harm the harmony and peace of societies and communities".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today the Pope presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with Synod Fathers to mark the closure of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

  Commenting on this Sunday's readings in his homily, Benedict XVI explained that "God's plan does not change. Through the centuries and the upheavals of history, He always aims at the same goal: the Kingdom of freedom and of peace for all. This implies His predilection for those deprived of freedom and peace, for those whose dignity as human beings is violated. We think in particular of our brothers and sisters in Africa who suffer poverty, disease, injustice, war, violence and forced migration".

  "The Church that is in Africa, through her pastors who have come from every country on the continent, from Madagascar and from the other islands, has welcomed the message of hope and the light to walk along the road that leads to the Kingdom of God. ... Faith in Jesus Christ - when it is well understood and practiced - guides mankind and nations to freedom in truth, or, to use the three words of the Synod's theme, to reconciliation, justice and peace".

  After then highlighting how the Church in the world is "the community of reconciled persons, workers for peace and justice", the Holy Father made it clear that "for this reason the Synod has forcefully re-emphasised - and expressed - that the Church is the Family of God, in which there can be no ethnic, linguistic or cultural divisions. ... The reconciled Church is a powerful leaven of reconciliation in single countries and in the whole African continent", he said.

  The Church transmits the message of salvation, "always associating evangelisation with human promotion", said the Pope. In this context he mentioned the "historic" Encyclical "Populorum Progressio", saying that what Paul VI wrote there "missionaries have put into effect and continue to put into effect in the field, promoting a development respectful of local cultures and the environment, according to a logic that now, forty years later, appears to be the only one able to bring the African people out of the slavery of hunger and disease.

  "This means transmitting the announcement of hope in 'priestly form'", he added, "that is, living the Gospel in the first person, trying to translate it into projects and deeds consistent with the fundamental driving principle, which is love".

  Pope Benedict encouraged the Church in Africa to arise. "Start down the road of new evangelisation with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit", he said. "The urgent evangelising action that has been much discussed in these weeks also carries with it a pressing call to reconciliation, the indispensable condition for creating in Africa relationships of justice among mankind and for building an equitable and lasting peace while respecting every individual and every people: a peace that needs and opens up to the contribution of all persons of good will beyond the respective religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and social affiliations".

  "Courage! Arise, continent of Africa!" the Pope cried. "Welcome with renewed enthusiasm the proclamation of the Gospel so that the face of Christ might illuminate with its splendour the multiplicity of the cultures and languages of your people. As she offers the bread of the Word and the Eucharist, the Church also dedicates herself to working with every available means to ensure that no African may be without daily bread. This is why, along with the primary task of evangelisation, Christians are active in the work of human promotion".

  The Holy Father concluded his homily by calling on pastors of the Church in Africa, when they return to their communities, to "transmit to everyone the call that so often resounded in this Synod, of reconciliation, justice and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 OCT 2009 (VIS) - After celebrating Mass this morning, Benedict XVI emerged into the atrium of the Vatican Basilica to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer the Pope spoke of the recently-concluded Synod for Africa, describing it as "three weeks of prayer and of listening to one another, in order to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying today to the Church that lives on the African continent, but also to the universal Church".

  The Pope then referred to the happiness of the Synod Fathers "at the dynamism of Christian communities, which continue to grow in quantity and in quality. We are grateful to God for the missionary energies that have found fertile terrain in many diocese and that find expression in the sending of missionaries to other African countries and to other continents".

  The Synod also gave "particular emphasis to the family, which in Africa too represents the primary cell of society and which today is threatened by ideological currents, some of which come from outside. And what can we say of the young people exposed to this kind of pressure, influenced by models of thought and behaviour that contrast with the human and Christian values of the African people?"

  The Synodal assembly also turned its attention to "the current problems facing Africa and its great need for reconciliation, justice and peace", to which the Church responds with "the announcement of the Gospel and with human promotion", making every effort to ensure "that no-one remains without vital necessities, and that everyone can lead a life worthy of human beings".

  The Pope then addressed "all the people of Africa, in particular those who share the Christian faith", ideally consigning the final message of the Synod to them. "I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus", he said, "be light and salt of the beloved land of Africa".

  Finally, Benedict XVI recalled that a Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops will be held next year, announcing that he will deliver that event's "Instrumentum laboris" to participants during his forthcoming visit to Cyprus.

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke of this morning's beatification in the Italian city of Milan of Fr. Carlo Gnocchi, "a great educator of children and young people". During World War II he acted as a military chaplain in the Italian "Alpini" regiment, accompanying them on their retreat from Russia during which he escaped death by a miracle.

  "It was then that he decided to dedicate himself entirely to works of charity. Thus, as Milan was being rebuilt, Don Gnocchi worked to 'rebuild the human person', gathering orphans and child victims of war and offering them help and education. He gave all of himself unto the end and, dying, donated his corneas to two blind children".

  "His work has continued over time and currently the Don Gnocchi Foundation is a leader in caring for people of all ages who need therapy and rehabilitation. I greet Archbishop Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan and ... make the motto of this beatification my own: 'On the side of life, always'".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received members of the Pontifical Biblical Institute which is currently celebrating its centenary. The institute was founded by Pope Pius X.

  Benedict XVI greeted Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and expressed his thanks to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The Jesuits, "not without considerable effort, invest financial and human resources in running the Faculty of the Ancient East, the Biblical Faculty here in Rome and the institute's office in Jerusalem", said the Pope. He also extended his greetings to include the rector, professors and students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

  "This centenary represents a goal and, at the same time, a starting point", said the Holy Father. "Enriched by the experience of the past, you continue your journey with renewed enthusiasm, aware of the service to the Church that is asked of you: that of bringing the Bible into the life of the People of God that they may know how to face the unprecedented challenges that the modern age poses to the new evangelisation. Our shared hope is that, in this secularised world, Sacred Scripture may become not only the heart of theology but also a source for spirituality and for vigour of faith among all who believe in Christ".

  The Holy Father recalled that the Vatican Council II Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum" highlighted "the legitimacy and importance of the historical-critical method, identifying therein three essential elements: attention to literary genres; study of historical context; and the examination of what is often called 'Sitz im Leben'. ...The conciliar text also adds another methodological indication. Given that Scripture is a single thing rooted in the one People of God, which has carried it through history, it follows that reading Scripture as a unified whole means reading it on the basis of the Church, ... and maintaining faith in the Church as the true key for its interpretation.

  "If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must recognise that faith is the Church is that form of 'sympathy' without which the Bible remains a closed book. Tradition does not close access to Scripture, but it opens it. Furthermore it is the Church, in her institutions, that has the decisive word in the interpretation of Scripture. It is, in fact, the Church that is entrusted with the task of authentically interpreting the Word of God as written and transmitted, exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

  "On Monday 26 October in the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", the study commission made up of experts from "Ecclesia Dei" and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

  "In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

 - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain.

 - Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy.
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Friday, October 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 OCT 2009 (VIS) - During the Eighteenth General Congregation, held this morning in the presence of the Holy Father, the final message of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was presented and voted upon. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

  At the beginning of the session Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, announced the names the fifteen members of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod, twelve elected by the assembly and three appointed directly by the Holy Father. They are:

 - Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.
 - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
 - Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, president of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Western Africa (AECWA).
- Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, first vice president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
 - Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya, president of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.
 - Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
 - Archbishop Norbert Wendelin Mtega of Songea, Tanzania.
 - Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.
 - Archbishop Simon Ntamwana of Gitega, Burundi, president of the Association of Episcopal Conferences for Central Africa (AECCA).
 - Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua of Bamenda, Cameroon.
 - Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, Madagascar.
 - Bishop Youssef Ibrahim Sarraf of Le Caire of the Chaldeans, Egypt.
 - Bishop Maroun Elias Lahham of Tunis, Tunis.
 - Bishop Edmond Djitangar of Sarh, Chad.
 - Bishop Francisco Joao Silota M. Afr. of Chimoio, Mozambique, second vice president of SECAM.

  A first version of the concluding Message of the Synod has been published, extracts of which are given below:


Rich in human and natural resources, many of [Africa's] people are still left to wallow in poverty and misery, wars and conflicts, crisis and chaos. ... [These] are largely due to human decisions and activities by people who have no regard for the common good and this often through a tragic complicity and criminal conspiracy of local leaders and foreign interests.

There is much good news in many parts of Africa. But the modern media often tend to emphasize bad news and thus seem to focus more on our woes and defects than on the positive efforts that we are making. ... Signals abound of many initiatives seeking to bring effective solutions to our problems.


True pardon promotes the justice of repentance and reparation, leading to a peace that goes to the roots of conflict, making friends, brothers and sisters out of former victims and enemies. Since it is God who makes this kind of reconciliation possible, we must give adequate place for prayer and the sacraments in this ministry, especially the Sacrament of Penance".


The Church in Africa thanks God for many of her sons and daughters who are missionaries on other continents. ... Special thanks go to those who have remained with their people even in times of war and grave crisis. Some have even paid for their fidelity with their very lives.


We are convinced that the first and most specific contribution of the Church to the people of Africa is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. ... In this regard, all members of the Church, clergy, religious and lay faithful, must be mobilised to work together in the unity that brings strength.

As bishops, we challenge ourselves to work in unity in our various Episcopal Conferences. ... The unity of the episcopacy is a source of great strength, while its absence wastes energies, frustrates efforts and gives room for the enemies of the Church to neutralise our witness. An important area where such national cooperation and cohesion is very useful is in the media and social communications.

Each bishop ... should ensure the establishment of a Justice and Peace Commission at all levels. We should continue to work hard on forming consciences and changing hearts, through effective catechesis at all levels.

Our dioceses must be models of good governance, transparency and good financial management. We have to continue to do our best to tackle poverty, which is a major obstacle to peace and reconciliation. Here suggestions for micro-finance schemes deserve careful attention.

In this Year for Priests, dear brothers in the priesthood, we address you in particular, who occupy a key position in the apostolate of the diocese. ... Catechesis, formation of the laity, the pastoral care of people in high office; none of these will go far without your full commitment in your parishes and different places of assignment. ... Your fidelity to the priestly commitment, particularly to a life of celibacy in chastity, as well as detachment from material things is an eloquent witness to the People of God.

Africa in recent years has also become very fertile ground for religious vocations: priests, brothers and sisters. We thank God for this great blessing. ... In particular, the Synod congratulates you, women religious, for your dedication and zeal in your apostolate of health, education and other areas of human development.

This Synod turns with deep affection to the lay faithful of Africa. You are the Church of God out in the market places of society. It is in and through you that the life and witness of the Church are made visible to the world. ... Allow your Christian faith to permeate every aspect and facet of your lives; in the family, at work, in the professions, in politics and public life. This is no easy task. That is why you must assiduously access the means of grace, through prayer and the Sacraments.

The Synod has a very important and special message for you, our dear African Catholics in public life. We commend the many of you who, not minding all the dangers and uncertainties of politics in Africa, have generously offered yourselves for the public service of your people, as an apostolate to promote the common good and God's kingdom. ... Africa needs saints in high political office: saintly politicians who will clean the continent of corruption, work for the good of the people, and know how to galvanize other men and women of good will from outside the Church to join hands against the common evils that beset our nations. ... Many Catholics in high office have fallen woefully short in their performance in office. The Synod calls on such people to repent, or quit the public arena and stop causing havoc to the people and giving the Catholic Church a bad name.

Dear Catholic families of Africa, we congratulate you for doggedly remaining true to the ideals of the Christian family and retaining the best values of our African family. We alert you to be on your guard against some virulent ideological poisons from abroad, claiming to be "modern" culture. You should continue to welcome children as gift from God, and train them in the knowledge and fear of God, to be people of reconciliation, justice and peace in future. ... Poverty often makes parents unable to take good care of their children, with disastrous consequence. ... Most families are asking for just what is enough for survival. They have a right to live.

The specific contribution of women, not only in the home as wife and mother but also in the social sphere should be more generally acknowledged and promoted. The Synod recommends to our local Churches to go beyond the general statement of EIA, and put in place concrete structures to ensure real participation of women "at appropriate levels".

We feel the need to pay particular attention to you, young adults. You are often neglected, left adrift as targets for all kinds of ideologies and sects. You are the ones most often recruited and used for violence. We urge all the local Churches to consider the apostolate to the youth a high priority.


The Church is second to none in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the care of people infected and affected by it in Africa. ... This Synod, with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, seriously warns that the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics. We appeal to all who are genuinely interested in arresting the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS to recognise the success already obtained by programs that propose abstinence among those not yet married, and fidelity among the married.

To the great powers of this world, we plead: treat Africa with respect and dignity. Africa has been calling for a change in the world economic order, with unjust structures piled heavily against her. Recent turmoil in the financial world shows the need for a radical change of rules. But it would be a tragedy if adjustments are made only in the interest of the rich and again at the expense of the poor. Many of the conflicts, wars and poverty of Africa derive mainly from these unjust structures.

A change is called for with regard to the debts burden against poor nations, which literally kills children. Multinationals have to stop their criminal devastation of the environment in their greedy exploitation of natural resources. It is short-sighted policy to foment wars in order to make fast gains from chaos, at the cost of human lives and blood. Is there no one out there able and willing to stop all these crimes against humanity?


We commend the efforts to liberate Africa from cultural alienation and political bondage. ... On the economic front, Africa has tried to fashion for herself a strategic framework for development called NEPAD, New Economic Partnership for African Development. ... The Synod commends these efforts, because these programmes clearly link economic emancipation of Africa with the installation of good governance. Here, unfortunately, is the sticking point. For most African nations the beautiful documents of NEPAD are still a dead letter.

The Synod happily congratulates the few countries in Africa which have started on the route of genuine democracy. ... The Synod is sad to note that the situation in many countries is a great shame. We think in particular about the ... situation in Somalia, ... in Northern Uganda, South Sudan, Darfur, Guinea Conakry and other places. ... Whatever may be the responsibility of foreign interests, there is always the shameful and tragic collusion of the local leaders: politicians who betray and sell out their nations.


The Synod calls for ever greater ecumenical collaboration with our brothers and sisters of other Christian traditions. We also look forward to more dialogue and cooperation with Muslims, the adherents of African Traditional Religion (ATR) and people of other faiths. Religious fanaticism is ... causing havoc in many parts of Africa. From our traditional religious culture, Africans have imbibed a deep sense of God, the Creator. ... When this religious fervour is misdirected by fanatics or manipulated by politicians, conflicts are provoked that tend to engulf everyone.

The Synod heard the testimony of many Synod Fathers who have successfully walked the road of dialogue with Muslims. ... The issues of reconciliation, justice and peace generally are concerns for entire communities, irrespective of creed. Working on the many shared values between the two faiths, Christians and Muslims can contribute greatly towards restoring peace and reconciliation in our nations.

Freedom of religion includes also freedom to share one's faith, to propose, not impose it, to accept and welcome converts. Those nations which by law forbid their citizens from embracing the Christian faith are depriving their own citizens of their fundamental human right to freely decide on the creed to embrace. ... This Synod warns that such restriction of freedom subverts sincere dialogue and frustrates genuine collaboration. Since Christians who decide to change their religion are welcomed into the Muslim fold, there ought to be reciprocity in this matter. Mutual respect is the way forward".

  During this afternoon's Nineteenth General Congregation, the presentation of the final list of propositions is due to take place.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, accompanied by Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, secretary of the same council.

 - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

 - Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi, military ordinary for Italy.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Budjala, Democratic Republic of Congo, presented by Bishop Joseph Bolangi Egwanga Ediba Tasame, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Philibert Tembo Nlandu.

 - Appointed Msgr. Jean Laffitte, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1989.

 - Appointed Fr. Mario Toso S.D.B., consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as secretary of the same council, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of bishop. The bishop-elect was born in Mogliano Veneto, Italy in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1978.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning, the Synod Fathers who are currently participating in the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops met in language groups to prepare and examine the collective amendments to the propositions.

  The next General Congregation will be held on Friday 23 October, during which the presentation and vote on the final message of the Synod is scheduled to take place.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the catechesis he delivered during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father turned his attention to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), known as the last of the Church Fathers "because in the twelfth century he renewed and updated the great theology of the Fathers".

  Born in Fontaines, France, Bernard entered the monastery of Citeaux at the age of twenty. In 1115 he was sent by St. Stephen Harding, third abbot of Citeaux, to found a new monastery at Clairvaux where Bernard himself became abbot. At Clairvaux the saint "insisted on the importance of a sober and restrained lifestyle, in food, in clothing and in the structures of the monastery, at the same time encouraging support and assistance for the poor", the Holy Father explained.

  From Clairvaux, where the community grew steadily, Bernard corresponded regularly and often with people of all kinds, and wrote a large number of sermons and treatises. As of 1130 he also concerned himself with serious questions affecting the Holy See and the Church. With his writings he combated the heresy of the Cathars who, by spurning matter and the human body, also spurned the Creator. Likewise, he "defended the Jews, condemning the ever more widespread outbreaks of anti-Semitism".

  The two central aspects of the saint's doctrine concern Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. He "did not introduce novelties to the academic discipline of theology but, with great decisiveness, likened the theologian to the contemplative and the mystic", in the belief that "true knowledge of God consists in a personal and profound experience of Jesus Christ and His love.

  "This", the Pope added, "applies to all Christians. Faith is first and foremost an individual and intimate encounter with Jesus, it means experiencing His closeness, His friendship, His love". Thus Bernard was in no doubt that "through Mary we are led to Jesus", and he clearly demonstrated "the privileged place of the Virgin in the economy of salvation, thanks to her entirely unique participation in the sacrifice of her Son".

  Even today St. Bernard's ideas "stimulate not only theologians but all believers. At times we think we can resolve the fundamental questions about God, mankind and the world using only the power of reason. St. Bernard however, solidly rooted in the Bible and the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, ... our reflections upon the divine mysteries risk becoming a vain intellectual exercise and lose their credibility".

  Benedict XVI concluded: "Theology defers to the 'science of the saints' - to their intuition concerning the mysteries of the living God, to their wisdom (a gift of the Holy Spirit) - who become a point of reference for theological thought. ... In the end, the most authentic figure of theologian and of evangeliser remains that of St. John, who placed his head against the Master's heart".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's general audience, the Holy Father received Nasser Judeh, foreign minister of Jordan.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, also as secretary of the College of Cardinals.

 - Appointed Fr. Otacilio Luziano da Silva of the clergy of the diocese of Assis, Brazil, rector of the "Sagrado Coracao de Jesus" provincial seminary of Marilia, as bishop of Catanduva (area 4,601, population 282,000, Catholics 218,000, priests 41, religious 31), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Maracai, Brazil in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Antonio Celso Queiroz, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning, at the beginning of the Seventeenth General Congregation, a letter from the presidents delegate and the secretary general of the Synod was read out to the assembly. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and the session was attended by the Pope and 217 Synod Fathers.

  The text of the Letter is given below:

  "To the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

  "As Synod Fathers, gathered at the Second Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, we have learned with deep sorrow of the persistent war in the dioceses of the Great Lakes Region, with its consequent destruction, violence and death of innocent people. To avoid being killed, hundreds of thousands of persons have been forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in adjoining countries in extremely perilous conditions. This war gives rise to the worrisome situation of child-soldiers, orphans, those who are maimed and persons with grave physical and psychological problems.

  "As Synod Fathers, in solidarity with the president of the Synod, Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, we wish to express our deepest sentiments of fraternal communion with the bishops of the dioceses involved in this inhuman suffering of innocent peoples. At the same time, we turn to the parties concerned, imploring them to replace at once the language of arms with that of dialogue and negotiation. In dialogue, undertaken in mutual respect and peace, all problems can be solved. War, on the other hand, makes everything more difficult, transforming brothers into enemies.

  "Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Lord Jesus, we, as Synod Fathers, declare the sacred value of every human life. The commandment 'not to kill' is not only apart of the Decalogue, revealed by God and recorded in the Bible, but a law written in the heart of every person who comes into this world. It is not lawful to kill innocent people for whatever reason, whether it be social, political, ethnic, racial or religious. The blood of the innocent cries to heaven for vengeance, to a God Who sooner or later will judge those who have stained their hands with the blood of the poor, who are His chosen ones.

  "While we are reflecting on reconciliation, justice and peace, we implore, through the intercession of the saints born in Africa, the gift of peace so that justice may come about in those areas where it has been gravely missing, and that hearts may open to the grace of reconciliation with God and neighbour, not only in the Great Lakes Region but in all of Africa.

  "We entrust our distressed, urgent appeal to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa and Comforter of the Afflicted".

  Following the reading of the Letter, the unified list of fifty-four propositions was presented. The propositions will be consigned to the Holy Father to consider as he writes the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. The Synod Fathers also participated in the second vote to elect the members of the ordinary council of the General Secretariat of the Synod.

  At the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat is formed. The Council is comprised of fifteen members; twelve of whom are elected from the Synod, and three designated by the Roman Pontiff.

  This afternoon the Synod Fathers will meet in language groups to prepare the collective amendments to the propositions.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In a meeting with journalists held this morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented a note on a new measure concerning "Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church".

  Commenting on the English-language note, which has been published by his dicastery, Cardinal Levada explained how, "with the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

  "In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

  "The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a worldwide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony".

  "The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans" who, said Cardinal Levada, "have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion".

  The cardinal further indicated that "it is the hope of the Holy Father Benedict XVI that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: 'There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism'.

  "Our communion", the cardinal added in conclusion, "is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith".

  In a joint declaration on the same subject, Catholic Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury affirm that the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution "brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution", which is a "consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

  "The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing co-operation", the declaration adds. "The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

  "With God's grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England's House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission".
CDF/ANGLICANS CATHOLICS/LEVADA            VIS 20091020 (820)


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

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Boston, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Francis X. Irwin, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Tarnow, Poland, presented by Bishop Wladyslaw Bobowski, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Msgr. Andrzej Jez of the clergy of the diocese of Tarnow, Poland, pastor of the parish of St. Margaret at Nowy Sacz, as auxiliary of Tarnow (area 7,566, population 1,125,753, Catholics 1,118,847, priests 1,395, religious 1,248). The bishop-elect was born in Limanowa, Poland in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988.
RE:NEA/.../IRWIN:BOBOWSKI:JEZ                VIS 20091020 (140)

Monday, October 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Sixteenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. During the session, the draft of the final message was presented and discussed, and a first round of voting for members of the post-synodal council took place. The session was attended by 212 Synod Fathers, and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.

  No General Congregation will be held this afternoon, or on Sunday and Monday. The relator general, the special secretaries and the realtors of the working groups (or language groups) will meet to unify the proposals presented by the Synod Fathers.
SE/SIXTEENTH CONGREGATION/...                VIS 20091019 (130)


VATICAN CITY, 17 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This evening in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father attended a concert by the International Piano Academy of Imola, Italy, marking twenty years since its foundation. The Chinese pianist Jin Ju, using seven pianofortes from different historical periods, played pieces by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Czerny, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Liszt.

  At the end of the concert the Pope expressed his thanks to the academy and to the pianist, who "enabled us to savour ... the emotional impact of the music she played".

  "This concert has, once again, given us the chance to appreciate the beauty of music, a spiritual and therefore universal language, and hence the appropriate vehicle for understanding and union between individuals and peoples. Music forms part of all cultures and, we could say, accompanies all human experiences, from suffering to pleasure, from hatred to love, from sadness to joy, from death to life".

  Benedict XVI then highlighted how "over the centuries and the millennia music has always been used to give form to what cannot be expressed with words, because it arouses emotions otherwise difficult to communicate. It is, then, no coincidence that all civilisations have given importance and value to music in its various forms and expressions.

  "Music, great music", he added in conclusion, "distends the spirit, arouses profound emotions and almost naturally invites us to raise our minds and hearts to God in all situations of human existence, the joyful and the sad. Music can become prayer".
BXVI-CONCERT/MUSIC/IMOLA ACADEMY            VIS 20091019 (260)


VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2009 (VIS) - World Mission Day, which falls on the third Sunday of October, provided the theme for the Pope's remarks before praying the Angelus today.

  The Holy Father told the thousands of faithful gathered at noon in St. Peter's Square that today represents, "for all ecclesial communities and for each Christian, a powerful call to commit themselves to announcing and bearing witness to the Gospel to everyone, especially to people who do not yet know it".

  "It is the light of the Gospel that guides peoples on their journey and leads them towards the realisation of the one great family, in justice and peace, under the paternity of the one good and merciful God", he said. "The Church exists to announce this message of hope to all humankind which in our time 'has experienced marvellous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself'".

  On this Sunday "the Universal Church places the spotlight on her own missionary vocation. Guided by the Holy Spirit she knows she is called to continue the work of Jesus Himself, announcing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which is 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'. This Kingdom is already present in the world as a force for love, freedom, solidarity, and respect for the dignity of all mankind; and the ecclesial community feels in its heart the urgent need to work so the sovereignty of Christ may be fully achieved".

  Benedict XVI then went on to mention "the missionaries - priests, religious and lay volunteers - who consecrate their lives to taking the Gospel into the world, facing discomforts and difficulties, sometimes even full-on persecutions. My thoughts go out to, among others, Fr. Ruggero Ruvoletto, a 'fidei donum' priest killed recently in Brazil, and to Fr. Michael Sinnot, a religious kidnapped a few days ago in the Philippines. And how can we not think of what is emerging from the Synod of Bishops for Africa in terms of extreme sacrifice and love for Christ and for His Church?"

  The Pope then thanked the Pontifical Missionary Works for their service "in encouraging and educating missionaries". And he concluded: "I invite all Christians to make a gesture of material and spiritual support to help the young Churches in the poorest countries".
ANG/WORLD MISSION DAY/...                    VIS 20091019 (400)


VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Yves Gazzo, head of the delegation to the Holy See of the Commission of the European Communities.

  In his address, the Pope referred to the values of the European Union which, he said, "are the fruit of a long and complex history in which, it cannot be denied, Christianity has played a primordial role. The equal dignity of all human beings, the freedom of expression of faith as the basis of all other civil liberties, peace as a decisive element of the common good, human development (intellectual, social and economic) as a divine vocation and the sense of history deriving therefrom, are all central elements of the Christian revelation that continues to mould European civilisation".

  "When the Church mentions the Christian roots of Europe", the Holy Father went on, "she does not seek a privileged status for herself. She wishes to enact historical memory, first and foremost by recalling a truth which is suffering ever greater neglect: the decisively Christian inspiration of the founding fathers of the European Union". Furthermore, "she wishes to make it clear that the legacy of values comes chiefly from Christian heritage, which continues to nourish Europe today".

  "These values are not some anarchic or random assembly, rather they form a coherent whole which is historically ordered and regimented on the basis of a precise view of mankind".

  The Holy Father then went on to highlight the risk of such values being "manipulated by individuals and pressure groups who seek to make their particular interests prevail to the detriment of an ambitious collective project, which is what Europeans hope to see and which aims at the common good of all inhabitants of the continent, and of the whole world".

  "It is important", he went on, "that Europe does not allow her model of civilisation to fray, thread by thread. Her generosity must not be stifled by individualism or utilitarianism. The immense intellectual, cultural, economic riches of the continent will continue to bear fruit so long as they are nourished by a transcendental view of human beings, which is the greatest treasure of European heritage".

  "This mainly involves the search for a just and delicate balance between economic efficiency and social needs, the protection of the environment and, above all, the indispensable and necessary support for human life from conception to natural death, and for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman".

  Europe will not truly be itself, said the Holy Father, "if she does not conserve the originality which constitutes her greatness and which tomorrow may make her one of the main players in promoting the integral development of peoples, something the Catholic Church considers as being the only possible way to remedy the imbalances of our world".

  Benedict XVI assured the new head of delegation that the Holy See "follows the activities of European institutions with great respect and attention, and hopes that, with their work and creativity, they may honour Europe which, more than a continent, is a 'spiritual home'".

  "The Church", he concluded, "wishes to 'accompany' the construction of European unity. For this reason she takes the liberty of recalling the fundamental and constituent values of European society, that they may be promoted for the good of everyone".
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/UE:GAZZO                VIS 20091019 (570)


VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Renzo Fratini, apostolic nuncio to Spain and to the Principality of Andorra, and permanent observer to the World Tourism Organisation.

 - Muammer Dogan Akdur, ambassador of Turkey, on his farewell visit.

 - Fausto Cordovez Chiriboga, ambassador of Ecuador, on his farewell visit.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20091019 (60)


VATICAN CITY, 19 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Paul D. Etienne of the clergy of the archdiocese of Indianapolis, U.S.A., vice rector of the Bishop Brute Seminary and pastor of the parish of St. Paul in Tell City, as bishop of Cheyenne (area 252,552 population 515,000, Catholics 52,203, priests 61, permanent deacons 20, religious 35), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Tell City, U.S.A. in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1992.

  On Saturday 17 October it was made public that the Holy Father appointed as members of the Congregation for Bishops Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
NER:NA/.../ETIENNE:CANIZARES:BURKE                VIS 20091019 (130)

Friday, October 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Given below are extracts from further reports of the language groups, presented yesterday morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall during the Fifteenth General Congregation, the texts of which were only made public yesterday afternoon.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE GROUP A: ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY JOHN VALENTINE OBINNA OF OWERRI, NIGERIA. "There was a positive and healthy experience of ecclesial communion throughout the Synod. Let us try to transmit this within our Churches and organisations. ... The lay faithful have to be made aware of their role as agents of reconciliation, justice and peace in their areas of work or spheres of activity. ... To strengthen the African family it is not sufficient to condemn: positive initiatives need to be undertaken to correct irregular situations. To respond to the numerous victims of injustice on the continent, the unborn (abortion), orphans, street children, disabled, prisoners, persecuted and marginalised communities, we need to create structures of justice, peace, and pastoral care, understanding and empathy in the Church and from the Church. ... The compendium of the Church's social doctrine should be an obligatory text for the formation and skills acquisition of lay people. ... We need to use official texts on human life and sexuality to teach seminarians and young people the Christian doctrine and approach to sexuality. ... The catechesis on the family has to be promoted to become part of the compendium of the Church's social doctrine. Women have to be given roles in the Church as full members. Renewed efforts have to be made to eliminate discrimination against women in all areas".

ENGLISH LANGUAGE GROUP B: BISHOP SITHEMBELE ANTON SIPUKA OF UMTATA, SOUTH AFRICA. "We note that the lack of publicity for the Synod reflects our weakness in communication, so we need, on our return, to communicate what we discussed and decided here. We could give more publicity to the results of the Synod in South Africa to make up for shortcomings in its preparation. We note that there is a link between this and the last Synod, the Family of God and how to keep them together are the objectives. We need to organise more Synods, reinforce the commissions of justice and peace, or establish them where they do not exist, and form small committees to spread the results from the foundations, even before the final publication of the results of the Synod by the Pope. ... Unfortunately, we do not have a permanent formation after Baptism and Confirmation that might help people remain in the Church. For this reason we have to look again at our current methodology of catechesis. There is a problem with the hierarchical structure in African society as a result of which superiors cannot ask forgiveness of inferiors. For example, it is unthinkable that a husband would ask forgiveness of a wife or an old man of a young man. This also applies to ethnic groups: one ethnic group might not consider it appropriate to ask another for forgiveness. It further appears that traditional African means of reconciliation are an obstacle to the Christian ideal and practice of reconciliation".

FRENCH LANGUAGE GROUP B: BISHOP LOUIS PORTELLA MBUYU OF KINKALA, PRESIDENT OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF THE CONGO. "There are many urgent requirements: (1) The formation of people with decision-making power, now and in the future (a spiritual and doctrinal, but also a technical formation, undertaken by chaplains who have also undergone appropriate formation). (2) Giving women their due place. (3) Educating people in peace from an early age and helping them change their way of looking at others, the same applies to education in the rule law and in all other Christian values that concern society. The family, the fundamental cell of society, merits important pastoral attention. The pastoral care of the family involves all its members: children and young people must receive a careful education, couples must progress in conjugal love, parents must accept their responsibilities as the first teachers of their children. The Christian values of matrimony and family must therefore be at the centre of appropriate pastoral initiatives. The relationship between our culture and the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation leads us towards an incultured catechesis of these Sacraments. In this sector, why not think about a continental Eucharistic Congress inspired by theological research, catechesis and incultured celebration?"

ENGLISH LANGUAGE GROUPS E: BISHOP MARTIN IGWEMEZIE UZOUKWU OF MINNA, NIGERIA. "We have to have a positive attitude towards African traditions, see them as an opportunity and examine them closely to purify and use them in the process of reconciliation. Diversity too has to be seen as a gift; it was created by God and it is a resource. But often politicians use our diversity to divide one ethnic group from another and create tension and conflict; for this reason reconciliation has to be de-politicised, freed from the blackmail of not always clear political motivations. ... Particular attention must be paid to the formation of the clergy who in their work are building the Kingdom of God every day. Even the priest risks losing sight of the greatness of his vocation and is threatened by the mentality of the world that spreads the non-values of materialism. The priest has to imitate Christ in serving, not in being served. Seminarians should be taught how to use the new media, to make their education more complete and to be able to evangelise also using internet and other new instruments that become available with technological progress".


VATICAN CITY, 16 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration yesterday afternoon:

  "The first of the planned meetings with representatives of the Society of St. Pius X will take place on the morning of Monday 26 October.

  "For the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' the meeting will be attended, apart from by its secretary Msgr. Guido Pozzi, by Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and by the previously appointed experts: Fr. Charles Morerod O.P., secretary of the International Theological Commission; Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, vicar general of Opus Dei; and Fr. Karl Josef Becker S.J. All three experts are consultors of the Congregation for he Doctrine of the Faith.

  "The meeting will take place in the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio. The contents of the discussions, which will focus on unresolved doctrinal issues, will remain strictly private.

  "At the end of the meeting a communique will be released".
OP/MEETING/SOCIETY ST. PIUS X                VIS 20091016 (180)

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