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Wednesday, December 30, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Pope focused his catechesis during today's general audience, the last of 2009, on the theologian Peter Lombard, author of the "Book of Sentences" which was used as a standard text by schools of theology for many centuries.

  Lombard, the son of a poor family, studied in Bologna, Reims and Paris where, in 1140, he became a professor at the prestigious school of Notre-Dame. In 1159, almost at the end of his life, he was appointed archbishop of Paris.

  The Pope explained how this theologian's particular merit was that of having drawn not only on biblical texts but also on those of the great Church Fathers and of other important Christian thinkers, arranging them into "a systematic and harmonious framework.

  "In fact", he added, "one of the characteristics of theology is that of organising the heritage of faith in a unitary and well-ordered fashion" so that "the individual truths of faith may illuminate one another" and thus "reveal the harmony of the plan of salvation of God and the centrality of the mystery of Christ".

  Benedict XVI continued his remarks by inviting theologians and priests "always to bear in mind the entire vision of Christian doctrine, so as to guard against the modern-day risks of fragmentation and undervaluation of individual truths. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Catechism, supply us with precisely this complete picture of Christian revelation", he said. In the same vein, he encouraged "each member of the faithful and Christian communities to draw profit from these instruments in order to gain a deeper knowledge of the contents of our faith".

  Another fundamental aspect of Peter Lombard's work is his view of "the essence of the Sacraments" as being "the cause of grace and having the true capacity to communicate divine life. Later theologians never abandoned this view and utilised the distinction between material and formal elements introduced by the 'Master of the Sentences', as Peter Lombard was called", said the Holy Father.

  And he explained: "The material element is visible sensory reality. The formal element are the words pronounced by the minister. Both are essential for a complete and valid celebration of the Sacraments".

  "It is important to recognise how precious and how indispensable sacramental life is for each Christian", said the Holy Father. "In this Year for Priests, I exhort the clergy, especially those who minister to souls, to cultivate an intense sacramental life of their own in order to be able to help the faithful".

  Pope Benedict expressed the hope that "the celebration of the Sacraments may be dignified and decorous, that it may favour personal prayer and community participation, the sense of the presence of God and missionary zeal.

  "The Sacraments", he added in conclusion, "are the great treasure of the Church and it is up to each of us to celebrate them that they may bring forth spiritual fruit. In them, an ever new and surprising event touches our lives: Christ, through visible signs, comes to meet us, He purifies us, transforms us and allows us to participate in His divine friendship".

  At the end of the audience, the Holy Father wished people a happy New Year, expressing the hope that the friendship of Jesus Christ may be a daily "light and guide" for everyone.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for January 2010 is: "That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society".

 His mission intention is: "That every believer in Christ may be conscious that unity among all Christians is a condition for more effective proclamation of the Gospel".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Following are highlights of the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See for the months of September through December 2009.


5: Publication of the Holy Father's Message for the 83rd World Mission Day, to be celebrated on Sunday 18 October on the theme: "The nations will walk in its light".

6: Pastoral visit of the Holy Father to the Italian towns of Viterbo and Bagnoregio.

7: Benedict XVI receives a group of prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (West 1-2) at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

11: Holy Father receives in audience Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, president of the Republic of Panama.

11: Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue publishes its annual Message to Muslims for the end of the month of Ramadan. The Message, signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the council, has as its theme: "Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty".

15-20: Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, visits Rome at the invitation of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

16: Holy Father receives in audience Emil Boc, prime minister of Romania.

17: Benedict XVI receives a group of prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast 2) at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

19: Benedict XVI receives Catholic patriarchs and major archbishops from the Oriental Churches.

26-28: Apostolic trip to the Czech Republic.


4: In the Vatican Basilica, Benedict XVI presides at a Eucharistic concelebration with Synod Fathers for the opening of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

4: Beatification of Servant of God Eustachio Kugler (ne Joseph), German professed religious of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, in the cathedral of Regensburg, Germany.

11: In St. Peter's Square, Holy Father canonises Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francesc Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne).

18: Beatification of Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Spanish cardinal and archbishop, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity, in the cathedral of Toledo, Spain.

25: Beatification of Servant of God Carlo Gnocchi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the "Pro Juventute" Foundation, in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy.

25: In the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presides at a Eucharistic concelebration with Synod Fathers to mark the closure of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

31: Beatification of Servant of God Zoltan Lajos Meszlenyi, Hungarian bishop and martyr, in the cathedral of Esztergom, Hungary.


8: Pastoral visit of the Holy Father to the Italian city of Brescia.

9: Pope receives participants in the World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, being held in the Vatican from 9 to 12 November on the theme: "A pastoral response to the phenomenon of migration in the era of globalisation".

9: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publishes the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus", which provides for personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, and some Complementary Norms for the same Apostolic Constitution.

12: Holy Father receives in audience Stjepan Mesic, president of the Republic of Croatia.

12: Benedict XVI receives 7000 professors and students of Rome's LUMSA University (Libera Universita Maria Santissma Assunta) for the seventieth anniversary of its foundation by Servant of God Luigia Tincani.

13: Holy Father receives in audience Gordon Bajnai, prime minister of the Republic of Hungary.

14: Holy Father receives in audience Boris Tadic, president of the Republic of Serbia.

14: Holy Father receives in audience Jan Fischer, prime minister of the Czech Republic.

17: Publication of a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to priests of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China, for the occasion of the Year for Priests called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the saintly "Cure of Ars".

17: Holy Father receives in audience Pierre Nkurunziza, president of the Republic of Burundi.

18: Holy Father receives in audience Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

21: Benedict XVI meets with artists in the Sistine Chapel.

22: Beatification of Servant of God Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas (nee Soultaneh Maria), co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel.

27: Publication of the Holy Father's Message for the ninety-sixth World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme of this year's Message is "Underage migrants and refugees" and the Day is due to be celebrated on 17 January 2010.

28: Benedict XVI receives in separate audiences Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina, and Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two States.

30: Holy Father receives in audience Alan Garcia Perez, president of the Republic of Peru.

30: Holy Father receives in audience His Royal Imperial Highness Otto von Hapsburg, archduke of Austria.


3: Publication of the Pope's Message for the eighteenth World Day of the Sick, which is due to be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica on 11 February 2010, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

3: Holy Father receives in audience Dimitri Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation. Re-establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.

4: Holy Father receives in audience His Beatitude Anastas, archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania, who was accompanied by other representatives of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania.

5: Benedict XVI receives a group of prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Region South 3 and 4) at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

5: Holy Father receives in audience Horst Kohler, president of Germany.

10: Holy Father receives in audience Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of the Republic of Gabon.

11: Holy Father receives in audience Nguyen Minh Triet, president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

12: Holy Father receives in audience Sali Berisha, prime minister of the Republic of Albania.

14: Holy Father receives in audience Milo Djukanovic, prime minister of Montenegro.

15: Publication of Pope's Message for the forty-third World Day of Peace, due to be celebrated on 1 January 2010, on the theme: "If You Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".

15: Publication of Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, "Omnium in mentem", dated 26 October, containing two variations to the Code of Canon Law.

17: Holy Father receives Letters of Credence of eight new ambassadors to the Holy See: Hans Klingenberg of Denmark; Francis K. Butagira of Uganda; Suleiman Mohamad Mustafa of Sudan; Elkanah Odembo of Kenya; Mukhtar B. Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan; Abdul Hannan of Bangladesh; Alpo Rusi of Finland, and Einars Semanis of Latvia.

17: Benedict XVI receives prelates from he Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus, at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

19: Publication of decrees concerning the martyrdom, miracles and heroic virtues of twenty-one Blesseds and Servants of God, among them Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II.

21: In his traditional pre-Christmas meeting with the Roman Curia, the Pope recalls that 2009 was a year "passed under the sign of Africa".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, archbishop emeritus of Tokyo, died in Japan early this morning at the age of 81. His funeral is due to take place on 5 January 2010.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa of Palmas, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Belem do Para (area 2,082, population 2,043,537, Catholics 1,491,782, priests 144, permanent deacons 50, religious 512), Brazil.

 - Bishop Pedro Luiz Stringhini, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Franca (area 6,721, population 800,000, Catholics 631,000, priests 71, permanent deacons 16, religious 94), Brazil.

 - Bishop Vicente Costa of Umuarama, Brazil, as bishop of Jundiai (area 2,299, population 1,102,000, Catholics 936,000, priests 107, permanent deacons 87, religious 233), Brazil.

 - Fr. Waldemar Passini Dalbello of the clergy of the archdiocese of Brasilia, Brazil, rector of the inter-diocesan seminary of Goiania, Brazil, as auxiliary of Goiania (area 13,342, population 1,902,000, Catholics 1,147,000, priests 176, permanent deacons 2, religious 592). The bishop-elect was born in Anapolis, Brazil in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1994.

 - Fr. Edmar Peron of the clergy of Maringa, Brazil, rector of the archdiocesan seminary "Santissima Trindade", as auxiliary of Sao Paulo (area 1,645, population 7,346,000, Catholics 5,363,000, priests 851, permanent deacons 40, religious 2,802), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Maringa in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1990.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The staff of the Vatican Information Service wishes all its readers a Happy New Year. The next VIS bulletin will be transmitted on Monday, 4 January 2010.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 29 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In a Message addressed to the annual meeting promoted by the Taize Community, being held this year in the Polish city of Poznan from 29 December to 2 January, the Pope calls on the young participants "to go and meet men and women who have lost the sense of God, who seek uncertainly for Him, sometimes without realising it.

  "They need to encounter true witnesses", the English-language Message adds, "so that the face of Christ may shine for them. May God inspire the actions and words that will make accessible to others, when you return home to your countries, the hope that gives you life and the vitality that the Spirit wants to give to every human life!

  "Yes, rejoice in the thirst that He himself has placed in you: it expresses your dignity as sons and daughters of God. During this 32nd European meeting in Poland (a new stage of your pilgrimage of trust on earth) you will discover the joy of drawing from the wellsprings of the living God all together, the joy of fellowship in Christ. It is to this joy that His call leads you".

  Benedict XVI concludes his Message by imparting his apostolic blessing to all those taking part in the meeting, to "the brothers of Taize, to everyone who helped organise the pilgrimage, to the pastors and believers who welcome you, and to your families".
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Monday, December 28, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 24 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Pope tonight celebrated Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.

  In the course of the Eucharistic celebration, following the reading of the Gospel, the Holy Father delivered his homily.

  "The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason", he said. "They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God's incarnation have to tell us?

  "The first thing we are told about the shepherds is that they were on the watch - they could hear the message precisely because they were awake. We must be awake, so that we can hear the message. ... The principal difference between someone dreaming and someone awake is that the dreamer is in a world of his own. ... To wake up means to leave that private world of one's own and to enter the common reality, the truth that alone can unite all people. Conflict and lack of reconciliation in the world stem from the fact that we are locked into our own interests and opinions, into our own little private world. Selfishness, both individual and collective, makes us prisoners of our interests and our desires that stand against the truth and separate us from one another".

  "To awake", the Pope explained, "means to develop a receptivity for God: for the silent promptings with which He chooses to guide us; for the many indications of His presence. ... The gift of a capacity to perceive God seems as if it is withheld from some. And indeed our way of thinking and acting, the mentality of today's world, the whole range of our experience is inclined to deaden our receptivity for God. ... And yet in every soul, the desire for God, the capacity to encounter Him, is present. ... Lord, open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may become vigilant and clear-sighted, in this way bringing You close to others as well!

  "Let us return to the Christmas Gospel. It tells us that after listening to the Angel's message, the shepherds said one to another: ''Let us go over to Bethlehem', ... they went at once'. 'They made haste' is literally what the Greek text says. What had been announced to them was so important that they had to go immediately. In fact, what had been said to them was utterly out of the ordinary. It changed the world. ... They made haste; they went at once. In our daily life, it is not like that. For most people, the things of God are not given priority, they do not impose themselves on us directly.

  "And so the great majority of us tend to postpone them. First we do what seems urgent here and now. In the list of priorities God is often more or less at the end. ... The Gospel tells us: God is the highest priority. If anything in our life deserves haste without delay, then, it is God's work alone. ... The shepherds teach us this priority. From them we should learn not to be crushed by all the pressing matters in our daily lives. From them we should learn the inner freedom to put other tasks in second place, however important they may be, so as to make our way towards God, to allow Him into our lives and into our time. Time given to God and, in His name, to our neighbour is never time lost".

  "Some commentators point out that the shepherds, the simple souls, were the first to come to Jesus in the manger and to encounter the Redeemer of the world. The wise men from the East, representing those with social standing and fame, arrived much later. ... They had to undertake a long and arduous journey in order to arrive in Bethlehem. They needed guidance and direction.

  "Today too there are simple and lowly souls who live very close to the Lord. ... But most of us in the world today live far from Jesus Christ, the incarnate God who came to dwell amongst us. We live our lives by philosophies, amid worldly affairs and occupations that totally absorb us and are a great distance from the manger. In all kinds of ways, God has to prod us and reach out to us again and again, so that we can manage to escape from the muddle of our thoughts and activities and discover the way that leads to Him.

  "But a path exists for all of us. The Lord provides everyone with tailor-made signals. ... Left to ourselves we could not reach Him. The path is too much for our strength. But God has come down. He comes towards us. He has travelled the longer part of the journey. Now He invites us: come and see how much I love you. ... Let us journey towards God in all sorts of ways: along our interior path towards Him, but also along very concrete paths - the liturgy of the Church, the service of our neighbour, in whom Christ awaits us.

  "Let us once again listen directly to the Gospel. The shepherds tell one another the reason why they are setting off. ... Literally the Greek text says: 'Let us see this Word that has occurred there'. Yes indeed, such is the radical newness of this night: the Word can be seen. For it has become flesh. ... God's sign, the sign given to the shepherds and to us, is not an astonishing miracle. God's sign is His humility. God's sign is that He makes Himself small; He becomes a child; He lets us touch Him and He asks for our love.

  "How we would prefer a different sign, an imposing, irresistible sign of God's power and greatness", said the Holy Father in conclusion. "But His sign summons us to faith and love, and thus it gives us hope: this is what God is like. He has power, He is Goodness itself. He invites us to become like Him. Yes indeed, we become like God if we allow ourselves to be shaped by this sign; if we ourselves learn humility and hence true greatness; if we renounce violence and use only the weapons of truth and love".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Olivier Schmitthaeusler M.E.P., vicar general of Phnom-Penh, Cambodia, and secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Cambodia, as coadjutor of the apostolic vicariate of Phnom-Penh (area 31,946, population 5,387,000, Catholics 13,085, priests 58, religious 111). The bishop-elect was born in Strasbourg, France in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1998.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today released the following communique:

  "Yesterday evening, during the entry procession of the celebration, an unbalanced person - one Susanna Maiolo, age 25, with Italian and Swiss nationality - leapt over the barrier and, despite an intervention by the security guards, managed to reach the Holy Father and grasp his pallium, causing him to lose his balance and fall to the ground. The Pope was able to get up immediately and continue the procession, and the rest of the celebration took place without incident.

  "Unfortunately, in the confusion, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray fell and broke the neck of his femur. He was taken to Rome's Gemelli hospital where his condition is good although he will have to undergo an operation in the next few days.

  "The young woman, who was unarmed but showed signs of mental unbalance, was taken to a psychiatric hospital where she will undergo obligatory treatment".

  Yesterday, 27 December, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray underwent a complete arthroprothesis of the hip. The operation was successful and his state of health is good, according to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office.

  The Holy See Press Office likewise announced that the incident involving Susanna Maiolo remains the competency of Vatican magistrates who, "in the light of the reports of doctors and of the Vatican Gendarmerie, will evaluate the next steps to be taken".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, the Holy Father pronounced his traditional Christmas Message from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, and imparted the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

  Extracts of the Message are given below:

  "The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us".

  "The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light 'that enlightens every man'".

  "Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the 'sign' of His saving and liberating presence and to extend the 'us' of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind.

  "Wherever there is an 'us' which welcomes God's love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, Whom she herself has received as a gift, the One Who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin".

  "Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: 'Let us go to Bethlehem', for there we shall find our hope.

  "The 'us' of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigour and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The 'us' of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the 'little flock' of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one's neighbour.

  "The 'us' of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace.

  "On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them.

  "In Europe and North America, the 'us' of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenceless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in the process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the 'us' of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity.

  "In fidelity to the mandate of her Founder, the Church shows solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance or environmental degradation, the Church is a presence calling others to an attitude of acceptance and welcome. In a word, the Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord".

  Following his Message, the Pope extended Christmas greetings in 65 languages and imparted his blessing "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world).
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VATICAN CITY, 26 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his private study overlooking St. Peter's Square to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered below.

  "The One lying in the manger", said the Holy Father, "is the Son of God made man, Who asks us to bear courageous witness to His Gospel, like St. Stephen who, filled with the Holy Spirit, did not hesitate to give his life for love of his Lord. He, like his Master, died forgiving his persecutors and helps us understand how the entry of the Son of God into the world gave rise to a new civilisation, the civilisation of love which does not cave in before evil and violence but breaks down barriers between men, making them brothers in the great family of the children of God".

  "Stephen's witness, like that of the Christian martyrs, shows our fellow men and women, so often distracted and disoriented, in whom they must place their trust in order to give meaning to life. The martyr is, in fact, the person who dies in the certainty of being loved by God and, placing nothing before love for Christ, knows he has chosen the right side".

  Benedict XVI explained that "today, presenting us St. Stephen the Deacon as a model, the Church is also showing us that acceptance and love for the poor is one of the privileged ways to live the Gospel and to bear credible witness before the world of the Kingdom of God that is to come".

  After then highlighting how the Feast of St. Stephen "also reminds of us the many believers who, in various parts of the world, undergo trials and suffering for their faith", the Pope called upon people to "support these people with prayer and never to fail in our own Christian vocation, always placing at the centre of our lives Jesus Christ, Who in these days we contemplate in the simplicity and humility of the manger".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus on this Sunday of the Holy Family, the Pope reminded the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that "God wished to reveal Himself by being born in a human family, and hence the human family has become an icon of God.

  "God is Trinity", he added. "He is communion of love, and the family - with all the difference that exists between the Mystery of God and His human creature - is an expression thereof which reflects the unfathomable mystery of God-Love. ... The human family is, in a certain sense, the icon of the Trinity because of the love between its members and the fruitfulness of that love".

  Commenting then on today's Gospel reading which narrates how the twelve-year-old Jesus stayed behind in the Temple without His parents' knowledge, the Pope explained that "Jesus' decision to remain in the Temple was above all the fruit of his intimate relationship with the Father, but also the fruit of the education received from Mary and Joseph".

  And he went on: "Here we may catch a glimpse of the authentic meaning of Christian education. It is the result of a collaboration that must always be sought between the educators and God. The Christian family is aware that children are God's gift and project. Hence it cannot consider them as it own possessions but, serving God's plan through them, is called to educate them in the greatest of freedoms which is that of saying 'yes' to God in order to accomplish His will".

  The Holy Father them addressed some remarks to participants in the Feast of the Holy Family which is being celebrated today in Madrid, Spain. "God, by having come into the world in the bosom of a family, shows that this institution is a sure way to meet and know Him, and a permanent call to work for the loving unity of all people. Thus, one of the greatest services which we as Christians can offer our fellow men and women is to show them the serene and solid witness of a family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman, defending it and protecting it, because it is of supreme importance for the present and future of humankind.

  "In truth, the family is the best school in which to learn to live the values that dignify individuals and make peoples great. There too sufferings and joys are shared, as everyone feels cloaked in the affection that reigns in the home by the mere fact of being members of the same family".

  Benedict XVI prayed to God that family homes may always experience "this love of total commitment and fidelity which Jesus brought into the world by His birth, nourishing and strengthening it with daily prayer, the constant practice of virtue, reciprocal understanding and mutual respect.

  "I encourage you - trusting in the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Families, and the powerful protection of St. Joseph, her husband - tirelessly to dedicate yourselves to this beautiful mission the Lord has placed in your hands. Be sure of my closeness and affection", he concluded, "and I pray you carry a very special greeting from the Pope to those of your loved ones who suffer greatest need and difficulties".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 DEC 2009 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Holy Father travelled by car to a canteen for the poor run by the Sant'Egidio Community in Rome's Trastevere district where he had lunch with 150 volunteers and needy people.

  Benedict XVI sat at table with twelve people, including a gypsy family, an Afghan Shiite refugee, a ninety-year-old widower and a young disabled person abandoned by his family. At the end of the meal, the Pope distributed presents to the thirty-one children present.

  "It is a moving experience for me to be here with you", said the Pope in his remarks, "to be with the friends of Jesus, because Jesus loves people who suffer. ... Over lunch I heard painful stories charged with humanity. ... And I am here among you to say I am close to you and love you".

  "Jesus' family also encountered difficulties from the beginning. They experienced the discomfort of finding no hospitality, and were forced to emigrate to Egypt to flee the violence of King Herod. You have experienced suffering, but here you have someone who takes care of you. In fact, some have found a family here thanks to the attentive service of the Sant'Egidio Community which offers a sign of God's love for the poor. What is happening here today is what happens in homes: those who serve and help merge with those who are helped and served, and pride of place is given to those who have greatest need".

  "In this time of particular economic difficulties we must all become signs of hope and witnesses of a new world for people who, closed in their own selfishness, believe they can be happy alone, and so spend their lives in a state of sadness or ephemeral joy which leaves the heart empty".

  After the luncheon, Benedict XVI unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit then returned to the Vatican.
BXVI-VISIT/LUNCH POOR/SANT'EGIDIO            VIS 20091228 (330)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In his general audience, celebrated this morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope focused his remarks on the subject of Christmas.

  At the beginning of his catechesis the Holy Father explained that "the Church's liturgical year did not initially develop on the basis of Christ's birth but on that of faith in His resurrection. Hence, the most ancient feast of Christianity is not Christmas but Easter. The resurrection of Christ is what founded the Christian faith, underpinned the announcement of the Gospel and brought the Church into being".

  "The first person to make the clear affirmation that Jesus was born on 25 December was Hippolytus of Rome in his commentary on the Book of Daniel, written around the year 204", said the Pope.

  "In the Christian world, the feast of Christmas assumed a distinct form in the fourth century when it took the place of the Roman feast of the 'Sol invictus', the sun unconquered. This highlighted the fact that the birth of Christ is the victory of the true light over the darkness of evil and sin. Yet the particular and intense spiritual atmosphere that now surrounds Christmas developed during the Middle Ages, thanks to St. Francis of Assisi who was profoundly enamoured of Jesus the man, of the God-with-us".

  "This particular devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation was the origin of the famous Christmas celebration in Greccio. ... St. Francis with his nativity scene highlighted the defenceless love, humility and goodness of God, Who in the Incarnation of the Word shows Himself to mankind in order to teach them a new way to live and love".

  The Pope then went on to recall the fact that the first biographer of St. Francis, Thomas of Celano, recounted how, "on that Christmas night, Francis was granted the grace of a marvellous vision. He saw, lying immobile in the manger, a small child Who was reawakened from sleep by the proximity of Francis himself".

  "Thanks to St. Francis, Christian people are able to understand that at Christmas God truly became the 'Emmanuel', the God-with-us, from Whom no barrier or distance separates us. In that Child, God became so close to each of us ... that we can establish an intimate rapport of profound affection with Him, just as we do with a newborn child.

  "In that Child", the Holy Father added, "God-Love becomes manifest: God comes unarmed and powerless, because He does not intend to conquer, so to say, from the outside; rather, He intends to be accepted by man in freedom. God becomes a defenceless child to overcome man's pride, violence and thirst for possession. In Jesus, God assumed this poor and disarming condition in order to triumph over us with love and lead us to our true identity".

  "His being a Child likewise indicates to us that we can meet God and enjoy His presence", the Pope concluded. "People who have not understood the mystery of Christmas have not understood the decisive element of Christian existence: that those who do not accept Jesus with the heart of a child cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven. This is what St. Francis wished to tell the Christian world of his time and of all times, even unto today".
AG/CHRISTMAS/...                            VIS 20091223 (560)


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following note concerning the signing of the recent decree on the heroic virtues of Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

  "The Pope's signing of the decree 'on the heroic virtues' of Pius XII has elicited a certain number of reactions in the Jewish world; perhaps because the meaning of such a signature is clear in the area of the Catholic Church and of specialists in the field, but may merit certain explanation for the larger public, in particular the Jewish public who are understandably very sensitive to all things concerning the historical period of World War II and the Holocaust.

  "When the Pope signs a decree 'on the heroic virtues' of a Servant of God - i.e., of a person for whom a cause for beatification has been introduced - he confirms the positive evaluation already voted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. ... Naturally, such evaluation takes account of the circumstances in which the person lived, and hence it is necessary to examine the question from a historical standpoint, but the evaluation essentially concerns the witness of Christian life that the person showed (his intense relationship with God and continuous search for evangelical perfection) ... and not the historical impact of all his operative decisions".

  "At the beatification of Pope John XXIII and of Pope Pius IX, John Paul II said: 'holiness lives in history and no saint has escaped the limits and conditioning which are part of our human nature. In beatifying one of her sons, the Church does not celebrate the specific historical decisions he may have made, but rather points to him as someone to be imitated and venerated because of his virtues, in praise of the divine grace which shines resplendently in them'.

  "There is, then, no intention in any way to limit discussion concerning the concrete choices made by Pius XII in the situation in which he lived. For her part, the Church affirms that these choices were made with the pure intention of carrying out the Pontiff's service of exalted and dramatic responsibility to the best of his abilities. In any case, Pius XII's attention to and concern for the fate of the Jews - something which is certainly relevant in the evaluation of his virtues - are widely testified and recognised, also by many Jews.

  "The field for research and evaluation by historians, working in their specific area, thus remains open, also for the future. In this specific case it is comprehensible that there should be a request to have open access to all possibilities of research on the documents. ... Yet for the complete opening of the archives - as has been said on a number of occasions in the past - it is necessary to organise and catalogue an enormous mass of documentation, something which still requires a number of years' work.

  "As for the fact that the decree on the heroic virtues of Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII were promulgated on the same day, this does not mean that from now on the two causes will be 'paired'. They are completely independent of one another and each will follow its own course. There is, then, no reason to imagine that any future beatification will take place together".

  "It is, then, clear that the recent signing of the decree is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Rather we trust that the Pope's forthcoming visit to the Synagogue of Rome will be an opportunity for the cordial reiteration and reinforcement of ties of friendship and respect".
OP/DECREE PIUS XII/LOMBARDI                VIS 20091223 (660)


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Christian Bock of the clergy of the diocese of Erfurt, Germany, as a member of the administrative council of the Holy See Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Universities and Ecclesiastical Faculties (AVEPRO).
NA/.../BOCK                                VIS 20091223 (60)


VATICAN CITY, 23 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Vatican Information Service wishes its readers a very happy and holy Christmas. During the Christmas holiday there will be no VIS bulletin on Thursday 24 December or Friday 25 December. The next bulletin will be transmitted on Monday 28 December.
.../.../...                                    VIS 20091223 (50)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 22 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - As members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Edmond Farhat, apostolic nuncio, and Bishop Raffaello Martinelli of Frascati, Italy.

 - Msgr. Emmanuel Kerketta, diocesan administrator of Jashpur, India, as bishop of the same diocese (area 6,457, population 743,160, Catholics 188,820, priests 170, religious 343). The bishop-elect was born in Gotmahua, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - Msgr. Mark Davies of the clergy of the diocese of Salford, England, vicar general, as coadjutor of Shrewsbury (area 6,136, population 1,862,000, Catholics 222,000, priests 152, permanent deacons 45, religious 189), England. The bishop-elect was born in Manchester, England in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - As consultors of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops: Msgr. Ermenegildo Manicardi, rector of Rome's Alma Collegio Capranica; Fr. Markus Graulich S.D.B., substitute promoter of justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Fr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, vice rector of Rome's Pontifical Urban University; Fr. Paul Bere S.J., professor of Old Testament studies and biblical languages at the "Institut de Theologie de la Compagnie de Jesus" and the "Universite Catholique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest" in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and at the "Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology" in Nairobi, Kenya; Fr. Juan Javier Flores Arcas O.S.B., rector of Rome's St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum; Fr. Paolo Martinelli O.F.M. Cap., president of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the Antonianum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome and professor of dogmatic and spiritual theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Fr. Samir Khalil Samir S.J., professor of the history of Arab culture and of Islamic studies at St. Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon.
NA:NER:NEC/.../...                            VIS 20091222 (290)

Monday, December 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Blessed Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489).

 - Blessed Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937).

 - Blessed Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909).

 - Blessed Giulia Salzano, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929).

 - Blessed Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares and foundress of the monastery of St. Clare in the Italian town of Camerino (1458-1524).

 - Venerable Servant of God Giuseppe Tous y Soler, Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins and founder of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd (1811-1871).

 - Venerable Servant of God Leopoldo Sanchez Marquez de Alpandeire (ne Francesco), Spanish professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (1864-1956).

 - Venerable Servant of God Manuel Lozano Garrido, Spanish lay person, (1920-1971).

 - Venerable Servant of God Teresa Manganiello, Italian laywoman of the Third Order of St. Francis (1849-1876).

 - Venerable Servant of God Chiara Badano, young Italian lay woman (1971-1990).


 - Servant of God Jerzy Popieluszko, Polish diocesan priest (1947-1984).


 - Blessed Giacomo Illirico da Bitetto, professed layman of the Order of Friars Minor (circa 1400-1496).

 - Servant of God Pope Pius XII (ne Eugenio Pacelli), Supreme Pontiff, born in Rome 2 March 1976, died at Castelgandolfo 9 October 1958.

 - Servant of God Pope John Paul II (ne Karol Wojtyla), Supreme Pontiff, born at Wadowice, Poland 18 May 1920, died in Rome 2 April 2005.

 - Servant of God Louis Brisson, French priest and founder of the Oblates of St. Francis of Sales (1817-1908).

 - Servant of God Giuseppe Quadrio, Italian professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco (1921-1963).

 - Servant of God Mary Ward (nee Joan), English foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, today called the Congregation of Jesus (1585-1645).

 - Servant of God Antonia Maria Verna, Italian foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (1773-1838).

 - Servant of God Maria Chiara Serafina Farolfi (nee Francesca), Italian foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1853-1917).

 - Servant of God Enrica Alfieri (nee Maria Angela), Italian professed nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Jeanne-Antide Thouret (1891-1951).

 - Servant of God Giunio Tinarelli, Italian layman of the "Pia Unione Primaria Silenziosi Operai della Croce" (1912-1956).
CSS/DECREES/AMATO                        VIS 20091221 (480)


VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope received members, consultors, postulators and officials of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for the fortieth anniversary of that dicastery.

  Saints, said the Pope in his address, "are not representatives of the past; rather, they form part of the present and future of the Church and society. ... The lives of these extraordinary believers, who come from every region of the earth", are characterised by "their relationship with the Lord, ... and by an intense dialogue with Him". The lives of the saints likewise reveal "a continuous search for evangelical perfection, the rejection of mediocrity and a tendency towards total adherence to Christ".

  "The principal stages in the Church's recognition of sanctity - beatification and canonisation - are united by a coherent bond. ... The gradual approach to the 'fullness of light' emerges in a unique way in the passage" from one stage to the other, said the Pope.

  The passage from beatification to canonisation "involves events of great religious and cultural significance, in which invocation in the liturgy, popular devotion, imitation of virtues, historical and theological study, and attention to the 'signs from on high' come together and mutually enrich one another. ... The truth is that the witness of the saints highlights ever new aspects of the evangelical message, and makes them known".

  The Pope then reiterated some words pronounced in the opening address by Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, affirming that "in the process of recognising saintliness there emerges a spiritual and pastoral richness which involves the entire Christian community. Sanctity - in other words, the transfiguration of people and of human reality in the image of the risen Christ - represents the final goal in the plan of divine salvation".
AC/CAUSES SAINTS/AMATO                    VIS 20091221 (320)


VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Children from Italian Catholic Action were received this morning by Benedict XVI who, in his address to the group, compared them to the Gospel figure of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree in order to see Jesus.

  "You too", he told his audience, " are small like Zacchaeus" whom "the Lord, raising His eyes, saw amidst the throng. Jesus sees and hears you too, even though your are small, even though sometimes adults do not consider you as you would wish".

  "Imitate the example of Zacchaeus who immediately descended from the tree and welcomed Jesus into his house with great joy and feasting. Welcome Him into your lives every day, into your games and your work, into your prayers, when He asks your friendship and your generosity, when you are happy and when you are afraid. ... He always speaks to you of the 'greater love', capable of giving itself unlimitedly and of bringing peace and forgiveness".

  "Thus", the Holy Father concluded, "you will be able to tell your friends, parents and teachers that you have managed to establish a contact with Jesus", also as "you stand alongside the many boys and girls who are suffering, especially those from faraway countries who are often abandoned, without parents or friends".
AC/.../ITALIAN CATHOLIC ACTION                VIS 20091221 (230)


VATICAN CITY, 19 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Secretariat of State of the Holy See ordered the publication of the following declaration concerning the protection of the figure of the Pope:

  "Recent years have witnessed a great increase of affection and esteem for the person of the Holy Father. There has also been a desire to use the Pope's name in the title of universities, schools or cultural institutions, as well as associations, foundations and other groups.

  "In light of this fact, the Holy See hereby declares that it alone has the right to ensure the respect due to the Successors of Peter, and, therefore, to protect the figure and personal identity of the Pope from the unauthorised use of his name and/or the papal coat of arms for ends and activities which have little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Occasionally, in fact, attempts have been made to attribute credibility and authority to initiatives by using ecclesiastical or papal symbols and logos.

  "Consequently, the use of anything referring directly to the person or office of the Supreme Pontiff (his name, his picture or his coat of arms), and/or the use of the title 'Pontifical', must receive previous and express authorisation from the Holy See".
.../PROTECTION FIGURE POPE/...                VIS 20091221 (230)


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

 - Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.

 - Gianni Letta, under secretary of the Italian council of ministers, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20091221 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 20 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Bethlehem, considered as a symbol of peace, was the theme of the Pope's reflections before praying the Angelus at midday today with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope began by referring to today's liturgy in which the prophet Micah invites people to look to "Bethlehem of Ephrathah, ... one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel". Bethlehem, the Pope explained, "is also the symbolic city of peace, in the Holy Land and throughout the world.

  "Unfortunately", he added, "in our own time it does not represent a firm and stable peace, but a peace still sought and awaited. Yet God never resigns Himself to this state of affairs and thus, this year too, in Bethlehem and throughout the world, the mystery of Christmas will be renewed in the Church, a prophecy of peace for all mankind which calls on Christians to enter into the closures and dramas of the world, often unknown and unseen, and into the conflicts of the contexts in which they live. There they must being the sentiments of Jesus so that everywhere they may become instruments and messengers of peace and bring love where there is hatred, forgiveness where there is injury, joy where there is sadness and truth where there is error, in the words of a famous Franciscan prayer".

  The Holy Father concluded by saying that "today, as in Jesus' own time, Christmas is not a children's fable but God's response to the drama of humankind as it seeks true peace. 'He shall be the one of peace' says the prophet referring to the Messiah. It is up to us to open wide the doors to welcome Him. ... Happy Christmas to everyone!"
ANG/CHRISTMAS/...                        VIS 20091221 (310)


VATICAN CITY, 21 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father held his traditional meeting with the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and members of the Roman Curia and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, in order to exchange Christmas greetings.

  Opening his address, the Pope recalled two events that marked the year 2009 - the conclusion of the Pauline Year and the beginning of the Year for Priests - affirming that both St. Paul and the saintly "Cure of Ars" demonstrate "the broad scope of priestly ministry".

  "The year now drawing to a close passed largely under the sign of Africa", said the Holy Father. In this context he mentioned his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola where, "in the meeting with the Pope, the universal Church became manifest, a community that embraces the world and that is brought together by God through Christ, a community that is not founded on human interests but that arises from God's loving attention towards us".

  In Africa "the celebrations of the Eucharist were authentic feasts of faith" characterised by "a sense of holiness, by the presence of the mystery of the loving God moulding ... each individual gesture", said Benedict XVI. He also recalled his meeting with African bishops in Cameroon and the inauguration of the Synod for Africa with his consignment to them of the "Instrumentum laboris".

  His visit to Africa likewise "revealed the theological and pastoral force of pontifical primacy as a point of convergence for the unity of the Family of God". And, when the Synod itself was celebrated in Rome in October, "the importance of the collegiality - of the unity - of the bishops emerged even more powerfully", he said.

  "The Vatican Council II renewal of the liturgy took exemplary form" in the liturgies in Africa while, "in the communion of the Synod, we had a practical experience of the ecclesiology of the Council".

  Referring then to the theme of the 2009 Synod - "The Church in Africa at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace" - the Pope described it as "a theological and, above all, a pastoral theme of vital relevance. Yet", he said, "it could also be misunderstood as a political theme. The task of the bishops was to transform theology into pastoral activity; in other words, into a concrete pastoral ministry in which the great visions of Holy Scripture and Tradition are applied to the activities of bishops and priests in a specific time and place".

  The problem of "a positive secularism, correctly practised and interpreted", which was the focus of the African bishops' concerns, was "also a fundamental theme of my Encyclical 'Caritas in veritate'", published in June. That document "returned to and further developed the question concerning the theological role - and the concrete application - of Church social doctrine".

  On the subject of reconciliation, which "the Synod attempted to examine profoundly ... as a task facing the Church today", the Pope noted that "if man is not reconciled with God, he is also in disharmony with the creation. ... Another aspect of reconciliation is the capacity to recognise guilt and to ask forgiveness, of God and of neighbour", he said.

  "We must learn the ability to do penance, to allow ourselves to be transformed, to go out to meet others and to allow God to grant us the courage and strength for such renewal. In this world of ours today we must rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation". In this context, the Holy Father described the fact that people are confessing less than they used to as "a symptom of a loss of veracity towards ourselves and towards God; a loss that endangers our humanity and diminishes our capacity for peace".

  "If the power of reconciliation is not created in people's hearts, political commitment lacks the interior precondition necessary for peace. During the Synod, the pastors of the Church worked for this interior purification of man, which is the essential preliminarily requirement for creating justice and peace. But such interior purification and maturity ... cannot exist without God".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to the pilgrimage he made in May to Jordan and the Holy Land. In this respect, he thanked the king of Jordan for "the exemplary manner in which he works for peaceful coexistence among Christians and Muslims, for respect towards the religion of others and for responsible collaboration before God".

  The Pope also thanked the Israeli government "for all it did to ensure my visit could take place peacefully and securely", and for having enabled him "to celebrate two great public liturgies: in Jerusalem and in Nazareth". He likewise expressed his thanks to the Palestinian Authority for its "great cordiality" and for having given him the opportunity to celebrate a "public liturgy in Bethlehem and to perceive the suffering and the hopes present in their territory".

  "The visit to Yad Vashem represented a disturbing encounter with human cruelty, with the hatred of a blind ideology which, with no justification, consigned millions of human beings to death and which, in the final analysis, also sought to drive God from the world: the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the God of Jesus Christ". Thus the museum is, "first and foremost, a commemorative monument against hatred, a heartfelt call to purification, forgiveness and love".

  The Holy Father also mentioned his September trip to the Czech Republic where, "I was always told, agnostics and atheists are in the majority and Christians now represent only a minority". In this context he noted how "people who describe themselves as agnostics or atheist must also be close to our hearts, as believers. When we speak of a new evangelisation these people may perhaps feel afraid. ... Yet the critical question about God also exists for them. ... We must take care that man does not shelve the question of God, the essential question of his existence".

  In closing his address, the Holy Father again mentioned the current Year for Priests. "As priests", he said, "we are here to serve everyone. ... We must recognise God ever and anew, and seek Him continually in order to become His true friends".

  "This is my hope for Christmas," he concluded, "that we become ever greater friends of Christ, and therefore friends of God, and that in this way we may become salt of the earth and light of the world".
AC/.../ROMAN CURIA                        VIS 20091221 (1100)


VATICAN CITY, 21 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Monterrey, Mexico, presented by Bishop Jose Lizares Estrada, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Cincinnati, U.S.A., presented by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr.

 - Appointed Msgr. Donald Bolen, vicar general of the archdiocese of Regina, Canada, as bishop of Saskatoon (area 44,800, population 292,000, Catholics 88,900, priests 88, permanent deacons 3, religious 225), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Gravelbourg, Canada in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1991.

  On Saturday 19 December it was made public that he appointed Fr. Maurice Muhatia Makumba of the clergy of Kakamega, Kenya, rector and professor of the major national seminary of St. Thomas Aquinas in Nairobi, as bishop of Nakuru (area 18,149, population 1,571,097, Catholics 224,653, priests 134, religious 202), Kenya. The bishop-elect was born in Lirhanda, Kenya in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1994.
RE:NER/.../...                                VIS 20091221 (200)

Friday, December 18, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. yesterday, in keeping with a regular pre-Christmas tradition, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of Vespers with students of Roman universities. For the occasion, the Pope dedicated his homily to the subject of Wisdom.

  "What was born in Bethlehem was the Wisdom of God", said the Holy Father. "In the fullness of time this Wisdom assumed a human face, the face of Jesus. ... The Christian paradox consists precisely in identifying divine Wisdom - that is, the eternal 'Logos' - with Jesus of Nazareth the man, and with His history. ... Thus, the Wisdom we invoke this evening is the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Word".

  "Christian teachers and young Christian students carry within themselves an impassioned love for this Wisdom. They read everything in its light. ... Without such Wisdom not one thing came into being, and thus its reflection is to be seen in all created reality. ... Everything perceived by human intelligence, ... in some way or to some extent, participates in creative Wisdom. And here, in the final analysis, lies the very possibility of study, research, and academic dialogue in any field of knowledge.

  "At this point", the Pope added, "let us ask ourselves: who was there on that Christmas night in the grotto of Bethlehem? Who welcomed newborn Wisdom? ... Not the doctors of law, the scribes or the wise men. Mary and Joseph were there, so were the shepherds. What does this mean? ... Does it mean that study serves no purpose? Even that it is harmful, counterproductive to a knowledge of the truth?"

  The Holy Father proceeded: "The history of two thousand years of Christianity excludes this hypothesis, and suggests the right answer. We must study, deepen our knowledge, yet while maintaining a 'little' soul, a humble and simple spirit like that of Mary, 'Seat of Wisdom'. ... In that grotto each of us can discover the truth about God and about man. In that Child, born of the Virgin, these two truths came together. Man's longing for eternal life softened the heart of God, Who deigned to assume the human condition".

  Benedict XVI reminded the students that "helping others to discover the true face of God is the first form of charity which, for you, takes the form of intellectual charity". Going on then to mention the focus of diocesan pastoral care in universities for the coming year - "the Eucharist and intellectual charity" - he described it as "a demanding but appropriate choice. The truth is that in all Eucharist celebrations God enters into history in Jesus Christ, in His Word and in His Body, granting us the charity that enables us to serve man in his everyday life".

  The Pontiff continued his homily by suggesting that universities "become places of formation for true workers of intellectual charity. The future of society largely depends upon them", he said, "especially as regards the preparation of a new 'humanistic synthesis' and a renewed capacity to shape a vision of the future".

  At the end of the ceremony, a delegation of Australian youth consigned the image of "Maria Sedes Sapientiae" to an African student delegation and the Pope entrusted all the university students of the African continent to the Blessed Virgin. He also expressed his pleasure at the co-operation which, following the Synod for Africa, has been established between Roman and African universities.
HML/VESPERS/UNIVERSITY STUDENTS                VIS 20091218 (590)


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Late yesterday afternoon the Holy See Press Office announced that on the morning of 17 December a monetary convention was signed in Brussels, Belgium, between Vatican City State and the European Union.

  The document was signed in the name of the Holy See, as representative of Vatican City State, by Archbishop Andre Dupuy, apostolic nuncio to the European Union, while Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, signed for the European Union.

  The provisions of the new convention, which replaces the monetary convention of 29 December 2000 that introduced the euro as the official currency of Vatican City State, will come into effect from 1 January 2010.
.../MONETARY CONVENTION/HOLY SEE:EU                VIS 20091218 (130)


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI this morning received a delegation from Wallonia, the Belgian region which has this year donated the Christmas tree that traditionally decorates St. Peter's Square during this period.

  The tree, the lights of which will be switched on this evening, is a fir from the Ardennes, one of the most wooded areas in Europe. It is thirty metres high, its trunk has a diameter of seven metres, it weighs fourteen tons and its lower branches reach a length of ten metres. The main tree is accompanied by forty-five smaller trees which will be positioned in various sites around the Vatican.

  "The role of this tree", said the Pope in his address thanking the delegation from Wallonia, "is similar to that of the shepherds who, watching through the shades of night, saw how the darkness was illuminated with the message of the angels. ... Standing next to the nativity scene the tree indicates, in its own particular way, the great mystery present in the poor and simple grotto. It proclaims the arrival of the Son of God to the inhabitants of Rome, to pilgrims and to everyone who sees St. Peter's Square on television. Though this tree your land, and the faith of the Christian communities in your region, greet the Christ Child".
AC/CHRISTMAS TREE/WALLONIA                    VIS 20091218 (230)


VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of the speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently being held in Copenhagen, Denmark, made by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio and head of the Holy See delegation to that meeting.

  In his English-language talk the nuncio pointed out that the Holy See, "in the albeit small state of Vatican City, is making significant efforts to take a lead in environmental protection by promoting and implementing energy diversification projects targeted at the development of renewable energy, with the objective of reducing emissions of CO2 and its consumption of fossil fuels.

  "In addition, the Holy See is giving substance to the necessity to disseminate an education in environmental responsibility, which also seeks to safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology", he added. "Many Catholic educational institutions are engaged in promoting such a model of education, both in schools and in universities. Moreover, episcopal conferences, dioceses, parishes and faith-based NGOs have been devoted to advocacy and management of ecological programs for a number of years".

  The archbishop concluded: "These efforts are about working on lifestyles, as the current dominant models of consumption and production are often unsustainable from the point of view of social, environmental, economic and even moral analysis. We must safeguard creation - soil, water and air - as a gift entrusted to everyone, but we must also and above all prevent mankind from destroying itself. The degradation of nature is directly connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology will benefit. The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, China.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Stephen Brislin of Kroonstad, as archbishop of Cape Town (area 30,372, population 2,740,000, Catholics 217,000, priests 115, permanent deacons 57, religious 271), South Africa. The archbishop-elect was born in Welkom, South Africa in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1983 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Lawrence Patrick Henry, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino Gardin O.F.M. Conv., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as archbishop-bishop of the diocese of Treviso (area 2,194, population 36,900, Catholics 35,556, priests 36, religious 58), Italy, with the title of archbishop "ad personam".

 - Appointed Msgr. Arnaud Berard as bureau chief at the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique at midday today:

  "For a number of years the Church has followed with great concern the difficulties caused by the regrettable conduct of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Many attempts have been made to bring Archbishop Milingo back into communion with the Catholic Church, including the consideration of suitable ways to enable him to exercise the episcopal ministry. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were directly involved in those efforts and both Popes personally followed the case of Archbishop Milingo in a spirit of paternal solicitude.

  "In the course of this unhappy series of events, Archbishop Milingo became irregular in 2001 as a result of his attempt to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, and incurred the medicinal penalty of suspension (cf. canons 1044 para. 1, n. 3; 1394 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law). Thereafter, he headed certain groups calling for the abolition of clerical celibacy and gave numerous interviews to the media in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See, creating serious upset and scandal among the faithful. Then, on 24 September 2006 in Washington, Archbishop Milingo ordained four bishops without pontifical mandate.

  "By so doing, he incurred the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' (canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today. Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops. Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church. Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations.

  "The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

  "According to canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, now added to the grave penalty of excommunication, has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organised by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful.

  "It must be pointed out that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary. The Holy See has felt obliged to act in this way due to the serious consequences for ecclesial communion resulting from repeated episcopal consecrations carried out without pontifical mandate; nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways.

  "As for those recently ordained by Archbishop Milingo, the Church's discipline in imposing the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' upon those who receive episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate is well-known. While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognise these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognise them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future. Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.

  "At this moment, as the Church experiences profound sorrow for the grave acts perpetrated by Archbishop Milingo, she entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who - be they priests or lay faithful - have in any way co-operated with him by acting against the unity of Christ's Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Wladyslaw Blin of Vitebsk.

    - Fr. Jan Sergiusz Gajek M.I.C., apostolic visitor for Greek Catholics in Belarus.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Limerick, Ireland, presented by Bishop Donal Brendan Murray, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father celebrated a Mass to mark the ninetieth birthday of the Czech Cardinal Tomas Spidlik S.J. Also present at the celebration were members of the "Aletti" community in Rome, where the cardinal lives.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of eight new ambassadors to the Holy See: Hans Klingenberg of Denmark; Francis K. Butagira of Uganda; Suleiman Mohamad Mustafa of Sudan; Elkanah Odembo of Kenya; Mukhtar B. Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan; Abdul Hannan of Bangladesh; Alpo Rusi of Finland, and Einars Semanis of Latvia.

  Addressing the diplomats as a group, the Pope referred to the need for "a just relationship between human beings and the creation in which they live and work" In this context, he underlined the need for "environmental responsibility" because "the continual degradation of the environment constitutes a direct threat to man's survival and his development, and threatens peace among individuals and peoples".

  Benedict XVI encouraged the political authorities of the countries the ambassadors represent, and those of all nations, "not only to increase their efforts in favour of environmental protection but also - since the problem cannot be faced only at the national level - to produce proposals and provide encouragement in order to reach vital international agreements that may prove useful and just for all sides".

  After then highlighting the importance of "converting or modifying the current development model of our societies", the Pope pointed out that "the Church proposes that this profound change ... be guided by the notion of the integral development of the human person".

  "If it is true", said the Holy Father, "that over history religions have often been a factor of conflict, it is also nonetheless true that religions lived according to their profound essence have been, and still are, a force for reconciliation and peace. At this moment in history religions must, through open and sincere dialogue, seek the path of purification in order to conform ever more closely to their true vocation".

  "Peaceful coexistence of different religions in each nation is sometimes difficult", he continued. "More than a political problem, this co-existence is a religious problem which lies within the bosom of each one of those traditions. Believers are called to ask God about His will concerning each human situation".

  "For people of faith or people of good will, the resolution of human conflicts and the delicate coexistence of different religious expressions can be transformed into an opportunity for human coexistence within a social order full of goodness and wisdom, the origin and impulse of which lies in God. Such coexistence, respecting the nature of things and the inherent wisdom that comes from God, is called peace", said Pope Benedict.

  "The peace we so long for will not come into being save by the joint action of individuals, who discover the true nature of God, and of leaders of civil and religious society who - respecting the dignity and faith of all people - know how to give religion its noble and authentic role in creating and perfecting the human person. This overall reworking, at once temporal and spiritual, will enable a new beginning towards the peace that God wishes to be universal".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope began his remarks by reminding the bishops of the importance of announcing "the perennial message of the Gospel with renewed enthusiasm, in a society which is not immune from the temptations of secularisation, hedonism, and relativism, signs of which are the problems of the falling birth-rate, the fragility of families and the illusion of finding fortune outside the homeland".

  Hence, it is the pressing task of pastors "to underline the power of the faith, a faith rooted in solid tradition, in order to contribute to preserving the deep-rooted Christian identity of the nation, while maintaining respectful dialogue with other cultures and religions".

  In order to achieve this aim, the Pope told the Belarusian prelates, "pay great heed to formulating programmes and promoting ever more adequate methods of pastoral care, and to implementing the decisions of the episcopal conference. This renewed witness of unity, apart from facilitating the announcement of the Gospel, will favour relations with the civil authorities and, in particular, ecumenical relations".

  Benedict XVI then turned to the question of education. "Today", he said, "we are living though a kind of 'emergency' in this delicate and vital sector, and it is necessary to increase our efforts in order to ensure that people, and above all the new generations, receive a valid formation". In this context, the Holy Father made particular reference to candidates to the priesthood, calling on the bishops to ensure that they "are given a solid and rigorous spiritual and theological formation, and receive due guidance as they undertake a serious and profound examination of the divine call. The current situation of our society requires a particularly attentive discernment" in this field.

  The Pope continued his discourse to the prelates: "It is likewise important always to bear in mind that the Lord calls you, as pastors of the Church, to discern each of the ministries destined to edify the ecclesial body (including lay, cultural and civil ministries), so that they may all contribute to boosting the Kingdom of God in Belarus, in a spirit of true and authentic communion which recalls those Christian values that have contributed to the construction of European civilisation".

  The Orthodox Churches, like the Catholic Church, "are strongly committed to reflecting on how to respond to the challenges of our time, in order to transmit Christ's message faithfully. Responding to the invitation that emerged from the recent Catholic-Orthodox meeting in Cyprus, it is necessary to continue our shared journey in that direction. A significant contribution could be offered by the small but active Greek-Catholic community present in your country".

  Benedict XVI concluded by referring to his recent meeting with the president of the Republic of Belarus, during which "both parties expressed a desire to stipulate an Agreement, which is currently being prepared. I also", the Pope said, "underlined the particular attention with which this Apostolic See, and the episcopal conference, follow events in your country, and their commitment to effective collaboration in matters of mutual interest with the aim, while respecting the specific competencies of each side, of promoting the good of citizens".
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI focused his catechesis during this morning's general audience on the figure of John of Salisbury, a philosopher and theologian born in England towards the beginning of the twelfth century.

  Educated in Paris and Chartres, John of Salisbury acted as counsellor to various archbishops of Canterbury at whose service he placed his vast knowledge and diplomatic skills. One of these was Thomas Becket whom John followed into exile in France when that archbishop fell into dispute with King Henry II who wished to affirmed his authority over the Church and thus limit her freedom. As an elderly man, John was appointed bishop of Chartres, where he remained until his death in 1180.

  The Pope mentioned John of Salisbury's two principal works: the "Metaloghicon" (In defence of logic) and the "Policraticus" (The man of government). In the first of these John expresses the view that "believers and theologians who study the treasure of the faith deeply also open themselves to the practical knowledge which guides everyday actions; in other words, to moral laws and the exercise of virtue".

  The central thesis of the "Policraticus" is that there exists "an objective and immutable truth, the origin of which is in God, a truth accessible to human reason and which concerns practical and social activities. This is a natural law from which human legislation, and political and religious authorities, must draw inspiration in order to promote the common good". This natural law is characterised by a property "which John calls 'equity', by which he means giving each person his rights. From here arise precepts which are legitimate to all peoples and which cannot under any circumstances be abrogated".

  "The question of the relationship between natural law and positive law, as mediated by equity, is still of great importance", said Benedict XVI. "Indeed, in our own time, and especially in certain countries, we are witnessing a disquieting fracture between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values associated with human dignity, and freedom, which has the responsibility of accepting and promoting those values.

  "Perhaps", he added, "John of Salisbury would remind us today that the only 'equitable' laws are those that defend the sacredness of human life and reject the legitimacy of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experimentation; the laws that respect the dignity of marriage between a man and a woman, that are inspired by a correct understanding of the secularism of the State - a secularism that must always include the safeguarding of religious freedom - and that seek subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level.

  "Otherwise", the Holy Father concluded: "we would end up with what John of Salisbury defined as the 'tyranny of the prince' or, as we would say, 'the dictatorship of relativism', a relativism which, as I said some years ago, 'recognises nothing as definite and has as its ultimate measure only the self and its own desires'".
AG/JOHN OF SALISBURY/…                    VIS 20091216 (510)


VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, celebrated in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI received the honorary citizenship of Introd, the village in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta where he often spends a period of summer vacation.

  The Pope expressed his thanks to Augusto Rollandin, president of the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta, and to Osvaldo Naudin, mayor of Introd, for having granted him this honour, and recalled how he had spent "unforgettable periods of rest" in the village, "surrounded by the splendour of the alpine panorama which favours the encounter with the Creator and restores the spirit".

  "I am happy to learn from the mayor's address", the Holy Father went on, "that my presence in Valle d'Aosta, and earlier that of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, has favoured a growth in the faith among the people there, who are dear to me and so rich in Christian tradition and in many signs of religious vitality".

  Benedict XVI also praised the pastoral labours of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta during a time in which "society nourishes illusions and false hopes, especially in the young generations, but which the Lord even today calls to become a 'family' of children of God who live with 'one heart and one soul'".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jose Luiz Majella Delgado C.Ss.R., adjunct under secretary general of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, as bishop of Jatai (area 62,978, population 557,000, Catholics 454,000, priests 47, permanent deacons 17, religious 59), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Juiz de For a, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981. He succeeds Bishop Aloisio Hilario de Pinho F.D.P., 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, December 15, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 15 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Renato Martino, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Pope's Message for the forty-third World Day of Peace, which is due to be celebrated on 1 January 2010. The Message has as its theme: "If You Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".

  In his remarks the cardinal recalled how, in previous Messages, Benedict XVI had spoken of peace as "a gift of God in Truth" (2006), as "the fruit of respect for the human person" (2007), as "an expression of the communion of the human family" and as "a call to eliminate all forms of poverty, material and immaterial" (2009). Thus, he went on, "following this ideal 'itinerary of peace', the Pope comes to the context in which humanity receives its vocation to peace: the creation".

  In his Message this year the Pope presents "a cosmic vision of peace" a peace which "comes about in a state of harmony between God, humankind and the creation. In this perspective, environmental degradation is an expression not only of a break in the harmony between humankind and the creation, but of a profound deterioration in the unity between humankind and God", said the cardinal.

  The Holy Father highlights the "urgent need for action", although he "does not propose technical solutions and does not seek to interfere in the policy of governments. Rather, he recalls the Church's commitment to defending the earth" and enumerates a series of "perspectives for the shared progress of humankind". This series includes "a non-reductive vision of the nature of human beings", a call to collective responsibility, and "a profound revision of development models".

  Cardinal Martino also explained how the text of the papal Message calls for a coherent approach to "the universal destination of the goods of creation" and underlines "the need for renewed solidarity, extended over space and time, between generations" and "between developed and developing countries, while at the same time avoiding partial viewpoints that tend to exaggerate certain responsibilities more than others". Finally, the cardinal noted, the Pope calls "for a balanced use of energy resources".

  Benedict XVI concludes his message with an "expression of hope in the intelligence and dignity of man" tracing "a path of profound harmony, both interior and exterior, between the Creator, humankind and the creation", said Cardinal Martino.

  In conclusion, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace noted the Pope's deliberate decision to dedicate his Message this year to the theme of ecology, as it coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the proclamation of St. Francis of Assisi, author of the 'Laudes Creaturarum', as patron saint of the environment. "Love for the creation, if projected onto a spiritual horizon, can lead mankind to brotherhood with his fellows and to union with God", he said.
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