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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 7 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Joao Jose da Costa O. Carm., prior and formator of the convent of "Sao Cristovao" in the archdiocese of Aracaju, Brazil, as bishop of Iguatu (area 21,904, population 532,000, Catholics 505,000, priests 29, religious 20), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Lagarto, Brazil in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1992. He succeeds Bishop Jose Doth de Oliveira, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kara, Togo presented by Bishop Ignace Baguibassa Sambar-Talkena, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jacques Danga Longa.

 - Appointed Fr. Jose Moreira Bastos Neto of the clergy of the diocese of Caratinga, Brazil, diocesan co-ordinator for pastoral care and parish administrator, as bishop of Tres Lagoas (area 49,000, population 236,000, Catholics 177,000, priests 18, permanent deacons 10, religious 45), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Simonesia, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979. He succeeds Bishop Izidoro Kosinski C.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Jorge Alberto Cavazos Arzipe of the clergy of the archdiocese of Monterrey, Mexico, pastor of the parish of Corpus Christi, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 17,886, population 7,062,000, Catholics 5,337,000, priests 552, permanent deacons 33, religious 1,102). The bishop-elect was born in Monterrey in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1989.

  On Tuesday 6 January it was made public that he appointed Fr. Jose Javier Travieso Martin C.M.F., collaborator of the Claretian College of Trujillo, Peru, and professor in the seminary and the Catholic University of Trujillo, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Trujillo (area 15,323, population 1,321,000, Catholics 1,105,416, priests 117, religious 291). The bishop-elect was born in Don Benito, Spain in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1976.
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VATICAN CITY, 7 JAN 2009 (VIS) - In his first general audience of 2009, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father turned his attention to the worship Christians must pay to God, according to the teaching of St. Paul.

  "In the past", he said, "people used to talk of an 'anti-worship' tendency in the Apostle, of his 'spiritualisation' of the idea of worship. Today we are better able to understand how Paul saw in the Cross a historical watershed that radically transformed and renewed the reality of worship".

  Commenting on three texts from the Letter to the Romans, in which St. Paul refers to this "new vision of worship", Benedict XVI explained how in chapter three the Apostle affirms that God put Christ forward "as a sacrifice of atonement by His blood, effective through faith". This, said the Holy Father, indicates that "ancient worship with the sacrifice of animals in the Temple of Jerusalem is finished, ... it has been replaced by real worship: the love of God incarnated in Christ and brought to fulfilment in His death on the Cross. This is not the spiritualisation of real worship, but real worship substituting symbolic and provisional worship".

  In chapter twelve, the Pope went on, the Apostle exhorts Christians "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship".

  The Holy Father highlighted a "danger of misunderstanding. This new worship could easily be interpreted in a moralistic sense: by offering our lives we ourselves make the new worship. In this way, worship with animals is substituted by moralism in which man does everything himself with his own moral force. And this was certainly not St. Paul's intention".

  Only through union with Christ "can we become 'living sacrifice' in Him and with Him, and offer 'true worship'. ... Jesus Christ, in His donation to the Father and to us, does not replace us with Himself, but carries our being in Himself, our sins and our desire. He represents us and assumes us to Himself. In communion with Christ, achieved in faith and in the Sacraments, we become a living sacrifice, despite all our shortcomings, and 'true worship' is achieved".

  The Church, said the Pope, "prays that communities gathered in celebration truly are united with Christ, ... that we might become ... an offer that is pleasing to God and that is glory of God".

  Finally, in chapter five of the Letter to the Romans, "St. Paul describes his missionary work among the peoples of the world to construct the universal Church as a priestly activity"; and "the goal of missionary activity is, we could say, cosmic liturgy: that all people united in Christ - the world - may become glory of God".

  "The self-giving of Christ", Pope Benedict concluded, "implies the tendency to attract everyone to the communion of His Body, to unite the world. Only in communion with Christ - the model Man, one with God - can the world become as all of us would desire it: a mirror of divine love. This dynamism is ever present in the Eucharist, this dynamism must inspire and shape our lives".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2009 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today, the Pope greeted faithful of the Oriental Churches who, in accordance with the Julian calendar, celebrate Christmas tomorrow.

  The Holy Father expressed the hope that "the memory of the birth of the Saviour may awaken in their hearts the joy of being loved by God", then added: "The thought of these, our brothers and sisters in the faith, carries me spiritually to the Holy Land and the Middle East. With grave concern I continue to follow the violent armed clashes taking place in the Gaza Strip. While underlining that hatred and refusal of dialogue cannot but lead to war, I would like today to encourage the initiatives and efforts of all those people who, holding peace dear to their hearts, are seeking to help Israelis and Palestinians to agree to sit around a table and talk. May God support the efforts of those courageous 'builders of peace'".

  Benedict XVI then went on to point out how the Epiphany "in many countries is also a feast for children. My special thoughts, then, go out to all children, who are the richness and blessing of the world, and especially to the many who are denied a peaceful childhood.

  "I would like to draw particular attention", he added, "to the scores of babies and children who, in recent months including the Christmas period, in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been kidnapped by armed bands who have attacked villages causing many victims and wounded. I appeal to the perpetrators of these inhuman brutalities to restore the children to their families and to a future of security and development, to which they have the right alongside those dear peoples. At the same time I express my spiritual closeness to the local Churches which have also been affected in their personnel and their works, while exhorting the pastors and faithful to remain strong and firm in hope".

  The Pope went on: "Episodes of violence against children, which unfortunately exist also in other parts of the world, seem even more deplorable considering the fact that 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a commitment the international community is called to renew in order to defend, safeguard and promote infancy all over the world. May the Lord help the people who work every day in the service of the new generations helping them to become protagonists of their own future".

  "The World Day of Missionary Childhood", he concluded, "which is celebrated on today's Feast of the Epiphany, is a good occasion to underscore the fact that babies and children can play an important role in spreading the Gospel and in works of solidarity towards their more needy peers. May the Lord reward them!"
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VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, at midday the Pope appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Holy Father referred to the episode of the Magi, as recounted by the Gospel of St. Matthew. "Each time we hear this story", he said, "we are struck by the marked contrast between the attitude of the Magi, on the one hand, and that of Herod and the Jews on the other. In fact the Gospel say that, on hearing the words of the Magi, King Herod 'was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him'. Their reactions can be understood in different ways: Herod was alarmed because he saw in the person the Magi were seeking a rival to himself and his children, while the leaders and inhabitants of Jerusalem seem more than anything amazed, as if awakened from a torpor and in need of reflection".

  "Why, then, was Jerusalem frightened?" asked the Pope. "It seems as if the Evangelist almost wishes to anticipate what will later be the stance of the high priests of the Sanhedrin, and of part of the people, towards Jesus during His public life. ... This brings to mind how, immediately before the Passion, Jesus wept over Jerusalem because it had failed to recognise the time of its visitation from God. Here we touch upon one of the crucial points of the theology of history: the drama of the faithful love of God in the person of Jesus, Who 'came to what was His own, and his own people did not accept Him'".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "in the light of the whole Bible, this attitude of hostility or ambiguity, or superficiality, represents that of each human being and of the 'world' - in a spiritual sense - when they close themselves to the mystery of the true God, Who came to us in the disarming meekness of love. Jesus, 'king of the Jews', is the God of mercy and faithfulness. He wishes to reign in love and truth and asks us to convert, to abandon evil works and resolutely to follow the path of goodness.

  "In this sense", he added, "'Jerusalem' is all of us". May the Virgin Mary, who faithfully accepted Jesus, help us not to close our hearts to His Gospel of salvation. Let us, rather, allow ourselves to be conquered and transformed by Him, the 'Emanuel', the God Who came among us to make us a gift of His peace and His love".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Pope celebrated Mass today, the Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany, in the Vatican Basilica.

  In his homily the Holy Father affirmed that Latin tradition identifies the Epiphany, "the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ", with "the Magi's visit to the Christ Child in Bethlehem and thus interprets it above all as the revelation of the Messiah of Israel to pagan peoples".

  "This year, 2009, which marks the fourth centenary of Galileo's first observations with the telescope and is especially dedicated to astronomy, we cannot but give special attention to the symbol of the star, which is very important in the Gospel story of the Magi, who were most likely astronomers".

  Benedict XVI noted that "while pagan theology divinised the elements and forces of the cosmos, Christian faith, in fulfilling Biblical revelation, contemplates one God, the Lord and Creator of all the universe".

  "Divine love, incarnated in Christ, is the fundamental and universal law of creation. It should not be understood poetically but as a reality. … This means that the stars and planets, the entire universe, are not governed by a blind force; they do not just obey the dynamics of matter. That is why cosmic elements are not to be divinised but, just the opposite, a personal will is in and over all things, the Spirit of God, which in Christ is revealed as Love. This is why", he said, "humans - as St. Paul writes to the Colossians - are not slaves of cosmic 'powers', but rather are free, are capable of interacting with God's creative freedom".

  Continuing, the Pope said that "He is at the origin of everything and governs all, not as a cold and anonymous driving force but rather as Father, Spouse, Friend, Brother, as Logos, the 'Word-Reason' who joined with our mortal flesh once for all and who has fully shared our condition, revealing the overabundant power of His grace".

  The Holy Father highlighted that "Christian thought compares the cosmos to a 'book' - as Galileo himself said - considering it the work of an author Who expresses Himself through the 'symphony' of creation".

  There is no shadow, however dark it may be, capable of overshadowing the light of Christ. This is why, for those who believe in Christ, hope never fades, not even today in the face of the severe social and economic crisis that humanity finds itself mired in, in the face of the destructive hatred and violence that does not stop covering many regions of the world in blood, in the face of the selfishness and human pretension of establishing ourselves as God that at times leads to dangerous alterations in the divine design for the life and dignity of the human being, for the family and the harmony of creation".

  Benedict XVI affirmed that "our effort to free human life and the world from the poisoning and contamination that could destroy the present and the future maintains its value and meaning - as I wrote in my Encyclical 'Spe Salvi' - even if we, apparently, do not succeed or if it seems that we are impotent in the face of hostile forces".

  "The universal lordship of Christ works upon the Church in a special way". In this context he gave assurances that "the Church is proud of nothing but her Lord: light does not proceed from her and the glory is not hers. However, it is her joy, which no one can take away, to be the 'sign and instrument' of the One who is 'lumen gentium', the light of peoples".

  The Holy Father emphasised that "the grace of God made St. Paul a star to peoples" and he invited all to pray for the pastors of the Church, "so that, taking in the Word of God daily, we might faithfully transmit it to our brothers and sisters".

  "Let us also pray", he concluded, "for the faithful, because all Christians are called by Baptism and Confirmation to proclaim Christ, the light of the world, with words and the witness of their lives".
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