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Monday, January 12, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence for the death of Cardinal Pio Laghi, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Catholic Education and patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The cardinal died yesterday at the age of 86.

  In the telegram, addressed to the nephews of the deceased, the Pope speaks of Cardinal Laghi's "long and generous service to the Holy See, in particular as pontifical representative in various countries and as prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. To you and your families I wish to express my sincere participation in the mourning that has afflicted all those who knew and respected the late cardinal and, while raising fervent prayer to God to grant him the prize promised to faithful servants of the Gospel, I send my heartfelt apostolic blessing to all those who grieve his passing".

  At the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday 13 January, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at the funeral Mass with other members of the college.

  At the end of the ceremony, the Pope will address those present and administer the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Piero Marrazzo, president of the Region of Lazio, Italy.

 - Gianni Alemanno, mayor of the City of Rome.

 - Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome.

  On Saturday 10 January he received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

 - Mary Ann Glendon, ambassador of the United States of America, on her farewell visit.

 - Raychelle Awuor Omamo, ambassador of Kenya, on her farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Fr. Richard F. Stika of the clergy of the archdiocese of Saint Louis, U.S.A., pastor of the church of the Annunziata, as bishop of Knoxville (area 36,872, population 236,573, Catholics 56,068, priests 70, permanent deacons 25, religious 53), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Saint Louis in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1985.

 - Appointed Bishop Anton Bal, auxiliary of Kundiawa, Papua New Guinea, as bishop of the same diocese (area 6,181, population 315,000, Catholics 105,283, priests 26, religious 41). He succeeds Bishop Henk Te Maarssen S.V.D., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio to the Republic of Congo and Gabon, as apostolic nuncio to Panama.

 - Appointed Msgr. Luigi Bianco, counsellor to the apostolic nunciature in Spain, as apostolic nuncio to Honduras, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The bishop-elect was born in Montemagno, Italy in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985.

  On Saturday 10 January it was made public that he accepted:

 - The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Chioggia, Italy, presented by Bishop Angelo Daniel, upon having reached the age limit.

 - The resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Milan, Italy, presented by Bishop Marco Ferrari, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received Piero Marrazzo, president of the Region of Lazio, Italy; Gianni Alemanno, mayor of the City of Rome; and Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome, each accompanied by an entourage, for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings.

  "There is no doubt", said the Pope in his remarks to them, "that the world community is passing though a time of serious economic crisis, yet this is also connected to a crisis in structure, culture and values. The difficult situation involving the world economy brings inevitable consequences to all areas, and hence also hits Rome, its province and the cities and towns of the Lazio region. Such an arduous challenge, ... must be met by a joint desire to react. ... At difficult moments in their history, people are able to rediscover unity of intent and courage around the wise guidance of illuminated administrators whose fundamental concern must be the universal good".

  Benedict XVI noted the "appreciation for the presence and activities of Catholic communities" shown by the various administrations, and he highlighted how Catholics "neither seek nor boast any privileges but want their spiritual and social mission to continue to garner appreciation and co-operation. ... Rome and Lazio have a special role for Christianity. Catholics here feel stimulated to bear living evangelical witness and to undertake activities of human promotion, especially in the face of today's difficulties".

  In this context the Pope mentioned the work of diocesan Caritas, of parish communities and Catholic associations, recalling that, although they "spare no efforts to bring help to those in need, it is vital to create a synergy between all institutions in order to offer concrete answers to people's growing needs. I am thinking of families, ... of the elderly, ... of the housing crisis, of the lack of work and youth unemployment, of the difficult coexistence between different ethnic groups, and of the great question of immigration and nomads.

  "If the implementation of appropriate economic and social politics is the duty of the State", he added, "the Church, in the light of her social doctrine, is called to make her own contribution, stimulating reflection and forming the consciences of the faithful and of all citizens of good will. Today, perhaps as never before, civil society understands that only with lifestyles inspired by sobriety, solidarity and responsibility, is it possible to build a more just society and a better future for everyone".

  Turning his attention to education, a theme upon which "the Church has concentrated its efforts for many years", Benedict XVI noted how "ecclesial structures in the heart of neighbourhoods, apart from enabling people to exercise the fundamental human right that is religious freedom, are also centres for encounter and formation in the values of sociality, peaceful coexistence, fraternity and peace".

  The Pope also referred to episodes of youth violence and of the death of young people in road accidents. Having called for collaboration to prevent such tragedies, he went on: "Especially among the young generations, there has been a drop in the natural and Christian values that give meaning to daily existence and form a vision of life open to hope. What emerges in their place are ephemeral desires and short-lived expectations which in the end produce only boredom and failure. The unfortunate outcome of all this is the emergence of a tendency to cheapen the value of life itself. ... In the face of the nihilism that increasingly pervades the world of youth, the Church invites everyone seriously to dedicate themselves to young people, and not to abandon them to their own devices".

  Finally the Pope considered the subject of healthcare, recalling how in this sector "the ecclesial community, heir to a long tradition of caring for the sick, continues ... its activities with hospitals and care homes inspired by evangelical principles". He also noted how, over the last year, the regional authorities have given "positive signs of seeking to help Catholic healthcare structures".

  The Pope concluded by recalling that the task of public administrators "is not an easy one", because they have to face "complex situations which, ever more frequently, call for unpopular interventions and decisions. ... The most important help the Pope can give you", he said, "is his daily prayer that the Lord may enlighten you and always make you honest servants of the common good".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning, after administering the Sacrament of Baptism to thirteen infants in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope explained that today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas period, marks the moment in which Jesus, "having reached the age of around thirty, left Nazareth, and, coming to the River Jordan, allowed Himself to be baptised by John in the presence of many people".

  "Through Baptism human beings are introduced into Jesus' unique relationship with the Father, and thus the words that sounded out from the heaven on the only begotten Son become true for all men and women who are reborn from water and the Holy Spirit: You are my Child, the Beloved".

  "How great the gift of Baptism is!" the Pope exclaimed. "Were we fully aware of this, our life would be a continuous 'grace'. What joy it is for Christian parents who have seen their love blossom in a new creature, to bring it to the baptismal font and see it reborn in the bosom of the Church for a life that will never end! A gift, a joy, but also a responsibility".

  The Holy Father affirmed that "parents and godparents must educate children in accordance with the Gospel", indicating that this led him to think of the theme of the Sixth World Meeting of Families, to be held from 14 to 18 January in Mexico City, Mexico: "The family, teacher of human and Christian values".

  The Pope continued: "This great family meeting, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will be divided into three phases: first a theological-pastoral congress, ... then a moment of celebration and witness, ... and finally a solemn Eucharistic celebration as an act of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of marriage, the family and life".

  "I have", he concluded, "delegated Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to represent me, but I myself will closely follow this extraordinary event, accompanying it with my prayers and participating through a television linkup".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2009 (VIS) - Today, as is the tradition on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Pope administered the Sacrament of Baptism to thirteen newborn infants in the Sistine Chapel.

  In his homily the Holy Father described Baptism as "the bridge God built between Himself and us, the path by which He makes Himself accessible to us. It is the divine rainbow of our life, the promise of God's great 'yes', the doorway of hope and, at the same time, the sign indicating the way to follow, actively and joyfully, in order to meet Him and to feel we are loved by Him".

  Through Baptism, he said, "we give back to God that which came from Him. A child is not the property of its parents, but is freely ... entrusted to their responsibility by the Creator that they may help it become a free child of God. Only if parents achieve such an understanding can they strike the right balance between the desire to dispose of their children as if they were a personal possession, forming them on the basis of their own ideas and desires, and a libertarian attitude expressed in allowing children to grow up in complete autonomy satisfying their every desire and aspiration in the belief that this is a way to cultivate their personality.

  "Although with this Sacrament", he added, "the newly-baptised become adoptive children of God, object of His infinite love which protects them and defends them from the dark forces of evil, it is still necessary to teach them to recognise God as their Father and to behave towards him as children".

  When "children are baptised, introducing them into the light of God and of His teachings", the Holy Father explained, "they are subject to no violence, rather they are given the richness of divine life in which the true freedom of children of God is rooted; a freedom which then has to be educated and formed over the years, that they may become capable of making responsible individual decisions".

  Turning to address godparents, the Pope said: "Be aware of the gift you have received and ceaselessly thank the Lord Who, with today's Sacrament, introduces your children into a new family, larger and more stable, more open and numerous than your own: I am referring to the family of believers, the Church, a family that has God for Father and in which all consider themselves as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

  "Today, then, you entrust your children to the goodness of God Who is power of light and love; and they, though amidst the difficulties of life, will never feel abandoned if they remain united to Him. Ensure", he concluded, you educate them in faith, teaching them to pray and to grow as Jesus did and, with His help, 'increasing in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favour'".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 JAN 2009 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica this afternoon, Benedict XVI commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, a group founded by the Spaniards Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi.

  During the meeting, which was attended by 25,000 members of the Way, the Pope entrusted the "mission cross" to fourteen Neo-Catechumenal communities, each made up of some 30-40 members, soon to depart on mission to help pastors in the most difficult and secularised areas of the outskirts of Rome.

  "Your presence", said the Holy Father in his address, "bears witness to the prodigies wrought by the Lord over the last four decades. It is also a sign of the commitment with which you intend to continue down the path you have begun, a path of faithful adherence to Christ and of courageous witness to His Gospel, ... a path of humble acceptance of the guidance of pastors and of communion with all other components of the People of God, ... well aware that helping the men and women of our time to meet Jesus Christ, Redeemer of man, is a mission for the Church and for all the baptised. The Neo-Catechumenal Way is part of this ecclesial mission, as one of the numerous 'ways' brought into being by the Holy Spirit at Vatican Council II for the new evangelisation".

  "How much fresh apostolic energy has been created among priests and laity!" the Pope exclaimed. "How many families ... have been helped to rediscover the joy of faith and the enthusiasm of evangelical witness through the announcement of the 'kerygma' and the rediscovery of Baptism! The recent approval of the Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way by the Pontifical Council for the Laity are a confirmation of the esteem and benevolence with which the Holy See follows the work the Lord began through your founders".

  "Your apostolic activities, already highly praiseworthy in themselves, will be even more effective in the degree to which you constantly strive to cultivate that desire for unity which Jesus communicated to the Twelve at the Last Supper. ... It is this unity - gift of the Holy Spirit and incessantly sought by the faithful - that makes each community a living and well-integrated member of the mystical Body of Christ. The unity of the disciples of the Lord is part of the essence of the Church, and an indispensable condition if her evangelising activity is to prove fruitful and credible".

  "Indeed, what is needed today is a vast missionary action involving the various aspects of the Church which, each conserving the originality of its own charism, must work harmoniously to achieve that 'integrated pastoral care' which has already enabled significant results to be reached. And you, placing yourselves - as your Statues say - with complete willingness at the service of bishops, can become an example for many local Churches which rightly look to Rome as a model to which to refer".

  The Pope concluded his remarks by inviting the members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way "not to lose heart in the face of difficulties, and not to seek human success, nor to fear misunderstandings and even persecutions", but rather to "trust only in the power of Christ, to take up your own cross and follow the footsteps of our Redeemer".


VATICAN CITY, 10 JAN 2009 (VIS) - According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Benedict XVI will grant Plenary Indulgence to faithful who "participate devotedly" in the Sixth World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Mexico City, Mexico, from 14 to 18 January.

  The decree makes it clear that the Plenary Indulgence may be obtained "under the usual conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, and with the soul completely detached from any form of sin".

  The Decree continues: "Truly repentant faithful who are unable to participate in this event may nonetheless obtain Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions if, united in spirit and heart with the faithful present in Mexico City, they and their families recite the Our Father and the Creed, or other devout prayers, to invoke the aforementioned aims from Divine Mercy, especially at the moments in which the words and messages of the Pontiff are being transmitted by television and radio".
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