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Friday, January 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Branko Crvenkovski, president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The president expressed his recognition for the interest the Holy See has shown in his country since its independence, and underlined the good relations that exist between the two sides, one sign of which is the annual visit of an official delegation to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

  "The overall situation in the region was also examined, and consideration given to certain bilateral questions".


VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, led by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, recently elected as patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians by the Synod of Bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, meeting in Rome from 18 to 20 January.

  The Pope began his remarks by asking the Lord to concede "the grace of the apostolate" to the new patriarch, that he may "serve the Church and glorify her Holy Name before the world". He then greeted Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who presided over the recent synod; Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect emeritus of same dicastery; His Beatitude Ignace Pierre Andel Ahad, patriarch emeritus of Antioch of the Syrians, and all the prelates who came to Rome "to carry out this most important act of synodal responsibility".

  "Since the origins of Christianity", he continued, "the Apostles Peter and Paul were intimately associated with Antioch where the disciples of Jesus first received the name of Christians". He also mentioned various illustrious Fathers of the faith from that region, including St. Ignatius and St. Ehprem, "whose spirituality continues to illuminate the universal Church".

  "The new patriarch is the main guardian of this heritage", he said, "yet each of you, as brothers and members of the synod, will have to help him in his task in a spirit of authentic episcopal collegiality. In the hands of the new patriarch and of the Syriac Catholic episcopate I place, first and above all, the duty to maintain unity, both among pastors and within ecclesial communities".

  The Holy Father then went on to refer to the ecclesial communion requested of him by the new patriarch, underlining how he had granted it "willingly, thus performing a part of the Petrine ministry which gives me particular pleasure. Communion with the Bishop of Rome, Peter's Successor, established by the Lord as the visible foundation of unity in faith and charity, guarantees the bond with Christ the Pastor and introduces the particular Churches into the mystery of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church".

  Having reviewed the biography of the new patriarch, who was born in Syria but spent his episcopal ministry in America, Benedict XVI affirmed that "the diaspora has also contributed to giving the Syriac Church her new patriarch. In this way, even stronger ties will be forged with a motherland that so many Eastern Christians have had to leave in search of better living conditions".

  "My hope is that in the East, where the Gospel was first announced, Christian communities may continue to live and bear witness to their faith, as they have over the centuries. At the same time I hope that all those outside their homeland may receive adequate pastoral care so as to maintain the bond with their religious roots". The Pope then expressed the hope that the Eastern communities, "wherever they may be, are able to integrate themselves into their new social and ecclesial surroundings without losing their own identity and conserving the imprint of their Eastern spirituality, so that, using the words East and West, the Church may speak effectively of Christ to modern mankind".

  The Pope concluded by indicating that the members of the Syriac Catholic Church should "be peacemakers in the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon", where their historical presence has been "much appreciated".


VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the Message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications was presented. The theme this year is: "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship".

  Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of Vatican Radio, of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and of the Holy See Press Office, and Henrique de Castro, Managing Director of Media Solutions for Google.

  In his remarks Archbishop Celli underlined the fact that this year's Message represents "a real watershed" because, he said, "the theme itself guides us along the path of novelty, not only by focusing on new technologies but by exploring their effects. It does so by addressing the 'digital generation', thus appealing directly to the young".

  "The cordial tone is the first distinctive feature of a Message which provides ... ample evidence of an open and positive attitude, even defining the new technologies as 'truly a gift to humanity'. ... The Message also accentuates the values that distinguish such an environment, in the first place that of friendship and of the networks of relationships that new technologies have now made possible".

  "Yet the range of benefits is even greater and also spreads into the sphere of family relationships (families can eliminate differences more easily), and into that of study and even of scientific research which cannot but draw advantage from the continuous breaking down of barriers" by people working together while geographically distant from one another.

  "Truly, we are facing a new world", the archbishop concluded. A world "to be explored not by opening our eyes in amazement before new technological advances, but by opening our hearts and giving room to hope in the face of the great possibilities for the common good opening before us. This is even more important if we consider that the Message also examines certain dangers, associated not just with media distortion but with inequality in the uses to which the media may be put. One is reminded of that 'digital divide' which cannot but be a cause for concern, precisely because the new technologies must be considered as primary resources for human development and promotion".

  "Never before, perhaps, has a Message been so powerful but also so challenging".

  For his part Msgr. Tighe highlighted how the Message "celebrates the capacity of the new technologies to foster and support good and healthy relationships and various forms of solidarity. It appeals to friendship as a motive to ensure that the new digital world is truly accessible to all. It finds in friendship a shared reference point with all of humanity that grounds the appeal of the Message to promote a culture where there is respect for all and where all are invited to search for truth in dialogue".

  Fr. Lombardi announced the creation of a new Vatican channel on YouTube, through which various forms of video news will be available concerning the activities of the Pope and events in the Vatican. The site will be updated with one or two news pieces each day, none longer than two minutes, he said. For the moment, the languages available are English, Spanish, German and Italian.

  The web page of the new channel, he explained, contains various links via which the visitor can find more information and documentation on the Pope, the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The main links connect to the multi-lingual web pages of CTV and Vatican Radio, to the Vatican and to the new site of Vatican City State. "Of particular importance", said Fr. Lombardi, "is the link to H2O News which transmits other video news items on the life of the Church in the world".

  He went on: "Further links under the main video give access to other Vatican news sources: in each linguistic sub-channel is a link to the web page of Vatican Radio in that language, to the web page of the Holy See Press Office Bulletin (with complete texts in original language), and to that language's edition of the 'Osservatore Romano' newspaper".

  In the light of the possibility offered by YouTube to exchange information, establish relationships, etc., "we will consider how best to administer this 'global' flow of comments and replies", said the Holy See Press Office Director.

  "The Pope", he concluded, "was personally informed of our project, and gave his approval with his usual courtesy and graciousness. For us this is a great encouragement".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the 43rd World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated on 24 May and has as its theme: "New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship".

  The Message, dated 24 January, Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, has been published in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German. Excerpts from the Message are given below:

  "The new digital technologies are bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. ... In this year's message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called 'digital generation' and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavour to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable".

  "Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions".

  "The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator".

  "Reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.

  "Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.

  "The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other's traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realise its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

  "The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. ... We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialise the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.

  "Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. ... It is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all.

  "We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialisation and information.

  "I address myself in particular to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives".

  "The proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people ... to take on the responsibility for the evangelisation of this 'digital continent'. Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm",

  "The greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the 'Good News' of a God Who became man, Who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Shlemon Warduni and Andraos Abouna, and by Auxiliary Archbishop Jacques Ishaq, on their "ad limina" visit.

 - Archbishop Louis Sako of Kerkuk of the Chaldeans, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Andre Sana, on their "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Mikha Pola Maqdassi Alquoch of the Chaldeans, Iraq, on his "ad limina" visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father granted the ecclesial communion requested of him by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, canonically elected as patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians by the Synod of Bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, which met in Rome from 18 to 20 January. The new patriarch was born in Hassake, Syria in 1944, he was ordained a priest in 1971 and consecrated a bishop in 1995.
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