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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope turned his attention to the theological content of St. Paul's final Letters, known as the pastoral letters because addressed to his close collaborators Timothy and Titus.

  These Letters, said the Holy Father, refer to a situation in which "certain erroneous and false doctrines had arisen, such as the attempt to present marriage as something bad. This concern remains current today because Scripture is sometimes read as a historical curiosity and not as the Word of the Holy Spirit, in which we can hear the voice of the Lord Himself and perceive His presence in history".

  Against such doctrines, St. Paul affirmed the need to read Sacred Scripture "as 'inspired by' and proceeding from the Holy Spirit". He also speaks of the "good 'deposit', by which he means 'the tradition of apostolic faith which must be safeguarded with the help of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us, ... and is the criterion of faithfulness to the announcement of the Gospel".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how the "sense of universality" of salvation - "God wishes all mankind to be saved and to know the truth" - is "strong and decisive" in these Pauline Letters.

  The Letters also contain "a reflection upon the ministerial structure of the Church. They present for the first time the triple division of bishops, priests and deacons".

  "Thus", he went on, "we have the essential elements of Catholic structure. Scripture and Tradition, Scripture and announcement form a single whole. But to this structure - so to say, a doctrinal structure - must be added a personal structure, the successors of the Apostles as witnesses of the apostolic announcement".

  Speaking of the episcopate, the Pope recalled how in the Letter to Timothy, for example, the bishop "is considered as the father of the Christian community. The idea of the Church as the 'house of God' has its roots in the Old Testament and is again formulated in the Letter to the Hebrews, while in the Letter to the Ephesians we read that Christians are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens and saints, members of the house of God".

  "Let us ask the Lord and St. Paul that we too, as Christians, may always be characterised - with respect to the society in which we live - as members of the 'family of God'. We also pray that the pastors of the Church may increasingly acquire parental sentiments, tender and strong at one and the same time, for the formation of the house of God, the community, the Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience this morning, the Pope expressed his happiness at the election of Metropolitan Kirill as the new Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. "Upon him I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit", he said.

  Kirill, who is currently metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, and president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, succeeds Patriarch Alexis II who died on 5 December 2008.

  In an English-language telegram sent to the newly-elected Patriarch, the Pope writes: "May the Almighty bless your efforts to maintain communion among the Orthodox Churches and to seek that fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration and dialogue.

  "I assure Your Holiness", he adds, "of my spiritual closeness and of the Catholic Church's commitment to co-operate with the Russian Orthodox Church for an ever clearer witness of the truth of the Christian message and to the values which alone can sustain today's world along the way of peace, justice and loving care of the marginalised".

  In a communique published today, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also expressed its joy at the election of "a Patriarch with whom we have maintained fraternal relations for many years, and who met the Holy Father immediately following his election in April 2005, and again in the months of May 2006 and December 2007.

  "We trust we will be able to continue together down the path of mutual understanding we have already begun. We do not, of course, wish to lose sight of the difficulties that still remain, but we are ready and willing to co-operate in the social and cultural fields in order to bear witness to Christian values while, nonetheless, not forgetting that the ultimate aim of dialogue is the realisation of the testament of Jesus Christ our Lord: the full communion of all His disciples.

  "We hope and pray that God may grant the new Patriarch abundant blessings and guide him with the gifts of strength and wisdom".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience today, the Pope mentioned his recent decision to revoke the excommunication on "the four bishops ordained without pontifical mandate by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988".

  "I have undertaken this act of paternal benevolence because those same bishops have repeatedly expressed to me their profound suffering at the situation in which they found themselves.

  "I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by a prompt commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to achieve full communion with the Church, thus showing true faithfulness to, and true recognition of, the Magisterium and authority of the Pope and of Vatican Council II".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - "May the Shoah be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all", the Holy Father told pilgrims attending his weekly general audience.

  Referring to recent commemorations of the Shoah, the Pope highlighted how at Auschwitz - a place he has visited several times, the last in May 2006 during his apostolic trip to Poland - "millions of Jews were cruelly massacred, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred.

  "As I once again affectionately express my full and indisputable solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters who received the First Covenant", he added, "I trust that the memory of the Shoah will induce humankind to reflect upon the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man".

  "In particular", the Holy Father concluded, "may the Shoah show both old and new generations that only the arduous path of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness, can lead peoples, cultures and religions of the world to the longed-for goal of fraternity and peace, in truth. May violence never again humiliate man's dignity".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Gil Antonio Moreira of Jundiai, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Juiz de Fora (area 10,757, population 686,000, Catholics 548,000, priests 147, permanent deacons 15, religious 239), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Divinopolis, Brazil in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1976 and consecrated a bishop in 1999. He succeeds Archbishop Eurico dos Santos Veloso, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Jose Valmor Cesar Teixeira S.D.B., former inspector of the Salesian Inspectorate of "Sao Pio X" in the archdiocese of Porto Alegre, Brazil, as bishop of Bom Jesus da Lapa (area 56,230, population 365,000, Catholics 291,000, priests 24, religious 37), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Rio do Sul, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1979. He succeeds Bishop Francisco Batistela C.SS.R., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann O.F.M., head of the "Albergue Sao Francisco" and of the "Centro Franciscano de Re-insercao Social" in the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop-prelate of the territorial prelature of Obidos (area 182,960, population 204,000, Catholics 166,000, priests 18, religious 28), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Visbek, Germany in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1997. He succeeds Bishop Martinho Lammers O.F.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial prelature the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Sebastian Taltavull Anglada of the clergy of the diocese of Menorca, Spain, director of the pastoral care secretariat of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Barcelona (area 339, population 2,469,000, Catholics 2,340,000, priests 942, permanent deacons 40, religious 3,697), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in Ciudadela, Spain in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1972.
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