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Thursday, January 29, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Russian Federation, who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope praised the bishops' efforts "towards the inculturation of the faith", and expressed his appreciation "for your commitment to re-launching participation in the liturgy and the Sacraments, to catechesis, to the formation of priests, and to the preparation of a mature and responsible laity capable of becoming an evangelical ferment in families and in civil society".

  He encouraged the prelates not to lose heart in the face of difficulties or when "the results you obtain from your pastoral work do not seem to reflect the effort you have put in. Rather", he went on, "nourish - in yourselves and in your collaborators - an authentic spirit of faith, with the evangelical awareness that Jesus Christ will not fail to make your ministry fruitful with the grace of His Spirit".

  "With constant care and attention, continue to promote and tend vocations to the priestly and religious life. ... Support priests and religious in their permanent doctrinal and spiritual formation. ... Look to the formation of consecrated people and the spiritual development of the lay faithful, that they may come to consider their lives as a response to a universal call to sanctity, which must find expression in coherent evangelical witness in all the circumstances of daily life".

  Benedict XVI highlighted the need for "a renewed commitment to dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters". This dialogue, "despite the progress that has been made, still encounters certain difficulties", he said. In this context he reiterated his best wishes to the newly-elected patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Kirill, "for the delicate ecclesial task with which he has been entrusted".

  "It is important that Christians unite to face the great cultural and ethical challenges of the present moment, which concern the dignity and the inalienable rights of the person, the defence of life at all stages, the protection of the family, and other pressing economic and social questions".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks to the prelates with an expression of his "profound gratitude for all the good you do, undertaking your episcopal ministry with complete fidelity to the Magisterium. ... My thanks also go to the priests, religious and lay people who collaborate with you in the service of Christ and His Gospel".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  The Holy Father focused his remarks on questions concerning mental incapacity in causes of nullity of marriage, which were raised by John Paul II in his addresses to the Roman Rota of 1987 and 1998.

  John Paul II's words, he said, "give us the basic criteria, not only for studying the psychiatric and psychological examinations, but also for the judicial definition of the causes".

  In this context Benedict XVI recalled how "the Code of Canon Law's norm concerning mental incapacity, and the application thereof, was further enriched and integrated by the recent Instruction 'Dignitas connubii' of 25 January 2005. ... In order for this incapacity to be recognised, there must be a specific mental anomaly that seriously disturbs the use of reason at the time of the celebration of the marriage, ... or that puts the contracting party not only under a serious difficulty but even under the impossibility of sustaining the actions inherent in the obligations of marriage".

  "We run the risk", the Pope went on, "of falling into a form of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the cultural situation of the modern world, considers marriage as almost impossible. ... Reaffirming the inborn human capacity for marriage is, in fact, the starting point for helping couples discover the natural reality of marriage and the importance is has for salvation. What is actually at stake is the truth about marriage and about its intrinsic juridical nature, which is an indispensable premise if people are to understand and evaluate the capacity required to get married.

  "Such capacity", he explained, "must be associated with the essential significance of marriage - 'the intimate partnership of married life and love established by the Creator and qualified by His laws' - and, particularly, with the essential obligations inherent to marriage that must assumed by the couple".

  The Holy Father pointed our that "certain 'humanistic' schools of anthropology, which tend towards self-realisation and egocentric self-transcendence, idealise human beings and marriage to such an extent that they end up denying the mental capacity of many people, basing this on elements that do not correspond to the essential requirements of the conjugal bond".

  "In principle, causes of nullity through mental incapacity require the judge to employ the services of experts to ascertain the existence of a real incapacity, which is in any case an exception to the natural principle of the capacity necessary to understand, decide and accomplish that giving of self upon which the conjugal bond is founded".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2009 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present various initiatives marking the year of astronomy, in which the organisations and institutions of the Holy See are participating.

  Attending the press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Fr. Jose Gabriel Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory; Nicola Cabibbo, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Paolo Rossi, professor emeritus of the history of science at the University of Florence, Italy, and at Rome's "Accademia dei Lincei".

  Archbishop Ravasi explained that the United Nations decided to make 2009 the "year of astronomy" in order "to commemorate 400 years since the first astronomic discoveries". The event gives pride of place to Galileo, he said.

  After stating that "the Church wishes to honour the figure of Galileo, innovative genius and son of the Church", the archbishop explained that "the time is now ripe for a fresh consideration of the figure of Galileo and of the entire Galileo case".

  Referring then to the events planned for this year, Archbishop Ravasi announced that an international academic congress will be held in Florence from 26 to 30 May on the theme: "Galileo Galilei: A new historical, philosophical and theological reading". Organised by the Jesuit-run Stensen Institute of Florence, the congress is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory. It will be attended by world experts on the subject (theologians, historians and philosophers) such as George Coyne, Evandro Agazzi, Nicola Cabibbo and Annibale Fantoli.

  From 15 October 2009 to 15 January 2010 the Vatican Museums will host an exhibition entitled: "Astrum 2009: the historical legacy of Italian astronomy from Galileo to today", dedicated to the historical material held by astronomical observatories in Italy and the Vatican. The exhibition is being organised by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) in collaboration with the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Observatory.

  Archbishop Ravsi also mentioned an international congress to be held in November on the theme: "1609-2009. From the birth of astrophysics to evolutionary cosmology. Science, philosophy and theology", organised by Rome's Pontifical Lateran University.

  The Vatican Secret Archives are also planning to produce a new edition of all the documents from the trial of Galileo Galilei, due to be published before the end of this year.

  The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture concluded his remarks by announcing a new project being promoted by the Italian Church through the internet site www.disf.org (Interdisciplinary Documentation of Science and Faith). "It will", he said, "dedicate particular attention to the year of astronomy, publishing documents, text and ideas every month, so as to give a Christian orientation to the debate between science and faith".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the territorial abbey of Wettingen-Mehrerau, Austria, presented by Fr. D. Kassian Lauterer O. Cist., upon having reached the age limit.
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