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Monday, February 2, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Turkey, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini O.F.M. Cap. of Izmir.

    - Bishop Luigi Padovese O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Anatolia.

    - Bishop Louis Pelatre A.A., apostolic vicar of Istanbul, apostolic administrator of the apostolic exarchate of Istanbul.

    - Archbishop Georges Khazzoum, coadjutor of Istanbul of the Armenians.

    - Corepiscopo Yusuf Sag, patriarchal vicar for the Syriac-Catholic faithful in Turkey.

    - Msgr. Francois Yakan, patriarchal vicar for the Chaldean faithful in Turkey.

  On Saturday 31 January, he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of the personal prelature of Opus Dei.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Turkey were received this morning by the Holy Father, at the end of their "ad limina" visit. A visit, he told them, "that is providentially taking place in the year dedicated to St. Paul", and assumes particular importance because the prelates "are pastors ... in the land where the Apostle of the Gentiles was born and where he founded many communities".

  "I know that in your country you have given particular emphasis to this Jubilee Year, and that many pilgrims are visiting the sites so dear to the Christian tradition. My wish is that they may find easier access to those places which are so significant for the Christian faith, and to liturgical celebrations", said the Pope. Then, commenting upon the "ecumenical dimension" of the Pauline year, he expressed the hope that this "may make further progress possible along the path of unity of all Christians".

  Benedict XVI went on to recall the "rich history" of the Church in Turkey, a history marked "by the development of the first Christian communities" and by such names as St. John and St. Ignatius of Antioch. As for the modern age, "Benedict XV and Blessed John XXIII also figure in the life of the nation and of the Church in Turkey", said the Pope, going on to mention Fr. Andrea Santoro, an Italian priest killed in the Turkish city of Trabzon on 5 February 2006. "May this prestigious history be for your communities - the vigour of whose faith and abnegation under trial I am well aware - not only a reminder of a glorious past, but also a stimulus to continue with generosity along the journey you have begun, bearing witness among your brothers and sisters to God's love for all human beings".

  "In ecclesial communion the people of God will find an effective support for their faith and hope", he said. "Bishops are primarily responsible for the concrete realisation of that union. The profound communion that must exist among them, in the diversity of rites, is expressed above all in the true fraternity and mutual collaboration that enables them to carry out their ministry in a collegial spirit, strengthening the body of Christ".

  "The Christian community in your country, lives in a nation governed by a constitution that affirms the lay nature of the State, but where the majority of the population is Muslim. For this reason it is very important for Christians and Muslims to work together to promote humanity, life, peace and justice, The distinction between the civil and the religious sphere is clearly a value that deserves to be protected".

  He went on: "It is up to the State to provide effective guarantees that all citizens and all religious communities may enjoy freedom of worship and religion, making any violence against believers, whatever their religion may be, unacceptable. In this context, I am well aware of your desire and readiness to open a sincere dialogue with the authorities in order to find a solution to the various problems your communities have to face, such as recognition for the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her property".

  "Such recognition", Pope Benedict concluded, "cannot but have positive consequences for everyone. It would be appropriate for permanent contacts to be established, for example through a bilateral commission, in order to study as-yet unresolved questions".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Janos Balassa, the new ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See.

  In his English-language address to the diplomat, the Pope explained how "the forces that govern economic and political affairs in the modern world need to be ... built upon an ethical foundation, giving priority always to the dignity and the rights of the human person and the common good of humanity.

  "In view of its strong Christian heritage, stretching back over a thousand years, Hungary is well placed to assist in the promotion of these humane ideals within the European community and the wider world community, and it is my hope that our diplomatic relations will serve to support this vital dimension of your country's contribution to international affairs".

  Referring then to his Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace in which he had "stressed the primordial importance of the family for building peaceful community relations at every level", the Holy Father noted how "in much of modern Europe the vital cohesive role that the family has to play in human affairs is being called into question and even endangered as a result of misguided ways of thinking that at times find expression in aggressive social and political policies.

  "It is my earnest hope", he added, "that ways will be found of safeguarding this essential element of our society, which is the heart of every culture and nation. One of the specific ways government can support the family is by assuring that parents are allowed to exercise their fundamental right as the primary educators of their children, which would include the option to send their children to religious schools when they so desire".

  Benedict XVI then highlighted how the Catholic church in Hungary, "after decades of oppression, sustained by the heroic witness of so many Christians, ... has emerged to take her place in a transformed society, able once more to proclaim the Gospel freely. She seeks no privileges for herself, but is eager to play her part in the life of the nation, true to her nature and mission".

  He concluded: "As the process continues of implementing the agreements between Hungary and the Holy See - I think of the recently signed memorandum on religious assistance for the armed forces and border police - I am confident that any outstanding questions affecting the life of the Church in your country will be resolved in the spirit of good will and fruitful dialogue which has characterised our diplomatic relations ever since they were so happily restored", in 1990.


VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of a Message from the Pope to His Holiness Kirill, for the occasion of his enthronement as patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The ceremony took place yesterday, 1 February, in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

  Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led the Holy See delegation to the enthronement ceremony, delivered the Message to Kirill, along with a chalice from the Pope "as a sign of the desire to achieve full communion as soon as possible".

  In his English-language Message Benedict XVI tells the new patriarch of his "esteem" and "spiritual closeness", and adds: "I pray that our heavenly Father will grant you the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit in your ministry and enable you to guide the Church in the love and peace of Christ".

  Kirill's predecessor Alexis II, writes the Pope, "left his people a deep and abiding inheritance of ecclesial renewal and development. ... He likewise maintained a spirit of openness and co-operation with other Christians, and with the Catholic Church in particular, for the defence of Christian values in Europe and in the world.

  "I am certain", he adds, "that Your Holiness will continue to build on this solid foundation, for the good of your people and for the benefit of Christians everywhere.

  "As president of the Department of External Church Relations, you yourself played an outstanding role in forging a new relationship between our Churches, a relationship based on friendship, mutual acceptance and sincere dialogue in facing the difficulties of our common journey.

  "It is my earnest hope", the Holy Father concludes, "that we will continue to co-operate in finding ways to foster and strengthen communion in the Body of Christ, in fidelity to our Saviour's prayer that all may be one, so that the world may believe".


VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Following the Angelus, the Pope recalled the fact that tomorrow marks the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. "Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took Him to Jerusalem, in accordance with the norms of the Law of Moses. Indeed, according to Scripture, each first born belonged to the Lord and had to be redeemed with a sacrifice.

  "This event", he added, "makes manifest the consecration of Jesus to God the Father and - associated thereto - that of the Virgin Mary. For this reason my beloved predecessor John Paul II wished this day, on which many consecrated people pronounce or renew their vows, to be the World Day of Consecrated Life".

  The Holy Father also indicated that tomorrow evening, following a Mass due to be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica by the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, he will enter the basilica to greet the consecrated people gathered there.

  "I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these brothers and sisters and to ask Him, through the intercession of Our Lady, for many new vocations in the many charisms which make the Church so rich".

  Turning then to address Italian pilgrims, Benedict XVI expressed special greetings to members of "the Movement for Life, delegations from the faculty of medicine and surgery of the University of Rome, and everyone involved in the defence and promotion of the fundamental gift of life. I appreciate and encourage the commitment of the diocese of Rome in this field, and express my cordial best wishes for its 'Family Week', which begins today".


VATICAN CITY, 1 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday, before praying the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI recalled the fact that today in Italy marks the Day for Life, the theme of which this year is: "The power of life in suffering".

  "Jesus always taught His disciples that in order to enter into glory He had to suffer, to be rejected, condemned and crucified. Suffering was an integral part of His mission", said the Pope.

  "Jesus suffered and died on the cross for love. In this way He gave meaning to our own suffering, a meaning that many men and women of all ages have understood and made their own, thus experiencing profound serenity even amid the bitterness of harsh physical and moral trials".

  Recalling then the theme of the Day for Life, a theme chosen by Italian bishops, the Pope explained how it reflects "the pastors' love for their people and the courage to announce the truth, the courage to say clearly, for example, that euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of humankind.

  "The true response cannot, in fact, be that of delivering people to death, however 'sweet' a death it may be, but of bearing witness to the love that helps people face pain and agony in a human way. We can be certain that no tear, either of those who suffer or of their loved ones, is lost before God".

  The Holy Father concluded by entrusting to the protection of the Virgin Mary people who suffer "and those who work day after day to support them, serving life at every stage: parents, healthcare workers, priests, religious, researchers, volunteers, and many others".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Anton Stres C.M. of Celje, Slovenia, as coadjutor archbishop of Maribor (area 3,682, population 419,870, Catholics 356,980, priests 208, permanent deacons 3, religious 130), Slovenia. The archbishop-elect was born in Donacka Goa, Slovenia in 1942, he was ordained a priest in 1968 and consecrated a bishop in 2000.

 - Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, as a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

 - Fr. Gerhard Wagner of the clergy of Linz, Austria, pastor at Windischgarsten, as auxiliary of Linz (area 11,909, population 1,407,000, Catholics 1,051,136, priests 736, permanent deacons 82, religious 1,415). The bishop-elect was born in Wartberg ob der Aist, Austria in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1978.

 - As members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: Fr. Pietro Bovati S.J., professor at Rome's Pontifical Biblical Institute; Juan Miguel Diaz Rodelas, professor at the faculty of theology in Valencia, Spain, and president of the Spanish Biblical Association; Fr. Francolino Goncalves O.P., professor at the "Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise" in Jerusalem; John Chijioke Iwe, rector and professor of Old Testament studies at the Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary in Owerri, Nigeria; Thomas Manjaly, professor at the Oriens Theological College of Shillong and the Sacred Heart College of Mawlai, India; Fearghus O'Fearghail, professor of New Testament exegesis at the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin, Ireland; Yeong-sik Johan Pahk of the archdiocese of Seoul, Korea, and Henryk Witczyk, professor at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland.

 - Fr. Pedro Miguel Funes Diaz, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as bureau chief at the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Pope received leaders of the Italian CISL trade union, in a meeting marking the organisation's sixtieth anniversary.

  The Holy Father began by recalling how sixty years ago the CISL "took its first steps, playing an active role in establishing the free international trade-union organisation to which it brought its own contribution of a firm grounding in the principles of the Church's social doctrine and of autonomous trade-union activity free from political and party leanings".

  Today, he told his audience, "you continue to draw inspiration for your activities from the social Magisterium of the Church, with the aim of protecting the interests of workers and pensioners in Italy".

  Benedict XVI then went on to refer to the Church's "concern for social problems, which have increased over the last century". In this context he mentioned Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum", which "strongly defended the inalienable dignity of workers. The guidelines contained in that document", he said, "helped to reinforce Christian influence on social life".

  In 1991 John Paul II marked the hundredth anniversary of "Rerum novarum" by publishing his Encyclical "Centesimus annus". Ten years earlier, in his Encyclical "Laborem exercens", dedicated to the subject of work, the same Pope had described trade unions as "an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialised societies", said Benedict XVI.

  "A recurring element in the Magisterium of twentieth-century Popes", he went on, "is the call for solidarity and responsibility. In order to overcome the economic and social crisis we are currently experiencing, we know that free and responsible efforts must be made by everyone. In other words what is needed is to overcome individual and sectorial interests, and unite to confront the difficulties affecting all areas of society, and particularly the world of work. Never before has this been so urgent as it is today; the difficulties afflicting the world of work call for closer and more effective collaboration among the many different components of society".

  "My hope is that from the current global crisis there may emerge a shared desire to create a new culture of solidarity and of responsible participation, which are indispensable conditions if we are to build the future of our planet together".

  "May the sixtieth anniversary of the CISL", the Pope concluded, "be a cause to renew the original enthusiasm and rediscover your original charism. The world needs people who dedicate themselves disinterestedly to the cause of work in full respect of human dignity and the common good".
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