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Monday, February 9, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2009 (VIS) - "Yesterday a cordial telephone conversation took place between Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.", says a Holy See Press Office communique released today.

  "During the conversation attention turned to the case of Eluana Englaro, and to other matters of mutual interest.

  "Concerning the Englaro case, appreciation was expressed for the acceleration given by parliament to the approval of the projected law".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Callistus Valentine Onaga, administrator of the cathedral and vicar general of Enugu, Nigeria, as bishop of the same diocese (area 2,738, population 2,160,664, Catholics 1,286,096, priests 268, religious 676). The bishop-elect was born in Agbudu, Nigeria in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Giovanni Amici, vice director of the General Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as director of the same institution.

 - Luigi Salimbeni, official of the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), as director for telecommunications of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

  On Saturday 7 February it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Fr. Francisco Javier Stegmeier Schmidlin of the clergy of the diocese of Los Angeles, Chile, rector of the metropolitan seminary of Concepcion, as bishop of Villarrica (area 18,630, population 391,000, Catholics 274,000, priests 50, permanent deacons 12, religious 177), Chile. The bishop-elect was born in Los Angeles, Chile in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1988. He succeeds Bishop Sixto Jose Parzinger Foidl O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Archbishop James Patrick Green, apostolic to nuncio to South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia, as apostolic nuncio to Botswana.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Francis Folorunsho Clement Alonge of Ondo.

    - Bishop Gabriel 'Leke Abegunrin of Osogbo.

    - Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelakun of Oyo, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo.

    - Bishop Ayo-Maria Atoyebi O.P. of Ilorin.

    - Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna of Owerri.

  On Sunday 8 February, he received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria.

  On Saturday 7 February, he received in separate audiences:

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

 - Five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Alexius Obabu Makozi of Port Harcourt.

    - Bishop Joseph Effiong Ekuwem of Uyo.

    - Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job of Ibadan.

    - Bishop Michael Patrick Olatunji Fagun of Ekiti, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaye.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, the new ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See.

  In his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father spoke of his hope that, "in accordance with the principles that safeguard human dignity, of which Brazil has always been a stern defender, fundamental human values may still be fomented and disseminated, especially when this involves explicit recognition for the sanctity of family life, the protection of unborn children [and of life] from the moment of conception to natural end".

  On the subject of "biological experimentation, the Holy See has always firmly promoted the defence of ethical principles that do not damage but protect the existence of the embryo and its right to be born", said the Pope.

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "in a climate of solidarity and mutual understanding, the government seeks to support initiatives that favour the struggle against poverty, and against shortcomings in technological training, both at national and international level".

  The Holy Father noted how "the policy of redistributing internal revenue has facilitated greater wellbeing among people", expressing the hope that Brazil may "continue to encourage a better distribution of wealth, increasing social justice for the good of the people. ... Over and above material poverty, the moral poverty which is spreading throughout the world also has a decisive influence, even where there is no lack of material goods", he said.

  "In fact, the danger of consumerism and hedonism, together with the lack of solid moral principles to guide the lives of ordinary citizens, weakens the structure of Brazilian families and society. For this reason we cannot over emphasise the urgent need for solid moral formation at all levels - including the political sphere - in order to counter an ongoing threat from persisting materialist ideologies, and in particular the temptation to corruption in managing public and private finances. In this, Christianity can make an important contribution".

  Finally, the Holy Father referred to a recently-signed agreement "defining the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Brazil and regulating the fields of mutual interest between the two sides", highlighting how this is "a significant sign of the sincere collaboration that the Church - while performing her own mission - wishes to maintain with the Brazilian government". Benedict XVI also spoke of his hope that the agreement, "may facilitate the free exercise of the Church's evangelising mission and further strengthen collaboration with civil institutions for the integral development of the person".


VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. and Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for the German federal government, released the following joint communique:

  "The Holy Father Benedict XVI and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a telephone conversation which took place at the request of the chancellor, were able to reciprocally exchange of points of view, in an atmosphere of the greatest respect.

  "In this context, both referred once again to the declarations made, respectively, by the Holy Father at his general audience on 28 January, and by the chancellor last Thursday.

  "Mr. Wilhelm, the German government spokesman, and Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Lombardi commented: 'It was a cordial and constructive discussion marked by their shared and profound conviction that the Shoah represents an ever-valid admonition for humankind'".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, following the Angelus prayer, the Pope launched an appeal for peace following "the strong political tensions that have also led to popular unrest" in Madagascar.

  The Holy Father noted how, in the wake of these events, the bishops of the island "have called for a day of prayer to take place today, in favour of national reconciliation and social justice".

  "Deeply concerned for the particularly critical situation the country is experiencing, I call upon people to join Malagasy Catholics in entrusting to the Lord those who died in the demonstrations, and asking of Him, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, a return to harmony of hearts, social tranquillity and civil coexistence".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Pope commented on today's Gospel reading which relates the healing of Simon's mother-in-law and of many other sick people. "The healing of the sick occupied a large part of Christ's public ministry", said the Pope, "and it invites us once again to reflect upon the meaning and importance of sickness in all the situations in which human beings may find themselves".

  The Holy Father recalled how this Wednesday marks the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick. "Despite the fact that sickness forms part of the human experience", he said, "we are unable to accustom ourselves to it, not only because it is sometimes so serious and oppressive, but essentially because we are made for life, for a complete life. Rightly enough, our 'interior instinct' leads us to think of God as fullness of life, as eternal and perfect Life.

  "When we are tried by sickness", he added, "and all our prayers seem ineffective, doubt arises within us and we ask ourselves in anguish: what is God's will? It is to this question that we find an answer in the Gospel. ... Jesus leaves us in no doubt: God - Whose face Christ Himself revealed to us - is the God of life Who frees us from all evil. The sign of His power of love is the healing He accomplishes, thus demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is near and restoring men and women to their full integrity of soul and body".

  The Pope went on: "I say that these acts of healing are signs: they guide us towards Christ's message, they guide us towards God and they help us understand that man's real and most profound sickness is the absence of God, the absence of the source of truth and love".

  "Thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus' activity is prolonged in the mission of the Church. Through the Sacraments it is Christ Who communicates His life to multitudes of brothers and sisters. He also heals and comforts countless sick people through the many healthcare activities which Christian communities promote with fraternal charity, thus revealing the face of God and His love".

  "Let us pray for all the sick, especially those seriously ill who are unable to look after themselves but are totally dependent upon the help of others. May each of them experience, in the care of those near them, the power of God's love and the richness of His salvific grace".
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VATICAN CITY, 7 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father's Message for the seventeenth World Day of the Sick was made public today. The Day is celebrated every year on 11 February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

  "This year our attention turns particularly to children", the Pope writes in his Message, "and especially to sick and suffering children. There are young human beings whose bodies bear the consequences of incapacitating illnesses, and others who struggle against sicknesses that remain incurable even today, despite the progress in medical science".

  "There are children who have been injured in body and mind by wars, and other innocent victims of the mindless hatred of adults. There are street children who are denied the warmth of family life and left to themselves, and minors profaned by sordid individuals who wish to violate their innocence, inflicting psychological wounds which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Nor must we forget the countless minors who die of thirst, hunger and lack of healthcare, and the young exiles who emigrate from their own land with their parents in search of better living conditions. All these children raise a silent cry of pain that appeals to our conscience as human beings and believers.

  "The Christian community, which cannot remain indifferent in the face of such dramatic situations, feels the pressing duty to intervene", adds the Pope. "My hope, then, is that the World Day of the Sick may give parish and diocesan communities the opportunity to become ever more aware of being the 'family of God', encouraging them ... to make manifest the love of the Lord Who asks that 'within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need'".

  Benedict XVI then goes on to observe that, "since a sick child belongs to a family which shares his or her sufferings and often has to face great inconveniences and difficulties, Christian communities cannot but take on the burden of helping families struck by the sickness of a son or daughter. Following the example of the Good Samaritan we must tend to such sorely-tried people and offer them the support of our real solidarity".

  "Daily dedication and ceaseless commitment in the service of sick children are an eloquent testimony of love for human life, especially for the lives of the weak and of those entirely dependent upon others. We must, in fact, vigorously affirm the absolute and supreme dignity of each human life. Though time may pass, the teaching incessantly proclaimed by the Church remains unchanged: human life is beautiful and must be lived to the full even when its is weak and enveloped by the mystery of suffering".

  "John Paul II, who gave us a shining example in his patient acceptance of his own suffering, especially at the end of his life, wrote: 'On this Cross is the Redeemer of man, the Man of Sorrows, Who has taken upon himself the physical and moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in love they may find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all of their questions'".

  Finally, Pope Benedict expresses his "appreciation and encouragement to the international and national organisations that care for sick children with generosity and self-sacrifice, especially in poor countries", and to all people "who lovingly dedicate themselves to alleviate the sufferings of the sick.

  "My very special greetings", the Holy Father concludes his Message, "to you dear children who are sick and suffering. The Pope embraces you, your parents and your families with paternal affection, and assures you of a special mention in his prayer, inviting you to trust in the maternal assistance of Mary Immaculate".
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