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Friday, February 13, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI attended a concert commemorating the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City State. Our Lady's Choral Society and the RTE Concert Orchestra, both from Dublin, Ireland, played the "Messiah" by Georg Friedrich Handel. At the end of the performance, the Holy Father pronounced some brief remarks.

  "This concert", he said, "which celebrates such a significant anniversary for Vatican City State, is one of a series of events organised for this occasion, on the theme: 'A small territory for a great mission'. ... I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to solemnise such an important moment for the Catholic Church. Commemorating eighty years of the 'Civitas Vaticana', we feel the need to pay homage to all the past and present protagonists of these eight decades of history of this small parcel of land.

  "Firstly", he added, "I would like to recall the most important of those protagonists, my venerated Pius XI who, in announcing the signing of the Lateran Pacts and, especially, the foundation of Vatican City State, chose to use an expression of St. Francis of Assisi. He said that the new sovereign status was for the Church, as it had been for St. Francis, 'just enough body to hold the soul together'.

  "Let us ask the Lord, Who guides the fortunes of the 'Ship of Peter' among the not-always easy events of history, to continue to watch over this small State. Above all, let us ask Him to help, with the power of His Spirit, Peter's Successor who stands at the helm of this ship, that he may faithfully and effectively undertake his ministry as the foundation of unity of the Catholic Church, which has its visible centre in the Vatican whence it expands to all the corners of the earth".
AC/CONCERT ANNIVERSARY/VATICAN CITY                VIS 20090213 (330)


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is commemorating its twenty-fifth anniversary. The idea to create this institution arose following John Paul II's first trip to Africa, when he visited Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in May 1980. It was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984.

  The anniversary was marked with a meeting of the foundation's management board held in Ouagadougou on 10 February. The celebrations will conclude with a Mass to be celebrated in that African city on 15 February.

  "The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the real involvement of local people. Therefore it undertakes the training of animators ("cadres moyens"), and of healthcare workers, engineers, ... agronomists, and livestock and forest farmers ("cadres techniques"). One particularly important characteristic of the foundation is its openness to the different religions of local inhabitants, and thus it is also an instrument of inter-religious dialogue".


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

 - Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

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

    - Bishop Augustine Tochikwu Ukwoma of Orlu, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Gregory O. Ochiagha.

    - Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Umuahia.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20090213 (100)


VATICAN CITY, 13 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Ismael Rueda Sierra of Socorro y San Gil, Colombia, as metropolitan archbishop of Bucaramanga (area 5,397, population 1,264,900, Catholics 1,234,201, priests 212, permanent deacons 32, religious 674), Colombia. The archbishop-elect was born in Suaita, Colombia in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1981 and consecrated a bishop in 2001. He succeeds Archbishop Victor Manuel Lopez Forero, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
NER:RE/.../RUEDA:LOPEZ                        VIS 20090213 (100)

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