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Monday, February 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Pope highlighted how "Almighty God has blessed the Church in your country with generous growth. This is especially visible in the number of new Christians who have received Christ into their hearts and accept joyfully the Church as 'the pillar and bulwark of the truth'.

  "The abundant priestly and religious vocations are also a clear sign of the work of the Spirit among you", he added, recalling how "the expansion in the Church calls for special care in diocesan planning and the training of personnel through ongoing activities of formation in order to facilitate the necessary deepening of the faith of your people". This, he explained, requires a number of basic steps: "teaching the art of prayer, encouraging participation in the liturgy and the Sacraments, wise and relevant preaching, catechetical instruction, and spiritual and moral guidance. From this foundation faith flourishes in Christian virtue, and gives rise to vibrant parishes and generous service to the wider community".

  "The celebration of the liturgy is a privileged source of renewal in Christian living", said the Pope commending the bishops' efforts "to maintain the proper balance between moments of contemplation and external gestures of participation and joy in the Lord". Referring then to one of the themes of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops for Africa, that of ethnic unrest, he said: "The marvellous image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, the gathering of innumerable men and women from every tribe and tongue and people and nation who have been ransomed by the blood of Christ, encourages you to confront the challenge of ethnic conflict wherever present, even within the Church".

  The Holy Father expressed his appreciation "to those of you who have accepted a pastoral mission outside the limits of your own regional or linguistic group and I thank the priests and people who have welcomed and supported you. ...There is no place in the Church for any kind of division. ... All believers, especially seminarians and priests, will grow in maturity and generosity by allowing the Gospel message to purify and overcome any possible narrowness of local perspectives".

  He also highlighted "the bishop's task of sustaining the important social and ecclesial reality of marriage and family life. With the co-operation of well prepared priests and lay people, experts and married couples, you will exercise with responsibility and zeal your solicitude in this area of pastoral priority".

  Benedict XVI also focused on the "important service to the nation" offered by the prelates through their "commitment to inter-religious dialogue especially with Islam, where with patience and perseverance, strong relations of respect, friendship and practical co-operation are being forged with other religious people".

  "Your dedication to derive from Catholic principles enlightened comments on current national problems is greatly appreciated. The natural law, inscribed by the Creator on the heart of every human being, and the Gospel, properly understood and applied to civic and political realities, do not in any way reduce the range of valid political options. On the contrary, they constitute a guarantee offered to all citizens of a life of freedom, with respect for their dignity as persons, and protection from ideological manipulation and abuse based on the law of the strongest".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by telling the prelates to "continue to exercise your episcopal authority in the struggle against unjust practices and corruption and against all causes and forms of discrimination and criminality, especially the degrading treatment of women and the deplorable practice of kidnapping. By promoting Catholic Social Doctrine you offer your loyal contribution to your country and assist in the consolidation of a national order based on solidarity and a culture of human rights".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in a congress organised to mark the eightieth anniversary of the foundation of Vatican City State.

  "For people who work in the daily service of the Holy See, or for those who live in Rome, it is taken for granted that at the heart of the city lies a small sovereign State. Yet not everyone knows that this is the result of a tormented historical process. A process that led to the foundation [of this State], motivated by exalted ideals of faith and by a far-sighted awareness of the ends its was intended to serve".

  After highlighting how Pius XI was the "principal architect and protagonist of the Lateran Pacts", and "the true founder and primary builder of Vatican City State", Benedict XVI explained how that Pontiff "guided the Church in the difficult years between the two World Wars. ... He also had to face the difficulties and persecution which the Church suffered in such countries as Mexico and Spain, and the confrontation with the totalitarian regimes that arose and established themselves over those years".

  "Vatican City State, which came into being following the Lateran Pacts and in particular following the Lateran Treaty, was considered by Pius XI as a way of guaranteeing the Church her necessary independence from all human power, and giving her and her Supreme Pastor the chance to accomplish fully the mandate received from Christ the Lord".

  This eightieth anniversary, he went on, "is a reason to express our profound thanks to the Lord, Who guides the destiny of His Church in the often turbulent events of history, and assists His vicar on earth in carrying out his role of 'Christianae religionis summus Antistes'".

  Despite the fact that the "Civitas Vaticana" is "a minute and undefended State, possessing no fearsome armies, ... it has been and still is the centre of constant activities that radiate forth in favour of solidarity and the common good", he said.

  "Vatican City State, which contains treasures of faith, of history and of art, is custodian to a precious heritage for all humanity. From its heart, where the Pope lives near the tomb of Peter, there incessantly arises a message of true social progress, of hope, reconciliation and peace".

  The Pope concluded by expressing the hope that "Vatican City State may increasingly become a true 'city on the hill', illuminated by the sincerity and generous dedication of those who work there at the service of the ecclesial mission of Peter's Successor".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed the presidents delegate, relator general and special secretaries for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which is due to be held in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October on the theme: "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You are the salt of the earth, ... you are the light of the world'".

  The presidents delegate are Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Senegal, Dakar, and Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

  The relator general is Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, and the special secretaries are Archbishop Damiao Antonio Franklin of Luanda, Angola, and Bishop Edmond Djitangar of Sarh, Chad.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. on Saturday 21 February, an ordinary public consistory will be held for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Blessed Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

 - Blessed Arcangelo Tadini, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth.

 - Blessed Francesc Coll y Guitart, Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

- Blessed Jozef Damian de Veuster, Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS).

 - Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation.

 - Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.

 - Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee Caterina), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

 - Blessed Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne), French virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

 - Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Bruno Musaro, apostolic nuncio to Peru.

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

    - Archbishop Richard Anthony Burke S.P.S. of Benin City, apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Warri, accompanied by Bishop John 'Oke Afareha, auxiliary of Warri.

    - Bishop Gabriel Ghieakhomo Dunia of Auchi.

    - Bishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Uromi.

    - Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos.

    - Bishop John Francis Moore S.M.A. of Bauchi.

  On Saturday 14 February he received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Krzysztof Zadarko of the clergy of the diocese of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, Poland, former official of the episcopal curia, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 14,640, population 924,000, Catholics 909,000, priests 542, religious 395). The bishop-elect was born in Slupsk, Poland in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1986.

  On Saturday 14 February it was made public that he appointed Fr. Sebastian Francis Shah O.F.M., former minister provincial of the Order of Friars Minor in Pakistan, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Lahore (area 23,069, population 26,510,000, Catholics 385,000, priests 82, religious 291), Pakistan. The bishop-elect was born in Padri-Jo-Goth, Pakistan in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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