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Thursday, February 19, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 150 members of the community of the Pius Pontifical Latin American College in Rome. The institution, "alma mater" to more than four thousand students, was founded in 1858, originally as a centre for seminarians and, over the last three decades, for deacons and priests.

  The Pope described the members of the community as heirs "to a rich human and spiritual heritage, which must be perpetuated and enriched by a serious dedication to the various ecclesiastical disciplines and a joyful experience of the universality of the Church".

  Highlighting the fact that the seminarians are the fruit "of the sowing of Christ's message of redemption over history", the Holy Father recalled how they come from various countries "in which for more than five hundred years courageous missionaries made Jesus, our Saviour, known to people. Thus, through Baptism, those people opened themselves to the life of grace which made them adopted children of God. Furthermore, they received the Holy Spirit which made their cultures fruitful, purifying them, developing the seeds that the incarnate Word had placed in them, and guiding them along the paths of the Gospel".

  "Your bishops", he told his audience, "have sent you to the Pontifical Latin American College that you may be filled with the wisdom of the crucified Christ and that, returning to your dioceses, you may place this treasure at the disposal of others through the various tasks you will be given. This means that you must put your time in Rome to good use. Application to study and rigorous research ... will create in you a spiritual life rooted in the Word of God and nourished by the incomparable richness of the Sacraments.

  "Love for and adherence to the Apostolic See is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean", the Pope added before going on to recall his own 2007 visit to the Brazilian city of Aparecida for the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean. "Through my presence there", he said, "I sought to encourage bishops as they reflected on a fundamental aspect of the revival of the faith of the pilgrim Church in those beloved lands: that of leading all the faithful to become 'disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life'".

  In closing, the Holy Father invited the members of the Pontifical College "enthusiastically to embrace this spirit, already manifest in the dynamism with which dioceses have begun, or are beginning, the 'Continental Mission' proclaimed at Aparecida, an initiative that will facilitate the implementation of catechetical and pastoral programmes aimed at the formation and development of evangelised and missionary-oriented Christian communities".


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

  "This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom who, along with the other members of his entourage, then met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial conversations dealt with the present global economic crisis and the duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less-developed countries, and to foster co-operation on projects of human promotion, respect for the environment and sustainable development. Hope was expressed for a renewed commitment on the part of the international community in settling ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. Finally, several bilateral themes were brought up, of interest above all for the Catholic community in the United Kingdom".
OP/AUDIENCE/BROWN                        VIS 20090219 (150)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met yesterday, 18 February, at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, to continue negotiations on the "Economic Agreement" concerning fiscal and property matters, according to a communique released today.

  "The meeting was characterised by great cordiality and a spirit of co-operation. Progress was achieved, and the delegations renewed their joint commitment to conclude the Agreement as soon as possible. The next meeting of this working-level commission will take place on 7 April".
OP/AGREEMENT/...                            VIS 20090219 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The annual spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia are due to begin on 1 March, the first Sunday of Lent. This year's meditations will be directed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  The theme of the spiritual exercises, which will take place in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, is: "The priest meets Jesus and follows Him".

  The retreat will begin at 6 p.m. with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing. Over the following days there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m.; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.

  The spiritual exercises will come to an end on Saturday 7 March with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

  During the retreat all audiences will be cancelled, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 4 March .
PD/CURIA RETREAT/ARINZE                    VIS 20090219 (190)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Charles Hammawa of Jalingo.

    - Bishop James Naanman Daman O.S.A. of Shendam.

    - Bishop Christopher Shaman Abba of Yola.

    - Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna.
AL/.../...                                VIS 20090219 (60)


VATICAN CITY, 19 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, apostolic nuncio to Burundi, as apostolic nuncio to Guatemala.
NN/.../GALLAGHER                            VIS 20090219 (30)

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