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Friday, February 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Pope today received participants in a meeting of the governing council of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year.

  Speaking English he said: "When wealthy countries and developing nations come together to make joint decisions and to determine specific criteria for each country's budgetary contribution to the Fund, it can truly be said that the various member States come together as equals, expressing their solidarity with one another and their shared commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger. In an increasingly interdependent world, joint decision-making processes of this kind are essential if international affairs are to be conducted with equity and foresight".

  Continuing his remarks, the Holy Father underlined "the emphasis placed by IFAD on promoting employment opportunities within rural communities, with a view to enabling them, in the long term, to become independent of outside aid. ... In this sense the 'rural credit' projects, designed to assist smallholder farmers and agricultural workers with no land of their own, can boost the wider economy and provide greater food security for all.

  "These projects", he added, "also help indigenous communities to flourish on their own soil, and to live in harmony with their traditional culture, instead of being forced to uproot themselves in order to seek employment in overcrowded cities, teeming with social problems, where they often have to endure squalid living conditions".

  "The principle of subsidiarity requires that each group within society be free to make its proper contribution to the good of the whole. All too often, agricultural workers in developing nations are denied that opportunity, when their labour is greedily exploited, and their produce is diverted to distant markets, with little or no resulting benefit for the local community itself".

  The Holy Father expressed his thanks for IFAD's achievements over the last thirty years, affirming the need "for renewed determination to act in harmony and solidarity with all the different elements of the human family in order to ensure equitable access to the earth's resources now and in the future".

  "The goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, as well as promoting food security and rural development, far from being over-ambitious or unrealistic, become", he concluded, "imperatives binding upon the whole international community".
AC/.../IFAD                                VIS 20090220 (390)


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received forty counsellors and members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who have just complete a plenary session during which they examined the current situation of education to the priesthood in Latin American seminaries.

  The Pope recalled how the commission was established in 1958 by Pius XII who, "faced with a lack of priests and missionaries, felt the need to create a Holy See institution to intensify and co-ordinate development efforts in support of the Church in Latin America". For his part, John Paul II "continued and intensified this initiative with the aim of underlining the particular pastoral solicitude felt by Peter's Successor towards the pilgrim Churches in those beloved lands".

  "Last year", he went on, "I received many bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean on their 'ad limina' visits, with whom I discussed the situation of the particular Churches entrusted to their care. ... I accompany them all with my prayers, that they may joyfully and faithfully continue to undertake their service to the People of God, also by promoting the 'Continental Mission' which is beginning to be implemented as a result of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean", held in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007.

  The theme chosen for this mission - "disciples and missionaries in Jesus Christ, that in Him our peoples may have life" - continues "to guide the efforts of the members of the Church in those beloved countries", said the Holy Father.

  "When I described my apostolic visit to Brazil before members of the Roman Curia, I asked myself: Was Aparecida right, when seeking life for the world, in giving priority to discipleship of Christ and evangelisation? Was this not a mistaken withdrawal into interior life? To this I replied resoundingly: No! Aparecida was right precisely because a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ and His Gospel - and only that - can create forces which give us the power to find adequate responses to the challenges of our time".

  "For all of us", Pope Benedict went on, "the seminary was a decisive moment of discernment and preparation. There, in profound dialogue with Christ, we fortified our desire to root ourselves deeply in Him. Over those years we learned to feel at home in the Church. ... For this reason I am pleased that your plenary assembly focused attention on the current situation in the seminaries of Latin America".

  "In order to create priests who accord to the dictates of Christ's heart, we have to trust in the action of the Holy Spirit more that in human strategies and calculations, and faithfully ask God, 'Lord of the harvest', to send many holy vocations to the priesthood. ... At the same time, the need for priests to face the challenges of today's world must not induce us to discard the careful discernment of candidates, nor to overlook the necessary, even rigorous, demands that must be made in order for their formative process to produce exemplary priests".

  "And so", he concluded, "the pastoral recommendations of this assembly must be seen as a vital source of illumination for the efforts of bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in the delicate field of formation for the priesthood. Today more than ever it is important for seminarians ... to aspire to the priesthood exclusively out of the desire to be true disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ and, in communion with their bishops, make Him present through their ministry and the witness of their lives".


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - On 16 and 17 February a Holy See delegation led by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, travelled to Vietnam at the invitation of the government there, where it participated in the first session of the Vietnam - Holy See Working Group on bilateral diplomatic relations. The meeting was held in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

  "At the meeting", an English-language joint communique states, "Vice Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong emphasised Vietnam's consistent policy on the freedom of belief as well as the achievements and current situation on religious affairs in Vietnam's recent years. Vice Minster Cuong expressed his wish for the Holy See's active contribution to the life of the Catholic community in Vietnam, the strengthening of solidarity between religions and of the entire Vietnamese population, and the strong cohesion of the Catholic Church in Vietnam with the nation through practical contributions to national reconstruction".

  Msgr. Parolin "took note of the explanations made by the Vietnamese delegation on the policy of freedom of religion and belief, recognising that positive progress has been made in religious life in Vietnam, and wished that the remaining unsolved maters in bilateral relations between Vietnam and the Holy See could be settled with goodwill through sincere dialogue. Msgr. Parolin emphasised the Holy See's policy to respect the independence and sovereignty of Vietnam, by which the Church's religious activities will not be conducted for political purposes. He also stressed that the Church in its teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, working for the common good of the country".

  "The two sides also acknowledged the encouraging development in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See since 1990" and agreed that "efforts should be made to promote bilateral ties".
OP/WORKING GROUP/VIETNAM                VIS 20090220 (310)


VATICAN CITY, 20 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan.

    - Bishop John Niyiring O.S.A. of Kano.

    - Bishop Martin Igwemezie Uzoukwu of Minna.
AL/.../...                                VIS 20090220 (60)

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