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Monday, February 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father visited the Major Roman Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust.

  The Pope presided at a "lectio divina" for the seminarians on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians, held in the seminary's major chapel.

  Commenting on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles in his Letter to the Galatians - "you were called to freedom" - Benedict XVI asked: "What is freedom? How can we be free? St. Paul helps us to understand this complex question of freedom" when he says "do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another".

  Pope Benedict went on: "The absolute self who depends on nothing and no-one seems truly and definitively to possess freedom. I am free if I depend on no-one, if I can do anything I want. Yet this absolute exaltation of self is 'flesh', in other words degradation of man. It is not the conquest of freedom. Libertinism is not freedom, rather it is the failure of freedom".

  "Paradoxically, freedom is achieved through service", he said. "Our truth is that we are, first and foremost, creatures, creatures of God, and we live in a relationship with the Creator. We are relational beings, and only by accepting this fact do we enter the truth. Otherwise we fall into lies and there, in the end, we destroy ourselves. ... The only human freedom is shared freedom".

  "Man has need of order, of laws, in order to realise his freedom, which is a freedom he shares with others. ... If there is no shared truth about man, ... all that remains is positivism and people get the impression of something imposed from outside, even violently imposed. Hence this rebellion against order and laws, as if they represented a form of slavery".

  This Letter, the Holy Father continued, "contains a reference to the rather sad situation of the Galatians themselves, when Paul writes: 'If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another'".

  "We see similar things happen today when, rather that entering into communion with Christ, with the Body of Christ which is the Church, everyone wants to be better than everyone else and, with intellectual arrogance, wants to make it known that they are best. This gives rise to destructive polemics, to a caricature of the Church, which should be of one heart and soul.

  "In St. Paul's warning we must also find a call to examine our own consciences today: not thinking we are better than others, but discovering ourselves in the humility of Christ, in the humility of the Virgin Mary, entering the obedience of the faith. In this way the great spaces of truth and freedom in love open before us".

  At the end of the ceremony the Pope dined with the seminarians, before returning to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. today, the Holy Father presided at an ordinary public consistory for the causes of 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 (1822-1895).

 - Blessed Arcangelo Tadini, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth (1846-1912).

 - 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 (1812-1875).

- 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) (1840-1889).

 - Blessed Bernardo Tolomei, Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation (1272-1348).

 - Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (1911-1938).

 - Blessed Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1360-1431).

 - Blessed Gertrude Comensoli (nee Caterina), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1847-1903).

 - Blessed Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne), French virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor (1792-1879).

 - Blessed Caterina Volpicelli, Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart (1839-1894).

  At the end of the ceremony, the Pope announced that the canonisation of Blesseds Arcangelo Tadini, Bernardo Tolomei, Nuno di Santa Maria Alvares Pereira, Gertrude (Caterina) Comensoli, and Caterina Volpicelli will take place on Sunday 26 April.

  The canonisation of Blesseds Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francesc Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Rafael Arnaiz Baron, and Mary of the Cross (Jeanne) Jugan will take place on Sunday 11 October.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope received participants in a congress entitled: "New frontiers of genetics and the dangers of eugenics". The congress, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life for the occasion of its twenty-fifth general assembly, was held in the Vatican's New Synod Hall on 20 and 21 February.

  Scientific progress, said the Holy Father, "enables us to achieve not just an earlier and more effective diagnosis of genetic ailments, but also to produce forms of treatment that can alleviate the suffering of sick people and, in some cases, even give them the hope of regaining their health".

  Collaboration among the various branches of science, said Benedict XVI, "makes it possible to avoid the risk of genetic reductionism which tends to identify individuals exclusively in terms of genetic information and its interaction with the environment. It must be stressed that man will always be greater than the elements that form his body. He has, in fact, the power of thought which always tends towards the truth about himself and the world".

  "Each human being, then, is much more than an individual combination of genetic information transmitted by his or her parents. ... The arrival of a new person into the world is always a new creation", he said.

  "If, then, we wish to enter into the mystery of human life, no branch of science must isolate itself claiming to possess the final word. Rather, it must participate in the shared vocation to reach the truth, though with the different methodologies and subject matter proper to each of the sciences".

  Referring then to the danger of eugenics, the Holy Father noted how, despite its having been condemned in the past, "worrying manifestations of this odious practice", still persist. "A new mentality is insinuating itself", he said, "one that tends towards a different view of life and of personal dignity founded on personal desires and individual rights. The tendency is to favour operative capacity, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty, to the detriment of other dimensions of existence which are not considered to be worthy. In this way, we diminish the respect that is due to each human being, even in the presence of a defect in his or her development or of a genetic ailment which may manifest itself during the course of a person's life; while children whose lives are judged as being unworthy to be lived are penalised from conception.

  "It is necessary", he added, "to reiterate the fact that all discrimination against ... individuals, people or ethnic groups on the basis of differences in real or presumed genetic factors is an attack on the entire human race. What must be forcefully underlined is that all human beings, by the very fact of having been born, enjoy equal dignity. Biological, mental and cultural development, or the state of a person's health, must never become a factor for discrimination".

  Benedict XVI went on: "We must consolidate a culture of acceptance and of love, showing real solidarity towards those who suffer and breaking down the barriers that society often puts up to discriminate against people affected by disabilities or serious illness or, worse still , to select and reject life in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection. If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the earliest stages of his development, this means that medical biotechnology submits to the will of the strongest. Faith in science must not make us forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 26 January, in which he appoints Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, as his special envoy to celebrations marking seven hundred years since the beginning of the Roman Pontiffs' exile in the French city of Avignon (1309-1377). The event will be held in Avignon on 9 and 10 March.

  Accompanying Cardinal Poupard on his mission will be Fr. Jean Philibert, rector of the metropolitan cathedral of "Notre-Dame des Doms" in Avignon, and Fr. Daniel Brehier, pastor of Carpentras and president of the diocesan commission for sacred art.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration late this morning:

  "The communications media not infrequently attribute to the 'Vatican' - meaning by that the Holy See - comments and points of view that cannot in fact automatically be attributed thereto. In fact, when the Holy See wishes to make an authoritative announcement it uses appropriate means and methods (communiques, notes, declarations).

  "No other form of pronouncement has the same value.

  "Inappropriate attributions have taken place, even recently. The Holy See, in its representative institutions, shows respect towards the civil authorities who, in their legitimate authority, have the right and the duty to safeguard the common good".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday afternoon:

  "The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has publicly expressed the disdain and protest of Christians over a television programme transmitted in recent days by the Israeli private television station 'Channel 10', in which the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary were ridiculed with blasphemous words and images.

  "The government authorities, immediately alerted by the apostolic nuncio, gave prompt assurances that they would intervene to interrupt such transmissions and obtain a public apology from the station.

  "While expressing solidarity with Christians of the Holy Land and deploring such a vulgar and offensive act towards the religious sentiments of believers in Christ, we note with sadness how such serious offence is directed against Jesus and Mary of Nazareth, who were themselves children of Israel".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 FEB 2009 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  The Holy Father commented on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which relates how Jesus healed a paralysed man and forgave his sins. This, said the Pope, shows that Christ "had the power not only to heal the sick body, but also to forgive sins; indeed, physical recovery is a sign of the spiritual healing which His forgiveness produces. In fact, sin is a sort of paralysis of the spirit from which only the power of God's merciful love can free us, enabling us to stand up and resume our journey along the path of goodness.

  "This Sunday also marks the Feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter", he added, "an important liturgical solemnity highlighting the ministry of the Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The Cathedra of Peter symbolises the authority of the Bishop of Rome, who is called to offer his particular form of service to the entire People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul the Church of Rome was recognised as possessing the prime role in the whole Catholic community, as testified by St. Ignatius of Antioch in the second century. ... This unique and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was reiterated by Vatican Council II".

  The Holy Father completed his reflections by calling upon the faithful to pray for him, that he may "faithfully realise the exalted task that divine Providence has entrusted to me as the Successor of the Apostle Peter". Finally, he recalled that Lent begins this Wednesday, 25 February, with the rite of the imposition of the ashes.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, Vietnam, for the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of the same see. The cardinal died on 22 February at the age of 89.

  "With great sadness I learned the news of the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung, archbishop emeritus of Hanoi and your predecessor, and I wish to express my fervent union in prayer with all the bishops of Vietnam, with the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi and the rest of the country, with the family of the late cardinal, and with all people affected by this loss. I ask God the Father, from Whom all mercy comes, to welcome into His peace and light this eminent pastor who, through difficult circumstances, was able to serve the Church with great courage and generous loyalty to the See of Peter, tirelessly dedicating himself to the announcement of the Gospel. To you, to your auxiliary, to the bishops of Vietnam, to priests and religious, to the faithful of the archdiocese of Hanoi, as well as to the relatives of the late cardinal and everyone participating in the funerary rites, I impart a heartfelt apostolic blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

 - Archbishop Andres Carrascosa Coso, apostolic nuncio to Panama.

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

    - Archbishop Valerian Okeke of Onitsha.

    - Bishop Michael Odogwu Elue of Issele-Uku.

    - Bishop George Jonathan Dod of Zaria.

    - Bishop Michael Nnachi Okoro of Abakaliki.

  On Saturday 21 February he received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee as metropolitan archbishop of New York (area 12,212, population 5,676,566, Catholics 2,554,454, priests 1,712, permanent deacons 377, religious 4,358), U.S.A. He succeeds Cardinal Edward M. Egan, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 21 February it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Andrzej Dziega of Sandomierz, Poland, as metropolitan archbishop of Szczecin-Kamien (area 12,754, population 1,060,120, Catholics 1,000,000, priests 655, religious 371), Poland. The archbishop-elect was born in Radzyn Podlaski, Poland in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1977 and consecrated a bishop in 2002. He succeeds Archbishop Zygmunt Kaminski, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Vincent Nguyen Van Ban, director for the formation of seminarians in the diocese of Quy Nhon, Vietnam, and professor at the major seminary of Nha Trang, as bishop of Ban Me Thuot (area 21,723, population 2,608,397, Catholics 338,690, priests 106, religious 385), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1993.

 - Appointed Msgr. Joseph Spiteri, nunciature counsellor at the Section for Relations with States, as apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Sliema, Malta in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.

 - Appointed Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Italy, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the ninth centenary of the death of St. Anselm, due to be held in Aosta, Italy from 19 to 26 April.
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