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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a Message to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, for the start today, Ash Wednesday, of the Fraternity Campaign traditionally promoted by the Brazilian Church during Lent. This year the campaign has as its theme: "Peace is the fruit of justice".

  In his Message the Pope refers to the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, and recalls how the final document of that gathering described the "clear signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God, in the individual and community experience of the Beatitudes, in the evangelisation of the poor, ... in universal access to the goods of creation, in mutual, sincere and fraternal forgiveness, ... and in the struggle not to succumb to the temptation of becoming slaves to evil".

  "Lent calls us to an unfailing struggle to do good, precisely because we know how difficult it is for us, as human beings, to dedicate ourselves seriously to the practice of justice, a justice more than ever necessary for a coexistence based on peace and love and not on hatred and indifference. Yet we know that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organisation of society, nothing can remove the pain of sickness, misunderstanding, solitude, the death of people we love, or an awareness of our own limitations".

  "Our Lord", the Holy Father writes, "abhors injustice and condemns those who practice it; yet He respects individual liberty and for this reason allows it to exist, because it forms part of the human condition after original sin. Despite this His heart, full of love for human beings, brought Him to shoulder, along with the cross, all our torments: our suffering, our sadness, our hunger, our thirst for justice. Let us ask him for the strength to bear witness to the same feelings of peace and reconciliation that inspired Him on the Sermon on the Mount, in order to achieve eternal Beatitude".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - On 20 February Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, participated in the tenth special session of the Human Rights Council, which focused on the world economic crisis and its repercussions on human rights.

  Speaking English, the prelate noted how the current crisis "has created a global recession causing dramatic social consequences, including the loss of millions of jobs and the serious risk that, for many of the developing countries, the Millennium Development Goals may not be reached. The human rights of countless persons are compromised, including the right to food, water, health and decent work".

  "In a recent document, the World Bank estimates that, in 2009, the current global economic crisis could push an additional 53 million people below the threshold of two dollars a day. This figure is in addition to the 130 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 by the increase in food and energy prices".

  "It is well known", the permanent observer went on, "that low-income countries are heavily dependent upon two financing flows: foreign aid and migrant remittances. Both flows are expected to decline significantly over the next months, due to the worsening of the economic crisis. ... The delegation of the Holy See would like to focus on a specific case in this crisis: its impact on the human rights of children, which exemplifies, as well, what is symptomatic of the destructive impact on all other social and economic rights. At present some important rights of poor people are heavily dependent on official aid flows and on workers' remittances. These include the right to health, education, and food. In several poor countries, in fact, educational, health and nutritional programmes are implemented with the help of aid flows from official donors. Should the economic crisis reduce this assistance, the successful completion of these programs could be threatened".

  "If the reduction of both aid and remittances continue, it will deprive children of the right to be educated creating a double negative consequence", noted Archbishop Tomasi. "Lower educational investment today, in fact, will be translated into lower future growth. At the same time, poor nutrition among children significantly worsens life expectancy by increasing both child and adult mortality rates. The negative economic consequences of this go beyond the personal dimension and affect entire societies".

  The nuncio then went on to consider another consequence of the crisis "that could be particularly relevant for the mandate of the United Nations: All too often, periods of severe economic hardship have been characterised by the rise in power of governments with dubious commitments to democracy. The Holy See prays that such consequences will be avoided in the present crisis, since they would result in a serious threat for the diffusion of basic human rights for which this institution has so tenaciously struggled.

  "The last fifty years have witnessed some great achievements in poverty reduction", he added in conclusion. "These achievements are at risk, and a coherent approach is required to preserve them through a renewed sense of solidarity, especially for the segments of population and for the countries more affected by the crisis".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye of Awgu.

    - Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi.

    - Bishop Francis Emmanuel Ogbonna Okoboi of Nsukka.

    - Bishop Anthouny Okonkwo Gbuji, emeritus of Enugu.

    - Msgr. John Williams, diocesan administrator of Maiduguri.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the apostolic prefecture of Western Sahara, presented by Fr. Acacio Valbuena Rodriguez O.M.I., upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Rodolfo Luis Weber of the clergy of the archdiocese of Porto Alegre, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Nossa Senhora das Gracas" in Gravatai, as bishop prelate of Cristalandia (area 66,365, population 158,700, Catholics 157,000, priests 24, permanent deacons 1, religious 58), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Bom Principio, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He succeeds Bishop Heriberto Hermes O.S.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same territorial prelature the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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