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Friday, February 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - During a meeting with pastors and clergy of the diocese of Rome which took place yesterday in the Hall of Blessings in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI answered eight questions put to him concerning such matters as the world economic crisis, the formation of priests, evangelisation, the educational emergency and the value of the liturgy.

  Benedict XVI explained that the Church has the duty to present a reasonable and well-argued criticism of the errors that have led to the current economic crisis. This duty, he said, forms part of the Church's mission and must be exercised firmly and courageously, avoiding moralism but explaining matters using concrete reasons that may be understood by everyone.

  Referring to his forthcoming social Encyclical, the Pope then presented a synthetic overview of the crisis, analysing it at two levels. First he considered the macroeconomic aspects, highlighting the shortcomings of a system founded on selfishness and the idolatry of money, which cast a shadow over man's reason and will and lead him into the ways of error. Here the Church is called to make her voice heard - nationally and internationally - in order to help bring about a change of direction and show the path of true reason illuminated by faith, which is the path of self-sacrifice and concern for the needy.

  The second aspect of the Holy Father's analysis concerned the sphere of microeconomics. Large-scale projects for reform, he said, cannot come about unless individuals alter their ways. If there are no just people, then there can be no justice. Hence he invited people to intensify their humble, everyday efforts for the conversion of hearts, an undertaking that above all involves parishes whose activity is not just limited to the local community but opens up to all humanity.

  Turning his attention to the question of evangelising work among people who have moved away from the faith, the Pope underlined the importance of personal witness from individuals who live not for themselves but for others. Such witness must be associated with the Word, he remarked, because it is the Word that gives credibility to witness by revealing that the faith is not a philosophy or a utopia, but a truth that becomes life.

  To this end, Pope Benedict continued, what we need are priests and catechists who have cultural training, but above all who are capable of speaking to modern man with the simplicity of truth, in order to show people that God is not, in fact, some distant being but a person Who talks and acts in the lives of all human beings.

  On the subject of the liturgy, the Pope commented that it is like a school in which to learn the art of being human and to experience familiarity with Christ. The Eucharist in particular must be lived as a sign and seed of charity, he said.

  Answering a question concerning the significance of the Bishop of Rome's mission, the Holy Father explained that it is a guarantee of the universality of the Church. The Church does not identify with any particular culture because it transcends nationalism and frontiers to welcome all peoples, respecting their own particular richness and characteristics.

  Finally, responding to a question on the educational emergency, Benedict XVI indicated that what is lacking today is a shared view of the world, an ethical orientation that keeps man from falling prey to arbitrariness. Thus, while faith remains open to all cultures, it is also their criterion for discernment and guidance.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall today, The Pope received members of the Belgian associations "Pro Petri Sede" and "Etrennes Pontificales," both of which offer annual financial aid for the needs of the Holy See.

  "The Pauline Year", said the Holy Father addressing the group in French, "by meditating on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, enables us to become aware of the fact that the Church is a Body pulsating with a single life, the life of Jesus. Hence, each member of the ecclesial body is profoundly bonded to all the others and cannot ignore their needs. Nourished by the same Eucharistic bread, the baptised cannot remain indifferent when bread is lacking from the tables of other human beings".

  "This year", he went on, "you have once again responded to the call to open your hearts to the needs of the disinherited, so that those members of Christ's Body suffering poverty may be helped and thus enabled to live better lives and be freer to bear witness to the Good News".

  "Entrusting the fruit of your savings to Peter's Successor", said Benedict XVI, "you enable him to carry out real and active charity, the sign of his solicitude for all Churches, for all the baptised, for all human beings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart in the name of the people whom your generosity will help as they struggle against the evils that threaten their dignity. If we fight against all forms of poverty we give peace more chance to come and take root in our hearts".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the role of women may be more appreciated and used to good advantage in every country in the world".

  His mission intention is: "That, in the light of the Letter addressed to them by Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the Popular Republic of China may commit themselves to being the sign and instrument of unity, communion and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was the final declaration of the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Vatican) and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions (Cairo, Egypt). The meeting was held in Rome on 24 and 25 February.

  The English-language declaration explains that the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue - an institution established in 1998 - was jointly presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.

  The theme of the meeting - "The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace with Particular Reference to the Role of Religions" - was presented from the Catholic point of view by Bernard Sabella, associate professor emeritus of sociology at Bethlehem University, and from the Islamic standpoint by Sheikh Ali Shahata.

  A the end of the meeting the participants agreed on the following:

  "1. Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity.

  "2. ... No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.

  "3. Religious leaders, especially Muslims and Christians, have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.

  "4. A culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.

  "5. The media have a major role and responsibility in the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.

  "6. Recognising the strong link between peace and human rights, special attention was given to the defence of the dignity of the human person and his or her rights, especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.

  "7. Youth, the future of all religions and of humanity itself, need special care in order to be protected from fanaticism and violence, and to become peace builders for a better world.

  "8. Mindful of the suffering endured by the peoples of the Middle East due to unresolved conflicts, the participants, in respect of the competence of political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice".

  The next meeting of the joint committee is due to be held in Cairo on 23 and 24 February 2010.


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Masud Barazani, president of the Autonomous Kurdish Region in Iraq.

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

    - Bishop Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, auxiliary of Awka.

    - Bishop Joseph O. Egerega, apostolic vicar of Bomadi, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Hyancinth Oroko Egbebo M.S.S.P.

    - Bishop Timothy Joseph Carroll S.M.A., apostolic vicar of Kontagora.

 - Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta O. Cist. of Belem do Para, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 5,940,000, Catholics 3,606,000, priests 605, permanent deacons 63, religious 1,392), Brazil. He succeeds Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid S.C.I., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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