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Monday, March 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary, read out a Message from the Pope to participants in a course on the "internal forum". The course, organised annually by the Apostolic Penitentiary, was held this week in Rome.

  "One pastoral priority of our own times", writes the Pope in his Message, "is the correct formation of believers' consciences, because ... in the extent to which the idea of sin is lost, so unfortunately the sense of guilt increases, which it is then sought to eliminate through inadequate palliative remedies".

  In order to form consciences, the Pope mentions such means as "catechism, preaching, homilies, spiritual guidance, the Sacrament of Penance and the celebration of the Eucharist".

  "Adequate catechesis", he says, "stimulates consciences to better perceive the sense of sin, which today has become somewhat faded or, worse still, obfuscated by an 'etsi Deus non daretur' way of thinking and living, ... denoting a relativism closed to the true meaning of life,

  "Catechesis must be accompanied by a wise use of preaching", he adds, highlighting how the homily "is without doubt the most widespread form of preaching with which the consciences of millions of faithful are educated every Sunday. In the recent Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the Word of God in the Church, a number of Synod Fathers rightly stressed the value and importance of homilies, which must be adapted to the modern mentality".

  Benedict XVI continues his Message: "Spiritual guidance also has a contribution to make to the formation of consciences. Today more than ever there is need for wise and saintly 'masters of the spirit'. Theirs is an important ecclesial service which requires interior vitality, to be implored as a gift of the Holy Spirit through intense and prolonged prayer, and through carefully-acquired training.

  "Priests", he adds, "are called to administer divine mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, through which they remit sins in the name of Christ and help penitents to follow the demanding path of sanctity with an upright and informed conscience. In order to accomplish this indispensable ministry, each priest must nourish his own spiritual life and ensure his own ongoing theological and pastoral 'aggiornamento'".

  The Pope also highlights how "believers' consciences are purified through devout and conscientious participation in Mass, which is the sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sin".

  At the end of his Message, the Holy Father calls upon participants in the course "to maintain an awareness of the need to be worthy ministers of divine mercy and responsible educators of consciences, May you draw inspiration from the saintly confessors and masters of the spirit, among whom I particularly wish to mention St. Jean Marie Vianney, 'Cure of Ars', the 150th anniversary of whose death is being commemorated this year".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received a first group of prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit. Such visits, the Pope told them, "represent a significant moment in the lives of those entrusted with the pastoral care of the People of God, because they thereby express and reinforce their communion with the Roman Pontiff".

  "Episcopal ministry", he went on, "serves the unity and communion of the entire mystical Body of Christ. ... And the bishop, who is the visible foundation of unity in his particular Church, is called to promote and defend the integrity of the faith and discipline which the whole Church shares, at the same time teaching the faithful to love all their brothers and sisters".

  The Holy Father expressed his appreciation to Argentinean bishops for "their firm resolve to maintain and consolidate unity, both within the episcopal conference and in diocesan communities. Thanks to such friendly and effective collegiality", he said, "no bishop is alone because he always remains closely linked to Christ the Good Shepherd and - by virtue of episcopal ordination and hierarchical communion - to his brethren in the episcopate and to the person chosen by the Lord as Peter's Successor".

  Highlighting the fact that this spirit of communion "is particularly applicable to a bishop's dealings with his priests", Benedict XVI called upon the prelates "to show great charity and prudence" in "correcting teachings, attitudes and forms of behaviour which contrast with the priestly state" of their closest collaborators and that "can, furthermore, damage and confuse the faith and life of the Christian faithful".

  "The fundamental role priests play", he said, "must encourage you to make great efforts to promote priestly vocations. In this context, it would be appropriate to plan a more incisive form of pastoral care of marriage and the family, bearing in mind Christians' vocational dimension, and a more determined pastoral care of youth, one that helps young people to respond generously to God's call to them".

  "The faithful too, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to co-operate in constructing the Body of Christ", the Pope concluded. "To this end they must be led to a more profound experience of Jesus Christ and the mystery of His love. A permanent relationship with the Lord though an intense life of prayer and adequate spiritual and doctrinal formation will increase the joy of all Christians in believing and celebrating their faith and in belonging to the Church, encouraging them to active participation in the mission of proclaiming the Good News to all mankind".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop of Hong Kong, China, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the pastoral visit of Servant of God John Paul II to Thailand, due to take place in Bangkok on 10 and 11 May.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Shrine of Christ the King in Almada, Portugal. The event is due to take place there on 17 May.

 - Appointed Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio to Cuba, as apostolic nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia.

 - Erected the new territorial prelature of Esquel (area 78,074, population 68,609, Catholics 56,440, priests 14) Argentina, with territory taken from the diocese of Comodoro Rivadavia, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Bahia Blanca. He appointed Msgr. Jose Slaby C.Ss.R., superior and pastor of the Redemptorist community of Esquel, as the first bishop-prelate of the new prelature. The bishop-elect was born in Zeleznikowa, Poland in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984.
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At the Angelus today, the third Sunday of Lent, Benedict XVI dedicated his reflections to his imminent trip to Africa. The Pope, who will visit Cameroon and Angola from 17 to 23 March, told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square that in Cameroon he will deliver the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held in the Vatican in October, before going on to Angola, "a country that, following a long civil war, has rediscovered peace and is now called to rebuild itself in justice.

  "With this visit", he added, "my aim is to embrace the entire African continent: its thousand facets and its profound religious soul; its ancient cultures and its difficult journey towards development and reconciliation; its serious problems, its painful wounds and its enormous potential and hopes. I intend to confirm Catholics in their faith, to encourage Christians to ecumenical commitment, and to bring to everyone the announcement of peace that the risen Lord entrusted to the Church".

  "I leave for Africa with the awareness of having nothing to propose or to give to those I will meet save Christ and the Good News of His cross, the mystery of supreme love, of divine love which overcomes all human resistance and even makes it possible to forgive and love our enemies. This is the grace of the Gospel, capable of transforming the world; this is the grace that can also renew Africa, because it generates an irresistible force for peace and profound and radical reconciliation. The Church, then, does not pursue economic, social or political objectives; the Church announces Christ, certain that the Gospel can touch and transform everyone's heart, renewing people and society from within".

  The Pope entrusted to St. Joseph - who with Mary was compelled escape to Egypt, in Africa, in order to save the newborn Jesus - all the peoples of the continent "with the challenges that confront them and the hopes that move them. In particular", he concluded, "my thoughts for to the victims of hunger, illness and injustice, of the fratricidal conflicts and of all forms of violence which, unfortunately, continue to strike adults and children, not sparing missionaries, priests, religious and volunteers".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Having prayed the Angelus today, the Pope reminded the thousands of people filling St. Peter's Square that the Pauline Jubilee for university students and teachers came to an end today with a Eucharistic celebration in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

  The Holy Father recalled that this Jubilee event was promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and organised by the Vicariate of Rome on the theme: "What you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. Gospel and culture for a new humanism".

  Addressing professors and delegates for pastoral care in universities, who have come from all continents to participate in the International University Forum, held in Rome from 12 to 15 March, Benedict XVI said "this event is an important stage in the living dialogue between the Church and universities".

  The Pope expressed the hope that "pastoral care in universities may be developed in all particular Churches, for the formation of young people and the creation of a Gospel-inspired culture".

  "Dear university students and teachers", he concluded, "I encourage you and accompany you in my prayers".
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VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Germany.

  On Saturday 14 March, he received in separate audiences:

 - Edward Fenech Adami, president of the Republic of Malta, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

 - Eleven prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires.

    - Archbishop Agustin Roberto Radrizzani S.D.B. of Mercedes-Lujan.

    - Bishop Virginio Domingo Bressanelli S.C.I. of Comodoro Rivadavia.

    - Bishop Esteban Maria Laxague S.D.B. of Viedma.

    - Bishop Fernando Carlos Maletti of San Carlos de Bariloche.

    - Bishop Marcelo Angiolo Melani S.D.B. of Neuquen.

    - Bishop Nestor Hugo Navarro of Alto Valle del Rio Negro, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Jose Pedro Pozzi S.D.B.

    - Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin S.D.B. of Rio Gallegos.

    - Bishop Jean-Abdo Arbach B.C., apostolic exarch for faithful of Greek-Melkite rite resident in Argentina.

    - Bishop Vartan Waldir Boghossian S.D.B. of San Gregorio de Narek en Buenos Aires, apostolic exarch for faithful of Armenian rite resident in Latin America and Mexico.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".

  "The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".

  Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".

  "The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.

  "The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.

  "The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".

  Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".

  Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".

  "The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests" is the theme of the Year for Priests announced today by the Holy Father, according to a communique issued by the Holy See Press Office.

  The Pope will inaugurate the Year on 19 June, presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica where the relics of the saintly 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. He will close the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

  During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Supreme Pontiff on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

  The Congregation for the Clergy, together with diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes, will undertake to promote and co-ordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives which are being organised to highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society, and the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - An English-language communique published today by the Holy See Press Office explains that, "for the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the official website of the Holy See will be enhanced by the addition of a new section in Chinese".

  Chinese "will be the eighth language to be represented on the www.vatican.va website, which also includes Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Latin.

  "Thanks to the new service", the communique concludes, "internet users from throughout the world will be able to navigate in Chinese to access the texts of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI which will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters".
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