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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity has organised an international meeting of World Youth Day organisers, in preparation for the next World Youth Day, which is due to be held in Madrid, Spain, in 2011. The meeting will take place in Rome from 3 to 5 April.

  "This is the first international meeting of WYD organisers in preparation for Madrid", reads an English-language note published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. "The organising committees of Sydney 2008 and Madrid 2011 will be present. There will be delegates at the meeting from around 70 countries and representatives from 35 international Catholic communities, associations and movements, a total of around 150 people".

  The sessions will begin on 3 April with a greeting by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Evaluation of Sydney 2008 will take place with Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of that city, and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher O.P. speaking of the fruits of the event as experienced in their archdiocese and throughout Australia. Fr. Eric Jacquinet will moderate a discussion which will enable the impact of WYD at a local level to be evaluated, and which will explore how WYD can serve as a model for the regular pastoral care of youth. Mass presided by Cardinal Pell will conclude the day's sessions.

  "Towards Madrid 2011" is the theme for the sessions of 4 April. Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, and Auxiliary Bishop Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez will talk about the Church in Spain, and present the reasons, challenges and expectations of this new phase in World Youth Days. A number of young Spaniards will also speak, and some initial information about organisational planning will be presented. Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will present Benedict XVI's Message for 24th World Youth Day, after which Cardinal Rylko will make some concluding remarks.

  On 5 April, Palm Sunday, participants will attend the Mass celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter's Square during which, in a traditional hand-over ceremony, the Australians will consign the World Youth Day cross to the Spaniards. A tangible "passing of the baton among the youth of the world", the note concludes, "which places before us as a point of reference the stark reality of the Cross, the hope that springs from the Resurrection".
CON-L/WYD MEETING/RYLKO                        VIS 20090331 (410)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That the Lord may bless farmers' work with an abundant harvest and sensitise the richer populations to the drama of hunger in the world".

  His mission intention is: "That the Christians who operate in the territories where the conditions of the poor, the weak and the women and children are most tragic, may be signs of hope, thanks to their courageous testimony to the Gospel of solidarity and love".
BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/APRIL/...                VIS 20090331 (100)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Message of Benedict XVI for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is due to be celebrated on 3 May, the fourth Sunday of Easter, and which has as its theme this year: "Faith in the divine initiative - the human response". The Message has been published in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Polish.

  Extracts from the text are given below:

  "The exhortation of Jesus to His disciples: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest' has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting".

  "The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity".

  "In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God's initiative of choosing some to follow His Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be His privileged ministers and witnesses. ... Responding to the Lord's call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today He continues to call together workers into His vineyard.

  "While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakeable certitude that the One Who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfilment of the Kingdom is He, the Lord, Who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow Him according to the mysterious plans of His merciful love.

  "Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer".

  "What is asked of those who are called ... is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction".

  "In the Eucharist, that perfect gift which brings to fulfilment the plan of love for the redemption of the world, Jesus offers Himself freely for the salvation of mankind. ... It is priests who are called to perpetuate this salvific mystery from century to century. ... In the celebration of the Eucharist it is Christ Himself Who acts in those whom He chooses as His ministers; He supports them so that their response develops in a dimension of trust and gratitude that removes all fear, even when they experience more acutely their own weakness, or indeed when the experience of misunderstanding or even of persecution is most bitter".

  "To believe in the Lord and to accept His gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to His plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord Who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love".

  "This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life. ... Attracted by Him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness".

  "The response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God Who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfilment, ... expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord's invitation. ... Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'co-responsibility', responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of His Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One Who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit.

  "An emblematic human response, full of trust in God's initiative, is the generous and unmitigated 'Amen' of the Virgin of Nazareth, uttered with humble and decisive adherence to the plan of the Most High. ... I want to entrust to her all those who are aware of God's call to set out on the road of the ministerial priesthood or consecrated life.

  "Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with Him".
MESS/WORLD DAY VOCATIONS/...                VIS 20090331 (890)


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday afternoon:

  "The Holy Father, sharing the concern of the families, and of everyone worried about the safety of the three Red Cross workers kidnapped on the island of Jolo in the Philippines, wishes to raise his voice and make an appeal that humanitarian values and reason may prevail over violence and intimidation.

  "The Holy Father, in the name of God, asks for the hostages to be released and calls upon the authorities to favour a peaceful solution to the dramatic situation".
OP/RELEASE HOSTAGES/PHILIPPINES                VIS 20090331 (110)

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