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Wednesday, April 1, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 1 APR 2009 (VIS) - As he announced during last Sunday's Angelus, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience to an analysis of his recently-concluded apostolic visit to Cameroon and Angola. The audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, was attended by 20,000 people.

  The Pope began his remarks by explaining how, with his visit, he had "sought to embrace all the people of Africa, and bless them in the name of the Lord", beginning with Cameroon, a country that incorporates many characteristics of the African continent, including "a profoundly religious soul which unites the numerous ethnic groups that inhabit it".

  He went on to mention his meetings with bishops, first of Cameroon then of Angola and Sao Tome and Principe, to whom he had "reaffirmed the vital importance of evangelisation, which is first and foremost the responsibility of bishops, highlighting the collegial dimension based on sacramental communion. ... I also encouraged them to promote the pastoral care of marriage and the family, of the liturgy and of culture, also by putting lay people in a position to be able to resist the attack of sects and esoteric groups". Finally, he had invited the episcopate to continue "to exercise charity in defence of the rights of the poor".

  At the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde, Cameroon, the Holy Father had met with representatives of the local Muslim community, "reiterating the importance of inter-religious dialogue and of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in order to help the world open itself to God".

  The Pope recalled how one of the culminating moments of his Africa visit came at the stadium of Yaounde on 19 March, at the end of Mass for the Feast of St. Joseph, when he consigned the "Instrumentum laboris" of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. "The Synod will take place in Rome but it has in a certain sense already begun in the heart of the African continent, in the heart of the Christian family that lives, suffers and hopes there. For this reason I was pleased that the publication of the 'working document' coincided with the Feast of St. Joseph, a model of faith and hope like the first patriarch, Abraham. Faith in the 'neighbour God', Who in Jesus showed us His face of love, is the guarantee of a reliable hope for Africa and for the whole world, the guarantee for a future of reconciliation, justice and peace".

  During his meeting with members of the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, Benedict XVI reflected upon the continent's history "from a theological and pastoral perspective", recalling the deep Christian roots in African soil. "At the present time, as Africa is busy consolidating her political independence and constructing national identities in a now globalised world, the Church accompanies Africans, recalling the great message of Vatican Council II".

  "Amidst the unfortunately numerous and dramatic conflicts still afflicting various parts of the continent, the Church is aware she must be a sign and instrument of reconciliation, so that all Africa may come together to build a future of justice, solidarity and peace, implementing the teachings of the Gospel", said the Holy Father.

  He also reserved some words for the sick people of the Cardinal Leger Centre with whom, in the midst of their suffering, he had shared "the hope that springs from faith".

  Turning then to consider the second stage of his African journey, which took him to Angola, the Pope recalled how that county, "having emerged from a long civil war, is now committed to reconciliation and national reconstruction". This, however, could not hope to be successful if it came about "at the expense of the poorest who, like everyone else, have the right to share in the resources of their land.

  "This is why, with my visit, the primary aim of which was to confirm the Church in her faith, I also sought to encourage the ongoing social processes", the Holy Father added. "In Angola there is a palpable sense of something my venerated predecessors oft repeated: everything is lost with war, everything can be reborn with peace. But great moral energy is required to build a nation; and here, once again, the Church has an important part, called to play an educational role, and working to renew and form people's consciences".

  In the cathedral of Luanda, which is dedicated to St. Paul, the Pope recalled how he had spoken of the risen Christ "Who is capable of transforming individuals and society. Historical contexts change - something we must not forget - but Christ remains the true force for radical renewal of mankind and of human communities".

  Remarking then upon two special meetings he had held, with young people and with women, the Pope first reiterated his sorrow for the death of two girls killed in a stampede at the Stadio dos Coqueiros in Luanda, then said: "Africa is a very young continent, but too many of her sons and daughters - children and adolescents -have suffered serious wounds. Only Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, can heal them, infusing them ... with the power to love and to commit themselves to justice and peace".

  In his meeting with women, Benedict XVI recalled how he had reaffirmed "their full right to participate in public life, yet without compromising their role in the family, which is a fundamental mission that must always be carried out through shared responsibility with husbands and fathers".

  "I told the African people that if, like ancient Israel, they base their hope on the Word of God, in the richness of their religious and cultural heritage, they can truly build a future of reconciliation and stable peace for everyone".

  Finally, the Pope dwelt on "the generous activity of missionaries, religious, volunteers, priests and catechists, in young communities full of enthusiasm and faith". And he asked everyone to pray "for the people of Africa, who are so dear to me, that with courage they may face the great social, economic and spiritual challenges of the present time".
AG/AFRICA/...                            VIS 20090401 (1020)


VATICAN CITY, 1 APR 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has expressed his appreciation to heads of State and government who are due to participate in the G20 Summit which will take place in London, England, on 2 and 3 April for the "noble objectives" they have set themselves. These objectives, he writes, arise from the conviction "that the way out of the current global crisis can only be reached together, avoiding solutions marked by any nationalistic selfishness or protectionism".

  In his English-language Letter, addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Pope recalls that the aim of the gathering is "to co-ordinate, with urgency, measures necessary to stabilise financial markets and to enable companies and families to weather this period of deep recession, as well as to restore sustainable growth in the world economy and to reform and substantially strengthen systems of global governance, in order to ensure that such a crisis is not repeated in the future".

  Pope Benedict mentions his recent visit to Africa, where he was able "to see at first hand the reality of severe poverty and marginalization, which the crisis risks aggravating dramatically".

  He also notes the fact that "sub-Saharan Africa is represented [at the meeting] by just one State and some regional organisations". This, he writes, "must prompt a profound reflection among the summit participants, since those whose voice has least force in the political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility".

  After underlining how "a key element of the crisis is a deficit of ethics in economic structures", the Pope insists that "the same crisis teaches us that ethics is not 'external' to the economy but 'internal' and that the economy cannot function if it does not bear within it an ethical component".

  He also emphasises the need for "a courageous and generous strengthening of international co-operation, capable of promoting a truly humane and integral development. Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women - of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty - is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis once and for all, without turning our back on any region, and if we are definitively to prevent any recurrence of a situation similar to that in which we find ourselves today".

  The Pope concludes his Letter by expressing the wish to add his voice "to those of the adherents of various religions and cultures who share the conviction that the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015, to which leaders at the UN Millennium Summit committed themselves, remains one of the most important tasks of our time".

  Gordon Brown has replied, expressing agreement with the Pope's ideas and indicating the paths to follow in order to implement them.
MESS/.../G20 SUMMIT                        VIS 20090401 (490)


CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE TARCISIO BERTONE S.D.B. has sent a message to the labour ministers of the G8 member States (Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, United States, Japan, Canada and Russia) and of a further six nations with the world's largest economies, who participated in the Social Summit, held in Rome from 29 to 31 March. The aim of the meeting was to formulate proposals to ensure that solutions to the world economic crisis take job protection and workers' rights into account.

MSGR. RENATO VOLANTE, HOLY SEE PERMANENT OBSERVER to the United Nations Organisation for Food and Agriculture, addressed the 29th FAO regional conference for Asia and the Pacific, held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 28 March. In his address Msgr. Volante affirmed, among other things, that "the crisis affecting markets, financial activities and food prices calls for agricultural policies to be revised" and highlighted the need "to work with all possible methods and instruments".
.../IN BRIEF/...                            VIS 20090401 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 1 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Amboina, Indonesia, presented by bishop Josephus Tethool M.S.C., upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Henrique Soares da Costa of the clergy of the archdiocese of Maceio, Brazil, rector of the church of "Nossa Senhora do Livramento", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Aracaju (area 7,019, population 1,202,000, Catholics 1,010,000, priests 116, permanent deacons 11, religious 286), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Penedo, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991.
RE:NEA/.../TETHOOL:SOARES                    VIS 20090401 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 1 APR 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Silvio Cesare Bonicelli, emeritus of Parma, Italy on 6 March at the age of 76.

 - Archbishop Luis Mena Arroyo, former auxiliary of Mexico, Mexico, on 3 March at the age of 88.

 - Archbishop Felipe Santiago Benitez Avalos, emeritus of Asuncion, Paraguay on 19 March at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Ramon Mantilla Duarte C.SS.R., emeritus of Ipiales, Colombia on 16 March at the age of 83.

 - Archbishop Paulo Eduardo Andrade Ponte, emeritus of Sao Luis do Maranhao, Brazil on 15 March at the age of 77.

 - Bishop Luis Rojas Mena, emeritus of Culiacan, Mexico on 18 March at the age of 91.

 - Bishop Manuel P. del Rosario, emeritus of Malolos, Philippines on 22 March at the age of 93.

 - Bishop Loras Joseph Watters, emeritus of Winona, U.S.A. on 30 March at the age of 93.
.../DEATHS/...                            VIS 20090401 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 2 APR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a second group of prelates from the Argentinean Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  "As in many other parts of the world", the Pope told the bishops, "you in Argentina also feel a pressing need to practice an extensive and incisive evangelisation which, bearing in mind the Christian values that moulded the history and culture of your country, may lead to a spiritual and moral renaissance in your communities, and in society as a whole".

  "To evangelise is first of all to bear witness, in a simple and direct way, to God revealed by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. It is to bear witness that in His Son God has loved the world", said the Pope quoting words of his predecessor Paul VI. He went on: "This clear and explicit announcement of Christ as man's Saviour is part of the exhilarating search for truth, beauty and goodness which characterises human beings". For this reason "announcement and witness of the Gospel are the primary service Christians can give to individuals and the entire human race".

  "All evangelising activity springs from a threefold love: for the Word of God, for the Church and for the world. ... Through Sacred Scripture Christ makes Himself known to us in His person, His life and His doctrine". Hence, prelates must "facilitate the access of all faithful to Sacred Scripture so that, placing the Word of God at the centre of their lives, they may welcome Christ as Redeemer and His light may illuminate all areas of human existence".

  "Given that the Word of God cannot be understood separate from or outside the Church, it is important to foment a spirit of communion and faithfulness to the Magisterium, especially among those whose mission it is to transmit the Gospel message in its entirety", said the Holy Father.

  "It must be borne in mind that the primary form of evangelisation is the witness of one's own life", the Pope insisted. Then, referring specifically to priests, he indicated that "the priest has a heavy responsibility to ensure that his conduct appears irreproachable in the eyes of the faithful, closely following Christ".

  "Announcing the Gospel involves everyone in the Church, including the lay faithful who receive that mission through Baptism and Confirmation", said the Holy Father, and he encouraged the bishops "to ensure that lay people become increasingly aware of their vocation as living members of the Church and true disciples and missionaries of Christ in all things".

  Finally, Pope Benedict concluded: "How many benefits may we hope to see, also for civil society, by the resurgence of mature lay people who seek sanctity in their everyday lives, in full communion with their pastors and firm in their apostolic vocation to be evangelical ferment in the world!"
AL/.../ARGENTINA                            VIS 20090402 (490)
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