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Friday, April 3, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. yesterday, 2 April and fourth anniversary of the death of John Paul II, Benedict XVI presided at a Mass in commemoration of his predecessor.

  In his homily, Benedict XVI explained how John Paul II "remains alive in people's hearts, as is evident from the non-stop pilgrimage of the faithful to his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes".

  Turning then to address young people he said: "Your presence brings to mind the enthusiasm John Paul II was able to infuse in the new generations. His memory is a stimulus for us all, as we gather in this basilica where he often celebrated the Eucharist, to allow ourselves to be illuminated and summoned by the Word of God".

  The Holy Father then considered the Gospel readings, highlighting the difficulties involved in being witnesses of Christ. "Our thoughts", he said, "go to the beloved Servant of God Karol Wojtyla - John Paul II, who from his youth showed himself to be a bold and intrepid defender of Christ. For His sake, he did not hesitate to spend all his energies in order to carry His light everywhere. He accepted no compromise when it came to proclaiming and defending His Truth. He never tired of spreading His love. From the beginning of his pontificate, right up to 2 April 2005, he was not afraid to proclaim, always and to everyone, that only Jesus is the true Liberator of man".

  Benedict XVI also dwelt on the fruitfulness of John Paul II's pontificate. "We could say ... that he generated many sons and daughters in the faith", he affirmed, telling the young people present that they "ideally represent the ranks of young men and women who have participated in the twenty-three World Youth Days in various parts of the world. How many vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, how many young families resolved to live the evangelical ideal and to tend towards sanctity are linked to the testimony and preaching of my venerated predecessor!" the Pope cried. "How many young men and women have converted to, or maintained, the Christian path, thanks to his prayers, his encouragement and the support of his example"!

  "John Paul II was able to communicate a powerful message of hope, founded on faith in Jesus Christ Who is 'is the same yesterday, and today, and forever'. ... As an affectionate father and a careful teacher, he indicated sure and sound points of reference indispensable for everyone, especially for the young. And in his final hours and his death this new generation wished to show they had understood his teaching, gathering silently in prayer in St. Peter's Square and many other places around the world. Those young people were aware that his demise was a loss: 'their' Pope was dying, whom they considered as 'their father' in the faith".

  "We cannot live without hope", insisted the Holy Father, "but we must be careful. In times such as these, given the cultural and social context in which we live, there is a risk of reducing Christian hope to an ideology, to group slogans, to exterior cladding. Nothing could be more opposite to Jesus' message! He does not want His disciples 'to recite' a role, even a role of hope. He wants them 'to be' hope, and they can be so only if they remain united to Him".

  "If the words of Christ remain within us, then we will be able to propagate the flame of love that He lit upon the earth; we will be able to hold high the torch of faith and hope. ... This is the flame that Pope John Paul II left as his legacy. He gave it to me as his successor, and this evening I ideally consign it, once again, to you young people of Rome, that you may continue to be sentinels of the morning, watchful and joyful at this dawn of the third millennium".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Pope sent the following telegram of condolence to Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo O.F.M., minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, for the death of Cardinal Umberto Betti O.F.M., former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Cardinal Betti died on 1 April at the age of 87:

  "It was with great sadness that I learned the news of the death of Cardinal Umberto Betti and, spiritually sharing in the mourning that has struck the Order of Friars Minor, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences. My soul filled with gratitude to the Lord, I recall the ministry that the lamented Cardinal carried out with such zeal, particularly as illustrious theologian, expert of Vatican Council II, esteemed consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Secretariat of State, and rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Raising fervent prayers for such a worthy servant of the Gospel and invoking divine goodness to grant eternal peace to his soul, I send my special apostolic blessing to comfort his relatives, confreres, and all those mourning his passing".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Victor Manuel Grimaldi Cespedes, the new ambassador of the Dominican Republic.

  In his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father noted that for more than five centuries, "thanks to generous and selfless efforts of evangelisation, faith in Jesus Christ became ever more vigorous and effective. ... From the first seed grew a flourishing tree, the Church in Latin America, which with the passing of the years has given abundant fruits of sanctity, culture, and prosperity for all members of society".

  Benedict XVI went on: "It is right to recognise the contribution made by the Church, through her institutions, for the benefit and progress of your country, especially in the field of education, with various universities, technical training centres, institutes and parish schools; and in the field of assistance, with the concern she shows towards immigrants, refugees, disabled, sick, elderly, orphans and the poor". In this context the Pope also underlined "the collaboration that exists between local Catholic bodies and the organs of State in the development of programmes which, while always seeking the common good of society, favour those most in need and encourage authentic moral and spiritual values".

  He also highlighted how, "in the significant political and social changes that the Dominican Republic has been traversing over recent times", it is important to "implant and prolong the noble principles that distinguish the rich history of the country since its foundation. I am referring primarily to the defence and dissemination of such basic human values as the recognition and protection of the dignity of the person, respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, because these elements are indispensable to the social fabric".

  The Holy Father highlighted how, despite recent achievements "in social and economic plans, which open hopes for a brighter and more peaceful future, ... there is still a long way to go to ensure Dominicans enjoy a dignified life and to eradicate the blights of poverty, drug trafficking, marginalisation, and violence".

  "Everything that tends towards strengthening the institutions is fundamental to the wellbeing of society, a wellbeing which rests upon such pillars as cultivating honesty and transparency, juridical independence, care and respect for the environment and the reinforcement of social services, healthcare and education for the entire population. These steps must be accompanied by a strong determination to definitively eradicate corruption, which brings such suffering especially for the poorest and most defenceless members of society".

  The Pope concluded by giving assurances that "in establishing a climate of true harmony, and in searching for effective and stable answers to their most pressing problems, the Dominican authorities will always find the Church's hand outstretched for the building of a freer, more peaceful, just and fraternal civilisation".


VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Pope today received members of the Circle of St. Peter, in a traditional annual meeting in which they present him with "Peter's Pence", the proceeds of collections made every year in the parishes and institutes of the diocese of Rome.

  "I thank you", the Pope told them, "because in some way, with this initiative of human and evangelical solidarity, you give concrete expression to the concern of Peter's Successor for those in conditions of particular need".

  "We know that the authenticity of our faithfulness to the Gospel may also be measured in terms of the real attention and concern we strive to show towards others, especially the weakest and the marginalised", he added. "Thus charitable service, which can take many forms, becomes a privileged method of evangelisation, in the light of Jesus' own teaching".

  The Pope concluded: "From the Cross spring the joy and peace of heart which make us witnesses of hope, of which there is such need in these times of widespread economic crisis".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received in private audience Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


- Venerable Servant of God Maria Pierina de Micheli, Italian sister of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires (1890-1945).


- Servant of God Franz Joseph Rudigier, Austrian Bishop of Linz (1811-1884).

- Servant of God Johannes Evangelist Wagner, German diocesan priest (1807-1886).

- Servant of God Innocenzo da Caltagirone Marcinno (ne Giuseppe), Italian Minister General of the Order of the Capuchin Friars Minor (1589-1655).

- Servant of God Teresa de la Cruz Candamo Alvarez Calderon, Peruvian foundress of the Congregation of Canonesses of the Cross (1875-1953).

- Servant of God Maria Ines-Teresa del Santisimo Sacramento Arias Espinosa (nee Manuela de Jesus), Mexican foundress of the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament  and the Missionaries of Christ for the Universal Church (1904-1981).

- Servant of God Marie de la Ferre, French co-foundress of the Daughters of St. Joseph of La Fleche (now the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph) (1589/1590-1652).

- Servant of God Teresita del Nino Jesus Perez de Iriarte Casado (nee Felisa), Spanish  professed religious of the Dominican Nuns (1904-1954).

- Servant of God Dulce Lopes Pontes (nee Maria Rita), Brazilian sister of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (1914-1992).

- Servant of God Giacomo Gaglione, Italian lay man (1896-1962).

- Servant of God Benoite Rencurel, French lay woman of the Third Order of St. Dominic (1647-1718).
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the council.

  Vesakh, the main Buddhist festivity, marks three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. It is held during the full moon of the month of May because, according to tradition, the Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment, and passed away in that period.

  This year's message - published in English, French, and Italian - is entitled "Witnessing to a Spirit of Poverty: Christians and Buddhists in Dialogue". In  the message, Benedict XVI recalls that he recently affirmed that there is a "chosen" poverty, "which allows one to tread in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. ... We understand this poverty to mean above all an emptying of self, ... creat[ing] in us a willingness to listen to God and to our brothers and sisters, being open to them, and respecting them as individuals".

  The Pope also refers to "a poverty, a deprivation, which God does not desire and which should be fought; a poverty that prevents people and families from living as befits their dignity; a poverty that offends justice and equality and that, as such, threatens peaceful co-existence".

  The message ends by thanking Buddhists for their "inspiring witness of non-attachment and contentment. Monks, nuns, and many lay devotees among you embrace a poverty 'to be chosen' that spiritually nourishes the human heart, substantially enriching life with a deeper insight into the meaning of existence, and sustaining commitment to promoting the goodwill of the whole human community".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.
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VATICAN CITY, 3 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, England, as metropolitan archbishop of Westminster (area 3,634, population 4,664,000, Catholics 472,600, priests 669, permanent deacons 8, religious 1,560), England. He succeeds Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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