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Monday, April 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2009 (VIS) - Today in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI received 3,000 members of the Franciscan Family who recently participated in the "Chapter of the Mats" in Assisi, Italy, commemorating the birth of the Franciscan order on the eighth centenary of the approval of St. Francis' "Protoregula" by Pope Innocent III.

  The dozen friars who first followed St. Francis of Assisi, said the Pope, have over the centuries become "a multitude scattered throughout the world. ... And I, as Pastor of the universal Church, wish to thank [God] for the precious gift you yourselves represent for all Christian people. From the brook that sprang up at the base of Monte Subasio, a great river was born which has made a notable contribution to the universal spread of the Gospel".

  Francis, the Holy Father continued, "experienced the power of divine grace, as if he had died and been raised again. All his earlier wealth, all his reasons for feeling proud and secure, everything became a 'loss' from the moment he encountered the crucified and risen Christ. At that point abandoning everything became almost a necessity, in order to express the superabundance of the gift he had received".

  Pope Benedict then went on to describe the focus of his meeting with the Franciscans as "the Gospel as a rule for life", and he highlighted how St. Francis "viewed himself entirely in the light of the Gospel. This is his appeal. This is his perennial relevance", he said. "Thus the 'Poverello' became a living Gospel, capable of attracting men and women of all times to Christ, especially the young who prefer radical commitment to half measures. Bishop Guido of Assisi, and later Pope Innocent III, recognised evangelical authenticity in the projects of Francis and his companions, and encouraged their efforts, also with a view to the good of the Church".

  However, the Pope noted, "Francis could also simply not have come to the Pope. Many religious groups and movements were formed in that period and some of them stood against the Church as an institution, or at least they did not seek her approbation. A polemical attitude towards the hierarchy would certainly have brought Francis many followers. Yet his first thought was to place his own and his companions' development in the hands of the Bishop of Rome, Peter's Successor. This fact demonstrates his true ecclesial spirit. From the beginning he saw the little 'us' he had begun with his first friars as being part of the great 'us' of the one universal Church.

  "The Pope recognised and appreciated this", added Benedict XVI. "In fact, he too could have failed to approve Francis' plans. And indeed, we may well imagine that among Innocent III's collaborators some advised him to do just that, perhaps fearing that the little group of friars resembled other heretical and pauperist groups of the period. However, the Roman Pontiff, well-informed by the bishop of Assisi and by Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo, was able to discern the initiative of the Holy Spirit and welcomed, blessed and encouraged the nascent community of 'Friars Minor'".

  "Eight centuries have passed and today you wish to renew your Founder's gesture", the Pope told his audience. "You are all children and heirs of those origins. ... Like Francis and Clare of Assisi, ... always begin again from Christ ... in order to see His face in our brothers and sisters who suffer, and to bring everyone His peace. Be witnesses of the beauty of God, whose praises Francis sang while contemplating the wonders of creation".

  "Go forth and continue 'to repair the house' of the Lord Jesus Christ: His Church", cried the Holy Father. "Yet there is another ruin, an even more serious ruin: that of people and of communities", he said.

  "Like St. Francis, always begin with yourselves", he concluded. "If you prove capable of renewing yourselves in the spirit of the Gospel, you will continue to help the pastors of the Church to make her face, as the bride of Christ, ever more beautiful. Now as at your beginnings, this is what the Pope expects from you".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2009 (VIS) - On 28 April the Holy Father will travel to the Italian region of Abruzzo to meet people affected by the recent earthquake there.

  In a communique made public today, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. announces that the Pope will arrive at the camp set up near the village of Onna at 9.30 a.m. before going on to the city of L'Aquila where he will visit the student hall of residence and the basilica of Collemaggio. He will then move on to the barracks of the "Guardia di Finanza" where he will meet with representatives of the local people and of the rescue services. His return to the Vatican is scheduled for 12.30 p.m.

  During his journey by helicopter, the Pope will fly over some of the areas struck by the earthquake.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, the second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, Benedict XVI prayed the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo.

  The Pope expressed his thanks for greetings he had received over the last few days, both for his birthday, 16 April, and for the fourth anniversary of his election as Pontiff, which falls today 19 April.

  "As I had the opportunity to reiterate recently", he remarked, "I never feel alone. And in this special week, which for the liturgy constitutes a single day, I have enjoyed an even greater experience of the communion that surrounds and supports me: a spiritual solidarity, nourished primarily by prayer, that express itself in a thousand different ways. From my collaborators in the Roman Curia to the most far-flung parishes, we Catholics form a family and must feel ourselves to be such, animated by the same sentiments as the first Christian community".

  The Holy Father went on to recall how the communion of early Christians "had the risen Christ as its centre and foundation. In fact, the Gospel recounts how at the monument of the Passion, when the divine Master was arrested and condemned to death, the disciples scattered. ... Having risen, Jesus gave His followers a new unity, stronger than before, invincible, because founded not upon human resources but upon divine mercy which made them all feel loved and forgiven by Him. It is, then, the merciful love of God that unites the Church, yesterday as today, and makes humankind a single family".

  "Animated by this profound conviction, my beloved predecessor John Paul II wished to dedicate this Sunday, the second of Easter, to Divine Mercy, and to show everyone the risen Christ as their source of faith and hope, accepting the spiritual message transmitted by the Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska, a message encapsulated in the invocation: 'Jesus, in You I trust'".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 APR 2009 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo, after praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope expressed his best wishes to "our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who, following the Julian Calendar, celebrate Easter today. For all of them, may the risen Lord renew the light of faith and bring abundance of joy and peace", he said.

  The Holy Father then went on to mention the forthcoming review of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. The review conference is due to begin tomorrow in Geneva, Switzerland.

  "It is an important initiative", he said, "because even today, despite the lessons of history, such deplorable phenomena still exist. The Durban Declaration recognises that 'all peoples and individuals form a human family rich in its diversity. They have contributed to the progress of civilisation and of the cultures which constitute the shared heritage of humankind. ... The promotion of tolerance, of pluralism and of respect can lead to a more inclusive society'. On the basis of these affirmations, what is required is firm and substantial action, at both the national and international level, to prevent and eliminate all forms of discrimination and intolerance. What is needed above all is a vast programme of education to exalt the dignity of individuals and protect their fundamental rights. For her part, the Church reiterates that only recognition for the dignity of man, created in the image and likeness of God, can constitute a sure foundation for such an undertaking. Indeed, it is this shared origin that gives humankind its shared destiny, which should arouse in everyone a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility. I express my sincere hopes that the delegates present at the Geneva conference may work together in a spirit of dialogue and acceptance to put an end to all forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance, thus taking a fundamental step towards affirming the universal value of the dignity of man and his rights, in a context of respect and justice for all individuals and peoples".

  This evening Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican at the end of his post-Easter rest period at Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

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

    - Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer of La Plata, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Marino.

    - Bishop Hugo Nicolas Barbaro of San Roque de Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena.

    - Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnello of Salta.

    - Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto of San Isidro.

 - Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, apostolic nuncio to Guatemala.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Luis Cabrera Herrera O.F.M., definer general of his order, as metropolitan archbishop of Cuenca (area 8,630, population 654,000, Catholics 622,000, priests 119, permanent deacons 11, religious 345), Ecuador. The archbishop-elect was born in Azogues, Ecuador in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1983. He succeeds Archbishop Vicente Rodrigo Cisneros Duran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 18 April it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tete, Mozambique, presented by Bishop Paulo Mandlate S.S.S., upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Robert Bezak C.S.S.R., administrator of the parish of Banska Bystrica - Radvan and superior of the Redemptorist Fathers in that parish, as archbishop of Trnava (area 4,833, population 635,692, Catholics 461,046, priests 221, religious 405), Slovakia. The archbishop-elect was born in Prievidza, Slovakia in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1984. He succeeds Archbishop Jan Sokol, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jozef Glemp, archbishop emeritus of Warsaw, Poland, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the thousandth anniversary of the death of St. Bruno, due to take place in Lomza and Gizyko, Poland, from 19 to 21 June.

 - Appointed Fr. Beda Umberto Paluzzi O.S.B., apostolic administrator of the territorial abbey of Montevergine, Italy, as ordinary abbot of the same territorial abbey (area 1, population 14, Catholics 8, priests 8, religious 14).

 - Appointed Bishop Zygmunt Zimowski of Radom, Poland, as president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. He succeeds Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit. The archbishop-elect was born in Kupienin, Poland in 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1973 and consecrated a bishop in 2002.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Umberto Betti O.F.M., former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, on 1 April at the age of 87.

 - Bishop Ephraim Silas Obot of Idah, Nigeria, on 12 April at the age of 72.

 - Bishop Albert Sanschagrin O.M.I., emeritus of Saint-Hyacinthe, Canada, on 2 April at the age of 97.
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