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Thursday, April 23, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 (VIS) - At 7.30 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel with members of the organising committee of the Sixth World Meeting of Families, which was held in Mexico City, Mexico, last January. Among those present at the Eucharistic celebration were Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop primate of Mexico.

  Commenting on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which St. Peter affirms that "we must obey God rather than any human authority", the Pope noted in his homily: "The Word of God speaks to us of an obedience that is not mere subjection, nor simply an obeying of orders, rather it arises from an intimate communion with God and consists in an interior vision capable of discerning that which 'comes from on high' and 'is above everything'. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which God grants without measure".

  "Our contemporaries", he went on, "need to discover this obedience, which is not theoretical but essential. It means opting for specific forms of behaviour which are based on obedience to God's will and which make us fully free. Christian families, with their domestic, simple and joyful lives, in which day by day they share their joys, hopes and concerns, and live in the light of faith, are schools of obedience and environments of true freedom. They know this well who over many years have enjoyed marriage in accordance with God's plan, ... experiencing the goodness of the Lord Who helps and encourages us".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received thirty representatives of the Pontifical Biblical Commission who have just held their plenary assembly, dedicated to the theme: "Inspiration and truth in the Bible". The president of the commission is Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  Benedict XVI began by underlining the importance of the chosen theme, which "concerns not only believers, but the Church herself, because the Church's life and mission necessarily rest upon the Word of God, which is the soul of theology and, at the same time, the inspiration of all of Christian life". Moreover, "the interpretation of Sacred Scripture is of vital importance for Christian faith and for the life of the Church".

  "From a correct approach to the concept of divine inspiration and truth in Sacred Scripture derive certain norms that directly concern its interpretation", said the Pope. "The Constitution 'Dei Verbum', having affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner. For a correct interpretation of Scripture we must, then, carefully examine what the hagiographers really sought to say and what God was pleased to reveal with their words".

  The Pope then recalled how Vatican Council II had identified "three perennially-valid criteria for interpreting Sacred Scripture in accordance with the Spirit that inspired it. In the first place, great attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture. Indeed, however different the books it contains may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan, of which Jesus Christ is the centre and the heart.

  "In the second place", he added, "Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church. ... In her Tradition the Church carries the living memory of the Word of God, and it is the Holy Spirit Who provides her with the interpretation thereof in accordance with its spiritual meaning. The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan".

  The task of scholars, the Holy Father went on, "is to contribute, following the above-mentioned principles, to a more profound interpretation and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. The academic study of the sacred texts is not by itself sufficient. In order to respect the coherence of the Church's faith, Catholic exegetes must be careful to perceive the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church".

  "The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be a merely an individual academic undertaking, but must always be compared with, inserted into, and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church. This norm is essential in order to ensure a correct and reciprocal exchange between exegesis and Church Magisterium. Catholic exegetes do not nourish the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers. The opposite is true, because these texts were not given to individual scholars 'to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research'. The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity".

  "Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that its is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching".

  "Only within the ecclesial context can Sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic Word of God which is guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual development of believers. This means rejecting all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis [and hence] incapable of accepting the global meaning which, over the course of the centuries, has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, yesterday delivered a speech before the Conference called to review the 2001 Durban Declaration.

  Speaking English, Archbishop Tomasi affirmed that "the stranger and those who are different too often are rejected to the point that barbarous acts are committed against them, including genocide and ethnic cleansing. Old forms of exploitation give way to new ones: women and children are trafficked in a contemporary form of slavery, irregular immigrants are abused, persons perceived to be or who in fact are different become, in disproportionate numbers, the victims of social and political exclusion".

  "The Holy See", he went on, "is also alarmed by the still latent temptation of eugenics" which could lead to "the elimination of human beings that do not fulfil the characteristics predetermined by a given society".

  The permanent observer also indicated the need to review certain educational systems "so that every aspect of discrimination may be eliminated from teaching, textbooks, curricula and visual resources". Media, he said, "should be accessible and free of racist and ideological control as this leads to discrimination and even violence against persons of different cultural and ethnic background".

  The archbishop then went on to underline the importance of a "full implementation of religious freedom for individuals, and their collective exercise of this basic human right".

  "The challenges ahead of us demand more effective strategies in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", he concluded. "The first step for a practical solution lies in an integral education that includes ethical and spiritual values which will favour the empowerment of vulnerable groups like refugees, migrants and people on the move, racial and cultural minorities, people prisoners of extreme poverty or who are ill and disabled, and girls and women still stigmatised as inferior in some societies where an irrational fear of differences prevent full participation in social life".


VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Secretariat of State and the League of Arab States.

  According to a communique published at midday today, the Memorandum was signed for the Secretariat of State by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and for the League of Arab States by Amr Moussa, secretary general of that organisation. Among those present at the signing ceremony were Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Walid Al Gargani, head of the Arab League mission to the Holy See.

  "The agreement", reads the communique, "further consolidates the existing ties of collaboration between the Holy See and the League of Arab States, especially at a political and cultural level, in favour of peace, security and stability, both regionally and internationally. Furthermore, it proposes instruments for consultation between the two sides, with particular emphasis on initiatives of inter-religious dialogue".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

    - Bishop Gustavo Arturo Help of Venado Tuerto.

    - Archbishop Guillermo Jose Garlatti of Bahia Blanca, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Maria Laxague.

    - Bishop Carlos Maria Franzini of Rafaela.

    - Bishop Jorge Ruben Lugones S.J. of Lomas de Zamora.

    - Bishop Aurelio Jose Kuhn O.F.M., prelate of Dean Funes.

    - Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis.

    - Bishop Baldomero Carlos Martini of San Justo.

    - Bishop Carlos Humberto Malfa of Chascomus.

    - Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario.

    - Bishop Miguel Mykycej F.D.P. of Santa Maria del Patrocinio en Buenos Aires of the Ukrainians.

    - Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto C.SS.R., military ordinary emeritus.

 - Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., librarian of Holy Roman Church, accompanied by an entourage for the presentation of the book "Die Vatikan-Bible", published by "Belser Verlag".
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