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Monday, May 4, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 4 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Camillus Archibong Etokudoh of Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria, as bishop of Port Harcourt (area 10,500, population 4,921,000, Catholics 695,673, priests 187, religious 234), Nigeria. He succeeds Bishop Alexius Obabu Makozi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

On Friday 1 May he accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Lancaster, England, presented by Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Michael Campbell O.S.A.

On Thursday 30 April he accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Kasama, Zambia, presented by Archbishop James Spaita, upon having reached the age limit.
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VATICAN CITY, 4 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, president emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

- Six prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Lino Mario Panizza Richero O.F.M. Cap. of Carabayllo.

- Bishop Hector Eduardo Vera Colona of Ica.

- Bishop Carlos Enrique Garcia Camader of Lurin.

- Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi S.C.V. of Piura.

- Bishop Jesus Moline Labarta of Chiclayo.

- Bishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon, military ordinary.

On Saturday 2 May he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Eight prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Javier Augusto del Rio Alba of Arequipa.

- Bishop Jorge Pedro Carrion Pavlich of Puno.

- Bishop Marco Antonio Cortez Lara of Tacna y Moquegua.

- Bishop Luis Abilio Sebastiani Aguirre S.M. of Ayachuco, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Miranda Melgarejo.

- Archbishop Juan Antonio Uguarte Perez of Cuzco.

- Bishop Isidro Sala Ribera of Abancay, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Gilberto Gomez Gonzalez.

- Archbishop Luigi Bianco, apostolic nuncio to Honduras, accompanied by members of his family.
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VATICAN CITY, 4 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences at the end of their fifteenth plenary meeting. The president of the academy is Mary Ann Glendon.

Speaking English, the Pope noted how the academy, "after studying work, democracy, globalisation, solidarity and subsidiarity in relation to the social teaching of the Church, ... has chosen to return to the central question of the dignity of the human person and human rights, a point of encounter between the doctrine of the Church and contemporary society".

"The Church has always affirmed that fundamental rights, above and beyond the different ways in which they are formulated and the different degrees of importance they may have in various cultural contexts, are to be upheld and accorded universal recognition because they are inherent in the very nature of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God", said the Holy Father. For this reason "they share a common nature that binds them together and calls for universal respect". Thus the Church has always "taught that the ethical and political order that governs relationships between persons finds its origin in the very structure of man's being".

The modern period, with its "heightened awareness of human rights as such and of their universality, ... helped shape the idea that the message of Christ - because it proclaims that God loves every man and woman and that every human being is called to love God freely - demonstrates that everyone, independently of his or her social and cultural condition, by nature deserves freedom".

In the wake of the "vast suffering caused by two terrible world wars and the unspeakable crimes perpetrated by totalitarian ideologies" last century, "the international community acquired a new system of international law based on human rights" and, like Paul VI and John Paul II, "forcefully referred to the right to life and the right to freedom of conscience and religion as being at the centre of those rights that spring from human nature itself.

"Strictly speaking", he added, "these human rights are not truths of faith, even though they are discoverable - and indeed come to full light - in the message of Christ Who 'reveals man to man himself'. They receive further confirmation from faith. Yet it stands to reason that, living and acting in the physical world as spiritual beings, men and women ascertain the pervading presence of a logos which enables them to distinguish not only between true and false, but also good and evil, better and worse, and justice and injustice".

"The Church's action in promoting human rights is therefore supported by rational reflection, in such a way that these rights can be presented to all people of good will, independently of any religious affiliation they may have". At the same time, "insofar as human rights need to be re-appropriated by every generation and by each individual, and insofar as human freedom ... is always fragile, the human person needs the unconditional hope and love that can only be found in God and that lead to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others".

He went on: "This perspective draws attention to some of the most critical social problems of recent decades, such as the growing awareness - which has in part arisen with globalisation and the present economic crisis - of a flagrant contrast between the equal attribution of rights and the unequal access to the means of attaining those rights. For Christians who regularly ask God to 'give us this day our daily bread', it is a shameful tragedy that one-fifth of humanity still goes hungry.

"Assuring an adequate food supply, like the protection of vital resources such as water and energy, requires all international leaders to collaborate in showing a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the natural law and promoting solidarity and subsidiarity with the weakest regions and peoples of the planet as the most effective strategy for eliminating social inequalities between countries and societies and for increasing global security".


VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass in the Vatican Basilica, during which he conferred ordination on nineteen deacons, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as "Good Shepherd" Sunday, is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the theme of which this year is "Trust in God's Initiative and the Human Response". The Pope dwelt on this fact, remarking that "trust in the Lord, Who continually calls everyone to sanctity and some in particular to a special consecration, is expressed in prayer. Both individually and in the community, we must pray for vocations, that the greatness and beauty of the love of God may attract many to follow Christ along the path of the priesthood and consecrated life.

"It is also necessary", he added, "to pray for many holy husbands and wives, capable of showing their children, especially through example, the horizons towards they must strive. ... The saints, whom the Church presents for the veneration of all the faithful, are evidence of the mature fruit of this bond between the divine call and the human response".

Benedict XVI then invited everyone to pray for his forthcoming trip to the Holy Land, due to take place from 8 to 15 May. "With this visit", he said, "I aim to confirm and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land, who every day find themselves facing no small number of difficulties. As Successor to the Apostle Peter, I will make them aware of the closeness and support of the entire body of the Church. In the same way, I will be a pilgrim of peace in the name of the One God, Who is Father to everyone. I will bear witness to the commitment of the Catholic Church in support of all those who struggle to practice dialogue and reconciliation in order to achieve a stable and lasting peace, in justice and mutual respect. Finally, my trip cannot fail to have an important ecumenical and inter-religious significance. From this point of view, Jerusalem is a symbol par excellence: there Christ died to bring together all the scattered Children of God".

Following the Marian prayer, the Pope again called for prayers for all the "afflicted peoples" of the Middle East. "In a special way I ask that you remember the Palestinian people who have endured great hardship and suffering. May the Lord bless them and all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace".

Finally, Benedict XVI gave assurances of his prayers and his closeness to "victims of the influenza affecting Mexico and other countries. Dear Mexican brothers and sisters", he said, "remain firm in the Lord. He will help you to overcome this difficulty. I invite you to pray in the family in these moments of trial".


VATICAN CITY, 3 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as "Good Shepherd" Sunday, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica and conferred priestly ordination on nineteen deacons of the diocese of Rome.

In his homily Benedict XVI explained how "disciples - and especially apostles - experience the same joy as Jesus in knowing the name and the face of the Father, and they share His pain in seeing that God is not known and that His love is not returned".

Quoting then from the First Letter of John - "the reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him" - the Holy Father indicated that "the 'world', in John's use of the term, does not understand Christians, it does not understand the ministers of the Gospel. Partly this is because it does not, in fact, know God, and partly because it does not want to know Him. The world does not want to know God and listen to His ministers because this would lead it into crisis".

"The 'world'", he went on, "in its evangelical meaning, also threatens the Church, contaminating her members and even her ordained ministers. The 'world' is a mentality, a way of thinking and living that can even contaminate the Church, that actually does contaminate the Church, and hence requires constant vigilance and purification. ... We are 'in' the world, and we risk being 'of' the world".

"Jesus gave His life for everyone, yet in particular He consecrated Himself for those whom the Father gave to Him to be consecrated in the truth - that is, in Him - and who hence could speak and act in His name, represent Him, extend His salvific actions by breaking the bread of life and remitting sins".

As priests, said the Pope "we are called to 'abide' in Christ - as St. John the Evangelist liked to say - and this is achieved especially through prayer. Our ministry is completely dependent on such 'abiding', which is the same as prayer and from which it draws its effectiveness".

Among a priest's various forms of prayer Benedict XVI mentioned "first and foremost daily Mass. The celebration of the Eucharist is the greatest and most exalted form of prayer and is the centre and source from which the other forms receive their 'lifeblood", he said. He also mentioned "the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, 'lectio divina', the Holy Rosary and meditation".

"A priest who prays much and prays well is progressively expropriated of himself and becomes ever more united to Christ, the Good Shepherd and Servant of His brothers and sisters", said the Pope in conclusion. "In conformity with Him, the priest also 'gives his life' for the flock entrusted to his care".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun S.D.B., bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, China, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the pastoral visit of John Paul II to Thailand, due to take place in Bangkok on 10 and 11 May. The Letter, written in Latin, is dated 4 April.

The names of the members of the mission accompanying the cardinal have also been made public: Fr. John Bosco Thepharat Pitisant S.D.B., provincial superior of the Salesian Fathers in Thailand; Fr. Vincent Ekapong Pongsungnern of the clergy of the archdiocese of Bangkok, assistant of the secretary general of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Carte of Christians; Msgr. Marek Zalewski, nunciature counsellor in Bangkok, and Msgr. Dennis Kuruppassery, secretary of the nunciature in Bangkok.


VATICAN CITY, 2 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received members of the Papal Foundation, a U.S. Catholic agency founded in Philadelphia, U.S.A. in 1990 by the late Cardinal John Krol. Its current president is Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia.

Greeting the members of the foundation with St. Paul's words "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ", the Pope noted how "today's world is truly in need of His peace, especially as it faces the tragedies of war, division, poverty and despair".

Having then recalled his forthcoming trip to the Holy Land, due to begin on 8 May, the Holy Father continued his English-language remarks: "I go as a pilgrim of peace. As you are well aware, for more than sixty years, this region - the land of our Lord's birth, death and Resurrection; a sacred place for the world's three great monotheistic religions - has been plagued by violence and injustice. This has led to a general atmosphere of mistrust, uncertainty and fear - often pitting neighbour against neighbour, brother against brother.

"As I prepare for this significant journey", he added, "I ask in a special way that you join me in prayer for all the peoples of the Holy Land and the region. May they receive the gifts of reconciliation, hope and peace".

The Pope then remarked how this year's meeting with the Papal Foundation was taking place "during a time when the entire world is struggling with a very worrying economic situation. At moments such as these it is tempting to overlook those without a voice and think only of our own difficulties. As Christians we are aware, however, that especially when times are difficult we must work even harder to ensure that the consoling message of our Lord is heard.

"Rather than turning in on ourselves, we must continue to be beacons of hope, strength and support for others, most especially those who have no one to watch over or assist them".

In this context, the Pope described the members of the Papal Foundation as "examples of good Christian men and women who continue to meet the challenges we face with courage and trust. Indeed the Papal Foundation itself", he concluded, "enables valuable assistance to be carried out in the name of Christ and His Church. For your sacrifice and dedication I am most grateful to you: by means of your support the Easter message of joy, hope, reconciliation and peace is more widely proclaimed".


VATICAN CITY, 1 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held a plenary meeting at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs on 30 April, according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.

The main purpose of the gathering was to advance "the negotiations pursuant to Article 10 para. 2 of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel", says the English-language communique. The Holy See delegation was led by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under secretary for Relations with States, and the Israeli delegation by Daniel Ayalon, deputy minister of foreign affairs.

"The plenary meeting of the commission took place in an atmosphere of great friendship and a spirit of co-operation and good will. The plenary noted that the working level commission achieved significant progress, on the eve of the upcoming important visit of the Pope in Jerusalem.

"It was agreed to hold the next plenary meeting on 10 December, at the Vatican. In the meantime, the working level commission will hold meetings in furtherance of both delegations' pledge to accelerate the talks and conclude the agreement at the earliest opportunity".


VATICAN CITY, 30 APR 2009 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope attended a concert offered by Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, to mark the fourth anniversary of his pontificate. The Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra and Choir of Milan were conducted, respectively, by Xian Zhang and Erina Gambarini.

The concert programme included Franz Joseph Haydn's 95th Symphony, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 35th Symphony, Antonio Vivaldi's Magnificat and the famous "Ave Verum Corpus", also by Mozart.

In his remarks at the end of the performance, Benedict XVI noted how in the last of these compositions "meditation gives way to contemplation: the eye of the soul rests upon the Blessed Sacrament and recognises therein the 'Corpus Domini', the Body which was truly sacrificed upon the cross and from which came forth universal salvation.

"Mozart", he added, "composed this piece shortly before his death, and in it we can say that music truly becomes prayer, an abandonment of the heart to God with a profound sense of peace".

The Holy Father then thanked President Napolitano for this "generous homage" which, he said, "managed to gratify not only our aesthetic sense, but at the same time to nourish our spirit, and I am, therefore, doubly grateful".

"Remember me in your prayers", he concluded, "that I may always carry out my ministry as the Lord wishes".
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