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Friday, May 8, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Joseph Kariyil of Punalur, India as bishop of Cochin (area 235, population 616,218, Catholics 172,037, priests 141, religious 564), India.

- Fr. Marcelo Daniel Colombo, pastor of the cathedral of Quilmes, Argentina, as bishop of Oran (area 55,000, population 348,000, Catholics 271,000, priests 39, permanent deacons 3, religious 90), Argentina. The bishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1988.

- Fr. Selvister Ponnumuthan of the clergy of the diocese of Neyattinkara, India, rector of St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Carmelgiri, as bishop of Punalur (area 5,052, population 3,000,000, Catholics 46,815, priests 54, religious 287), India. The bishop-elect was born in Viraly-Utchakkada, India in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981.


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest, Romania, for celebrations taking place to mark the tenth anniversary of John Paul II's visit to that country from 7 to 9 May 1999. The Message was delivered by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States and the Pope's special envoy to the event.

In his Message the Pope praises the current initiative, which has been promoted by the Catholic Church in Romania, the Romania Orthodox Church and the State, saying that it "brings together the Catholic and Orthodox faithful of that country which, for its geographical location and its long history, for its culture and its traditions, has a unique ecumenical vocation inscribed in its very roots".

The Pope expresses the hope "that believers in Christ will not only treasure the memory of those unforgettable days, but that, drawing from the teaching of my venerated predecessor John Paul II, they will commit themselves to seeking courageous ways to face together the great challenges of our time. I am thinking particularly of the defence of human life at every stage, protection of the family, respect for creation and promotion of the common good. Furthermore, making the wishes of the beloved John Paul II my own, I invite people to pray that, as soon as possible, we may achieve the full fraternal communion of all Christians, both of the West and the East".


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 3.30 p.m. local time today (2.30 p.m. in Rome), the Holy Father arrived at the "Regina Pacis" Centre in the Jordanian capital city of Amman. The centre, founded by Bishop Salim Sayegh, Latin patriarchal vicar of Jordan, is dedicated to the social rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Having been greeted by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, the Pope began his remarks by praising the work of the Comboni Sisters and the lay staff who work in the centre.

"Like countless pilgrims before me", he said, "it is now my turn to satisfy that profound wish to touch, to draw solace from and to venerate the places where Jesus lived, the places which were made holy by His presence. Since apostolic times, Jerusalem has been the primary place of pilgrimage for Christians, but earlier still, in the ancient Near East, Semitic peoples built sacred shrines in order to mark and commemorate a divine presence or action. And ordinary people would travel to these centres carrying a portion of the fruits of their land and livestock to offer in homage and thanksgiving".

"Every one of us is a pilgrim", he continued. "We are all drawn forward, with purpose, along God's path ... sometimes with trepidation or anxiety, but always with expectation and hope, knowing too that there are others who encourage us along the way. I know that the journeys that have led many of you to the 'Regina Pacis' Centre have been marked by suffering or trial. Some of you struggle courageously with disabilities, others of you have endured rejection. ... Of particular importance, I know, is the centre's great success in promoting the rightful place of the disabled in society".

"At times", the Pope went on, "it is difficult to find a reason for what appears only as an obstacle to be overcome or even as pain - physical or emotional - to be endured. Yet faith and understanding help us to see a horizon beyond our own selves in order to imagine life as God does. God's unconditional love, which gives life to every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life".

"Unlike the pilgrims of old, I do not come bearing gifts or offerings. I come simply with an intention, a hope: to pray for the precious gift of unity and peace, most specifically for the Middle East. Peace for individuals, ... for communities, peace for Jerusalem, for the Holy Land, for the region, peace for the entire human family; the lasting peace born of justice, integrity and compassion, the peace that arises from humility, forgiveness and the profound desire to live in harmony as one.

"Prayer is hope in action", the Holy Father added, for through it "we come into loving contact with the one God, the universal Creator, and in so doing we come to realise the futility of human divisions and prejudices and we sense the wondrous possibilities that open up before us when our hearts are converted to God's truth, to His design for each of us and our world".

Turning then to address the young people of the centre, Benedict XVI said that among them he "drew strength from God". And he went on: "Your experience of trials, your witness to compassion, and your determination to overcome the obstacles you encounter, encourage me in the belief that suffering can bring about change for the good. In our own trials, and standing alongside others in their struggles, we glimpse the essence of our humanity, we become, as it were, more human. And we come to learn that, on another plane, even hearts hardened by cynicism or injustice or unwillingness to forgive are never beyond the reach of God, can always be opened to a new way of being, a vision of peace".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by calling upon everyone "to pray every day for our world" and, now in particular, "for me every day of my pilgrimage; for my own spiritual renewal in the Lord, and for the conversion of hearts to God's way of forgiveness and solidarity so that my hope - our hope - for unity and peace in the world will bear abundant fruit".

Following his visit, the Holy Father went to the apostolic nunciature in Amman. Later today he is due to travel to the Al-Husseiniyeh Palace where he will pay a courtesy visit to Jordanian monarchs King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9.50 a.m. today. Following a four-hour flight, his plane landed at the Queen Alia airport in the Jordanian capital Amman, thus beginning his apostolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land which is due to last until 15 May. This is the twelfth trip outside Italy of his pontificate.

King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan welcomed the Pope as he descended from his aircraft. Also present to greet the Holy Father were the political and civil authorities of the country, the ordinaries of the Holy Land, patriarchs, bishops and a group of faithful.

"I come to Jordan as a pilgrim", said the Pope in his address, "to venerate holy places that have played such an important part in some of the key events of biblical history".

He then went on to express his appreciation for the "opportunity that Jordan's Catholic community enjoys to build public places of worship", describing it as "a sign of this country's respect for religion". In this context he continued: "Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental human right, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of every man and woman will come to be increasingly affirmed and defended, not only throughout the Middle East, but in every part of the world".

"My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam", he said.

"The Kingdom of Jordan has long been at the forefront of initiatives to promote peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, encouraging inter-religious dialogue, supporting efforts to find a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, welcoming refugees from neighbouring Iraq, and seeking to curb extremism". Pope Benedict then recalled "the pioneering efforts for peace in the region made by the late King Hussein. ... May his commitment to the resolution of the region's conflicts continue to bear fruit in efforts to promote lasting peace and true justice for all who live in the Middle East".

Referring then the to the seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, held in Rome last autumn, during which participants examined the central role of the commandment of love in their respective religious traditions, the Pope concluded by expressing the hope that "this visit, and indeed all the initiatives designed to foster good relations between Christians and Muslims, will help us to grow in love for the Almighty and Merciful God, and in fraternal love for one another".
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