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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Monday, May 18, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique yesterday evening:

"This afternoon the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, who subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"During the cordial discussions, the president was pleased to express his thanks to the Holy Father for the attention he has always dedicated to Poland. Certain bilateral and regional questions were also considered, noting the affinity of the positions of the Holy See and Poland in various international fields".


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

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

- Bishop Isidro Barrio Barrio of Huancavelica.

- Bishop Norbert Klemens Strotmann Hoppe M.S.C. of Chosica.

- Bishop Emiliano Antonio Cisneros Martinez O.A.R. of Chachapoyas.

- Bishop Daniel Thomas Turley Murphy O.S.A. of Chulucanas.

- Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte O.F.M. of Trujillo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jose Javier Travieso Martin C.M.F.

- Bishop Jose Carmel Martinez Lazaro O.A.R. of Cajamarca.

- Bishop Angel Francisco Simon Piorno of Chimbote.

- Bishop Jose Eduardo Velasquez Tarazona of Huaraz.

- Bishop Ivo Baldi Gaburri of Huari.

- Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski, apostolic nuncio to the Republic of Congo and Gabon, accompanied by members of his family.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a Message to Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, Italy, for the initiatives planned by the diocese - among them a Jubilee Year - to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of the Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who died in Beijing, China on 11 May 1610.

Matteo Ricci, who was born in Macerata on 6 October 1552, was, the Pope writes, "gifted with profound faith and extraordinary cultural and academic genius". He "dedicated long years of his life to weaving a profound dialogue between West and East, at the same time working incisively to root the Gospel in the culture of the great people of China. Even today, his example remains as a model of fruitful encounter between European and Chinese civilisation".

"In considering his intense academic and spiritual activity, we cannot but remain favourably impressed by the innovative and unusual skill with which he, with full respect, approached Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions. It was, in fact, this approach that characterised his mission, which aimed to seek possible harmony between the noble and millennial Chinese civilisation and the novelty of Christianity, which is for all societies a ferment of liberation and of true renewal from within, because the Gospel, universal message of salvation, is destined for all men and women whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.

"What made his apostolate original and, we could say, prophetic, was the profound sympathy he nourished for the Chinese, for their cultures and religious traditions", the Holy Father adds. Ricci was likewise "a model of dialogue and respect for the beliefs of others" and "made friendship the style of his apostolate during his twenty-eight years in China".

The Jesuit remained faithful to this style of evangelisation to the end of his life, "using a scientific methodology and a pastoral strategy based, on the one hand, on respect for the wholesome customs of the place, which Chinese neophytes did not have to abandon when they embraced the Christian faith and, on the other, on his awareness that the Revelation could enhance and complete" those customs. As the Fathers of the Church did in the time of the encounter between the Gospel and Greco-Roman culture, the author of the "Treatise on Friendship" undertook his "farsighted work of inculturation of Christianity in China by seeking constant understanding with the wise men of that country".

"Following his example, may our own communities, which accommodate people from different cultures and religions, grow in a spirit of acceptance and of reciprocal respect", the Holy Father concludes.


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

The Holy Father began his remarks to them by speaking of the unity of the Church which, he said, "is never definitively achieved and must be constantly constructed and perfected, without surrendering to difficulties, be they objective or subjective, and with the aim of showing the true face of the Catholic Church, one and unique".

After highlighting how "the authentic unity of the Church is always an inexhaustible source of the spirit of evangelisation", the Pope expressed his joy at the fact that the prelates had adapted their pastoral programmes to accommodate "the missionary impulse promoted by the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, celebrated in Aparecida, and especially the 'Continental mission', with a view to ensuring that each member of the faithful aspires to sanctity through a personal rapport with the Lord Jesus, loving Him with perseverance and conforming their own lives to evangelical criteria so as to create ecclesial communities of intense Christian life".

"This means relaunching the missionary spirit, not out of fear of the future, but because the Church is a dynamic presence, and the true disciple of Jesus Christ takes pleasure in freely transmitting His divine Word to others and sharing with them the love that flowed from His open side on the cross".

Benedict XVI encouraged the prelates "to unite all the living energies of your dioceses that they may start out again from Christ irradiating the light of His face, especially to brothers and sisters who, perhaps because they feel unappreciated or not sufficiently recognised in their spiritual and material needs, seek answers to their anxieties in other religious experiences".

"Assiduous pastoral visits to ecclesial communities (including the most remote and humble), prolonged prayer, careful preparation of preaching, paternal concern for priests, families, young people, catechists and other pastoral care workers, are the best ways to instil in everyone an ardent desire to be messengers of the Good News of salvation, and will at the same time open the hearts of those around you, especially the sick and those most in need".

The Holy Father highlighted "the beneficial presence of selfless men and women of consecrated life" in Peru. In this context he called on the bishops to continue their "fraternal accompaniment and encouragement" of such people so that, "living the evangelical counsels according to their own charism, they may continue their robust witness of love for God, unshakeable adherence to Church Magisterium and willing collaboration with diocesan pastoral programmes".

The Pope concluded by mentioning those Peruvians "without work or adequate educational and healthcare provisions, and those who live in the suburbs of the great cities or in isolated areas. My thoughts also go to those who have fallen pray to drug addiction and violence. We cannot ignore these our weakest brothers and sisters, beloved unto God, ... Christ's charity urges us on".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Before praying the Regina Coeli this morning, the Holy Father dedicated some remarks to his recent visit to the Holy Land, thanking everyone who had helped to make "such an important apostolic trip" a success: The Latin patriarch; the pastors of the Church in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories; the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land; the civil authorities in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the forces of law and order. He also expressed his gratitude to all the priests, religious and lay people who had accompanied him on his pilgrimage or prayed for him.

"This pilgrimage to the Holy Places was also a pastoral visit to the faithful who live there, a service to the unity of Christians, to dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and to the construction of peace", said the Holy Father. "The Holy Land, a symbol of God's love for His people and for all humankind, is also a symbol of the freedom and peace that God wills for all His children".

Nonetheless, he went on, "the history of yesterday and today shows that this very land has also become a symbol of quite the opposite, that is, of interminable divisions and conflict between brothers. How is this possible? It is right that such a question should enter our hearts, even though we know that a mysterious plan of God touches that Land ... where He 'sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins'.

"The Holy Land" Benedict XVI added, "has been called a 'fifth Gospel', because here we can see, even touch, the truth of the history that God achieved with man: from the sites of Abraham's life to the sites of Jesus' life. ... Yet we can say more: the Holy Land by its very history may be considered a microcosm encapsulating God's demanding journey with humanity".

Pope Benedict then turned to consider the dramatic situation in Sri Lanka, giving assurances of his "spiritual closeness to civilians in the combat area in the north of the country: thousands of children, women and elderly people from whom the war has taken years of life and hope".

"On this subject", he added, "I would like once again to launch a pressing appeal to the belligerents to facilitate the evacuation" of civilians, "and to this end I add my voice to that of the United Nations Security Council which just a few days ago asked for guarantees for their safety and security".

He concluded: "I also ask humanitarian institutions, including Catholic ones, to use all possible means to meet the urgent food and medical requirements of the refugees".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted:

- The resignation from the diocese of Bossangoa, Central African Republic, presented by Bishop Francois-Xavier Yombandje, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Malakal, Sudan, presented by Bishop Vincent Mojwok Nyiker, upon having reached the age limit.

- The resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of San Francisco, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Ignatius C. Wang, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated 16 March, in which he appoints Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as his special envoy to preside at the election of the new minister general of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor. The ceremony is due to take place during the Order's general chapter in Assisi, Italy, on 4 June.

Cardinal Saraiva will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Francesco Patton O.F.M., secretary of the general chapter, and by Fr. Bruno Ottavi O.F.M., minister provincial of the Seraphic Province of Assisi.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Given below are the words used by the Holy Father at his meeting with journalists during his return flight to Rome yesterday, following his pilgrimage to the Holy Land which lasted from 8 to 15 May.

"Dear friends, thank you for your work", the Pope told the journalists. "I can imagine how difficult it must have been, with so many problems and transfers, etc. Yet I would like to thank you for accepting all these difficulties in order to inform the world about this pilgrimage and thus encourage others to visit those holy sites.

"I already gave a brief summary of this trip in my address at the airport, and I do not want to add much. I could cite many details: the moving descent to the lowest point on earth, on the River Jordan, which for us was also a symbol of the descent of God, the descent of Christ into the deepest areas of human existence.

"The Cenacle, where the Lord gave us the Eucharist, where the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit, took place; also the Holy Sepulchre and many other impressions, but I do not think this is the moment to dwell upon them.

"Yet nonetheless I could make a brief mention. I had three fundamental impressions. The first was that everywhere I went - in all areas, Muslim, Christian, Jewish - I found a decided openness to inter-religious dialogue, to encounter, to collaboration among religions. It is important that everyone should see this not just as an action, let us say, inspired by political motives in the particular situation, but as the fruit of a shared nucleus of faith; because to believe in the one God Who created us all and is Father of us all, to believe in this God Who created humankind as a family, to believe that God is love and wants love to be the dominant force in the world, implicates this coming together, this need for encounter, for dialogue, for collaboration as a requirement of faith itself.

"The second point is that I found a truly encouraging ecumenical atmosphere. We held many very cordial meetings with the Orthodox world; I was also able to speak to a representative of the Anglican Church and two Lutheran representatives. It is evident that this atmosphere of the Holy Land also encourages ecumenism.

"Thirdly, great difficulties exist - we know it, we saw it and we felt it. Yet I also saw that there is a profound desire for peace on all sides. The difficulties are more visible, and we must not hide them, they exist and they must be clarified. Yet what is not so visible is the shared desire for peace and brotherhood, and I feel we must also speak of this, encourage everyone in this desire to find the solutions, the by-no-means-easy solutions, to these difficulties.

"I came as a pilgrim of peace. Pilgrimage is an essential element in many religions: in Islam, in Judaism, in Christianity. It is also the image of our own lives, which are a march forwards towards God and thus towards the communion of humankind.

"I came as a pilgrim and I hope that many will follow this example, thus encouraging the unity of the people of this Holy Land and becoming in their turn messengers of peace. Thank you!"
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