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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office yesterday published the following communique concerning the meeting of the Pope and a number of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia with a group of Austrian bishops. The gathering was held in the Vatican on 15 and 16 June.

  "The meeting, characterised by lively 'collegial affection', served to examine, in a fraternal exchange of ideas and with a constructive spirit, certain questions concerning the situation of the diocese of Linz and of the Church in Austria, proposing solutions to current problems.

  "The Holy Father highlighted the urgent importance of strengthening faith and of maintaining integral faithfulness to Vatican Council II and to the Church's post-conciliar Magisterium, as well as the need to renew catechesis in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  "Attention also turned to doctrinal and pastoral questions and to the situation of the clergy, the laity, the major seminaries and the theological faculties in Linz and in other dioceses of Austria.

  "The Austrian bishops thanked the Holy Father for his paternal solicitude and for this meeting, a sign of his closeness to the Church in Austria, giving assurances of their full communion and their affection. The Austrian bishops also thanked the Roman Curia for its fruitful collaboration and openness".

  The meeting was attended by the following Austrian prelates: Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference; Archbishop Alois Kothgasser S.D.B. of Salzburg; Bishop Egon Kapellari of Graz-Seckau and vice president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Ludwig Schwarz S.D.B. of Linz.

  Also present were Archbishop Peter Stephan Zurbriggen, apostolic nuncio to Austria, and the following heads of dicasteries: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - Sts. Cyril and Methodius, apostles of the Slavs and co-patrons of Europe, were the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope sketched a brief biography of the saints explaining how Cyril, born in Salonika around the year 826, received a careful education and was ordained a priest at an early age. Soon afterwards his older brother Methodius, born about the year 815, abandoned his own administrative career and retired to a monastery on Mount Olympus in Bithynia where he was subsequently joined by Cyril.

  Some years later the imperial government entrusted Cyril with a mission to the peoples living around the Sea of Azov who had asked to be sent "a man of letters capable of discussing with Jews and Saracens". On his return to Constantinople, the emperor Michael III, who had been a school friend of Cyril, sent the two brothers to Moravia where Prince Ratislav had requested "a teacher capable of explaining the true faith to us in our own language.

  "Their mission", the Pope added, "soon met with unexpected success. By translating the liturgy into Slavic the two brothers earned great affection among the people. This, however, also aroused the hostility of the Frankish clergy who had arrived in Moravia earlier and considered the territory as part of their own ecclesial jurisdiction". Travelling to Rome to justify their actions, the brothers stopped in Venice where they opposed the "so-called trilingual heresy, ... which sustained that there were only three languages in which God could legitimately be praised: Hebrew, Greek and Latin".

  The brothers eventually reached Rome to request the support of Pope Hadrian II. That Pontiff "understood the great importance of their exceptional mission" because he thought "the Slavic peoples could act as a bridge between East and West, helping to maintain the unity of Christians on both sides of the empire. Thus he did not hesitate to approve the brothers' mission in Great Moravia, accepting the use of the Slavic Language in the liturgy".

  While in Rome Cyril fell seriously ill and died on 14 February 869. Methodius returned to Moravia and Pannonia in 870 "where he worked actively in organising the Church and in forming a group of disciples". He died on 6 April 885.

  "To give a brief spiritual profile of the two brothers", the Holy Father continued, "we must first note the passion with which Cyril studied the writings of St. Gregory of Nazianzus from whom he learnt the importance of language in transmitting the Revelation". In this context, Benedict XVI recalled how, even before their mission to Moravia, Cyril and Methodius "were working on a plan to gather Christian dogmas into books written in Slavic. This entailed the need for new graphic symbols, closer to the spoken language, and from here arose the Glagolitic alphabet which, subsequently modified, became known as 'Cyrillic' in honour of the person who inspired it".

  "Cyril and Methodius were convinced that individual peoples could not claim to have fully received the Revelation until they had heard it in their own language and read it in the letters of their own alphabet". Thus they are, he went on, "a classic example of what today we call 'inculturation': each people must integrate the revealed message into their own culture and express the truths of salvation with their own language".

  In this context, the Pope concluded, "the brother saints have left a testimony ... from which the Church today continues to draw inspiration and guidance".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope greeted a group of religious leaders who are participating in an international conference on inter-religious dialogue being held in Rome.

  "I commend this initiative organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs", said the Pope speaking English. "I am confident that it will do much to draw the attention of world political leaders to the importance of religions within the social fabric of every society and to the grave duty to ensure that their deliberations and policies support and uphold the common good. Upon all those taking part I invoke an abundance of the Almighty's blessings".

  The Holy Father then went on to present a Syriac Catholic delegation led by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan who, "on this his first official visit, is accompanied by patriarchs emeritus, bishops and faithful from the Middle East and other parts of the world where Syriac Catholics live, thus maintaining a living bond between the Eastern Christian tradition and the Bishop of Rome".

  Benedict XVI went on: "My affectionate greetings go to the venerable Patriarch Youssif, to whom I have already granted the 'communio ecclesiastica' which, in accordance with the holy canons, he requested from me as soon as he was elected. That communion will find public expression in the divine liturgy in the Syriac-Antiochean rite to be held tomorrow in the basilica of St. Mary Major, at which Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, will participate as my representative.

  "While giving assurances of my prayers for you, dear brother", the Pope added addressing the patriarch, "and for all those accompanying you, I would like to express my solicitude and concern for all the Eastern Catholic Churches, encouraging them to continue the ecclesial mission, though beset by many difficulties, in order to build universal unity and peace".


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:

  "In response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June, suffice it to refer to what the Holy Father wrote in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on 10 March this year: "As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. ... Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers ... do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church".

  In the same Letter, the Pope also announced his intention to change the status of the Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', making it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent. This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Archbishop Khalil Abi-Nader, emeritus of Beirut of the Maronites, Lebanon, on 14 June at the age of 87.

 - Bishop Luc Alfons De Hovre S.J., former auxiliary of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, on 4 June at the age of 83.

 - Bishop Livio Reginaldo Fischione O.F.M. Cap., former apostolic vicar of Riohacha, Colombia, on 10 June at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Kidane-Mariam Teklehaimanot, emeritus of Adigrat, Ethiopia, on 2 June at the age of 75.
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