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Friday, July 10, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Hector Federico Ling Altamirano, the new ambassador to the Holy See of Mexico, a nation, said the Pope in his remarks, "whose identity has been forged over the centuries in a fruitful relationship with the message of salvation proclaimed by the Catholic Church".

"Faith in Jesus Christ", he went on, "has engendered a culture in Mexico that provides a specific and complete meaning for life, and a hopeful vision of existence, at the same time setting out a series of fundamental principles for the harmonious development of all society".

The Holy Father made reference to the Fourth World Meeting of Families, held some months ago in Mexico City, indicating how it highlighted "the importance of this institution, which is held in such high esteem by the Mexican people. ... Hence it is of vital consequence that families be given adequate assistance, that homes continue to be schools of mutual respect and understanding, seedbeds of human virtues and a reason for hope in the rest of society".

Benedict XVI also noted "the important progress made over recent years in the good relations between the Holy See and Mexico, in a climate of reciprocal autonomy and healthy collaboration". In this context he mentioned the events organised to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the two States, which focused, among other things, on "the correct understanding a true democratic State and its duty to protect and support religious freedom in all aspects of its public and social life".

"The truth is that religious freedom is not just one more right among many others, nor a privilege claimed by the Catholic Church. ... It belongs to the essence of each individual, of each people and each nation". It cannot "be restricted to the mere coexistence of citizens who practice their religion privately, or limited to the free exercise of worship, rather it must ensure that believers have full guarantees of being able to express their religious beliefs, at the same time making their contribution to forging the common good and a just social order in all aspects of life, with no restriction or coercion. In this context the Catholic Church, while she supports and encourages this positive vision of the role of religion in society, does not wish to interfere in the due autonomy of civil institutions".

The Pope praised steps being made in Mexico "to foment a more just and united ordering of society and to overcome the contrasts that continue to afflict the country", among them "such serious questions as violence, drug trafficking, and inequality and poverty which are fertile ground for delinquency".

"It cannot be overemphasised that the right to life must be recognised in all its fullness", Pope Benedict concluded. "In this context I joyfully greet the initiative by which Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2005, and the recent measures adopted by some Mexican states to protect human life from its beginnings. These resolute moves in such a fundamental question should be an emblem of your homeland, one of which it can be justly proud".


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a pastoral message for World Tourism Day published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. World Tourism Day falls this year on 27 September and the theme of the English-language message is: "Tourism - celebrating diversity".

In the message, dated 24 June, Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of the council, write: "Diversity is a fact, a reality, but, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, it is also a positive factor, something good, and not a threat or a danger, up to the point that the Holy Father wants 'people not only [to] accept the existence of other cultures but also desire to be enriched by them'.

"The experience of diversity belongs to human existence, also because each one's development advances by diversifying steps that promote the person's growth and maturity process. It is a progressive discovery, as we compare ourselves with people and everything around us, thus distinguishing ourselves from what is unlike us".

The president and secretary of the council highlight the importance of doing "everything we can to transform discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance into understanding and mutual acceptance, through the roads of respect, education and open, constructive and binding dialogue".

"Tourism is also an occasion for dialogue and listening, inasmuch as it puts people in contact with other ways of living, other religions, other ways of seeing the world and its history", they continue. "It is likewise an invitation not to withdraw into one's own culture, but to be open and face different ways of thinking and living. It should not be surprising, therefore, that extremist sectors and terrorist groups of a fundamentalist nature indicate tourism as a danger and an objective to destroy. Mutual knowledge - let us ardently hope - will help in building a more just, supportive and fraternal society".

"If tourism develops in the absence of an ethic of responsibility, there would at the same time be the danger of uniformity and of beauty as 'fascinatio nugacitatis'. What happens, for example, is that local residents make of their traditions a show for tourists, offering diversity as a commercial product".

"All this requires an effort, both on the part of the visitors and of the local residents who welcome, to assume an attitude of openness, respect, nearness, trust in such a way that, motivated by their desire to meet others, respecting their personal, cultural and religious diversity, they will be open to dialogue and understanding".

After emphasising how "in contemplating diversity, the human person discovers traces of the divine in the footprints of what is human", the two archbishops affirm that "for the believer, differences as a whole open ways by which one can draw near the infinite greatness of God".

"God entrusts the Church with the task of forging a new creation in Jesus Christ - thanks to the Spirit - recapitulating in Him all the treasures of human diversity that sin has transformed into division and conflict".

The message concludes by expressing the hope that "the divine breath of life may win over every xenophobia, discrimination, racism, and bring nearer those who are far away, through a contemplation of the unity/diversity of a human family blessed by God".


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - "The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel met yesterday, 9 July, at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to continue the negotiations on the Economic Agreement", reads a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.

"The talks took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, and the delegations believe they have contributed to taking the talks forward towards the desired agreement.

"The next meetings of the commission will be on: 26 August; 15-16 September; 14-15 October; 11-12 November. As already announced, the next Plenary Commission will meet on 10 December in the Vatican".


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

- Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive in audience Barack Obama, president of the United States of America.
AP/.../... VIS 20090710 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

- Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This afternoon he is scheduled to receive in audience Barack Obama, president of the United States of America.
AP/.../... VIS 20090710 (70)


VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Alfonso Cortes Contreras, auxiliary of Monterrey, Mexico, as bishop of Cuernavaca (area 4,941, population 2,167,000, Catholics 1,874,000, priests 176, permanent deacons 3, religious 482), Mexico. He succeeds Bishop Florencio Olvera Ochoa, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, auxiliary of Kwangju, Korea, as coadjutor archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 12,596, population 3,370,781, Catholics 319,494, priests 255, religious 1,204). The archbishop-elect was born in Chonnam, Korea in 1947, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 2003.
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