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Friday, October 2, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning in Castelgandolfo the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of three new ambassadors to the Holy See: Mercedes Arrastia Tuason of the Philippines; Henriette Johanna Cornelia Maria van Lynden-Leijten of the Netherlands, and Miguel Humberto Diaz of the United States of America.

  Speaking English, the Pope began his remarks to the Filipino ambassador with assurances of his "spiritual closeness and prayers, especially for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana" which struck the country recently. "I am confident that the faith of the Filipino people", he went on, "which gives them the resilience to face any hardship or difficulty, will arouse in them a desire to participate ever more fervently in the worldwide task of building up a civilisation of love, the seed of which God has implanted in every people and every culture".

  After then praising development initiatives in the Philippines, including the reform of social assistance programmes, the Holy Father noted that such programmes are "primarily aimed at improving the actual living conditions of the poorest, thus enabling them to fulfil their responsibilities towards their families and to carry out the duties which fall to them as members of the wider community. Above all, the struggle against poverty calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those directly entrusted with the offices of governance and public administration.

  "In an age when the name of God is abused by certain groups", he added, "the 'work of charity' is particularly urgent. This is especially true in regions that have been sadly scarred by conflicts". The Pope concluded by praising the "courageous steps" being taken in the Philippines "to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding", in which context he mentioned "the commendable work of the Bishops Ulama Conference, the Mindanao People's Conference, as well as that of many grassroots organizations".

  "While some of the Dutch population would declare itself agnostic or even atheist", said the Pope in his address to the ambassador from the Netherlands, "more than half professes Christianity, and the growing numbers of immigrants who follow other religious traditions make it more necessary than ever for civil authorities to acknowledge the place of religion in Dutch society". In this context he noted how "faith schools receive State support in your country, and rightly so, since such institutions are called to make a significant contribution to mutual understanding and social cohesion by transmitting the values that are rooted in a transcendent vision of human dignity".

  The Holy Father continued his English-language remarks: "Even more basic than schools in this regard are families built on the foundation of a stable and fruitful marriage between a man and a woman. ... The Catholic Church in your country is eager to play its part in supporting and promoting stable family life, as the Dutch Bishops' Conference stated in its recent document on the pastoral care of young people and the family.

  "It is my earnest hope that the Catholic contribution to ethical debate will be heard and heeded by all sectors of Dutch society, so that the noble culture that has distinguished your country for centuries may continue to be known for its solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable, its promotion of authentic freedom and its respect for the dignity and inestimable value of every human life", he concluded.

  In his audience with the new ambassador from the United States, the Pope referred to the need for "a model of globalisation inspired by an authentic humanism, in which the world's peoples are seen not merely as neighbours but as brothers and sisters.".

  "Genuine progress, as the Church's social teaching insists, must be integral and humane; it cannot prescind from the truth about human beings and must always be directed to their authentic good", he said.

  "Religious vision and religious imagination do not straiten but enrich political and ethical discourse; and the religions, precisely because they deal with the ultimate destiny of every man and woman, are called to be a prophetic force for human liberation and development throughout the world, particularly in areas torn by hostility and conflict".

  Benedict XVI went on: "The crisis of our modern democracies calls for a renewed commitment to reasoned dialogue in the discernment of wise and just policies respectful of human nature and human dignity. The Church in the United States contributes to this discernment particularly through the formation of consciences and her educational apostolate", he said. In this context, the Pope concluded by highlighting the need for "clear discernment with regard to issues touching the protection of human dignity and respect for the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, as well as the protection of the right to conscientious objection on the part of healthcare workers, and indeed all citizens".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. sent a telegram,. in the name of the Holy Father, to Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, for the earthquakes that have struck the country in recent days.

  "Deeply saddened to learn of the recent devastating earthquakes affecting Indonesia", reads the English language telegram, "His Holiness Benedict XVI prays for the victims and their grieving families, invoking eternal rest upon the deceased and divine strength and consolation on all who are suffering, His Holiness likewise encourages the rescue workers, and all involved in providing emergency assistance to the victims of this disaster, to persevere in their efforts to bring relief, comfort and support".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presided at a briefing for journalists to explain the significance - and certain organisational aspects - of the forthcoming Second Special Assembly for Africa, due to be held in the Vatican from 4 to 25 October.

  The theme of this Special Assembly is related to that of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa", which brought together the results of the First Special Assembly for Africa held from 10 April to 8 May 1994 on the theme: "The Church in Africa and her evangelizing mission towards the Year 2000: 'You shall be my witnesses'".

  The secretary of the Synod highlighted how "The Church in Africa is very dynamic. From 1978 to 2007, the number of African Catholics rose from 55 million to 146 million. Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life also saw a notable growth in numbers", he said.

  However, he also recalled the fact that "521 pastoral workers were killed in Africa between 1994 and 2008. ... In the year 2008, for example, of twenty Catholic pastoral workers killed throughout the world, five were African: three priests, one religious and one lay volunteer, from Kenya, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo".

  This Second Special Assembly for Africa will be attended "by 244 Synod Fathers of whom 228 are bishops", said Archbishop Eterovic. Most of the Synod Fathers (197) are from Africa while the remaining 47 come from Europe (34), America (10), Asia (2) and Oceania (1).

  The sessions of the Synod will also be attended by fraternal delegates: representatives of six other Churches and ecclesial communities with a significant presence in Africa and with whom the Catholic Church maintains close ties of dialogue and collaboration.

  Also present will be "29 experts, 19 men and 10 women, and 49 observers, 29 men and 20 women", said the archbishop, noting that "three special guests will also participate in the event, at the invitation of the Pope": On Tuesday 6 October His Holiness Abuna Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, will participate in the Third General Congregation; on Friday 9 October Mr. Rudolf Adada, former head of the Joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission for Darfur will be reporting on the efforts for peace in that region "which is of interest not only to African countries but to the whole world"; finally, on Monday 12 October the Synod Fathers will be addressed by Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on efforts the FAO is making to ensure food security for Africa.


VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

 - Archbishop Orlando Antonini, apostolic nuncio to Serbia.

 - Raul Roa Kouri, ambassador of Cuba, on his farewell visit.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy for the Social Sciences: Russell Hittinger, professor of philosophy and religion at the University of Tulsa, U.S.A., and Janne Haaland Matlary, professor of international politics at the department of political sciences of the University of Oslo, Norway.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Pudhota Chinniah Balaswamy, emeritus of Nellore, India, on 24 September at the age of 80.

 - Bishop Joseph Satoshi Fukahori, emeritus of Takamatsu, Japan, on 24 September at the age of 84.

 - Archbishop Miroslav Stefan Marusyn, former secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, on 21 September at the age of 85.

 - Archbishop Luis Sanchez-Moreno Lira, emeritus of Arequipa, Peru, on 28 September at the age of 83.

 - Archbishop Joseph-Marie Sardou T.D., emeritus of Monaco, Principality of Monaco, on 19 September at the age of 86.
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