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Monday, October 12, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 9 OCT 2009 (VIS) - In the Synod Hall at this afternoon, the Ninth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held in the presence of the Pope. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, and 215 Synod Fathers were present.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

ARCHBISHOP-BISHOP HENRYK HOSER S.A.C. OF WARSZAWA-PRAGA, POLAND. "The teaching of family values is an urgent necessity in the world and especially in Africa, at a time when growing external pressures relegate responsible parenthood to the domain of healthcare and hospitals and, in so doing, deny the dual nature (spiritual and emotional) of conjugal love. Family pastoral care, and in particular the transmission of life, have been almost completely abandoned to the world of medicine and to technology. And yet some programmes do already exist: twenty-six African countries benefit from educational programmes on family life and natural planning at the embryonic or structural stage. ... The Federation for African Family Action created in Cotonou in 2001 offers, at the request of bishops, formation seminars for educators and for couples".

CARDINAL BERNARD AGRE, ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS OF ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST. "The young nations of Africa have had to call on international banks and other financial bodies in order to put their many development projects into effect. Often, inexperienced directors have been too careless and fallen prey to those people - men and women - whom the experts call 'financial assassins', i.e. jackals who work for organisations skilled in dishonest practices that aim to enrich international financial institutions (with the able support of their States), or for other groups immersed in a world of silence and lies. ... This Synod must examine the problem of annulling the debts that weigh too heavily on certain peoples. In order not to focus merely on the emotional aspects, I would suggest the formation of an international commission to examine the problem, made up of experts in high finance, well-informed pastors, and men and women from the North and South of the world. This commission would be entrusted with a triple mission: studying the feasibility of the operation, because it is obvious that things are not the same everywhere; taking all possible steps not to fall into the same situation again; monitoring the use of the resources, so they may be used effectively for all the elements of the social pyramid: both rural and city dwellers".

ARCHBISHOP PETER J. KAIRO OF NYERI, KENYA. "Nomads have been alive and active for centuries in fifty-two dioceses within AMECEA countries. They are also present in both West and North Africa. Sometimes they provoke and start armed conflict because of a shortage of water and grazing pasture, especially during drought. The Church has to promote dialogue between these different tribes, where the role of elders is very important because the warriors cannot go to raid without the blessing of the elders. The government should also be involved in providing boreholes and dams in arid areas. Health facilities and education should also be provided and promoted among pastoralist peoples. The justice and peace commission should provide education on human rights to the nomads. Parents should be encouraged to educate the girl child. Within these parishes it becomes extremely difficult for a priest to give the people proper pastoral attention. Hence the nomads who are moving about often remain beyond traditional parish activities. There is needed for the Church to put in place new forms of evangelisation and of pastoral attention to the nomadic population. This should include appointing nomadic priests, nomadic pastoral co-ordinators, nomadic catechists, mobile schools, clinics for herdsmen and mobile Church centres".

ARCHBISHOP BONIFACE LELE OF MOMBASA, KENYA. "The stigma associated with AIDS is too heavy for people as individuals or as communities to carry alone. ... They should find courage and hope in us. They hear from religious leaders and their families that, in one way or another, that they are responsible for their illness. We need to help our people to know that HIV AIDS is a sickness and that it is wrong to blame themselves. ... I have seen families send away their daughters in-law and children because of their suspicion. Family rejection of children is an abomination. It is a grave sin in the eyes of God. It is a distortion of the Gospel message of Jesus which is love, forgiveness, reconciliation, the return to the family of God. ... HIV AIDS is a 'kairos' to challenge us to reveal how deep some of our sins are. There was a man who was dying from AIDS and I was honoured to be with him during his last days. I watched him struggle with his life decisions and with the shame of his illness; the stigma that society had given him. I began to understand my own humanity and sinfulness when he reached up to touch the Cross I was wearing. I felt his acceptance of himself and God's forgiveness and healing. It was at this moment that he asked me to take care of his children that he could no longer do. I felt his trust in me, as his brother and shepherd. God challenged me to accept myself, to be reconciled to myself".

  After the Synod Fathers had spoken, a number of auditors addressed the gathering. Excerpts from two of their speeches are given below:

LAURIEN NTEZIMANA, THEOLOGY GRADUATE OF THE DIOCESE OF BUTARE, RWANDA. "Between 1990 and 1994, I used the principle of 'bonne puissance' - as entrusted to me by the bishop of the diocese of Butare, Jean Baptiste Gahamanyi, of blessed memory - in the service of theological animation in order to make the leaders of Christian communities aware of the public dimension of the faith. Between April and July 1994, the principle of 'bonne puissance' enabled me to survive the genocide and help, to the best of my abilities, my Tutsi brothers and sisters. Between September 1994 and September 1999, I used the principle of 'bonne puissance' to form the leaders who then brought the Good News to the hills of Butare during the terrible situation of the immediate post-genocide. The Pax Christi International Peace Award came in 1998 as recognition of the universal value of this work".

ELENA GIACCHI, GYNAECOLOGIST AT THE CENTRE FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH INTO THE NATURAL REGULATION OF FERTILITY AT THE SACRED HEART CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY, ROME, AND PRESIDENT OF WOOMB-ITALIA, (NATIONAL CO-ORDINATION OF THE BILLINGS OVULATION METHOD ITALY). "Spreading and teaching the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) all over the world, has always been accompanied by the proposal of a lifestyle that promotes conjugal love, unity of the family, respect for women and generous openness to accepting new life. Because of its effectiveness and simplicity the BOM can be used by all couples in different contexts, regardless of culture, religion or social status; the method has been well accepted not only by Catholics but also by Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths and beliefs. The couple can manage their fertility naturally, whether it is their desire to achieve or avoid a pregnancy, in every situation of a woman's fertile life: including irregular cycles, breast feeding, pre menopause, etc. The BOM contributes: (l) to family promotion and responsible procreation in regard to life, conjugal love and fidelity; 2) to promoting the dignity of women; (3) to preventing abortion; (4) to avoiding recourse to assisted reproductive technologies, allowing sub fertile couples to achieve pregnancy naturally, according to ethical values; (5) to preventing sexually transmitted disease, educating young people in a mature sexuality that includes the spiritual, physical and psychological dimensions. Teaching the BOM can contribute to the promotion and spread of human and Christian values, contributing to evangelisation and pastoral care".

  This afternoon's session closed with an address by Rudolf Adada, former head of the Joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission for Darfur, one of the special guests attending the Synod at the express invitation of the Holy Father. A brief summary of his words is given below:

  "Sudan is the largest country of Africa. It is the crossroads of two worlds, Africa and the Arab world. It borders nine African countries. Since its independence on 1 January 1956, we could say that it has known peace only sporadically. The Global Peace Agreement (WPA), which ended more than twenty years of civil war between the North and South, has created great hope. For the first time the possibility of a democratic Sudan could be glimpsed. At a time when violence seems to be decreasing in Darfur, it is worrisome to note that killings have now begun again in the South. Is peace the Rock of Sisyphus that, to the great misfortune of the Sudanese, rolls back down the moment we think we have reached the summit? Sudan is one country. The international community must look at 'Sudan' and not at 'Darfur and Sudan'. In this holistic vision, the Church has a major role to play in a plural Sudan, between the Christian and animist South and the Muslim North, that is, Darfur. This was the dream of a great Sudanese man, John Garang, the dream for a new Sudan, in peace, in an Africa at peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Tenth General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning in the Vatican's Synod Hall in the presence of 211 Synod Fathers. The president delegate on duty was Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier O.F.M., archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

BISHOP ALMACHIUS VINCENT RWEYONGEZA OF KAYANGA, TANZANIA. "Mixed marriages have been a source of fuelling misunderstandings between Catholic priests and pastors of the various Christian communities. Besides the persistent problem of insufficient knowledge of the obligations of the Catholic partner, arguments about where the Sacrament has to be celebrated create early backgrounds of division with regards to practicing of one's faith. ... In most of these marriages, parents get divided as to in which faith the children should be baptised and raised. ...There has been a growing tendency that parents in most mixed marriages lack a common tradition of imparting Christian values. ... It is high time that the position of the Church on contracting mixed marriages be revisited and that catechesis on mixed marriages be refocused. Unless bold steps are taken to safeguard the family, efforts of promoting reconciliation, justice and peace will remain inadequate".

ARCHBISHOP TELESPHORE GEORGE MPUNDU OF LUSAKA, ZAMBIA. "In Zambia women are too often the victims of abuse (domestic violence sometimes leading to death), discriminatory cultural or customary practices, and statutory laws clearly biased against them. We bishops must speak more clearly and insistently in defence of the dignity of women in the light of the Scriptures and the social doctrine of the Church. ... To promote respect for women and their integration into Church structures of responsibility, decision making and planning, we call upon the Synod to recommend to all dioceses the establishment or consolidation of family apostolate and women affairs offices, making them operational and fully effective".

BISHOP GABRIEL 'LEKE ABEGUNRIN OF OSOGBO, NIGERIA. "One of the greatest challenges that should concern this Synod is the fate of considerable numbers of African immigrants present in all the countries of the West. Since the economic meltdown, many of these Western countries have put up defensive laws and structures to shore up their economies. Unfortunately among these methods, laws have been passed which come very close to denying even the human rights of immigrants, especially those from Africa. In Italy, especially, unregulated immigration has been made illegal and assistance for immigrants from voluntary charity organisations has been squeezed out. ... In Africa, from the North to the South, from the East to the West, our young people are the major force as well as primary victims of ethnic violence, genocide, armed banditry, criminality, human trafficking, corruption and bad governance. In all these, the prophetic voice of the Church must be heard unambiguously".

BISHOP JOSEPH EFFIONG EKUWEM OF UYO, NIGERIA. "Paul the Apostle reminds us that we do battle with principalities and powers of the rulers of darkness and he asks us to arm ourselves in order to resist their manipulations. ... The Church recognised this and ... not only provided the rite of exorcism but made room for the exorcists. This seems to have fallen into disuse over the last few decades. May I therefore suggest: (1) That an authentic catechesis, deeply biblical and theological, be provided and possibly offered as a course in our theological faculties. A simpler version may also be provided for teaching the faithful. (2) A new rite based on the old rite of exorcism be put in place for use by priests. (3) Each ordinary ... should appoint an exorcist for his particular Church. We owe our people according to our teaching office, to teach them and save them from the claws of false belief and terrible occult practices like witchcraft".

ARCHBISHOP DENIS KIWANUKA LOTE OF TORORO, UGANDA. "Elsewhere in the world we are told that climate change is caused by overgrazing, improper disposal of refuse and by industrial waste. The result of all this is desertification, the drying up of water springs and water contamination and diseases. ... The physical world has laws which must be respected. ... Environmental protection has become a global issue deserving the attention of everybody. Just as the HIV/AIDS pandemic not only infects some people but affects everybody, so also global warming infects and affects everybody. For this reason the Church in Africa should through this Synod seriously address the issue of climate change as a moral obligation for everybody. This Synod should find ways of reconciliation between the earth as a victim and man as an offender".

  After the Synod Fathers had spoken, a number of auditors addressed the gathering. An excerpt from one of their speeches is given below:

SR. JACQUELINE MANYI ATABONG, ASSISTANT TO THE SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE SISTERS OF ST. TERESA OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE DIOCESE OF BUEA; CO-ORDINATOR FOR AFRICA OF THE INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC COMMISSION FOR PRISON PASTORAL CARE (ICCPPC), DOUALA, CAMEROON. "We know many of our prisons are dungeons and are overpopulated with poor and disadvantaged persons. They are structurally inadequate and carry out practices which are dehumanising, violent, oppressive and may sometimes cause death. The rights of prisoners are not respected and reinsertion of ex prisoners is an ordeal. We know that in many dioceses the prison apostolate is either non existent, poorly organised, with little or no trained personnel, and has little or no support from the Church authority and State. For the Church to better fulfil her ministry of reconciliation, she needs to be more than ever a reconciled community, a place where reconciliation is not only proclaimed but also truly lived. She needs to take every opportunity to make sure that the apostolate to those affected by crime is not neglected. Christ condemns any law or practice which does not save life. Many of our prison institutions do not promote life. If we as Church can do something about it but fail to do so we shall be answerable to our Lord".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Eleventh General Congregation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops began this morning in the presence of the Holy Father. The session was attended by 221 Synod Fathers, and the president delegate on duty was Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, archbishop of Dakar, Senegal.

  Extracts from some of the Synod Father's speeches are given below:

BISHOP LOUIS NZALA KIANZA OF POPOKABAKA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "The serious problems of want and poverty, the tragedy of hunger, the lack of access to medical care and other basic needs that most African countries are experiencing, demands of our Churches today a new spirit of solidarity, communion and inventive charity. The Churches of Africa must be more daring, more inventive and more proactive in developing structures able to making this form of basic solidarity part of their ecclesial praxis. ... It is vital to create funds for solidarity at the diocesan, national, regional and continental levels. These funds for solidarity could help us on the African level to intervene, within our means, without waiting for everything to come from the West. Diocesan, national, regional and continental Caritas could be the appropriate instruments for the creation of these funds".

ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO MARIA VEGLIO, PRESIDENT OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLES. "The economic crisis and the conflicts that scar many countries on the continent of Africa have led to worrying xenophobic feelings towards immigrants, who are transformed into scapegoats for internal political and economic problems. Often, as a result, the immigration policies of States have become more rigid, thus making it more difficult for migrants to stay in a country or to find work. In this context, respect for human rights, the principles of democracy and legality, good governance, the deepening of political dialogue and the strengthening of international co-operation are the guidelines that will direct the present and future of Africa. The pastoral dimension in this context is not of secondary importance. Only an authentic relationship of justice will, in fact, lead to peace, and, from this, the Church in Africa will be able to draw strength in the service of reconciliation and the proclamation of the Gospel".

CARDINAL JOHN NJUE, ARCHBISHOP OF NAIROBI AND PRESIDENT OF THE KENYA EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE. "Africa continues to thirst for good governance. ... The Church in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa has continued to struggle to bring on board systems of governance that address justice through service to the common good. Pastoral letters have continually addressed bad governance which, by and large, can be termed the cancer of Africa. ... What is clear in Kenya and the larger Africa is that some leaders would rather stick to constitutions that give them unchecked power leading to anarchy and dictatorship. ... The Church in Kenya continues to stress the urgency of reforms through good systems of justice . ... Consequently it is urgent: (1) To have a formation programme for people in government. (2) To form good and holy politicians as agents of good governance. (3) To provide chaplaincies for politicians. (4) To strengthen Catholic media so as to enhance moral formation for all. (5) To enhance the prophetic role of the Church everywhere. (6) To aggressively attend to the ongoing formation of all agents of evangelisation, including politicians, based on sound catechism and the social teachings of the Church".

BISHOP AUGUSTINE OBIORA AKUBEZE OF UROMI, NIGERIA. "In the past, our forefathers believed in the existence of witches and the havoc they wreaked on mankind and society. Witches are said to possess super human powers that they use to perpetrate evil. ... That is to say, in contrast to normal human beings witches conceive and cause the most horrible misfortune on their families and communities. Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated, and ostracised from the community. Sometimes, they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered. Sometimes suspected witches are bathed in acid or poisoned to death. There have also been instances where they were poisoned or buried alive. Some Churches do not help matters. as there have been cases of Pentecostals who chained and tortured suspected witches in order to extract confession. Unfortunately, in families and schools, and even in churches and mosques, in the media and films, Africans are made to believe that witches are real and that witchcraft is effective. ... One wonders why this primitive superstition still makes sense to a lot of Africans in the twenty-first century. That is why we feel it necessary to present it to this synodal body for specific statements to guide our flock".

ARCHBISHOP JAIME PEDRO GONCALVES OF BEIRA, MOZAMBIQUE. "The Church in Mozambique acted as intermediary in the reconciliation talks that put an end to a civil war that had lasted for sixteen years. An effective peace agreement was signed and the country remains peaceful. Initiatives such as this must be developed and promoted in Africa. ... The Church has to form people able to bring reconciliation and peace for the resolution of conflicts, ... because the African political world is witnessing the re-emergence and upsurge of violence, the re-creation of dictatorships and political persecutions, My hope is for a jubilee of reconciliation for the entire continent of Africa as the fruit of a universal commitment in favour of reconciliation".

BISHOP THEOPHILE KABOY RUBONEKA, COADJUTOR OF GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. "Conflicts and wars have led, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to women being rendered victims and objects. Thousands of women have, at the hands of all armed groups, suffered massive sexual violence as a weapon of war, in flagrant violation of international law. On the basis of our experience in Democratic Republic of Congo, in order to bring some comfort to women and children for the consequences and traumas they have suffered, we propose: (1) Combating sexual violence by going back to its ultimate cause which is the crisis of governance. ... (2) Creating homes for women and young girls as centres for listening and accompanying these violated and traumatised women. (3) Direct involvement of women in the 'Justice and Peace' Commissions: so that women may promote peace and fight against the degrading ideas that affect them. ... (4) Formation of women through catechesis and literacy campaigns, to allow them to play their role properly. Such formation is divided into three modules: dignity and vocation of woman, woman as the artisan of peace, and woman as a protagonist in social change. (5) Creating structures for the promotion of women".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience King Albert II of the Belgians, accompanied by his consort Queen Paola.

  "Following the papal audience, the king met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions focused on questions concerning Africa and the international political situation, respect for human rights and the development of peoples. Turning then to consider the history of the Church in Belgium, emphasis was given to the importance of the canonisation of Blessed Jozef Damian de Veuster, and to his example for Belgium and for the whole world".

  A second communique published today by the Holy See Press Office states that the Holy Father subsequently "received in audience Francois Fillon, prime minister of the French Republic.

  "After his meeting with the Pope, the prime minister met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the cordial discussions - having recalled the Pope's recent trip to Paris and Lourdes and the importance of the canonisation of Blessed Jeanne Jugan - certain themes of mutual interest concerning bilateral relations were addressed, with the express intention of continuing along the path of dialogue and collaboration between the Holy See and the French Republic.

  "Opinions were also exchanged on a number of international questions, in particular the situation in the Middle East and in certain African States, also with reference to the current Synod for Africa, inter-religious dialogue and climate change.

  "Finally emphasis was given to the positive influence of the Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' with respect to the world financial crisis and to the new rules established for the correct functioning of the economy, especially as regards the poorest countries".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was the Letter in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the twelfth centenary of the translation of the relics of St. Tryphon to Kotor in Montenegro. The Letter is written in Latin and dated 3 September, and the event is due to take place on 17 October.

  The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission to Montenegro by Msgr. Anton Belan, vicar general of Kotor, and Msgr. Srecko Majic, pastor-abbot of Perast.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - A Marian vigil entitled "With Africa and for Africa" was held this evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, for the occasion of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. The event was promoted by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the Office for Pastoral Care in Universities of the Vicariate of Rome.

  Among those participating in the vigil were the Synod Fathers, Roman university students and, through satellite link, university students from eight cities in Africa: Cairo, Egypt; Nairobi, Kenya; Khartoum, Sudan; Johannesburg, South Africa; Onitsha, Nigeria; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Maputo, Mozambique, and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

  The Holy Father prayed the Rosary with the participants, then pronounced some brief remarks.

  "As on previous occasions, this evening too, we have used modern communications technology to 'throw out a net' - a net of prayer! - connecting Rome to Africa", he said.

  The Pope then went on to recall a recent conference held in Rome, organised by the Office for Co-operation in Development of the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Vicariate of Rome, on the theme: "For a new culture of development in Africa: the role of university co-operation". He expressed his appreciation for such initiatives and highlighted their importance for "the education of young intellectuals and scientific and cultural exchange between universities" and for "integral human development in Africa and on other continents.

  "In this context", he added, "I ideally entrusted to you, dear young people, the Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate', in which I recall the urgency of creating a new humanist synthesis re-establishing the link between anthropology and theology".

  "Dear university students of Rome and Africa, I ask you to be - in the Church and in society - workers of intellectual charity, which is so necessary if we are to face up to the great challenges of the present time. At university you must be sincere and passionate seekers of truth, building academic communities of the highest intellectual standard, where it is possible to exercise and enjoy that open and all-embracing rationality which paves the way to the meeting with God".

  He went on: "Build bridges of scientific and cultural collaboration between your various universities, especially with African universities. And, dear African students, I invite you in particular to live your period of study as a preparation to carry out a service of cultural animation in your countries. New evangelisation in Africa also depends on your generous efforts".

  Having concluded his remarks, the Pope gave copies of his Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" to a number of Roman and African university students, After the vigil the cross was carried in procession from the Paul VI Hall to the nearby LUMSA University (Libera Universita di Santa Maria Assunta).
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VATICAN CITY, 10 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, U.S.A., and Edward M. De Robertis, professor of chemical biology at the Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine of the University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2009 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. During the ceremony he canonised five blesseds: Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary; Francesc Coll y Guitart, Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Jozef Damian de Veuster, Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS); Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne), French virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

  Concelebrating with the Pope were seven cardinals, nine archbishops, fourteen bishops and twenty priests. Five of the concelebrants had been involved in the causes of canonisation of the new saints: Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland; Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas of Rennes, France; Bishop Roman Casanova Casanova of Vic, Spain, and Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of Palencia, Spain.

  In his homily the Holy Father outlined certain aspects of the personality of the new saints, and the causes for their canonisation.

  "'Come, follow me!' This is the Christian vocation that flows from a proposal of love by the Lord, and that can be fulfilled only if we reply in love", he said. "The saints welcome this demanding invitation. ... Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is at times humanly incomprehensible, consists in no longer placing themselves at the centre, but choosing to go against the tide and live according to the Gospel. This is what was done by the five saints who today, with great joy, are being put forward for veneration by the Universal Church: Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francesc Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Rafael Arnaiz Baron and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne).

  Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, archbishop of Warsaw, "was a great witness of faith and pastoral charity in very difficult times for the nation and for the Church in Poland", said the Holy Father. "Prior to the insurrection of January 1863 against the Russian annexation, he warned the people against futile bloodshed. However, when the uprising occurred and was put down, he courageously defended the oppressed. Under the rule of the Russian Czar he spent twenty years in exile in Jaroslaw in Siberia, and was never able to return to his diocese. In all situations he maintained his unshakeable trust in Divine Providence".

  Francesc Coll y Guitart's "passion was preaching, mostly itinerant preaching following the form of 'popular missions', with the goal of proclaiming and reviving the Word of God in the villages and towns of Catalonia, thus leading people to the profound encounter with the Lord. ... His evangelising activity included great devotion to the Sacrament of Penance, an outstanding emphasis on the Eucharist and a constant insistence on prayer".

  The missionary activity of Jozef de Veuster, who took the name Damian, "reached its apex in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers abandoned there, thus exposing himself to the disease. ... This servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper among lepers during the last four years of his life. ... St. Damien leads us to choose the good fight, not the fights that lead to division, but those that bring people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our fellows and calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence".

  Rafael Arnaiz Baron "said 'yes' to the proposal to follow Jesus, in an immediate and decisive way, without limits or conditions. ... Brother Rafael remains close to us and, through his example and his works, continues to offer an enticing proposal, especially for young people who are not easily satisfied, but who aspire to the fullness of truth".

  "Through her admirable work in the service of poor elderly people, Mary of the Cross is like a beacon guiding our societies, which must always rediscover the place and unique contribution of this period of life. ... Her charism remains relevant as so many elderly people suffer different forms of poverty and solitude, sometimes even abandoned by their families. ... For the elderly, may St. Jeanne Jugan be a living source of hope and, for the people generously placing committed to serving them, a powerful stimulus to pursue and develop her work".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by calling on everyone "to let yourselves be drawn by the shining example of these saints, allow yourselves to be guided by their teachings, so that our whole lives may become a hymn of praise to the love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2009 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's Mass, during which he canonised five blesseds the Holy Father emerged into the atrium of the Vatican Basilica to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful who had followed the ceremony from St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope invited French pilgrims to follow the example of St. Jeanne Jugan and concern themselves "with the poorest and weakest, with those wounded by life and abandoned by our societies, and to do so particularly for the occasion of the 'World Day for the Eradication of Poverty'".

  Turning his attention to Fr. Damien, he invited people "to support, through prayer and works, those people generously committed to combating the disease of leprosy and the other forms of 'leprosy' that are due to a lack of love, ignorance and indifference". He also expressed the hope that the intercession of the new saint and of the Blessed Virgin would "free the world of leprosy".

  Greeting a group of survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki he said: "I pray that the world may never again witness such mass destruction of innocent human life".

  The news Spanish saints, Francesc Coll y Guitart and Rafael Arnaiz Baron, "honour the best religious traditions and the profound Christian roots of their people", said the Holy Father.

  He then invited Polish pilgrims to rejoice at their new saint, Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, former archbishop of Warsaw, and entrusted to his protection "the Church of Poland, and the entire nation".

  "The Virgin Mary", Pope Benedict concluded, "is the star that guides all journeys to sainthood. Her 'fiat' is the model of perfect adherence to the divine will, and her 'Magnificat' expresses the hymn of joy of the Church, which on earth already rejoices for the great works of God, and in heaven eternally praises His glory".
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