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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father addressed to participants in the sixtieth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is being held this week in the Italian town of Assisi.

  Reiterating the theme of the "urgent task of education", about which he had spoken to the Italian prelates last May, the Pope explains that this "concerns all sectors of the Church and means that the great questions of the modern age must be faced with decision: the question concerning the nature of man and his dignity (a decisive element in the complete formation of the person), and the 'question of God' which seems ever more pressing in our own times".

  Benedict XVI also repeats words he pronounced this summer in the cathedral of Aosta, Italy: "If our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form. ... If we do without God, if God is absent, we lack the compass ... to show us the path, the direction we must follow. God! We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make Him known, make Him present".

  The Holy Father goes on: "In order for this to happen we, first and foremost and with all our being, must become living adoration, a gift that changes the world and restores it to God. This is the profound message of the Year for Priests".

  Turning then to consider the question of southern Italy, one of the themes due to be examined during the course of the assembly, the Pope notes how the prelates "felt the need to give voice and support to the needs of the country, which cannot hope to develop unless it is united. The Church's presence in the south is a seed for personal and social renewal, and for integral development", he says.

  The Pope also dwells on another of the items on the agenda of the general assembly, that of the new Italian edition of the funeral rites. In this context, he concludes his Message by noting how "the funeral is an important moment in which to announce the Gospel of hope and to reveal the maternity of the Church. ... In a culture that tends to remove the idea of death - when, indeed, it does not seek to exorcise it by reducing it to a spectacle or transforming it into a right - it is the task of believers to shine the light of Christian revelation on that mystery".
MESS/.../CEI PLENARY ASSEMBLY                        VIS 20091110 (440)


VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The conclusions of a study week on astrobiology, organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory, were presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office.

  Participating in the press conference were Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory; Jonathan Lunine, professor at the department of physics in Rome's Tor Vergata University; Chris Impey, professor at the department of astronomy in the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory, Tucson, U.S.A., and Athena Coustenis, professor at the "Observatoire de Paris-Meudon", LESIA/CNRS, France.

  "Why is the Vatican involved in astrobiology?" asked Fr. Funes in his remarks, going on to explain that "although astrobiology is an emerging field and still a developing subject, the questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very interesting and deserve serious consideration. These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications".

  "Astrobiology is the study of life's relationship to the rest of the cosmos: its major themes include the origin of life and its precursor materials, the evolution of life on earth, and its future prospects on and off the earth. ... The study week provided a special opportunity for scientists from different basic disciplines to spend an intensive week understanding how the work in their particular specialty might have an impact on, or be impacted by, that in other areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done on how life formed on the earth and evolved with the changing environment", explained Professor Lunine.

  For his part, Professor Impey observed that "if biology is not unique to the earth, or if life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or if we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound. It is appropriate that a meeting on this frontier topic be hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The motivations and methodologies might differ, but both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe".

  The press conference on the study work - held in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV from 6 to 10 November - concluded with the remarks of Athena Coustenis on the subject of the exploration of outer planets and their systems.
OP/ASTROBIOLOGY/FUNES                    VIS 20091110 (430)


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

 - Msgr. Celso Morga Iruzubieta, bureau chief at the Congregation for the Clergy, as under secretary of the same congregation.

 - Fr. Felice Ruffini M.I. as consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Archbishop-bishop Felix Anthony Machado of Nashik, India, as bishop of Vasai (area 7,596, population 3,523,000, Catholics 122,000, priests 139, religious 499), India.
NA/.../MORGA:RUFFINI:MACHADO                VIS 20091110 (80)

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