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Friday, November 20, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, president of the Republic of Suriname, was received in audience by His Holiness Benedict XVI. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial meetings provided an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of opinions on questions concerning the current international and regional situation.

  "Attention then focused on certain aspects of the situation in Suriname, in particular on the social policies being introduced by the government, on the defence of the environment and on fields of collaboration between Church and State".
OP/AUDIENCE/PRESIDENT SURINAME                VIS 20091120 (140)


VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received 400 participants in the international conference "Effata! Deaf people in the life of the Church". The event is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, the president of which is Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.

  In his address to them the Pope explained the reason the theme of "effata" was chosen for the meeting. "It is", he said, "a paradigm of how the Lord works for people with hearing impairment", and he went on to refer to the passage from the Gospel of Mark in which "Jesus takes a deaf man aside and, having performed certain symbolic gestures, raises His eyes to heaven and says: 'effata', that is, 'be opened'. In that moment ... the man recovered his hearing, his tongue was loosened and he spoke plainly.

  "Jesus' actions are full of loving attention and express profound compassion for the man before Him", Benedict XVI added. "He expressed real concern, took him aside from the confusion of the crowds, and made him feel His closeness and understanding through certain highly significant gestures".

  But Jesus does not only cure physical deafness, "He also indicates the existence of another form of deafness from which humanity must be healed, or rather from which it must be saved. This is the deafness of the spirit which raises ever-higher barriers to the voice of God and of our fellow man, especially the cry for help of the poor and the suffering, and which encloses man in a profound and destructive selfishness".

  "Unfortunately experience has shown that hearing-impaired people do not always meet with ready acceptance, committed solidarity and affectionate communion. The many associations which have come into being to defend and promote their rights are evidence of the existence of an underlying culture marked by prejudice and discrimination", said the Pope.

  "Much more numerous, however, are the initiatives prompted by institutions and associations, both ecclesial and civil, which are inspired by authentic and generous solidarity and have improved the living conditions of many deaf people", the Holy Father went on. He also recalled how "the first schools for the education and religious formation of these our brothers and sisters came into being in Europe in the 1700s. Since then charitable initiatives have been multiplying within the Church, ... with the aim of offering the deaf, not only formation, but integral assistance for their complete self-realisation.

  "Yet we must not forget the serious situation in which deaf people still live in developing countries, both because of a lack of appropriate policies and legislation, and because of difficulty of access to basic healthcare. Deafness, indeed, is often the consequence of easily-curable diseases".

  In this context, the Pope launched an appeal "to the political and civil authorities, as well as to international organisations, to offer the support necessary to promote, also in those countries, due respect for the dignity and rights of deaf people, favouring ... their full social integration".

  "Dear hearing-impaired brothers and sisters", he concluded, "you are not only recipients of the announcement of the Gospel but, by virtue of your Baptism, also its announcers. Live every day, then, as witnesses of the Lord in the environments in which you live, making Christ and His Gospel known".
AC/DEAF PEOPLE/ZIMOWSKI                    VIS 20091120 (560)


VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France.

 - Two prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Gorgonio Alves da Encarnacao Neto C.R. of Itapetininga.

    - Bishop Carmo Joao Rhoden S.C.I. of Taubate, Brazil.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
AP:AL/.../...                                VIS 20091120 (80)

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