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Wednesday, December 9, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 8 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At midday today, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  The Holy Father commented on the title of "Immaculate" by referring to the book of Genesis and the account of the Annunciation in the Gospel of St. Luke. "It is through woman that God Himself will triumph", he said. "That woman is the Virgin Mary from whom was born Jesus Christ Who, with His sacrifice, defeated the ancient tempter once and for all. For this reason, in so many paintings and statues of the Immaculate, she is shown in the act of crushing a serpent under her foot.

  "For his part", he added "the Evangelist Luke shows us the Virgin Mary receiving the announcement from the heavenly messenger. She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, the true Zion in which God wishes to establish His dwelling. She is the branch from which the Messiah, the just and merciful King, will grow. ... Unlike Adam and Eve, Mary remains obedient to the Lord's will. With all of herself she pronounces her 'yes' and fully places herself at the disposal of the divine plan. She is the new Eve, the true 'mother of all creatures'; that is, of everyone who, through faith in Christ, receives eternal life".

  "What an immense joy it is", Pope Benedict exclaimed, "to have Mary Immaculate as our mother! Whenever we experience our own fragility and the lure of evil, we can turn to her and our hearts receive light and comfort. Even in the trials of life, in the storms that unsettle our faith and hope, we know that we are her children and that the roots of our life lie deep in the infinite grace of God. In her the Church, though exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds a star by which to guide herself and to follow the route Christ shows her. Mary is, in fact, the Mother of the Church, as solemnly proclaimed by Pope Paul VI and Vatican Council II".

  The Pope concluded by rendering thanks unto God "for this marvellous sign of His goodness", and by entrusting to the Virgin Immaculate "each one of us, our families and communities, the whole Church and the world entire".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Today at 4.15 p.m. Benedict XVI travelled by car to Rome's Piazza di Spagna to place the traditional floral wreath at the foot of the statue of Mary in celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

  Before arriving in the square, the Holy Father stopped briefly at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity to greet the Dominican Friars and the members of the Via Condotti Storeowners Association. Once in the square, in the presence of thousands of faithful, he blessed a basket of roses which was placed at the foot of the column bearing Mary's statue.

  "What does Mary say to the city" What does her presence call to mind?" the Pope asked. "She reminds that 'where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'. ... She is the Immaculate Mother who tells the men and women of our time: do not be afraid".

  "What need we have of this beautiful piece of news!" the Holy Father exclaimed. "Every day, through newspapers, television and radio, evil is recounted, repeated, amplified, making us accustomed to the most terrible things, making us insensitive and, in some way, intoxicating us, because the negative is never fully purged and accumulates day after day. The heart becomes harder and thoughts become darker. For this reason, the city needs Mary who ... brings us hope even in the most difficult situations".

  The Pope went on to recall how our cities are inhabited by "invisible men and women", people who "now and again appear on the front pages or on television screens, and are exploited to the last drop for as long as their news and image attract attention. This is a perverse mechanism which unfortunately we find difficult to resist. The city first hides people them exposes to the public, without pity or with false pity", when the truth is that "each human story is a sacred story and calls for the greatest respect.

  "The city is made up of us all", Benedict XVI added. "Each of us contributes to its life and its moral climate, for good or for evil. The confine between good and evil passes through each of our hearts". Yet, "the mass media tend to make us feel as if we are spectators, as if evil only concerned others, and that certain things could never happen to us. Whereas we are all 'actors' and, in evil as in good, our behaviour has an effect on others".

  After then asking Mary Immaculate to help us "rediscover and defend the profundity of human beings", the Pope paid homage to all those people who, "in silence, ... strive to practice the evangelical law of love, which moves the world". They are "men and women of all ages who have understood that condemnation, complaint and recrimination serve no purpose, and that it is more worthwhile to respond to evil with good. This changes things; or rather, it changes people and, as a consequence, improves society".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope turned his attention to another twelfth century monk: Rupert of Deutz, a German city near Cologne and site of a famous monastery.

  From an early age Rupert showed an inclination for the monastic life and a complete adherence to the See of Peter. He was appointed abbot of Deutz in 1120 and died in 1129. He "teaches us that when controversy arises in the Church, reliance on the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of faithfulness to healthy doctrine and brings inner serenity and freedom".

  Recalling Rupert's many works, which are "still of great interest today", Benedict XVI highlighted how "he intervened forcefully" in the theological discussions of his day, such as "the defence of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist". In this context the Pope warned against "the danger of reducing Eucharistic realism, considering it only as a rite of communion or socialisation, which easily leads us to forget that the risen Christ is really present - with His risen Body - and puts Himself in our hands to incorporate us into His own immortal Body and lead us to a new life. ... This is a mystery to adore and to love ever anew", he said.

  The Holy Father also referred to another controversy in which the abbot of Deutz was involved: "the problem of conciliating the goodness and omnipotence of God with the existence of evil". In this, Rupert based himself "on the goodness of God, on the truth that God is supremely good and cannot but want what is good. Thus he identified the origin of evil in man, and in the erroneous use he makes of his own freedom".

  Rupert, the Pope went on, "maintained that the Incarnation, the central event of all history, had been foreseen since eternity, independent of man's sin, so that all Creation could praise God the Father and love Him as a single family gathered around Christ".

  Rupert "was the first writer to identify the bride in the Song of Songs with Mary Most Holy. Thus his commentary on that book of Scripture may be seen as a kind of Mariological 'summa' presenting the privileges and excellent virtues of Mary". Likewise, "he was careful to insert his own Mariological doctrine into ecclesiological doctrine; in other words, in the Blessed Virgin he saw the most sacred part of the entire Church". Much later this was echoed at Vatican Council II with its solemn proclamation of Mary as Mother of the Church.

  Rupert of Deutz, the Pope concluded, "like all representatives of monastic theology, was able to unite the rational study of the mysteries of the faith with prayer and contemplation, considered as the apex of any knowledge of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., to Susan Eckey, president of the second conference called to examine the Convention prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The conference was held in Cartagena, Colombia, from 30 November to 4 December.

  "Since its adoption, the convention has gained the approval of a majority of States in the world, though unfortunately adherence is not universal", reads the Message. "For this occasion, the Holy See makes an appeal to all States to recognise the deplorable humanitarian consequences of anti-personnel mines. ... The thousands of victims they continue to reap remind us (were it necessary to repeat it) of the illusion of seeking to build peace and stability on an exclusively military vision. In this circumstance it is appropriate to reiterate that peace, security and stability cannot exist only by virtue of military security; rather, they depend above all on creating conditions that enable the full development of the human person, conditions often hindered by the use and presence of anti-personnel mines".


VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday 17 December in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father will presided at Vespers with students of Roman universities.


VATICAN CITY, 9 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Daniel E. Flores, auxiliary of Detroit, U.S.A., as bishop of Brownsville (area 10,945, population 1,170,776, Catholics 995,160, priests 120, permanent deacons 65, religious 178), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Raymundo J. Pena, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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