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Thursday, December 10, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of the Republic of Gabon. 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.

  "During the cordial discussions, mention was made of the recently-deceased President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba. Pleasure was then expressed at the good relations that exist between the Holy See and Gabon, by virtue of the Framework-Agreement stipulated in 1997 and its developments. Attention also dwelt on the contribution Catholics make to the development of the country, and to the integral progress of the Gabonese people, particularly in the field of education".
OP/AUDIENCE/PRESIDENT GABON                VIS 20091210 (150)


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Eduardo Delgado Bermudez, the new Cuban ambassador to the Holy See, today presented his Letters of Credence to the Holy Father.

  In his remarks to the diplomat the Pope noted how, "through hopes and difficulties, Cuba has conquered a leading role, especially in the economic and political context of the Caribbean and Latin America. Moreover, certain signs of openness in relations with the neighbouring United States presage new opportunities for a mutually beneficial rapprochement, in full respect for the sovereignty and rights of States and their citizens".

  Cuba, "by continuing to collaborate with many countries in such fundamental areas as literacy and healthcare, favours international co-operation and solidarity without subordinating these factors to any interests other than those of helping people in need. It is to be hoped that all this may contribute to fulfilling the call made by my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul II on his historic visit to your island: 'May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba'".

  Like other countries Cuba is also suffering "the consequences of the serious world crisis which, in addition to the devastating effects of natural disasters and the economic embargo, particularly affects the poorest people and families. ... The Catholic Church in Cuba which at the present time, as always, feels herself to be close to the people, wishes to offer her own modest but effective assistance", said the Holy Father. He also highlighted how greater co-operation with the Cuban authorities "has enabled the realisation of important aid and reconstruction projects, especially in the wake of natural catastrophes".

  "It is my hope", he went on, "that tangible signs of openness in the exercise of religious freedom will continue to increase, as has been happening over recent years". These signs include: "the celebration of Mass in various prisons, the performance of religious processions, the repair and restitution of certain church buildings and the construction of a number of religious houses, as well as the extension of social security to cover priests and religious".

  "In order to continue along this path, especially for the benefit of the citizens of Cuba", the Pope continued his address to the ambassador, "it is also to be desired that dialogue may continue with a view to reaching mutual agreement - following forms similar to those established with other States, yet while respecting the specific characteristics of your country - on a juridical framework to define the existing (and never-interrupted) relations between the Holy See and Cuba, a framework capable of guaranteeing the sound development of the life and pastoral activity of the Church in that nation".

  Finally the Holy Father expressed his hope that the climate "which has made it possible for the Church to offer her own modest charitable contribution, may also favour her participation in the social communications media and in complementary educational duties, consistent with her specific pastoral and spiritual mission".
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/CUBA:DELGADO            VIS 20091210 (510)


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has published a communique announcing that "the Holy See and the Russian Federation, in the desire to promote their mutual friendly relations, have decided by joint agreement to establish diplomatic relations, at the level of apostolic nunciature on the part of the Holy See and of embassy on the part of the Russian Federation".
OP/DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS/RUSSIA                VIS 20091210 (80)


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - In the Vatican Apostolic Palace today, Thursday 10 December, the exchange took place of the instruments of ratification of an Agreement between the Holy See and the Federative Republic of Brazil. The Agreement was signed on 13 November 2008.

  According to a communique, the ceremony was attended for the Holy See by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and for the Federative Republic of Brazil by Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, ambassador plenipotentiary.

  "The Agreement, which further consolidates the traditional bonds of friendship and collaboration that exist between the two sides, is made up of a preamble and twenty articles which govern various areas, among them: the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Brazil; the recognition of academic qualifications; the teaching of religion in State schools; canonical marriage and the fiscal regime.

  "With today's ceremony", the communique adds in conclusion, "the Agreement comes into force".
.../AGREEMENT/HOLY SEE:BRAZIL                    VIS 20091210 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

 - Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, accompanied by Bishop William Edward Lori of Bridgeport, U.S.A.
AP/.../...                                VIS 20091210 (50)


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

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Legazpi, Philippines, presented by Lucilo B. Quiambao, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, apostolic nuncio to India, as apostolic nuncio to Canada.
RE:NN/.../QUIAMBAO:QUINTANA                        VIS 20091210 (70)

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