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Monday, December 14, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Sali Berisha, prime minister of the Republic of Albania. The prime minister 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 views were exchanged on the current international situation, with particular reference to the western Balkan region.

  "Various aspects of bilateral relations were also examined, jointly expressing a positive evaluation of their development. Mention was also made of traditional family values, which are the common heritage of the Albanian people".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Bishop Jose Elias Rauda Gutierrez O.F.M., auxiliary of Santa Ana, El Salvador, as bishop of San Vicente (area 2,056, population 502,428, Catholics 454,574, priests 50, religious 138), El Salvador.

 - Maria Emmaus Voce, president of the Work of Mary - Focolari Movement, as a consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

 - Jochen Messemer, administrative president of ERGO International, as international reviser, for a three-year period, of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father visited the Sacred Heart Hospice, a private clinic in Rome offering free medical assistance to patients suffering from cancer in its final stages, Alzheimer's and motor neuron disease. The centre came into being at the initiative of two groups: the "Circolo San Pietro" and the "Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Roma". Over eleven years, the number of patients has risen from three to more than thirty.

  "We know", said the Holy Father in his address, "how certain serious diseases inevitably cause the sick to suffer moments of crisis and disorientation, and make them reflect seriously about their personal situation.

  "Progress in medical science", he added, "often offers the instruments necessary to face these challenges, at least as concerns their physical aspects. Yet, it is not always possible to find a cure for every disease".

  "Today", Pope Benedict went on, "the predominant efficiency-oriented mentality often tends to marginalise [the sick], holding them to be a burden and a problem for society. Yet, people who have a sense of human dignity know that they must be respected and supported as they face the difficulties and suffering associated with their health. To this end, ... alongside the vital clinical cures, it is necessary to offer the sick concrete gestures of love, closeness and Christian solidarity in order to meet their need for understanding, comfort and constant encouragement".

  After then highlighting how, "over the centuries, the Church has always shown herself to be a loving mother to people who suffer in body and in spirit", the Pope encouraged those people who, "making themselves icons of the Good Samaritan, ... offer appropriate and attentive assistance to the needs of everyone".

  The Holy Father also assured the sick of his prayers and invited them "to find support and comfort in Jesus, in order never to lose faith and hope. Your sickness is a painful and unique trial, but in the face of the mystery of God Who took on our mortal flesh it acquires its full meaning, and becomes a gift and an opportunity for sanctification".

  And he continued: "When suffering and discomfort are greatest, think that Christ is associating you with His cross because, through you, He wishes to pronounce a word of love to all those who have lost their way in life and, closed in their own egoism, live in sin, far from God. Your state of health bears witness to the fact that true life is not here, but with God".

  The Pope concluded by recalling how "the period of Advent, in which we are currently immersed, speaks to us of the visit of God and invites us to prepare the way for Him. In the light of faith we can see sickness and suffering as a special experience of Advent, a visit from God Who, in a mysterious way, comes out to meet us and so frees us from solitude and non-meaning, transforming pain into a time for meeting Him, a time of hope and salvation".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning, following his visit to Rome's Sacred Heart Hospice, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and, following a Roman tradition on this third Sunday of Advent, blessed the statues of the Baby Jesus which will be placed in nativity scenes in homes and parishes.

  "It is a source of joy for me", said the Holy Father, "to know that your families still conserve the custom of making nativity scenes. Yet it is not enough to repeat the traditional gesture, however important it may be. We must seek to live what the nativity scene represents in the reality of our everyday lives: that is, the love of Christ, His humility and His poverty".

  "The blessing of the 'Bambinelli' - as they are called in Rome - reminds us that the nativity scene is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in possessing many things but in feeling ourselves to be loved by the Lord, in making ourselves a gift for others, and in loving one another. Let us consider the nativity scene: the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph do not appear to be a very privileged family, they had their first child amidst great hardship, yet they are full of intimate joy because they love one another, they help one another and, above all, they are certain that God is at work in their story".

  "And the shepherds", the Pope asked, "what reason do they have to be happy? That newborn infant will certainly not alter their poverty and marginalisation. Yet faith helps them to recognise in the 'child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger', the 'sign' of the fulfilment of God's promises for all the men and women 'whom He favours', even for them!"

  For this reason, Benedict XVI explained, true joy consists in "feeling that our individual and community lives are touched by and filled with a great mystery, the mystery of the love of God. In order to be joyful we need ... love and truth, we need a God Who is near, Who warms our hearts and responds to our most profound expectations".

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope noted how Rome is today celebrating the "Day for new church buildings", because "in our city there are communities that do not have an adequate place of worship, ... or structures for formative activities". In this context, he called on everyone to help in creating the necessary pastoral centres.

  Finally the Pope mentioned the missionaries Fr. Daniel Cizimya, Fr. Louis Blondel, Fr. Gerry Roche, and Sr. Denise Kahambu, who were killed recently in Africa. "They were", he said, " faithful witnesses of the Gospel, which they announced with courage even at the risk of their own lives". He also expressed his closeness to the missionaries' relatives and religious communities, and asked everyone to join him in prayer that the Lord, with His coming, may bring "reconciliation and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 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 Milo Djukanovic, prime minister of Montenegro. The prime minister 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.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions a fruitful exchange of opinions took place on questions concerning current international affairs, as well as on the situation in the region and the main challenges it is facing. The positive contribution made to Montenegrin society by the significant Catholic minority was also highlighted. Finally attention turned to certain topics of current interest, in particular the government's commitment to promoting peace and harmony among the different peoples and religious confessions present in the country".


VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Five prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, archbishop emeritus of Minsk-Mohilev and apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Pinsk, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Kazimierz Wielikosielec.

    - Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Antoni Dziemianko.

    - Bishop Aleksander Kaszkiewicz of Grodno.

 - Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former German foreign minister.

 - Bishop Jean Laffitte, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole F.D.P., auxiliary of L'Aquila, Italy accompanied by members of his family.

  On Saturday 12 December he received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 - Archbishop Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany.

 - Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, apostolic nuncio to Belgium and Luxemburg.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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