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Thursday, December 17, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following English-language communique at midday today:

  "For a number of years the Church has followed with great concern the difficulties caused by the regrettable conduct of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Many attempts have been made to bring Archbishop Milingo back into communion with the Catholic Church, including the consideration of suitable ways to enable him to exercise the episcopal ministry. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were directly involved in those efforts and both Popes personally followed the case of Archbishop Milingo in a spirit of paternal solicitude.

  "In the course of this unhappy series of events, Archbishop Milingo became irregular in 2001 as a result of his attempt to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, and incurred the medicinal penalty of suspension (cf. canons 1044 para. 1, n. 3; 1394 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law). Thereafter, he headed certain groups calling for the abolition of clerical celibacy and gave numerous interviews to the media in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See, creating serious upset and scandal among the faithful. Then, on 24 September 2006 in Washington, Archbishop Milingo ordained four bishops without pontifical mandate.

  "By so doing, he incurred the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' (canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today. Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops. Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church. Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations.

  "The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

  "According to canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, now added to the grave penalty of excommunication, has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organised by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful.

  "It must be pointed out that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary. The Holy See has felt obliged to act in this way due to the serious consequences for ecclesial communion resulting from repeated episcopal consecrations carried out without pontifical mandate; nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways.

  "As for those recently ordained by Archbishop Milingo, the Church's discipline in imposing the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' upon those who receive episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate is well-known. While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognise these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognise them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future. Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.

  "At this moment, as the Church experiences profound sorrow for the grave acts perpetrated by Archbishop Milingo, she entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who - be they priests or lay faithful - have in any way co-operated with him by acting against the unity of Christ's Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences two prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Wladyslaw Blin of Vitebsk.

    - Fr. Jan Sergiusz Gajek M.I.C., apostolic visitor for Greek Catholics in Belarus.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Limerick, Ireland, presented by Bishop Donal Brendan Murray, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father celebrated a Mass to mark the ninetieth birthday of the Czech Cardinal Tomas Spidlik S.J. Also present at the celebration were members of the "Aletti" community in Rome, where the cardinal lives.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of eight new ambassadors to the Holy See: Hans Klingenberg of Denmark; Francis K. Butagira of Uganda; Suleiman Mohamad Mustafa of Sudan; Elkanah Odembo of Kenya; Mukhtar B. Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan; Abdul Hannan of Bangladesh; Alpo Rusi of Finland, and Einars Semanis of Latvia.

  Addressing the diplomats as a group, the Pope referred to the need for "a just relationship between human beings and the creation in which they live and work" In this context, he underlined the need for "environmental responsibility" because "the continual degradation of the environment constitutes a direct threat to man's survival and his development, and threatens peace among individuals and peoples".

  Benedict XVI encouraged the political authorities of the countries the ambassadors represent, and those of all nations, "not only to increase their efforts in favour of environmental protection but also - since the problem cannot be faced only at the national level - to produce proposals and provide encouragement in order to reach vital international agreements that may prove useful and just for all sides".

  After then highlighting the importance of "converting or modifying the current development model of our societies", the Pope pointed out that "the Church proposes that this profound change ... be guided by the notion of the integral development of the human person".

  "If it is true", said the Holy Father, "that over history religions have often been a factor of conflict, it is also nonetheless true that religions lived according to their profound essence have been, and still are, a force for reconciliation and peace. At this moment in history religions must, through open and sincere dialogue, seek the path of purification in order to conform ever more closely to their true vocation".

  "Peaceful coexistence of different religions in each nation is sometimes difficult", he continued. "More than a political problem, this co-existence is a religious problem which lies within the bosom of each one of those traditions. Believers are called to ask God about His will concerning each human situation".

  "For people of faith or people of good will, the resolution of human conflicts and the delicate coexistence of different religious expressions can be transformed into an opportunity for human coexistence within a social order full of goodness and wisdom, the origin and impulse of which lies in God. Such coexistence, respecting the nature of things and the inherent wisdom that comes from God, is called peace", said Pope Benedict.

  "The peace we so long for will not come into being save by the joint action of individuals, who discover the true nature of God, and of leaders of civil and religious society who - respecting the dignity and faith of all people - know how to give religion its noble and authentic role in creating and perfecting the human person. This overall reworking, at once temporal and spiritual, will enable a new beginning towards the peace that God wishes to be universal".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received in audience prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus who have recently completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope began his remarks by reminding the bishops of the importance of announcing "the perennial message of the Gospel with renewed enthusiasm, in a society which is not immune from the temptations of secularisation, hedonism, and relativism, signs of which are the problems of the falling birth-rate, the fragility of families and the illusion of finding fortune outside the homeland".

  Hence, it is the pressing task of pastors "to underline the power of the faith, a faith rooted in solid tradition, in order to contribute to preserving the deep-rooted Christian identity of the nation, while maintaining respectful dialogue with other cultures and religions".

  In order to achieve this aim, the Pope told the Belarusian prelates, "pay great heed to formulating programmes and promoting ever more adequate methods of pastoral care, and to implementing the decisions of the episcopal conference. This renewed witness of unity, apart from facilitating the announcement of the Gospel, will favour relations with the civil authorities and, in particular, ecumenical relations".

  Benedict XVI then turned to the question of education. "Today", he said, "we are living though a kind of 'emergency' in this delicate and vital sector, and it is necessary to increase our efforts in order to ensure that people, and above all the new generations, receive a valid formation". In this context, the Holy Father made particular reference to candidates to the priesthood, calling on the bishops to ensure that they "are given a solid and rigorous spiritual and theological formation, and receive due guidance as they undertake a serious and profound examination of the divine call. The current situation of our society requires a particularly attentive discernment" in this field.

  The Pope continued his discourse to the prelates: "It is likewise important always to bear in mind that the Lord calls you, as pastors of the Church, to discern each of the ministries destined to edify the ecclesial body (including lay, cultural and civil ministries), so that they may all contribute to boosting the Kingdom of God in Belarus, in a spirit of true and authentic communion which recalls those Christian values that have contributed to the construction of European civilisation".

  The Orthodox Churches, like the Catholic Church, "are strongly committed to reflecting on how to respond to the challenges of our time, in order to transmit Christ's message faithfully. Responding to the invitation that emerged from the recent Catholic-Orthodox meeting in Cyprus, it is necessary to continue our shared journey in that direction. A significant contribution could be offered by the small but active Greek-Catholic community present in your country".

  Benedict XVI concluded by referring to his recent meeting with the president of the Republic of Belarus, during which "both parties expressed a desire to stipulate an Agreement, which is currently being prepared. I also", the Pope said, "underlined the particular attention with which this Apostolic See, and the episcopal conference, follow events in your country, and their commitment to effective collaboration in matters of mutual interest with the aim, while respecting the specific competencies of each side, of promoting the good of citizens".
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