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Friday, January 29, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  In his address the Holy Father focused his attention on the role of that institution, from the triple perspective of the justice, charity and truth which must inspire it.

  "It is necessary to take account of the tendency - widespread and well-rooted though not always obvious - to contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other", said the Pope. "Some people maintain that pastoral charity justifies any measures taken towards the declaration of nullity of the marriage bond. ... Truth itself ... would thus tend to be seen in a functional perspective, adapting itself to the different requirements that arise in each case".

  "Your ministry", he continued, "is essentially a work of justice, a virtue ... of which it is more important than ever to rediscover the human and Christian value, also within the Church. Canon Law ... must always be considered in its essential relationship with justice, maintaining an awareness that the Church's juridical activity has as its goal the salvation of souls".

  "In this perspective it must be borne in mind that, whatever the situation, trial and sentence are fundamentally linked to, and at the service of, justice", said Benedict XVI, and he went on: "Apart from this 'objective' dimension of justice, there exists another dimension ... which concerns the 'operators of the law'; that is, those who make law possible. ... They must be characterised by their exalted practice of human and Christian virtues, in particular those of prudence and justice, but also that of strength".

  This latter virtue "becomes more important when injustice seems the easiest path to follow, in as much as it involves giving in to the desires and expectations of the parties involved, or to the conditioning of the social environment".

  "Everyone who works in the field of the Law, each in his or her own role, must be guided by justice", said Pope Benedict. "I am thinking in particular of lawyers, who must not only take great care to respect the truth of the evidence, but also to avoid taking on ... cases which they know in their conscience to be objectively unsustainable.

  "The action of those who administer justice cannot neglect charity", he added. "A charitable perspective and charitable measures will help us not to forget that those before us are always people marked by problems and suffering. The principle whereby 'charity goes beyond justice' also holds good in the specific field of the work of 'operators of justice'".

  "Our dealings with people", the Pope explained, "must take account of each specific case in order, with delicacy and attentiveness, to facilitate the parties' contact with the tribunal". Likewise, "it is important that effective efforts be made, whenever there seems to be hope of a successful outcome, to encourage the spouses to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal cohabitation. It is also vital not to stint efforts to establish a climate of human and Christian openness between the parties, founded on the search for truth".

  The Holy Father then highlighted another important question, "that of avoiding pseudo-pastoral demands which place the issue on a merely horizontal plain, in which what counts is satisfying subjective requests in order to achieve a declaration of nullity at any cost, with the aim of overcoming, among other things, the obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. ... It would however be a false advantage", he said, "to ease the way towards receiving the Sacraments, at the risk of causing people to live in objective contrast with the truth of their own individual state".

  "Both justice and charity require love for truth, and essentially involve the search for what is true. ... Without truth charity slides into sentimentalism. Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth".

  This can happen, the Pope went on, "not only in the practical activity of passing judgment, but also in theoretical studies which have such an influence on concrete judgements. The problem arises when the essence itself of marriage becomes more or less obscured. ... Examination of the conjugal bond in existential, personalist and relational terms must never be undertaken at the expense of indissolubility, an essential property which in Christian marriage has, with unity, a special firmness by virtue of the Sacrament".

  "Marriage enjoys the favour of the law. Hence, in case of doubt, a marriage must be held to be valid until the contrary is proven. Otherwise we run the serious risk of remaining without an objective point of reference for pronouncements of nullity, transforming all conjugal difficulties into a symptom of a failed union whose essential nucleus of justice - the indissoluble bond - is thus effectively denied".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Message for the fifty-seventh World Day of Leprosy was published today. It bears the signature of Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry. The Day itself is due to be celebrated on Sunday 31 January.

  According to the most recent data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), "in 2009, 210,000 new cases of the disease were recorded. ... The countries most affected are in Asia, South America and Africa. India has the greatest number of sufferers, followed by Brazil".

  Archbishop Zimowski makes a call "to the international community and to the authorities of each individual State, inviting them to develop and reinforce the strategies necessary to combat leprosy, making them more effective and far-reaching especially in places where the number of new cases remains high. This", he continues, "must be done without overlooking educational and awareness-raising campaigns capable of helping those affected, and their families, to emerge from isolation and obtain the necessary treatment".

  At the end of his message, the president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry expresses his thanks to the WHO, and to religious, missionaries, non-governmental associations and organisations, and many volunteers for their commitment "to eradicate this and other 'forgotten' diseases".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Three prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds.

    - Bishop Terence Patrick Drainey of Middlesbrough.

    - Bishop Terence John Brain of Salford.

 - Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kibungo, Rwanda presented by Bishop Kizito Bahujimihigo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Benedict XVI received the 300 people who yesterday participated in the annual public session of the pontifical academies.

  The event was attended by representatives from the following institutions: the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theological Academy, the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the International Marian Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon", the Roman Academy of Archaeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy.

  Having praised the "glorious past" of these institutions, the Pope noted how at the present time "contemporary culture, and even more so believers themselves, continually petition the Church to concentrate her reflections and actions in those fields in which new problems emerge. These", he told his listeners, "are also sectors in which you operate".

  "You are called", the Holy Father went on, "to make your qualified, competent and enthusiastic contribution to ensure that all the Church, and particularly the Holy See, is able to exploit the appropriate opportunities, languages and means necessary to enter into dialogue with modern cultures, and provide an effective answer to the questions and challenges which face her in the various areas of human knowledge and experience.

  "As I have said before", he added, "modern culture is deeply marked, both by relativism and subjectivism, and by methods and approaches that are sometimes superficial, even banal. These harm the seriousness of research and reflection and, as a consequence, also of dialogue, exchange and interpersonal communication. It is, then, urgently necessary to recreate the conditions essential for ... deeper study and research, so as to make dialogue and exchange on the various problems more reasonable and effective, with a view to shared growth and a formation that promotes man in his entirety and completeness".

  "This task is particularly urgent in the field of forming candidates for Holy Orders, as prescribed by the Year for Priests and confirmed by the happy decision to dedicate your annual public session to" the formation of the clergy.

  "The philosophy and witness of St. Thomas Aquinas encourage us to dedicate careful study to emerging problems, in order to find appropriate and creative answers. Trusting in the possibilities of 'human reason', and with complete fidelity to the immutable 'depositum fidei', we must ... always draw from the richness of Tradition in a constant search for the 'truth of things'. To this end it is important that pontifical academies, today more than ever, become living and vivacious institutions, capable of acute perception, both as regards the demands of society and culture, and the needs and expectations of the Church. They must do so in order to offer an appropriate and valid contribution and so promote, with all the energies and means at their disposal, an authentic Christian humanism".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Seven prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham.

    - Archbishop Patrick Altham Kelly of Liverpool, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Anthony Williams, and by Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Vincent Malone.

    - Bishop John Anthony Rawsthorne of Hallam.

    - Bishop Seamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle.

    - Bishop Michael Gregory Campbell O.S.A. of Lancaster.

 - Appointed Fr. Zdzislaw Jozef Kijas O.F.M. Conv., president of the "St. Bonaventure" Pontifical Theological Faculty in Rome, as a relator of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Seoul, Korea, as bishop of Chunchon (area 17,000, population 1,157,879, Catholics 75,702, priests 98, religious 292), Korea. He succeeds Bishop John Chang Yik, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Luis Quinteiro Fiuza of Orense, as bishop of Tui-Vigo (area 1,721, population 541,000, Catholics 514,000, priests 289, permanent deacons 3, religious 544), Spain. He succeeds Jose Dieguez Reboredo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Joao Noe Rodrigues of the clergy of Witbank, South Africa, pastor of the parish of the Sacred Heart at Ackerville, as bishop of Tzaneen (area 49,500, population 2,500,000, Catholics 50,000, priests 27, permanent deacons 3, religious 43), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1982. He succeeds Bishop Hugh Patrick Slattery M.S.C., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Eusebius Alfred Nzigilwa of the clergy of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, former rector of St. Mary's major seminary in Visiaga, and Fr. Salutaris Melchior Libena of the clergy of Mahenge, Tanzania, professor and spiritual director at St. Paul's major seminary in Kipalapala, as auxiliaries of Dar-es-Salaam (area 40,000, population 5,003,000, Catholics 1,490,000, priests 193, religious 737). Bishop-elect Nzigilwa was born in Mwanza, Tanzania in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1995. Bishop-elect Libena was born in Itete, Tanzania in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during the general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, to St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226), a "true 'giant' of sanctity who continues to enthral many people of all ages and religious beliefs".

  Francis, the Pope explained, was born into a rich family and passed a carefree youth. At the age of twenty he took part in a military campaign and was taken prisoner. On his return to Assisi he began a process of spiritual conversion that gradually led him to abandon worldly life. In the hermitage of St. Damian, Francis had a vision of Christ, Who spoke to him from the crucifix inviting him to repair His Church.

  This call "contains a profound symbolism", said the Holy Father, because the ruinous condition of the hermitage also represented "the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church at that time, with her superficial faith that neither formed nor transformed life, her clergy little committed to its duties, ... and the interior decay of her unity due to the rise of heretical movements. Yet nonetheless, at the middle of that Church in ruins was the Crucifix, which spoke and called for renewal, which called Francis".

  Pope Benedict also remarked upon the coincidence between that event in Francis' life and the dream of Pope Innocent III in the same year of 1207. The Pope had dreamt that the basilica of St. John Lateran was about to collapse, and a "small and insignificant" friar held it up to prevent its fall. Pope Innocent recognised the friar in Francis, who came to see him in Rome two years later.

  "Innocent III", said Benedict XVI, "was a powerful Pontiff, who possessed profound theological culture as well as great political power, but it was not he who renewed the Church. It was the 'small and insignificant' friar, it was Francis, called by God. Yet it is important to recall that Francis did not renew the Church without the Pope or against the Pope, but in communion with him. The two things went together: Peter's Successor, the bishops and the Church founded on apostolic succession, and the new charism that the Spirit had created at that moment to renew the Church".

  Having renounced his paternal inheritance in 1208, the saint elected to live in poverty and dedicate himself to preaching. A year later, accompanied by his first followers, he travelled to Rome to present his project for a new form of Christian life to Pope Innocent III.

  Referring then to the philosophical debate concerning, on the one hand, the Francis of tradition and, on the other, the Francis some scholars define as historical, the Pope explained that the saint "wished to follow the Word of Christ ... in all its radical truth", but at the same time "he was aware that Christ is never 'mine' but 'ours', that 'I' can never possess Him, that 'I' can never rebuild against the Church, her will and her teaching".

  It is also true that at first Francis "did not wish to create a new order" with all the due canonical procedures. However, not without disappointment, he came to understand "that everything must have its order and that the law of the Church is necessary to give form to renewal. Thus he entered ... with all his heart into communion with the Church, with the Pope and the bishops".

  The Holy Father recalled how St. Clare also joined the school of St. Francis, and he praised the fruits that the Second Order of St. Francis, the Poor Clares, has brought to the Church. He then went on to speak of Francis' 1219 voyage to Egypt, where he met the Sultan Melek-el-Kamel and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "In an age marked by an ongoing conflict between Christianity and Islam, Francis, armed only with the faith and his personal gentleness, effectively followed the path of dialogue. ... His is a model which even today must inspire relations between Christian and Muslims: promote dialogue in truth, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding".

  The Pope also referred to the possibility that Francis might have visited the Holy Land and pointed out that the saint's spiritual children have made the Holy Places a privileged place for their mission. "I think with gratitude", he said, "of the great merits of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land".

  Francis, who died in 1226, "lying on the bare earth" of the Porziuncola, "represents an 'alter Christus'", and this "was, in fact, his ideal, ... to imitate Christ's virtues. In particular, he wished to give fundamental value to interior and exterior poverty, also teaching this to his spiritual children. ... The witness of Francis, who loved poverty in order to follow Christ with complete devotion and freedom, continues to be, also for us today, an invitation to cultivate interior poverty so as to develop our trust in God, with a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods.

  "In Francis", the Pope added, "love for Christ was expressed in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist". He also mentioned the saint's great admiration for priests "because they have received the gift of consecrating the Eucharist. ... Let us never forget", he said, "that the sanctity of the Eucharist requires us to be pure, to live in a manner coherent with the Mystery we celebrate".

  Another characteristic of the saint's spirituality was "the sense of universal fraternity and love for nature which inspired him to write the 'Laudes Creaturarum'. This is a very relevant message because ... the only form of sustainable development is that which respects creation and does not harm the environment", and "even the construction of lasting peace is linked to respect for the environment. Francis reminds us that that the creation reflects the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator".

  The Holy Father concluded by describing Francis as "a great saint and a joyful man. ... There exists, in fact, an intimate and indissoluble bond between sanctity and joy. A French author once wrote that only one sadness exists in the world: that of not being saints".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope recalled how "sixty-five years ago, on 27 January 1945, the gates of the Nazi concentration campo near the Polish city of Oswiecim, better known by its German name of Auschwitz, were opened and the few survivors freed.

  "That event, and the testimony of those who survived, revealed to the world the horror of the crimes of unprecedented cruelty committed in the extermination camps created by Nazi Germany", he added.

  "Today we celebrate 'Holocaust Remembrance Day', to recall all the victims of those crimes, and especially the planned annihilation of the Jews, and to honour those who, at the risk of their own lives, protected the persecuted and sought to oppose the murderous insanity. Deeply moved, our thoughts go to the countless victims of that blind racial and religious hatred, who suffered deportation, imprisonment and death in those abhorrent and inhuman places.

  "May the memory of those events", he concluded, "and in particular the drama of the Shoah which struck the Jewish people, arouse ever greater respect for the dignity of each person, so that all mankind may feel itself to be one large family. May omnipotent God illuminate hearts and minds, that such tragedies never happen again".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City State has issued a special stamp, the sales of which will be used for the benefit of the people of Haiti, victims of the recent earthquake.

  A communique made public yesterday afternoon explains that the stamp is dedicated to the 1500th anniversary of the shrine of Our Lady of Grace, better known as the shrine of Mentorella, located in the Italian region of Lazio.

  The series of 900,000 stamps, each with a face value of 0.65 euros, will be sold for 0.85 euros, though their postal value will remain 0.65 euros.

  The 0.20 euros surplus will be used to aid victims of the earthquake. According to estimates of the Governorate of Vatican City State, if almost the entire series is sold some 150,000 euros will be collected.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Antonio Lanfranchi of Cesena-Sarsina, Italy, as archbishop-abbot of Modena-Nonantola (area 2,089, population 488,400, Catholics 476,900, priests 264, permanent deacons 56, religious 403), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in Grondone di Ferriere, Italy in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1971 and consecrated a bishop in 2004. He succeeds Archbishop Benito Cocchi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The celebration marked the end of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which has been: "You are witnesses of these things".

  The event was attended by a number of cardinals and bishops, as well as by representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities present in Rome.

  In his homily Benedict XVI explained how the choice of the theme for this year's Week of Prayer - "that is, the invitation to a offer shared witness of the risen Christ in accordance with the mandate He entrusted to His disciples" - is linked "to the hundredth anniversary of the missionary conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, which many consider as a decisive event for the birth of the modern ecumenical movement".

  "It is precisely the desire to announce Christ to others and to carry His message of reconciliation to the world that makes us aware of the contradiction of division among Christians". he said. "The communion and unity of the disciples of Christ is, then, a particularly important prerequisite for a more credible and effective witness".

  The Holy Father explained how, "in a world characterised by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion towards the Christian faith, what is needed is new and intense evangelising activity, directed not only at peoples who have never known the Gospel, but also at those among whom Christianity is present and has become part of their history".

  After then referring to "questions that still separate us from each other, and that we hope may be overcome through prayer and dialogue", the Pope explained how there nonetheless exists "a core content of Christ's message that we can announce together: the paternity of God, Christ's victory over sin and death with His cross and resurrection, and trust in the transforming action of the Spirit.

  "As we journey towards full communion", he added, "we are called to present a joint witness in the face of the increasingly complex challenges of our time, such as secularisation and indifference, relativism and hedonism, delicate ethical questions concerning the beginning and end of life, the limits of science and technology, and dialogue with other religious traditions".

  Pope Benedict continued: "There are other fields in which we must already show our joint witness: protecting creation, promoting peace and the common good, defending the centrality of the human person, and the commitment to defeat the poverties of our time such as hunger, indigence, illiteracy and the unequal distribution of wealth".

  And he concluded: "Commitment to the unity of Christians is not just a task for the few, or an appendage to the life of the Church. Each is called to offer his or her contribution to help take those steps towards the full communion of all Christ's disciples, never forgetting that it is, above all, a gift constantly to be implored from God".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a conference was held to present "Pontifical Academies for a New Christian Humanism", an initiative that will include a special audience of the Holy Father with the pontifical academies on 28 January, and the public session of those academies on 27 January.

  Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, and Msgr. Pasquale Iacobone, official of the same pontifical council and delegate of the same co-ordinating council.

  The Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies was created by John Paul II in 1995 and is made up of the presidents of the following institutions: the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theological Academy, the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the International Marian Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon", the Roman Academy of Archaeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy.

  A joint public session of the Pontifical Academies is organised once a year to examine a theme of current importance. This year's meeting, the fourteenth, focuses on the "theological formation of the clergy" and has been organised by the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Theological Academy. The public session also includes the presentation of the Pontifical Academy Prize which is awarded by the Pope to institutions or to young researchers or artists who have distinguished themselves in promoting Christian humanism. The prize-winner this year is the American theologian John Mortensen who gained his doctorate in 2006 from Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with a thesis on "Analogy in St. Thomas".

  In his remarks Archbishop Ravasi recalled how the activity of the Pontifical Academies focuses on three fields: theology, culture and the reappraisal of Christian heritage especially from Roman times.

  The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture likewise explained that one of the purposes of the session is to publicise the "often little known activity" of the academies, which he called "little worlds of very-high-quality research". The session will also help to ensure that the work undertaken in those academies leaves their confines and becomes more widespread, making them not just glorious vestiges of the past but institutions capable of confronting the modern world of knowledge. In this context, he noted that the granting of this year's prize to layman with a family is a sign of the openness of theological research which, he said, cannot be limited only to the clergy.

  For his part, Msgr. Iacobone pointed out that this will be Benedict XVI's first audience with the pontifical academies. He also recalled how the years 2009-2010 are very significant for some of these institutions, such as the Roman Academy of Archaeology which has celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of its foundation (1809), the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas which marked its 130 years, and the International Marian Academy which was made a pontifical academy fifty years ago.


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity today published the following communique:

  The council, the communique reads, "has learned with disappointment that a media outlet has published a test currently being examined by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

  "The document published is a draft text consisting of a list of themes to be studied and examined in greater depth, and has been only minimally discussed by the said commission.

  "In the last meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held in Paphos, Cyprus, last October, it was specifically established that the text would not be published until it had been fully and completely examined by the commission.

  "As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, auxiliary of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as bishop of Austin (area 57,424, population 2,443,000, Catholics 437,000, priests 243, permanent deacons 198, religious 203), U.S.A.
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Monday, January 25, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to His Holiness Irinej, Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, for his recent election to that office. In the English-language message he congratulates the new Patriarch and prays "that the Lord may grant you abundant gifts of grace and wisdom for the fulfilment of your high responsibilities in the service of the Church and the people entrusted to you.

  "You succeed Patriarch Pavle, our brother of happy memory, who was a pastor both fervent and esteemed, and who bequeathed to you a spiritual inheritance that is rich and profound", the Pope adds. "As a great pastor and spiritual father, he effectively guided the Church and maintained its unity in the face of many challenges. I feel bound to express my appreciation of his example of fidelity to the Lord and of his many gestures of openness towards the Catholic Church.

  "I therefore pray that the Lord will grant Your Holiness the inner strength to consolidate the unity and spiritual growth of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well to build up the fraternal bonds with other Churches and ecclesial communities. Let me assure you of the closeness of the Catholic Church and of her commitment to the promotion of fraternal relations and theological dialogue, in order that those obstacles which still impede full communion between us may be overcome. May the Lord bless our common efforts in this regard, so that the disciples of Christ may again be united witnesses before the whole world to His salvific love".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the Message for the forty-fourth World Day of Social Communications was presented. Its theme this year is: "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word".

  Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

  Archbishop Celli explained how the Pope had chosen the theme of the priest, because of the current celebration of the Year for Priests. However "the Message is not addressed only to them. ... Priests work in the digital world, alongside lay people who are involved in that sector", he said.

  The president of the pontifical council noted that "the Pope expresses a positive assessment of new technologies. ... He is aware of their utility and knows they can make a positive contribution to pastoral care".

  In his Message Benedict XVI also recalls that "the main task of priests is to announce Christ", said Archbishop Celli, and that "they must focus pastoral attention on the communications media, ensuring it remains at the service of the Word".

  For his part Msgr. Tighe, speaking English, explained how in the Message "priests are invited to appreciate the great potential of the new technologies to make known the Good News of God's love for all people".

  "The priest is invited to be present in the digital world precisely as a priest", he said, pointing out that the Pope "takes for granted the need for the formation of priests in the skilful use of the new technologies, but his primary concern is to ensure that such technologies are used in ways that promote the Gospel and offer hope to all".

  "The Pope invites priests, and by implication all believers, to use the web to create a space of dialogue where Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers can encounter each other in a respectful search for truth and wisdom", he said.

  Referring then to specific initiatives in the digital field - such as the website of the Congregation for the Clergy dedicated to the Year for Priests: www.annussacerdotalis.org - the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications noted how "around the world the new technologies are being used to promote the ongoing theological and spiritual formation of priests. ... In addition, there have been many worthwhile personal efforts by individual priests, often supported by lay people with developed technical proficiencies and media competencies, to use the new technologies to give a new dimension to their pastoral mission".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was the Holy Father's Message for the forty-fourth World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated on 24 May and has as its theme: "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word". The Message, published in various languages, is dated 24 January, Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

  Excerpts from the English-language version are given below:

  "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.

  "All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of His saving grace in the Sacraments. ... Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. ... Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word".

  "Priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different 'voices' provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources".

  "Using new communication technologies, priests ... must learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the 'Web'".

  "Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries, especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, 'that God is near; that in Christ we all belong to one another'. Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today's world?"

  "Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human development".

  "With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive to those who continue to seek. ... A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute".

  "The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great resource for humanity as a whole. ... But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus".

  "At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ Himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. ... May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new 'agora' which the current media are opening up".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - A communique was released late this morning concerning the Special Council for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which held its second meeting in the Vatican on 19 and 20 January.

  The communique explains that during the course of the meeting the members of the council discussed the problems they are facing, "observing how the Church in various African countries finds herself at the necessity of defending the people from injustice. The lack of peace stimulates the Church to make a strong commitment to mediation and to welcoming those who suffer the consequences of intestine wars.

  "Reconciliation continues to be a challenge for the African Church, which must be reconciled in herself in order to become credible in her preaching and social activities", the communique adds.

  On the subject of inter-religious dialogue, the participants in the meeting spoke of the "efforts being made to create bonds of understanding and collaboration, especially with Islam which is the continent's most widespread religion. It is to be hoped that the fundamentalist groups become increasingly disowned and marginalised by the official representatives of Islam", says the communique.

  The members of the council likewise studied the proposals that emerged from the Synod - held in the Vatican in October 2009 - "which will serve as a foundation for further study and as a contribution to the composition of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation".

  The next meeting of the Special Council for Africa will take place on 27 and 28 April.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope quoted an excerpt of the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, from today's liturgy, in which the Apostle compares the Church to the human body. "The Church", the Holy Father explained, "is conceived like a body of which Christ is the Head, and it forms a united whole with Him.

  "However", he added, "what the Apostle is seeking to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to these charisms the Church is a rich and living non-uniform organism, fruit of the one Spirit Who leads everyone to profound unity, absorbing diversities without eradicating them and creating a harmonious whole".

  The Church "prolongs the presence of the risen Lord over history, especially through the Sacraments, the Word of God, the charisms and pastoral ministry in the community. Therefore, it is precisely in Christ and in the Spirit that the Church is one and holy; in other words, an intimate communion which transcends human capacities and supports them".

  In this context the Holy Father turned his attention to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which comes to an end tomorrow, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. To mark the occasion the Pope will preside at the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, with representatives of other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome. "We will", said Pope Benedict, "invoke from God the gift of the full unity of all Christ's disciples" because "the communion of Christians ... makes the announcement of the Gospel more credible and effective".

  Finally the Holy Father spoke of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists, whose feast falls today. And to that saint, who taught that "the call to sanctity is addressed to everyone, and that each has his or her place in the Church", he entrusted his own recent Message for the World Day of Social Communications.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2010 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled how yesterday in the Spanish city of Mataro near Barcelona, the beatification took place of Servant of God Josep Samso i Elias, "a Catalan priest and martyr killed during the Spanish civil war. Like a true witness of Christ, he died forgiving his tormentors", said Benedict XVI. "For priests, and especially pastors, he represents a model of dedication to catechesis and charity towards the poor".

  Greeting Spanish-speaking pilgrims present at the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed the hope that, in this current Year for Priests, the example of Blessed Samso i Elias "may serve as a stimulus to priests in the diligent exercise of their pastoral ministry, and encourage the faithful always to give firm and courageous witness of their faith".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Nine prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops George Stack, Alan Stephen Hopes and John Arnold.

    - Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of Clifton.

    - Bishop Brian Michael Noble of Shrewsbury, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Mark Davies.

    - Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff.

    - Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns S.M. of Menevia.

  On Saturday 23 January he received in separate audiences:

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

 - Cardinal Agostino Vallini, His Holiness' vicar general for the diocese of Rome.

 - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

 - Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

 - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Monfort Stima, vicar general of the archdiocese of Blantyre, Malawi, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,166, population 4,600,000, Catholics 1,133,850, priests 78, religious 287). The bishop-elect was born in Neno, Malawi in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Appointed as members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Archbishop Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky of Bratislava, Slovakia; Bishop Filippo Iannone O. Carm. of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, Italy; Bishop Fernando Jose Monteiro Guimaraes C.SS.R. of Garanhuns, Brazil, and Bishop Ryszard Kasyna, auxiliary of Gdansk, Poland.

 - Appointed Msgr. Piero Pioppo, nunciature counsellor and prelate of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), as apostolic nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Savona, Italy in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985.

  On Saturday 23 January it was made public that he appointed Fr. Vincenzo Pisanello of the clergy of the archdiocese of Otranto, Italy, episcopal vicar for administration and pastor of the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Galatina, as bishop of Oria (area 921, population 183,300, Catholics 180,000, priests 117, permanent deacons 6, religious 265), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Galatina, Italy in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1984.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Church, having duty consulted with the Holy See, has adopted the following provisions and, with the prior assent of the Holy Father, has proceeded with the following episcopal elections:

 - Erected the new eparchy of Pathanamthitta, India, appointing Bishop Yoohanon Mar Chrysostom Kalloor of Marthandom, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy.

 - Appointed Fr. K. M. Vincent Kulapuravilai, professor at St. Mary's Malankara Major Seminary, as bishop of the eparchy of Marthandom (area 1,684, population 1,977,000, Catholics 63,988, priests 39, religious 190), India. The bishop-elect was born in Anakkarai, India in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1991.

 - Erected the new eparchy of Puthur, India, appointing Bishop Geevarghese Mar Divannasios Ottathengil of Battery, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy.

 - Appointed Bishop Joseph Mar Thomas Konnath, auxiliary of Trivandrum, India, and apostolic visitor for North America and Europe, as bishop of the eparchy of Battery (area 75,000, population 1,767,000, Catholics 27,675, priests 88, religious 284), India.

 - Appointed Fr. Samuel Kattuakallil, vicar of the archieparchy of Trivandrum, India, as auxiliary of the same archieparchy (area 4,636, population 5,935,000, Catholics 251,000, priests 257, religious 868). The bishop-elect was born in Kadamanitta, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1978.

 - Appointed Fr. Stephen Thottathil, professor of moral theology and dean of theology at Malankara Seminary, as auxiliary of the archieparchy of Tiruvalla (area 11,120, population 5,435,000, Catholics 37,648, priests 132, religious 344), India. The bishop-elect was born in Ranni, India in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1979.

 - Appointed Fr. Anthony Valiyavilayil O.I.C., chancellor of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia, as bishop of the Syro-Malankar Major Archiepiscopal Curia. The bishop-elect was born in Adoor, India in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1980.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Made public today were two telegrams sent by the Holy Father on 16 January to Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti, and to Archbishop Louis Kebreau S.D.B. of Cap-Haitien and president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, for the earthquake which devastated the country on 12 January, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of people.

  Benedict XVI tells President Preval of his "profound sadness" at the tragic event and assures him of his "fervent prayers for all the people affected by this dreadful catastrophe. I also pray", the Pope continues, "that a spirit of solidarity may enter people's hearts and that calm may reign in the streets, so that the generous aid arriving from all countries may bring comfort to everyone, and that people who have today lost everything may be consoled by knowing that the international community is truly concerned about them".

  The Holy Father expresses his appreciation for "the commitment shown by both Haitians and foreigners, sometimes at risk of their own lives, to do everything in their power to search for and rescue survivors". And he assures the president that the Catholic Church, "through her institutions, will remain - and not only in these moments of great commotion - alongside the people who have been so sorely tried by this tragedy, and will, to the limit of her powers, help them regain the chance to build a better future".

  In his telegram to Archbishop Kebreau, the Pope mentions the tragic death in the earthquake of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, and of many faithful, priests and consecrated people. "At this sad hour", he writes, "I invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help that she may become 'Mother of tenderness', and that solidarity may triumph over isolation and individualism in people's hearts".

  The also Pope praises "the rapid mobilisation of the international community, collectively touched by the fate of Haitians", and reaffirms that, through her institutions, the Church "will not cease to make her contribution to the emergency efforts and to the patient reconstruction of devastated areas".

Friday, January 22, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon L'Osservatore Romano newspaper published a Letter from the Holy Father, dated 15 January, in which he reiterates his confidence in Cardinal Tariciso Bertone S.D.B. as secretary of State. On 2 December 2009 Cardinal Bertone reached the age of 75 and presented his resignation from office, in accordance with the norms of Canon Law.

  In his Letter Benedict XVI expresses his thanks to the cardinal, recalling "the long course of our collaboration, which began with your work as consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

  "My thoughts also go to the delicate work you undertook to establish dialogue with Msgr. Lefebvre", the Holy Father adds, before going on to recall how John Paul II called Cardinal Bertone to work in the Roman Curia, where he "competently and generously filled the position of secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Those were intense and demanding years during which important doctrinal and disciplinary documents were issued", he writes.

  The Holy Father also speaks of his admiration for the cardinal's "sensus fidei", his doctrinal and canonical knowledge and his "humanitas" which, writes the Pope, "helped us to experience a real family atmosphere in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, united to a firm and determined discipline in the workplace".

  And Benedict XVI concludes his Letter: "All these qualities were the motive that led me to decide, in the summer of 2006, to appoint you as my secretary of State, and they are the reasons why, also for the future, I do not wish to forgo your vital collaboration".


VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Bologna Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI presided at a meeting of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2010 (VIS) - A communique published today announces that the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See met on 20 and 21 January under the presidency of Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

  The order of the day "was the discussion of the consolidated budget of the Holy See and the budget of the Governorate of Vatican City State, for the year 2010".

  During the meeting Archbishop Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, explained that "the largest cost is that concerning the payment of employees who work in the Vatican, whose number stands at 2,668. Although it is foreseen that these costs will be contained, the relative financial burden is nonetheless growing because of the adjustment of wages to the cost of living. In addition, there are the costs concerning Vatican Radio and other media institutions": the Vatican Press, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Publishing House and the Vatican Television Centre.

  As for the budget of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Archbishop De Paolis explained how that organisation "administers its finances autonomously and has substantially overcome the difficulties of previous financial years, enabling it to look to the future with greater confidence.

  "Apart from the costs associated with the institutional activities of the State, the governorate also meets the costs deriving from the maintenance of buildings", he added.

  The communique concludes by noting how the Holy Father visited the participants in the meeting and "listened to their observations with great interest, thanking everyone concerned for their valuable assistance to the Apostolic See".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning, in keeping with the tradition for today's feast of St. Agnes, the Pope blessed a number of lambs in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

  The wool of the lambs is used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday 11 February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Pope will preside at the celebration of Mass for the sick, marking the World Day of the Sick and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has released a communique concerning today's appointment of Flaminia Giovanelli as its new under secretary. The communique is signed by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso S.D.B., respectively president and secretary of the same dicastery.

  The new under secretary is a graduate in political science from the University of Rome and holds diplomas in library science and religious studies. She began working in the then Pontifical Justice and Peace Commission in 1974 where she has since followed matters relating to development, poverty and work in the context of Church social doctrine. She is an expert in the development and labour policies of the International Labour Organisation, the Council of Europe, the European Union, ECOSOC and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

  Flaminia Giovanelli, says the communique, "is the first woman to hold the position of under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Before her the Australian lay woman Rosemary Goldie held the same post in the Pontifical Council for the Laity from 1966 to 1976, while a religious, Sr. Enrica Rosanna F.M.A., is currently under secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

  "The appointment of Ms Giovanelli", the text adds, "confirms the great trust the Church and the Holy Father Benedict XVI place in women. In his time, Venerable Pope John Paul II also underlined the need for a 'fuller and meaningful participation of women in the development of society'".


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

 - Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

 - Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of the personal prelature of Opus Dei.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Flaminia Giovanelli, official of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as under secretary of the same pontifical council.

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France, and Bishop Johan Jozef Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium.

 - Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Before his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI blessed a marble state of St. Rafaela Maria Porras y Ayllon, foundress of the Sisters Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has been positioned in a niche in the external wall of the Vatican Basilica.

  The theme of the papal catechesis in today's audience was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is currently being celebrated and which, the Holy Father noted, invites us to pray to the Lord for "the visible unity of all Christians", because unity is "first and foremost a gift of God".

  He then remarked how the theme chosen for this year's Week - "you are witnesses of these things" - raises two questions: "what are these things?" and: "how can we be witnesses of these things?". The answer to the first question is "the mystery of the Passion and the gift of the Resurrection", said the Pope. "By knowing Christ we know the face of God. ... In Christ, the distant God becomes close". As for the second question, he explained that "we can only be witnesses of Christ, ... by knowing Him personally, ... and truly meeting Him in our life of faith, and thus we can contribute to the novelty of the world, to eternal life".

  "The modern ecumenical movement has undergone such considerable development in the last century as to become an important element in the life of the Church. ... It not only favours fraternal relations between Churches and ecclesial communities, in response to the commandment to love, ... but also stimulates theological research. Furthermore, it involves the real life of Churches and ecclesial communities, with themes that concern pastoral care and sacramental life".

  "Since Vatican Council II the Catholic Church has forged fraternal relations with all the Churches of the East and ecclesial communities of the West. In particular, with most of them, she has established bilateral theological dialogue that has been able to find points of convergence, even consensus, on various matters, thus strengthening our bonds of communion. Over the last twelvemonth, the various dialogues have made important progress".

  Turning then to refer specifically to "the study of a crucial theme in dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox: 'the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium'", a study which will subsequently "also extend to the second millennium", the Holy Father recalled how he had asked Catholics to pray "for this delicate dialogue which is so essential for the entire ecumenical movement".

  The Holy Father likewise referred to such events as "the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which Catholics and Lutherans celebrated together on 31 October 2009", and "the visit to Rome of Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, ... who held discussions on the situation currently facing the Anglican Communion. The joint commitment to continue dialogue is a positive sign, an expression of how intense the desire for unity is, despite the obstacles that stand in its way", said the Pope.

  And he went on: "Ecumenical work is not a linear process, the old problems that arose in another age lose their importance, giving way to problems and difficulties of our own time. For this reason we must always be willing to accept a process of purificationm, through which the Lord makes us capable of unity".

  The Holy Father concluded by asking people "to pray for the complex question of ecumenism, for the promotion of dialogue, and that the Christians of our time may show the world a shared witness of faithfulness to Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel released a communique at the conclusion of their 17-20 January meeting in Rome. The text, written in English, highlights how during this meeting, the ninth since its creation, the commission participated "in the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the great synagogue in Rome.

  "At this event", the communique adds, "the Pope categorically reaffirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to dialogue and fraternity with the Jewish people, as well as unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. He also highlighted the significance of the work of the bilateral commission itself, about to hold its meeting on the subject of Catholic and Jewish teaching on creation and the environment, wishing it a 'profitable dialogue on such a timely and important theme'. Similarly Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, in his words on this occasion emphasised the mutual obligation of Christians and Jews to work together to protect the environment in keeping with the biblical charge.

  "However, the meeting also took place in the shadow of the catastrophic tragedy in Haiti. Indeed, the aforementioned gathering in the synagogue, opened with a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims. The members of the commission expressed their prayers for the victims and for the recovery of the survivors and applauded the international rescue and aid for the reconstruction of Haiti.

  "During the course of the meeting the members attended the moving presentation of Fr. Patrick Desbois at the Pontifical Gregorian University that highlighted the work of 'Yachad in Unum' to locate and memorialise the unidentified sites in Eastern Europe of mass murder during the Shoah. The commission urged the respective religious communities to support and publicise this very important work, in order to learn from the tragedies of the past to protect and respect the sanctity of human life everywhere so that atrocities will never reoccur".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Edney Gouvea Mattoso, auxiliary of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as bishop of Nova Friburgo (area 9,866, population 652,000, Catholics 599,659, priests 70, permanent deacons 16, religious 62), Brazil. He succeeds Rafael Llano Cifuentes, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Erected the new apostolic vicariate of Hosanna (area 12,000, population 2,400,000, Catholics 135,000, priests 35, religious 51) Ethiopia, with territory taken from the current apostolic vicariate of Soddo-Hosanna. He appointed Fr. Woldeghiorghis Mathewos, spiritual father of the major seminary of Soddo-Hosanna in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Wassera, Ethiopia in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1969.

 - Gave his assent to the declaration of impediment of the eparchial see of Stryj of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, canonically issued by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, because of the state of health of Julian Gbur S.V.D., in accordance with canon 233 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Accepting the proposal of the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, appointed Bishop Taras Senkiv O.M., auxiliary of Stryj of the Ukrainians, Ukraine, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the same circumscription.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" released the following English-language communique late yesterday:

  "In light of the request of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' that Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international humanitarian agency of the Bishops of the United States, co-ordinate the Church's relief efforts in Haiti at this stage, CRS has been holding on-site meetings with the Haitian Episcopal Conference, the apostolic nuncio and several foreign Catholic charitable agencies, now operating in Port-au-Prince, to asses and respond to the disaster.

  "The group initiated immediately the provision of food, water, clothing, shelter and medical aid for the displaced survivors in informal camps. Twelve sites have now been jointly determined as distribution points for further provision with security and operational assessments already undertaken. Personnel and supplies from neighbouring Santo Domingo and other nations continue to arrive through a variety of Catholic aid organisations.

  "As with previous disasters, the concrete generosity of Churches, institutions and individuals worldwide is again being manifested. The needs and challenges remain significant, particularly on the level of movement of goods and people and security, and are likely to grow as the effects of the earthquake in and beyond Port-au-Prince become increasingly evident".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2010 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, presented the "Lineamenta" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The synodal meeting is due to be held in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East. Communion and Witness. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul".

  The "Lineamenta" or draft guidelines on the theme of the Synod have been published in Italian, English, French and Arabic, and are made up of an introduction, three chapters and a conclusion. The text includes a general questionnaire concerning the topics covered, the answers to which (thirty-two in all) must be sent to the general secretariat of the Synod no later than Easter. A summary of the answers will then be compiled, and this will form the "Instrumentum laboris" or working document of the Synod, which the Pope will hand to representatives of the Eastern Catholic Churches during his apostolic trip to Cyprus scheduled for 4-6 June.

  Archbishop Eterovic explained how the first chapter of today's document, "The Catholic Churches in the Middle East", briefly reviews the history of the Eastern Churches and presents the current challenges, including: "political conflicts in the region (Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon); ... and freedom of worship and of conscience, lamenting the considerable number of obstacles to exercising this fundamental right of individuals and of all religious communities".

  "Ecclesial communion", the title of chapter two of the "Lineamenta", focuses on "the question of communion within the Catholic Church; that is, among the various Eastern Catholic Churches. ... Obviously, communion is also expressed in the relations between the bishops of the various Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as between them and the faithful", said the archbishop.

  He then went on to explain how chapter three, "Christian witness", turns the spotlight on "the witness of Catholics within the Church herself, especially by means of catechesis and works, as well as outside the Church.

  "Dialogue with other Churches and Christian communities exists", he added, "but it needs to be increased". The chapter also mentions Jewish-Christian dialogue "which exists in Palestine and in Israel thanks to various associations".

  On the subject of relations with Muslims, the archbishop noted the document's focus on the "need to promote dialogue, also in order to know one another better, ... and as the best way to resolve problems".

  The conclusion to the "Lineamenta" presents "the reasons - not so much political reasons as those of faith - why it is essential that Christians remain in the Middle East and continue to make their specific contribution for a more just, peaceful and prosperous society".

  For his part Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, under secretary of the Synod of Bishops, explained that what we call the Holy Land "is not simply a geographical entity. ... That small space wedged between sea and desert was the stage for nearly two thousand years of history of the Jewish people, from the coming of Abraham to the Hasmonean dynasty of the second century BC and, subsequently, for the human history of the Son of God made man, and that of His disciples and Apostles".

  He went on: "The Synod will concern itself with all the Middle East from Asia Minor to Iraq, and the Holy Land is a geographical part of that vast and heterogeneous area, a spiritually eminent part that is by no means historically inferior or insignificant for civilisation. There, and specifically in Jerusalem, the three monotheistic religions have vital roots and bonds, each in its own way".

  "These vital bonds directly concern the original stages of each of the historical religions, yet we must ask whether belonging to this portion of the Middle East can foment an awareness of the authenticity and purity of faith and of religious practice. We must also ask", he concluded, "whether a shared land of origin and coexistence can favour reciprocity of recognition and respect, going so far as to have a positive influence on relations in the entire area of the Middle East".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2010 (VIS) - A communique released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announces that in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls on Monday 25 January, the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which this year is: "You are witnesses of these things".

  The celebration will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian communities present in Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father elevated the apostolic prefecture of Donkorkrom (area 4,285, population 160,000, Catholics 17,000, priests 12, religious 7), Ghana, to the rank of apostolic vicariate with the same name and territorial configuration as before. He appointed Fr. Gabriel Edoe Kumordji S.V.D., currently apostolic prefect of Donkorkrom, as first apostolic vicar of the new vicariate. The bishop-elect was born in Accra, Ghana in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1985.
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Monday, January 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2010 (VIS) - Migrants, refugees, religious dialogue with Judaism and Christian unity were the main themes of the Holy Father's remarks at the Angelus, which he prayed at midday today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope first turned his attention to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is being celebrated today, affirming that "the Church's presence alongside these people has been constant over time, achieving significant goals at the beginning of last century", in which context he mentioned the work of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and of St. Francesca Cabrini.

  "Jesus Christ Who as a newborn, because of Herod's threats, underwent the dramatic experience of the refugee, taught His disciples to welcome children with great respect and love", said the Pope, recalling how the focus of this year's World Day is on underage migrants and refugees. "Particular care must be taken to ensure that minors who find themselves living in a foreign country are ensured legal guarantees" he said, "and especially that they are accompanied in the innumerable problems they have to face". Benedict XVI expressed words of encouragement for the communities and organisations that dedicate themselves to looking after children, and encouraged everyone "to show educational and cultural sensitivity when dealing with them, in keeping with the true evangelical spirit".

  He then turned to consider the visit he will make this afternoon to the synagogue of Rome, nearly twenty-four years after that made by John Paul II which he described as "historic". This afternoon's visit, he said, will "be a further stage on the path of harmony and friendship between Catholics and Jews". For, "despite the problems and the difficulties, there exists a climate of great respect and dialogue between believers of the two religions, testimony to how relations have matured and to a shared commitment to cherish that which unites us: first and foremost, faith in the one God, but also protection of life and the family, and the aspiration to social justice and peace".

  Finally Benedict XVI made mention of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins tomorrow and which every year "represents a time for believers in Christ to revive the ecumenical spirit, to meet and know one another, to pray and reflect together. ... Our announcement of Christ's Gospel will be more credible and effective the more we are united in His love, like true brothers".

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned "the dear people of Haiti", also recalling the death of the archbishop and of many priests, religious and seminarians in the recent earthquake. "I follow and encourage the efforts being made by so many charitable organisations, which are assuming the burden of the immense needs of the country, and I pray for the injured, the homeless and for those who have so tragically lost their lives", he said.

  And he concluded: "On this World Day of Migrants and Refugees I am happy to greet representatives of various ethnic communities gathered here today. I trust all will participate fully in social and ecclesial life, safeguarding the values of their own cultures of origin".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI visited the synagogue of Rome where, on his arrival, he was welcomed by Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Jewish community of Rome; Renzo Gattegna, president of the Jewish communities of Italy, and Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome.

  Before entering the building, the Pope placed a floral wreath before plaques commemorating the deportation of 1,022 Jews on 16 October 1943 and a terrorist attack of 9 October 1982 which killed a two-year-old Jewish boy and injured thirty-seven other people as they left the synagogue after prayers.

  Having been greeted in discourses by Riccardo Pacifici, Renzo Gattegna and Riccardo Di Segni, the Pope delivered his own address, interrupted on seven occasions by applause from those present in the synagogue.

  Benedict XVI indicated how Vatican Council II "gave a strong impetus to our irrevocable commitment to pursue the path of dialogue, fraternity and friendship, a journey which has intensified and developed over the last forty years, through important steps and significant gestures. Among them, I should mention once again the historic visit by my venerable predecessor to this synagogue on 13 April 1986". In this context, the Pope also mentioned his own 2009 pilgrimage to the Holy Land and his visits to synagogues in Cologne and New York.

  "The Church", he said, "has not failed to deplore the failings of her sons and daughters, begging forgiveness for all that could in any way have contributed to the scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. May these wounds be healed forever!"

  The Holocaust, said the Holy Father, "the singular and deeply disturbing drama, ... represents, as it were, the apex of the path of hatred that begins when man forgets his Creator and places himself at the centre of the universe".

  "The extermination of the people of the Covenant of Moses, first announced then systematically planned and put into effect in Europe under the Nazi regime, on that day tragically reached as far as Rome. Unfortunately, many remained indifferent, but many, including Italian Catholics, sustained by their faith and by Christian teaching, reacted with courage, often at the risk of their lives, opening their arms to assist the Jewish fugitives who were being hunted down, and deserving perennial gratitude. The Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way.

  "The memory of these events compels us to strengthen the bonds that unite us so that our mutual understanding, respect and acceptance may always increase", he added.

  Benedict XVI explained how both Jews and Christians are illuminated by the Decalogue, "the 'Ten Words' or Ten Commandments" which constitute "a beacon and a norm of life in justice and love, a 'great ethical code' for all humanity".

  "From this perspective, there are several possible areas of co-operation and witness", said the Pope, going on to mention "three that are especially important for our time".

  "The 'Ten Words' require that we recognise the one Lord, against the temptation to construct other idols, to make golden calves. In our world there are many who do not know God or who consider Him superfluous, irrelevant for their lives. And so, other new gods have been fabricated to whom man bows down".

  Secondly, the Decalogue calls us "to respect life and to protect it against all injustice and abuse, recognising the worth of each human person, created in the image and likeness of God. How often, in every part of the world, near and far, the dignity, the freedom and the rights of human beings are trampled upon!", he cried.

  Thirdly, the Ten Commandments "call us to preserve and to promote the sanctity of the family, in which the personal and reciprocal, faithful and definitive 'yes' of man and woman opens the way to the future, to the authentic humanity of each, and at the same time opens them to the gift of a new life. To witness that the family continues to be the essential cell of society and the basic environment in which human virtues are learned and practised is a vital service for the building of a world with a more human face".

  "All of the Commandments are summed up in the love of God and in mercy towards one's neighbour", said the Holy Father. "This Rule urges Jews and Christians to exercise, in our time, a special generosity towards the poor, towards women and children, strangers, the sick, the weak and the needy".

  "On this path we can walk together, aware of the differences that exist between us, but also aware of the fact that when we succeed in uniting our hearts and our hands in response to the Lord's call, His light will come closer and shine on all the peoples of the world".

  Benedict XVI continued his remarks: "Christians and Jews share to a great extent a common spiritual heritage, they pray to the same Lord, they have the same roots, and yet they often remain unknown to one another. It is our duty, in response to God's call, to strive to keep open the space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of our time, challenges which invite us to co-operate for the good of humanity in this world created by God, the Omnipotent and Merciful".

  After then recalling how the Catholic and Jewish communities have coexisted in Rome for two thousand years, the Pope expressed the hope that this proximity may "be animated by a growing fraternal love, expressed also in closer co-operation, so that we may offer a valid contribution to solving the problems and difficulties that we still face.

  "I beg from the Lord", he added in conclusion, "the precious gift of peace in the world, above all in the Holy Land. During my pilgrimage there last May, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, I prayed to Him Who can do all things, asking: 'Send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of those who call upon Your name, to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion'".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received an ecumenical delegation from Finland for the occasion of the Feast of St. Henry, patron saint of that country, which falls tomorrow.

  Addressing the group in English, the Pope recalled how this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the delegation's annual visit to Rome.

  "The Churches of East and West, both of whose traditions are present in your country, share a real, if still imperfect, communion. This is a motive to regret the troubles of the past, but it is surely also a motive which spurs us to ever greater efforts at understanding and reconciliation, so that our brotherly friendship and dialogue may yet blossom into a perfect, visible unity in Christ Jesus", he said.

  The Pope also mentioned the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed ten years old, describing it as "a concrete sign of the brotherhood rediscovered between Lutherans and Catholics".

  Benedict XVI likewise expressed his pleasure at "the recent work of the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in Finland and Sweden. ... It is greatly to be hoped", he concluded, "that the text resulting from the dialogue will contribute positively to the path which leads to the restoration of our lost unity".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

 - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, Archbishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont and Msgr. Antoine Herouard, respectively president, vice president and secretary general of the Conference of Bishops of France.

 - Rabbi Jacob Neusner, accompanied by his wife.

  On Saturday 16 January he received in separate audiences:

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

 - Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

 - Archbishop Eliseo Ariotti, apostolic nuncio to Paraguay.

 - Archbishop Patrick Coveney, apostolic nuncio.

 - A delegation from the German city of Freising, for the conferral of honorary citizenship on His Holiness.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, as metropolitan archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels (area 6,365, population 2,519,000, Catholics 1,612,000, priests 1,888, permanent deacons 89, religious 3,813), Belgium. The archbishop-elect was born in Jambes, Belgium in 1940, he was ordained a priest in 1964 and consecrated a bishop in 1991. He succeeds Cardinal Godfried Danneels, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. William Michale Mulvey of the clergy of the diocese of Austin, U.S.A., diocesan administrator, as bishop of Corpus Christi (area 29,690, population 560,614, Catholics 392,430, priests 157, permanent deacons 62, religious 195), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Houston, U.S.A. in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1975. He succeeds Edmund Carmody, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  On Saturday 16 January it was made public that the Holy Father accepted:

 - The resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Ndola, Zambia, presented by Bishop Noel Charles O'Regan S.M.A., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Alick Banda.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Bielsko-Zywiec, Poland, presented by Bishop Janusz Zimniak, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church, meeting at Mount St. Thomas near Ernakulam, India, from 10 to 15 January, having duty consulted with the Holy See, has adopted the following provisions and, with the prior assent of the Holy Father, has proceeded with the following episcopal elections:

 - Transferred the civil district of Chikmagalur from the eparchy of Mananthavady, India, to the eparchy of Bhadravathi, India.

 - Appointed Msgr. Pauly Kannookadan, secretary of the liturgical commission of the Syro-Malabar Church and of the commission for the clergy and for institutes of consecrated life, as bishop of the eparchy of Irinjalakuda (area 1,180, population 1,310,000, Catholics 258,320, priests 234, religious 2,490), India. The bishop-elect was born in Kuzhikattussery, India in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Bishop James Pazhayattil, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same eparchy the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Appointed Msgr. Remigiose Inchananiyil, secretary and chancellor of the eparchy of Thamarasserry, India, and judge of the major archiepiscopal tribunal, as bishop of the same eparchy (area 5,893, population 6,232,000, Catholics 131,417, priests 265, religious 1,627). The bishop-elect was born in Vettilappara, India in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Paul Chittilapilly, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same eparchy the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

 - Erected the new eparchy of Ramanathapuram, India, appointing Msgr. Paul Alappatt, rector of the St. Mary major seminary and judge of the major archiepiscopal tribunal, as first bishop of the new eparchy. The bishop-elect was born in Edathuruthy, India in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1987 .

 - Erected the new eparchy of Mandya, India, appointing Msgr. George Njaralakatt, vicar general of the eparchy of Bhadravathi, India, as first bishop of the new eparchy. The bishop-elect was born in Kalayanthany, India in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1971.

 - Appointed Msgr. Raphel Thattil, vicar general of the archieparchy of Trichur, India, as auxiliary of the same archieparchy (area 1,000, population 2,726,300, Catholics 485,151, priests 417, religious 3,811). The bishop-elect was born in Trichur in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1980.

 - Appointed Msgr. Bosco Puthur, rector of the seminary of Mangalapuzha, India, as bishop of the Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Curia. The bishop-elect was born in Parappur, India in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1971.
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