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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Easter Triduum was the central theme of Benedict XVI 's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.

  "We are", the Pope began, "living through the holy days that invite us to meditate upon the central events of our Redemption, the essential nucleus of our faith". In this context, he encouraged everyone "to experience this period intensely, that it may decisively guide everyone's life to a generous and strong adherence to Christ, Who died and rose again for us".

  At the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, apart from the blessing of the oil used for catechumens, the sick and those being confirmed, priests will renew their vows. "This year the gesture has particular significance because it takes place in the context of the Year for Priests, which I called to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy 'Cure of Ars'. To all priests I would like to reiterate the hope I expressed at the end of my Letter inaugurating the Year: 'In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Christ. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!'".

  On the evening of Holy Thursday "we will celebrate the moment of the institution of the Eucharist" when Christ, "in the species of the bread and the wine, makes Himself truly present with the Body He gave and the Blood He split as a sacrifice of the New Covenant. At the same time He made the Apostles and their successors ministers of this Sacrament, which He consigned to His Church as the supreme proof of His love".

  On Good Friday, in memory of the passion and death of the Lord, we will recall how "Jesus offered His life as a sacrifice for the remission of the sins of humankind, choosing the most cruel and humiliating death: crucifixion. There exists an indissoluble link between the Last Supper and the death of Jesus", said Pope Benedict , explaining how in the Upper Room "Jesus offered His Body and Blood (that is, his earthly existence, Himself), anticipating His own death and transforming it into an act of love. And so death, which by its nature is the end, the destruction of all relations, is made by Him an act of communication of Self, an instrument of salvation and a proclamation of the victory of love".

  Easter Saturday "is characterised by a great silence. ... At this time of expectation and hope, believers are invited to prayer, reflection and conversion, also through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that, intimately renewed, they may participate in the celebration of Easter", said the Holy Father.

  On the night of Easter Saturday, "that silence will be broken by the cry of Alleluia, which announces the resurrection of Christ and proclaims he victory of light over darkness, of life over death. The Church will joy in the meeting with her Lord, entering the day of Easter which the Lord inaugurated by rising from the dead", the Pope concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Among his greetings at the end of today's general audience, the Pope addressed a group of 4,000 university students from thirty countries who are participating in an international congress promoted annually by the Prelature of Opus Dei. The theme of this year's gathering is: "Can Christianity inspire a global culture?"

  "Dear friends, you have come to Rome in Holy Week for an experience of faith, friendship and spiritual enrichment", said the Holy Father. "I invite you to reflect on the importance of university study for the formation of that 'universal Catholic mentality' which St. Josemaria described in these terms: 'a breadth of vision and a vigorous endeavour to study more deeply the things that are permanently alive and unchanged in Catholic orthodoxy'. May there be, in each of you, a growing desire to meet Jesus Christ personally, so as to bear joyful witness to Him in all places".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was a telegram of condolence sent by the Pope to Dimitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation, for the victims of last Monday's bomb attacks on the Moscow underground.

  "Having learned the news of the attacks on the Moscow underground in which numerous people lost their lives, I wish to manifest my profound sorrow and firm condemnation for those barbaric acts of violence, and to send an expression of my solidarity, spiritual closeness and condolences to the families of the victims. With assurances of my fervent prayers for the lives so abruptly cut short, and while invoking heavenly consolation for those who mourn their tragic loss, I readily send my blessings and greetings, with a particular thought for the injured".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers".

  His mission intention is: "That Christians persecuted for the sake of the Gospel may persevere, sustained by the Holy Spirit, in faithfully witnessing to the love of God for the entire human race".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. William Hanna Shomali, chancellor of the patriarchal diocese of Jerusalem of the Latins, as auxiliary of the same diocese (Catholics 160,700, priests 271, permanent deacons 2, religious 1,432). The bishop-elect was born in Beit-Sahour, Palestine in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1972.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. yesterday, Benedict XVI presided at a Mass in commemoration of his predecessor, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who died on 2 April 2005. This year's Mass has been brought forward because 2 April coincides with Good Friday.

  The Holy Father addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow and former private secretary of John Paul II, and to the many other pilgrims from the late Pope's native country of Poland.

  In his homily Benedict XVI commented on the prophet Isaiah's parable of the servant whose faith is unshakeable and whose energy does not diminish until completing the task assigned him. "What the inspired prophet says of the servant", Pope Benedict explained, "we can apply to the beloved John Paul II. The Lord called him to His service and, entrusting him with tasks of ever greater responsibility, accompanied him with His grace and His continual assistance. During his long pontificate, he made prodigious efforts to proclaim the right firmly, without weakness or hesitation, especially when he had to face resistance, hostility and rejection. He knew the Lord had taken him by the hand, and this enabled him to exercise a fruitful ministry for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God".

  Benedict XVI continued by referring to the Gospel episode in which, at the house of Lazarus, Mary of Bethany washed Christ's feet and anointed them with perfume, offering the most precious thing she had in a gesture of profound devotion, while the fragrance filled the house. "The meaning of Mary's gesture, which is a response to the infinite Love of God, spread among all the dinner guests", said the Pope. "Each gesture of charity and of authentic devotion to Christ does not remain a personal matter, it does not concern only the relationship between the individual and the Lord, but involves the entire body of the Church. It is contagious and infuses love, joy and light".

  "The whole life of the Venerable John Paul II passed under the sign of this charity, of the capacity to give himself generously, unreservedly, without measure or calculation. What moved him was the love for Christ to Whom he had consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. And it was precisely because he became increasingly close to the Lord in love, that he was able to be a travelling companion for modern man, spreading the perfume of the Love of God in the world.

  "Those who had the joy of knowing and frequenting him", the Holy Father added, "had palpable experience of his certainty of seeing 'the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living'. ... This certainty accompanied him throughout his existence, revealing itself in a particular way during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: his progressive physical weakness did not, in fact, affect his solid faith, his luminous hope or his fervent charity. He allowed himself to be consumed by Christ, for the Church and for the whole world. His was a suffering lived to the end for love and with love".

  In closing, Benedict XVI addressed some words to Polish pilgrims. "The life and work of John Paul II", he told them, "is something of which you can be proud. However, you must remember that it is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, hope and love which he uninterruptedly taught us".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Holy Father appointed Bishop Luis Madrid Merlano of Cartago, Colombia, as metropolitan archbishop of Nueva Pamplona (area 6,751, population 211,700, Catholics 203,834, priests 81, religious 73), Colombia. The archbishop-elect was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1971 and consecrated a bishop in 1988.
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Monday, March 29, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Today, during a private audience with Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorised the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


 - Blessed Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro, Spanish foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph (1837-1905).

 - Servant of God Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Spanish bishop of Osma (1600-1659).

 - Servant of God Maria Barbara of the Blessed Trinity (nee Barbara Maix), Austrian foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1818-1873).

 - Servant of God Anna Maria Adorni, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate and of the Institute of the Good Shepherd of Parma (1805-1893).

 - Servant of God Mary of the Immaculate Conception (nee Maria Isabella Salvat y Romero), Spanish superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross (1926-1998).

 - Servant of God Stephen Nehme (ne Joseph), Lebanese professed religious of the Order of Maronites (1889-1938).


 - Servant of God Szilard Bogdanffy, Romanian bishop of Oradea Mare of the Latins, died in prison in Nagyenyed, Romania (1911-1953).

 - Servant of God Gerhard Hirschfelder, German diocesan priest, died in Dachau concentration camp (1907-1942).

 - Servant of God Luigi Grozde, Slovenian layman and member of Catholic Action, killed at Mirna in hatred of the faith (1923-1943).


 - Servant of God Francesco Antonio Marcucci, Italian archbishop-bishop of Montalto (1717-1798).

 - Servant of God Ivan Franjo Gnidovec, Slovenian bishop of Skopje-Prizren, (1873-1939).

 - Servant of God Luigi Novarese, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Silent Workers of the Cross (1914-1984).

 - Servant of God Henriette DeLille, American foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family (1813-1862).

 - Servant of God Maria Theresia (nee Regina Christine Wilhelmine Bonzel), German foundress of the Institute of Poor Franciscan Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration, of the Third Order of St. Francis (1830-1905).

 - Servant of God Maria Frances of the Cross (nee Franziska Amalia Streitel), German foundress of the Institute of Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows (1844-1911).

 - Servant of God Maria Felicia of Sacramental Jesus (nee Maria Felicia Guggiari Echevarria), Paraguayan professed sister of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. (1925-1959).
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note released by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., entitled "Vigil of Holy Week".

  "The question of the sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy has continued to receive wide coverage in the communications media of many countries, especially in Europe and North America, coverage which has continued over recent days following the publication of the Pope's Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

  "This is no surprise. The nature of the question is such as to attract the attention of the media, and the way in which the Church deals with it is crucial for her moral credibility.

  "The truth is that the cases that have come to public attention generally took place some time ago, even decades ago, although recognising them and making amends with the victims is the best way to restore justice and to achieve that 'purification of memory' which enables us to look to the future with renewed commitment, with humility and trust.

  "A contribution to this trust comes from the many positive signals emerging from various episcopal conferences, bishops and Catholic institutions in different countries on the various continents: directives for the correct handling and prevention of abuses, which have been reiterated, updated and renewed in Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada etc.

  "In particular, one piece of good news is the seventh annual report on the application of 'Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People' of the Church in the United States. Without indulging in misplaced congratulations, we cannot but recognise the extraordinary preventative efforts being undertaken, with numerous formational and training courses both for the young people and for pastoral and educational staff. And it must acknowledged that the number of accusations of abuse has dropped by more than 30 percent over the last year, and most of them concerned cases more than thirty years old. Without entering into further details, it must be recognised that the decisive measures currently being implemented are proving effective: the Church in the United States is on the right road to renewal.

  "This, we feel, is an important piece of news in the context of recent media attacks, which have undoubtedly proved harmful. But an impartial observer will not fail to notice that the authority of the Pope and the intense and coherent commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have not been weakened, rather they have been confirmed in their support and guidance to bishops to combat and root out the blight of abuse wherever it appears. The Pope's recent Letter to the Church in Ireland is powerful testimony of this, and contributes to preparing the future along the path of 'healing, renewal, reparation'.

  "With humility and trust, in a spirit of penance and hope, the Church now enters Holy Week asking the mercy and grace of the Lord, Who suffered and died for all".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Young people from all over the world this morning participated in the Palm Sunday Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square. Today also marks 25th World Youth Day, celebrated this year at a diocesan level on the theme : "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

  Before Mass, Benedict XVI blessed the palms and olive branches by the obelisk in the square then led the procession to the altar.

  In his homily the Holy Father explained that "to be Christian means to believe that the way of Jesus Christ is the right way to be human, the way that leads to the goal of a completely fulfilled and authentic humanity".

  Addressing himself in particular to the young he said that "to be Christian is a way, or rather it is a pilgrimage, a journey with Jesus Christ. It is to go in the direction He showed us, and continues to show us.

  "But", the Pope added, "what direction is that? How can we find it?". The Gospel, he said, "offers us two clues. In the first place it says that it is an ascent. ... Jesus walks before us, He climbs towards the heights. He leads us to what is great and pure, He leads us to the healthy air of the heights, to a life lived according to truth, to the courage that does not allow itself to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinion, to the patience that bears with and sustains others".

  Benedict XVI went on: "In the breadth of Jesus' ascent the dimensions of our own discipleship, the goal to which He wishes to lead us, become apparent: the heights of God, communion with God, being-with-God. This is the true goal, and communion with Him is the way. Communion with Christ is a journey, a permanent ascent towards the heights of our calling. To walk with Christ is at the same time to journey in the 'us' of those who want to follow Him".

  "We are then, so to say, on the same 'expedition' as Jesus Christ, we are with Him in the climb to the heights of God. He pulls us up and supports us. Part of the discipleship of Christ is allowing ourselves to join this expedition, to accept that we cannot manage alone".

  "Being together on expedition also involves not behaving as masters of the Word of God, not chasing after an erroneous idea of emancipation. The humility of 'being-with' is an essential part of the ascent", said Benedict XVI. "Another aspect thereof is allowing the Lord, in the Sacraments, to take us by the hand; allowing ourselves to be purified and corroborated by Him, and accepting the discipline of the ascent even if we are tired".

  "And part of the ascent to the heights of Jesus Christ, the ascent to the heights of God Himself, is the Cross. Just as in the things of this world we cannot achieve great results without sacrifice and hard work, just as joy for a great academic discovery or for an authentic practical skill is associated with discipline and with the effort of learning, so too the way to life itself, to fulfilling our humanity, is linked to communion with the One Who climbed to the heights of God through the Cross. In the final instance, the Cross is the expression of what love means: only he who loses himself can find himself".

  The Holy Father went on: "Our pilgrimage as disciples of Christ does not, then, lead to some earthly city, but towards the new City of God which arises in the midst of this world. And yet the pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem can also be, for us as Christians, a useful element for that greater journey".

  Recalling the greeting uttered by pilgrims as they enter the Holy City - "peace on earth and glory in the highest" - Benedict XVI concluded by asking the Lord "to bring us heaven: the glory of God and peace among men. We understand that greeting in the spirit of the request contained in the Lord's prayer: 'your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. We know that heaven is heaven, a place of glory and peace because there the will of God has complete reign. And we know the earth will not be heaven until the will of God is accomplished here".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's solemn Eucharistic celebration for Palm Sunday, the Pope prayed the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Before the Marian prayer the Pope recalled how in 1985, to coincide with the International Year for Young People called by the United Nations, John Paul II had instituted the World Youth Days, which are celebrated every year on Palm Sunday with an additional international gathering of young people every three years.

  "Twenty-five year ago my beloved predecessor invited young people to profess their faith in Christ", said Benedict XVI. "Today I renew this appeal to the new generations to bear witness, with the mild but luminous power of truth, that the men and women of the third millennium may not lack their most authentic model: Jesus Christ".

  After the Angelus prayer, the Pope addressed some remarks to young people: "Do not be afraid when following Christ leads to misunderstandings and affronts. Serve Him in the weakest and most disadvantaged people, especially your own peers in difficulties. In this contest, I wish to give assurances of my special prayers for World Autism Awareness Day, promoted by the UN, which falls on 2 April".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to Jerusalem, "where the Paschal Mystery was fulfilled", saying: "I am deeply pained by the recent clashes and the tension that has again arisen in that city, which is the homeland of Christians, Jews and Muslims, a prophecy and promise of the universal reconciliation God desires for the entire human family.

  "Peace", he added in conclusion, "is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, to be cultivated through dialogue, respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness. Let us pray, then, that those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem may courageously start down the road of peace and follow it with perseverance".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

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

 - Cardinal Julian Herranz, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

 - Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, rector of Rome's Pontifical Lateran University and president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

  On Saturday 27 March he received in separate audiences:

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

 - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

 - Marius Gabriel Lazurca, ambassador of Romania, accompanied by his wife on a farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the archdiocese of Aix, France, presented by Archbishop Claude Feidt, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Christophe Dufour.

 - Appointed Bishop John 'Oke Afareha, auxiliary of Warri, Nigeria, as bishop of the same diocese (area 10,650, population 3,308,246, Catholics 217,894, priests 93, religious 72).

 - Appointed Fr. Jean Marie Vu Tat of the clergy of Hung Hoa, Vietnam, vice rector of the major seminary of Hanoi, Vietnam, as auxiliary of Hung Hoa (area 54,352, population 6,963,632, Catholics 222,647, priests 54, religious 191). The bishop-elect was born in Di Nau, Vietnam in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1987.

  On Saturday 27 March it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, as pontifical legate to the tenth National Eucharistic Congress, due to be held in Toledo, Spain, from 27 to 30 May.

 - Appointed Archbishop Petar Rajic, apostolic nuncio to Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, and apostolic delegate to the Arabian Peninsula, also as apostolic nuncio to Yemen.

 - Appointed Fr. Raymond Ahoua F.D.P., head of formation of seminarians for the Franciscans of Divine Providence, formerly a missionary in Kenya, as bishop of Grand-Bassam (area 8,354, population 1,650,250, Catholics 294,273, priests 114, religious 75), Ivory Coast. The bishop-elect was born in Bonoua, Ivory Coast in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1990. He succeeds Bishop Paul Dacoury-Tabley, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Friday, March 26, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in St. Peter's Square more than 70,000 young people, most of them from dioceses in Rome and Lazio but also from other areas of Italy, met with the Pope for an encounter of prayer, meditation and dialogue, in an event organised to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of World Youth Days, established by John Paul II in 1985. A number of people bore witness to their faith, in a programme of events that also included songs and dances. Silence descended as the World Youth Day Cross was carried into the square in a torchlight procession, accompanied by an image of the Blessed Virgin "Salus Populi Romani".

  On his arrival in the square, Benedict XVI thanked the young people for their participation, their "magnificent witness of faith" and their "eagerness to follow Jesus". He then responded to questions put to him by three of the youthful participants.

  "What can I do with my life to make it great and beautiful?" was the first question put to the Holy Father who, referring to the parable of the rich young man, replied by saying "in the first place, do not waste life, but live it profoundly, not living only for oneself".

  "God wanted my life since all eternity", the Holy Father went on. "I am loved, I am necessary. God has a plan for me in the totality of history. ... For this reason, the first step is to know, to seek to know, God. ... Then it is essential to love. ... These are, so to say, rules of love, ... with the following essential points: the family as the foundation of society; life, to be respected as a gift of God; order in sexuality, in relations between man and woman; order in society and, finally, truth. ... Perfection (that is, being good, living in faith and truth) is substantially one thing, but has many different forms. ... Finding my vocation and living it everywhere is important and fundamental, whether I am a great scientist or a labourer".

  The second question was "what does it mean to say that Jesus looks at us with love, and how can we have this experience today?" to which the Pope replied: "Of course I would say that we can, because the Lord is always present and looks at each one of us with love. But it is up to us to discover His gaze". The first step, he explained, "is to know the figure of Jesus as He appears in the Gospels", but we must know Him, "not just academically and theoretically, but with the heart; that is, we must talk to Jesus in prayer. ... Reason is also necessary but, at the same time, so is the heart". The key elements are "to listen, to respond, to enter into the community of believers and into communion with Christ in the Sacraments where He gives Himself to us (the Eucharist, Confession etc), and finally, to put the words of faith into practice that they may become a power in my life".

  "Where can I find the strength to make courageous choices, and who can help me?" was the third and last question put to Benedict XVI. Let us begin, he replied "with what is a difficult word for us: sacrifice. ... Even a good professional life cannot be accomplished without sacrifices, without adequate preparation, which always requires discipline". In the same way, "the art of being human also requires sacrifices" which "are explained in the Word of God and help us not to fall into the abyss of drugs, alcohol, slavery to sexuality, slavery to money, laziness. ... Being able to renounce the temptation of the moment, to move towards goodness creates true freedom and makes life valuable. In this context, I feel, we must realise that without a 'no' towards certain things, the great 'yes' to true life cannot develop".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Alvaro Colom Caballeros, president of the Republic of Guatemala. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the cordial discussions attention turned to the good relations that exist between Church and State, and to the specific contribution the Church makes to the country's development. There followed an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to the challenges of poverty, organised crime and emigration. The discussions also served to underline the importance of promoting human life from the moment of conception, and of the role played by education".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The following communique was released late this morning by the Holy See Press Office:

  "Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., questioned by journalists concerning a new 'New York Times' article which appeared on 26 March and concerns the period in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of Munich, referred them to this morning's public denial in a communique published by the archdiocese of Munich, which reads:

  "'The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Father H.'

  "Thus the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish.

  "It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.

  "The then vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Pope's Message for the eighty-fourth World Mission Day has been published. This year the Day falls on Sunday 24 October and has as its theme: "Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission".

  Extracts from the Message are given below:

  "The month of October, with the celebration of World Mission Day, offers diocesan and parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, ecclesial movements, and the entire People of God an opportunity to renew their commitment to announcing the Gospel and to giving their pastoral activities a greater missionary scope".

  "A mature faith capable of entrusting itself entirely to God with filial devotion, nourished by prayer, meditation on the Word of God and the study of the truths of faith, is a necessary premise for the promotion of a new humanism founded on the Gospel of Jesus".

  "In a multi-ethnic society which is experiencing new and worrying forms of solitude and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope, to become a universal brotherhood, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or misplaced fears, undertake to make the planet a home for everyone".

  "The awareness of the call to spread the Gospel stimulates each individual member of the faithful, and all diocesan and parish communities, to integral renewal, and to open themselves to an ever greater degree to missionary co-operation between Churches, in order to promote the announcement of the Gospel in the heart of each individual, of whatever people, culture, race or nationality, and in all places".

  "Ecclesial communion is born of the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. ... The Church becomes 'communion' on the basis of the Eucharist in which Christ, present in the bread and wine, through His sacrifice of love builds the Church as His body, uniting us both with the Triune God and among ourselves".

  "On this World Mission Day in which the eye of the heart ranges over the immense area of the mission, let us all feel involved in the Church's commitment to announce the Gospel. This missionary impulse has always been a sign of vitality in our Churches, and the co-operation among them is a unique testimony of unity, fraternity and solidarity, which gives credibility to those who announce the Love that saves.

  "Thus I renew my invitation to everyone to pray and, despite the economic difficulties, to commit themselves to offering fraternal and concrete help in support of the young Churches. This gesture of love and sharing, which will be distributed thanks to the valuable efforts of the Pontifical Missionary Works (to whom I express my gratitude), will go to support the formation of priests, seminarians and catechists in the most distant mission lands, and to encourage the young ecclesial communities.

  "In concluding this annual Message I want, with particular affection, to express my recognition to the male and female missionaries who bear witness in the most far-flung and difficult places, often with their lives, to the coming of the Kingdom of the Lord".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the programme of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to Portugal, due to take place from 11 to 14 May to mark the tenth anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, the shepherd children of Fatima.

  The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.50 a.m. on Tuesday 11 May, arriving at Portela airport near Lisbon at 11 a.m. Following the welcome ceremony at the "Mosterio dos Jeronimos", he will pay a courtesy visit to Anibal A. Cavaco Silva, president of Portugal, in the "Palacio de Belem". At 6.15 p.m., he is due to celebrate Mass in Lisbon's "Terreiro do Paco".

  At 10 a.m. on Wednesday 12 May he will meet with representatives of the world of culture in the Belem cultural centre in Lisbon, while at midday he is scheduled to meet with Jose Socrates, the Portuguese prime minister, at the apostolic nunciature in Lisbon. That afternoon he will travel by helicopter to Fatima where, at 5.30 p.m., he is due to visit the Chapel of the Apparitions. He will then preside at Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons in the Church of the Blessed Trinity. At 9.30 p.m. he will bless a torchlight procession on the esplanade in front of the Shrine of Fatima, and complete the day by praying the rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions.

  At 10 a.m. on Thursday 13 May the Holy Father will celebrate Mass on the esplanade of the Fatima Shrine following which, at 1 p.m. he will have lunch with Portuguese bishops and the papal entourage. In the afternoon he will meet with representatives of social pastoral care organisations in Fatima's Church of the Blessed Trinity. Later the same evening he is due to meet with the Portuguese episcopate.

  On Friday 14 May Benedict XVI will depart by helicopter from Fatima for Porto where, at 10.15 a.m., he will preside at a Eucharistic celebration in the city's Gran Plaza de la Avenida dos Aliados. The farewell ceremony will take place at 1.30. p.m. at the international airport of Porto whence the papal flight is scheduled to depart at 2 p.m., arriving at Rome's Ciampino airport at 6 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

 - Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, ambassador of the Republic of Iraq, on his farewell visit.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received prelates of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Addressing them in English, the Holy Father recalled the fact that their flock "is small in number, and scattered over a wide area. Many have to travel great distances in order to find a Catholic community in which to worship. It is most important for them to realise that every time they gather around the altar for the Eucharistic sacrifice, they are participating in an act of the universal Church, in communion with all their fellow Catholics throughout the world".

  Referring then to the Congress on the Family, due to be held at Jonkoping, Sweden, in May, he told the prelates that "one of the most important messages that the people of the Nordic lands need to hear from you is a reminder of the centrality of the family for the life of a healthy society. Sadly, recent years have seen a weakening of the commitment to the institution of marriage and the Christian understanding of human sexuality that for so long served as the foundation of personal and social relations in European society.

  "Children have the right to be conceived, ... brought into the world and brought up within marriage", the Pope added. "In societies with a noble tradition of defending the rights of all their members, one would expect this fundamental right of children to be given priority over any supposed right of adults to impose on them alternative models of family life and certainly over any supposed right to abortion. Since the family is 'the first and indispensable teacher of peace', the most reliable promoter of social cohesion and the best school of the virtues of good citizenship, it is in the interests of all, and especially of governments, to defend and promote stable family life".

  "In the Nordic lands, religion has an important role in shaping public opinion and influencing decisions on matters concerning the common good. I urge you, therefore, to continue to convey to the people of your respective countries the Church's teaching on social and ethical questions", said Benedict XVI. He also urged the bishops to show particular pastoral concern for "the many who have experienced difficulties in the wake of the recent financial crisis" and for "married couples in which only one partner is Catholic".

  The Pope went on: "The immigrant component among the Catholic population ... has needs of its own, and it is important that your pastoral outreach to families should include them, with a view to assisting their integration into society". With specific reference to Middle Eastern refugees, many of whom are members of the Eastern Churches, he called on the prelates to encourage them "not to distance themselves from the most precious elements of their own culture, particularly their faith".

  The Holy Father paid tribute to "the new ecclesial movements, which bring fresh dynamism to the Church's mission" in Nordic countries and concluded by asking the bishops to commit their energies "to promoting a new evangelisation among the people. Part and parcel of this task is continued attention to ecumenical activity, and I am pleased to note the numerous tasks in which Christians from the Nordic lands come together to present a united witness before the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

  "The commission established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of importance concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China met in the Vatican from 22 to 24 March".

  "The participants examined the question of the human, spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians and consecrated people, as well as the permanent formation of priests, focusing particularly on their spirituality. The difficulties that emerge in the field of formation and new pastoral requirements - connected with the task of evangelising Chinese society which is so dynamic and complex - represent considerable challenges. The bishops of the Catholic Church in China, who are recognised as having full dignity and the responsibility to guide their ecclesial communities, are personally committed to formative work and, in union with them, fraternal collaboration will continue to be offered".

  "In the light of Holy Father's Letter to Chinese Catholics of 27 May 2007, the commission reflected on the way to promote unity within the Catholic Church in China, and to overcome the difficulties she faces in her relationship with civil society. Progress made in response to the Pope's call for authentic ecclesial communion was noted with satisfaction, a communion which is not expressed without a personal commitment to searching for truth and spiritual reconciliation. In the awareness that the journey of forgiveness and reconciliation cannot be undertaken in a day, there emerged the certainty that the entire Church accompanies this journey and will raise insistent prayers to this end, especially on 24 May, liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, and the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The importance of taking tangible steps towards increasing and expressing spiritual ties between pastors and faithful was also emphasised.

  "At the same time, the participants expressed the unanimous hope that all bishops in China way become increasingly committed to favouring the growth of unity, faith and life among all Catholics, avoiding gestures (such as, for example, sacramental celebrations, episcopal ordinations and participation in meetings) that run counter to communion with the Pope who appointed them pastors, and create difficulties - sometimes severe difficulties - in the bosom of their respective ecclesial communities.

  "In keeping with the desire expressed by the Holy Father in the above-mentioned Letter, the commission reiterates its hope that, through respectful and open dialogue between the Holy See and the government authorities, the current difficulties may be overcome and a beneficial agreement be reached, of advantage to the Catholic community and to social coexistence. In this spirit, the participants join all Catholics in China in constant prayer that those bishops and priests who have long been deprived of their freedom may, as soon as possible, once again exercise their episcopal and priestly ministry in support of the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care.

  "In a meeting that took place at the end of the plenary assembly, His Holiness underlined the need of ensuring solid formation, based on friendship with Christ, for everyone preparing for the priesthood or consecrated life. This will be a guarantee of success in personal life and in pastoral work. The Holy Father reiterated the important role of played by those in charge of formation and recalled that this is a priority task of bishops. Finally, he thanked the participants for their commitment in favour of the Catholic Church in China".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of Turin, Italy, presented the forthcoming exposition of the Shroud of Turin, due to take place in that city from 10 April to 23 May on the theme: "Passio Christi, passio hominis".

  Also participating in today's press conference were Fiorenzo Alfieri, Turin's local counsellor for culture and president of the committee for the exposition of the Shroud; Msgr. Giuseppe Ghiberti, president of the diocesan commission for the Shroud, and Maurizio Baradello, director general of the committee for the exposition.

  Cardinal Poletto explained that "this is the first exposition of the new millennium", and that the 1.3 million people from all over the world who have already booked a visit will be able to contemplate a Shroud which is "much improved thanks to the important restoration work of 2002".

  The 2010 exposition will also be marked by a visit from Benedict XVI, on Sunday 2 May. "The Pope will venerate the Shroud as his predecessor John Paul II did on 24 May 1998, then celebrate Mass in the city's Piazza San Carlo", said the cardinal.

  Referring to the theme of the exposition, the archbishop of Turin (who is also Pontifical Custodian of the Shroud), said it aims "to underline the strong bond that exists between the image on the cloth, a moving testimony of the Lord's Passion, and the great suffering of men and women today, that they may find in the Shroud an anchor for their faith, one that leads them to the mercy of God and the service of their neighbour".

  Turning to consider the practical aspects of the event, Cardinal Poletto explained that four thousand volunteers will be involved in helping the pilgrims during the course of their visit to the Shroud, and in welcoming them in the churches of the city's historic centre where liturgical celebrations and tours have been organised.

  Apart from cultural initiatives such as talks by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, there will also be a visit by representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and from the Patriarchate of Moscow.

  Finally, the cardinal archbishop of Turin explained that, although the Internet is a vital resource for booking visits, "it must be remembered that the exposition of the Shroud remains a personal and physical experience, a 'coming to see' that cannot be substituted by any kind of 'virtual visit'".

  The website www.sindone.org provides texts and information concerning all aspects of the organisation of the exposition.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the English-language declaration made yesterday, 24 March, by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. to the New York Times:

  "The tragic case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a priest of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, involved particularly vulnerable victims who suffered terribly from what he did. By sexually abusing children who were hearing-impaired, Fr. Murphy violated the law and, more importantly, the sacred trust that his victims had placed in him.

  "During the mid-1970s, some of Fr. Murphy's victims reported his abuse to civil authorities, who investigated him at that time; however, according to news reports, that investigation was dropped. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the matter until some twenty years later.

  "It has been suggested that a relationship exists between the application of 'Crimen sollicitationis' and the non-reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in this case. In fact, there is no such relationship. Indeed, contrary to some statements that have circulated in the press, neither 'Crimen' nor the Code of Canon Law ever prohibited the reporting of child abuse to law enforcement authorities.

  "In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr. Murphy.

  "In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. In light of the facts that Fr. Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr. Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr. Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr. Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident".

  Also on 24 March, Bishop John Magee S.P.S. of Cloyne, Ireland, released the following English-language statement following the Holy Father's acceptance of his resignation from the pastoral care of his diocese:

  "On 9 March 2010 I tendered my resignation as bishop of Cloyne to the Holy Father. I have been informed today that it has been accepted, and as I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time. To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon. As I said on Christmas Eve 2008 after the publication report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, I take full responsibility for the criticism of our management of issues contained in that report.

  "On 7 March 2009 the Holy See appointed Fr. Dermot Clifford as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Cloyne. This was in response to a request I had made to be relieved of the burden of administering the diocese so that I could concentrate on co-operating with the Government Commission of Investigation into child protection procedures in the diocese in my capacity as bishop of Cloyne. I will of course continue to be available to the Commission of Investigation at any time.

  "I also sincerely hope that the work and the findings of the Commission of Investigation will be of some help towards healing for those who have been abused.

  "I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese for their support during my time as bishop of Cloyne, and assure them of a place in my prayers always".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In a communique released today the Holy See Press Office announced the online publication of the official acts of the Holy See and of the collection of documents from the period of World War II.

  "Important texts that until now have only been available in hard copy in libraries are now accessible at the Official Site of the Holy See www.vatican.va, in the "Resource Library" section.

  "Entire collections of the 'Actae Sanctae Sedis (A.S.S.)' and of the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis (A.A.S.)' - i.e., the official Acts of the Holy See from 1865 to 2007 - are available in pdf format, as is the twelve-volume collection of the 'Actes et documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale', published by order of Paul VI starting in 1965, and edited by a specialised group of four Jesuit historians.

  "These texts represent a documentary resource of inestimable value that is now at the disposal of scholars and all interested persons, free of charge. It is a great contribution to research and information on the history and activities of the Holy See".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, accompanied by Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile.

 - Four prelates of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Markus Bernt Eidsvig C.R.S.A. of Oslo, Norway, apostolic administrator of the territorial prelature of Trondheim, Norway, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Gerhard Schwenzer SS.CC.

    - Bishop Berislav Grgic, prelate of the territorial prelature of Tromso.

    - Bishop Anders Arborelius O.C.D. of Stockholm, Sweden.

  Yesterday, 24 March, he received in audience Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Kwangju, Korea, presented by Archbishop Andreas Choi Chang-mou, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. he is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong.

 - Appointed Fr. Jean de Dieu Raoelison, processor of theology at the major regional seminary of Faliarivo and secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Antananarivo (area 12,500, population 3,100,000, Catholics 863,521, priests 345, religious 2,295), Madagascar. The bishop-elect was born in Arivonimamo, Madagascar in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1996.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Pope turned his attention to St. Albert the Great, whom he described as "one of the greatest masters of scholastic theology".

  The saint, who was born in Germany at the beginning of the thirteenth century, "studied what were known as the 'liberal arts': grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music; in other words, general culture, and he diplayed that typical interest for the natural sciences which would soon become his chosen field of specialisation".

  He entered the Order of Preachers and, following his ordination as a priest, had the opportunity to complete his theological studies at the most famous university of his age, Paris. From there he went to Cologne, taking Thomas Aquinas with him, his own "outstanding student". Pope Alexander IV made use of Albert's theological counsel, and subsequently appointed him as bishop of Regensburg.

  Albert, recalled the Holy Father, "contributed to the 1274 Council of Lyon, called by Pope Gregory X to favour the unification of the Latin and Greek Churches following their separation in the great Eastern Schism of 1054. He clarified the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, who had been the subject of entirely unjustified objections and even condemnations".

  The German saint died in Cologne in the year 1280, and was canonised and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931, "undoubtedly an appropriate recognition for this great man of God" who was also "an outstanding scholar, not only of the truth of faith but in many other fields of knowledge". For this reason too, "Pope Pius XII named him as patron of the natural sciences, also giving him the title of 'Doctor universalis' because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge".

  "Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. ... He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity", said the Holy Father.

  "St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle's philosophy", especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear "entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not?

  "Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture", the Pope added.

  "St. Albert was able to communicate these concepts in a simple and understandable way. A true son of St. Dominic, he readily preached to the people of God who were won over by his words and the example of his life".

  The Pope concluded his catechesis by asking God "that the holy Church may never lack learned, pious and wise theologians like St. Albert the Great, and that He may help each of us to accept the 'formula for sanctity' which Albert followed in his own life: 'Wanting everything I want for the glory of God just as, for His glory, God wants everything He wants'. In other words, we must always conform ourselves to the will of God in order to want and do everything always and only for His glory".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile, and to Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic of Rancagua, president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, who are currently visiting Rome with a delegation to receive an image of Our Lady of Carmel. The Holy Father spoke of his "affection towards the citizens of that country, which is celebrating its bi-centenary", and gave assurances that he "will continue to accompany them during these difficult moments following the recent earthquake".

  Turning then to address Polish pilgrims, the Holy Father recalled the fact that tomorrow marks the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. "In Poland", he remarked, "it is also celebrated as the Day of the Sacredness of Life. The mystery of the Incarnation reveals the specific value of the dignity of human life. God gave us this gift and sanctified it when the Son became man and was born of Mary. It is a gift that must be protected, from conception until natural death. With all my heart I join people involved in various initiatives aimed at respecting life and promoting a new social awareness".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a Message to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery responsible for organising the International Youth Forum currently being attended by around three hundred young people in the Italian town of Rocca di Papa.

  In his Message the Pope highlights how the theme chosen for the forum - "Learning to Love" - is "central to faith and Christian life" because, he writes, "the starting point for any kind of reflection about love is the mystery of God Himself. ... The heart of Christian revelation is this: 'Deus caritas est'. In His Passion, in His total gift of Self, He revealed the face of God which is Love".

  "From the very fact that God is love, and that man is His image, we understand the profound identity of the person and his vocation to love. Man is made to love, and his life is completely fulfilled only if it is lived in love", the Pope writes.

  He then goes on to observe that love takes on different forms in different states of life. In this context, with reference to the priesthood, he quotes words of St. John Mary Vianney to the effect that "the priesthood is love of the heart of Jesus". And he continues: "People consecrated in celibacy are also an eloquent sign of God's love for the world and of the vocation to love God above all things".

  Benedict XVI exhorts the young people to "discover the greatness and beauty of marriage. ... Through the Sacrament of Marriage spouses are united to God, and with their relationship they express the love of Christ Who gave His life for the salvation of the world. In a cultural context in which many people consider matrimony as a temporary contract that can be broken, it is vitally important to understand that true love is faithful, a definitive gift of self. Because Christ consecrates the love of Christian spouses and commits Himself with them, such faithfulness is not only possible but is the way to enter into ever greater charity".

  In closing his Message, Pope Benedict expresses the hope that the forum may stimulate young people "to become witnesses to their peers of what they have seen and heard. This", he concludes, "is a vital responsibility for which the Church is relying on them. They have an important role to play in evangelising the young in their own countries, that they may joyfully and faithfully respond to Christ's commandment to 'love one another as I have loved you'".


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Cloyne, Ireland presented by Bishop John Magee, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Fr. Francisco Lerma Martinez I.M.C., provincial superior of the Mozambican Region of the Consolata Missionary Institute, as bishop of Gurue (area 42,451, population 1,150,000, Catholics 259,500, priests 46, religious 13), Mozambique. The bishop-elect was born in El Palmar, Spain in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1969.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. on Monday 29 March, the Monday of Holy Week, Benedict XVI will preside at a celebration of the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (2 April 2005).
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - As it does every three years, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has organised an International Youth Forum, to be held from 24 to 28 March at Rocca di Papa near Rome. The event is due to be attended by around three hundred young people delegated by episcopal conferences and the main international movements and associations.

  The theme chosen for this forum, the tenth in the series, is "Learning to Love" and its aim, according to a communique, is to reflect on human love in its various aspects: vocation, marriage, family, consecrated life and priesthood. The meeting is due to include lectures, round table discussions, witness and work groups.

  On Thursday 25 March, the delegates will participate in the Pope's meeting with young people of Rome and Lazio for the commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first World Youth Day.

  The work of the forum will conclude with the Mass Benedict XVI is due to celebrate in St. Peter's Square on Palm Sunday 28 March, which is traditionally attended by thousands of young people from all over the world.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Charles Kasonde of the clergy of Ndola, Zambia, director of the national office for pastoral care and vice secretary general of the Zambia Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Solwezi (area 88,300, population 750,000, Catholics 80,000, priests 40, religious 51), Zambia. The bishop-elect was born in Kalulushi, Zambia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 2001.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 January at the age of 84.

 - Bishop Christopher Shaman Abba of Yola, Nigeria, on 10 January at the age of 74.

 - Bishop Roger-Emile Aubry C.SS.R., former apostolic vicar of Reyes, Bolivia, on 17 February at the age of 86.

 - Bishop Juan Angel Belda Dardina, emeritus of Leon, Spain, on 22 February at the age of 83.

 - Archbishop Lawrence Aloysius Burke S.J., emeritus of Kingston in Jamaica, on 24 January at the age of 77.

 - Bishop Jose Eugenio Correa, emeritus of Caratinga, Brazil, on 28 January at the age of 95.

 - Bishop Alfredo Mario Esposito Castro C.M.F., emeritus of Zarate-Campana, Argentina, on 1 January at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Ignatius O. Lobo, emeritus of Belgaum, India, on 17 February at the age of 90.

 - Bishop John Bernard McDowell, former auxiliary of Pittsburgh, U.S.A., on 25 February at the age of 88.

 - Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 12 January at the age of 63.

 - Bishop John Francis Moore S.M.A. of Bauchi, Nigeria, on 20 January at the age of 68.

 - Bishop Rafael Munoz Nunez, emeritus of Aguascalientes, Mexico, on 19 February at the age of 85.

 - Bishop Donald Edmond Pelotte S.S.S., emeritus of Gallup, U.S.A., on 7 January at the age of 64.

 - Archbishop Ivan Prendja of Zadar, Croatia, on 25 January at the age of 70.

 - Bishop Joseph Ignace Randrianasolo, emeritus of Mahjanga, Madagascar, on 4 February at the age of 62.

 - Bishop Josephus Tethool M.S.C., former auxiliary of Amboina, Indonesia on 18 January at the age of 75.

 - Archbishop Paul Verdzekov, emeritus of Bamenda, Cameroon, on 26 January at the age of 79.

 - Bishop Antonio Vilaplana Molina, emeritus of Leon, Spain, on 14 January at the age of 83.
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Monday, March 22, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI attended a concern held in honour of his name day.

  The Henschel string quarter and the mezzo-soprano Susanne Kelling performed "The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" by Joseph Haydn in a new arrangement of Haydn's "Passion" by Jose Peris Lacasa, composer to the royal court of Spain.

  At the end of the concert the Holy Father made some brief remarks in which he thanked the musicians and praised the "austere beauty" of the composition. It is, he said, "worthy of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, ... appropriate for the period of Lent, and prepares us to experience the central Mystery of the Christian faith".

  Haydn's work "conceals a universal rule of artistic expression: that of using a physical medium to communicate a beauty that is also good and true. ... This is the same law that God followed when communicating His love to us: He became incarnate in our human flesh and created the greatest masterpiece of the entire creation: the 'one mediator between God and humankind, the man Jesus Christ'".

  "The 'harder' the material, the more the constraints on expression and the greater the genius of the artist. Thus, on His 'hard' cross God pronounced in Christ the most beautiful and true Word of love, which is Jesus in His full and definitive giving of Self".

  Christ's "bond with history, with the flesh, is the supreme sign of faithfulness, of a love so free as not to be afraid to commit itself forever, to express the infinite in the finite, the whole in the fragment. This law, which is the law of love, is also the law of art in is most exalted expressions", Benedict XVI concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received prelates from the Conference of Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Talking about the results of evangelisation in their countries, the Pope encouraged the prelates to "new missionary efforts that will stimulate your communities fully to accept the evangelical message and faithfully to put into effect. Faith needs to consolidate its roots to ensure there is no return to certain ancient practices that may be incompatible with following Christ, and to resist the lure of a world sometimes hostile to the evangelical ideal". In this context, he praised "the efforts that have been made over many years towards a healthy inculturation of the faith".

  Benedict XVI likewise expressed his satisfaction at the efforts being made by the Church in the dioceses of Burkina Faso and Niger "in their struggle against the evils that prevent people achieving authentic development". He also mentioned last September's floods in the region, noting how "they were an occasion to promote solidarity with everyone". And he went on: "This solidarity, rooted in the love of God, must be a permanent commitment of the ecclesial community. Your faithful have also demonstrated their generosity towards the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti", he said.

  Referring then to the Year for Priests, the Pope noted how it is helping "to highlight the greatness of the priesthood and to promote interior renewal in the life of the clergy, that their ministry may become increasingly intense and fruitful". In this context he also identified the need "to ensure priests have a solid formation, not only as they prepare for ordination, but also throughout their ministry. It is vital that a priest should have time to intensify his own priestly life, so as to avoid the danger of sliding into activism. May the example of St. John Mary Vianney arouse in your priests' hearts ... a renewed awareness of their total gift of self to Christ and the Church", and lead to "numerous priestly vocations".

  Catechists, said the Holy Father, "are the indispensable collaborators of priests as they announce the Gospel", and he encouraged them in their work of evangelisation, at the same time highlighting the fact that the lay faithful have need of formation in order "to take responsibility in the Church and in society, and to become true witnesses of the Gospel". He also invited the prelates to pay particular attention to outstanding figures in the political and intellectual life of their two countries, "who often have to face ideologies opposed to Christian conception of human beings and society".

  "Enable young people", Pope Benedict told the bishops, "to have the joy of meeting with Christ. Strengthening school and university chaplaincies will help them to find in Him a light capable of guiding them throughout their lives, and of giving them a true sense of human love".

  The Holy Father concluded by referring to the "generally positive situation of inter-religious relations" and expressed the hope that "the ties that bind Christians and Muslims may continue to be consolidated, so as to favour the progress of peace, justice and the common good, rejecting any temptation to violence and intolerance".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "The commission established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of importance concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China will meet in the Vatican from 22 to 24 March. Said commission includes superiors of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia with responsibility in this area, as well as certain representatives of the Chinese episcopate and of religious congregations.

  "The first plenary meeting, which took place from 10 to 12 March 2008, had as its theme the Letter the Holy Father Benedict XVI addressed to Chinese Catholics on 27 May 2007. The meeting considered how that pontifical document was received, both inside and outside China. Participants also reflected upon the theological principles that inspired the Letter in order to understand the prospects arising therefrom for the Catholic community in China.

  "The second plenary meeting, which took place from 30 March to 1 April 2009 examined the question of the human, spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians and consecrated people, as well as the permanent formation of priests.

  "This plenary meeting will continue to study the abovementioned question of formation so that in China, as in the rest of the world, the work of priests and consecrated persons may help the Church to incarnate and bear witness to the Gospel, also in the face of the challenges arising from changes in social and cultural circumstances".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Dominic Kimengich, vicar of the diocesan tribunal of Nakuru, Kenya, as auxiliary of the diocese of Lodwar (area 77,000, population 540,000, Catholics 69,145, priests 49, religious 95), Kenya. The bishop-elect was born in Kituro, Kenya in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986.

  On Friday 19 March it was made public that he:

 - Appointed Fr. Vilson Basso S.C.J., formator of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Caygayan de Oro City, Philippines, as bishop of Caxias do Maranhao (area 34,449, population 762,450, Catholics 735,220, priests 29, permanent deacons 2, religious 47), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Cinquentenario Tuparendi, Brazil in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Bishop Luis D'Andrea O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Conferred the title of archbishop "ad personam" on Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicilia of Urgell, Spain, co-prince of Andorra.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, the fifth Sunday of Lent, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope commented on the Gospel reading from today's liturgy, St. John's narrative of how Jesus saved the adulteress from being stoned to death. "It is", he said, "a very dramatic scene. A person's life, and Jesus' own life too, depend on the words He uses. Indeed, the hypocritical accusers pretend to entrust judgement to Him when, in fact, it is precisely Him they want to accuse and to judge". Yet, "He knows what is in the heart of each man, He wants to condemn sin, but to save the sinner and unmask hypocrisy".

  The Evangelist, Benedict XVI went on, "highlights a particular detail: while the accusers insistently question Him, Jesus bends down and writes with His finger in the dust. St. Augustine noted how this gesture shows Christ as the divine lawmaker, for God wrote the Law with His finger on the tablets of stone. Thus Jesus is the Lawmaker, He is Justice personified. And what sentence does He give? 'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her'. These words are full of the disarming power of truth, which breaks down the wall of hypocrisy and opens people's minds to a greater justice, that of love".

  "By absolving the woman of her sin, Jesus introduces her to a new life, one oriented towards goodness: 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again'. ... God only wants goodness and life for us. He provides for the health of our souls through His ministers, freeing us from evil with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that no-one may be lost and everyone may find the way to conversion.

  "In this Year for Priests", the Pope added, "I wish to encourage pastors to imitate the saintly Cure of Ars in the ministry of sacramental Forgiveness, that the faithful may rediscover its meaning and beauty, and be healed by the love of the merciful God, Who 'even forces himself to forget sin, so that He can grant us His forgiveness'".

  After the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled how next Sunday, Palm Sunday, will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first World Youth Day, an initiative of John Paul II. "For this reason", he said, "at 7 p.m. this Thursday in St. Peter's Square I hope to see many young people of Rome and Lazio for a special festive celebration".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of ceremonies to be presided by Benedict XVI during Holy Week.

 - Sunday 28 March: Palm Sunday and Our Lord's Passion; 25th World Youth Day on the theme: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?". At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

 - Thursday 1 April: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Chrism Mass. At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, beginning of Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. Collection to be donated for the reconstruction of the seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

 - Friday 2 April: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of Our Lord. Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9.15 p.m.

 - Saturday 3 April: Easter Saturday. At 9 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, beginning of Easter Vigil.

 - Sunday 4 April: Easter Sunday. At 10.15 a.m., Mass in St. Peter's Square. At midday, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Two prelates of the Conference of Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Thomas Kabore of Kaya.

    - Bishop Ambroise Ouedraogo of Maradi.

 - Three prelates of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen.

    - Bishop Teemu Sippo S.C.I. of Helsinki.

    - Bishop Pierre Burcher of Reykjavik.

 On Saturday 20 March, he received in separate audiences:

 - Five prelates of the Conference of Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph Sama of Nouna.

    - Archbishop Seraphin Francois Roumba of Koupela.

    - Bishop Joachim Ouedraogo of Dori.

    - Bishop Paul Yembuado Ouedraogo of Fada N'Gourma.

    - Archbishop Michel Christian Cartateguy S.M.A. of Niamey.

 - Archbishop Piero Pioppo, apostolic nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, apostolic nuncio to Angola and to Sao Tome and Principe, accompanied by members of his family.

- Archbishop Eugene Martin Nugent, apostolic nuncio to Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, apostolic delegate to Comoros with functions as apostolic delegate to Reunion, accompanied by members of his family.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Saturday, March 20, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the English-language summary of the Pope's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, which was made public this morning:

  The Pope has written a Pastoral Letter to all the Catholics of Ireland, expressing his dismay at the sexual abuse of young people by Church representatives and the way this was addressed by local bishops and religious superiors. He asks that the Letter be read with attention and in its entirety. The Holy Father speaks of his closeness in prayer to the whole Irish Catholic community at this painful time and he proposes a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

  He calls on them to remember the rock from which they were hewn, particularly the fine contribution made by Irish missionaries to European civilisation, and to the spread of Christianity in every continent. Recent years have seen many challenges to the faith in Ireland, in the wake of fast-paced social change and a decline in adherence to traditional devotional and sacramental practices. This is the context in which the Church's handling of the problem of child sexual abuse has to be understood.

  Many factors have given rise to the problem: insufficient moral and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates, a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures, and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties when needed. Only by careful examination of the many elements that gave rise to the crisis can its causes be properly diagnosed and effective remedies be found.

  During their "ad limina" visit to Rome in 2006, the Pope urged the Irish bishops to "establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes." Since that time he himself has met victims on more than one occasion, listening to their stories, praying with them and for them, and he is ready to do so again in the future. In February 2010 he called the Irish bishops to Rome to discuss with them the steps they are taking to remedy the problem, with particular reference to the procedures and protocols now in place to ensure the safety of children in church environments and to respond swiftly and justly to allegations of abuse. In this Pastoral Letter, he speaks directly to a series of different groups within the Irish Catholic community, in the light of the situation that has arisen.

  Addressing the victims of abuse first of all, he acknowledges the grievous betrayal they have suffered and he tells them how sorry he is over what they have endured. He recognises that, in many cases, no one would listen when they found the courage to speak of what happened. He understands how those in residential institutions must have felt, with no way of escape from their sufferings. While recognising how hard it must be for many of them to forgive or be reconciled with the Church, he urges them not to lose hope. Jesus Christ, Himself a victim of unjust sufferings, understands the depths of their pain and its enduring effect upon their lives and relationships. Yet His wounds, transformed by His redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. The Pope urges victims to seek in the Church the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ and to find healing and reconciliation by rediscovering the infinite love that Christ has for each one of them.

  In his words to priests and religious who have abused young people, the Pope calls upon them to answer before God and before properly constituted tribunals for the sinful and criminal actions they have committed. They have betrayed a sacred trust and brought shame and dishonour upon their confreres. Great harm has been done, not only to the victims, but also to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life in Ireland. While summoning them to submit to the demands of justice, he reminds them that they should not despair of God's mercy, which is freely offered to even the greatest of sinners, if they repent of their actions, do penance, and humbly pray for forgiveness.

  The Pope encourages parents to persevere in the demanding task of bringing up children to know that they are loved and cherished, and to develop a healthy self-esteem. Parents have the primary responsibility for educating new generations in the moral principles that are essential for a civilised society. The Pope invites children and young people to find in the Church an opportunity for a life-giving encounter with Christ, and not to be deterred by the failings of some priests and religious. He looks to the younger generation to contribute to the renewal of the Church. He also urges priests and religious not to be discouraged, but rather to dedicate themselves anew to their respective apostolates, working in harmony with their superiors so as to offer new life and vitality to the Church in Ireland through their living witness to the Lord's redeeming work.

  Addressing himself to the Irish bishops, the Pope notes the grave errors of judgement and failure of leadership on the part of many, because they did not correctly apply canonical procedures when responding to allegations of abuse. While it was often hard to know how to address complex situations, the fact remains that serious mistakes were made, and they have lost credibility as a result. The Pope urges them to continue their determined efforts to remedy past mistakes and to prevent any recurrence by fully implementing canon law and co-operating with civil authorities in their areas of competence. He calls upon the bishops, moreover, to rededicate themselves to the pursuit of holiness, setting an example themselves, and encouraging the priests and the lay faithful to play their part in the life and mission of the Church.

  Finally, the Pope proposes some specific steps to foster the renewal of the Church in Ireland. He asks all to offer up their Friday penances, for a period of one year, in reparation for the sins of abuse that have occurred. He recommends frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the practice of Eucharistic adoration. He announces his intention to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses, religious congregations and seminaries, with the involvement of the Roman Curia, and he proposes a nationwide Mission for bishops, priests and religious in Ireland. This being the international Year for Priests, he holds up the figure of St. John Vianney as a model and intercessor for a revitalised priestly ministry in Ireland. After thanking all who have worked so hard to deal decisively with the problem, he concludes by proposing a Prayer for the Church in Ireland, to be used by all the faithful to invoke the grace of healing and renewal at this difficult time.


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the Holy Father's Pastoral Letter of The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland:

  1. Dear brothers and sisters of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious. I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

  As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation. Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made and lessons learned, and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place. Our discussions were frank and constructive. I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.

  2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country, I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

  It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God's grace.

  At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.

  As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember "the rock from which you were hewn". Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in His Son Jesus Christ.

  3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like St. Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of mediaeval monastic culture. The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe. Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.

  From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances. St. Oliver Plunkett, the martyred archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel. After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century. The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world. They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.

  In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone - a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle - who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

  4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularisation of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people's traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Vatican Council II was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

  Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing.

  5. On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, "to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes".

  With this Letter, I wish to exhort all of you, as God's people in Ireland, to reflect on the wounds inflicted on Christ's body, the sometimes painful remedies needed to bind and heal them, and the need for unity, charity and mutual support in the long-term process of restoration and ecclesial renewal. I now turn to you with words that come from my heart, and I wish to speak to each of you individually and to all of you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
  6. To the victims of abuse and their families

  You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was Himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, He still bears the wounds of His own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church.

  I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ's own wounds, transformed by His redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love - even in the darkest and most hopeless situations - to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

  Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God's children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of His Church - a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity - you will come to rediscover Christ's infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

  7. To priests and religious who have abused children

  You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes Himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.

  I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God's forgiveness and the grace of true amendment.

  By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ's redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God's justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God's mercy.

  8. To parents

  You have been deeply shocked to learn of the terrible things that took place in what ought to be the safest and most secure environment of all. In today's world it is not easy to build a home and to bring up children. They deserve to grow up in security, loved and cherished, with a strong sense of their identity and worth. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person, to be inspired by the truth of our Catholic faith and to learn ways of behaving and acting that lead to healthy self-esteem and lasting happiness. This noble but demanding task is entrusted in the first place to you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments. As you carry out your vital responsibilities, be assured that I remain close to you and I offer you the support of my prayers.

  9. To the children and young people of Ireland

  I wish to offer you a particular word of encouragement. Your experience of the Church is very different from that of your parents and grandparents. The world has changed greatly since they were your age. Yet all people, in every generation, are called to travel the same path through life, whatever their circumstances may be. We are all scandalised by the sins and failures of some of the Church's members, particularly those who were chosen especially to guide and serve young people. But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today and for ever. He loves you and He has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with Him within the communion of His Church, for He will never betray your trust! He alone can satisfy your deepest longings and give your lives their fullest meaning by directing them to the service of others. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and His goodness, and shelter the flame of faith in your heart. Together with your fellow Catholics in Ireland, I look to you to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to bring your much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved Church.

  10. To the priests and religious of Ireland

  All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned. I am also aware that in some people's eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of His Church and your confidence in the Gospel's promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.

  I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors. Yet, it is essential that you co-operate closely with those in authority and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective. Above all, I urge you to become ever more clearly men and women of prayer, courageously following the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation. In this way, the Church in Ireland will draw new life and vitality from your witness to the Lord's redeeming power made visible in your lives.

  11. To my brother bishops

  It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognise how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to co-operate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters. It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.

  Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal. The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of St. Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ. I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock. In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests. Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.

  The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society and cooperate more fully in the Church's life and mission. This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.

  12. To all the faithful of Ireland

  A young person's experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community. In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition. In our increasingly secularised society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of His Church. In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.

  13. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is out of deep concern for all of you at this painful time in which the fragility of the human condition has been so starkly revealed that I have wished to offer these words of encouragement and support. I hope that you will receive them as a sign of my spiritual closeness and my confidence in your ability to respond to the challenges of the present hour by drawing renewed inspiration and strength from Ireland's noble traditions of fidelity to the Gospel, perseverance in the faith and steadfastness in the pursuit of holiness. In solidarity with all of you, I am praying earnestly that, by God's grace, the wounds afflicting so many individuals and families may be healed and that the Church in Ireland may experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal.

  14.    I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

  At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

  Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organise periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

  I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God's own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free.

  Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in co-operation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

  I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through His Church.

  In this Year for Priests, I commend to you most particularly the figure of St. John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood. "The priest", he wrote, "holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods". The Cure d'Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: "A good shepherd, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy". Through the intercession of St. John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalised, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

  I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organising the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments. Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it. While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.

  I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalised and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church. As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen. With great affection and unswerving confidence in God's promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

  From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of St. Joseph

  Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of St. Patrick, St. Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

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