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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  And he concluded: "Commitment to the unity of Christians is not just a task for the few, or an appendage to the life of the Church. Each is called to offer his or her contribution to help take those steps towards the full communion of all Christ's disciples, never forgetting that it is, above all, a gift constantly to be implored from God".
HML/CONVERSION ST. PAUL/...                    VIS 20100126 (520)


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a conference was held to present "Pontifical Academies for a New Christian Humanism", an initiative that will include a special audience of the Holy Father with the pontifical academies on 28 January, and the public session of those academies on 27 January.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

  "As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status".
OP/TEXT/CON-UC                            VIS 20100126 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, auxiliary of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., as bishop of Austin (area 57,424, population 2,443,000, Catholics 437,000, priests 243, permanent deacons 198, religious 203), U.S.A.
NER/.../VASQUEZ                            VIS 20100126 (40)

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