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Friday, February 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father will visit Malta on 17 and 18 April to commemorate the 1950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck on that island during his apostolic trip to Rome in the year 60 AD.

  The Pope is due to depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 3.25 p.m. on Saturday 17 April, arriving in Malta at 5 p.m. where the welcome ceremony will take place. He will subsequently pay a courtesy visit to President George Abela of Malta at the Grand Masters' Palace in the island's capital city Valletta.

  At 7.45 p.m., Benedict XVI will travel to the Cave of St. Paul at Rabat, where the saint found refuge following his shipwreck, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. The site was also home to the first Christian community in Malta.

  At 10 a.m. on Sunday 18 April the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Floriana Granaries. Following lunch with the bishops of Malta at the apostolic nunciature in Rabat, he will travel by boat from the port of Kalkara to Valletta where he is due to meet with young people at 5.15 p.m.

  The farewell ceremony is scheduled to take place at Luqa airport at 6.40 p.m., after which the Pope will begin his return journey to Rome where he is due to arrive at Ciampino airport shortly before 9 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 11 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At 10.30 a.m. today, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of the Eucharist in St. Peter's Basilica for the eighteenth World Day of the Sick and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers. Among those attending the ceremony were sick people from UNITALSI (Italian National Union for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines) and pilgrims of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

  Before the celebration began the relics of Bernadette Soubirous were carried in procession around St. Peter's Square then brought to the basilica where they were welcomed by Cardinal Angelo Conastri, archpriest of the basilica. Once inside, the reliquary was placed next to the image of Our Lady of Lourdes, near the Altar of the Confession.

  "'Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people", said the Pope quoting the Gospel of St. Matthew at the beginning of his homily. "The Church, which is entrusted with the task of prolonging the mission of Christ over space and time, cannot ignore these two essential activities: evangelisation and caring for the sick in body and spirit. God, in fact, wishes to heal all of man, and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of a more profound restoration: the remission of sins.

  "It is no surprise, then, that Mary, mother and model of the Church, should be invoked as 'Salus Infirmorum' (Health of the sick)", the Pope added. "As the first and perfect disciple of her Son she has always showed, as she accompanies the Church's journey, particular concern for those who suffer. ... On the feast of the apparitions of Lourdes, the place chosen by Mary to demonstrate her maternal solicitude for the sick, the liturgy appropriately reaffirms the Magnificat. ... This is not the hymn of those upon whom fortune smiles, who always have 'the wind in their sails'; rather, it is the thanksgiving of those who have experienced the dramas of life, but who trust in the redeeming action of God".

  On her pilgrim journey through history, "the Church, like Mary, guards in her bosom the dramas of mankind and the consolation of God", said the Holy Father. "Are not suffering accepted and offered, sincere and gratuitous sharing, miracles of love?" he asked. "For this reason we experience a joy that does not ignore suffering but understands it. In this way, the sick and all those who suffer are, in the Church, not just objects of care and attention but, even more so and above all, participants in the pilgrimage of faith and hope, witness of the prodigies of love and Paschal joy".

  The Pope then quoted from the Letter of James: "Are any of you sick? They should call for the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick". And he went on: "in this Year for Priests I would like to underline the bond between sick people and the clergy. ... The sick person should 'call' on priests, and they must respond in order to draw the presence and action of the Risen Lord and His Spirit into the experience of sickness".

  "In fact, when the Word of God speaks of healing, of salvation, of the health of the sick, these concepts are meant in their integral significance, never separating soul and body. A sick person healed by the prayer of Christ, through the Church, is a joy on earth and in heaven, a first fruit of eternal life", the Pope concluded.

  The events marking the eighteenth World Day of the Sick concluded with a procession which left Castel Sant'Angelo at 4.30 p.m., winding its way down Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter's Square where, at 5.30 p.m., Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to greet and bless the faithful present.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  The Pope began his remarks by mentioning the bishops, priests, religious and faithful who, "in the period of persecution, showed dauntless attachment to Christ and His Church, and maintained their faith intact".

  He then thanked the prelates for their "generous dedication to serving the rebirth and development of the Catholic community" in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and encouraged them "to show the faithful an itinerary of mature and responsible Christian faith, especially through the reaching of religion, catechesis, also of adults, and preparation for the Sacraments". This, he continued, "requires the joint preparation of pastoral programmes, with a view to the 'bonum animarum' of all Catholics from various rites and ethnicities".

  "In this Year for Priests I encourage you to become true fathers to your clergy. ... Be careful to foster communion among yourselves and with them in a climate of affection, care, and respectful and fraternal dialogue. Concern yourselves with their spiritual and material situation, and with the theological and pastoral aggiornamento they need".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "the primary task of bishops is to promote vocational pastoral care, and the human, spiritual and intellectual formation of candidates to the priesthood in seminaries and other institutes of formation, ... also through the careful selection of educators and teachers. Similar care must be shown in forming members of institutes of consecrated life, especially female institutes", he said.

  "The flowering of priestly and religious vocations depends to a large extent on the moral and religious health of Christian families", the Pope explained. In this context he referred to "the scourges of abortion, corruption, alcoholism and drugs, as well as birth control by methods contrary to the dignity of the human person", saying that "in order to combat these challenges, you must promote parish consultancy services and organise improved pastoral care of the young".

  The Holy Father also highlighted the need "to make a decisive commitment to favour the presence of Christian values in society, creating centres of formation where young people can learn authentic values, enriched by your countries' cultural gifts, in order to enable them to bear witness to those values in the environments in which they live".

  "In this context", he continued, "the witness of fraternity between Catholics and Orthodox is particularly important; may it prevail over divisions and dissent, and open hearts to reconciliation", he said. Recalling then the tenth anniversary, which fell in May 2009, of "the historic trip of Venerable John Paul II to Romania", the Pope expressed the hope that "the desire for unity aroused by that visit may nourish prayer and a commitment to continue dialogue in charity and truth, and to promote joint initiatives".

  Benedict XVI concluded: "One particularly important area of collaboration between Orthodox and Catholics today concerns the defence of the Christian roots of Europe and of Christian values, as well as joint witness on such themes as the family, bioethics, human rights, honesty in public life and ecology. ... Constructive dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics will not fail to foment unity and harmony, not only for your countries, but for all of Europe".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - In the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace at 11 a.m. on Friday 19 February, an ordinary public consistory will be held for the canonisation of the following Blesseds:

 - Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk, Polish professed religious of the Order of Canons Regular Lateranense (1433-1489).

 - Andre Bessette (ne Alfred), Canadian professed religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1845-1937).

 - Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

 - Mary of the Cross MacKillop (nee Mary Helen), Australian foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1842-1909).

 - Giulia Salzano, Italian foundress of the Congregation of Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart (1846-1929).

 - Battista da Varano (nee Camilla), professed nun of the Order of Poor Clares and foundress of the monastery of St. Clare in the Italian town of Camerino (1458-1524).
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VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences seven prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - His Beatitude Lucian Muresan, major archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Iulia, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Vasile Bizau and Mihai Catalin Fratila.

    - Bishop Florentin Crihalmeanu of Cluj-Gherla.

    - Bishop Alexandru Mesian of Lugoj.

    - Bishop Ioan Sisestean of Maramures.

    - Bishop Virgil Bercea of Oradea Mare of the Romanians.
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