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Thursday, February 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI presided over the traditional penitential procession from the church of St. Anselm on the Aventine Hill to the Basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass. The Pope received ashes from Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Titular of the basilica and then distributed ashes to the cardinals and bishops present as well as to various faithful.

  In his homily, the Pope stressed that the "absolute certainty" of God's love sustained Christ during the forty days he spent in the Judean desert. "That long time of silence and fasting for him was a complete abandonment to the Father and to His plan of love. (…) Going into the desert (…) meant voluntarily exposing himself to the enemy's attacks, to temptation" (…) and "entering into battle with him on the open field, defying him without any weapon other than his infinite trust in the Father's omnipotent love".

  "Adam was expelled from the earthly paradise, the symbol of communion with God", the pontiff said. "Now, in order to return to that communion and thus to eternal life we must pass through the desert, the test of faith. Not alone but with Jesus (…) who proceeds us and who has already conquered in the fight against the spirit of evil. This is the meaning of Lent, the liturgical time that, each year, invites us to renew our decision to follow Christ on the path of humility in order to participate in his victory over sin and death".

  It is from this perspective that we understand the penitential sign of the ashes, the Holy Father explained. "Essentially, they are a gesture of humility that means: I recognize myself for what I am, a fragile creature made of earth and destined to return to the earth, but also made in the image of God and destined to return to Him. Dust, yes, but dust that is loved and shaped by His love (…) capable of recognizing His voice and responding to Him; free and thus also capable of disobeying, of giving in to the temptation of pride and self-sufficiency".

  "Sin", Benedict XVI stated, "basically consists in disobeying God, in a lack of love. (…) The first act of justice is recognizing one's own iniquity (…) rooted at the heart of each person (…) An expression of penitence is only worthy in God's eyes if it is the sign of a sincerely repentant heart. (…) The true reward is not the admiration of others but friendship with God and the grace that derives from Him, the grace that gives peace and the strength to do good".

  "In Christ's heart, at the center of His human and divine person, the entire drama of freedom was wagered in decisive and definitive terms. God brought His plan of salvation to its ultimate consequences, remaining faithful in His love even at the expense of delivering His only Son to death. (…) Thanks to Christ's action we can enter in to the "greater" justice, which is the justice of love".

  "Lent enlarges our horizon, orients us toward eternal life (…) it makes us to understand the relativity of earthly goods and thus enables us to make the necessary renunciations, frees us to do good", the Holy Father concluded.
HML/ASH WEDNESDAY/SANTA SABINA                    VIS 20100218 (540)


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with the priests and pastors of the diocese of Rome. With the motivation of the Year for Priests, the Holy Father presided over lectio divina, during which he commented on some chapters from the Letter to the Hebrews that make reference to the high priest.
…/MEETING ROMAN CLERGY/…                    VIS 20100218 (60)


VATICAN CITY, 18 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, O.S.A., as archbishop of Panama (area 13,275, population 1,615,000, Catholics 1,453,000, priests 211, permanent deacons 54, religious 402) in Panama. The archbishop-elect, previously auxiliary of the same archdiocese, succeeds Archbishop Jose Dimas Ceno Delgado, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Jose Araneta Cabantan as bishop of Malaybalay (area 8,293, population 1,446,314, Catholics 1,167,465, priests 80, religious 164) in the Philippines. The bishop-elect was born in 1957 in Lagonglong, Phillippines, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and until now was the pastor of the Miraculous Medal in Cagayan de Oro, Phillippines. He succeeds Bishop Honesto Pacana, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation of Bishop Anthony Theodore Lobo from the pastoral care of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in conformity with canon 401, para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. Bishop Rufin Anthony, previously coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds him.

- Appointed Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, previously of Tarazona, Spain, as bishop of Cordoba (area 13,717, population 795,356, Catholics 791,098, priests 375, religious 1,047) in Spain.
NER:RE/…/…                                VIS 20100218 (210)

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