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Monday, March 8, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 6 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope met with 7,000 volunteers of the Italian Civil Protection, led by the head of that association, Guido Bertolaso.

  In opening his remarks to them the Holy Father thanked everyone for the efforts they made during the April 2009 earthquake that hit the Italian region of Abruzzo, and he reiterated words he had used on his own visit to the devastated areas of Onna and l'Aquila: "Thank you for what you have done, and especially for the love with which you did it. Thank you for the example you have shown". He also expressed his gratitude for the service of the thousands of people who assisted at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 and at John Paul II's funeral in 2005.

  "You are", the Pope told his audience, "one of the most recent and mature expressions of the long tradition of solidarity that has its roots in the altruism and generosity of the Italian people".

  "The terms 'civil' and 'protection'", he continued, "are an expression of your 'vocation' to protect people and their dignity - vital benefits of civil society - in tragic moments of calamity and crisis that threaten the life and security of families or entire communities. This mission does not consist only in managing the emergency, but in making a valid and appropriate contribution to achieving the common good".

  "This dual dimension of protection, which is manifested both during and after an emergency, is well expressed in the figure of the Good Samaritan ... who teaches us to look beyond the emergency and to prepare ... the return to normality".

  The Holy Father went on to highlight how "love for others cannot be delegated; the State and politics, while maintaining their necessary concern for social welfare, cannot replace such love. ... Volunteers are not just there to patch up holes in the social fabric, but individuals who truly contribute to forming the human and Christian face of society. Without voluntary work the common good and society cannot last long, because their progress and dignity is largely dependent on people who do more than just their duty".

  "Apart from being custodians of the territory", he concluded, "always be living icons of the Good Samaritan, remaining attentive to others, recalling man's dignity and awakening hope. When people do not limit themselves merely to performing their duty, in their jobs and in their families, but dedicate themselves to others, their hearts expand. Those who love and serve others as neighbours live and act in accordance with the Gospel and share in the mission of the Church, who always concerns herself with man in his entirety and wishes to make him feel the love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Valentino Di Cerbo of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, bureau chief in the First Section of the Secretariat of State, as bishop of Alife-Caiazzo (area 580, population 70,000, Catholics 69,759, priests 63, permanent deacons 4, religious 56), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Frasso Telesino, Italy in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1968.
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VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited the parish of St. John of the Cross in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated Mass.

  In his homily, the Pope said that "during Lent each one of us is invited by God to change our lives, to think and live in accordance with the Gospel, correcting some aspect of our way of praying, acting, working and of our relations with others. Jesus makes this appeal to us not with a severity that serves as an end unto itself, but precisely because He is concerned with our good, our happiness, our salvation. For our part, we must respond to Him by making a sincere interior effort, asking Him to show us in what particular points we must seek to convert".

  He then went on to comment on the parish itself, which was founded twenty-one years ago, noting how "it has opened itself to the new movements and ecclesial communities, thus maturing a broader understanding of Church and experiencing new forms of evangelisation.

  "I encourage you to continue courageously in this direction, while undertaking to involve all sides in a united pastoral project", the Holy Father added. In this context he expressed his joy at the fact that the parish community "aims to promote - while respecting the vocations and roles of consecrated and lay people - the co-responsibility of all members of the People of God. ... This requires a change of mentality, especially as regards lay persons, 'considering them not merely as collaborators of the clergy but recognising them as co-responsible in the life and activity of the Church, thus favouring the promotion of a mature and committed laity'".

  Turning then to address the families and young people of the local area who frequent the parish, Benedict XVI encouraged them "to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. Do not wait for others to come bringing you other messages, messages which do not lead to life, but make yourselves missionaries of Christ for your brothers and sisters in the places where they live, study or spend their free time. Here too, implement a capillary and organic activity of pastoral care of vocations, consisting in the education of families and young people to prayer and to living life as a gift that comes from God".

  Lent, he said, "invites each of us to recognise the mystery of God present in our lives. ... On the hill of Golgotha God, Who on the flight from Egypt revealed Himself as the One Who frees us from slavery, revealed Himself as the One Who embraces all men and women with the salvific power of the Cross and the Resurrection, freeing them from sin and death and accepting them in the embrace of His love".

  The Pope concluded by encouraging the faithful to continue "contemplating this mystery of the name of God in order better to understand the mystery of Lent and to live as individuals and communities in a permanent state of conversion, so as to be a constant epiphany in the world, witnesses of the living God Who frees and saves us out of love".


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, following his morning visit to the Roman parish of St. John of the Cross, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in order to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.

  Commenting on the first reading from today's liturgy - the narrative of Moses and the burning bush which was not consumed by the flames but continued to burn, and whence God called to Moses - the Pope explained how "God shows Himself in various ways, also in our own lives. However, in order to recognise His presence it is necessary for us to approach Him with an awareness of our own lowliness and with profound respect. Otherwise we would be incapable of meeting and entering into communion with Him".

  He then went on to comment on the day's Gospel reading in which Jesus is asked about certain tragic events: the murder in the Temple of certain Galileans by order of Pilate, and the collapse of a tower that killed several passers-by. "Against the facile conclusion of considering evil as the effect of a divine punishment", said Benedict XVI, "Jesus proclaims the innocence of God, Who is good and cannot wish evil, and He warns against thinking that calamities are the immediate consequence of the personal guilt of those who suffer them".

  Jesus replies to His questioners saying: "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did". Christ, the Pope explained, "is inviting us to read those events differently, to see them in the perspective of conversion: calamities and tragic events must not arouse our curiosity or our desire to find the supposedly guilty, but should be occasions to reflect, to reject the illusion that we can live without God and to strengthen, with God's help, our commitment to change our lives".

  "The possibility of conversion demands that we learn to read the events of life in the light of faith. ... In the presence of suffering and tragedy, true wisdom is to ask ourselves about the precarious nature of existence and to read human history with the eye of God Who, always wanting only the good of His children for an inscrutable design of His love, sometimes allows them to be tried by pain in order to lead them to a greater good".

  After praying the Angelus the Pope greeted, among others, a group of French pilgrims making particular mention of the people affected by the storm that struck western France last week.
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VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2010 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world encouraging them to participate in the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday.

  The letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the congregation, "is inspired by the pilgrimage 'in the historical footsteps of Jesus' which the Holy Father Benedict XVI made last May".

  Cardinal Sandri recalls "the pastoral, ecumenical and inter-religious concern that enlivened" the Pope's words and actions on that trip and notes how, "together with the ecclesial community of Israel and Palestine" we heard "'a voice' of brotherhood and peace.    Strongly emphasising the ceaseless problem of emigration, His Holiness recalled that 'in the Holy Land there is room for everyone', and he urged the authorities to support the Christian presence" while assuring "the Christians of this land of the Church's solidarity".

  "The Year for Priests involves the beloved priests and seminarians of the whole Church, together with their respective bishops, in a commitment to the Holy Places", writes the cardinal, inviting everyone to "work tirelessly to guarantee a future for Christians in the place where 'the kindness and humanity' of Our God and Father first appeared.

  "The Pope has entrusted the Congregation for the Oriental Churches with the task of keeping alive interest in that blessed Land", Cardinal Sandri adds. "In his name I urge everyone to reinforce the solidarity that has been shown so far. In fact, the Christians of the East have a responsibility that belongs to the Universal Church, in other words the responsibility to preserve the 'Christian origins', the places and people who are the sign of them, so that those origins may always be the reference of the Christian mission, the measure of the ecclesial future and its security. They therefore deserve the support of the entire Church".

  A document drawn up by the Custody of the Holy Land and a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, details the projects undertaken using the 2008-2009 collection.

  Apart from providing study grants for priests and seminarians from the Holy Land to study in pontifical universities, various restoration projects were carried out in, among other places: Ain Karem (shrine of the Visitation), Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Haifa, Magdala, Nazareth, Mount Nebo, Mount Tabor and Nain. Funds were also distributed to support parishes, families, schools and universities, and - through the Custody of the Holy Land - to various cultural projects, such as the faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology of the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem, and the Francisca Media Centre, a new form of apostolate which uses television networks to divulge the message of the Holy Places and the life of the local Christian communities.
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VATICAN CITY, 8 MAR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - Three prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Henry Apaloryamam Ssentongo of Moroto.

    - Bishop Emmanuel Obbo of Soroti.

    - Archbishop James Odongo, emeritus of Tororo and military ordinary.

  On Saturday 6 March he received in separate audiences:

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

 - Two prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Joseph B. Willigers M.H.M. of Jinja.

    - Bishop Giuseppe Filippi M.C.C.J. of Kotido.
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