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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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