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Monday, April 26, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Charles Ghislain, the new ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See.

  In his address, the Pope highlighted how "human life and dignity are a precious resource to be defended and promoted resolutely, especially on the basis of natural law". The Church "wishes to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all peoples. To this end she makes here own active contribution, especially through her numerous educational institutions, her social activities and the commitment of many of her faithful to voluntary work. The Church is happy to serve all sectors of Belgian society".

  "Nonetheless", he continued, "it is worth pointing out that the Church, as an institution, has the right to express herself in public. ... She respects the right of everyone to think differently from herself, and would like to see her own right to expression respected. ... The Church, having the common good as her objective, wants nothing other than the freedom to be able to present this message, not imposing it on anyone, and respecting people's freedom of conscience".

  The Pope then made mention of the Belgian St. Damian de Veuster, highlighting how "religious roots nourished his education and formation, just as they nourished the teachers who awoke such admirable generosity in him. St. Damian shared his life with marginalised lepers, to the point of himself suffering the illness that afflicted them. With witnesses such as him, everyone can understand that the Gospel is a source of power they need not fear.

  "I am convinced", he added, "that despite recent social developments, your land remains rich in Christian soil. This can nurture the generous commitment of growing numbers of volunteers who, inspired by the evangelical principles of fraternity and solidarity, accompany people in difficulties".

  Referring then to the country's involvement in Europe, and to the fact that the Belgian Herman Van Rompuy was recently elected as first president of the European Council, the Pope noted how "the art of consensus cannot be reduced to purely dialectic abilities, rather it must seek truth and goodness". This, he explained quoting his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", is because "without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalised society at difficult times like the present".

  In closing his remarks the Holy Father had words of greeting for the bishops of Belgium, especially Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard "who with enthusiasm and generosity has recently begun a new mission as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels". He also greeted priests, deacons and all the faithful who make up the Catholic community in Belgium. "I invite them to bear courageous witness to their faith", he concluded. "In their lives as citizens may they fully exercise their right to propose values that respect human nature, and that correspond to the most profound and authentic spiritual aspirations of the person".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father addressed participants in the congress: "Digital Witnesses. Faces and languages in the multi-media age". The congress was organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference, the president of which is Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa.

  "The time in which we are living is seeing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication", said the Pope. "The Internet is by nature open, tendentiously egalitarian and pluralist, but at the same time it also represents a new gulf. Indeed, we talk of the 'digital divide', which separates the included from the excluded, and this must be added to other separations which already divide nations, both from one another and within themselves".

  Benedict XVI also noted "the dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a 'pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile'.

  "And yet", he added, "the aim of this congress is precisely to recognise faces, and therefore to overcome those collective dynamics that can lead us to lose a sense of the depths people have, to remain on the surface. When this happens those people become bodies without a soul, objects to be exchanged and consumed".

  "And how is it possible to return to people's faces today?" the Pope asked. In this context, quoting from his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", he explained how the media can have a civilising effect "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.

  "To achieve goals of this kind, they need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity".

  "Only in these conditions can the epoch-making change we are experiencing be rich and fruitful in new opportunities. ... More than by our technical resources, necessary though they are, we wish to identify ourselves by inhabiting the [digital] universe with a believing heart which helps to give a soul to the endless flow of communications on the Internet".

  And the Holy Father concluded: "This is our mission, the indispensable mission of the Church. The task of all believers who work in the media is that of 'opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence'".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2010 (VIS) - At midday today, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope quoted the theme of this year's World Day, "witness awakens vocations", noting how it is "closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons.

  "The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer", he added, calling on parents to pray that "their children's hearts may open to listening to the Good Shepherd", because He alone "protects His flock with immense tenderness and defends it from evil, and in Him alone can the faithful place their absolute trust".

  The Holy Father continued: "On this day of special prayer for vocations, I particularly encourage ordained ministers, stimulated by the Year for Priests, to feel a commitment 'to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world'; to remember that the priest 'continues the work of redemption on earth'; to pause 'frequently before the tabernacle'; to remain 'completely faithful to their vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism': to make themselves available for listening and forgiveness; to undertake the Christian formation of the people entrusted to their care; and to cultivate 'priestly fraternity'".

  After praying the Regina Coeli, Benedict XVI turned his attention to two priests, Angelo Paoli and Jose Tous y Soler, today proclaimed as Blesseds in, respectively, Rome and Barcelona, Spain. The former was an "apostle of charity in Rome, nicknamed the 'father of the poor'. He dedicated himself particularly to sick and convalescent people in the hospital of San Giovanni".

  Jose Tous y Soler, founder of the Institute of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, despite numerous trials and difficulties, never allowed himself to be overcome with bitterness or resentment. He stood out for his exquisite charity and his capacity to bear and understand the shortcomings of others", said the Pope.

  Finally, he addressed a special greeting to the Italian association "Meter" which "for fourteen years has been promoting a national Day for child victims of violence, exploitation and indifference. On this occasion I particularly want to thank and encourage those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education, especially parents and teachers, and the many priests, nuns, catechists and animators who work with children in parishes, schools and associations".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - In view of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, due to take place in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October on the theme "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. 'The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul'", the Holy Father appointed:

 - His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, as president delegate "ad honorem".

 - His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, as president delegate "ad honorem".

 - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as president delegate.

 - His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, as president delegate.

 - His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, as relator general.

 - Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, as special secretary.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Fabio Fabene, official of the Congregation for Bishops, as bureau chief of the same congregation.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Bishop Robert Patrick Ellison C.S.Sp. of Banjul, Gambia, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Fr. Chris Brennan, S.M.A., apostolic administrator of Gbarnga, Liberia, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Patrick Daniel Koroma of Kenema, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop George Biguzzi S.X. of Makeni, Sierra Leone, on his "ad limina" visit.

  On Saturday 24 April he received in audience Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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