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Thursday, May 13, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Fatima and the tenth anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta, the Pope celebrated the Eucharist on the esplanade of the shrine of Fatima in the presence of 500,000 people.

In his homily the Holy Father made it clear that he had "come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary's presence and maternal protection; ... to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings; ... to entrust to Mary's maternal protection priests, consecrated men and women, missionaries and all those who [who do] good works".

Referring then to "mystical confidences of the shepherd children", the Holy Father noted how "one might look at them with a touch of envy for what they were able to see, or with the disappointed resignation of someone who was not so fortunate, yet still demands to see".

But "the Scriptures invite us to believe", he explained. "God can come to us, and show Himself to the eyes of our heart. Moreover, that Light deep within the shepherd children, which comes from the future of God, is the same Light which was manifested in the fullness of time and came for us all: the Son of God made man. ... Henceforth our hope has a real foundation: ... Jesus of Nazareth".

"Faith in God opens before us the horizon of a sure hope, one which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base one's life without fear; it demands a faith-filled surrender into the hands of the Love which sustains the world", he said.

The shepherd children "offered their whole lives to God and shared them fully with others for love of God", said the Holy Father, highlighting how "we would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic mission is complete. ... Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end. In Sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and He does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: 'Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which He will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?'.

"At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart", he added.

Benedict concluded his homily by expressing the hope that "the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions" may "hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Blessed Trinity".

At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father addressed some words to the sick people present, and to those following the event by radio and television.

"In all human suffering", he said, "we are joined by One Who experiences and carries that suffering with us". In other words, it is possible to "overcome the feeling of the uselessness of suffering which consumes a person from within and makes him feel a burden to those around him when, in reality, suffering which is lived with Jesus assists in the salvation of your brethren".

"The divine Master, instead of explaining the reasons for suffering, preferred to call everyone to follow Him, saying: 'Take up your cross and follow me'. Come with me. With your suffering, take part in the work of salvation which is realised through my suffering, by means of my cross. As you gradually embrace your own cross, uniting yourself spiritually to my cross, the salvific meaning of suffering will be revealed to you. In suffering, you will discover an interior peace and even spiritual joy".

The Holy Father invited the sick to welcome the call of Jesus "and entrust to Him every setback and pain that you face, so that they become - according to His design; a means of redemption for the whole world. You will be redeemers with the Redeemer, just as you are sons in the Son. At the cross stands the Mother of Jesus, our Mother".

Before leaving Benedict XVI addressed greetings to the multitude pilgrims in various languages.

He then went on to visit the tombs of the shepherd children inside the basilica of the shrine of Fatima, before going back to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" where he had lunch with Portuguese bishops and his entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 9.15 p.m. today, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile to the Chapel of the Apparitions at Fatima where he prayed the Rosary by torchlight with pilgrims gathered there. Before the prayer Benedict XVI blessed the candles and addressed some words to the participants.

"All of you, standing together with lighted candles in your hands", he said, "seem like a sea of light around this simple chapel, lovingly built to the honour of the Mother of God and our Mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light.

"However", he added, "neither Mary nor we have a light of our own: we receive it from Jesus. His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us".

"God ordered Moses: 'Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground'. And that is what he did: he would put his shoes back on to free his people from slavery in Egypt and to guide them to the promised land. ... Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God".

The Holy Father went on: "In our time, in which the faith in many places seems like a light in danger of being snuffed out for ever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God. And not to any god, but to the God who had spoken on Sinai; the God Whose face we recognise in the love borne to the very end in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. ... Do not be afraid to talk of God and to manifest without fear the signs of faith, letting the light of Christ shine in the presence of the people of today".

"In this place it is amazing to think how three children entrusted themselves to the interior force which had enflamed them in the apparitions of the angel and of our heavenly Mother. In this place where we were repeatedly requested to recite the Rosary, let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary's Rosary. ... Meditating upon the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries as we pray our Ave Maria, let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus, from the Incarnation, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection; let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. Grace invades our hearts, provoking a wish for an incisive and evangelical change of life".

"The devotion and affection of all of you, the faithful who have come here from all around the world, is clear to me", Benedict XVI concluded. "I bring with me the worries and hopes of our times, the sufferings of our wounded humanity and the problems of the world, and I place them at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima: Virgin Mother of God and our own dear Mother, intercede for us before your Son, that the family of nations, both those called Christians and those who do not yet know the Saviour, may live in peace and harmony, in order that they come together as the one people of God".

Having prayed the Rosary, the Holy Father returned to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" as Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. presided at a Mass for the vigil of the Marian Solemnity of 13 May.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2010 (VIS) - Early this morning the Pope left the apostolic nunciature in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and travelled by helicopter to Fatima, a town of 8,000 inhabitants associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia in 1917. Jacinta and Francisco were beatified by John Paul II in Fatima in 2000.

The shrine was built on the site of the apparitions (an area known as "Cova de Iria") with an esplanade surrounded by various buildings, At the north end stands the basilica and to its left the "Capelinha", the Chapel of the Apparitions, which was built in 1919.

Before the image of the Virgin Mary in the Chapel of the Apparitions, Benedict read a prayer in which he recalled how Venerable John Paul II had visited Our Lady of Fatima on three occasions and given thanks for "the 'unseen hand' that rescued him from death in the assassination attempt on 13 May 1981".

" I thank you, beloved Mother, for the prayers and sacrifices that the shepherd children
of Fatima offered for the Pope, led by the sentiments that you inspired in them in the apparitions. I also thank all those who, every day, pray for the Successor of Peter and for his intentions, that the Pope may be strong in faith, bold in hope and zealous in love".

The Holy Father also presented a golden rose "brought from Rome as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home".

Benedict XVI then went to the Church of the Blessed Trinity, three hundred metres away, where he presided at Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons.

In his homily he expressed his own and the Church's recognition and gratitude "to all of you who have given your life to Christ. ... Thank you for your witness, often silent and certainly not easy; thank you for your fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church".

"The greatest concern of every Christian, especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one's own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord. ... This evidently supposes true intimacy with Christ in prayer, since it is the powerful and intense experience of the Lord's love that brings priests and consecrated persons to respond to His love in way that is exclusive and spousal".

"There exists a deep solidarity among all the members of the Body of Christ", explained the Holy Father. "It is not possible to love Christ without loving His brothers and sisters. It was for their salvation that John Mary Vianney decided to become a priest", he said.

"It is important to assist one another with prayer, helpful advice and discernment! Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ".

"The priesthood of Christ is eternal, but the life of priests is limited. Christ has willed that others continue in time the priestly ministry that He instituted. Keep alive in your hearts, and in others around you, the desire to raise up - in co-operation with the grace of the Holy Spirit - new priestly vocations among the faithful".

Turning then to address seminarians, the Pope told them: "Carefully examine your intentions and your motivations. Devote yourselves with a steadfast heart and a generous spirit to your training. The Eucharist, which is the centre of Christian life and the school of humility and service, should be your first love".

Before the end of the ceremony, the Pope entrusted priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. "We are mindful that, without Jesus, we can do nothing good", he said, "and that only through Him, with Him and in Him, will we be instruments of salvation for the world.

"Bride of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadowed you, making you the Mother of the Saviour, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of Him Who makes all things new".

"Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One".

"Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, our 'here I am'".

After Vespers the Holy Father dined at the nearby "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo", a centre for spiritual exercises which is part of the shrine complex.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Hanoi, Vietnam, presented by Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon.

- Appointed Fr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop O.P., professor of ethics and Church social doctrine at the Dominican study centre and various other religious institutes, and professor at the Ho Chi Minh Ville State University, as bishop of Vinh (area 30,594, population 6,090,000, Catholics 486,234, priests 166, religious 610), Vietnam. The bishop-elect was born in Lang Anh, Vietnam in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1972. He succeeds Bishop Paul-Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen M.S.C., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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