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Friday, May 14, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 1.30 p.m. today, the Pope arrived at the international airport of the city of Porto for the departure ceremony at the end of his apostolic trip to Portugal. Following a greeting by Anibal Cavaco Silva, president of the Republic of Portugal, the Holy Father pronounced his address.

He began by expressing his "sincere gratitude" to the president, bishops, government and all the civil and military authorities "who have done their utmost with visible dedication throughout the entire journey. I offer you all good wishes. The communications media have enabled me to reach out to many people who were unable to see me in person. To them too I am most grateful", he said.

"To all the Portuguese, whether Catholic or not, to the men and women who live here, whether born here or elsewhere, I extend my greetings at this moment of leave-taking. May you live in increasing harmony with one another, a prerequisite for genuine cohesion and the only way to address the challenges before you with shared responsibility. May this glorious nation continue to manifest greatness of spirit, a profound sense of God and an openness to solidarity, governed by principles and values imbued with Christian humanism. In Fatima I prayed for the whole world, asking that the future may see an increase in fraternity and solidarity, greater mutual respect and renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.

"It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Portuguese ecclesial community", the Holy Father added. "I was able to see the enthusiasm of the children and young people, the faithfulness of the priests, deacons and religious, the pastoral dedication of the bishops, the desire to search for truth and evident beauty in the world of culture, the resourcefulness of the social pastoral workers, the vibrancy of faith among the lay faithful in the dioceses that I visited. I hope that my visit may become an incentive for renewed spiritual and apostolic ardour. May the Gospel be accepted in its entirety and witnessed with passion by every disciple of Christ, so that it may show itself to be a leaven of authentic renewal for the whole of society".

The departure ceremony over, the Pope boarded his plane for the return journey to Rome, where he is due to arrive at Ciampino airport at 6 p.m. From there he will travel to the Vatican by helicopter.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father left the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" at the shrine of Fatima and travelled by helicopter to Porto, Portugal's second largest city and the industrial capital of the north, where he landed at 9.30 a.m.

On arrival Benedict XVI was welcomed by Bishop Manuel J. Macario do Nascimento Clemente of Porto and by the local civil and military authorities. He then travelled five kilometres to the city's Gran Plaza de la Avenida dos Aliados greeting the crowds who had gathered there to attend Mass, which began at 10.15 a.m.

In his homily the Pope turned his attention to the figure of St. Matthias, whose feast day falls today. "He was", he said, "a witness to Jesus' public life and to His triumph over death, remaining faithful unto the end, despite the fact that many abandoned Him". He was chosen by the Apostles as one of their number after the death of Judas.

"'One of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection', said Peter. His Successor now repeats to each of you: My brothers and sisters, you need to become witnesses with me to the resurrection of Jesus. For if you do not become His witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place?", the Holy Father asked.

"Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world", he said. "This is the indispensable mission of every ecclesial community: to receive the Risen Christ from God and to offer Him to the world, so that every situation of weakness and death may be transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an opportunity for growth and life".

"We impose nothing, yet we propose ceaselessly, as Peter recommends in one of his Letters: 'In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. And, in the end, everyone asks this of us, even those who seem not to. ... In fact, the most profound expectations of the world and the great certainties of the Gospel meet in the ineluctable mission which is ours".

"Yet even though this certainty consoles and calms us", explained the Pope, "it does not exempt us from going forth to others. We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have safely in our possession, or think we have. This would mean inevitable death for the Church's presence in the world".

"From its origins, Christian people have clearly recognised the importance of communicating the Good News of Jesus to those who do not yet know Him. In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed; today the Church is called to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, seeking ways to build peaceful coexistence, along with all people of good will. The field of the 'ad gentes' mission appears much broader today, and can no longer to be defined on the basis of geographic considerations alone. Indeed, it is not only non-Christian peoples and distant lands that await us, but also social and cultural milieux and, above all, human hearts which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God".

"Yes!", cried the Holy Father. "We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone, letting ourselves be enlightened by His Word. ... Everything must be defined starting with Christ, as far as the origins and effectiveness of mission is concerned: we always receive our mission from Christ Who told us what He heard from His Father, and we are appointed to mission through the Spirit, in the Church. Like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and His Spirit, we must renew the face of the earth starting from God, always and only God".

At the conclusion of Mass, the Pope went to the municipal palace of Porto. There he signed the visitor's book then emerged onto the balcony to greet the thousands of people gathered in the square and thank them for welcoming him to the "city of the Virgin".

"I would have happily prolonged my stay in your city", he told them, "but it is not possible. So let me take my leave of you, embracing each one of you affectionately in Christ our Hope".

The Holy Father then travelled to the airport of Porto for his return journey to Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2010 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today published the following communique:

"The Governorate of Vatican City State and Vodafone Italia today signed an agreement for the supply of mobile telephone services. The agreement makes provision for around 2000 users.

"Vodafone won the tender called by the Governorate of Vatican City State with which it has stipulated a three-year contract, also by virtue of its extensive presence on the international scene and the high standards of service it guarantees.

"The accord was signed today in the presence of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Pietro Guindani, president of Vodafone Italia.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carre of Albi, France, as coadjutor of Montpellier (area 6,101, population 1,000,000, Catholics 710,000, priests 313, permanent deacons 29, religious 531), France.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - This evening the Holy Father met with the bishops of Portugal in the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" at the shrine of Fatima.

In his address to them Benedict XVI affirmed how "the Pope needs to open himself ever more fully to the mystery of the cross, embracing it as the one hope and the supreme way to gather in the Crucified One all his brothers and sisters in humanity. Obeying the word of God, he is called to live not for himself but for the presence of God in the world".

"In truth", he said, "the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and promote a mono-cultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. Such circles contain many believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which raises barriers before Christian inspiration. And yet, dear brothers, may all those who defend the faith in these situations, with courage, with a vigorous Catholic outlook and in fidelity to the Magisterium, continue to receive your help and your insightful encouragement in order to live out their Christian freedom as faithful lay men and women".

"What is decisive", the Pope told the prelates "is the ability to inculcate a true desire for holiness in all those engaged in the work of evangelisation, with the awareness that the results derive above all from our union with Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit.

"In fact" he added, "when many people consider that the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society, and see it as a seed threatened and obscured by the 'gods' and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a generic call to Christian values. The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people's hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts them, above all, is the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to Him".

Turning then to consider the movements and new ecclesial communities, which he described as "new springtime" for the Church, the Holy Father said: "Thanks to their charisms, the radicality of the Gospel, the objective contents of the faith, the living flux of Church tradition, are all being communicated in a persuasive way and welcomed as a personal experience, as free adherence to the mystery of Christ".

He went on: "Naturally, it is necessary that these new groups should desire to live in the one Church, ... and submit themselves to the leadership of her bishops. It is they who must ensure the ecclesial nature of the movements".

As bishops, he explained, we "must feel responsibility for welcoming these impulses which are gifts for the Church and which give her new vitality, but, on the other hand, we must also help the movements to find the right way, correcting them ... with a spiritual and human understanding that is able to combine guidance, gratitude and a certain openness and willingness to learn".

In this Year for Priests, "rediscover, dear brothers, the role of the bishop as father, especially with regard to your priests. For all too long the responsibility of authority as a service aimed at the growth of others, primarily of priests, has been given second place. Priests are called to serve, in their pastoral ministry, and to be part of a pastoral activity of communion".

"This does not mean turning back to the past, nor a simple return to our origins; rather, it means recovering the original zeal, the joy of the initial Christian experience, of walking beside Christ like the disciples of Emmaus on the day of Easter, allowing His word to warm our hearts and His 'broken bread' to open our eyes to the contemplation of His countenance. Only in this way will the fire of charity blaze strongly enough to impel every Christian to become a source of light and life in the Church and among all men and women".

Closing his remarks to the bishops, the Pope asked them "to rekindle, as individuals and as a group, a sense of mercy and of compassion, in order to respond to grave social needs. New organisations must be established, and those already existing perfected, in order to respond creatively to all forms of poverty, including those experienced as a lack of meaning in life and an absence of hope".

He also praised their efforts "to assist dioceses most in need, especially in Portuguese-speaking countries. ... May difficulties, currently so deeply felt, not make you shrink from the logic of self-giving. May your witness as prophets of justice and peace, and defenders of the inalienable rights of the person continue in your country. Join your voice to the voices of the weakest, whom you have wisely helped to find a voice of their own, without ever being afraid of raising your voice on behalf of the oppressed, the downtrodden and the mistreated".

The meeting over, the Holy Father spent the night in the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo".
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today Benedict XVI went to the Church of the Blessed Trinity, part of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, where he met with representatives from social pastoral care organisations. Along with the Catholic groups present, other national institutions that provide care for the needy also attended the meeting.

Following a greeting from Bishop Carlos Azevedo, auxiliary of Lisbon, the Pope delivered his own address to our "dear brothers and sisters working in the vast world of charity".

He began: "Christ reveals to us that 'God is love' and at the same time teaches that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love. ... History currently presents us a scenario of socio-economic, cultural and spiritual crisis which highlights the need for a discernment guided by a creative proposal of the Church's social message. The study of her social doctrine, which takes charity as its principal strength and guide, will enable a process of integral human development capable of engaging the depths of the human heart and achieving a greater humanisation of society".

"In its social and political dimension, this service of charity is the proper realm of the lay faithful, who are called to promote justice and the common good, and to configure social life correctly. ... Attracting new lay workers to this pastoral field surely calls for particular concern on the part of the Church's pastors as they look to the future. ... United to Christ in His consecration to the Father, we are seized by His compassion for the multitudes who cry out for justice and solidarity and, like the Good Samaritan in the parable, we are committed to providing concrete and generous responses.

"Often however", the Holy Father added, "it is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory synthesis between spiritual life and apostolic activity. The pressure exerted by the prevailing culture, which constantly promotes a lifestyle based on the law of the strongest, on easy and attractive gain, ends up influencing our ways of thinking, our projects and the goals of our service, and risks emptying them of the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them".

At the same time, "the many pressing requests we receive for support and assistance from the poor and marginalised of society impel us to look for solutions which correspond to the logic of efficiency, quantifiable effects and publicity. Nonetheless, this synthesis is absolutely necessary, dear brothers and sisters, if you are to serve Christ in the men and women who look to you".

Benedict XVI recalled how the Catholic Church is among "the many social institutions which serve the common good, and are close to those in need", and he explained how such institutions must have sound guiding principles in order to be "clearly identifiable" in "the inspiration of their aims" and "in the serious and effective management of their means".

"Beyond this issue of identity, and connected with it, it is vital to ensure that Christian charitable activity is granted autonomy and independence from politics and ideologies, even while co-operating with State agencies in the pursuit of common goals", he said.

Educational and charitable activities "must be completed by projects of freedom whose goal is human promotion and universal fraternity. Here we can locate the urgent commitment of Christians in defence of human rights, with concern for the totality of the human person in its various dimensions".

The Pope continued: "I express my deep appreciation for all those social and pastoral initiatives aimed at combating the socio-economic and cultural mechanisms which lead to abortion, and openly concerned with defending life and promoting the reconciliation and healing of those harmed by the tragedy of abortion".

"Initiatives aimed at protecting the essential and primary values of life from its conception, and of the family based on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today's most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good. Such initiatives represent, along with many other forms of commitment, essential elements in the building of the civilisation of love".

At the end of the celebration the Pope blessed the cornerstone of a new centre belonging to the Portuguese Sisters of Mercy which is being built in Fatima. He then returned to the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" for his meeting with the Portuguese episcopate.
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