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Monday, June 14, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 JUN 2010 (VIS) - During the course of the prayer vigil celebrated last Thursday night in St. Peter's Square, the Pope responded to questions from five priests, one from each of the five continents. Extensive extracts of his replies are give below.

  Asked by a Brazilian priest how pastors must face the difficulties they encounter in their ministry, the Pope recognised that "today it is very difficult to be a pastor, especially in countries where Christianity is a faith of ancient standing. Parishes become ever larger, ... and it is impossible to know everyone, impossible to do everything that is expected of a pastor". In this context he underlined the importance of the faithful "seeing that the priest does not just do a job, with so many hours of work after which he is free and lives for himself, but that he is a man impassioned by Christ. ... To be filled with the joy of the Gospel with all our being is the main condition", to which must be added "three fundamental priorities: the Eucharistic and the Sacraments, ... announcement of the Word and ... Caritas, the love of Christ". Another priority "is the personal relationship with Christ. ... Prayer is not a marginal aspect. It is the priest's 'profession' to pray, also in representation of those people who do not know how to pray or do not find the time to pray. Individual prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours, is fundamental nourishment for our souls, for all our activity".

  A priest from Ivory Coast asked how to avoid a rupture between theology and doctrine and ensure "that study is not entirely academic but also nourishes our spirituality". In his reply Benedict XVI recognised "the abuse of theology" when it becomes "arrogance of reason, failing to nourish the faith and obscuring the presence of God in the world. Yet there is a theology that wishes to know more out of love for the Beloved", he said. "This is the true theology that comes from the love of God, of Christ, and wishes to enter into deeper communion with Christ". The Pope encouraged theologians to be courageous, telling them not to be afraid of "the phantasm of science, ... not to chain themselves to every hypothesis of the moment, but to think on the basis of the great faith of the Church which is present in all times and opens the way to the truth. ... Formation is very important, but we must also be critical: the criterion of faith is the criterion with which to see theologians and theologies. ... It is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that we see the summary of our faith, and this Catechism is the true criterion with which to discern whether a theology is acceptable or not".

  Another priest, this time from Europe, asked the Pope to speak on "the profundity and authentic significance of ecclesiastical celibacy" also in view of the "worldly criticisms" to which it has been subjected. The Holy Father said that "a great problem of modern Christianity is that we no longer think of the future of God: the present moment of this world seems sufficient. ... In this way we close the doors to the true greatness of our existence. The meaning of celibacy - as an anticipation of the future - is precisely to open these doors, ... to show the reality of the future which we must live here in the present, and in this way bear witness to our faith. We truly believe that God exists, ... that we can found our lives on Christ and on the life to come". On the subject of worldly criticism, the Pope noted how "for the agnostic world ... celibacy is a great scandal because it shows that God is considered to be real and is lived as a reality. ... Celibacy is a definitive 'yes', it is allowing oneself to be taken by the hand of God, giving oneself into the Lord's hands, into His 'self'. Thus it is an act of faithfulness and trust, an act which presupposes the faithfulness of marriage, ... which is the biblical form, the natural form, of being man and woman, foundation of the great Christian culture and of other great cultures of the world. If this is lost, the roots of our culture will be destroyed. Thus celibacy confirms the 'yes' of marriage with its 'yes' to the world to come. This is how we wish to proceed and actualise this scandal of a faith which founds all of existence on God. ... We pray to the Lord to help us free ourselves from secondary scandals, to make this great scandal of our faith present: the trust, the power of our life founded in God, in Christ Jesus".

  The fourth question, put to the Holy Father by a priest from Japan, focused on the way to experience the Eucharist and worship with dignity, without falling into clericalism or losing touch with reality. Recalling the words of St. Augustine, Benedict XVI explained that "the sacrifice of Christians is that of being united by the love of Christ in the unity of the one Body of Christ. The sacrifice lies precisely in emerging from ourselves, in allowing ourselves to be attracted by the communion of the one bread, the one Body, and thus entering the great adventure of the love of God. Thus we must always celebrate, love, meditate upon the Eucharist as a school of liberation from the 'self'. ... The Eucharist is the exact opposite of clericalism, of closure in oneself. ... Living the Eucharist in its original meaning, in its authentic profundity, is a school of life, it is the best protection against any temptation towards clericalism".

  Finally, a priest from Australia asked the Pope what could be done to contrast the decline in vocations. "There is a great temptation", the Holy Father replied, "to transform the priesthood - the Sacrament of Christ - into a normal profession, into a job that has its working hours, ... thus making it like any other vocation, making it accessible and easy. Yet this temptation does not resolve the problem. ... As the Lord invites us, we must pray to God, knock at the door, at the heart of God, that He may give us vocations, pray insistently and with great determination and conviction, because God does not close Himself to insistent, incessant and trusting prayer, even if He lets us wait .... longer that we expect". Moreover, "each of us must do everything we can to live our own priesthood convincingly". We must invite people to pray, "to have this humility, this trust in speaking with God forcefully and decisively. And we must "have the courage to speak to the young if they think that God is calling them and, ... above all, help them to find a life context in which to live their vocation".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in the forty-fifth Joint Meeting of the Council of Europe Development Bank, an institution created in 1956 "with an exclusively social vocation, a specialised instrument with which to promote specific policies of solidarity", said the Holy Father. He then went on to express his appreciation for the bank which began by concerning itself "with problems affecting refugees, later broadening its remit to the entire field of social cohesion".

  The Pope then turned his attention to the political problems Europe had to face at the end of last century, asking whether "freedom from totalitarian ideologies has not been used solely for economic progress, at the expense of a more human development". In this context he encouraged the bank, in its interventions in support of Eastern European countries, "to correct any imbalances and favour a process based on justice and solidarity, which are essential for the present and future of Europe".

  In the context of the current economic and financial crisis, the Holy Father recalled how in his most recent Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" he had referred to "the Social Doctrine of the Church and the positive contribution it makes to constructing human beings and society". He likewise highlighted how "the relation between love and truth, if experienced correctly, is a dynamic force that regenerates all inter-personal relationships, bringing real novelty and reorienting economic and financial life to serve man and his dignity".

  "Economy and finance are not ends unto themselves", he went on. "They are a tool, a means. Their exclusive goal is the human being and the complete realisation of his dignity. ... Christianity has enabled Europe to understand that it is freedom, responsibility and ethics that impregnate its laws and corporative institutions. Marginalising Christianity - also by excluding its symbols - would deprive our continent of a fundamental resource which nourishes it and contributes to its true identity. Christianity is, in fact, the source of 'the spiritual and moral values which are peoples' shared heritage', values to which the members of the Council of Europe expressed their firm commitment in the Preamble to the Statue of the Council of Europe".

  Recalling the bank's objectives, Benedict XVI noted how the institution is "a technical instrument which facilitates solidarity, a solidarity which must be experienced in fraternity. ... Fraternity creates spaces for gratuitous action which, though indispensable, are difficult to envisage when efficiency and profit are the only criteria", he said.

  Nonetheless, "Europe has a rich past which has seen the development of a number of economic situations rooted in fraternity. I believe that the Council of Europe Development Bank wishes, in order to experience true solidarity, to respond to this ideal of brotherhood I have just mentioned and to explore areas in which fraternity and the logic of giving can be put into practice. These ideals have Christian roots and they, along with the desire for peace, made it possible for the Council of Europe to be come into being".

  At the end of the address, the governor of the Development Bank presented the Holy Father with a medal of the institution. The Pope thanked him, encouraging the members of the bank to continue to work "courageously and coherently" for the good of Europe.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Year for Priests, which came to an end last Friday at a Mass attended by some 15,000 members of the clergy, was the theme of the Holy Father's remarks before praying the Angelus this morning.

  "The Year for Priests came to an end on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is traditionally the 'day of priestly sanctification', and this time it was especially so", the Pope told the faithful gathered below his study window in St. Peter's Square.

  "The priest", he went on, "is a gift of the Heart of Christ, a gift for the Church and the world. It is from the Son of God's Heart, overflowing with charity, that all the good of the Church comes, in particular the vocation of those men who, conquered by the Lord Jesus, leave everything to dedicate themselves entirely to the service of Christian people, following the example of the Good Shepherd.

  "The priest is moulded of Christ's own charity, that love which impelled Him to give His life for his friends and to forgive His enemies", the Pope added. "This is why priests are the primary builders of the civilisation of love. At this point my thoughts go to many priests, the well-known and the less well-known, some raised to the glory of the altars, others whose memory remains indelible in the minds of the faithful, perhaps in some small parish community. This was the case in Ars, the French village where St. John Mary Vianney worked his ministry".

  The Pope also mentioned Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, the priest and martyr who "generously and courageously practiced his ministry along with those committed to freedom, to the defence of life and its dignity. His work at the service of goodness and truth was a sign of contradiction for the regime that then governed Poland" he said. "Love for the Heart of Christ brought him to give his life, and his witness was the seed of a new springtime in the Church and in society".

  The Holy Father went on: "If we look at history we can see that many episodes of authentic spiritual and social renewal have been written with the decisive contribution of Catholic priests, animated only by their passion for the Gospel and for man, for his true religious and civil liberty. How many initiatives of integral human promotion began with the intuition of a priestly heart", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 JUN 2010 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus at midday today, the Pope reminded the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square of two beatifications that took place this morning: that of the young martyr Lojze Grozde in Slovenia, and of Manuel Lozano Garrido, a layman and journalist, in Spain.

  Speaking of Blessed Lojze Grozde, the Holy Father referred to his "particular devotion to the Eucharist which", he said, "nourished his unshakeable faith, his capacity for sacrifice for the salvation of souls, and his apostolate in Catholic Action to lead other young people to Christ".

  Turning then to address Spanish-speaking groups, Benedict XVI described Blessed Manuel Lozano Garrido as a "faithful layman who, through his example and his writings, was able to irradiate his love for God, even amidst the suffering that kept him bound to a wheelchair for nearly twenty-eight years. At the end of his life he also lost his sight, but kept wining hearts for Christ with his serene happiness and his unswerving faith. In him journalists will find eloquent witness of the good that can be done when the pen reflects greatness of soul and places itself at the service of truth and of noble causes".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received in audience forty members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, to whom he spoke about "the significance of work in pontifical representations".

  "The service of representation for which you are preparing yourselves", he said, "means participating in that 'sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum' which characterises the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. ... In this ecclesial perspective, representation involves the need to accept and nourish certain dimensions of one's own priestly life".

  The first of these dimensions is the need "to cultivate full inner adherence to the person of the Pope, his Magisterium and his universal ministry; in other words, complete adherence to the one who has been given the task of strengthening his brothers in the faith. Secondly, it involves attentive care, true 'passion', for ecclesial communion".

  Finally, being a representative of the Roman Pontiff means "having the capacity to be a solid 'bridge', a safe channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See, on the one hand giving the Pope and his collaborators an objective, correct and in-depth view of the ecclesial and social reality in which you live while, on the other, undertaking to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines emanating from the Holy See, not bureaucratically but with profound love for the Church, ... at the same time respecting the efforts of bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which you have been sent".

  This service, Pope Benedict went on, requires "compete dedication and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, individual intuitions, personal projects and other possibilities to exercise the priestly ministry".

  If the pontifical representative strives "to enter into harmony with the universal perspective, and to serve the unity of the flock of God, ... he truly becomes a sign of the Pope's presence and charity. And while this is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is especially so in certain delicate or difficult situations in which, for various reasons, the Christian community finds itself living".

  Thus the work of pontifical representatives is "an authentic priestly service that bears close analogy to the representation of Christ, which is typical of priests. As such, it has an intrinsically sacrificial dimension".

  "The figure and presence of the nuncio, the apostolic delegate and the permanent observer is determined not only by the environment in which they work but, first and foremost, by the One Whom they are called to represent. ... Being spokesman for the Vicar of Christ can be demanding, sometimes extremely arduous, but it is never demeaning or depersonalising. It is, rather, an original way to fulfil one's priestly vocation".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Seven prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Decio Zandonade S.D.B. of Colatina.

    - Bishop Celio de Oliveira Goulart O.F.M. of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim.

    - Bishop Zanoni Demettino Castro of Sao Mateus.

    - Archbishop Joviano de Lima Junior S.S.S. of Ribeirao Preto.

    - Archbishop Joao Bosco Oliver de Faria of Diamantina.

    - Bishop Hugo Maria von Steekelenberg O.F.M. of Almenara.

    - Bishop Severino Clasen O.F.M. of Aracuai.

 - Archbishop Beniamino Stella, president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

  On Saturday 12 June he received in separate audiences:

 - Five prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Antonio Carlos Felix of Luz.

    - Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana.

    - Bishop Odilon Guimaraes Moreira of Itabira-Fabriciano.

    - Archbishop Luiz Mancilha Vilela SS.CC. of Vitoria, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Mario Marquez O.F.M. Cap.

 - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Jose Aparecido Goncalves de Almeida, official of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, as under secretary of the same dicastery.

  On Saturday 12 June it was made public that he appointed Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini O.F.M. Cap. of Izmir, Turkey, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the apostolic vicariate of Anatolia (Catholics 4,345, priests 8, religious 16), Turkey.
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