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Thursday, July 29, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 29 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Fides, the news agency of the Pontifical Missionary Works, today published a Letter to the Catholic Bishops and Priests of mainland China. The letter bears the signatures of Cardinal Ivan Dias and Archbishop Robert Sarah, respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

  "Inspired by celebrations during the Year for Priests, recently concluded, I send to you cordial and brotherly greetings and a word of encouragement for your arduous pastoral duties as shepherds of the flock entrusted to you by the Lord in your noble nation", reads the English-language version of the text. "Your testimony and your messages received here at the missionary congregation fill us with consolation and spur us to pray fervently that the Lord may render you ever stronger in the faith and sustain your activity to propagate the Good News of Jesus Christ in your beloved country".

  "Precisely because the priest is 'Alter Christus' - indeed, 'Ipse Christus' - he must be a Man of God and a Man for others. ... Firstly, a Man of God: that is, a man who leads men and women to God and carries God to men and women. Therefore he must distinguish himself as a man of prayer and an austere style of life, profoundly in love with Christ and, like John the Baptist, proud to proclaim His presence amongst us, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist.

  "Secondly a priest must be a Man for others: a man entirely dedicated to the faithful, youth and adults entrusted to his pastoral care and to all those with whom the Lord Jesus chose to identify Himself or those towards whom He showed special kindness. ... An ecclesiastic will therefore resist any temptation to enrich himself with material goods or seek favours for his family or ethnic group, or nurture unwholesome ambitions of making a career for himself in society or in politics. These things are entirely foreign to the priestly vocation and would be a serious distraction from his mission".

  The text goes on to refer to "the important role of a bishop or priest as an operator of unity within the Church", noting how "this task has a twofold dimension" entailing "communion with the Pope, the 'rock' upon which Jesus chose to build His Church, and union with all the members of the Church.

  "Firstly: communion with the Holy Father. We are all too aware of how some of you suffered in the recent past because of loyalty to the Holy See. We pay homage to each and all. ... The exemplary and courageous loyalty towards the See of Peter demonstrated by Catholics in China, is a precious gift of the Lord.

  "The other dimension of unity among Christians is union among individual members of the ecclesial community. This important challenge you are already tackling, as you seek to strengthen unity within the Church herself".

  Quoting from the homily delivered by the Holy Father on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the letter notes how the Church "is subjected to the greatest danger by that which pollutes the faith and Christian life of her members and communities, corroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening her capacity for prophecy and witness, and marring the beauty of her face. ... One of the typical effects of the action of the Evil One is, precisely, the internal division of the ecclesial Community. ... The unity of the Church is rooted in her union with Christ and the cause of full Christian unity - that must ever be sought and renewed from generation to generation - is also sustained by His prayer and His promise".

  The letter concludes: "Let us praise the Lord for your efforts, accomplished and ongoing, for unity within the Church, in faithful response to the indications given by the Holy Father in the Letter he addressed to you on 27 May 2007, and for the results already obtained. May God bless your initiatives so that unity of ministers among themselves and between them and their flock may be ever stronger in Christ and in His Church 'ad maiorem Dei gloriam'".

  Cardinal Dias also gives assurances "of the closeness of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI; with paternal affection he blesses you and all those entrusted to your pastoral care and urges you to continue without fear on the path of holiness, unity and communion, as did the generations which have gone before you".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Following are highlights of the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and of the Holy See for the months of January to March 2010. Another summary, covering the period from April to July, will be published tomorrow.


1: Benedict XVI presides at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, and for the forty-third World Day of Peace which has as its theme this year: "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation".

7: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Kenan Gursoy, the new ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See.

9: Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, dies at the age of 84.

17: Benedict XVI visits the synagogue of Rome.

19: Presentation of the "Lineamenta" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The synodal meeting is due to be held in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East. Communion and Witness. Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul".

21: Appointment of Flaminia Giovanelli as under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

22: Publication of a Letter from the Holy Father, dated 15 January, in which he reiterates his confidence in Cardinal Tariciso Bertone S.D.B. as secretary of State. On 2 December 2009 Cardinal Bertone reached the age of 75 and presented his resignation from office, in accordance with the norms of Canon Law.

23: Beatification of Servant of God Josep Samso i Elias, priest and martyr, at the parochial basilica of Santa Maria en Mataro in the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain.

23: Presentation of the Holy Father's Message for the forty-fourth World Day of Social Communications, on the theme: "The priest and pastoral ministry in a digital world: new media at the service of the Word".


1: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

4: Publication of Benedict XVI's Message for Lent 2010. The text, dated 30 October 2009, has as its title a passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ".

5: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

6: Holy Father receives the Letters of Credence of Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See.

9-11: Celebrations marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, and the eighteenth World Day of the Sick, on the them: "The Church at the loving service of those who suffer".

12: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Romania at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

14: Benedict XVI visits a shelter run by Roman diocesan Caritas at the city's main railway station, Termini.

15: Holy Father meets with prelates of the Irish Episcopal Conference.

16: Publication of the Pope's message for the forty-seventh World Day of Prayer for Vocations (to be celebrated on 25 April, the Fourth Sunday of Easter) on the theme: "Witness Awakens Vocations".

19: Holy Father presides at an ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following Blesseds: Stanislao Soltys, called Kazimierczyk (1433-1489); Andre Bessette, ne Alfred (1845-1937); Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, nee Juana Josefa (1845-1912); Mary of the Cross MacKillop, nee Mary Helen (1842-1909); Giulia Salzano (1846-1929); Battista da Varano, nee Camilla (1458-1524). The canonisation ceremony will take place on 17 October.

20: The Pope receives in audience Saad Hariri, prime minister of Lebanon.


5: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Uganda Episcopal Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

7: Benedict XVI visits the parish of St. John of the Cross in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrates Mass at 9.30 a.m.

13: The Pope receives in audience Jadranka Kosor, prime minister of the Republic of Croatia.

13: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

14: Benedict XVI visits the Evangelical-Lutheran community of Rome at the "Christuskirche" in the city's Via Sicilia.

16: Publication of the Message of the Holy Father for twenty-fifth World Youth Day, celebrated this year at a diocesan level on Palm Sunday 28 March, with the theme: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

20: Publication of Pope's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

20: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Conference of Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

25: Holy Father receives in audience prelates from the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

25: The official acts of the Holy See and of the collection of documents from the period of World War II become available online on the Vatican website.

26: Publication of Pope's Message for the eighty-fourth World Mission Day, on the theme: "Building Ecclesial Communion is the Key to the Mission".

26: The Pope receives in audience Alvaro Colom Caballeros, president of the Republic of Guatemala.

29: Benedict XVI presides at Mass in the Vatican Basilica to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who passed away on 2 April 2005.
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