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Monday, October 4, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 3 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At 8.15 a.m. today Benedict XVI departed from Rome's Ciampino airport, bound for the Italian city of Palermo where he is making a pastoral visit to participate in a regional ecclesial meeting of families and young people.

  Arriving at the Falcone e Borsellino airport, the Holy Father was received by Archbishop Paolo Romeo of Palermo and by Archbishop Salvatore Di Cristina of Monreale. Among those present was Angelino Alfano, Italian justice minister, as well as other political, civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

  From the airport the Pope travelled to the Foro Italico near the seafront in Palermo where he celebrated Mass in the presence of 200,000 people.

  In his homily the Holy Father referred to the name the ancient Greeks gave the city, "Panormus" (meaning Port of all). "This name", he said, "was meant to suggest security, peace and serenity. Coming among you for the first time my hope is that the city, drawing inspiration from the most authentic values of its history and tradition, may fulfil the hope for serenity and peace expressed in that name, for its own inhabitants and for the entire nation.

  "I know that there is no shortage of problems in Palermo, as in the rest of Sicily", he added. "In particular, my mind goes to those who live their lives in conditions of real insecurity because of lack of work, uncertainty about the future, physical and moral suffering, and ... organised crime. I am here among you today to testify to my closeness and to my recollection of you in prayer. I am here to give you a strong encouragement not to be afraid to bear clear witness to the human and Christian values so profoundly rooted in the faith and history of this territory and its people".

  "All the texts of this Sunday's liturgy speak of the faith, which is the foundation of all Christian life", the Pope explained. "Just as a lever can lift much more than its own weight, so faith, even just a pinch of faith, can achieve unthinkable extraordinary things. ... Having faith, trusting in Christ, accepting Him, allowing Him to transform us, following Him unto the end, makes possible what is humanly impossible, in all situations".

  The Holy Father then focused his attention on the fervent faith of the Palermitan Church over the course of the centuries. "It should not be forgotten", he told his audience, "that your religious sense has always inspired and guided family life, nourishing values such as the capacity for giving and showing solidarity towards others, especially those who suffer, and the innate respect for life. This is a precious patrimony which must be jealously protected and relaunched, especially in our own time. Dear friends, preserve this precious treasure of your Church's faith; may Christian values always guide your choices and your actions".

  Referring then to the second part of today's Gospel readings, which speaks of humility and its close bond with the faith, Benedict XVI said: "We must never present ourselves before God as one who believes he has provided a service and merits a great reward. This is an illusion that can afflict anyone, even people who work much in the service of the Lord, in the Church. On the contrary, we must be aware that we never do enough for God".

  And he went on: "Sicily has been and still is a land of saints, who came from all walks of life and lived the Gospel simply and fully. To you, the lay faithful, I say again: do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various areas of society, in the multifarious situations of human life, especially the difficult ones! Faith gives you the strength of God always to be faithful and courageous, to carry on with renewed decision and to take the initiatives necessary to beautify the countenance of your land".

  "Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord", the Holy Father cried. "We must be ashamed of evil, of what offends God, of what offends man; we must be ashamed of the evil brought to the civil and religious community by actions that do not like to see the light of day".

  The Pope continued his homily: "The temptation to discouragement and resignation comes to those who are weak in the faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who think that in the face of evil, often profound evil, nothing can be done. On the other hand, people strong in faith, people who have complete trust in God and live in the Church, can bring the overwhelming power of the Gospel to bear.

  "This was the behaviour of the saints who flowered over the course of the centuries, in Palermo and all Sicily, and of the lay people and priests of today, whom you know well, such as Fr. Pino Puglisi [a priest killed by the mafia]. May they always keep you united and nourish in each of you the desire to proclaim, though word and deed, Christ's presence and love. People of Sicily, look to the future with hope! ... Live the values of the Gospel courageously so as to ensure the light of goodness shines forth! With the power of God, everything is possible".

  At the end of Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus with the faithful present. In his remarks he mentioned Anna Maria Adorni, proclaimed blessed today in the Italian city of Parma. She dedicated her life to helping women in prison and founded two religious institutes. "She was", said Pope Benedict, "known as the 'living rosary', and its is my pleasure to recall her at the beginning of the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. May daily meditation on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary ... strengthen us all in faith, hope and charity".
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VATICAN CITY, 3 OCT 2010 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today in the cathedral of Palermo, Italy, the Holy Father met with clergy, consecrated people and seminarians.

  Following some minutes in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the Pope addressed those present.

  He began by speaking to priests, encouraging them "always to be men of prayer in order, also, to be teachers of prayer". In this context he noted how "it is not easy to remain faithful to these daily appointments with the Lord, especially today when the rhythm of life has become so frenetic and our occupations absorb ever more time. Yet we must convince ourselves that the moment of prayer is fundamental, because it is there that divine grace acts most effectively, making our ministry fruitful. There are many pressing matters, but if we are not in inner communion with God we can give nothing, not even to others".

  After then highlighting how "the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life", the Pope asked: "What care do we take in preparing ourselves for Mass? In celebrating it? In remaining in adoration? Are our churches truly 'houses of the Lord' where His presence attracts people who, unfortunately, today often feel the absence of God?

  "A priest always and immutably finds the source of his identity in Christ the Priest", the Holy Father added. "It is not the world that defines his status, according to its requirements and its conception of social roles. ... A priest exists for the faithful; he encourages them and supports them in the exercise of their common priesthood as baptised individuals, in their journey of faith, in cultivating hope and living in charity, the love of Christ. Dear priests, always show particular concern for the world of youth. As the Venerable John Paul II said in this land, throw wide open the doors of your parishes to young people, that they may throw open their hearts to Christ. May they never find those doors closed".

  The Pope went on: "Priests cannot distance themselves from the daily concerns of the People of God. Quite the contrary, they must remain very close to those concerns, but as priests". Recalling then the anniversary of the murder of Fr. Pino Puglisi, a Palermitan priest killed by the mafia, the Pope noted how "he had a heart aflame with true pastoral charity. He dedicated a large part of his zealous ministry to educating children and young people, at the same time struggling to ensure that all Christian families fulfilled their fundamental vocation as primary educators of their children's faith. The people entrusted to his pastoral care were able to draw nourishment from the spiritual wealth of this good pastor, the cause for whose beatification is currently underway. I encourage you to preserve a living memory of his fruitful priestly witness, and to imitate his heroic example".

  Turning then to address members of institutes of consecrated life and cloistered monks and nuns, the Holy Father encouraged them "always to follow Christ without comprise, ... thus bearing witness to the beauty of being Christian in such a radical way. ... Your presence and your lifestyle infuse the ecclesial community with a vital impulse towards the 'high degree' of Christian life. Indeed, we could say that your existence is like a sermon, extremely eloquent though often silent", he said.

  The Pope concluded his remarks by addressing the seminarians present. "Respond generously to the call of the Lord, ... becoming increasingly identified with Christ the High Priest, and preparing yourselves for the mission with a solid human, spiritual, theological and cultural formation. ... Commit yourselves to this time of grace and conserve in your hearts the joy and enthusiasm of the first moment of your call and your 'yes'" to Christ.
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VATICAN CITY, 3 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This evening, during the last event of his pastoral visit to Palermo, the Pope met with thousands of young people gathered in the city's Piazza Politeama, to whom he spoke about Chiara Badano, beatified in Rome on 25 September.

  Recalling how the blessed died young of an incurable disease, he said: "Nineteen years full of life, of love, of faith. Two years, the last two, also full of suffering but always in love and light, a light she irradiated around her and that came from within, from her heart full of God".

  After then highlighting how her parents "lit the flame of faith in their daughter's heart, and helped Chiara keep it alight even in the difficult moments as she was growing up and especially in the long trial of suffering", Benedict XVI noted how "the relationship between parents and children ... is the torch of faith that is transmitted from generation to generation".

  "The family", he went on, "is fundamental because it is here that the first perception of the meaning of life germinates in the human heart. It germinates in the relationship with the mother and father, who are responsible for their children's life but also the first collaborators of God in transmitting the life of faith".

  In Sicily too "there are splendid testimonies of young people who [germinate and] grow like beautiful lush plants", said the Holy Father. "Do not to be afraid to contrast evil", he told his audience. "Do not give in to the lure of the mafia, which is the path of death, incompatible with the Gospel, as many of your bishops have said".

  Referring then to the theme of the next World Youth Day - "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" - the Pope said: "The image of the tree tells us that each of us needs a fertile soil in which to sink our roots, a terrain rich in nutritional substances which make the person grow". These substances "are values, but above all they are love and faith, knowledge of the true face of God and awareness that He loves us infinitely, faithfully, patiently, to the point of giving His life for us.

  "In this context", he added, "the family is like a 'little Church', because it transmits God, it transmits the love of Christ by virtue of the Sacrament of Marriage. ... And the family, in order to be a 'little Church', must be well inserted into the 'great Church'; in other words, into the family that Christ came to create".

  In closing Benedict XVI referred to the difficulties the people of Sicily have to face. "Where there are young people and families who chose the way of the Gospel, there is hope", he said. "And you are a sign of hope, not only for Sicily but for all Italy.

  "I have brought you a witness of sanctity and you have offered me yours: the faces of so many young people of this land who have loved Christ with evangelical radicality. ... The greatest gift we have received is to be a Church, to be in Christ a sign and instrument of unity, peace and freedom. No-one can take this joy from us. No-one can take this power! Courage, dear young people and families of Sicily! Be saints!"

  During his journey by car from Palermo to the city's Falcone e Borsellino airport at Punta Raisi, the Pope paused at Capeci, where an attack in 1992 cost the lives of Judge Giovanni Falcone and his police escort. The Pope descended from his car and placed a bunch of flowers at one of the memorial plaques, then prayed in silence for all the victims of the mafia and of organised crime. He then returned to his car and continued his journey to the airport.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI attended a concert sponsored by ENI, Italy's national electricity company. Haydn's Symphony No. 94 in G Major; Cecilia, vergine romana by Arvo Part, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy in C Minor were performed by the orchestra and choir of the Italian Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

  At the end of the performance the Pope expressed his gratitude to ENI, which is currently financing restoration work on the Vatican Basilica.

  Going on then to refer to the music itself, Benedict XVI remarked how "the combination of a work on St. Cecilia with compositions by Haydn and Beethoven, presents a contrast rich in meaning, one which invites us to reflect. The piece concerning the martyrdom of the saint, and the particular style with which it is rendered into music, seem to represent the place and role of faith in the universe: in the midst of the living forces of nature, which surround man and are also in him, faith is a different force, one which responds to a profound word 'that emerges from silence' as St. Ignatius of Antioch would say.

  "The word of faith", the Pope added, "has need of great inner silence in order to listen and obey a voice which lies beyond the visible and tangible world. This voice speaks through natural phenomena, because it is the power that created and governs the universe. But to recognise it we need a humble and obedient heart, something also taught us by the saint whose feast day falls today: St. Therese of the Child Jesus".

  And Benedict XVI concluded: "Faith follows this profound voice in places that even art itself cannot reach alone. It follows it along the path of witness, in the giving of self for love, as Cecilia did. Thus the most beautiful work of art, the masterpiece of human beings, is each of their acts of authentic love: from the smallest (in everyday sacrifice) unto the extreme sacrifice. At this point life itself becomes a hymn; an anticipation of the symphony we will sing together in heaven".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Holy Father in which he appoints Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the third centenary of the consecration of the cathedral of Minsk, Belarus, due to take place there on 9 October. The Letter is written in Latin and bears the date of 9 June.

  The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Edmund Dowgilowicz-Nowicki, pastor of the parish of St. Joseph at Maladzechna, and by Fr. Bernard Radzik O.C.D., pastor of the parish of St. Andrew at Narach.

  Likewise made public today was a Letter in which Benedict XVI appoints Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the abbey of Saint Pierre de Solesmes, France, scheduled for 12 October. The Letter, also written in Latin, is dated 13 September.

  Cardinal Tauran will be accompanied by Fr. Michel du Merle, a monk and expert in inter-religious dialogue, and by Fr. Bertrand Gamelin, librarian of the abbey.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

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

    - Archbishop Moacyr Grechi O.S.M. of Porto Velho.

    - Bishop Mose Joao Pontelo C.S.Sp. of Cruzeiro do Sul.

    - Bishop Gerlado Verdier of Guajara-Mirim.

    - Bishop Franz Josef Meinrad Merkel C.S.Sp. of Humaita.
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VATICAN CITY, 2 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales S.D.B. of Los Altos, Quetzaltenango - Totonicapan, Guatemala, as metropolitan archbishop of Guatemala (area 2,591, population 4,690,000, Catholics 3,753,000, priests 532, permanent deacons 3, religious 1,423), Guatemala. He succeeds Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Vito Angiuli of the clergy of the metropolitan archdiocese of Bari - Bitonto, Italy, pro vicar general, as bishop of Ugento - Santa Maria di Leuca (area 475, population 129,500, Catholics 126,000, priests 69, permanent deacons 5, religious 148), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Sannicandro di Bari, Italy in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1977.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Guatemala, Guatemala, presented by Bishop Jose Ramiro Pellecer Samayoa, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 4 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (North region 1 and Northeast region), who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address the Pope praised the efforts made by the bishops who, "often lacking the necessary means", bring "the Good News of Jesus to all corners of the Amazon jungle, in the knowledge that God wants all mankind to be saved and to know the truth".

  "God can achieve this salvation in extraordinary ways that only He knows. Nonetheless, if His Son came, it was to show us, through His word and life, the ordinary ways to salvations, and He told us to transmit this revelation to others with His authority. And so we cannot avoid this thought: man may be saved by other ways, thanks to God's mercy, without the announcement of the Gospel. But can I be saved if through negligence, fear, shame or erroneous ideas, I fail to announce it?"

  "Sometimes we hear the objection that imposing the truth - though it be the truth of the Gospel and of salvation - can be a violation of religious freedom", said the Holy Father, in which context he quoted words of Paul VI: "It would, of course, be a mistake to impose anything on the conscience of our brothers and sisters, but propounding knowledge of the truth of the Gospel and the salvation of Jesus Christ, with absolute clarity and full respect for the free choice of conscience (hence without coercion or dishonest persuasion), ... far from being an attack on religious freedom, is a homage to that freedom, which can choose a route that even non-believers consider noble and edifying. ... To present Christ and His kingdom in a respectful way, more than a right, is a duty of evangelisation".

  "The call to mission", the Pope went on, "is not directed exclusively to a restricted group of members of the Church; rather, it is an imperative addressed to all the baptised, an essential element of their vocation". The Pope also referred to the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean which took place in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007 and which had among its goals the recovery of the missionary dimension of the Church.

  "The challenges of the current time could lead to a reduced view of the mission", the Holy Father observed. "Yet mission cannot be limited to a mere search for new ways to make the Church more attractive and capable of overcoming the competition of other religious groups or relativist ideologies. The Church does not work for herself. She is at the service of Jesus Christ and exists to ensure the Good News is accessible to everyone. The Church is catholic precisely because she invites all human beings to experience new life in Christ. Mission, then, is neither more nor less than the natural consequence of the very essence of the Church, a service of the ministry of unity which Christ wished to achieve in His crucified body".
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