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Friday, October 22, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - No General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops was held this morning. Instead, the relator general met with the special secretary and the relators of the various language groups to study the collective amendments to the Synod Fathers' propositions.

  During the Thirteenth General Congregation, due to be held this afternoon in the presence of the Holy Father, the final Message of the Special Assembly for the Middle East will be presented and voted upon.

  During the fourteenth and final General Congregation, scheduled to take place tomorrow morning, Saturday 23 October, the final list of propositions will be presented. This will be followed by a vote using the procedure "placet" or "non placet".

  At 1 p.m. tomorrow, the participants in the synodal assembly will have lunch with the Pope in the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Luis Dositeo Latorre Tapia, the new ambassador of Ecuador to the Holy See.

  "In your country - which in 1978 I had the good fortune to visit as my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul I's special envoy to the Third National Marian Congress - the Word of Christ was sown generously and has flowered magnificently", the Pope told the diplomat. "The ecclesial community ... also joys when it sees that social harmony is being fomented, to which end it supports the efforts the Ecuadorian authorities have been making over recent years to rediscover the foundations of democratic coexistence, strengthen the rule of law and give new impulse to solidarity and fraternity".

  "I appeal to the Almighty", the Pope went on, "to ensure that this shining horizon of hope becomes ever wider with new projects and judicious decisions, so that the common good may prevail over partisan and class interests, the ethical imperative may remain an essential point of reference for all citizens, wealth may be equitably distributed, and sacrifices equally shared, not weighing exclusively on the most needy".

  "In the past of your beloved nation, so close to the Pope's heart, there have been moments of difficulty and tension, but the human and Christian virtues of its inhabitants have not been lacking, nor has their desire to prevail. ... The Ecuadorian authorities will do a great service to their country by augmenting this important human and spiritual heritage, whence energy and inspiration may be drawn to continue building those bastions that underpin all human communities, ... such as the defence of life from conception until natural end, religious freedom, freedom of expression and other civil liberties, because these are the authentic conditions for real social justice. This justice, in its turn, cannot be affirmed save on the basis of support and protection - also in juridical and economic terms - for the original cell of society which is the family, founded on the matrimonial bond of a man with a woman".

  "Another aspect of fundamental import are the policies that aim to eradicate unemployment, violence, impunity, illiteracy and corruption. In reaching these commendable goals, the pastors of the Church are aware that they must not enter into the political debate, proposing concrete solutions or imposing their presence. Yet they cannot remain neutral before the great human problems and aspirations, nor be inactive when the time comes to fight for justice. With due respect for the plurality of legitimate opinions, their role rather consists in using the Gospel and Church Social Doctrine to illuminate the minds and will of the faithful, so that they may make responsible decisions that lead to the building of a more harmonious and well-ordered society".

  Benedict XVI completed his address to the new ambassador by referring to the question of education. "The Church in Ecuador", he said, "has a rich history in the area of educating children and young people, having undertaken teaching activities with particular abnegation in distant, remote and impoverished areas of the nation. It is right and just that this arduous ecclesial task, example of healthy collaboration with the State, should not be ignored. ... The public authorities must guarantee the law that helps parents, both to educate their children according to their own religious convictions and ethical criteria, and to found and support educational institutions. In this perspective, it is also important for the public authorities to respect the specific identity and autonomy of educational institutions and of the Catholic university, in accordance with the 'modus vivendi' signed seventy years ago by the Republic of Ecuador and the Holy See".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - "Slovenia's integration into the European Union, which has been achieved in an increasingly organic way over recent years, has one of its fundamental premises in the shared Christian roots of the 'old continent'". Benedict XVI told Maja Marija Lovrencic Svetek, the new ambassador of Slovenia to the Holy See, as he received her Letters of Credence today.

  "Looking at the history of the Slovenian people, what clearly emerges is the imprint of the moral and spiritual values of Christianity. ... This heritage has constituted, even in the most difficult and painful times, a constant ferment of comfort and hope and has supported Slovenia on its journey towards independence following the fall of the communist regime.

  "In that period the Holy See was particularly close to the Slovenian nation", the Pope added, going on to note that in her address the new ambassador had "underlined how relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the Holy See have been good since their inception, and still continue so today. In this context", he said, "it is my hope that solutions may be found to all the problems still unresolved by the Agreement signed on 14 December 2002".

  The Holy Father continued: "In exercising her democratic prerogatives, Slovenia has achieved a certain economic wellbeing, which has enabled her to consolidate peaceful civil and social coexistence. It was with pleasure that I learned the news of the recent approval of a law concerning the question of the so-called 'Erased'. ... This is an important step forwards in the attempt to solve the cases of those people who lost the right to residency, work and healthcare assistance. I encourage you to continue in this direction and hope efforts will be made to alleviate their suffering".

  Referring then to the ambassador's words concerning "the commitment to the good of mankind, which unites the activities of the Apostolic See and of the Republic of Slovenia", the Holy Father explained how "the Apostolic See encourages initiatives adopted in the international arena to promote peace and justice, in order to overcome disagreements and intensify constructive relations". In this context he described Slovenia's recent entry into the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development as "a positive step" and "an important testimony of openness and of the desire to collaborate with other countries".

  "The Catholic Church's specific mission, which she undertakes in Slovenia as in all other parts of the world, is that of announcing the Gospel, and bringing all mankind to the salvation that comes from the Lord Jesus. One sign of the vivacity of the Church in Slovenia is the National Eucharistic Congress, celebrated recently ... in Celje", the culmination of which was "the beatification of the young Lojze Grozde, martyred in hatred for the faith during a very difficult period in the country's history.

  "Other signs of the vitality of the ecclesial community in Slovenia are its numerous pastoral and charitable activities in various social contexts", the Pope concluded. "I take this opportunity to send a warm greeting to all Catholics in your country. Through various initiatives they seek to help everyone, and to deepen the spiritual meaning of life, and wish to contribute to building an ever more just and united society, while respecting the beliefs and religious practices of each individual".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Manuel Tomas Fernandes Pereira, the new ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See.

  Beginning his address, the Pope recalled his own visit to Portugal last May. "I will never forget", he said, "the warm welcome I was given, and the friendly and respectful way in which my words were received. I believe that this also has social importance, for when society grows and people are strengthened thanks to the message of faith, then social coexistence also benefits, and citizens are more disposed to serve the common good".

  "Through her presence in the international arena", he went on, "the Holy See makes every effort to serve the cause of the integral promotion of individuals and peoples. It should be made clear that the obstacles to such promotion are not only economic; rather, they depend on the most deep-seated attitudes and values, the moral and spiritual values that determine the behaviour of each human being towards himself, towards others and towards all creation".

  When the Church in Portugal "promotes the awareness that these same values must inspire public and private life, she does not do so for political ambition, but in order to remain faithful to the mission entrusted to her by her Divine Founder", said the Pope.

  "The Church", he continued, "does not represent partial or transitory models of society; rather, she seeks to transform hearts and minds so that human beings can discover and recognise themselves in the complete truth of their humanity. Bearing in mind that her mission is moral and religious in nature, the Church respects the area that is the specific responsibility of the State".

  Moreover, the Holy Father went on, the Church "encourages Christians fully to shoulder their responsibilities as citizens so that, together with others, they may effectively contribute to the common good and the great causes of humanity".

  "Respectful collaboration and faithful understanding between the Church and the civil authorities brings benefits to Portuguese society. Animated by this hope, six years ago a new Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal came into being. ... In that juridical instrument Pope John Paul II saw confirmation of 'the feelings of esteem that animate our mutual relations', and expressed the hope that 'the new Concordat may favour ever greater understanding between the State authorities and the pastors of the Church, for the common good of the nation'. I am pleased", the Pope told the ambassador, "that you mentioned the desire to encourage the efforts being made for a complete and faithful application of the Concordat in the various ambits of the Catholic Church and of Portuguese society".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jaime Munoz Pedroza of the clergy of the archdiocese of Tunja, Colombia, rector of the major seminary, as bishop of Arauca (area 32,490, population 279,000, Catholics 249,000, priests 49, religious 52), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in Cienaga, Colombia in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1984.
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