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Monday, November 8, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2010 (VIS) - This afternoon the Pope visited the "Obra Benefico-Social Nen Deu", a charitable institution in Barcelona founded in 1892 by Blessed Carmen of the Child Jesus Gonzalez Ramos, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts.

  The institution originally provided assistance to the children of poor families, most of them afflicted with Downs syndrome, but given the gradual reduction in such cases it now houses some 250 patients ranging in age from three to twenty-one and suffering from autism, severe epilepsy or personality disorders. They are cared for by the nuns with the support of a team of eighty professionals and volunteers.

  On his arrival the Holy Father was received by Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona. Having then addressed greetings in Catalan to the mother superior of the community, the patrons of the Obra, the patients and their families, Benedict XVI began his remarks:

  "I would also like to express my appreciation to the authorities, and I invite them to increase their efforts to provide adequate social services and assistance to the most needy. I also thank those who, with their generous support, build up and sustain private welfare institutions, such as this special education school of Nen Deu. At a time when many households are faced with serious economic difficulties, the followers of Christ must multiply concrete gestures of effective and constant solidarity, showing in this way that charity is the hallmark of our Christian life.

  "The dedication of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia", he added, "has highlighted that churches are the sign of the true sanctuary of God among men. Here, I would like to emphasise how, through the efforts of this and similar church institutions ... it is clear that, for the Christian, every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God, and should be treated with the highest respect and affection, above all when they are in need. In this way, the Church desires to put into practice the words of the Lord in the Gospel, 'I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'".

  The Holy Father continued: "In recent decades, remarkable advances in medicine have greatly contributed to the care of those in greatest need, advances which have been accompanied by a growing conviction of the importance of dedicated and humane treatment for the positive outcome of the healing process. Therefore, it is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity, so that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs".

  "Dear children and young people, giving thanks to God for your lives, so precious in His eyes, I assure you that you have a special place in the Pope's heart. ... I always remember in my prayers those who are dedicated to helping the suffering, and those who work tirelessly so that the handicapped can take their rightful place in society and not be marginalised because of their limitations. In this respect, I wish to recognise, in a special way, the faithful witness of priests and those who visit the sick at home, in hospitals or in other specialised institutions. They incarnate that important ministry of consolation in the face of human frailty, which the Church seeks to carry out in imitation of the Good Samaritan".

  Following his address the Pope received a number of gifts prepared for him by the children and young people of Nen Deu, and blessed the cornerstone of the institution's new residence, which will bear his name. He then travelled by car to the airport where, at 6.30 p.m., he held a private meeting with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain".
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VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The departure ceremony at the end of the Holy Father's apostolic trip to Spain took place at Barcelona international airport at 7 p.m. today, in the presence of the Spanish monarchs.

  Following some brief words from King Juan Carlos, the Pope arose to pronounce his address.

  Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation for the presence of the King and Queen, and extended his thanks to the authorities, the archbishops of Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, the Spanish episcopate, and everyone whose efforts had helped "to bring this journey to a happy conclusion".

  "At Compostela", he said, "I joined the many people from Spain, Europe and elsewhere who come to the tomb of the Apostle to fortify their faith and to receive forgiveness and peace. As Peter's Successor I also came to strengthen my brothers and sisters in the faith that at the very dawn of Christianity came to these lands and took such deep root that it has constantly shaped the spirit, customs, art and character of its peoples. The preservation of this rich spiritual patrimony demonstrates the love of your country for its history and culture, yet it is also a privileged way of transmitting to younger generations those fundamental values so necessary for building up a common future of harmony and solidarity.

  "The paths that cross Europe on the way to Santiago differed greatly, each marked by its own language and its particular characteristics, but the faith was the same", the Pope added. "May this faith find new vigour on this continent and become a source of inspiration. May it give rise to an attitude of solidarity towards all, especially towards those communities and nations in greater need".

  Speaking then in Catalan he recalled how he had consecrated the basilica of the Sagrada Familia and visited "an important charitable institution of the Church. They stand in today's Barcelona as two symbols of the fruitfulness of that faith which has marked this people deeply and which, through charity and the mystery of God's beauty, contributes to the creation of a society more worthy of man. Truly, beauty, holiness and the love of God enable people to live with hope in this world", he said.

  "I return to Rome after visiting only two places in this beautiful country. Nevertheless, in my thoughts and prayers, I have wished to embrace all Spaniards without exception and all those born elsewhere but now living here. I hold all of you in my heart and I pray for you, especially for those who suffer. I place you under the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, so greatly venerated and invoked in Galicia, Catalonia and throughout Spain. I ask her to obtain for you from Almighty God abundant heavenly gifts, that you may live as one family, guided by the light of faith. I bless you in the name of the Lord. With His help, we will meet again next year in Madrid, to celebrate World Youth Day. Adios!"

  The Pope then boarded his aircraft for the return flight to Rome, where he arrived at 9 p.m. From Ciampino airport he then travelled by car to the Vatican, thus concluding the nineteenth apostolic trip of his pontificate.
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VATICAN CITY, 8 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation of Tehran, Iran, have organised their seventh meeting, due to be held in Tehran from 9 to 11 November.

  According to a communique released today, the meeting will examine the question of "Religion and Society: Christian and Muslim Perspectives" and will be divided into three sub themes. The event will be attended by eight members of the pontifical council including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president, Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary, and Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, bureau chief for Islam. The local Church will be represented by Archbishop Ramzi Garmou of Tehran of the Chaldeans and by Fr. Francesco Pirisi S.D.B., vicar general of the archdiocese of Ispahan of the Latins.

  Following the inaugural session the meeting will continue behind closed doors, although a lecture due to be held at a university in Tehran will present the theme of the meeting, from the Christian perspective, to a public of professors and students.

  The meeting will be followed by a visit to Qom, a holy city for Shia Muslims and an important centre for religious teaching and research.
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