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Thursday, November 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who have been meeting to examine the subject "Towards a new stage of ecumenical dialogue", were received this morning by the Holy Father.

  Benedict XVI began his address to them by recalling the fiftieth anniversary, which fell yesterday, of the foundation of this dicastery, created by Blessed John XXIII in 1960 on the eve of Vatican Council II. Originally called the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, it became a pontifical council in 1988 by wish of John Paul II.

  John XXIII's decision "represented a milestone on the ecumenical journey of the Catholic Church", said the Pope. "Over these fifty years more realistic knowledge and greater respect for other Churches and ecclesial communities have been acquired, overcoming the sediments of historical prejudice. Theological dialogue has increased, and so has the dialogue of charity. Various forms of collaboration have been developed, including - apart from those that aim to defend of life, protect creation and combat injustice - important and fruitful steps in the field of the ecumenical translations of Sacred Scripture".

  The Pope then turned his attention to the "Harvest Project", an initiative of the dicastery to draw up an initial assessment of results. It has, he said, "highlighted areas of convergence and those in which reflection must continue and intensify". In this context the Holy Father invited members of the pontifical council to continue "your task of promoting the correct reception of the results achieved so far, and publicising the current state of theological research on the journey towards unity.

  "Today", he added, "some people believe that this journey has lost its impetus, especially in the West. Thus do we see the urgent need to revive ecumenical interest and give a fresh incisiveness to dialogue", facing such challenges as "new anthropological and ethical understandings, the ecumenical education of new generations and the greater fragmentation of the ecumenical panorama".

  "The Catholic Church passionately continues her dialogue with the Orthodox Churches and the Ancient Eastern Churches, with which bonds of the 'closest intimacy' exist, seriously and rigorously seeking to develop our shared theological, liturgical and spiritual heritage, and to face the elements that still divide us. With the Orthodox we have reached a crucial point of confrontation and reflection: the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church. The ecclesiological question is also at the heart of dialogue with the Ancient Eastern Churches: despite many centuries of misunderstanding and remoteness we have joyfully noted that we have preserved a precious shared heritage".

  "Though faced with new problematic situations or difficult points of discussion, the goal of the ecumenical journey remains unchanged, as does the firm intention to continue. This is not however, a commitment that falls into what could be called political categories, in which negotiating ability or greater capacity to reach compromise come into play, and in which the participants hope that, as good mediators, after a certain period they will reach an agreement acceptable to everyone.

  "Ecumenical activity has a dual dynamic", the Pope explained. "On the one hand it means searching dedicatedly, passionately and tenaciously for all the unity in truth, devising models of unity, illuminating points of contention and obscurity in order to achieve unity. This must take place through the necessary theological dialogue, but above all in prayer and penance, in that ecumenical spirit which constitutes the pulsating heart of the entire journey. The unity of Christians is and remains prayer, it dwells in prayer. On the other hand there is another operational dynamic which arises from our firm awareness that we do not know the time that the unity of all Christ's disciples will be achieved, and we cannot know it because we do not 'make' unity, God 'makes' it; it comes from on high, ... it is a participation in divine unity. Yet this must not diminish our commitment; quite the contrary, it must make us ever more attentive to recognising the signs and times of the Lord, knowing how to recognise with gratitude what unites us and working to ensure it ... grows".

  "In the final analysis", the Holy Father concluded, "also on the ecumenical journey we must leave to God that which is exclusively His and seriously explore, with constancy and dedication, our own task, bearing in mind that that our commitment is characterised by the twofold concepts of acting and suffering, activity and patience, fatigue and joy".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Message to Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, and to participants in the council's twenty-fifth international conference which is currently being held on the theme: "Towards egalitarian and human healthcare in the light of 'Caritas in veritate'".

  In his Message the Pope highlights "the need to work with greater commitment at all levels in order for the right to healthcare to be effective, facilitating access to primary medical assistance. In our own time", he continues, "we are witnessing, on the one hand, a care for health which risks turning into pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism, almost a cult of the body while, on the other hand, we see the difficulties millions of people face as they seek to obtain minimal subsistence and the medicines they need to cure themselves".

  After highlighting the importance of "establishing true distributive justice which guarantees everyone adequate care on the basis of objective needs", the Pope insists that "the world of healthcare cannot divorce itself from moral rules, which must govern it in order to ensure it does not become inhuman".

  "Justice is promoted when we welcome the life of others and take responsibility for them, answering their expectations because in them we see the face of the Son of God, Who became man for us. The divine image impressed in the features of our brothers and sisters is the basis of the exalted dignity of each individual and arouses in each of us the duty to respect, care and serve".

  The Holy Father writes that "healthcare justice must be one of the priorities on the agendas of governments and international institutions. Unfortunately, along with positive and encouraging results, opinions and schools of thought exist which harm this justice. I am thinking of questions such as those associated with so-called 'reproductive health', the use of artificial procreation techniques that involve the destruction of embryos, and legalised euthanasia. Love for justice, the defence of life from conception until natural end, must be supported and proclaimed, even if this means going against the tide. Fundamental ethical values are the shared heritage of universal morality and the basis for democratic coexistence", he says.

  "Only by looking at the world with the gaze of the Creator, which is a gaze of love, will humanity learn to live on earth in peace and justice, equitably sharing the planet and its resources for the good of each man and woman. For this reason", the Pope concludes, "I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realisation of our need for a changed lifestyle, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the English-language text of a question put to Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning an episcopal ordination in the People's Republic of China, and his reply.

  "Question: What is the position of the Holy See regarding the news according to which some bishops in mainland China are forced to participate in a bishop ordination in Chengde, Hebei? Is the candidate approved by the Pope?

  "Answer: The Holy See is disturbed by reports from mainland China alleging that a number of bishops in communion with the Pope are being forced by government officials to attend an illicit episcopal ordination in Chengde, northeastern Hebei, said to be scheduled around 20 November.

  "If these reports are true, then the Holy See would consider such actions as grave violations of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

  "It would also consider such an ordination as illicit and damaging to the constructive relations that have been developing in recent times between the People's Republic of China and the Holy See.

  "Moreover, the Holy See confirms that Fr. Joseph Guo Jincai has not received the approval of the Holy Father to be ordained as a bishop of the Catholic Church. The Holy See, keen to develop positive relations with China, has contacted the Chinese authorities on this whole matter and has made its own position clear".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, England

 - His Eminence Metropolitan Ioannis (Zizioulas) of Pergamo.

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

    - Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz of Brasilia, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Joao Evangelista Martins Terra S.J.

    - Bishop Paulo Roberto Beloto of Formosa.

    - Bishop Afonso Fioreze C.P. of Luziania.

    - Bishop Messias dos Reis Silveira of Uruacu.

    - Bishop Philip Dickmans of Miracema do Tocantins.

    - Bishop Romulado Matias Kujawski of Porto Nacional.

    - Bishop Giovane Pereira de Melo of Tocantinopolis.

    - Bishop Rodolfo Luis Weber, prelate of Cristalandia, accompanied by Bishop Heriberto Hermes O.S.B., prelate emeritus.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.
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