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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Thursday, March 31, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for April is: "That through its compelling preaching of the Gospel, the Church may give young people new reasons for life and hope".

  His mission intention is: "That by proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of their lives, missionaries may bring Christ to those who do not yet know Him".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. This year Vesakh, the most important Buddhist festivity, is celebrated on 8 April in Japan, on 10 May in Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore, and on 17 May in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

  The message, which is entitled "Seeking Truth in Freedom: Christians and Buddhists live in Peace", Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the pontifical council, note that "in the pursuit of authentic peace, a commitment to seek truth is a necessary condition. ... This human striving for truth offers a fruitful opportunity for the followers of the different religions to encounter one another in depth and to grow in appreciation of the gifts of each".

  The English-language text continues: "In today's world, marked by forms of secularism and fundamentalism that are often inimical to true freedom and spiritual values, inter-religious dialogue can be the alternative choice by which we find the 'golden way' to live in peace and work together for the good of all. ... Such dialogue is also a powerful stimulus to respect for the fundamental human rights of freedom of conscience and freedom of worship. Wherever religious freedom is effectively acknowledged, the dignity of the human person is respected at its root; by the sincere search for what is true and good, moral conscience and civil institutions are strengthened; and justice and peace are firmly established".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine.

 - Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), accompanied by Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, first vice president; Archbishop Andres Stanovnik O.F.M. Cap. of Corrientes, Argentina, second vice president, Bishop Emilio Aranguren Echeverria of Holgun, Cuba, president of the economic committee, and Bishop Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez, auxiliary of Guadalajara, Mexico, secretary general.

 - Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, president of the German Episcopal Conference.

 - Bishop Mathew Arackal of Kanjirapally of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Palai of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop George Alencherry of Thuckalay of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Mathew Anikuzhikattil of Idukki, of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 31 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Removed Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba from the pastoral care of the diocese of Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Papeete, Tahiti, presented by Archbishop Hubert Coppenrath, upon having reached the age limit.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in St Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about St. Alphonsus Maria of Liguori, bishop, Doctor of the Church and "outstanding moral theologian and master of spiritual life".

  "St. Alphonsus was born in 1696 to a rich and noble Neapolitan family", and undertook a brilliant career as a lawyer, which he abandoned in order to become a priest in 1726.

  The Holy Father explained that the saint "began his work of evangelisation and catechesis at the most humble levels of Neapolitan society, to whom he enjoyed preaching and whom he instructed in the basic truths of the faith".

  In 1732 he founded the religious congregation of the Holy Redeemer. Its members, "under the guidance of Alphonsus, were genuine itinerant missionaries, who travelled to the remotest villages exhorting conversion to the faith and perseverance in Christian life, above all by means of prayer".

  Benedict XVI recalled that St. Alphonsus died in 1787, was canonised in 1839 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. This title was granted for a number of reasons. Firstly, for his valuable teachings in the field of moral theology, which accurately expressed Catholic doctrine and on account of which Pius XII proclaimed him as "patron of all confessors and moralists".

  "St. Alphonsus", continued the Pope, "never tired of repeating that priests were a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, Who pardons and illuminates the minds and hearts of sinners that they might convert and change their lives. In our age, in which there are clear signs of a loss of moral conscience and - it is necessary to note with some concern - a certain lack of respect for the Sacrament of Confession, the teaching of St. Alphonsus remains valid".

  The Holy Father explained that, "along with his theological works, St. Alphonsus composed many other writings which contributed to the religious formation of the people, such as 'Eternal Maxims', the 'Glories of Mary' and the 'Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ'. This last work represented a synthesis of his thought and is his masterpiece".

  The Pope emphasised that the Neapolitan saint "insisted on the need for prayer", and remarked that "among the forms of prayer recommended by St. Alphonsus, most important was the visit to the Blessed Sacrament or, as we would say nowadays, adoration - brief or sustained, personal or communal - of the Eucharist".

  "Alphonsus' spirituality was eminently Christological, centred upon Christ and His Gospel. Meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Passion of the Lord were frequently subjects of his teachings. ... His piety was also markedly Marian. Personally devoted to Mary, he emphasised her role in the history of salvation".

  Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis by commenting that "St. Alphonsus of Liguori was an example of a zealous priest who won souls by teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, and by his own gentle and mild manner which originated from his intense rapport with God's infinite goodness. He had a realistically optimistic view of the resources the Lord grants to every man, and gave importance to affections and sentiments of the heart, as well as to the mind, in loving God and others".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2011 (VIS) - During the language greetings following his catechesis at this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI mentioned the people of Ivory Coast "traumatised by painful internal conflicts and grave social and political tensions.

  "While I express my closeness to all those who have lost a loved one or suffer as a result of the violence", he said in French, "I make an urgent appeal for the process of constructive dialogue for the common good to begin as quickly as possible. The dramatic clashes necessitate the urgent restoration of respect and peaceful co-existence. Every effort must be made to this end.

  "With these sentiments, I have decided to send to that noble country Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, present of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to express my solidarity and that of the Universal Church with the victims of the conflict, and to encourage reconciliation and peace".

  Then, speaking Ukrainian, he greeted His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, recently elected as major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, and the accompanying bishops and faithful of the Greek-Ukrainian Catholic Church, assuring them of his "constant prayer that the Holy Trinity may bring abundance, and confirm in peace and harmony the beloved Ukrainian nation".

  "The Lord", said the Holy Father, addressing the new archbishop, "has called you to the service and guidance of this noble Church, which is a part of the people who for over a thousand years have received Baptism at Kyiv. I am sure that, illuminated by the work of the Holy Spirit, you will preside over your Church, guiding her in faith in Jesus Christ in accordance with her own tradition and spirituality, in communion with the See of Peter which is the visible bond of that unity for which so many of her children have not hesitated even to lay down their lives".
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message written by the Holy Father for a meeting of bishops who head episcopal commissions for the family and life in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their meeting is taking place in Bogota, Colombia, from 28 March to 1 April under the presidency of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

  "As I reiterated during the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean", the Pope writes, "the family is the value the people of those noble lands prize most highly. For this reason, the pastoral care of families has an important place in the evangelising activity of each one of the particular Churches, promoting a culture of life and working to ensure the rights of families are recognised and respected".

  "Nonetheless, we sorrowfully note that families are increasingly suffering from adverse situations brought about by rapid cultural changes and social instability, by migratory flows, by poverty, by education programmes which trivialise sexuality and by false ideologies. We cannot remain indifferent before such challenges".

  Benedict XVI assures the prelates that "no effort is in vain if it helps to ensure that each family, founded on the indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, carries out its mission as a living cell of society, seedbed of virtues, school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, instrument of harmony and a privileged area in which, with joy and responsibility, human life is welcomed and protected, from beginning to natural end".

  "It is also worthwhile to encourage parents in their right - and their fundamental duty - to educate the new generations in faith and in the values that dignify human existence", he writes.

  After then highlighting how the continental mission promoted during the fifth general conference in Aparecida, Brazil, "will serve to launch pastoral care of marriage and the family in the beloved countries of Latin America and the Caribbean", the Pope affirms that "the Church puts her trust in Christian families, calling them to play a role in evangelisation and the apostolate, and inviting them to an awareness of their valuable mission in the world".

  He also encourages participants in the Bogota meeting to develop "the broad pastoral guidelines laid down by the bishops gathered in Aparecida, thus helping families to experience a profound meeting with Christ by listening to His Word, by prayer, sacramental life and the exercise of charity. In this way you will help the family to practice a solid spirituality which fosters in all its members a firm aspiration to sanctity, unafraid to express the beauty of exalted ideals and the ethical and moral requirements of life in Christ".

  "To this end", the Holy Father goes on, "it is necessary to intensify the formation of everyone who, in one way or another, dedicates themselves to the evangelisation of families. Likewise, it is important to find ways to collaborate with all men and women of good will in order to continue to protect human life, marriage and the family throughout the region".

  The Holy Father concludes by expressing his "affection and solidarity to all the families of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially those experiencing difficult situations".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The texts of the meditations for this year's Via Crucis or Way of the Cross at the Colosseum have, by order of the Holy Father, been written by Mother Maria Rita Piccione, president of the Federation of Augustinian Nuns, who resides in the Roman monastery of Santi Quattro Coronati.

  The images illustrating the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, in the booklet and the television transmission which will accompany the Via Crucis, are the work of sister Elena Manganelli, an Augustinian nun resident in the monastery of Lecceto near Siena, Italy.
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Monday, March 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the complete text of the Holy Father's video message to participants in the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", a meeting between believers and non-believers promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture and dedicated to the theme "Enlightenment, religion, shared reason". The event closed yesterday in Paris on the forecourt of the cathedral of Notre-Dame where the Pope's message was broadcast on giant screens.

"Dear young people, dear friends!

"I know that - at the invitation of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, and of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture - you have gathered in large numbers on the forecourt of Notre-Dame de Paris. I greet you all, not forgetting our brothers and friends of the Taize Community. I am grateful to the pontifical council for having taken up and extended my invitation to open a 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' in the Church. The image of the courtyard evokes that vast open space near the Temple of Jerusalem where everyone who did not share the faith of Israel could approach the Temple and pose questions about that religion. There they could meet the scribes, discuss the faith and even pray to the God they did not know. And if, at that time, the Courtyard was also a place of exclusion because Gentiles did not have the right to enter the consecrated area, Jesus Christ came to 'break down the dividing wall' between Jews and Gentiles, so as to 'reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace...', as St. Paul tells us.

"At the heart of the 'City of Light', in front of that magnificent masterpiece of French religious culture which is Notre-Dame, a great space has been opened to give fresh impetus to respectful and friendly encounter among people of differing convictions. You young people, believers and non-believers, have chosen to come together, this evening as in your everyday lives, to meet and to discuss the great questions of human existence. Many people today affirm that they do not belong to any religion, but wish for a new and freer world, more just and more united, more peaceful and happier. As I address you today, I consider everything you have to say to one another. You non-believers call on believers, in particular, to offer the witness of a life coherent with the faith they profess, and you reject any deviation from religion which renders it inhuman. You believers wish to tell your friends that the treasure that is within you merits sharing, it needs to be announced, it requires reflection. The question of God is not a danger to society, it does not imperil human life! The question of God must not be absent from the great questions of our time.

"Dear friends, you must build bridges between one another. You must seize the opportunity that has been given you to seek, in the depths of your consciences and through solid and well-reasoned reflection, the ways to a profound dialogue. You have so much to say to one another. Do not close your consciences before the challenges and problems facing you.

"I deeply believe that the encounter between faith and reason enables man to discover himself. But all too often reason is warped by the pressure of interests and the lure of profit, which it is forced to recognise as the ultimate criterion. The search for truth is not easy. And if each of us is called to make a courageous decision in favour of truth, this is because there are no shortcuts to the happiness and beauty of a perfect life. Jesus says as much in the Gospel: 'The truth will make you free'.

"Dear young people, it is up to you to ensure that in your own countries and in Europe as a whole, believers and non-believers rediscover the path of dialogue. Religions cannot be afraid of a just secularism, a secularism that is open and allows individuals to live according to what they believe in their own consciences. If we are to build a world of freedom, equality and fraternity, believers and non-believers should feel themselves to be free, with equal rights to live their individual and community lives in accordance with their own convictions; and they must be brothers to one another.

"One of the reasons behind this Courtyard of the Gentiles is to foster such feelings of fraternity, over and above individual beliefs but without denying differences and, even more profoundly, recognising that only God, in Christ, gives us inner freedom and the possibility of truly coming together as brothers.

"Our primary attitude, the first action we must undertake together, is that of respecting, assisting and loving all human beings, because they are creatures of God and, in a certain way, embody the path that leads to Him. By continuing the experience you are having this evening you will help to break down the barriers of fear of the other, of foreigners, of those who are not like you; a fear that often arises from mutual ignorance, from scepticism or from indifference. Be sure to strengthen your bonds with all young people without distinction, not forgetting those who live in poverty and solitude, those who suffer through unemployment or sickness, or who feel they are on the margins of society.

"Dear young people, you can share not only your life experience but also your approach to prayer. You believers and non-believers, present here in this Courtyard of the Unknown, are also invited to enter the consecrated area, to pass the magnificent portal of Notre-Dame and enter the cathedral for a moment of prayer. For some of you this will be a prayer to a God you know through the faith, but for others it may be a prayer to an unknown God. Dear young non-believers, joining those who are praying inside Notre-Dame on this day of the Annunciation of the Lord, open your hearts to the Sacred Scriptures, allow yourselves to be drawn by the beauty of the music and, if you truly desire it, allow the feelings closed within you to rise towards the unknown God.

"I am happy to have had the chance to address you this evening for the inauguration of the Courtyard of the Gentiles. And I hope you will be able to respond to other invitations I have made, especially that of this summer's World Youth Day in Madrid. The God Whom believers learn to know invites you to discover Him and to live in Him. Do not be afraid! On your journey together towards a new world, seek the Absolute, seek God, even those of you for whom He is an unknown God.

"May He Who loves each and every one of you bless and protect you. He relies on you to show concern for others and for the future, and you can always rely on Him!"
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VATICAN CITY, 26 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received in audience participants in a pilgrimage from the Italian diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, organised to mark the thirtieth anniversary of John Paul II's visit to the steel factories of Terni.

"Today we particularly wish to recall John Paul II for the love he showed towards the world of work", said Pope Benedict, going on to comment on the difficult situation the diocese is facing due to the crisis in the steel industry which is affecting the lives of thousands of people. "I know that the diocesan Church shares your concerns", he told his audience, "and feels her responsibility to remain at your side to communicate the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of man. She does this from the source, from the Eucharist", he said.

"Indeed it is from the Eucharist, in which Christ makes Himself present in His supreme act of love for us all, that we learn to live as Christians in society, so as to make it more welcoming, more united, richer in love, and more attentive to everyone's needs especially those of the weakest".

"The subject of work also comes into this context, a subject which concerns you today with its problems, especially that of unemployment. It is important always to bear in mind that work is a fundamental element for both human beings and society. Difficult or precarious working conditions make the conditions of society itself difficult and precarious, the conditions for ordered living in accordance with the needs of the common good", said the Holy Father. He also turned his attention to workplace safety, noting that "every effort must be made to interrupt the sequence of deaths and accidents. And what can we say about the precariousness of work, especially as concerns the young? This is a factor which does not fail to create anguish in many families!"

"Work", Pope Benedict explained, "helps us to come closer to God and to other people. Jesus Himself was a worker; indeed He spent a large part of His earthly life in Nazareth, in Joseph's workshop. ... His work, which was real physical effort, occupied most of His life on this earth and thus became part of the redemption of man and of the world.

"This fact", he added, "speaks to us of the dignity of work, indeed of the specific dignity of human work which becomes part of the mystery of redemption itself. It is important to see work in this Christian perspective. Often, however, it is seen merely as a means of earning money and even, in some situations in the world, as a means of exploitation and therefore of offence to the very dignity of the person. I would also like to mention the problem of working on Sundays. Unfortunately in our societies the rhythm of consumption risks stealing even the significance of the Sunday feast as a day for the Lord and the community".

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by reiterating how the Church "supports, comforts and encourages all efforts that seek to guarantee safe, dignified and stable work for everyone", and expressed his closeness to the families of the diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited Rome's "Fosse Ardeatine" to commemorate the 335 victims executed there in 1944 by German occupying forces in Rome, in reprisal for a bomb attack which had left thirty-three Germans dead.

The Pope, who had been invited to make the visit by the National Association of Italian Families of Martyrs who Fell for the Freedom of the Homeland (ANFIM), was accompanied by Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, and by Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo whose father was one of the victims of the massacre.

The Holy Father laid a roses at the foot of the monument to the victims and paused for a moment of prayer. Rabbi Di Segni then read out Psalm 129 in Hebrew, while the Pope read Psalm 123 in Italian, and pronounced a prayer for the dead.

Benedict XVI then entered the mausoleum where he signed the visitors' book then delivered an address to the families of the victims and to others present at the ceremony.

"What happened here on 24 March 1944 was a grave offence to God, because it was deliberate violence of man against man. It was the most deplorable effect of war, of any war; while God is life, peace and communion", said the Pontiff.

"Like my predecessors [Paul VI and John Paul II] I have come here to prayer and to renew the memory. I have come to invoke divine Mercy, which alone can fill the void, the abysses opened by men when, impelled by blind violence, they renounce their dignity as children of God and brothers of one another".

"Yes", the Holy Father cried, "wherever man is, on all continents, to whatever people he belongs, he is the child of that Father Who is in heaven; he is brother to everyone in humanity. But the status of son and brother cannot be taken for granted as, unfortunately the Fosse Ardeatine show. We must seek it, we must say yes to good and no to evil. We must believe in the God of love and life, rejecting any other false image of the divine which betrays His Holy Name and, consequently, betrays man, made in His image.

"For this reason", the Pope added concluding his address, "in this place, sorrowful memorial of the most horrendous of evils, the most authentic response is to take one another by the hand, as brothers, and say: Our Father, we believe in You, and with the strength of Your love we wish to walk together in peace, in Rome, in Italy, in Europe in the whole world".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, returning from his visit to Rome's "Fosse Ardeatine", the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

He spoke about the Gospel reading of this third Sunday of Lent, which describes Christ's meeting with the Samaritan woman "who daily went to draw water from the ancient well that dated back to the Patriarch Jacob. That day she found Jesus there, 'tired out by his journey'", the Pope said. "Jesus' tiredness, a sign of His authentic humanity, can be seen as a prelude to the Passion in which He fulfilled the work of our redemption. What particularly emerges from His meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well is the theme of Christ's thirst, which culminates with His cry on the cross: 'I am thirsty'.

"His thirst, like His tiredness, certainly had a physical basis", Benedict XVI added, but as St. Augustine says, Jesus was also "'thirsting for the faith of the woman', as He thirsts for the faith of each one of us. God the Father sent Him to satisfy our thirst for eternal life, giving us His love; but to make us this gift Jesus asks for our faith. The omnipotence of Love always respects man's freedom; it knocks at the door of his heart and patiently awaits an answer.

"The meeting with the Samaritan woman highlights the symbol of water, a clear allusion to the Sacrament of Baptism, font of new life for the faith in the Grace of God", the Holy Father concluded. "This water represents the Holy Spirit, the 'gift' par excellence which Jesus came to bring us from God the Father. ... Thanks to the meeting with Jesus Christ and to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the faith of each individual attains fulfilment in response to the fullness of God's revelation".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 MAR 2011 (VIS) - "Faced with the increasingly dramatic news coming out of Libya, I am becoming progressively more concerned about the wellbeing and safety of civilians, and apprehensive over the developments in the situation, which is currently characterised by the use of arms", said the Pope following today's Angelus.

"At times of greater tension it is even more essential to make use of all means at the disposal of diplomacy, and to support even the faintest sign of openness and of desire for reconciliation between the parties involved, in the search for peaceful and lasting solutions.

"In this perspective, as I raise my prayers to the Lord for a return to harmony in Libya and in the entire region of North Africa, I make a heartfelt appeal to international organisations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launch of a dialogue that will halt the use of arms.

"My thoughts also go to the authorities and the citizens of the Middle East where various episodes of violence have taken place over recent days. There too, may the path of dialogue and reconciliation be favoured, in the search for just and fraternal coexistence".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

"This morning Benedict XVI received in audience His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. His Beatitude was accompanied by Fr. Demosthenis Demosthenous and by Ioannis Charilaou.

"The discussions served to examine, among other things, the situation of Christians in the Middle East, and the question of religious freedom on the island of Cyprus. Subsequently, His Beatitude also went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See is to participate as an observer at an international conference on Libya scheduled to take place tomorrow, 29 March, in London, England. According to a declaration by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., the Holy See will be represented by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to Great Britain.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - A note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announces details of forthcoming ceremonies in which cardinals will take possession of their titular or diaconate churches:

At 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 2 April, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Paul at the Three Fountains, Via Laurentina 473, Rome.

At midday on Sunday 3 April, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, archbishop of Aparecida, Brazil, will take possession of the title of Our Lady Immaculate al Tiburtino, Via del Mortaro 24, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Joseph Perumthottam of Changanacherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Joseph Powathil.

- Bishop Matthew Moolakkatt, O.S.B., auxiliary of Kottayam of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Pandarasseril O.S.B.

- Archbishop George Valiamattam of Tellicherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur of the Syro-Malabars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Raphael Thattil.

On Saturday 26 March he received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

- Bishop Abraham Julios Kackanatt of Muvattupuzha of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Geevarghese Divannasios Ottathengil of Puthur of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Joseph Thomas Konnath of Battery of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Jacob Barnabas Aerath O.I.C., apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful living outside their "territorium proprium", on his "ad limina" visit.

On Friday 25 March he received in audience Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany.
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Friday, March 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received prelates of the Syro-Malankar Church, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

  "The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal", said the Pope in his English-language remarks. "In this sense, you rightly follow in the footsteps of the Servant of God Mar Ivanios, who led your predecessors and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church. Like your forefathers, you too are called, within the one household of God, to continue in firm fidelity to that which has been passed down to you".

  "The deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles and faithfully transmitted to our times is a precious gift from the Lord", said the Holy Father, noting that "due to its ancient roots and distinguished history, Christianity in India has long made its proper contribution to culture and society, and to its religious and spiritual expressions. It is through a determination to live the Gospel ... that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God's word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God".

  Benedict then turned to consider the challenges facing the prelates in their work, especially the shortage of parish priests. In this context he encouraged them not to lose heart because "small Christian communities have often, as you know, given outstanding witness in the history of the Church. ... It is this divine presence which must remain at the centre of your people's life, faith and witness, and which you their pastors are called to watch over so that, even if they must live far from their community, they will not live far from Christ".

  "One of the ways in which you exercise your role as teachers of the faith to the Christian community", the Pope concluded his remarks to the bishops, "is through catechetical and faith formation programmes. ... Since 'instruction should be based on Holy Scripture, Tradition, liturgy, and on the teaching authority and life of the Church', I am pleased to note the variety and number of programmes that you currently employ. Along with the celebration of the Sacraments, such programmes will help ensure that those in your care will always be able to give an account of the hope which is theirs in Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received participants in an annual course on the "internal forum" organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary. The penitentiary is presided by Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli and its regent is Bishop Gianfranco Girotti O.F.M. Conv.

  In his address to the participants the Holy Father spoke of the "pedagogical value of sacramental Confession" for both priests and for the penitents themselves.

  On the subject of priests he said: "The priestly mission represents a unique observation point from which we are daily granted the privilege of contemplating the splendour of divine mercy. ... By administering the Sacrament of Penance we can receive profound lessons of humility and faith. For each priest, this is a powerful call to an awareness of his own identity. Never could we hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters merely on the strength of our own humanity. If they come to us it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest, and granted the capacity of acting in His Name and Person, so as to make present the God Who forgives, renews and transforms.

  "The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance has a pedagogical value for the priest, which concerns his faith, the truth and poverty of his person; and it nourishes in him an awareness of his sacramental identity", the Pope added.

  "Sacramental reconciliation is certainly one of the moments in which individual freedom and self-awareness are called to express themselves particularly clearly", he went on. "It is perhaps for this reason too that, in an age of relativism and of the consequent reduced awareness of self, the practice of this Sacrament should also have diminished. The examination of conscience has an important educational value. it teaches us to look sincerely at our own lives, to compare them with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate them with parameters that are not only human but drawn from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes, and above all with the Precept to love, represents the first great 'school of penance'", he said.

  "Dear priests", the Holy Father concluded, "do not fail to give appropriate space to exercising the ministry of Penance in the confessional. To be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God's welcome and goodness towards His children. Integral confession of sin also helps penitents to be humble, to recognise their own fragility and, at the same time, to achieve an awareness of the need for God's forgiveness and the belief that divine Grace can transform life".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father has granted the "Ecclesiastica Communio" requested of him in accordance with canon 76 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by His Beatitude Bechara Rai, canonically elected as Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church meeting in Bkerke, Lebanon, on 15 March.

  For the occasion, Benedict XVI has also written a Letter to the new patriarch in which he says: "May the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Lebanon, the Virgin of the Annunciation whose name you bear make you a messenger of unity, so that the Lebanese nation (thanks also to all the religious communities present in your country and to their ecumenical and inter-religious dynamism) may accomplish her mission of solidarity and peace, in the East and in the entire world".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Bishop Vincent Paulos Kulapuravilai of Marthandom of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Joshua Ignathios Kizhakkeveettil of Mavelikara of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Yoohanon Chrysostom Kalloor of Pathanamthitta of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit.

 - Bishop Thomas Naickamparampil, apostolic exarch of the apostolic exarchate for Syro-Malankar faithful in the United States of America, and apostolic visitor for Syro-Malankar faithful in Canada and Europe.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Valter Dario Maggi, auxiliary of Guayaquil, Ecuador, as bishop of Ibarra (area 4,986, population 347,000, Catholics 332,800, priests 101, permanent deacons 1, religious 263), Ecuador. He succeeds Bishop Julio Cesar Teran Datari, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Bertolone, S.d.P. of Cassano allo Jonio, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Catanzaro-Squillace (area 1,806, population 248,000, Catholics 244,300, priests 182, permanent deacons 17, religious 212), Italy. The archbishop-elect was born in San Biagio Platani, Italy in 1946, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and consecrated a bishop in 2007. He succeeds Archbishop Antonio Ciliberti, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Paul Sueo Hamaguchi, pastor of the cathedral church of Takamatsu, Japan, as bishop of Oita (area 14,071, population 2,376,414, Catholics 6,288, priests 50, religious 228), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Higashi Shutsu, Japan in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1975.

 - Appointed John Eijro Suwa of the clergy of Osaka, Japan, moderator and pastor of the pastoral zone of Kochi Takamatsu, as bishop of Takamatsu (area 18,903, population 4,031,481, Catholics 5,100, priests 46, religious 84), Japan. The bishop-elect was born in Kobe, Japan in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1976. He succeeds Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Granted the confirmation requested of him in accordance with canon 153 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches by Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, canonically elected as major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on 23 March.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Giuseppe Giudice of the clergy of the diocese of Teggiano-Policastro, Italy, currently pastor of the parishes of Sant'Anna and of Sant'Antonio di Padova in Sala Consilina, and director of the diocesan offices for catechesis and for schools, as bishop of Nocera Inferiore - Sarno (area 157, population 235,800, Catholics 225,170, priests 114, permanent deacons 8, religious 268), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Sala Consolina, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1986. He succeeds Bishop Gioacchino Illiano, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to St. Lawrence of Brindisi (born Giulio Cesare Rossi, 1559-1619), a Doctor of the Church.

  The saint, who lost his father at the age of seven, was entrusted by his mother to the care of the Friars Minor Conventuals. He subsequently entered the Order of Capuchins and was ordained a priest in 1582. He acquired a profound knowledge of ancient and modern languages, thanks to which "he was able to undertake an intense apostolate among various categories of people", the Pope explained. He was also an effective preacher well versed not only in the Bible but also in rabbinic literature, which he knew so well "that rabbis themselves were amazed and showed him esteem and respect".

  As a theologian and expert in Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers, Lawrence of Brindisi was an exemplary teacher of Catholic doctrine among those Christians who, especially in Germany, had adhered to the Reformation. "With his clear and tranquil explanations he demonstrated the biblical and patristic foundation of all the articles of faith called into question by Martin Luther, among them the primacy of St. Peter and his Successors, the divine origin of the episcopate, justification as interior transformation of man, and the necessity of good works for salvation. The success enjoyed by St. Lawrence helps us to understand that even today, as the hope-filled journey of ecumenical dialogue continues, the reference to Sacred Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, is an indispensable element of fundamental importance".

  "Even the lowliest members of the faithful who did not possess vast culture drew advantage from the convincing words of St. Lawrence, who addressed the humble in order to call everyone to live a life coherent with the faith they professed", said the Holy Father. "This was a great merit of the Capuchins and of the other religious orders which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, contributed to the renewal of Christian life. ... Even today, the new evangelisation needs well-trained, zealous and courageous apostles, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel may prevail over the cultural trends of ethical relativism and religious indifference, transforming the various ways people think and act in an authentic Christian humanism".

  Lawrence was a professor of theology, master of novices, minister provincial and minister general of the Capuchin Order, but amidst all these tasks "he also cultivated an exceptionally active spiritual life", the Pope said. In this context he noted how all priests "can avoid the danger of activism - that is, of acting while forgetting the profound motivations of their ministry - only if they pay heed to their own inner lives".

  The Holy Father then turned his attention to another aspect of the saint's activities: his work in favour of peace. "Supreme Pontiffs and Catholic princes repeatedly entrusted him with important diplomatic missions to placate controversies and favour harmony between European States, which at the time were threatened by the Ottoman Empire. Today, as in St. Lawrence's time, the world has great need of peace, it needs peace-loving and peace-building men and women. Everyone who believes in God must always be a source of peace and work for peace", he said.

  Lawrence of Brindisi was canonised in 1881 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Blessed John XXIII in 1959 in recognition of his many works of biblical exegesis and Mariology. In his writings, Lawrence "also highlighted the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers", the Pope said.

  "St. Lawrence of Brindisi", he concluded, "teaches us to love Sacred Scripture, to become increasingly familiar with it, daily to cultivate our relationship with the Lord in prayer, so that our every action, our every activity, finds its beginning and its fulfilment in Him".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Benedito Araujo of the clergy of the archdiocese of Sao Luis do Maranhao, Brazil, as coadjutor bishop of Guajara-Mirim (area 89,700, population 233,000, Catholics 140,000, priests 21, permanent deacons 1, religious 63), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Paco do Lumiar, Brazil in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991.

 - Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi as apostolic nuncio to Indonesia.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At 11.30 a.m. today in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the newly-published Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy. Participating in the event were Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Bishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., secretary of the same dicastery, and Fr. Charles Morerod O.P., rector of Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).

  Cardinal Grocholewski explained how the normative documents concerning ecclesiastical studies - and hence also philosophy - currently comprehend John Paul II's 1979 Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana" and its norms of application issued in the same year by the Congregation for Catholic Education. "Nonetheless", he said, "'Ecclesia semper est reformanda' in order to respond to the new demands of ecclesial life in changing historical-cultural circumstances and this also (perhaps especially) involves the academic world".

  The reasons for the reform are, the cardinal explained, "on the one hand, the shortcomings in philosophical formation at many ecclesiastical institutions, where precise points of reference are lacking especially as regards the subjects to be taught and the quality of teachers. ... On the other hand there is the conviction - expressed in John Paul II's 1998 Encyclical 'Fides et ratio' - of the importance of the metaphysical component of philosophy, ... and the awareness that philosophy is indispensable for theological formation". For this reason today's decree of the congregation aims to re-evaluate philosophy, above all in the light of that Encyclical, ... restoring the 'original vocation' of philosophy; i.e., the search for truth and its sapiental and metaphysical dimension".

  The preparation of the text dates back to 2004 when the congregation established a commission of specialists in philosophy. That commission, possessing both intellectual and institutional expertise and representative of the principal linguistic and geographical areas, was charged with presenting a reform project. The definitive version "was ratified in the Congregation for Catholic Education's ordinary meeting of 16 June 2010", while Benedict XVI "approved 'in specific form' the modifications made to the Apostolic Constitution 'Sapientia christiana' and confirmed the rest of the text 'in common form'. In fact", the cardinal explained, "only three articles of 'Sapientia christiana' have been reformed while the vast majority of the modifications concern the congregation's own applicative norms".

  For his part Bishop Brugues focused on some of the details of the new reform in ecclesiastical theological faculties, including the length of the course which from now on will last three years. As regards the syllabus, "the document adds a subject: ... logic, and in particular highlights the role of metaphysics", he said. The reform will likewise affect academic staff who must be full-time and adequately qualified.

  The reform also concerns the first cycle of studies in ecclesiastical faculties of theology and affiliated institutes, defining the duration of formation and explaining that "strictly philosophical disciplines must constitute at least sixty percent of the number of credits in the first two years". This condition also holds for affiliated major seminaries.

  In his remarks the rector of the Angelicum affirmed that "the study of philosophy helps theologians to an awareness of their own philosophical criteria, to examine them critically and to avoid imposing a conceptual framework incompatible with the faith on their theology or preaching. In order to be correct, critical reflection on philosophical theories must seek the truth beyond appearances. A non-Christian philosopher can be useful to theology whereas a Christian philosopher who wishes to prove the existence of God can have the opposite effect".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Donald F. Hanchon of the clergy of the archdiocese of Detroit, U.S.A., episcopal vicar and pastor of the parish of the Holy Redeemer, and Fr. Michael J. Byrnes, also of the clergy of Detroit, vice rector and dean of formation at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary, as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Detroit (area 10,106, population 4,556,000, Catholics 1,515,000, priests 641, permanent deacons 191, religious 1,552). Bishop-elect Hanchon was born in Wayne, U.S.A. in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1974. Bishop-elect Byrnes was born in Detroit in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1996.
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Monday, March 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. made the following declaration yesterday afternoon concerning the sentence issued by the "Grande Chambre" of the European Court of Human Rights:

  "This sentence of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the exposition of the crucifix in the classrooms of Italian State schools has been received with satisfaction by the Holy See.

  "It is, in fact, a significant and historic sentence, as shown by the conclusion reached by the Grande Chambre after a detailed appraisal of the matter. The Grande Chambre has, indeed, overturned in all respects a first degree sentence, adopted unanimously by a Chamber of the Court. This sentence led to an appeal by the Italian State, which received an unprecedented degree of support from numerous other European States as well as from many non-governmental organisations, an expression of widespread feeling amongst people.

  "It is thus acknowledged, at an authoritative and international juridical level, that the culture and rights of man should not be placed in contradiction with the religious foundations of European civilisation, to which Christianity has made an essential contribution. It is furthermore recognised that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, each country should be guaranteed a margin of appreciation with regard to the value of religious symbols within its cultural history and national identity, and in terms of the places in which they are displayed (as has been demonstrated in these days also by sentences of the supreme courts of several European countries). By contrast, in the name of religious freedom there is a paradoxical tendency to limit or indeed even to deny this freedom, with the result of excluding every expression of it from public spaces. Thus this very freedom itself is violated, obscuring specific and legitimate identities. The Court therefore declares that the display of the crucifix is not a form of indoctrination, but rather an expression of the cultural and religious identity of countries with a Christian tradition.

  "This new sentence of the Grande Chambre is also welcome as it effectively contributes to re-establishing trust in the European Court of Human Rights on the part of a large number of Europeans, convinced of the vital role played by Christian values in their history, and in the construction of European unity and its culture of rights and freedom".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel this morning, Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Holy Father and Roman Curia concluded their spiritual exercises. This year's meditations were led by Fr. Francois Marie Lethel, O.C.D., secretary prelate of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and professor at the Teresianum Pontifical Theology Faculty. The theme was "The Light of Christ at the Heart of the Church: John Paul II and the Theology of the Saints".

  At the end of the Lenten exercises Benedict XVI addressed the participants, also thanking Fr. Lethel for the "safe guidance and spiritual richness" shown in these days. "You have shown us the saints", he said, "as stars in the firmament of history ... demonstrating that the 'small' saints are 'great' saints. You have shown us that the "scientia fidei" and the "scientia amoris" ... complete one another, that reason and great love go together and, even more, that great love sees farther than reason alone".

  The Pope noted that the exercises finished on the feast St. Joseph, his personal patron as well as Patron of the Church, "a humble saint, a humble worker, who was considered worthy to be the Redeemer's guardian".

  The Pontiff continued, "St. Matthew defined St. Joseph with a word: 'he was just', ... and in light of the Old Testament ... the 'just' is the person who is immersed in God's word, who lives in the Word of God, who lives the Law not as a 'yoke' but as 'happiness', one who lives the Law - we could say - as 'Gospel'. St. Joseph was just, he was immersed in the Word of God as written and transmitted in the wisdom of his people, and in this way he was prepared and called to know the Incarnate Word - the Word that came to us as man - and he was destined to guard and protect this Incarnate Word. This is his mission forever, to guard the Church and our Lord".

  Subsequently in the Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received the greetings of the members of the Curia for his feast day. The address was made by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

  Benedict XVI has also written a letter to Fr. Lethel expressing his gratitude for the preaching of the spiritual exercises. "You have led us through the meditations," the Pope writes, "a spiritual journey inspired by the witness of my venerable predecessor John Paul II, whose upcoming beatification raised the topic of sainthood. ... With this focus you have matched the catechesis I have been developing in the Wednesday general audiences over the years with the purpose of making the Church better known and loved as she appears in the lives, the works, and the teachings of the saints. ... Such reflection and contemplation on the mystery of Christ, reflected in the existence of its most faithful followers, constitutes a fundamental element that I have inherited from Pope John Paul II and that I continue with full conviction and great joy".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Corbinian, where he celebrated Mass and consecrated the new church.

  In his homily, the Pope commented on the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Christ of the second Sunday of Lent, which has "two elements, both very important: on the one hand, the mystery of the Transfiguration and, on the other, that of the temple, or rather the House of God within your own homes".

  The Holy Father explained that by means of the Transfiguration "the disciples were prepared for the Paschal mystery of Jesus: to overcome the terrible trial of the Passion and to better understand the luminous truth of the Resurrection".

  "The will of God", he continued, "is fully revealed in the person of Jesus. A person who wishes to live according to God's will must follow Jesus, listen to Him, welcome His words and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, absorb them more deeply. The first invitation I wish to extend to you", the Pope to the parishioners, "is to grow in your knowledge of and love for Christ, both as individuals and as a community; to encounter Him through the Eucharist, by listening to His words, in prayer and in charity".

  Pope Benedict XVI went on to state that "the second point concerns the Church, as an edifice but above all as a community". In this respect, he recalled that St. Corbinian founded the diocese of Frisinga in Bavaria, where he served as bishop for four years. In giving thanks to those who have contributed to building this church, he remarked, "today is an important day, which crowns the efforts, the work, the sacrifices and the commitment of the residents here to create a mature Christian community. They now have a new definitively consecrated church".

  "Just as the church building has been erected, my visit here is intended to encourage you to continue to build the Church of living stones, which you yourselves represent. ... To this end, I exhort you to make your church the place in which you learn to hear the Word of God, the permanent 'school' of Christian life from which every activity of this young and busy parish originates".

  The Pope remarked that the parish community of St. Corbinian is young, composed in large part of newly-married couples. He exhorted the community to "give life to family pastoral care characterised by an open and cordial welcome to new families, and to favour reciprocal knowledge so that the parish community increasingly becomes a 'family of families', able to share with each other, not only the joys but the inevitable difficulties of initiating family life".

  "Dear friends of St. Corbinian! The Lord Jesus Christ, who conducted the Apostles to the mount to pray and showed them His glory, has today invited us to this new church; here we may hear Him, to acknowledge His presence in the Eucharist; and thus become a living Church, temple of the Holy Spirit, a worldly sign of the love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At noon today, following his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Corbinian, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope noted that the second Sunday of Lent is that of the Transfiguration when Christ, after having announced His Passion to His disciples, took Peter, James, and John with Him to a mountaintop, as narrated by the Apostle Matthew: "He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light".

  "For our senses, sunlight is the most intense in nature", the Holy Father said, "but for the spirit, the disciples saw, for a few moments, an even more intense radiance, that of Jesus' divine glory that illuminates all the history of salvation. ... The Transfiguration is not a change in Jesus but the revelation of His divinity. ... Peter, James, and John, in contemplating the divinity of the Lord, were preparing to face the scandal of the cross".

  "We too participate in this vision and in this divine gift, making space for prayer and for listening to the Word of God", the Pope concluded. "Moreover, during this time of Lent I urge you, as did Servant of God Paul VI, to answer the divine call to penance with some voluntary act that goes beyond the denials imposed by the weight of daily life".

  After praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI mentioned the "worrying news that has been arriving from Libya in the past days" and which has caused him "disquiet and fear". "I prayed to the Lord about it in particular during this week of spiritual exercises", he added.

  "I am now following the latest events with great apprehension", he asserted. "I pray for those who are caught up in that country's dramatic situation and make an urgent appeal to everyone with political and military responsibilities to concern themselves above all with the safety and wellbeing of the citizens, guaranteeing access to humanitarian aid. I ensure the population of my heartfelt closeness, while I ask God that peace and harmony may be reached as soon as possible in Libya and in the entire North African region".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world concerning the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.

  The English-language letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Cyril Vasil S.J., secretary of the same congregation, explains how "the Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the universal Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the experience of grace and suffering that marks her journey. She wishes to recognise, first of all, the grace of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, and that of the papal vist to Cyprus. These events have increased the interest of the world and the return of a great number of pilgrims in the historical footsteps of the Lord Jesus. Yet also tangible is sorrow at the escalating violence to Christians in Eastern regions whose consequences are felt acutely in the Holy Land. The Christians of the East are experiencing the actuality of martyrdom and are suffering because of the instability or absence of peace. The most disturbing sign of this is their inexorable exodus. Indeed a few positive signs in some situations do not suffice to invert the sorrowful tendency of Christian emigration which impoverishes the entire area, draining it of the most vital forces constituted by the young generations".

  "This appeal for the collection is inherent in the cause of peace, of which the brothers and sisters of the Holy Land desire to be effective instruments in the hands of the Lord for the good of the whole of the East".

  "It takes place at the beginning of the Lenten journey towards Easter and can culminate on Good Friday or on the occasions considered most favourable in each local context. However, the collection everywhere remains the ordinary and indispensable means of promoting the life of Christians in that beloved Land".

  After highlighting how "the Congregation for the Eastern Churches acts as spokesperson for these Churches' needs for pastoral care, education, social assistance and charity", the prefect and secretary of the dicastery note that "Pope Benedict invites us, however, to go beyond the gesture, although it is praiseworthy, of concrete help. The relationship must become more intense in order to attain a 'true spirituality anchored to the Land of Jesus'".

  An attachment to the letter of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches explains how, in the period 2009-2010, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - the mission of which is to "to keep alive the liturgy in the places of worship, to take care of pilgrims, to enhance apostolic works, and support the Christian community" - dedicated particular attention to the planning and execution of such projects as: the Sanctuary of St. John the Baptist at Ain Karem, the Sanctuary of the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor, scholarships for university students, and building homes for the poor and for young married couples.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

 - His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Samuel Irenios Kattukallil and Thomas Anthonios Valiyavilayil.

 - Archbishop Thomas Koorilos Chakkalapadickal of Tiruvalla of the Syro-Malankars, India, on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Philipos Stephanos Thottathil.

  Yesterday the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, accompanied by Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, archbishop emeritus of the same archdiocese.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Anthony Fallah Borwah, professor of philosophy at the University of Liberia and administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Monrovia, as bishop of Gbarnga (area 34,000, population 1,400,000, Catholics 18,000, priests 7, religious 23), Liberia. The bishop-elect was born in Wodu, Liberia in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1996.
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Friday, March 18, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, the presentation took place of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", an initiative by the Pontifical Council for Culture which will involve two days of meeting and dialogue between believers and non-believers in Paris, France, on 24 and 25 March.

  Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas F.S.J., executive director of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", and Stanislas de Laboulaye, French ambassador to the Holy See.

  Cardinal Ravasi explained that "at the request of Benedict XVI the Church has decided to embark on a new stage of dialogue, exchange and joint activity among believers and non-believers. This has been entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Culture".

  The name "Courtyard of the Gentiles" evokes "the image of the vast area near the Temple of Jerusalem reserved for debates between Jews and non-Jews", the cardinal said. "It complements inter-religious dialogue which has been going on for some decades and represents a long-term commitment of the Church which will interest many people in the world, believers and non-believers alike".

  "The aim", Cardinal Ravasi continued, "is to help to ensure that the great questions about human existence, especially the spiritual questions, are borne in mind and discussed in our societies, using our common reason".

  The president of the pontifical council went on: "That symbol of apartheid and sacral separation which was the wall of the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' was cancelled by Christ. He wished to eliminate barriers so as to ensure a harmonious meeting between the two peoples. ... Believers and non-believers stand on different ground, but they must not close themselves in a sacral or secular isolationism, ignoring one another or, worse still, launching taunts or accusations as do fundamentalists on one side and the other. Of course, differences must not be skimmed over, contradictory ideas must not be dismissed, or discordances ignored, ... but thoughts and words, deeds and decisions can be confronted, and even come together", he said.

  Relations between Christians and Gentiles "can follow the paradigm of a duel", the cardinal concluded, "but what the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles' wishes to propose is, by contrast, a duet. A duet in which the sound of the voices may be at antipodes - such as a bass and a soprano - yet manage to create a harmony without renouncing their own identity; in other words, ... without fading away into a vague ideological syncretism".

  The inaugural session of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles" will take place on the afternoon of 24 March at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, presided by Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, and attended by diplomats and representatives of the world of culture.

  A number of initiatives are scheduled to be held on Friday 25 March: in the morning at the Sorbonne University and in the afternoon at the "Institut de France" and the "College des Bernardins". The day will conclude with a celebration on the forecourt of the cathedral of Notre Dame with the theme: "Into the Courtyard of the Unknown". The event is open to everyone, especially young people. The Pope will address those present from giant screens set up for the occasion, explaining the significance and objectives of the Pontifical Council for Culture's initiative.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jonas Guerrero Corona, auxiliary of Mexico, Mexico, as bishop of Culiacan (area 37,800, population 2,474,898, Catholics 2,399,672, priests 185, permanent deacons 4, religious 273), Mexico. He succeeds Bishop Benjamin Jimenez Hernandez, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Bishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Uromi, Nigeria, as metropolitan archbishop of Benin City (area 13,678, population 1,761,701, Catholics 123,350, priests 69, religious 146), Nigeria. The archbishop-elect was born in Kaduna, Nigeria in 1956, he was ordained a priest in 1987 and consecrated a bishop in 2006.

 - Appointed Fr. Malachy John Goltok, pastor and bursar of the archdiocese of Jos, Nigeria, as bishop of Bauchi (area 64,605, population 6,105,000, Catholics 78,000, priests 33, religious 8), Nigeria. The bishop-elect was born in Bauchi in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1990.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 15 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 6 p.m. on Saturday 26 March Cardinal Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, archbishop emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, will take possession of the title of St. Emerentiana at Tor Fiorenza, Via Lucrino 53, Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Juan Garcia-Santacruz Ortiz of Guadix, Spain, on 12 March at the age of 78.

 - Bishop Oswald Georg Hirmer, emeritus of Umtata, South Africa, on 5 March at the age of 81.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father addressed to Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, for the 150th anniversary of the political unity of Italy, which falls tomorrow 17 March.

  In the Message, which Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. delivered to President Napolitano during a visit to the Quirinal Palace this morning, Benedict XVI highlights Christianity's contribution to building Italian identity "through the efforts of the Church and of her educational and care institutions, which established rules of behaviour, institutional structures and social relationships; but also through her vast artistic activity". In this context he also mentions the influence of such saints as Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena.

  "For complex historical, cultural and political reasons, the Italian 'Risorgimento' has been seen as a movement against the Church, against Catholicism and sometimes even against religion in general", the Holy Father says. However he also mentions the contribution to the formation of the unified State made by Catholic figures such as Gioberti, Rosmini and Manzoni.

  Going on then to refer to the so-called "Roman Question" and "the divisive effects it had on the individual and collective conscience of Italian Catholics", Benedict XVI nonetheless notes that "no conflict took place in society, which was marked by a profound friendship between the civil and ecclesial communities. The national identity of the Italians, so strongly rooted in Catholic traditions, constituted, in effect, the most solid foundation for the political unity that had been achieved".

  "The fundamental contribution of Italian Catholics to the republican Constitution of 1947 is well known", Pope Benedict writes. "This was the starting point for the highly significant involvement of Italian Catholics in politics, ... and in civil society, offering their fundamental contribution to the growth of the country, demonstrating their absolute faithfulness to the State and dedication to the common good, and projecting Italy towards Europe".

  "For her part the Church, thanks also to the broad-ranging freedom she was guaranteed by the Lateran Pacts of 1929, has continued to make an effective contribution to the common good through her institutions and activities. ... The conclusion of an agreement revising the Lateran Pacts, signed on 18 February 1984, marked the move to a new stage in relations between the Church and the State of Italy. ... The agreement, which contributed greatly to defining the healthy secularism that characterises the Italian State and its juridical system, highlighted two overriding principles which must regulate relations between the Church and the political community: the separation of spheres and collaboration. ... The Church is aware not only of the contribution she makes to civil society for the common good, but also of what she herself receives from civil society".

  "Contemplating the long course of history", the Pope concludes his Letter, "we must recognise that the Italian nation has always had a sense of the duty, but at the same time the unique privilege, arising from the fact that the See of Peter's Successor, and therefore the centre of Catholicism, is in Italy, in Rome. And the national community has always responded to this awareness by expressing is affectionate closeness, solidarity and assistance towards the Apostolic See, so as to foster its freedom and help create the conditions favourable for the exercise of spiritual ministry in the world by Peter's Successor, who is Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Thomas A. Daly of the clergy of the archdiocese of San Francisco, U.S.A., director of priestly vocations and president of the Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, as auxiliary of San Jose in California (area 3,367, population 1,837,075, Catholics 667,474, priests 343, permanent deacons 20, religious 583), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in San Francisco in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1987.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 15 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has published the following communique:

  "In view of the beatification of John Paul II on 1 May 2011, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) have organised a number of initiatives and made a wide range of documentary material available.

  "A new page dedicated to John Paul II for his beatification has been activated on Youtube. The page is available at the following address: http://www.youtube.com/giovannipaoloii and includes video clips on the pontificate year by year, as well as video clips with the Pope's voice in various languages and situations (on trips and in the Vatican).

  "These are audio recordings supplied and selected by the language programmes of Vatican Radio, which have then been mounted onto video by CTV. The audio of the Pope will be in the original language in which it was pronounced, with English-language subtitles indicating the place (country), day, month and year of the event.

  "The dedicated Youtube page - as well as the normal channel which has existed for some time in four languages www.youtube.com/vatican - will be supplied with video clips of current events and information concerning the days of the beatification.

  "A new page has also been activated on Facebook concerning John Paul II in view of his beatification. It may be consulted at this address: www.facebook.com/vatican.johnpaul2. All the video clips uploaded to the Youtube channel will be available at the same time on this page.

  "The aim is to diversify the instruments so as to give this initiative as great an exposure and as wide a coverage as possible. Unlike other initiatives already present on the Internet in various forms, initiatives by private individuals not associated with the Holy See, this carries the joint signatures of Vatican Radio and of the Vatican Television Centre, it has been agreed with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and is, of course, open to all users of Facebook.

  "The general objective is to accompany the course of the beatification using the instruments technology makes available, making full use of the resources at our disposal and, at least in part, of the vast documentary archives held by Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre".
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Monday, March 14, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga S.J. of Osaka, Japan, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, for the earthquake and tsunami which have brought devastation to the country.

  "Deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic effects of the major earthquake and consequent tsunamis which have struck Japan's north-eastern coastal regions, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assures all who have been afflicted of his closeness at this difficult time. He prays for those who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation. The Holy Father also expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those providing rescue, relief and support to the victims of this disaster".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received members of the National Association of Italian Local Authorities.

  In his address to them, the Pope highlighted how "the multiplicity of subjects and of situations is not incompatible with the unity of the nation, which is being reaffirmed by this 150th anniversary currently being celebrated. Unity and plurality are, at various levels including the ecclesial level, values which enrich one another, if the right reciprocal balance is maintained.

  "Two principles which facilitate the harmonious joint presence of unity and plurality are subsidiarity and solidarity, typical of the social teaching of the Church. This social doctrine has as its objective truths which are not only part of the heritage of believers, but rationally knowable by all people".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "these principles must also be applied at the level of local administration, in a dual sense: in the dealings local authorities have with the public offices of State, region and province, and in their relationship with social and intermediary organisations present in their territory. ... These include numerous ecclesial formations, such as parishes, oratories, religious houses, and Catholic institutions of education and assistance. My hope is that this vital activity may always find adequate appreciation and support, also in financial terms".

  The Holy Father continued: "On this subject I would like to reiterate the fact that the Church seeks no privileges, but wishes only to be able to perform her mission freely, requesting effective respect for religious liberty. In Italy, such liberty facilitates the collaboration which exists between civil and ecclesial communities. Unfortunately, in other countries Christian minorities are often victims of discrimination and persecution", he said.

  The Pope also highlighted the importance of the word "citizenship", which the members of the association have chosen to emphasise in their work. "Citizenship today", he remarked, "must be placed in the context of globalisation which is characterised, among other things, by great migratory flows. Faced with this situation solidarity must be associated with respect for the law, so as to ensure that social coexistence is not disrupted, and that consideration is given to legal principles and to the cultural and religious tradition from which Italy draws its origins. This need is more deeply felt by you who, as local administrators, are closer to people's daily lives. At all times you are required to show particular dedication in your public service to citizens, in order to promote collaboration, solidarity and humanity.

  "History", the Pope added in conclusion, "has left us examples of mayors who through their prestige and dedication have marked the lives of their communities. Mention has rightly been made of Giorgio La Pira, an exemplary Christian and respected public administrator. May this tradition continue to produce fruits for the good of the country and its citizens".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2011 (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, 13 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his private study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Before the Marian prayer the Holy Father remarked on the significance of the period of Lent which, he said, constitutes "a spiritual itinerary of preparation for Easter. Essentially it means following Jesus as He moves decisively towards the Cross, the apex of His mission of salvation. And if we ask ourselves: Why Lent? Why the Cross? The answer is, in radical terms this: Because evil exists, sin, which according to Scripture is the profound cause of all evil.

  "But this affirmation cannot be taken for granted", he added. "Many people do not accept the very word 'sin' because it presupposes a religious vision of the world and of man; and indeed it is true that if we eliminate God from the horizon of the world we can no longer speak of sin. ... The eclipse of God necessarily involves the eclipse of sin. For this reason the sense of sin - which is different to the 'sense of guilt' as psychology understands it - is acquired by rediscovering the sense of God".

  Faced with moral evil, "God's approach is to oppose sin and to save the sinner. God does not tolerate evil, because he is Love, Justice and Fidelity. It is for this reason that He does not want the death of sinners, but for them to convert and live. God intervenes to save humanity, as we see throughout the history of the Jewish people, beginning with their flight from Egypt. God is determined to free His children from slavery and lead them to freedom, and the most serious and profound form of slavery is that of sin. This is why God sent His Son into the world: to free mankind from the domination of Satan, the 'original cause of all sin'".

  "Entering this liturgical period means always siding with Christ against sin, facing - as individuals and as Church - the spiritual struggle against the spirit of evil".

  Finally the Pope asked everyone to pray for him and his collaborators in the Roman Curia as they begin their annual Lenten spiritual exercises this evening.
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VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2011 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today, the Pope spoke of the "images of the tragic earthquake and the consequent tsunami in Japan" which, he said, "have left a deep impression on us all.

  "I wish to renew", he added, "my spiritual closeness to the dear people of that country who are facing up to the consequences of these calamities with dignity and courage. I pray for the victims and their families, and for everyone suffering as a result of these tremendous events. And I encourage everyone who, with commendable willingness, is bringing aid. Let us remain united in prayer, the Lord is near us!"
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VATICAN CITY, 14 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Joseph Nguyen Tan Tuoc, director of formation for candidates to the priesthood in the diocese of Phu Cuong, Vietnam, as coadjutor of the same diocese (area 9,543, population 2,580,000, Catholics 125,274, priests 104, religious 405). The bishop-elect was born in Chanh Hiep, Vietnam in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1991.

  On Saturday 12 March it was made public that the Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Thumma Bala of Warangal, India, as archbishop of Hyderabad (area 25,319, population 12,674,000, Catholics 108,388, priests 283, religious 1,080), India. The archbishop-elect was born in Narimetta, India in 1944, he was ordained a priest in 1970 and consecrated a bishop in 1987.

 - Erected the new diocese of Kondoa (area 13,210, population 541,345, Catholics 46,067, priests 17, religious 87) Tanzania, with territory taken from the diocese of Dodoma, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Dar-es-Salaam. He appointed Fr. Bernardine Mfumbusa, vice chancellor of academic studies at the University of St. Augustine of Mwanza, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Arusha, Tanzania in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1992.

 - Appointed John Chrisostom Ndimbo, executive secretary of the department of education at the Tanzania Episcopal Conference, as bishop of Mbinga (area 11,400, population 532,019, Catholics 418,000, priests 69, religious 270), Tanzania. The bishop-elect was born in Kipololo, Tanzania in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1989. He succeeds Bishop Emmanuel A. Mapunda, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Thomas D'Souza of Bagdogra, India, as coadjutor archbishop of Calcutta (area 29,857, population 32,674,000, Catholics 165,381, priests 237, religious 1,258), India. The archbishop-elect was born in Adyapady, India in 1950, he was ordained a priest in 1977 and consecrated a bishop in 1998.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Vigevano, Italy presented by Bishop Claudio Baggini, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop-Bishop Vincenzo Di Mauro.
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Friday, March 11, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with pastors and priests of the diocese of Rome to whom he imparted a "lectio divina" inspired by St. Paul's address to the elders of Ephesus in chapter twenty of the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on the priesthood as service and faithfulness.

"One cannot be a priest part-time", said the Holy Father. "We are always priests with all our soul and with all our heart. ... Being an ambassador of Christ ... is a mission which penetrates our entire being".

The Apostle Paul "did not preach an 'a la carte' Christianity, organised according to taste, he did not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas". Priests "must announce the will of God entire, including the 'more difficult' will, ... the themes they may least like personally".

Referring then to Lent which has just begun, the Pope spoke of conversion which, he said, must be reflected, above all, in "a change of thinking and of heart" which leads us to focus not on the things of the world, "but on the presence of God in the world".

The Pope also highlighted the importance that spiritual life must have for priests. "Praying and meditating on the word of God is not time lost from the care of souls, but a condition enabling us to remain in contact with the Lord, and so be able to speak first hand of Him to others".

Finally, the Pope encouraged priests not to lose hope, despite the difficulties they may encounter in their ministry.

"The truth is stronger than lies", he concluded, "and love is stronger than hatred. God is stronger than all adverse forces. With this joy, with this inner certainty we follow our journey amidst the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office yesterday afternoon, the second volume of Benedict XVI's book on Jesus of Nazareth: "From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection" was presented in the course of a press conference chaired by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S. prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Claudio Magris, a writer and German scholar.

Cardinal Ouellet explained how, apart from the natural interest in a book about Jesus, "the Pope's book is humbly presenting itself to the forum of exegetes in order to compare methodology and research results with them. ... I cannot but see in this book the dawn of a new era of exegesis, a promising age of theological interpretation", he said.

"The Pope first enters into dialogue with German exegesis, though he does not overlook other important authors from the French, English or Romance language areas", the cardinal said. The Holy Father's "is that of 'seeking the real Jesus', not the 'historical Jesus' of the dominant school in critical exegesis, but the 'Jesus of the Gospels'".

Cardinal Ouellet explained that, "although the author is not presenting an official teaching of the Church, it is easy to imagine that his scholarly authority and the profound consideration given to certain disputed questions will be of great help in confirming many people's faith. This will also serve to enliven debates that have become stagnated because of rationalist or positivist prejudices, impairing the prestige of modern and contemporary exegesis".

Going on then to comment on the contents of the new book, the cardinal first noted how "the question of the historical foundation of Christianity has interested Joseph Ratzinger since his formative years and his first experience of teaching, as is evident from his book 'Introduction to Christianity', published forty years ago".

"A second question touches on the Messianism of Jesus. A number of modern exegetes, under the influence of dominant ideologies, have made Jesus out to be a revolutionary, a master of morality, an eschatological prophet, an idealist rabbi, a madman of God, a messiah in some way in the image of His exegete".

The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops explains how "the Pope powerfully and clearly outlines the regal and priestly dimensions of this Messianism, the meaning of which is to establish the new form of worship - adoration in spirit and in Truth - which involves all of individual and community life, as an offering of love for the glorification of God in the flesh.

"A third issue", the cardinal added, "concerns the meaning of redemption and the place that it should occupy in the expiation of sins. The Pope examines the modern objections to this traditional doctrine, ... and shows how mercy and justice go hand in hand within the framework of the Covenant established by God".

"The fourth problem involves the priesthood of Christ. In terms of today's ecclesial categories, Jesus was a lay person invested with a prophetic vocation. He did not belong to the priestly aristocracy of the Temple. ... This fact has led many interpreters to consider the figure of Jesus as entirely divorced from any relationship with priesthood. ... The Pope provides an ample response to the historical and critical objections, demonstrating how Jesus' new priesthood was coherent with the new worship He came to establish upon the earth, in obedience to the will of the Father".

"The final issue", the cardinal went on, "concerns the resurrection and its historical and eschatological dimension, its relationship with corporeity and with the Church. ... The Pope speaks out against ... interpretations which declare that the announcement of Christ's Resurrection is compatible with His body remaining in the tomb. He excludes these theories observing that the empty tomb, even if it is not proof of the resurrection, which had no direct witnesses, remains as a sign, ... a trace in the history of a transcendent event. ... The paradoxical experience of the apparitions reveals that, in this new dimension of existence, ... Jesus lives fully, in a new relationship with real corporeity but free from corporeal ties as we understand them. The historical importance of the resurrection is clear from the evidence of the early communities, which instituted the tradition of Sunday [worship] as a sign identifying the fact that they belonged to the Lord".

"It is clear from this book", the cardinal concluded, "that Peter's Successor dedicates himself to his specific ministry, which is to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. ... This book will serve, on the one hand, to mediate between contemporary and Patristic exegesis and, on the other, to foster the necessary dialogue between exegetes, theologians and pastors", he said.

"In this work", the cardinal completed his remarks, "I see a great invitation to dialogue on the essential aspects of Christianity, in a world seeking points of reference, a world in which religious traditions struggle to transmit humanity's heritage of religious wisdom to new generations".
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