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Thursday, June 30, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, in a traditional meeting for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, Benedict XVI received a delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople traditionally exchange visits for the feasts of their respective patrons.

  The delegation, which delivered a message to the Holy Father on behalf of the Patriarch, was made up of His Eminence Emmanuel (Adenakis), metropolitan of France and director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; His Eminence Athenagoras (Yves Peckstadt), bishop of Sinope and auxiliary of the metropolitan of Belgium, and Archimandrite Maxime Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switzerland.

  "Your participation in this our feast day, like the presence of our own representatives in Constantinople for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, is an expression of the friendship and the authentic fraternity which unites the Church of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bonds which are solidly rooted in the faith received from the witness of the Apostles", said the Pope in his remarks to the delegation. "The spiritual intimacy we experience each time we meet causes me profound joy and a sense of gratitude towards God. At the same time, however, the incomplete communion which already binds us must grow until it becomes full visible unity.

  "We are carefully following the progress of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches", he added. "From a purely human perspective, one could get the impression that theological dialogue proceeds with difficulty. The truth is that its rhythm is linked to the complexity of the questions under discussion, which require extraordinary efforts of scholarship, of reflection, of mutual openness. We are called to continue this journey together in charity, asking the Holy Spirit to give us light and inspiration, in the certainty that He wishes to lead us to the complete fulfilment of Christ's will: that all should be one".

  "In a historical context of violence, indifference and selfishness, many men and women of our time feel lost. Yet, with our shared witness of the truth of the Gospel, we can help mankind of our time to rediscover the path that leads to truth. The search for truth always coincides with the search for justice and peace, and it is with great joy that I note the prodigious efforts that His Holiness Bartholomew makes in this area", said the Holy Father.

  He concluded by recalling how, following the example of his predecessor Blessed John Paul II, he had invited "our Christian brethren, exponents of other religious traditions of the world and leading figures of culture and science to join me in Assisi, Italy, on 27 October for a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world. The theme of the meeting will be: 'Pilgrims in truth. Pilgrims in Peace'. Our walking together in the streets of the town of St. Francis will be a sign of our will to continue along the paths of dialogue and fraternity".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica on the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were forty new metropolitan archbishops, upon whom he imposed the pallium.

  The Pope began his homily by recalling the words of Jesus which Cardinal Faulhaber had addressed to him and other newly-ordained priests sixty years ago: "'Non iam dicam servos, sed amico' - I no longer call you servants, but friends".

  "He calls me His friend. ... He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only He, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. ... He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim His word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts Himself to me".

  Benedict XVI explained how the phrase "'No longer servants, but friends' ... contains within itself the entire programme of a priestly life. ... The friendship that He bestows upon me can only mean that I too try to know Him better; that in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the communion of saints, in the people who come to me, sent by Him, I try to come to know the Lord Himself more and more. ... In friendship, my will grows together with His will, and His will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself".

  "Jesus' words on friendship should be seen in the context of the discourse on the vine", said the Pope. "The Lord associates the image of the vine with a commission to the disciples: 'I appointed you that you should go out and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide'. ... The Lord challenges us to move beyond the boundaries of our own world and to bring the Gospel to the world of others, so that it pervades everything and hence the world is opened up for God's kingdom".

  "After the reference to setting out, Jesus continues: bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does He expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made. ... Is this not already an image of human life, and especially of our lives as priests?" the Pope asked. "We need both sun and rain, festivity and adversity, times of purification and testing, as well as times of joyful journeying with the Gospel. In hindsight we can thank God for both: for the challenges and the joys, for the dark times and the glad times. In both, we can recognise the constant presence of His love, which unfailingly supports and sustains us".

  The Holy Father went on to ask: "What sort of fruit does the Lord expect from us? Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. ... At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross".

  The Pope then addressed a greeting to the delegation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, thanking them "for their visit on the joyful occasion of the feast of the holy Apostles and patrons of Rome".

  Turning then to the archbishops upon whom he was about to impose the pallium, he reminded them that this woollen band "reminds us of the Shepherd Who Himself became a lamb, out of love for us. ... It reminds us of Him Who took the lamb - humanity - me - upon His shoulders, in order to carry me home. It thus reminds us that we too, as shepherds in His service, are to carry others with us, taking them as it were upon our shoulders and bringing them to Christ. It reminds us that we are called to be shepherds of His flock, which always remains His and does not become ours. Finally the pallium also means quite concretely the communion of the shepherds of the Church with Peter and with his successors - it means that we must be shepherds for unity and in unity, and that it is only in the unity represented by Peter that we truly lead people to Christ".

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by returning to reflect on his ordination sixty years ago, saying "I feel prompted at this moment to look back upon the things that have left their mark on the last six decades. I feel prompted to address to you, to all priests and bishops and to the faithful of the Church, a word of hope and encouragement; a word that has matured in long experience of how good the Lord is. Above all, though, it is a time of thanksgiving: thanks to the Lord for the friendship that He has bestowed upon me and that He wishes to bestow upon us all. Thanks to the people who have formed and accompanied me. And all this includes the prayer that the Lord will one day welcome us in His goodness and invite us to contemplate His joy. Amen".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica, in the course of which he imposed the pallium on the following forty metropolitan archbishops:

1. Archbishop Zbignev Stankevics of Riga, Lithuania.
2. Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.
3. Archbishop Antoine Ganye Jude of Cotonou, Benin.
4. Archbishop Fausto Gabriel Travez Travez O.F.M. of Quito, Ecuador.
5. Archbishop James Peter Sartain of Seattle, U.S.A.
6. Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales S.D.B. of Guatemala, Guatemala.
7. Archbishop Gonzalo Restrepo Restrepo of Manizales, Colombia.
8. Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, Italy.
9. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller M.S.P.S. of San Antonio, U.S.A.
10. Archbishop Jose Serofia Palma of Cebu, Philippines.
11. Archbishop Pedro Brito Guimaraes of Palmas, Brazil.
12. Archbishop Juan Alberto Puiggari of Parana, Argentina.
13. Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu, Korea.
14. Archbishop Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa'ichi O.F.M.Cap. of Mwanza, Tanzania.
15. Archbishop Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve of Barranquilla, Colombia.
16. Archbishop Paul Yembuado Ouedraogo of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.
17. Archbishop William Slattery O.F.M. of Pretoria, South Africa.
18. Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello S.D.B. of Santiago de Chile, Chile.
19. Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley of Oklahoma City, U.S.A.
20. Archbishop Murilo Sabastiao Ramos Krieger of San Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
21. Archbishop Marjan Turnsek of Maribor, Slovenia.
22. Archbishop Remi Joseph Gustave Sainte-Marie M.Afr. of Lilongwe, Malawi.
23. Archbishop Gerard-Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec, Canada.
24. Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, U.S.A.
25. Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad, India.
26. Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, Nigeria.
27. Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone S.D.P. of Catanzaro-Squillace, Italy.
28. Archbishop Luis María Perez de Onraita Aguirre of Malanje, Angola.
29. Archbishop Jose Manuel Imbamba of Saurimo, Angola.
30. Archbishop Jacinto Bergmann of Pelotas, Brazil.
31. Archbishop Helio Adelar Rubert of Santa María, Brazil.
32. Archbishop Pedro Ercilio Simon of Passo Fundo, Brazil.
33. Archbishop Charles Henry Dufour of Kingston in Jamaica, Jamaica.
34. Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Wales.
35. Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib of Concepcion, Chile.
36. Archbishop Dimas Lara Barbosa of Campo Grande, Brazil.
37. Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia of Cali, Colombia.
38. Archbishop Pierre Marie Carre of Montpellier, France.
39. Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia, Brazil.
40. Archbishop Sergio Lasam Utleg of Tuguegarao, Philippines.

  The following five metropolitan archbishops will receive the pallium in their respective sees:

41. Archbishop Johannes Maria Trilaksyanta Pujasumarta of Semarang, Indonesia.
42. Archbishop Guire Poulard of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
43. Archbishop John Barwa S.V.D. of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, India.
44. Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of Monrovia, Liberia.
45. Archbishop Pascal N'koue of Parakou, Benin.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's Mass, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  Before the Marian prayer Benedict XVI apologised to pilgrims for his late arrival due, he said, to the fact that "the Mass in honour of Sts. Peter and Paul was long and beautiful. Our thoughts went to that fine hymn of the Church of Rome which begins: 'O Roma felix!'. Today, on the Feast of ... the patrons of this city we sing: 'Joy, Rome, because you were stained with the precious blood of such great Princes. Not for your praise, but for their merits, do you surpass all beauty".

  "St. Peter's and St. Paul's witness of love and faithfulness illumines the pastors of the Church, guiding men to truth and moulding them to faith in Christ. St. Peter in particular represents the unity of the apostolic college. For this reason, during this morning's liturgical celebration in the Vatican Basilica, I imposed the pallium on forty metropolitan archbishops, as an expression of their communion with the bishop of Rome in the mission to guide the people of God to salvation".

  "The faith professed by Peter is the foundation of the Church", Benedict XVI said. Peter's primacy is divine predilection, as is the priestly vocation: 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you', said Jesus, 'but my Father in heaven'. This is what happens to those who decided to respond to God's call with the whole of their lives. I happily reiterate this today as I celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of my own ordination.

  "Thank you for your presence and for your prayers", the Pope added. "I am grateful to you. Above all, I am grateful to the Lord for His call and for the ministry He has entrusted to me. I thank everyone who, on this occasion, has expressed support for my mission with prayer, the prayer which incessantly rises to God from all ecclesial communities, and becomes adoration of the Eucharistic Christ, increasing the power and freedom to announce the Gospel".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks by again greeting "the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, present today in Rome for the significant custom of venerating Sts. Peter and Paul and sharing my hope in the unity of Christians, as the Lord wished. Trustingly we invoke the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, that all the baptised may become as 'living stones' which build the Kingdom of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI conferred the first "Ratzinger Prize", an award established by the "Vatican Foundation: Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI". The prize winners were: Manlio Simonetti, an Italian layman and scholar of ancient Christian literature and Patrology; Olegario Gonzalez de Cardedal, a Spanish priest and professor of systematic theology, and Maximilian Heim, a German Cistercian, abbot of the monastery of Heiligenkreuz in Austria and professor of fundamental and dogmatic theology.

  Following some words of greeting from Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, the Holy Father pronounced his address.

  "According to tradition, theology is the science of the faith", said the Pope. "However, if the foundation of theology - i.e., faith - does not at the same time become a focus of thought, if the practice of theology refers only to itself or if it lives exclusively off borrowings from the humanities, then it becomes empty and baseless".

  "Theology calls into question the matter of truth; this is its ultimate and essential foundation. Here an expression used by Tertullian may help us to take a step forward: Christ did not say: I am custom, but: I am the truth". The pagan religions, said the Holy Father "were customary by nature. ... They observed the traditional cultural forms, hoping in that way to maintain the right relationship with the mysterious world of the divine. The revolutionary aspect of Christianity in antiquity was precisely its break with 'custom' out of love for truth". The Gospel of St. John "contains the other fundamental interpretation of the Christian faith: the definition of Christ as Logos. If Christ is the Logos, the truth, then man must correspond to Him with his own logos; that is, with his reason".

  "From this we can understand that, by its very nature, the Christian faith had to generate theology. It had to ask itself about the rationality of the faith. ... Thus, although the fundamental bond between Logos, truth and faith, has always been clear in Christianity, the concrete form of that bond has produced and continues to produce new questions. ... St. Bonaventure ... spoke of a dual use of reason: a use irreconcilable with the nature of the faith, and another which belongs to the nature of the faith".

  For St. Bonaventure there was a "despotism of reason, when it becomes supreme judge of all things. This use of reason is certainly impossible in the context of the faith" because it seeks to submit God "to a process of experimental trial", said the Pope. In our own time, he went on, "empirical reason appears as the only declaredly scientific form of rationality. ... It has led to great achievements, and no-one would seriously wish to deny that it is just and necessary as a way to understand nature and the laws of nature. Nonetheless there is a limit to such a use of reason. God is not an object of human experimentation. He is Subject and shows Himself only in the relationship between one person and another".

  "In this context, St. Bonaventure refers to another use of reason: in the 'personal' sphere, in the great questions raised by the fact of being human. Love wants a better knowledge of the beloved. Love, true love, does not make us blind but causes us to see and part of this is thirst for knowledge, thirst for a true knowledge of the other. For this reason the Fathers of the Church found the precursors of Christianity (apart from in the world of the revelation to Israel) not in the area of customary religion, ... but in the 'philosophers', in people who thirsted for truth and who were thus on the path towards God. When this use of reason is lacking, then the great questions of humanity fall outside the field of reason and are abandoned to irrationality. This is why authentic theology is so important. Correct faith conducts reason to open itself to the divine so that, guided by love for truth, it can gain a closer knowledge of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received the forty metropolitan archbishops upon whom he imposed the pallium yesterday, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. The archbishops were accompanied by members of their families.

  The Holy Father addressed the archbishops (who come from twenty-five different countries) in various languages, highlighting how, "the pallium reminds you of your specific responsibility towards your suffragan Churches and your special bond of unity with the See of Peter".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father addressed to Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper, marking that publication's 150th anniversary. Its first edition appeared on 1 July 1861.

  After reviewing the most significant moments in the history of the daily, traditionally known as "the Pope's newspaper", Benedict XVI writes that "over this century and a half the 'Osservatore Roman' has, above all, testified to the service of truth and Catholic communion by the See of Peter's Successor".

  "Over this period - often marked by a lack of points of reference, by the removal of God from the horizon of many societies, even traditionally Christian societies - the Holy See's daily newspaper has stood out as a 'newspaper of ideas', as a source not just of information but of formation. Now it must remain faithful to the role it has played over this century and a half", the Pope writes, "attentive also the Christian East, to the irreversible ecumenical commitment of the various Churches and ecclesial communities, to the constant search for friendship and collaboration with Judaism and other religions, to the cultural debate, to the voice of women, and to bioethical questions which are so decisively important for everyone".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for July is: "That Christ may ease the physical and spiritual sufferings of those who are sick with AIDS, especially in the poorest countries".

  His mission intention is: "That religious women in mission territories may be witnesses of the joy of the Gospel and living signs of the love of Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, also as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Pinsk (area 72,700, population 3,146,000, Catholics 50,620, priests 47, religious 228), Belarus.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Santa Rosa, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Daniel F. Walsh, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Robert F. Vasa.

 - Appointed Fr. John Sherrington of the clergy of the diocese of Nottingham, England, pastor of the parish of the Good Shepherd at Arnold, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Westminster (area 3,634, population 4,726,206, Catholics 476,647, priests 629, permanent deacons 10, religious 1,465), England. The bishop-elect was born in Leicester, England in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1989.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the twenty-sixth World Youth Day (WYD), which will be held in the Spanish capital city of Madrid from 16 to 21 August. The conference was presented by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid; Yago de la Cierva, executive director of WYD 2011; Elsa Vazquez Maggio, an international volunteer, and Jose Antonio Martinez Fuentes, secretary general of WYD 2011.

  "Each World Youth Day is an extraordinary experience for a Church which is friend to young people, which shares their problems", said Cardinal Rylko. "A Church which places herself at the service of the new generations. It is an experience of Universal Church - unique of its kind - which embraces the entire planet, of a young Church full of enthusiasm and missionary vigour. It is an epiphany of the Christian faith which has truly planetary dimensions. And young people, especially in the old and profoundly secularised continent of Europe, have particular need of all this".

  The cardinal recalled how this is the second occasion that Spain has "generously welcomed" WYD, and he spoke of the last time the event was held in that country, at Santiago de Compostela in 1989. It was there, he said, "that World Youth Day came to be structured as we know it today: three days of catechesis, a prayer vigil on the Saturday night, then the closing Eucharistic celebration and the dispatch of young people as missionaries. Also at Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage came to be an essential factor of young people's journey in the footsteps of Peter's Successor.

  "Over succeeding years", he added, "each WYD has brought something new to the programme: the Way of the Cross at Denver, U.S.A., in 1993; preparatory days spent in dioceses prior to the main event and the 'Festival of Youth' (a kind of cultural programme) at Paris, France, in 1997; the 'Feast of Forgiveness' (300 confessionals crowded with young people in the Circus Maximus) at Rome in 2000; the 'Vocations Fair' at Toronto, Canada, in 2002, and the adoration of the Eucharist at Cologne, Germany, in 2005. Thus the proposal made to young people on each occasion is in continual evolution, seeking to respond to the true spiritual needs of today's youth".

  The cardinal also provided some statistics, noting that "WYD in Madrid is going to be a very significant event". Four hundred thousand young people have already signed up; they will be accompanied by14,000 priests and by 744 bishops, of whom 263 will be responsible for catechesis. Two hundred and fifty sites have been assigned for catechesis, which will be delivered in thirty languages, and 700,000 copies of "YOUCAT" will be distributed in six languages. Twenty-four thousand volunteers from different countries will be involved in various services. Finally, before reaching Madrid, the young people will be welcomed in sixty-eight Spanish dioceses, "in confirmation of the fact that the entire Church in Spain is directly involved in the WYD experience", said the cardinal. For those unable to reach Madrid, "simultaneous gatherings of young people have been organised in countries such as Ukraine, Burundi and Madagascar. They will be linked to the main event in Madrid by television and internet.

  "The Pope's presence is the culminating moment of any WYD", said the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, noting that the forthcoming event in Madrid "will take place in the light of the recent beatification of John Paul II, founder of World Youth Days. Thus John Paul II will return among the young people he loved so much, and who loved him. He returns as blessed, patron and protector. Indeed, the Eucharistic celebration welcoming the youth to Madrid, presided by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of the city, on 16 August, will be dedicated to the new blessed".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received members of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who have come to Rome for tomorrow's Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles: His Eminence Emmanuel, metropolitan of France and director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; His Eminence Athenagoras, bishop of Sinope and auxiliary of the metropolitan of Belgium, and Archimandrite Maximos Pothos, vicar general of the metropolitan of Switzerland.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, as metropolitan archbishop of Milan (area 4,208, population 5,334,788, Catholics 4,887,661, priests 2,870, permanent deacons 118, religious 7,316), Italy. He succeeds Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Antonio Ferreira da Costa, official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as bureau chief of the same section.
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Monday, June 27, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received 2,000 members of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are currently celebrating their organisation's 40th anniversary.

  The association came into being at the wish of Paul VI who in 1970 disbanded various groups of pontifical guards, including the Palatine Guard of Honour created by Pius IX in 1850. His intention was to bring together a group of the faithful of Rome who wished to express their unconditional fidelity to the Apostolic See. Former members of the guard were thus invited to join a new group called the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, the statutes of which were approved by Paul VI in 1971.

  The association is divided into three sections: liturgy, culture and charity, plus a general secretariat. It undertakes various initiatives, with the aim of bearing witness to Christian life, the apostolate and faithfulness to the Apostolic See.

  In his address the Holy Father thanked them for the charitable work they do in collaboration with the Daughters of Charity, and for their help in ensuring the smooth running of celebrations in the Vatican. "These tasks", he said, "require profound motivation, which must be constantly renewed by an intense spiritual life. In order to help others to pray, our own hearts must be turned towards God; in order to call them to respect holy places and holy things, we too must have a Christian sense of the sacred; in order to help our neighbour with authentic Christian love, we must have a humble heart and an attitude of faith. Your actions, often undertaken in silence, are an indication, an example, a reminder, and as such they also have an educational value".

  Benedict XVI commended the members of the association to the Virgin Mary, whom they venerate as "Virgo Fidelis". "Today there is more need for faithfulness than ever before", he said. "We live in a society which has lost this value, which exalts acceptance of change, of 'mobility' and 'flexibility', also for legitimate economic and organisational reasons. But the quality of human relationships is measured by faithfulness. Sacred Scripture teaches us that God is faithful".

  The Pope concluded his address by thanking those present for their gift of a chasuble for the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination as a priest. "It reminds me", he said, "that I am always first and foremost a priest of Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 17 June, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 350th anniversary of the Marian shrine of Werl, in the German archdiocese of Paderborn, due to take place on 2 July.

  The cardinal will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Wilhelm Hentze, provost of the metropolitan chapter, and Msgr. Theodor Ahrens, canon of the metropolitan chapter.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released the programme of Benedict XVI's forthcoming apostolic trip to Madrid, Spain, for the twenty-sixth World Youth Day (WYD).

  The Holy Father is due to depart by plane from Rome's Ciampino airport at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday 19 August, landing at midday at Barajas airport in Madrid where a welcome ceremony will take place. At 7.15 p.m. that day he will join a group of young people to pass under the Puerta de Alcala in the city's Plaza de Independencia, before moving on to Plaza de Cibeles where youth from all over the world will be gathered to greet him.

  On Friday 19 August the Pope will celebrate Mass privately in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature in Madrid then, at 10 a.m., pay a courtesy visit to the Spanish king and queen in the Palacio de la Zarzuela. At 11.30 a.m. he will attend a meeting with young religious and another with young university professors at the basilica of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

  At 5.30 p.m., having had lunch with young people at the apostolic nunciature, Benedict XVI is scheduled to hold an official meeting with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain. Later, at 7.30 p.m., the Pope will return to Plaza de Cibeles where he will preside at the Way of the Cross.

  On Saturday 20 August Benedict XVI will hear confession from a number of young people in Madrid's Jardines del Buen Retiro before celebrating Mass for seminarians at 10 a.m. in the cathedral of Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena. At 5 p.m. that day he will meet with the WYD organising committees at the apostolic nunciature then visit the Fundacion Instituto San Jose. At 8.30 p.m. he will preside at a prayer vigil with young people at the airport of Cuatro Vientos.

  At 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 21 August, the Holy Father will preside at the World Youth Day Mass at the airport of Cuatro Vientos, then pray the Angelus. After the ceremony he will have lunch with Spanish cardinals and the papal entourage at the apostolic nunciature.

  The Holy Father is scheduled to leave the apostolic nunciature at 5 p.m. He will meet with WYD volunteers in the new Feria de Madrid - IFEMA before travelling to the airport of Barajas where the departure ceremony will take place at 6.30 p.m. The papal plane will depart for Rome at 7 p.m. where it is scheduled to land at 9.30 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JUN 2011 (VIS) - His Beatitude Bechara Rai, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, with the consent of the Synod of the Maronite Church and having informed the Apostolic See, has transferred, in accordance with canon 85 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Paul Nabil El-Sayah of Haifa of the Maronites, patriarchal exarch for Jerusalem, Palestine and Jordan, to the office of bishop of the Patriarchal Curia. The Holy Father has allowed the prelate to maintain his title of archbishop "ad personam".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus today, Benedict XVI made some remarks about the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the "Feast of the Eucharist", which is being celebrated today in many countries around the world and which represents "the Church's most valuable treasure".

  The Pope explained how "the Eucharist is like a beating heart giving life to the mystical Body of the Church, which is a social organisation entirely founded on its spiritual yet tangible bond with Christ. ... Without the Eucharist the Church would simply cease to exist. In fact, it is the Eucharist which renders a human community a mystery of communion, capable of bringing God to the world and the world to God. The Holy Spirit, which transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, also transforms those who receive it with faith into limbs of Christ's Body, thus the Church truly is a Sacrament of men's unity, with God and with one another.

  "In an increasingly individualistic culture", Benedict XVI added, "such as that in which we live in western societies and which is tending to spread throughout the world, the Eucharist constitutes a kind of 'antidote', working on the hearts and minds of believers and continually infusing them with the logic of communion, service and sharing, the logic of the Gospel. The first Christians in Jerusalem were an evident sign of this new lifestyle because they lived in fraternity and shared all their worldly goods, so that no one should be left in want. ... In later generations too, the Church, despite human limitations and errors, has continued to be a force for communion in the world. We think particularly of the times of greatest difficulty, times of trial: for example, what could the chance of coming together at Sunday Mass have meant in countries ruled by totalitarian regimes? ... Yet the vacuum produced by false freedoms can be equally dangerous; thus communion with the Body of Christ is like a medicine for the mind and the will, helping us rediscover our taste for truth and for the common good".

  After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father turned his attention to last Saturday's beatification in the German city of Lubeck of Frs. Johannes Prassek, Eduard Muller and Hermann Lange, killed by the Nazis in Hamburg in 1943. He also mentioned today's beatification in Milan, Italy, of Fr. Serafino Morazzone, an "exemplary pastor" from the area of Lecco who lived between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; Fr. Clemente Vismara, a "heroic missionary" of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Burma, and Sr. Enrica Alfieri of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity, known as the "angel" of the Milanese prison of San Vittore.

  "In Italy, this Sunday preceding the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, marks the Day of the Pope's Charity", said the Holy Father. "I wish to thank everyone who, with prayer and offerings, supports my apostolic and charitable activities".

  Finally the Pope had words of greeting for "all the people of Poland and, in particular, Polish bishops and faithful who are participating in celebrations to mark the 600th anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral of Wroclawek".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the new Vatican internet portal "news.va", which will be inaugurated by the Pope tomorrow, 28 June, eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

  Participating in today's event were: Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office; Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper; Gustavo Entrala, founder and director of the 101 advertising agency, and Thaddeus Jones, an official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

  Archbishop Celli expressed his happiness at having the opportunity to present the new multimedia portal which will come online on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, "thus completing the task entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications by the Secretariat of State", he said.

  "Our desire", he went on, is to ensure that the new portal "should be an expression of our faithfulness and dedication to the Holy Father, for the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood".

  The president of the dicastery explained how it will now be possible "to consult at news.va the principal news items printed or transmitted by other Vatican media outlets": the "Osservatore Romano", Vatican Radio, the Vatican Information Service, Agenzia Fides, the Holy See Press Office and the Vatican Television Centre.

  The new portal will contain news items relating to the words and activities of the Holy Father in the course of his Magisterium, declarations issued by the various dicasteries of the Holy See, and information about important global events and situations affecting the particular Churches.

  "For the first few months", Archbishop Celli explained, "the portal will be available in just two languages: Italian and English. ... After the summer the website will be restyled and at least one new language added, perhaps Spanish. Subsequently it will also become available in French and Portuguese".

  Concerning its relationship with other Vatican media outlets, the archbishop pointed out that the new portal "will not have a specific editorial slant. ... Each of the outlets will maintain its own autonomy and identity, as will be evident from the way in which the information is presented".

  The main Vatican website (vatican.va) "will not disappear, but will continue its mission to put the Holy Father's Magisterium online. Since it was founded, the Vatican website has served as a source of documentation and so it will remain, working in harmony with the new portal".

  The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications expressed particular thanks to Thaddeus Jones for having co-ordinated the activities "which brought this long and not always easy process to a successful conclusion".

  Finally he also thanked Gustavo Entrala of the 101 advertising agency, who oversaw the technical and graphic aspects of the initiative.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:


 - Servant of God Mariano Arciero, Italian diocesan priest (1707-1788).

 - Servant of God Jean-Joseph (ne Alcide Lataste), French priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic of Betania (1832-1869).

 - Servant of God Maria Ines-Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament Arias Espinosa (nee Manuela de Jesus), Mexican foundress of the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and the Missionaries of Christ for the Universal Church (1904-1981).

 - Servant of God Hildegard Burjan, German laywoman and foundress of the Sisters of Social Charity (1883-1933).


 - Servant of God Salvio Huix Miralpeix, bishop of Lleida, Spain, killed in hatred of the faith in 1936.

 - Servant of God Karl Lampert, Austrian diocesan priest and pro-vicar of the apostolic administration of Innsbruck Feldkirch, killed in hatred of the faith in 1944.

 - Servants of God Josefina Martinez Perez of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and twelve companions, killed in hatred of the faith in 1936.


 - Servant of God Giovanni Marinoni (ne Francesco), Italian professed priest of the Order of Cleeks Regular Theatines (1490-1562).

 - Servant of God Jose Maria Garcia Lahiguera, archbishop of Valencia, Spain, and founder of the Congregation of Oblate Sisters of Christ the Priest (1903-1989).

 - Servant of God Matthew Kadalikattil, Indian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1872-1935).

 - Servant of God Raffaele Dimiccoli, Italian diocesan priest (1887-1956).

 - Servant of God Sofia Czeska-Maciejowska, Polish foundress of the Congregation of the Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1584-1650).

 - Servant of God Maria Giuseppina Benvenuti (nee Zeinab Alif), Sudanese professed religious of the Order of St. Clare (1845/46-1926).

 - Servant of God Laura Meozzi, Italian professed religious of the Institute of Daughters of Our Lady of Help (1873-1951).

 - Servant of God Luigia (Gina) Tincani, Italian foundress of the Union of St. Catherine of Siena of the Missionary Sisters of Schools (1889-1976).

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VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 - Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile, Chile.

 - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

  On Saturday 25 June he received in separate audiences:

 - Fra' Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, accompanied by an entourage.

 - Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines.

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Friday, June 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 23 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Rome's basilica of St. John Lateran, then presided at the Eucharistic procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major.

  In his homily the Pope recalled how today "the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession along the streets of towns and villages to show that the risen Christ walks among us and guides us to the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus gave us in the Upper Room we openly display today, because the love of Christ is not reserved for the few but is intended for everyone".

  Referring to Eucharistic communion, the Holy Father said that "while bodily food is assimilated by and helps sustain our organism, the Eucharist is a different kind of bread. We do not assimilate it; rather, it assimilates us to itself so that we are conformed to Jesus Christ, become limbs of His Body, a single thing with Him. This is a decisive step: indeed, precisely because it is Christ Who transforms us to Himself in Eucharistic communion, so in this meeting our individuality is opened, freed from egocentrism and inserted into the Person of Jesus, Who in turn is immersed in the communion of the Trinity.

  "Thus the Eucharist, while uniting us to Christ, also opens us to others, makes us limbs of one another: no longer are we divided but a single being in Him", the Pope added. "Eucharistic communion unites me to my neighbour with whom perhaps I am not even on good terms, but it also unites me to my distant brothers and sisters all over the world".

  "Those who recognise Jesus in the consecrated Host recognise Him in their suffering brothers and sisters, in the hungry and thirsty, in the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned; they are attentive to everyone and take concrete steps to help those in need. From the gift of Christ's love arises our special responsibility as Christians to build a united, just and fraternal society. Particularly in our own time in which globalisation makes us increasingly dependent upon one another, Christianity can and must ensure that unity is not built without God - in other words, without real Love - which would only open the way to confusion and selfishness".

  Benedict XVI continued: "The Gospel has always sought the unity of the human family, a unity not imposed from above or by ideological or economic interests, but based on a sense of responsibility towards each other, because we recognise one another as members of the same body, the Body of Christ, because we have learned and continue to learn from the Sacrament of the Altar that sharing and love is the way to true justice".

  "Without any illusions or belief in ideological utopias, we advance along the paths of the world, carrying the Body of the Lord with us like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation", said Pope Benedict concluding his homily. "With the humility of knowing that we are simple grains of wheat, we remain firm in the conviction that the love of God incarnated in Christ is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing new heaven and new earth for all men, where peace and justice reign; and in the faith we see the new world which is our true homeland".

  After Mass, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic procession along Rome's Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major. Along the route, thousands of faithful prayed and sang accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. A covered vehicle transported the Sacrament in a monstrance, before which the Holy Father knelt in prayer.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received participants in the annual general meeting of the Reunion of Organisations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

  In his remarks to the group, Benedict XVI recalled how yesterday's celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi "was a call to the beloved city of Rome and to the entire Catholic community to continue their journey along the difficult paths history, among the great spiritual and material poverty of the world, in order to bring the charity of Christ and the Church, which arises from the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of love, the gift which generates life".

  "Never forget the Eucharistic dimension of your objective", the Pope went on, "so as to remain within the ambit of ecclesial charity, which particularly seeks to reach the Holy Land, but also the Middle East as a whole, in order to support the Christian presence there. I ask you to do everything possible - also be intervening with the public authorities with whom you have contacts at the international level - to ensure that the pastors and faithful of Christ can remain in the East where they were born, not as strangers but as citizens who bear witness to Jesus Christ as the saints of the Eastern Churches did before them. The East is their earthly homeland. It is there that they are called today to promote, without distinction, the good of all mankind. Everyone professing this faith must be recognised as having equal dignity and true freedom, thus favouring more fruitful ecumenical and inter-religious collaboration".

  The Holy Father then continued his remarks in English: "I thank you for your reflections on the changes that are taking place in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, which are a source of anxiety throughout the world. Through the communications received at this time from the Coptic-Catholic Cardinal-Patriarch and from the Maronite Patriarch, as well as the pontifical representative in Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, the Congregation and the agencies will be able to assess the situation on the ground for the Church and the peoples of that region, which is so important for world peace and stability. The Pope wishes to express his closeness, also through you, to those who are suffering and to those who are trying desperately to escape, thereby increasing the flow of migration that often remains without hope. I pray that the necessary emergency assistance will be forthcoming, but above all I pray that every possible form of mediation will be explored, so that violence may cease and social harmony and peaceful coexistence may everywhere be restored, with respect for the rights of individuals as well as communities".

  Switching to German, the Pope referred to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which was held last October in the Vatican and which, he said, gave rise "to new signs for our age". Nonetheless, "shortly afterwards a number of defenceless people in the Syro-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, Iraq, were victims of an act of senseless violence. ... This was followed by similar incidents some months later". The Pope expressed the hope that the suffering of so many people would be a seed to enrich the faith in those lands.

  Finally he thanked all those present for their prayers for the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination as a priest which falls this year on 29 June, Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "This morning the Holy Father received in audience Igor Luksic, prime minister of Montenegro. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "The cordial discussions focused on the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and Montenegro, which the secretary of State and the prime minister signed at the end of their meeting. The agreement concerns, in particular, the juridical status of the Catholic Church and of her main institutions within civil society, and confirms the excellent relations between the Holy See and Montenegro which have existed since the country first gained its independence.

  "The conversations between Cardinal Bertone and Mr. Luksic also provided an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of opinions on the current international situation, in the perspective of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Attention dwelt on the commitment of the Montenegrin government to promoting peace and harmony among the different peoples and religious confessions present in the country. The parties also expressed their desire to continue constructive dialogue on themes of mutual for Church and State".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, the Holy See and Montenegro signed a Basic Agreement confirming and regulating certain principles in areas of shared interest.

  Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. signed for the Holy See and Igor Luksic, prime minister, signed for Montenegro.

  The agreement, taking account of the independence and autonomy of Church and State and of their openness to mutual collaboration, establishes a juridical framework for their relations. Specifically, it regulates the juridical status of the Catholic Church in civil society, her liberty and independence in apostolic activity and in matters that specifically concern freedom of worship, and her activities in the fields of culture, education, pastoral care and charity. The text also concerns the administration of seminaries, as well as the provision of spiritual assistance to the armed forces and in prisons and hospitals. The agreement will come into force with the exchange of the instruments of ratification,.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

 - Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin of Ajaccio, France, as bishop of Le Havre (area 1,902, population 411,132, Catholics 308,502, priests 70, permanent deacons 18, religious 97), France. He succeeds Bishop Michel Guyard, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Msgr. Giovanni Tani, rector of the Major Pontifical Seminary of Rome, as archbishop of Urbino-Urbania-Sant'Angelo in Vado (area 781, population 54,900, Catholics 50,500, priests 68, permanent deacons 1, religious 118), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Sogliano al Rubicone in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1973. He succeeds Archbishop Francesco Marinelli, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Raphael Minassian, patriarchal exarch for the Armenians in Jerusalem and Amman, as ordinary for Armenian Catholics in Eastern Europe, giving him the "ad personam" title of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 22 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to what he described as "the book of prayer par excellence, the Book of Psalms". The audience was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 10,000 people.

  The 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms "express all human experience", said the Pope. "All the truth of the believer comes together in those prayers, which first the People of Israel and later the Church adopted as a special way to mediate their relationship with the one God, and as an adequate response to His having revealed Himself in history".

  "Despite the many forms of expression they contain", the Psalms "can be divided into two broad categories: ... supplication associated with lamentation, and praise. These two dimensions are related, almost indivisible, because supplication is animated by the certainty that God will respond, and this opens the way to praise and thanksgiving; while praise and thanksgiving arise from the experience of salvation received, which presupposes the need for help expressed in the supplication. ... Thus, in the prayer of the Psalms, supplication and praise intertwine and fuse together in a single song which celebrates the eternal grace of the Lord as He bows down to our frailty".

  "The Psalms teach us to pray", the Holy Father explained. "In them, the Word of God becomes the word of prayer. ... People who pray the Psalms speak to God with the words of God, addressing Him with the words He Himself taught us. ... Through these words it is also possible to know and accept the criteria of His actions, to approach the mystery of His thoughts and His ways, so as to grow and develop in faith and love".

  "By teaching us to pray", the Pope went on, "the Psalms also teach us that at times of desolation, even in moments of suffering, the presence of God is a source of wonder and consolation. We may weep, plead and seek intercession, ... but in the awareness that we are advancing towards the light, where praise will be unending".

  "Equally important and significant are the manner and frequency in which the words of the Psalms appear in the New Testament, where they assume and underline that prophetic significance suggested by the link of the Book of Psalms with the messianic figure of David. In His earthly life the Lord Jesus prayed with the Psalms, and in Him they reach definitive fulfilment and reveal their fullest and deepest meaning. The prayers of the Book of Psalms, with which we speak to God, speak to us of Him, they speak of the Son, image of the invisible God Who fully reveals the Father's face to us. Thus Christians, by praying the Psalms, pray to the Father in Christ and with Christ, seeing those songs in a new perspective which has its ultimate interpretation in the Paschal Mystery".

  Having completed his catechesis and delivered greetings in various languages, the Pope recalled the fact that tomorrow is the Feast of Corpus Christi. He invited everyone in Rome, residents and pilgrims alike, to participate in the Mass he will celebrate at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the basilica of St. John Lateran, and in the subsequent procession along Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major. "I invite you", he said, "to join this act of profound faith towards the Eucharist, which represents the most precious treasure of the Church and of humankind".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, Ukraine, as a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

 - Bishop Daniel Kozelinski Netto, auxiliary of the eparchy of Sao Joao Batista in Curitiba of the Ukrainians, Brazil, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante" of the eparchy of Santa Maria del Patrocinio in Buenos Aires of the Ukrainians, (Catholics 160,000, priests 17, permanent deacons 1, religious 95), Argentina.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 21 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the twenty-fifth Italian Eucharistic Congress, due to be held in the city of Ancona from 3 to 11 September on the theme: "Lord, to whom shall we go? The Eucharist for daily life".

  Participating in today's conference were Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo; Vittorio Sozzi, head of the Cultural Project of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI); Giovanni Morello, president of the academic committee for exhibitions during the congress, and Fr. Ivan Maffeis, vice director of the CEI national office for social communications.

  Benedict XVI will make a pastoral visit to Ancona on 11 September, where at 10 a.m. he is due to preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist at the city's shipyard to mark the close of the congress. During the afternoon he will meet with families and clergy in the basilica of San Cyriacus, then address a group of young couples in the Piazza del Plebiscito before returning to the Vatican.

  Vittorio Sozzi explained how the congress has been divided into five thematic areas: affections, fragility, work and rest, tradition, citizenship. "The celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress", he said, "may be seen as an important occasion for the public reaffirmation of faith in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of salvation and communion".

  The celebration of the twenty-fifth Italian Eucharistic Congress will also involve a series of cultural events, including an exhibition entitled "At the Table of The Lord: Masterpieces of European art from Raphael to Tiepolo", which will be held at the city's Mole Vanvitelliana from 2 September 2011 to 8 January 2012.

  The exhibition will include a series of Italian and European works from the fifteenth century on. The theme is that of the Last Supper, as interpreted by artists from two different perspectives: the institution of the Eucharist and the communion of the Apostles. The event, which is being organised by the Italian Ministry for Culture and the Vatican Museums, will also include a section on liturgical vessels from the Marches, especially gifts made by Popes over the course of the centuries to the various churches in that region of Italy.

  Another exhibition taking place within the ambit of the congress is entitled "Signs of the Eucharist" and has been organised with contributions from all dioceses in the Marches. It is based on the premise that the church is first and foremost a place for celebrating Mass, the liturgy of which is structured around the main Sacrament of the Eucharist. The practice of this liturgical rite requires a certain number of objects associated with the altar of the Eucharist, and the exhibition seeks to illustrate and describe these objects, which are an expression of popular religiosity, as well as of the splendour of the Church and her relationship with the local area.

  A third cultural initiative taking place in the context of the Italian Eucharistic Congress has as its title: "I must stay at your house today: The Eucharist, the grace of an unexpected encounter". It is an itinerant exhibition which, starting from the Gospel episode of Jesus' meeting with Zaccheus, illustrates the human need for the Eucharist.
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Monday, June 20, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to the Republic of San Marino where, at 10 a.m., he presided at Mass in the Serravalle Stadium.

  Beginning his homily, the Holy Father affirmed that today's feast of the Blessed Trinity is "the feast of God, of the very centre of our faith. ... The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, because God is love and love is the ultimate life-giving power. The unity created by love is greater than purely physical unity", he said.

  Commenting on today's reading from the Gospel of St. John - "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" - the Pope explained that "the world is full of evil, selfishness and wickedness, and God could come to judge this world, to destroy evil and punish the wicked. However, in fact, He shows that He loves the world, that He loves man despite his sins; and He sent what was most precious to Him, His only-begotten Son. Indeed, not only did He send Him, but made of Him a gift to the world".

  "Faith in this Trinitarian God has also characterised the Church of San Marino-Montefeltro through the course of her long and glorious history", Pope Benedict went on. "The evangelisation of this land is attributed to Sts. Marinus and Leo who, in the middle of the third century, are said to have come to Rimini from Dalmatia. ... With their faith in the God Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, they brought new perspectives and new values to this locality, leading to the birth of a culture and civilisation founded on the human person, made in God's image and hence possessor of rights that have precedence over any human legislation".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how, "apart from the faith, we must also recall the absolute faithfulness to the Bishop of Rome, to whom this Church has always shown devotion and affection". In the same context he also mentioned the attention shown by the Church in San Marino "towards the great tradition of the Oriental Church, and her profound devotion for the Virgin Mary".

  Turning to address the faithful, the Pope said: "You are called to carry this precious legacy forward at one of the most decisive moments of history", in the face of "profound and rapid cultural, social, economic and political transformations which have opened new horizons and altered mentalities, customs and sensibilities".

  "An insidious temptation has led to the belief that man's richness lies not in faith but in his personal and social power, his intelligence, his culture and his ability to manipulate reality scientifically, technologically and socially. Thus, even in these lands, faith and Christian values are beginning to be substituted with a supposed wealth which, in the final analysis, shows itself to be inconsistent and incapable of bearing the weight of that great promise of truth, goodness and beauty which for centuries your forebears identified with the experience of the faith".

  The Holy Father also referred to "the crisis many families have to face", a crisis "aggravated by the widespread psychological and spiritual frailty of spouses, and the fatigue experienced by many educators as they seek continuity for young people who are conditioned by many forms insecurity, first and foremost as regards their social role and employment possibilities".

  "I exhort all the faithful to be a leaven in the world", the Pope concluded. "In both San Marino and Montefeltro, show yourselves to be Christians, present, active and coherent. May priests and religious always live in cordial and effective ecclesial communion, helping and listening to their diocesan pastor. I appeal to families and young people to open their hearts and respond readily to the Lord's call. We will never repent of having been generous with God! I ask you lay men and women to commit yourselves actively in the community so that, alongside your specific civic, political, social and cultural tasks, you may find time for the life of faith, the pastoral life".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Pope thanked everyone who had helped prepare and organise his visit to San Marino.

  After the Marian prayer he mentioned the beatification today in the French town of Dax of Sr. Marguerite Rutan, a professed sister of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. The blessed lived in the second half of the eighteenth century and had worked in the hospital of Dax. During the persecutions that followed the French Revolution "she was condemned to death for her Catholic faith and her faithfulness to the Church", said Benedict XVI, highlighting also how Sr. Marguerite had been "a shining witness of Christ's love for the poor".

  Finally the Holy Father recalled the fact that tomorrow marks World Refugee Day, which this year coincides with the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the international convention safeguarding people who suffer persecution and are forced to flee their country. "I invite the civil authorities and all people of good will to ensure refugees are welcomed and given dignified living conditions as they await the chance to return freely and safely to their own countries", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today at 4.15 p.m. Benedict XVI travelled to Piazza della Liberta in San Marino where he was greeted by the Captains Regent of the republic, Maria Luisa Berti and Filippo Tamagnini.

  After the playing of the pontifical hymn and the national anthem of San Marino, the Pope, accompanied by the Captains Regent, entered the Palazzo Pubblico where he was greeted by the ministers of the republic. He then held a private meeting with the Captains Regent. Subsequently, in the Hall of the Grand and General Council, the Holy Father delivered an address before members of the government, the congress and the diplomatic corps.

  Benedict XVI began by reflecting on the origins of the community which came into being seventeen centuries ago around the deacon Marinus, a great preacher of the Gospel. He highlighted how, throughout their history, the inhabitants of the republic that bears the saint's name "have always remained faithful to the values of the Christian faith, which has been a firm foundation for their peaceful coexistence in keeping with criteria of democracy and solidarity".

  The Pope praised the Sammarineses' adherence to this "legacy of values" and encouraged them "to conserve and take advantage of it, so that it becomes the foundation of your deepest identity. ... Thanks to this identity you can build a society attentive to the true good of human beings, to their dignity and freedom, a society capable of safeguarding the rights of all people to live in peace. These are the advantages of healthy secularism, within which the institutions of civil society must act in their constant commitment to defend the common good.

  "The Church", he added, "respectful of the legitimate autonomy of the civil authorities, collaborates with them in the service of man, defending his fundamental rights and the ethical norms which are inscribed in his very nature. For this reason the Church is committed to ensuring that legislative authorities always promote and protect human life, from conception to natural end. She also asks that families receive due recognition and effective support".

  The Holy Father went on: "We well know how the institution of the family is currently being called into question, almost in an attempt to deny its irreplaceable value. The consequences of this fall on the weakest sectors of society, especially the young who are more vulnerable and therefore more easily exposed to disorientation, to situations of self-marginalisation and to the slavery of dependency. Educational institutions sometimes struggle to find adequate responses for the young who, as the support of the family falls away, often find that a normal insertion into the fabric of society is denied them".

  The Pope then turned his attention to the economic crisis, which is also affecting San Marino following years in which trade and tourism had brought some degree of prosperity. He also mentioned the issue of people who live on one side of the border and work on the other, expressing the hope that it could be resolved "while bearing in mind the right to work and the protection of families". The current situation "is a stimulus to reconsider our progress and an occasion for discernment", he said. "It puts the whole of society before the pressing need to face problems with courage and a sense of responsibility, with generosity and dedication, drawing on that love of freedom which characterises your people".

  "You", Benedict XVI told the authorities present, "have the task of constituting the earthly city, with due autonomy and with respect for those human and spiritual principles to which individual citizens are called to adhere in their own consciences. At the same time, you have the duty to continue to work actively to build a community founded on shared values".

  Having completed his address, the Holy Father, accompanied by the Captains Regent, visited the basilica of San Marino where he was welcomed by the rector, Msgr. Lino Tosi. After pausing in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerating the relics of St. Marinus, the Pope left the building and travelled to the heliport of Torraccia where he bid farewell to the State authorities. He then travelled by helicopter to the sports ground of Pennabilli, Italy, where he was due to meet with young people from the diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 6.45 p.m. today the Pope arrived by helicopter at the sports ground in the Italian town of Pennabilli. Having been welcomed by the civil authorities, he travelled to the cathedral where he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Father then moved on to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele where he met with young people from the diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro.

  Following some words of greeting pronounced by Bishop Luigi Negri of San Marino-Montefeltro, and by one of the young people present, Benedict XVI delivered his address.

  Referring to the Gospel episode in which a rich young man asks "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?", the Pope said: "Perhaps we would not speak like this today, but the precise meaning of the question is this: what must I do, how must I live in order to live truly, in order to find life?"

  "It is precisely by looking into ourselves with truth, sincerity and courage that we gain some intuition of the beauty of life, but also of its precariousness, and we feel a sense of dissatisfaction and disquiet which nothing tangible can fill", he said.

  Benedict XVI invited his youthful audience not to be afraid to "ask yourselves the fundamental questions about the meaning and value of life. Do not be content with partial and immediate responses, which are certainly easier and more comfortable in the short term, which can give a moment or two of happiness and exaltation but which cannot bring you to the true joy of living, the joy that comes to those who build - as Jesus says - not upon sand but upon solid rock. Learn, then, to reflect upon and to read your human experience, not superficially but in depth. With wonder and joy you will discover that your heart is a window open to infinity!"

  "Even in the era of scientific and technological progress (which has given us so much) man still desires more, he desires more than just comfort and wellbeing. He remains open to the entire truth of his existence, which cannot be limited to material things but is open to a much broader horizon".

  The Holy Father warned young people against the risk "of becoming imprisoned in the material world, in the immediate, the relative, the useful; of losing sensibility towards things that concern our spiritual dimension. This does not mean despising the use of reason or rejecting scientific progress; quite the contrary, it means understanding that each of us has not only a 'horizontal' but also a 'vertical' dimension. Science and technology cannot replace the world of life, our horizons of meaning and freedom, the richness of relationships of friendship and of love".

  "In Christ you can find the answers to the questions that accompany your journey, not in a superficial or facile way but walking and living with Jesus. The meeting with Christ is not limited to embracing a doctrine or a philosophy; what He proposes is sharing His very life and thus learning to live, learning who man is, who I am".

  The Pope encouraged the young people "not to be afraid to face difficult situations, moments of crisis or the trials of life, because the Lord accompanies you, He is with you. I encourage you to grow in friendship with Him through frequent reading of the Gospel and of all Sacred Scripture, faithful participation in the Eucharist as a personal meeting with Christ, committed efforts within the ecclesial community, and following a good spiritual guide".

  "Allow the mystery of Christ to illuminate your entire being! Then will you be able to bring others to this novelty which can change relations, institutions and structures, and so build a more just and united world animated by the search for the common good".

  At the end of his meeting with young people, the Pope travelled back the Pennabilli sports ground where he boarded his helicopter to return to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 11 May, in which the Pope appoints Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education as his special envoy to the celebration of the sixth centenary of the dedication of the cathedral of Wloclawek, Poland, due to take place on 26 June.

  Cardinal Grocholewski will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Grzegorz Karolak, pastor of the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chiechocienk, member of the presbyteral council and honorary canon of the cathedral chapter of Wloclawek, and by Msgr. Artur Niemira, chancellor of the diocesan curia, professor at the major seminary, member of the presbyteral council and of the college of consultors and president of the organising committee for the Jubilee of the cathedral of Wloclawek.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Singapore and East Timor, apostolic delegate to Malaysia and to Brunei, and non-residential pontifical representative for Vietnam, also as apostolic nuncio to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

 - Msgr. Miguel Delgado Galindo, bureau chief at the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as under secretary of the same dicastery.

 - Fr. Wolfgang Ipolt of the clergy of the diocese of Erfurt, Germany, canon of the cathedral chapter and rector of the major regional seminary, as bishop of Gorlitz (area 9,700, population 715,500, Catholics 28,816, priests 54, permanent deacons 5, religious 76), Germany. The bishop-elect was born in Gotha, Germany in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1979.
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Rene Audet, emeritus of Joliette, Canada, on 12 June at the age of 91.

 - Bishop Robert de Chevigny C.S.Sp., emeritus of Nouakchott, Mauritania, on 11 June at the age of 90.

 - Bishop Michael Ambrose Griffiths O.S.B., emeritus of Hexham and Newcastle, England, on 14 June at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Joseph Nguyen Tich Duc, emeritus of Ban Me Thuot, Vietnam, on 23 May at the age of 73.

 - Bishop Raul Marcelo Pacifico Scozzina, emeritus of Formosa, Argentina, on 11 June at the age of 89.
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Friday, June 17, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received a fourth group of Indian prelates (from Madras-Mylapore, Madurai, Pondicherry and Raipur), who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Continuing his reflections on the life of the Church in India, he spoke of the bishops' responsibilities towards clergy and religious.

  "You are set over God's people as pastors, and you are called to teach, sanctify and govern the local Churches", the Pope told them, speaking English. "You do this through your preaching of the Gospel, your celebration of the Sacraments, and your care for the sanctity and effective pastoral action of the clergy. ... You are also called to govern in charity by means of a prudent vigilance in your legislative, executive and judicial capacities. In this delicate and demanding role, the bishop, as pastor and father, should so unite and mould his flock into one family that all, conscious of their duties, will wish to live and act as one in charity.

  "Promoting the charism of unity, which is a powerful testimony to the oneness of God and a mark of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, is among the most important responsibilities of the bishop", he added. "By your ministry, you are called to strengthen the people whom God has chosen to be His own, to serve them and to build them into a unified temple, a worthy dwelling-place for the Spirit".

  "You are to be supportive of your priests, your closest collaborators, and to be attentive to their needs and aspirations, showing solicitude for their spiritual, intellectual and material well-being. They, as sons and co-workers, are called in turn to respect your authority, working cheerfully, humbly and with complete dedication to the good of the Church, but always under your direction. The bonds of fraternal love and mutual concern which you foster with your priests will become the basis for overcoming any tensions that may arise, and will promote those conditions which are most propitious for the service of the people of God, .... leading them to know their worth and to assume the dignity which is theirs as children of God".

  The Holy Father went on: "Religious men and women also look to you for guidance and support. The witness of your own deep love for Jesus Christ and His Church will serve to inspire them as they devote themselves with perfect poverty, chastity and obedience to the life to which they have been called".

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks to the group by underlining the importance of consecrated life, and he asked the prelates to ensure that consecrated people "receive a solid human, spiritual and theological foundation". Finally, he expressed his particular appreciation for "the many women religious of the Church in India. They bear witness to its holiness, vitality and hope. They offer countless prayers and perform innumerable good works, often hidden, but nevertheless of great value to the up-building of God's kingdom".
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the exhibition: "The splendour of truth, the beauty of charity: Homage of sixty artists to Benedict XVI for the sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood".

  Today's press conference was presented by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Msgr. Pasquale Iacobone, director of the council's Art and Faith Department.

  The exhibition will be inaugurated by the Holy Father in the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on 4 July, and will be open to the public from 5 July to 4 September.

  Cardinal Ravasi explained that the idea to hold the exhibition arose from the Pope's meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel on 21 November 2009. The artists participating in this initiative, most of them Italian, represent different categories: painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, literature, poetry, music, cinema and jewellery design.

  The exhibition "has particular significance for the dialogue between the Church and artists, and because of the presence of famous modern artists from various areas of expression, who are tackling themes of great importance and spiritual profundity", Cardinal Ravasi said.
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VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

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

    - Bishop Devadass Ambrose Mariasdoss of Tanjore.

    - Bishop Patras Minj S.J. of Ambikapur.

    - Bishop Emmaniel Kereketta of Jashpur.

    - Bishop Paul Toppo of Raigarh.

 - Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City and president of the Fabric of St. Peter's.

 - Bishop Paul Hinder O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of South Arabia.

 - Bishop Camillo Ballin M.C.C.J., apostolic vicar of North Arabia.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today in the Holy See Press Office a forthcoming international conference on the theme "Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture" was presented. The conference, organised by the Science and Faith Department of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is due to be held in the Vatican from 9 to 11 November.

  Participating in today's presentation were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Fr. Tomasz Trafny, director of the Science and Faith Department of the same pontifical council, and Robin L. Smith, chairwoman and CEO of NeoStem Inc., U.S.A.

  Fr. Trafny explained why his dicastery is participating in an initiative on adult stem cells, why it is collaborating with the biopharmaceutical company NeoStem and what projects have emerged from such collaboration.

  "For some time", he said, "the Pontifical Council for Culture has been working to promote serious dialogue between the natural sciences and the humanities, especially philosophy and theology. One example of this is the STOQ Project (Science Theology and the Ontological Quest)".

  "However", he went on, "our interest in this field of research is circumscribed. It aims to explore the cultural impact of adult stem cell research and of regenerative medicine in the medium and long term".

  The pontifical council's collaboration with NeoStem arises from "the fact that we share the same sensitivity towards those ethical values that are centred on the protection of human life at all stages of its existence", said Fr. Trafny, noting that the two institutions also share "an interest in studying the possible cultural impact of scientific discoveries arising from research on adult stem cells, and their application in the field of regenerative medicine".

  "As concerns possible future projects", he concluded, "we wish to help students of Pontifical Universities and other Catholic educational institutions to investigate issues linked to the relationships between the natural sciences and the humanities, in a possible framework for interdisciplinary research".

  The conference - which will also bring together people who do not have a background in the life sciences or in medicine - is being organised in association with the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

  For her part, Robin Smith explained that her company is "pioneering new medical research with adult stem cells. This research has the potential to alleviate human suffering by unlocking the healing power of the human body", she said. "Most importantly, we are able to do all this without destroying another human life".

  "No embryos are destroyed to collect adult stem cells. ... We believe that human life is unique and needs to be protected at every stage of its existence. Adult Stem Cell research allows us to advance scientific knowledge while protecting this ethical position. ... These cells are called very small embryonic-like stem cells or VSELs, ... and have many of the beneficial characteristics of an embryonic stem cell, but without the moral and ethical obstacles because these cells are taken from adults, not embryos or foetuses".

  "Our partnership with the Vatican is focused on four things", Dr. Smith concluded: "advancing science, eliminating human suffering, educating today's society as well as future generations, and encouraging collaboration in the furtherance of these goals".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

 - Seven prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Arockiasamy Jude Gerald Paulraj of Palayamkottai

    - Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam of Sivagangai.

    - Bishop Antony Devotta of Tiruchirapalli.

    - Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin.

    - Bishop Joseph Anthony Irudayaraj S.D.B. of Dharmapuri.

    - Bishop Antonisamy Francis of Kumbakonam.

    - Bishop Singaroyan Sebastianappan of Salem.

 - Fr. Cornelius Petrus Mayer O.S.A.
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VATICAN CITY, 16 JUN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. James Thoppil of the clergy of the diocese of Khoima, India, rector of the Oriens Theological College at Shillong, as bishop of Khoima (area 16,579, population 2,154,000, Catholics 57,549, priests 156, religious 331). The bishop-elect was born in Kottayam, India in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1986.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 15 JUN 2011 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope resumed his series of catecheses dedicated to the subject of prayer, focusing today on the Prophet Elijah "whom God sent to bring the people to conversion".

  The Holy Father explained how "upon Mount Carmel Elijah revealed himself in all his power as intercessor when, before the whole of Israel, he prayed to the Lord to show Himself and convert people's hearts. The episode is recounted in chapter 18 of the First Book of Kings".

  "The contest between Elijah and the followers of Baal (which was, in fact, a contest between the Lord of Israel, God of salvation and life, and a mute and ineffective idol which can do nothing for either good or evil) also marked the beginning of a confrontation between two completely different ways to address God and to pray". The oblations of the prophets of Baal "revealed only the illusory reality of the idol ... which closed people in the confines of a desperate search for self".

  On the other hand, Elijah "called on the people to come closer, involving them in his actions and his prayer. ... The prophet built an alter using 'twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob', ... to represent all Israel. ... Elijah then addressed the Lord calling Him Lord of the fathers, thus implicitly recalling the divine promises and the history of choice and alliance which had indissolubly united the Lord to His people".

  The prophet's request "was that the people might finally and fully come to know and understand Who their God is, and make the decisive decision to follow only Him. Only in this way could God be recognised as Absolute and Transcendent". Only in this way would it be clear that "no other gods could be placed at His side, as this would deny His absoluteness and relativize Him".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "believers must respond to the absoluteness of God with absolute and total love, a love involving all their lives, their energies, their hearts. ... In his intercession, Elijah asked of God what God Himself wished to do: to show Himself in all His mercy, faithful to His nature as Lord of life Who forgives, converts and transforms".

  "The Lord responded unequivocally, not only burning the offering but even consuming all the water that had been poured around the altar. Israel could no longer doubt: divine mercy had responded to its weakness, to its doubts, to its lack of faith. Now Baal, the vain idol, was beaten and the people, who seemed lost, had rediscovered the way of truth, they had rediscovered themselves".

  The Holy Father concluded by asking himself what this story has to tell us today. "Firstly", he said, "is the priority of the first commandment of God's Law: having no god but God. When God disappears man falls into slavery, into idolatry, as has happened in our time under totalitarian regimes and with the various forms of nihilism which make man dependent on idols and idolatry, which enslave". Secondly, he continued, "the main objective of prayer is conversion: the fire of God which transforms our hearts and makes us capable of seeing God and living for Him and for others". Thirdly, "the Church Fathers tell us that this story is ... a foretaste of the future, which is Christ. It is a step on the journey towards Christ".
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