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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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Friday, September 30, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated from Castelgandolfo on 21 September, in which Benedict XVI appoints Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of the dedication of Speyer Cathedral in Germany, due to take place on 2 October.

In his Letter the Pope dwells on the significance the cathedral, which was built between 1030 and 1061, has had in German history, also underlining its important role in confirming the faith of the German faithful and their union with Peter's Successor. The Holy Father likewise greets Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer and express the hope that the forthcoming commemoration will be a time of grace. He concludes by inviting participants in the forthcoming celebration to practise the great Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity, like the Virgin Mary to whom the cathedral is dedicated.
BXVI-LETTER/ VIS 20110930 (170)


VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. yesterday presided at Mass at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens for the feast of the patron of Vatican Radio. The Mass was concelebrated by, among others, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. and Fr. Andrzej Koprowski S.J., respectively director general and director of programmes of Vatican Radio which this year celebrates eighty years of activity.

In his homily Cardinal Bertone gave a brief overview of the history of Vatican Radio, and expressed the hope that it may continue to be "a typically ecclesiastical medium of communication; that is, attached to the Church in the same way that the vine shoot is attached to the vine which nourishes it".

Following Mass, Cardinal Bertone conferred pontifical medals on six employees of the radio "for their faithful service to the Pope and the Church", while Fr. Lombardi gave Cardinal Bertone the first copy of a two-volume work, "Eighty Years of the Radio of the Pope", which is due to be presented on 4 October.

The introduction to the work was written by Fr. Lombardi himself. "The aim of this book", he writes, "is to help people remember and understand how Vatican Radio (both as an institution and as a community of people) has accompanied the last seven pontificates with the awareness that it has a mission to accomplish, a message to spread and a duty continually to seek and find new instruments to broadcast it". Vatican Radio constantly seeks to combine "commitment to evangelisation, inculturation of the message for the various peoples of the world, and the technical know-how to make that message reach 'unto the ends of the earth'".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2011 (VIS) - On 27 September Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, addressed the sixty-sixth General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, focusing his remarks on the principal challenges facing the international community: humanitarian emergencies, lack of religious freedom and the economic crisis.

On the first of these subjects, Archbishop Mamberti recalled how "in certain parts of the world, such as the Horn of Africa, we find ourselves facing grave and dramatic humanitarian crises which cause millions of people, mostly women and children, to flee there homes, and many have fallen victim to drought, hunger and malnutrition. The Holy See wishes to renew its appeal to the international community, an appeal repeatedly voiced by Benedict XVI, to increase and support humanitarian policies in those areas".

Christians are the most persecuted religious group

The secretary for Relations with States then went on to consider the question of respect for religious freedom, which he described as "the fundamental way to build peace, to ensure recognition of human dignity and to protect the rights of man".

"Unfortunately, many situations exist in which the right to religious freedom is denied to followers of various religions. At the same time we are seeing an increase in religiously motivated intolerance, and we note that Christians are currently the religious group suffering the greatest number of persecutions on account of their faith. Lack of respect for religious freedom is a threat to security and peace", the archbishop said.

The solution to the problem lies "in a shared commitment to recognise and promote the religious freedom of each individual and each community". This requires "sincere inter-religious dialogue, promoted and practised by representatives of the various religious and supported by governments and international institutions".

Archbishop Mamberti then turned his attention to the global economic crisis. "We know that a fundamental part of the current plight is a lack of ethics in economic structures", he said. "The economy cannot function only through market self-regulation, and even less so through agreements limited to balancing the interests of the most powerful groups. It needs an ethical raison d'etre to ensure that it works for mankind. The idea of producing goods and services ... without seeking to do good - in other words, without ethics - has shown itself to be an illusion, either ingenuous or cynical, but always with fatal results. All economic decisions have moral consequences. The economy needs ethics ... focused on the person and capable of offering prospects to the new generations".

"The Holy See has repeatedly highlighted the need for fresh and profound reflection on the significance and objectives of economic activity, and for a clear-sighted revision of global financial and commercial structures in order to correct their dysfunctions and distortions. This revision of international economic rules must take place within the framework of a global model for development".

Such a model has to take account of the notion of "family of nations" so as to pay greater attention to the needs of poorer peoples. "By its nature a family is a community founded on interdependence and mutual trust. ... Its full development is based not on the supremacy of the strongest, but on care for the weakest, ... and its responsibility extends to future generations". Thus, Archbishop Mamberti concluded, "development strategies must be created which focus on people, favouring solidarity and responsibility towards everyone, including future generations".

On 26 September, the day prior to addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Archbishop Mamberti received a doctorate "honoris causa" from St. John's University in New York.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for October is: "That the terminally ill may be supported by their faith in God and the love of their brothers and sisters".

His mission intention is: "That the celebration of World Mission Day may foster in the People of God a passion for evangelisation with the willingness to support the missions with prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches".


VATICAN CITY, 30 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences ten prelates from the Indonesian Episcopal Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archishop Vincentius Sensi of Ende.

- Bishop Silvester San of Depansar.

- Bishop Franciscus Kopong Kung of Larantuka.

- Bishop Gerulfus Kherubim Pareira S.V.D. of Maumere.

- Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng.

- Archbishop Ignatus Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, Military Ordinary.

- Bishop Cosmas Michael Angkur O.F.M. of Bogor.

- Archishop Peter Turang of Kupang.

- Bishop Dominikus Saku of Atambua.

- Bishop Edmund Woga C.SS.R. of Weetebula.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI made his traditional farewells to the local civil and religious authorities prior to returning to the Vatican later this week.

"Over these months", he told his audience, "we have once again had the opportunity to admire the solicitude and generosity of the many people who provide vital assistance to me and my collaborators, as well as to the guests and pilgrims who come here to visit me. For all of this I wish to express my deep recognition to each and every one of you, who have worked to ensure my stay here was peaceful and serene".

"For my part", he concluded, "I will not fail to pray for each of you and for all your intentions, at the same time asking you to remember me in your prayers. May the Lord, rich in goodness and mercy Who never fails to give His aid to those who trust in Him, be your support".

Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI bid farewell to staff who work at the Pontifical Villas in Castelgandolfo, thanking them for their efforts on his behalf during the period he had spent there.

"Here in this place", he said, "we live in constant contact with nature, and in an atmosphere of silence. I am happy to have this occasion to recall that both these things bring us closer to God: nature, because it is the masterpiece which emerged from the Creator's hands; silence, because it allows us to think and meditate without distraction upon what is essential to our lives. ... In a place like this it is easier to find ourselves, to listen to the inner voice, what I would call the presence of God which gives profound meaning to our lives".

The Pope concluded by thanking the staff of the Pontifical Villas for their prayers. "Christians stand out of their prayers and charity. ... Our relationship with the Lord in prayer nourishes our spirit and allows us to be increasingly generous and open in our charity towards those in need".
AC/ VIS 20110929 (360)


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father yesterday promulgated "Quaerit Semper", an Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" which modifies the Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus", transferring certain functions of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to a new office established in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota. The office will deal with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination.

Extracts from the document are given below.

"The Holy See has always sought to adapt its structures of government to the pastoral requirements of the various historical periods that have succeeded one another in the life of the Church, modifying the organisation and functions of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia".

"In the current circumstances it seemed fitting that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments should dedicate itself chiefly to giving fresh impetus to promoting sacred liturgy in the Church, in keeping with the renewal promoted by Vatican Council II through the Constitution 'Sacrosanctum Concilium'.

"Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to transfer the function of dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination to a new office to be created within the Tribunal of the Roman Rota".

Article 1

"Articles 67 and 68 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' are abolished".

Article 2

"Article 126 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' is modified to read as follows:

"1. The Tribunal of the Roman Rota is a court of higher instance at the Apostolic See, usually at the appellate stage, with the purpose of safeguarding rights within the Church; it fosters unity of jurisprudence, and, by virtue of its own decisions, provides assistance to lower tribunals.

"2. An office shall be established in this Tribunal with the task of examining the fact of non-consummation in a marriage and the existence of a just cause for granting a dispensation. It receives all the acts together with the 'votum' of the bishop and the remarks of the defender of the bond, weighs them according to its own special procedure, and, if the case warrants it, submits a petition to the Supreme Pontiff requesting the dispensation.

"3. The same office is also competent to examine cases concerning the nullity of sacred ordination, in accordance with universal and specific law, 'congrua congruis referendo'".

Article 3

"The office dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of sacred ordination shall be moderated by the dean of the Roman Rota, with the assistance of officials, commissioners and consultors".

The new norms will come into effect as of 1 October.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram to Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, for the Jewish festivities of Rosh Hashanah 5772 (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which fall in the months of September and October.

The Pope sends his cordial greetings to the rabbi and to all the Jewish community of Rome, expressing the hope that "these important feasts may be an occasion for many blessings from on high, and a source of infinite grace. May the desire grow in all of us to promote justice and peace in the world, which has great need of authentic witnesses of truth. May God in His goodness protect the Jewish community and allow us to deepen our friendship, both here in Rome and all over the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI is due to make an apostolic trip to Benin from 18 to 20 November, for the signing and publication of the Apostolic Exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

The Holy Father will depart from Rome at 9 a.m. on Friday 18 November, arriving at Cotonou at 3 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at the airport he will visit the local cathedral.

On Saturday 19 November the Pope will meet with members of the government, representatives of State institutions, the diplomatic corps and leaders of the principal religions at the presidential palace in Cotonou. Later that morning he will visit the grave of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin in the chapel of the Seminary of St. Gall at Ouidah before going on to meet with priests, seminarians, religious and lay faithful in the seminary courtyard. He will subsequently visit Ouidah's Basilica of the Immaculate Conception where he will sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

That afternoon Pope Benedict will visit the "Peace and Joy" house, run by the Missionaries of Charity in the parish of St. Rita in Cotonou, and meet with a group of children. At 6.15 p.m. he is due to meet the bishops of Benin at the apostolic nunciature.

On Sunday 20 November, the Pope will celebrate Mass and consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to the bishops of Africa at Cotonou's "Stade de l'amitie". He will then have lunch at the apostolic nunciature with members of the Special Council for Africa of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops before travelling to the local "Cardinal Bernardin Gantin" airport where, at 4.30 p.m., he will board his return flight to Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language note released today by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, concerning the publication of the theme for World Communications Day Message 2012.

"The extraordinarily varied nature of the contribution of modern communications to society highlights the need for a value which, on first consideration, might seem to stand in contradistinction to it. Silence, in fact, is the central theme for the next World Communications Day Message: 'Silence and Word: path of evangelisation'. In the thought of Pope Benedict XVI, silence is not presented simply as an antidote to the constant and unstoppable flow of information that characterises society today but rather as a factor that is necessary for its integration. Silence, precisely because it favours habits of discernment and reflection, can in fact be seen primarily as a means of welcoming the word. We ought not to think in terms of a dualism, but of the complementary nature of two elements which when they are held in balance serve to enrich the value of communication and which make it a key factor that can serve the new evangelisation. It is clearly the desire of the Holy Father to associate the theme of the next World Communications Day with the celebration of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops which will have as its own theme: 'The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith'.

"World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by Vatican Council II ('Inter Mirifica' 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2012, 20 May).

"The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24)".
PCCS/ VIS 20110929 (310)


VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today, Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, patron of the Corps of the Gendarmerie, a commemorative ceremony will be held on the square in front of the Governorate of Vatican City State. The event will be attended by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and by a number of civil and military authorities of the Italian State.

"The Gendarmerie, in co-ordination with the Swiss Guard, are responsible for the security of the Supreme Pontiff", says a communique on the event released today. "They also function as a police force, control the territory of the State and oversee public order twenty-four hours a day, every day. ... In 2008 Vatican City State became a member of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL)".

During this afternoon's ceremony Prince Sforza Ruspoli will give the Gendarmerie a flag which has been in the possession of the Sforza Ruspoli family since 1870. Yesterday, in the course of a private audience with the Holy Father, the prince gave him the flag as a gift in memory of the pontifical troops who fell in the defence of Rome in 1870. It will be put on display in the Historical Museum of the Lateran Palace.
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VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, accompanied by an entourage.

- Bishop Martinus Dogma Situmorang O.F.M. Cap. of Padang, the Indonesian Episcopal Conference, on his "ad limina" visit.
AL/ VIS 20110929 (60)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2011 (VIS) - During today's general audience, celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI reflected on his recent apostolic trip to Germany, defining it as "a great feast of the faith" during which he had seen "how it is God Who gives our lives their deepest meaning, their true fullness".

The Pope recalled the various stages of his journey, beginning with his visit to Berlin where, before the Federal Parliament, he had "expounded on the foundations of law and the rule of law; that is, the measure for all laws inscribed by the Creator into the very heart of His creation". After addressing the Bundestag, he had gone on to meet members of the German Jewish community with whom, "having recalled our shared roots of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we highlighted the fruits that have thus far emerged from dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism in Germany". In his subsequent meeting with members of the Muslim community, the Pope had reflected on "the importance of religious freedom for the peaceful development of humankind".

Benedict XVI then went on to speak of his satisfaction at seeing such large numbers of people in attendance at the Mass he had celebrated at the Olympic stadium in Berlin. On that occasion he had dedicated his homily "to the importance union with Christ has for our personal lives as believers and for our being Church, His mystical body".

The Holy Father had then gone on to visit the region of Thuringia, cradle of the Protestant Reformation. Hence, said Pope Benedict, "the particular ecumenical emphasis of that second stage of my journey". In Thuringia he had met with members of the German Evangelical Church Council in the city of Erfurt, where Martin Luther had joined the Augustinian order and been ordained a priest. In the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt "we again saw how important our combined witness of faith in Jesus Christ is in today's world. ... We need to make joint efforts on the journey towards full unity", however "only Christ can give us that unity, and we will become increasingly united to Him in the extent to which we return to Him and allow ourselves to be transformed by Him".

The Pope also mentioned the Vespers he had celebrated at the Marian shrine of Etzelsbach, located on "a strip of land that has always remained Catholic through the vicissitudes of history, and the inhabitants of which courageously opposed the dictatorships of Nazism and Communism". During Mass the following day in the Cathedral Square of Erfurt, the Pope had spoken about the patron saints of Thuringia - Elizabeth, Boniface and Kilian - highlighting "the shining example of the faithful who bore witness to the Gospel under totalitarian regimes. I invited the faithful to be saints today, worthy witnesses of Christ, and to contribute to building our society", he said.

The Pope went on: "I had a moving encounter with Msgr. Hermann Scheipers, the last living priest to have survived to concentration camp of Dachau. At Erfurt I also had the opportunity to meet some victims of sexual abuse by clergy, to whom I spoke of my regret and my participation in their suffering".

The last stage of the Pope's apostolic trip took him to the archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau. There he had presided at a prayer vigil with young people, where "I was happy to see that the faith in my German homeland has a young face, that it is alive and has a future", he said. "I told them that the Pope trusts in the active collaboration of the young. With the grace of Christ they can bring the fire of God's love into the world".

Another outstanding moment of his visit was his meeting with seminarians. "I wanted to show those young men the beauty and greatness of their divine call, and to offer them some help to continue their journey joyfully and in profound communion with Christ", the Pope said. Referring then to his encounter with representatives from the Orthodox Churches, the Pope laid emphasis on "the shared duty to be a leavening for the renewal of our society".

Mass celebrated at the airport of Freiburg im Breisgau gave Benedict XVI "the opportunity to thank everyone involved in various areas of ecclesial life, especially the many volunteers who collaborate in charitable initiatives. It is thanks to them that the German Church is able to offer such great assistance to the universal Church, particularly in the mission lands. I reminded them that their precious service will be fruitful as long as it derives from an authentic and living faith, in union with the bishops and the Pope, in union with the Church. Finally, before my return, I addressed a thousand Catholics active in the Church and society, to whom I proposed certain points for reflection on Church activity in a secularised society, on the call to be free from material and political burdens in order to be more transparent to God".

"This apostolic trip to Germany", Pope Benedict concluded, "provided me with an opportunity to meet the faithful of my own homeland, to confirm them in faith, hope and love, to share with them the joy of being Catholic. But my message was also addressed to the German people as a whole, inviting them to look to the future with trust. It is certain that 'where God is, there is a future'".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, yesterday delivered an address at the Italian embassy to the Holy See in the course of a ceremony called to mark the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. The event was attended by the president of the Italian Senate, the president of the Constitutional Court, a number of ministers and other public authorities.

Archbishop Becciu recalled how Benedict XVI had sent a message for the anniversary of unification to Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, and had presided at a prayer for Italy at the papal basilica of St. Mary Major. "The Church in Italy", said the archbishop, "has dedicated her energies with great conviction to affirming ... the vitality of that spirit of loyal collaboration for the promotion of man and the good of the country which characterises relations between the Church and the political community in Italy".

In this context Archbishop Becciu referred to the Lateran Pacts of 1929 and to their 1984 revision which, as the Pope wrote in his message to President Napolitano, "are clear indications of dialogue between the Holy See and Italy, ... and of the harmonious and supportive collaboration between the Church and the political community, in support of the individual and the common good".

"The Italian experience of relations between Church and State, each in its distinct field and with fruitful mutual collaboration, could profitably be shared with other countries", the archbishop concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Bishop Wilson Tadeu Jonck S.C.I. of Tubarao, Brazil as metropolitan archbishop of Florianopolis (area 7,862, population 1,478,000, Catholics 1,153,000, priests 191, permanent deacons 112, religious 575), Brazil. The archbishop-elect was born in Vidal Ramos, Brazil in 1951 and ordained a priest in 1977. He has worked as seminary director, formator, parochial vicar and later pastor, and professor of philosophy. He has also served as a member of the regional council of his religious order. He was ordained a bishop in 2003.

- Bishop Sergio Alfredo Gualberti Calandrina, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, as coadjutor archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 50,000, population 2,291,000, Catholics 1,805,000, priests 194, permanent deacons 6, religious 789). The archbishop-elect was born in Clusone, Italy in 1945 and ordained a priest in 1971. He served as a chaplain to Italian migrants in Switzerland before moving to Bolivia where he worked as parochial vicar and later pastor. He has held a number of offices in the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, and was ordained a bishop in 1999.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was the programme of the pastoral visit which Benedict XVI is due to make on Sunday 9 October to the Italian towns of Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno.

The Pope will depart from Ciampino airport in Rome at 8.30 a.m., landing at 9.15 a.m. at the airport of Lamezia Terme. At 10 a.m. he will celebrate Mass in an industrial area on the outskirts of the town.

Following lunch with bishops at 1.30 p.m. in the episcopal residence of Lamezia Terme, at 4.30 p.m. the Holy Father will greet the organisers of his visit. At 4.45 p.m. he is due to travel by helicopter from the "Guido d'Ippolito" stadium to Serra San Bruno where, at 5.30 p.m., he will meet with local people at the sports ground.

At 6 p.m. the Pope Benedict will celebrate Vespers and deliver a homily in the church of the Carthusian monastery of Serra San Bruno, after which he will meet the monastic community and visit a cell and the infirmary of the monastery.

He is scheduled to return to Lamezia Terme by helicopter at 7.30 p.m., and to depart from there by plane to Rome at 8 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided by the Holy Father in the months of October and November:


- Sunday 9: 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Pastoral visit to Lamezia Terme and Serra San Bruno, Italy.

- Sunday 16: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the New Evangelisation.

- Sunday 23: 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, canonisation of the following blesseds: Guido Maria Conforti, Luigi Guanella, Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro.

- Wednesday 26: At 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, prayer in preparation for the Meeting for Peace in Assisi.


- Wednesday 2: All Souls Day. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Popes.

- Thursday 3: At 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year.

- Friday 4: At 5.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Vespers for the beginning of the academic year in the Pontifical Universities.

- Friday 18 - Sunday 20: Apostolic trip to Benin.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - On Saturday 24 September, during the course of his apostolic visit to Germany, the Holy Father met with seminarians in the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, whom he addressed off-the-cuff in German. Extracts of his remarks are given below.

The Pope dwelt upon the significance of the years spent in the seminary, and he reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which narrates the foundation of the community of the Apostles: "The Lord appoints twelve", said the Holy Father. "He makes something, He does something, it is a creative act. He makes them, 'to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach'. ... They have to be with Him in order to come to know Him, ... but at the same time they have to be envoys who go out, who take with them what they have learnt, who bring it to others, ... even into places far removed from Him. ... This combination of, on the one hand, going out on mission, and on the other hand being with Him, remaining with Him, is - I believe - precisely what we have to learn in the seminary".

"The seminary is therefore a time for training. Also, of course, it is a time for discernment, for learning. ... The mission must be tested, and this includes being in community with others and also, of course, speaking with your spiritual directors". It involves "learning to trust: if He truly wants this, then I may entrust myself to Him. In today's world ... in which everything is in a constant state of flux, in which human ties are breaking down, ... it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that I will hold firm for the whole of my life". But, "if He wants me, then He will also hold me, He will be there in the hour of temptation, in the hour of need, and He will send people to me, He will show me the path. ... Faithfulness is possible, because He is always there, because He exists yesterday, today and tomorrow".

Apart from being a time for discernment, learning and vocation, the seminary is also a time for prayer, "for listening to Him", said Benedict XVI, "listening, truly learning to listen to Him - in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in the liturgy of the Church - and learning to understand the present time in His word. In exegesis we learn much about the past: what happened, what sources there are, what communities there were, and so on. This is also important. But more important still is that from the past we should learn about the present, we should learn that He is speaking these words now, and that they all carry their present within them, and that over and above the historical circumstances in which they arose, they contain a fullness which speaks to all times".

"Faith comes from hearing", said the Holy Father referring to the words of St. Paul. That is to say, faith needs "the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages" by "priests, bishops and my fellow believers. Faith must include a 'you' and it must include a 'we'".

In this context the Pope highlighted the importance of accepting other people in their individuality, while remaining aware that they too must accept us in our individuality. Only in this way, he explained, can the community of faithful become a "'we', journeying together towards the living God. ... The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. ... We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others".

In closing, Benedict XVI reminded the seminarians of the importance of study. "We all know that St. Peter said: 'Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. ... The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. ... Study is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the 950th anniversary of the dedication of Speyer Cathedral in Germany, due to take place on 2 October.
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Monday, September 26, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Stanislaw Budzik, secretary general of the Polish Episcopal Conference, as archbishop of Lublin (area 9,108, population 1,154,267, Catholics 1,128,233, priests 1,328, religious 1,043), Poland. The archbishop-elect was born in Lekawica, Poland in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1977. Having studied dogmatic theology in Austria, he worked as director of diocesan Caritas, then director of the "Biblos" publishing house and later as rector of the major seminary of Tarnow.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. the Pope travelled fifty kilometres by car from the city of Freiburg im Breisgau to Lahr airport for his return flight to Italy. The departure ceremony was attended by German President Christian Wulff, to whom the Pope again expressed his thanks, as well as by various German bishops, representatives of the civil authorities and large numbers of faithful.

"Before leaving Germany, I would like very much to thank you for these days, so moving and eventful, spent in my native land", said the Holy Father, who then went on to recall the most important moments of his apostolic visit.

"In Berlin", he said, "I had the particular opportunity of addressing the members of the Bundestag and presenting some reflections on the intellectual foundations of the State. I also readily think of the fruitful conversations which I had with the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor about the present state of the German people and the international community. I was particularly touched by the cordial welcome and enthusiasm shown by so many people in Berlin.

"Here in the land of the Reformation", he added, "Christian unity was naturally a high point of my journey. I would mention in particular my meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Germany, which took place in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt. I am profoundly grateful for our fraternal exchange and common prayer. Significant too were my meetings with Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, as well with Jews and Muslims.

"Of course my visit was particularly aimed at the Catholic communities in Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg. I gladly recall our ... common listening to the word of God and our union in prayer - especially in those parts of the country where efforts were made for decades to remove religion from people's lives. This gives me confidence for the future of Christianity in Germany. As in previous visits, it was clear how many people here are bearing witness to their faith and making its transforming power present in today's world.

"Last but not least, after the impressive celebration of World Youth Day in Madrid, I was also delighted to be in the presence of large numbers of young people in Freiburg at yesterday's youth vigil. I encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers - and these already exist - whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance. ... 'Where God is, there is a future.' Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral. In this sense I accompany in my thoughts and prayers the path of the Church in Germany".

Following the departure ceremony, at 7.15 p.m. the Holy Father boarded his plane to return to Rome. His flight landed at Fiumicino airport in Rome at 8.45 p.m., whence he travelled by car to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today at the concert hall of Freiburg im Breisgau, the Holy Father met with representatives of Catholic associations active in the life of the Church and of society.

Having thanked them for their Christian service and witness, "something that is not always easy at the present time", Benedict XVI pointed out that, "for some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptised drifting away from Church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change?"

"The Church", he explained, "is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptised. ... Yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change. ... As far as the Church in concerned, though, the basic motive for change is the apostolic mission of the disciples and the Church herself.

"The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission", he added, explaining that this mission embraces three aspects: bearing witness, making disciples in all nations and proclaiming the Gospel. "The Church's mission has its origins in the mystery of the Triune God, in the mystery of His creative love". She "has nothing of her own to offer to Him Who founded her. She finds her meaning exclusively in being a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God's word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God".

"In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organisation and institutionalisation than to her vocation to openness", the Pope said.

And he went on: "In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from the 'worldliness' of the world. ... One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularisation, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform".

"Secularising trends", he added, "whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like, have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty". In freeing herself of material ties, "her missionary activity regained credibility".

Benedict XVI recalled that history shows how a Church detached from the world can bear more effective missionary witness. "Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world", he said.

"It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully, ... stripping away from it anything that may seem to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.

"To put it another way: for people of every era, not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. ... This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals" conceal "the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it".

Pope Benedict concluded: "It time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness. ... A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers. ... Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God's love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now".
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Sunday, September 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass in the Domplatz (Cathedral Square) of Erfurt, Benedict XVI travelled by plane to Freiburg im Breisgau where he first made a visit to the local cathedral.

The Holy Father then went on to greet local citizens gathered in the city's Munsterplatz, thanking them for their warm welcome. "I have come to you joyfully, in order to pray together, to proclaim the word of God and to celebrate the Eucharist", he said. "I ask for your prayers, that these days will be fruitful, that God will deepen our faith, strengthen our hope and increase our love. During these days, may we become aware once more how much God loves us and how good He is, so that we may trustingly place ourselves and all our cares and concerns into His hands. In Him our future is assured: He gives meaning to our lives and can bring them to fulfilment. May the Lord accompany you in peace and make you messengers of joy!"

Having imparted his apostolic blessing the Pope moved on to the local seminary where he held a private meeting with Helmut Kohl, former chancellor of Germany, before meeting with representatives from the Orthodox Churches.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 5.1.5 p.m. today the Holy Father met with fifteen representatives from the Orthodox Churches in Germany gathered in the main hall of the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau. Germany has a total of 467 Byzantine Orthodox communities with some 1,300,000 faithful belonging to various autocephalous Churches.

Having greeted Metropolitan Augoustinos, president of the Orthodox Episcopal Conference in Germany, and thanked him for his words, "so full of confidence", the Pope reaffirmed that "among Christian Churches and communities, the Orthodox are theologically closest to us; Catholics and Orthodox both have the same basic structure inherited from the ancient Church. So we may hope that the day is not too far away when we may once again celebrate the Eucharist together.

"With interest and sympathy the Catholic Church follows the development of Orthodox communities in Western Europe, which in recent decades have grown remarkably", the Pope added. He then went on to express his satisfaction at "the increase of pan-Orthodox co-operation, which has made significant progress in recent years. ... May the work of these episcopal conferences strengthen the bond between the Orthodox Churches and hasten the progress of efforts to establish a pan-Orthodox council".

On the subject of dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of continuing efforts "to clarify theological differences. ... The resolution of these questions is indispensable for restoration of the full unity that we hope and pray for. Above all it is on the question of primacy that our continuing efforts towards a correct understanding must be focused. Here the ideas put forward by John Paul II in the Encyclical 'Ut Unum Sint' on the distinction between the nature and form of the exercise of primacy can yield further fruitful discussion points".

He also expressed his appreciation for "the work of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. ... The results so far obtained allow us to grow in mutual understanding and to draw closer to one another", he said.

"In the present climate, in which many would like, as it were, to 'liberate' public life from God, the Christian Churches in Germany - including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians - are walking side by side along the path of peaceful witness for understanding and solidarity among peoples, on the basis of their faith in the one God and Father of all. At the same time they continue to place the miracle of God's incarnation at the centre of their proclamation. Realising that on this mystery all human dignity depends, they speak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death".

In closing, Pope Benedict reiterated how "faith in God, the Creator of life, and unconditional adherence to the dignity of every human being strengthen faithful Christians vigorously to oppose every manipulative and selective intervention in the area of human life. Knowing too the value of marriage and the family, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation. Here the common engagement of Christians, including many Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future, in which the human person is given the respect which is his due".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today at 5.45 p.m. Benedict XVI met with a group of sixty seminarians in the St. Charles Borromeo Chapel of the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau.

Following the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an introduction from Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, the Holy Father made some off-the-cuff remarks to the seminarians. He invited them to dedicate themselves to their studies because, he explained, the relationship between faith and reason is of particular importance in our time, and the use of reason is fundamental in order to spread the faith.

Benedict XVI also turned his attention to the need for discernment, faithfulness and prayer, underlining the importance of community life and of listening to others, in order to live in the faith. Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. explained to journalists that the Pope's words were intended as an exhortation to the seminarians and as an indication of the way they should live their formative years.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 6.1.5 p.m. today in the main hall of the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau the Holy Father met with council members of the Central Committee for German Catholics. The committee was founded in 1952 to support the apostolic work of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father focused on the "exposure programmes" promoted by the committee whereby, for a certain period, experts in various sectors share the daily lives of poor people in developing countries "in order to see the world through their eyes and hence to learn how to practise solidarity. ... Let us imagine", the Pope said, "that an exposure programme of this kind were to take place here in Germany. Experts from a far country would ... find much to admire here, for example the prosperity, the order and the efficiency. But looking on with unprejudiced eyes, they would also see plenty of poverty: poverty in human relations and poverty in the religious sphere.

"We live at a time that is broadly characterised by a subliminal relativism that penetrates every area of life", he added. "Sometimes this relativism becomes aggressive, when it opposes those who claim to know where the truth or meaning of life is to be found. And we observe that this relativism exerts more and more influence on human relationships and on society. ... Many no longer seem capable of any form of self-denial or of making a sacrifice for others. Even the altruistic commitment to the common good, in the social and cultural sphere or on behalf of the needy, is in decline. Others are now quite incapable of committing themselves unreservedly to a single partner".

"We see that in our affluent western world much is lacking. Many people lack experience of God's goodness. They no longer find any point of contact with the mainstream Churches and their traditional structures. But why is this? I think this is a question on which we must reflect very seriously. Addressing it is the principal task of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation. But naturally it is something that concerns us all".

In this context the Holy Father noted that "the Church in Germany is superbly organised". However, he asked, "behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in a living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective".

"We are called to seek new paths of evangelisation. Small communities could be one such path, where friendships are lived and deepened in regular communal adoration before God", Benedict XVI suggested. "There we find people who speak of these small faith experiences at their workplace and within their circle of family and friends, and in so doing bear witness to a new closeness between Church and society".

Following the meeting, the Holy Father moved on to the fairgrounds of Freiburg im Breisgau to preside at a prayer vigil with young people.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Following his meeting with members of the Central Committee for German Catholics at the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau, Benedict XVI travelled to the city fairgrounds where he presided at a prayer vigil with young people. Extracts from the Holy Father's address are given below.

He began by referring to the candle-lighting ceremony, which was part of the vigil. In an imitation of the Easter rite of lighting the Paschal candle, the Pope lit candles borne by a number of young people who, in their turn, lit candles carried by others. "This wonderful liturgical rite ", he said, "reveals to us in signs more eloquent than words the mystery of our Christian faith. Jesus who says of Himself: 'I am the light of the world', causes our lives to shine brightly, so that what we have just heard in the Gospel comes true: 'You are the light of the world'.

"It is not our human efforts or the technical progress of our era that brings light into this world", the Holy Father added. "Again and again we have to experience how our striving to bring about a better and more just world hits against its limits. Innocent suffering and the ultimate fact of death awaiting every single person are an impenetrable darkness. ... While all around us there may be darkness and gloom, yet we see a light: ... Christ, risen from the dead, shines in this world and He does so most brightly in those places where, in human terms, everything is sombre and hopeless".

"To be sure, those who believe in Jesus do not lead lives of perpetual sunshine, as though they could be spared suffering and hardship, but there is always a bright glimmer there, lighting up the path that leads to fullness of life. The eyes of those who believe in Christ see light even amid the darkest night and they already see the dawning of a new day.

"Light does not remain alone. All around, other lights are flaring up. In their gleam, space acquires contours, so that we can find our bearings. We do not live alone in this world. And it is for the important things of life that we have to rely on other people. Particularly in our faith, then, we do not stand alone, we are links in the great chain of believers. Nobody can believe unless he is supported by the faith of others, and conversely, through my faith, I help to strengthen others in their faith".

The idea of sainthood has often been distorted

"We increasingly experience the failure of our efforts and our personal shortcomings, despite our best intentions. In the final analysis, the world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better. There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression. And even those figures in our history who saw themselves as 'bringers of light' - without being fired by Christ, the one true light - did not manage to create an earthly paradise, but set up dictatorships and totalitarian systems, in which even the smallest spark of true humanity was choked".

"At this point we cannot remain silent about the existence of evil. We see it in so many places in this world; but we also see it - and this scares us - in our own lives. Truly, within our hearts there is a tendency towards evil, there is selfishness, envy, aggression. Perhaps with a certain self-discipline all this can to some degree be controlled. But it becomes more difficult with faults that are somewhat hidden, that can engulf us like a thick fog, such as sloth, or laziness in willing and doing good. Again and again in history, keen observers have pointed out that damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians".

"Dear friends, again and again the very notion of saints has been caricatured and distorted, as if to be holy meant to be remote from the world, naive and joyless. Often it is thought that a saint has to be someone with great ascetic and moral achievements, who might well be revered, but could never be imitated in our own lives. How false and discouraging this opinion is! There is no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen. Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you. He does not call you because you are good and perfect, but because He is good and He wants to make you His friends. Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light. You are Christians - not because you do special and extraordinary things, but because Christ is your life. You are holy because His grace is at work in you".

"This gathering shines in more ways than one - in the glow of innumerable lights, in the radiance of so many young people who believe in Christ. A candle can only give light if it lets itself be consumed by the flame. It would remain useless if its wax failed to nourish the fire. Allow Christ to burn in you, even at the cost of sacrifice and renunciation. Do not be afraid that you might lose something and, so to speak, emerge empty-handed at the end. Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God's kingdom and to give yourselves - like candle wax - so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you. Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world. I am confident that you and many other young people here in Germany are lamps of hope that do not remain hidden. 'You are the light of the world'".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father concelebrated Mass at the airport of Freiburg im Breisgau with bishops from the twenty-seven dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany. The event was attended by thousands of faithful from Germany and surrounding countries. Extracts from the Holy Father's homily are given below.

"'Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness', as we said in today's Collect", the Pope began. "There are theologians who, in the face of all the terrible things that happen in the world today, say that God cannot be all-powerful. In response to this we profess God, the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. ... At the same time, we have to be aware that He exercises His power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on His power, by recognising the freedom of His creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom.

"However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened. Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of His people. He desires our salvation. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, His heart aches for us and He reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to Him so that the power of His mercy can touch our hearts. We have to be ready to abandon evil, to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for His word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us.

"In the Gospel Jesus takes up this fundamental theme" in the parable of the two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son refuses but later repents and goes to work, while the second agrees but in the end does not go. Of the two sons, only the first does his father's will. "Translated into the language of our time", the Pope explained, "this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is 'routine' and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith".

He went on: "The words of Jesus should make us all pause, in fact they should disturb us. ... So let us ask ourselves, how is my personal relationship with God: in prayer, in participation at Sunday Mass, in exploring my faith through meditation on Sacred Scripture and study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Dear friends, ... the renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith".

"Christian life must continually measure itself by Christ. ... Just as Christ was totally united to the Father and obedient to Him, so too the disciples must obey God and be of one mind among themselves. ... The Church in Germany will overcome the great challenges of the present and future, and it will remain a leaven in society, if the priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful, in fidelity to their respective vocations, work together in unity. ... The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world: if she remains faithfully united with the Successors of St. Peter and the Apostles, if she fosters co-operation in various ways with mission countries and allows herself to be 'infected' by the joy that marks the faith of these young Churches".

"Christian life is ... humble service of neighbour and of the common good. ... Let us ask God for the courage and the humility to walk the path of faith, to draw from the riches of His mercy, and to fix our gaze on Christ. ... He is our future.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass at the airport of Freiburg im Breisgau, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus, a prayer, he said, which "constantly reminds us of the historical beginnings of our salvation".

Mary's "yes", the Pope explained, "is the trusting 'yes' to God's plan, to our salvation". Mary "addresses her 'yes' to us all, whom she received as her children entrusted to her at the foot of the Cross. She never withdraws this promise".

"As we pray the Angelus, we may join Mary in her 'yes', we may adhere trustingly to the beauty of God's plan and to the providence that He has assigned to us in His grace. Then God's love will also, as it were, take flesh in our lives, becoming ever more tangible. In all our cares we need have no fear. God is good. At the same time we know that we are sustained by the fellowship of the many believers who are now praying the Angelus with us throughout the world, via radio and television".

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father went back to the seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau where he had lunch with members of the German Episcopal Conference.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from Erfurt to Etzelsbach where he arrived at 5.30 p.m. He then went to the nearby Wallfahrtskapelle to celebrate Marian Vespers and the Liturgy of the Hours with thousands of faithful gathered there.

In his address the Pope recalled the role that this Marian shrine has had in German history. "During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found", he said.

The Holy Father then turned to consider the Pieta conserved in the chapel. "A particular feature of that holy image", he said, "is the position of Our Lord's body. The wounded side of the crucified Lord ... is concealed, because the body is facing the other way. It seems to me that a deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation: in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and His mother are turned to one another; they come close to each other. They exchange their love. ... In Mary's heart there is room for the love that her divine Son wants to bestow upon the world".

"It is not self-fulfilment that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which can easily turn into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary and hence also towards the heart of the Redeemer", the Holy Father explained.

"With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and He does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world. Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us His mother Mary to be our mother. ... At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveller and protector on life's journey. ... In life we pass through high-points and low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and conveys to us the strength of divine love".

When the Blessed Virgin rescues us from plight, "with a mother's tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, Who is so rich in mercy. 'Understand,' she seems to say to us, 'that God, Who is the source of all that is good and Who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields unreservedly and joyfully to His will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise'. Where God is, there is a future. Indeed, when we allow God's love to influence the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. ... Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions".

The celebration was followed by the adoration of the Eucharist, the final blessing and the praying of the 'Salve Regina'. Before leaving the chapel to return to Erfurt, the Holy Father left a golden rosary at the feet of the Virgin in sign of profound veneration.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from Erfurt to Etzelsbach where he arrived at 5.30 p.m. He then went to the nearby Wallfahrtskapelle to celebrate Marian Vespers and the Liturgy of the Hours with thousands of faithful gathered there.

  In his address the Pope recalled the role that this Marian shrine has had in German history. "During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found", he said.

  The Holy Father then turned to consider the Pieta conserved in the chapel. "A particular feature of that holy image", he said, "is the position of Our Lord's body. The wounded side of the crucified Lord ... is concealed, because the body is facing the other way. It seems to me that a deep meaning lies hidden in this representation, that only becomes apparent through silent contemplation: in the Etzelsbach image, the hearts of Jesus and His mother are turned to one another; they come close to each other. They exchange their love. ... In Mary's heart there is room for the love that her divine Son wants to bestow upon the world".

  "It is not self-fulfilment that truly enables people to flourish, according to the model that modern life so often proposes to us, which can easily turn into a sophisticated form of selfishness. Rather it is an attitude of self-giving directed towards the heart of Mary and hence also towards the heart of the Redeemer", the Holy Father explained.

  "With Mary, God has worked for good in everything, and He does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world. Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us His mother Mary to be our mother. ... At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveller and protector on life's journey. ... In life we pass through high-points and low-points, but Mary intercedes for us with her Son and conveys to us the strength of divine love".

  When the Blessed Virgin rescues us from plight, "with a mother's tenderness, she wants to make us understand that our whole life should be a response to the love of our God, Who is so rich in mercy. 'Understand,' she seems to say to us, 'that God, Who is the source of all that is good and Who never desires anything other than your true happiness, has the right to demand of you a life that yields unreservedly and joyfully to His will, striving at the same time that others may do likewise'. Where God is, there is a future. Indeed, when we allow God's love to influence the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. ... Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions".

  The celebration was followed by the adoration of the Eucharist, the final blessing and the praying of the 'Salve Regina'. Before leaving the chapel to return to Erfurt, the Holy Father left a golden rosary at the feet of the Virgin in sign of profound veneration.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office has released the following communique on the meeting between the Holy Father and a group of victims of sexual abuse.

  "This evening, in the seminary at Erfurt, Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and church personnel. Subsequently he greeted some people who care for those injured by these crimes.

  "Moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims, the Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families. He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the Church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to the promotion of effective measures for the protection of children and young people. Pope Benedict XVI is close to the victims and he expresses the hope that the merciful God, Creator and Redeemer of all mankind, may heal the wounds of the victims and grant them inner peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Domplatz (Cathedral Square) of Erfurt. More than 50,000 people participated in the liturgy which used texts specific to the diocese of Erfurt for the veneration of the local patron, St. Elizabeth of Thuringia.

  "If we think back thirty years to the Elizabeth Year 1981, when this city formed part of the German Democratic Republic", said the Pope at the beginning of his homily, "who would have thought that a few years later, the wall and the barbed wire at the border would have come down? And if we think even further back, some seventy years, to the year 1941, in the days of National Socialism, who could have predicted that the so-called 'thousand-year Reich' would turn to dust and ashes just four years later?"

  "Here in Thuringia and in the former German Democratic Republic, you have had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain. Many late consequences of that period are still having to be worked through, above all in the intellectual and religious fields. Most people in this country since that time have spent their lives far removed from faith in Christ and from the communion of the Church. Yet the last two decades have also brought good experiences: a broader horizon, an exchange that reaches beyond borders, a faithful confidence that God does not abandon us and that He leads us along new paths".

  This "new freedom has helped bring about greater dignity and a great many new possibilities for people's lives. On the part of the Church, we can point gratefully to many things that have become easier, whether it be new opportunities for parish activities, renovation and enlargement of churches and community centres, or diocesan initiatives of a pastoral or cultural nature. But have these opportunities led to an increase in faith? Are not the deep roots of faith and Christian life to be sought in something very different from social freedom? It was actually amid the hardships of pressure from without that many committed Catholics remained faithful to Christ and to the Church. They accepted personal disadvantages in order to live their faith".

  Among those people, the Holy Father made special mention of the many priests and laypersons who provided pastoral care to refugees in the years following World War II, and of the parents who brought up their children in the Catholic faith "in the midst of the diaspora and in an anticlerical political environment".

  Referring then to the patrons of the diocese of Erfurt - St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, St. Boniface and St. Kilian - and to St. Severus to whom the "Severikirche" in the Domplatz is dedicated, the Pope said: "God's presence is seen especially clearly in His saints. Their witness to the faith can also give us the courage to begin afresh today", because they "show us that it is truly possible and good to live our relationship with God in a radical way, to put Him in first place, not as one concern among others. The saints help us to see that God first reached out to us, He revealed and continues to reveal Himself to us in Jesus Christ. Christ comes towards us, He speaks to every individual with an invitation to follow Him".

  "Faith always includes as an essential element the fact that it is shared with others. ... This 'with', without which there can be no personal faith, is the Church. And this Church does not stop at national borders, as we can see from the nationalities of the saints I mentioned earlier: Hungary, England, Ireland and Italy. ... If we open ourselves up to the whole of the faith in all of history and the testimony given to it in the whole Church, then the Catholic faith also has a future as a public force in Germany. ... Saints, even if there are only a few of them, change the world.

  "Thus", the Holy Father added, "the political changes that swept through your country in 1989 were motivated not just by the demand for prosperity and freedom of movement, but also decisively by the longing for truthfulness. This longing was kept awake partly through people completely dedicated to serving God and neighbour and ready to sacrifice their lives. They and the saints I mentioned before give us courage to make good use of this new situation. We have no wish to hide in a purely private faith, but we want to shape this hard-won freedom responsibly".

  Following Mass, Benedict XVI travelled to the airport of Erfurt. At 11.50 a.m. he departed for the city of Freiburg im Breisgau where he landed at Lahr airport shortly before 1 p.m.
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Friday, September 23, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning, as is traditional on his apostolic trips abroad, Benedict XVI granted a brief interview to journalists accompanying him on the flight to Germany.

The first question put to the Pope was: "How much do you still feel yourself to be German, and in what aspects do your origins still influence you?"

The Pope replied: "I was born in Germany and that root cannot and must not be severed. I received my cultural formation in Germany, my native language is German and language is the way in which the spirit lives and works. ... The fact of my being German is a vital part of the cultural framework of my life. My attachment to the country's history, with all its greatness and its failings, cannot and must not be denied. As a Christian, however, another question arises: through Baptism we are born anew, we are born into a new people with includes all peoples. ... And when, in this people, we take on a great responsibility, as I have done in taking on the supreme responsibility, ... the root becomes a tree which extends in various directions, and the fact of being at home in this great community ... of the Catholic Church becomes ever more vibrant and profound, it moulds all of existence without cancelling what went before".

The second question was: "Over recent years increasing numbers of people have been leaving the Church in Germany, also as a result of acts of child abuse committed by members of the clergy. What are your feelings about this? What would you say to those who wish to leave the Church?"

"Let us first distinguish", said the Holy Father, "the specific motivations of those who are horrified by the crimes that have recently come to light. I can understand how, in the light of such information and especially if close relatives are involved, one would say: 'This is no longer my Church. For me the Church was a humanising and moral force. If representatives of the Church do such wrong I can no longer live with this Church". This is a specific situation. Generally speaking though, against the background of a widespread secularisation of our society, there are many reasons and the act of leaving is often only the last step people make in a long process of distancing themselves from the Church. In this context, I feel it is important to ask: 'Why am I in the Church?' ... In my view it is vital to remember that being in the Church is not like being in some association. It means being in the net of the Lord where He catches fish, both good and bad, to draw them from the waters of death to the land of life. It may be that, in this net, I find myself alongside the bad fish and that I see only them, but it remains true that I am not there for them, I am there because it is the net of the Lord. This is quite different from human associations and touches the very foundation of our being. Speaking to these people, I believe that we must delve to the bottom of the question of what the Church is. ... Why am I in the Church even if there are scandals and terrible human failings? In this way we will renew our awareness of the specific nature of being Church, ... which is the People of God, and thus we would learn ... to combat the scandals from within, from within the great net of the Lord".

Fundamental unity with Evangelical Churches

Asked about groups which have opposed this and others of his apostolic trips, Benedict XVI replied: "In the first place I would say it is normal that, in a free society and in a period of secularisation, a papal visit should meet with opposition and that such opposition should be expressed. It is part of our freedom, and we must be aware that secularisation and specific hostility to Catholicism is strong in our societies. When this opposition is expressed civilly then we have nothing to say against it.

"However it is also true that many people have high expectations and a lot of love for the Pope. ... There is great consensus around the Catholic faith, and a growing conviction that we need a moral force, that we need the presence of God in our time. And so I know that alongside the opposition, which naturally exists, a lot of people are awaiting this feast of the faith with joy. ... For this reason I am glad to go back to my native Germany, I am happy to bring the message of Christ to my own land".

Finally Benedict XVI was asked about his expectations for his meeting with members of the Evangelical Church. "When I accepted the invitation to make this trip", he replied, "it was clear that ecumenism with our Evangelical friends had to be a central theme. As I have said before, we live in secularised times in which all Christians have the mission of making God's message present to the fellows. ... Thus the fact that Catholics and Evangelicals meet is fundamental for our time. And although we are not perfectly united at the institutional level, although problems (even large problems) persist, we are united in the fundamentals: faith in Christ and the Triune God, and the fact that man was made in the image of God. At this moment of history it is vital that we intensify this union.

"For this reason", the Pope added, "I am very grateful to our Protestant brothers and sisters who have made it possible to hold this highly significant meeting in the convent where Luther began his theological journey, to pray ... and talk together about our responsibility as Christians today. I am delighted to be able to express our fundamental unity as brothers and sisters who work together for the good of humankind, announcing the joyful message of Christ, of God Who has a human face and Who speaks to us".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 4.15 p.m. today the Holy Father travelled from the apostolic nunciature in Berlin to the Reichstag where he was welcomed by the president of the German Federal Parliament. He held a brief meeting with the five chief office holders of the German State: the president, the chancellor and the presidents of the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and of the Federal Constitutional Court. He also greeted the leaders of the various parliamentary groups. He was then accompanied to the hall of the Reichstag where he listened to a speech by Norbert Lammert, president of the Bundestag.

In his own address to the Parliament, Benedict XVI affirmed that politics "must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will seek success, as this is what opens up for him the possibility of effective political action. Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right". Without this, "success can be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice".

"We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre", said the Holy Father. "We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right - a highly organised band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss".

For this reason, "to serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician", especially today. But, "how do we recognise what is right?" asked Pope Benedict. He explained that "for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough. ... This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful".

Restoring the cultural heritage of Europe

"In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply self-evident today", said the Holy Father, recalling how, throughout history, "systems of law have almost always been based on religion". However, "unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed body of law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law. ... For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their inter-relation as the universally valid source of law".

"This seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after World War II", however "there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century". Due to the predominance of a positivist conception of nature and reason, "the idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into discussion in a non-Catholic environment".

"A positivist conception of nature as purely functional ... is incapable of producing any bridge to ethics and law. ... The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding which is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason. ... Hence ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field. ... This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary.

"The positivist approach to nature and reason", Pope Benedict added, "is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with". But, "where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture, ... it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity. I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognise only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for law-making, so that all the other insights and values of our culture are reduced to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe vis-a-vis other world cultures is left in a state of 'culturelessness' and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum".

This is why it is so important for reason and nature to rediscover their true greatness, and reassert themselves in their "true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives", said the Pope. We must "listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly", bearing in mind that "man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled".

"At this point Europe's cultural heritage ought to come to our assistance. The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people's responsibility for their actions.

"Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights. ... The culture of Europe arose from the encounter between ... Israel's monotheism, the philosophical reason of the Greeks and Roman law. ... In the awareness of man's responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history".

Having completed his address, Benedict XVI withdrew for a few moments before meeting with members of the Jewish community.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today Benedict XVI met with fifteen representatives of the German Jewish community, led by their president, Dieter Graumann. In his remarks to them, the Pope recalled his visit to the synagogue of Cologne on 19 August 2005, when Rabbi Teitelbaum had spoken of memory "as one of the supporting pillars that are needed if a future of peace is to be built".

"Today", said the Holy Father, "I find myself in a central place of remembrance, the appalling remembrance that it was from here that the Shoah, the annihilation of our Jewish fellow citizens in Europe, was planned and organised. Before the Nazi terror, there were about half a million Jews living in Germany, and they formed a stable component of German society. After World War II, Germany was considered the 'Land of the Shoah', where it had become virtually impossible to live. Initially there were hardly any efforts to re-establish the old Jewish communities, even though Jewish individuals and families were constantly arriving from the East. Many of them wanted to emigrate and build a new life, especially in the United States or Israel".

The Pope went on: "In this place, remembrance must also be made of the 'Kristallnacht' that took place from 9 to 10 November 1938. Only a few could see the full extent of this act of contempt for humanity, like the Berlin Cathedral Provost, Bernhard Lichtenberg, who cried out from the pulpit of St. Hedwig's Cathedral: 'Outside, the Temple is burning - that too is the house of God'. The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in Him. The supposedly 'almighty' Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God, the Creator and Father of all men. Refusal to heed this one God always makes people heedless of human dignity as well. What man is capable of when he rejects God, and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God, the terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war showed".

The Holy Father went on to express his joy at the fact that, despite past history, Jewish life is now blossoming in Germany and the community has made great efforts to integrate Eastern European immigrants.

"The Church feels a great closeness to the Jewish people", he said. "With the Vatican Council II Declaration 'Nostra Aetate', an 'irrevocable commitment to pursue the path of dialogue, fraternity and friendship' was made. This is true of the Catholic Church as a whole. ... Naturally it is also true of the Catholic Church in Germany, which is conscious of its particular responsibility in this regard". In this context the Pope mentioned a number of initiatives to strengthen Jewish-Christian relations, such as the "Week of Fraternity", the "Jews and Christians Forum" and the "historic meeting for Jewish-Christian dialogue that took place in March 2006 with the participation of Cardinal Walter Kasper".

"We Christians must also become increasingly aware of our own inner affinity with Judaism. For Christians, there can be no rupture in salvation history. Salvation comes from the Jews. When Jesus' conflict with the Judaism of His time is superficially interpreted as a breach with the Old Covenant, it tends to be reduced to the idea of a liberation that views the Torah merely as a slavish enactment of rituals and outward observances. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount does not abolish the Mosaic Law, but reveals its hidden possibilities and allows more radical demands to emerge. It points us towards the deepest source of human action, the heart, where choices are made between what is pure and what is impure, where faith, hope and love blossom forth.

"The message of hope contained in the books of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament has been appropriated and continued in different ways by Jews and Christians. 'After centuries of antagonism, we now see it as our task to bring these two ways of rereading the biblical texts - the Christian way and the Jewish way - into dialogue with one another, if we are to understand God's will and His word aright'. This dialogue should serve to strengthen our common hope in God in the midst of an increasingly secularised society. Without this hope, society loses its humanity", the Pope concluded.

Following his meeting with the Jewish community, the Pope travelled by car to Berlin's Olympic stadium for the celebration of Mass.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today the Holy Father arrived by car at Berlin's Olympic stadium to celebrate Mass with large numbers of faithful who had gathered there from Germany and surrounding countries. In the same stadium fifteen years ago, John Paul II had presided at the beatification of Karl Leisner and Bernhard Lichtenberg.

In his homily, Benedict XVI commented on the parable of the vine shoots taken from today's Gospel reading. When Jesus says "I am the vine, you are the branches", what He means is that "I am you and you are I, an unprecedented identification of the Lord with us, His Church. ... He continues to live in His Church in this world. He is present among us, and we are with him", said the Pope.

In this parable, Jesus says "my Father is the vine grower" who cuts off the withered branches and prunes the fruit-bearing ones, so that they bring forth more fruit. This means that God "wants to bestow new life upon us, full of vitality. Christ came to call sinners. It is they who need the doctor. ... Hence, as Vatican Council II expresses it, the Church is the 'universal Sacrament of salvation', existing for sinners in order to open up to them the path of conversion, healing and life. That is the Church's true and great mission, entrusted to her by Christ".

Reasons for disenchantment with the Church

The Holy Father continued: "Many people see only the outward form of the Church. This makes the Church appear as merely one of the many organisations within a democratic society, whose criteria and laws are then applied to the task of evaluating and dealing with such a complex entity as the 'Church'. If to this is added the sad experience that the Church contains both good and bad fish, wheat and darnel, and if only these negative aspects are taken into account, then the great and deep mystery of the Church is no longer seen.

"It follows that belonging to the vine, to the Church, is no longer a source of joy. Dissatisfaction and discontent begin to spread, when people's superficial and mistaken notions of 'Church', their 'dream Church', fail to materialise".

Later the Pope went on to explain how Jesus invites us to abide in Him. "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me ... If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned".

"The decision that is required of us here makes us keenly aware of the existential significance of our life choices. At the same time, the image of the vine is a sign of hope and confidence. Christ Himself came into this world through His incarnation, to be our root. Whatever hardship or drought befall us, ... God can transform into love even the burdensome and oppressive aspects of our lives. It is important that we 'abide' in Christ, in the vine".

This is of particular importance in our own "era of restlessness and lack of commitment, when so many people lose their way and their grounding, when loving fidelity in marriage and friendship has become so fragile and short-lived. ... The risen Lord gives us a place of refuge, a place of light, hope and confidence, a place of rest and security. ... Future, life and joy are to be found in Christ.

"To abide in Christ means to abide in the Church as well" the Pope added. "The whole communion of the faithful has been firmly incorporated into the vine, into Christ. ... Within this communion He supports us, and at the same time all the members support one another. ... We do not believe alone, but we believe with the whole Church.

"The Church, as the herald of God's word and dispenser of the Sacraments, joins us to Christ, the true vine. ... The Church is God's most beautiful gift. ... With and in the Church we may proclaim to all people that Christ is the source of life, that He exists, that He is the one for Whom we long so much. He gives himself. Whoever believes in Christ has a future. For God ... wants what is fruitful and alive, He wants life in its fullness".

In closing the Holy Father expressed the hope that the faithful may increasingly discover "the joy of being joined to Christ in the Church, that you may find comfort and redemption in your time of need and that you may increasingly become the precious wine of Christ's joy and love for this world".

Following the Eucharistic celebration, Benedict XVI travelled back to the apostolic nunciature by car, arriving at about 9 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At the apostolic nunciature in Berlin at 9 a.m. today, the Holy Father met with representatives of the Muslim community in Germany. Muslims in Germany number around 4.5 million; 70 percent of them are of Turkish of origin while others come from Arab countries, the Balkans and Iran.

In his remarks to the group the Pope recalled how "from the 1970s onwards, the presence of numerous Muslim families has increasingly become a distinguishing mark of this country". In this context he highlighted the importance of constant effort, not only "for peaceful coexistence, but also for the contribution that each can make towards building up the common good in this society.

"Many Muslims attribute great importance to the religious dimension of life", he added. "At times this is thought provocative in a society that tends to marginalise religion or at most to assign it a place among the individual's personal choices. The Catholic Church firmly advocates that due recognition be given to the public dimension of religious adherence. In an overwhelmingly pluralist society, this demand is not unimportant. Care must be taken to guarantee that others are always treated with respect. Mutual respect grows only on the basis of agreement on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person".

The Holy Father went on: "In Germany - as in many other countries, not only Western ones - this common frame of reference is articulated by the Constitution, whose juridical content is binding on every citizen, whether he belong to a faith community or not. Naturally, discussion over the best formulation of principles like freedom of public worship is vast and open-ended, yet it is significant that the Basic Law expresses them in a way that is still valid today at a distance of over sixty years".

"The reason for this seems to me to lie in the fact that the fathers of the Basic Law at that important moment were fully conscious of the need to find particularly solid ground with which all citizens would be able to identify. In seeking this, they did not prescind from their own religious beliefs. ... But they knew they had to engage with the followers of other religions and none: common ground was found in the recognition of some inalienable rights that are proper to human nature and precede every positive formulation. In this way, an essentially homogeneous society laid the foundations that we today consider valid for a markedly pluralistic world, foundations that actually point out the evident limits of pluralism: it is inconceivable, in fact, that a society could survive in the long term without consensus on fundamental ethical values".

At the end of his address, Benedict XVI underlined the importance of fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims as part of the process of building "a society that differs in many respects from what we brought with us from the past. As believers, setting out from our respective convictions, we can offer an important witness in many key areas of life in society", such as "the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice".

At the end of the meeting the Pope travelled to Berlin airport where, at 10 a.m., he boarded a plane to travel to Erfurt".
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