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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning's general audience was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 5,500 faithful. Having recently completed a series of catecheses dedicated to prayer in the Old Testament, the Pope today began a new cycle on the subject of the prayer of Christ which, he said, was "like a hidden canal irrigating His life, relationships and actions, and guiding Him with increasing firmness to the total gift of self, in keeping with the loving plan of God the Father".

  One particularly significant moment of prayer followed the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. This, the Pope noted, poses a query as to why Jesus, Who was without sin, should have chosen to submit Himself to John's Baptism of penance and conversion. John the Baptist himself raised the question, saying "I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?". The Holy Father explained how "by emerging Himself in the Jordan River, Jesus ... expressed His solidarity with people who recognise their sins, who chose to repent and change their lives. He helps us to understand that being part of the people of God means entering into a new life, a life in conformity with God. By this gesture Jesus anticipated the cross, beginning His active life by taking the place of sinners, bearing the weight of the sin of all humankind on His shoulders".

  By praying after His Baptism, Jesus demonstrates His intimate bond with the Father, "experiencing His paternity and apprehending the demanding beauty of His love. Speaking to God, Jesus receives confirmation of His mission", with the words that resound from on high: "This is my son, the Beloved" and with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him. "Through prayer", the Pope said, "Jesus lives in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to achieve His project of love for mankind". It is in this profound union with the Father that Jesus made the move for the hidden life of Nazareth to His public ministry.

  Jesus' prayer had its roots in His family, deeply attached to the religious tradition of the People of Israel, but its "most profound and essential origin is in the fact that He is the Son of God, in a unique relationship with God the Father". In the Gospel narratives "the setting for Jesus' prayers always stands at the crossroads between the traditions of His people and the novelty of a personal and unique rapport with God. The 'deserted place' to which He often retired, the 'mountain' He ascended to pray and the 'night' which gave Him solitude, all recall phases of God's revelation in the Old Testament and indicate the continuity of His plan of salvation".

  "Jesus' prayer enters into all stages of His ministry and into every day of His life. It is not interrupted by fatigue. Quite the contrary, the Gospels make it clear that Jesus was wont to spend part of the night in prayer, ... and when the decisions to be taken become more urgent and complex, His prayer becomes longer and more intense".

  "Contemplating Jesus' prayer, we should ask ourselves how we pray", said Benedict XVI, "and how much time we dedicate to our relationship with God". In this context he highlighted "the importance of the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture. ... Listening, meditating and remaining in silence before the Lord is an art we learn through constant practice", he said.

  Christians are today called "to be witnesses of prayer, because our world often remains closed to the divine, to the hope which leads to the encounter with God. Through profound friendship with Jesus, by living in Him and with Him as children of the Father, through faithful and constant prayer, we can open ourselves to heaven and God. Indeed, by following the paths of prayer, ... we can also help others to follow them".

  In conclusion, the Holy Father exhorted the faithful "to maintain an intense relationship with God, to pray, not intermittently but constantly and faithfully, so as to illuminate our lives as Jesus taught us. And let us ask Him to help us communicate with those around us, with those whom we meet on our journey, transmitting to them the joy of meeting the Lord, light of life".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Following his catechesis this morning, the Holy Father delivered greetings in various languages to groups attending his general audience.

  Speaking English to delegations from a number of countries participating in a meeting being promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life", he said: "I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order".

  He then turned to greet students of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, and a delegation from the French diocese of Belley-Ars accompanied by Bishop Guy Bagnard, who have come to Rome with a portrait of St. John Mary Vianney for the Vatican Basilica in commemoration of the Year for Priests. "Following the example of St. John Mary Vianney", he told them, "let us rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives".

  The Holy Father also welcomed nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Charity who, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Bosnia Herzegovina, have come to Rome on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the recent beatification in Sarajevo of five members of their order martyred during World War II. "Grateful for their witness, let us pray to God to give us the courage to persevere in our service", the Pope said.

  Finally, he thanked representatives of the Italian Federation of Bakers for their gift of a number of "panttoni" which will be used for the Pope's charity.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.

  The Holy See delegation to this year's celebration - which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.

  Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father. In the message, which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy, Benedict XVI recalls his most recent meeting with the Patriarch during last month's Day of Prayer for Peace in the Italian town of Assisi. "I give thanks to the Lord for having allowed me to strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship and true brotherhood which unite us, and to bear witness before the entire world to the broad vision we share".

  The message continues: "The present cultural, social, economic, political and religious circumstances place exactly the same challenges before Catholics and Orthodox. Announcing the mystery of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ needs to undergo deep renewal in many regions which once accepted the light but are now suffering the effects of secularisation which impoverishes man in his deepest dimension. Faced with this emergency we must show all mankind that we have achieved a maturity in the faith, that we are capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to our joint search for truth and with the awareness that the future of evangelisation depends upon the witness of unity and the level of charity the Church can show".

  The Pope concludes by asking the Lord that, through the intercession of Sts. Andrew, Peter and Paul, both Church may receive "the gift of unity which comes from on high".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect".

  His mission intention is: "That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias of Duque de Caxias, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,206,000, Catholics 1,185,959, priests 139, permanent deacons 59, religious 269), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Alano Maria Pena O.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Esmeraldo Barreto de Farias of Santarem, Brazil, as archbishop of Porto Velho (area 84,696, population 664,958, Catholics 598,000, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Moacyr Grechi O.S.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang of Hakha, Myanmar, as coadjutor archbishop of Mandalay (area 212,407, population 9,078,000, Catholics 23,617, priests 57, religious 173), Myanmar, and as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Hakha.

 - Erected the new diocese of Gaoua (area 10,411, population 260,550, Catholics 19,074, priests 14, religious 24) Burkina Faso, with territory taken from the diocese of Diebougou, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Bobo-Dioulasso. He appointed Fr. Modeste Kambou, vicar general of the diocese of Diebougou, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Bouti, Burkina Faso in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He has worked as parochial vicar, and as professor and later director of the minor seminary of St. Tarcisius of Kakapele.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Osnabruck, Germany, presented by Bishop Theodor Kettmann, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:

 - Bishop Luigi Belloli, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, on 5 November at the age of 88.

 - Archbishop Oscar Rolando Cantuarias Pastor, emeritus of Piura, Peru, on 7 November at the age of 80.

 - Bishop Domenico Tarcisio Cortese, emeritus of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea, Italy, on 11 November at the age of 80.

 - Bishop Justo Oscar Laguna, emeritus of Moron, Argentina, on 3 November at the age of 82.

 - Bishop Jean-Paul Randriamanana, auxiliary of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 November at the age of 61.

 - Bishop Crescenzio Rinaldini, emeritus of Aracuai, Brazil, on 24 October at the age of 85.

 - Archbishop Hector Rueda Hernandez, emeritus of Medellin, Colombia, on 1 November at the age of 90.

 - Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi M.Sp.S. of Tepic, Mexico, on 1 November at the age of 73.

 - Bishop Dieudonne Yougbare of Koupela, Burkina Faso, on 4 November at the age of 94.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Vatican Publishing House is organising a series of lectures to promote Benedict XVI's book: "Jesus of Nazareth. From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection". One of these took place yesterday in the Italian University of Messina where the main address was given by Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo S.D.B., rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.

  Bishop Dal Covolo explained that, while the Pope's first book on Jesus of Nazareth covered His public life beginning with His Baptism in the Jordan, the second is dedicated to the last few days of His earthly existence, until the resurrection.

  "This disproportion", said the Bishop, "helps us to understand immediately that the passion, death and resurrection are not simply the epilogue of Jesus' life. They are what gives meaning to all the rest. It is from the crucified and risen Christ that the entire narrative of His life is illuminated". Likewise "the accounts of His passion and death, though they come last in the Gospels, are the oldest and most detailed of the oral and written traditions".

  The book starts from the premise that "if scholarly exegesis is not to exhaust itself in constantly new hypotheses, becoming theologically irrelevant, it must take a methodological step forward and see itself once again as a theological discipline, without abandoning its historical character".

  "The road along which the Pope takes us", said Bishop Dal Covolo, "leads us to meditate upon the 'hour' of Jesus, His 'lifting up'; in other words, upon the inseparable moment of death-resurrection".

  The book "is the work of a lifetime, in which both the method used and the contents ... draw nourishment from a deep-rooted and mature love for Christ. In the final analysis, the leitmotif of the work is intimate friendship with Jesus, a theme which the Pope himself personifies as both witness and theologian. Indeed, true knowledge of Jesus - for Pope Benedict just as for the Beloved Disciple - comes from resting on His heart".
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VATICAN CITY, 29 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At 6.30 p.m. today in the offices of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a conference will be held to present the English edition of Humanitas, a magazine of Christian anthropology and culture produced by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

  Participating in this evening's event will be Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Ignacio Sanchez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and Jaime Antunez, editor in chief of Humanitas.

  The magazine was founded in Santiago de Chile in 1995 and comprises a council of some of the most outstanding intellectual figures of the Catholic world. Since its inception, the magazine has described its mission as that of "being a vehicle for thought and study which seeks to reflect the concerns and teachings of pontifical Magisterium", as a premise for fruitful dialogue with modern society and culture.

  The first English edition of the magazine has 252 pages and incorporates a large number of articles from the sixty-third Spanish edition (July-September 2011), which was dedicated to "Blessed John Paul II, gift of Divine Mercy" and focused entirely on the person and work of the late Pontiff. The English edition also includes essays written by Cardinals Angelo Scola, Angelo Amato S.D.B., Avery Robert Dulles S.J. (who died in 2008), Stanislaw Dziwisz and Mauro Piacenza, and by a number of academics including Livio Melina, Stanislav Grygiel, Pedro Morande and Carl Anderson.

  The English edition of Humanitas will appear twice a year, both on paper and in a digital version which may be consulted at the website: www.humanitas.cl.
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Monday, November 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

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

  "The cordial discussions served to highlight the role Lebanon plays in the region and in the entire world, and its vocation to offer a message of freedom and respectful coexistence among the various Christian and Muslim communities who live there.

  "The parties expressed a hope for greater political stability and more fruitful collaboration and dialogue between the various leaders of social and institutional life, also in order to meet the challenges the country faces, both internally and internationally.

  "Attention then turned to the Middle East, also with reference to the delicate situation in Syria. On this subject, emphasis was given to the vital need for all parties to commit themselves to peaceful coexistence founded on justice, reconciliation, and respect for the dignity of human beings and their inalienable rights. Finally, mention was made of the fundamental contribution that can be made in this field by Christians, who are called to be builders of harmony and peace, and whose presence is essential for the good of the region".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received 7,000 students who are participating in a meeting promoted by the Italian Association "Sorella natura". Extracts from his address to them are given below.

  "Dear young people, it is for your sake that I wished this meeting to take place, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate your decision to become 'guardians of the creation'".

  "We must first remember that your Foundation, indeed this meeting itself, have a deep Franciscan inspiration. Even the date has been chosen to recall the proclamation of St. Francis of Assisi as patron of the environment by my beloved predecessor John Paul II in 1979".

  "St. Francis, faithful to Holy Scripture, invites us to recognise that nature is like a marvellous book speaking to us of God, of His beauty and goodness. Francis used to ask the friar who tended the convent garden ... to leave space for a rich flowerbed so that passers-by would raise their thoughts to God, Creator of such beauty".

  "Dear friends the Church, while appreciating the most important scientific research and discoveries, has never ceased to remind people that by respecting the mark of the Creator in all creation, we achieve a better understanding of our true and profound human identity. ... If, in fact, human activity forgets to collaborate with God, it can do violence to the creation and cause damage which always has negative consequences, also for mankind. ... Today more than ever it is clear that respect for the environment cannot overlook recognition for the importance and inviolability of human beings, at every stage of life and in every condition. Respect for the human being and respect for nature are the same thing, they grow and find their just measure if we respect the Creator and His creation, both in the human creature and in nature".

  "I would now like to address teachers and representatives from the public authorities, ... highlighting the great importance education has in environmental questions. ... It is now clear that humankind has no productive future on earth if we do not educate everyone to be responsible for the creation, This is first learnt in the family and in school, and for this reason I encourage parents and teachers to continue educating people to that end. Furthermore it is indispensable that the efforts made by families and schools find support in the relevant institutions".

  "May St. Francis teach us to sing, with all creation, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father, giver of all gifts".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

 - Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, U.S.A.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Fr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando, episcopal vicar for Tamil faithful in the archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Fr. Sampathawaduge Maxwell Grenville Silva, headmaster of the St. Thomas College at Kotte, as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Colombo (area 3,838, population 5,891,000, Catholics 634,202, priests 588, religious 1,502). Bishop-elect Fernando was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1948 and ordained a priest in 1973. He studied in Rome and the U.S.A., and has worked as pastor, and as a professor and later rector of the National Seminary of Kandy. Bishop-elect Silva was born in Willorawatte, Sri Lanka in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has worked as pastor and as a school teacher.

  On Saturday 26 November it was made public that he appointed:

 - Msgr. Charles John Brown, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as apostolic nuncio to Ireland, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in New York, U.S.A. in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1989. Before coming to Rome he worked as parochial vicar in the parish of St. Brendan in the Bronx. In September 2009 he was appointed as adjunct secretary of the International Theological Commission.

 - Msgr. Marek Solczynski, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Georgia, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Stawiszyn, Poland in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1987. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1993, since when he has served in Paraguay, Russia, U.S.A., Turkey, Czech Republic and Spain.

 - Fr. Antonio De Luca C.SS.R., pro episcopal vicar for consecrated life in the archdiocese of Naples, Italy, as bishop of Teggiano-Policastro (area 1,986, population 117,200, Catholics 116,400, priests 81, permanent deacons 3, religious 107), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Torre del Greco, Italy in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has worked in various offices for his order including provincial secretary for formation and provincial superior for the Italian Region of Campania, and has been active in missionary work in Madagascar and Argentina.

 - Bishop Johannes Wihelmus Maria Liesen, auxiliary of 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, as bishop of Breda (area 3,368, population 1,114,000, Catholics 491,323, priests 251, permanent deacons 25, religious 974), Netherlands.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2011 (VIS) - In his remarks before praying the Angelus this morning, Benedict XVI reflected on the period of Advent, which begins the liturgical year. In Advent "people's hearts are reawakened to the expectation of Christ's return, and to the memory of His first coming, when He divested Himself of His divine glory to assume our mortal flesh", he said.

  He then went on to quote from today's Gospel reading in which Jesus tells His disciples to "keep awake". That was, said the Holy Father, "a timely reminder to us that life has not only an earthly dimension, but is projected 'beyond'".

  "Isaiah, the prophet of Advent, also makes us think today with his heartfelt prayer addressed to God. ... He dwells on the shortcomings of his people and at a certain point says: 'There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hands of iniquity'. How can we not be struck by this description? It seems to reflect certain aspects of the post-modern world: cities where life has become anonymous and horizontal, where God seems to be absent and only man is master, as if he were the universal architect. Building, work, economy, transport, science, technology, everything seems to depend only upon man. And at times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.

  "The real 'master' of the world is not man but God", the Pope added. "The Gospel says: 'keep awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly'. Advent comes every year to remind us of this fact, that our lives might find their just orientation towards the face of God. The face not of a 'master', but of a Father and a Friend".

  Following the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled that a United Nations conference on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol is beginning tomorrow in Durban, South Africa. "My hope", he said, "is that all the members of the international community will agree on a responsible, credible and joint response to this worrying and complex phenomenon, while taking account of the needs of the poorest people and of future generations".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the government of the Principality of Asturias, Spain, offered a concert in honour of the Holy Father. The Orchestra of the Principality played works by Falla, Albeniz, Rueda, Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov. At the end of the performance Benedict XVI arose to address some words to musicians and public.

  "This evening", he said, "a 'piece' of Spain has been transferred into this hall. We have heard music written by some of the most famous composers of that land, ... as well as by the German Richard Strauss and the Russian Rimsky-Korsakov who were fascinated with what ... has been defined as 'more hispano'; that is, the 'Hispanic' way of being, and of composing and playing music. This is the element which the various pieces we have heard have in common, they share the fundamental characteristic of using music to communicate feelings and emotions, almost I would say the fabric of daily life. This is because composers who follow 'more hispano' are almost naturally led to a harmonious fusion of elements of folklore and popular song, which come from everyday life, with what we call 'classical music'".

  "However", the Holy Father went on, "another constantly recurring theme of 'more hispano' compositions is the element of religion, with which the Spanish people are so deeply imbued. Rimsky-Korsakov understood this well mixing, in his splendid 'Capriccio Espagnol', songs and dances of Spanish folklore with popular religious melodies. ... This is the magic worked by music, the universal language which can overcome all barriers and allow us to enter the world of others, of a nation or a culture, at the same time enabling us to turn our mind and hearts ... to the world of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - From 21 to 26 November a series of meetings took place between members of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) and the Vatican authorities responsible for the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.

  "The 'in loco' visit of the inspectors is a further step in the MONEYVAL assessment procedures, promoted by request of the Holy See following the issue of Law No. 127 of 30 December 2010. Those procedures began on 14 September 2011 with the delivery of a preliminary explanatory document concerning both the juridical system of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and the implementation of initiatives to adapt to international standards in this field (40+9 Recommendations of FATF/GAFI (Financial Action Task Force) and the methodology of assessment agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).

  "The group of legal, financial and law enforcement experts from various countries (Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Liechtenstein), coordinated by the MONEYVAL Secretariat, met with representatives from the Secretariat of State, the Governorate, the Juridical Offices, the Gendarmerie, the Prefecture for Economic Affairs, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), and the newly-founded Financial Information Authority.

  "The outcome of this procedure will be the final assessment report, to be discussed at the MONEYVAL plenary assembly which is expected to take place around the middle of 2012".
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ATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received 500 participants in an international conference on the theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. It was John Paul II who established the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as well as the World Day of the Sick, and the Good Samaritan Foundation which offers health care services to poor people in a number of countries.

  Extracts from Benedict XVI's remarks to the group are given below:

  "Over the long and intense years of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed that serving the sick in body and spirit must be a constant part of the ecclesial community's commitment to evangelisation, in accordance with Jesus command to the Twelve to go forth and heal", he said.

  "The mystery of suffering seems to obscure the face of God, almost making Him a stranger, or even identifying Him as the person responsible for human suffering; however the eyes of faith can see into the depths of this mystery. God became incarnate, He came close to man, even in the most difficult situations. He did not eliminate suffering, but in the risen Christ, in the Son of God Who suffered unto death, and death on a cross, He showed us that His love descends even into man's deepest abyss and brings him hope. ... In the Son, Who was 'given' for the salvation of humankind, the truth of love is, in some way, proven through the truth of suffering, and the Church, born from the mystery of Redemption upon the Cross of Christ, must meet man on the long path of his suffering".

  "Your proximity and the care you show to our sick brothers and sisters, often alone and suffering not only physically, but also spiritually and morally, places you in a privileged position to bear witness to the salvific action of God, His love for mankind and the world which embraces even the most painful and terrible situations. The Face of the Saviour, dying upon the cross, ... teaches us to defend and promote life, whatever its state and condition, recognising the dignity and value of each individual human being, who was created in the image and likeness of God, and is called to eternal life.

  "The slow Calvary of the final years of life of Blessed John Paul II bore witness to this vision of pain and suffering illuminated by the death and resurrection of Christ", Pope Benedict added. "His profound humility, rooted in his intimate bond with Christ, enabled him to continue to guide the Church, and to address an even more eloquent message to the world, even when his physical strength was failing".

  "Dear friends", the Holy Father concluded, "in the service you provide in the various fields of health pastoral care, may you too experience that 'only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much He loves me'".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, at the end of their "ad limina" visit. Today's meeting was the first between the Pope and American bishops since the Holy Father's 2008 visit to the U.S. which, he said, "was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades".

  "I wished to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise", he added. "It is my hope that the Church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognise the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards".

  The Holy Father then turned to consider another purpose of his 2008 trip, that of summoning "the Church in America to recognise, in the light of a dramatically changing social and religious landscape, the urgency and demands of a new evangelisation. ... Many of you have shared with me your concern about the grave challenges to a consistent Christian witness presented by an increasingly secularised society", he said. "I consider it significant, however, that there is also an increased sense of concern on the part of many men and women, whatever their religious or political views, for the future of our democratic societies. They see a troubling breakdown in the intellectual, cultural and moral foundations of social life, and a growing sense of dislocation and insecurity, especially among the young, in the face of wide-ranging societal changes.

  "Despite attempts to still the Church's voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance in meeting this far-reaching crisis. The present moment can thus be seen, in positive terms, as a summons to exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defence of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free".

  "The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularised culture also affect the lives of believers, leading at times to that 'quiet attrition' from the Church. ... Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts. Evangelisation thus appears not simply a task to be undertaken ad extra; we ourselves are the first to need re-evangelisation".

  The Holy Father expressed his appreciation at the progress made by the American episcopate in responding to these issues, and cited the examples of recent documents on faithful citizenship and the institution of marriage. He also thanked them for their efforts in implementing the revised translation of the Roman Missal, and their efforts "to ensure that this new translation will inspire an ongoing catechesis which emphasises the true nature of the liturgy and, above all, the unique value of Christ's saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world".

  Pope Benedict concluded: "A weakened sense of the meaning and importance of Christian worship can only lead to a weakened sense of the specific and essential vocation of the laity to imbue the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel. America has a proud tradition of respect for the Sabbath; this legacy needs to be consolidated as a summons to the service of God's Kingdom and the renewal of the social fabric in accordance with its unchanging truth".
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Friday, November 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity is currently celebrating its twenty-fifth plenary assembly on the theme: "The Question of God in Today's World". The participants were received in audience this morning by the Holy Father who focused his remarks on two key areas of the dicastery's recent activities: the Congress for Lay People in Asia and World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.

  "The great continent of Asia", he said, "is home to many different peoples, cultures and religions of ancient origin, but the Christian message has so far reached only a small minority who often live their faith in difficult circumstances, sometimes even suffering real persecution. The congress was an opportunity ... to reinforce our missionary commitment and courage. These our brothers and sisters bear admirable witness to their adherence to Christ, enabling us to see how, thanks to their faith, vast fields of evangelisation are opening for the Church in Asia in the third millennium".

  Referring then to the fact that the pontifical council is currently preparing a similar congress for lay people in Africa, due to take place next year in Cameroon, the Pope observed that such continental gatherings "are important for the impetus they give to the work of evangelisation, for reinforcing unity and strengthening the bonds between the particular Churches and the universal Church".

  Turning his attention to World Youth Day, he said: "An extraordinary cascade of light, joy and hope illuminated not only Madrid, but also Europe and the entire world, clearly re-establishing the importance of seeking God in today's world. No one could remain indifferent, no one could think that the question of God was irrelevant to modern man".

  Focusing on the theme of the plenary, Pope Benedict said: "We must never cease to raise this question, to 'begin again from God' so as to recognise man in all his dimensions and dignity. Indeed the mentality, so widespread in our time, which rejects any reference to the transcendent has proved incapable of comprehending and preserving what is human. The spread of such a mentality has generated the crisis we are experiencing today which, more than an economic and social crisis, is a crisis of meaning and values. ... In this context, the question of God is, in a certain sense, 'the main question'. It brings us back to the basic query about man, to the aspirations for truth, happiness and freedom which are inherent to the human heart and which seek realisation".

  "If it is true that 'being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person', then the question of God is reawakened by meeting people who have the gift of faith, who have a living relationship with the Lord. ... Here your role as lay faithful is particularly important. ... You are called to show luminous witness of the relevance of God in all fields of thought and action. In the family and the workplace, in politics and in economics, modern man needs to see and feel how the presence or absence of God changes everything.

  "But the challenge of a mentality closed to the transcendent obliges even Christians to focus more specifically on the central place of God", the Holy Father added. "Efforts have been made in the past to ensure that the presence of Christians in social, political and economic life was more incisive, and perhaps less attention was given to the solidity of their faith, almost as if it was taken for granted. The truth is that Christians do not live on some distant planet, immune to the 'sicknesses' of the world; they are affected by the turmoil, disorientation and difficulties of their time. Therefore it is equally important to raise the question of God within the Church. ... The first response to the great challenge of our time lies, then, in a profound conversion of heart, so that the Baptism which made us light of the world and salt of the earth, can truly transform us", he concluded.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which is to due to be held in the Vatican from 29 November to 1 December. This year's plenary coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and the creation of the pontifical council itself. Participating in today's conference were Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, Bishop Jean Laffitte, Msgr. Carlos Simon Vazquez and Fr. Gianfranco Grieco O.F.M. Conv., respectively president, secretary, under secretary and bureau chief of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Alfonso and Francesca Colzani, directors of family services for the archdiocese of Milan, Italy.

  Cardinal Antonelli focused on certain themes contained in "Familiaris consortio", such as the central role of the family in the new evangelisation and in pastoral care in parishes and dioceses. He also highlighted the missionary vocation of the family "to live, irradiate and express to the world the love and presence of Christ; ... to become a great sign of the credibility of the Gospel through mutual service, generous and responsible procreation, care of children, commitment to work, concern for the poor and needy, prayer in the home, participation in Mass and Church activities, and involvement in civil society".

  Bishop Laffitte also drew attention to "Familiaris consortio", wherein Blessed John Paul II spoke "of the need to help society rediscover true family values at a time of moral crisis". For the late Pontiff it was impossible "to consider the family without reference to conjugal love. This would seem obvious but, in fact, recent legislation has juridically legitimised alternative models of the family which separate it from its deepest root: the love of a man and a woman linked by an indissoluble bond".

  From a Christian perspective "new difficulties arise", said the secretary of the pontifical council, such as the fact that "getting married in Church is often no longer part of an active life of faith; and this means that an awareness of the sanctity of Christian marriage is lost. Thus we can see why the pastoral care of marriage and the family today requires serious and profound consideration". Non practising Catholics could be offered "a brief training course, including reading the Word of God, an introduction to the most basic elements of Christian faith, and an initiation to sacramental life with particular emphasis on the Sacraments of Marriage, the Eucharist and Penance".

  Msgr. Vazquez gave details of the programme of the plenary, which will begin with a solemn concelebration of the Eucharist at the altar of Blessed John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica. "We wish to render particular homage to the Pope who often described himself as the Pope of families", he said. "There we will pray that the blessed may intercede with the Lord for all the families of the world".

  Fr. Grieco announced that the pontifical council's quarterly "Familia et vita" will be dedicating a special edition to the thirtieth anniversary of "Familiaris consortio". The twenty-nine articles it contains have been written by experts and scholars of the main themes contained in the Apostolic Exhortation, among them five cardinals, ten archbishops and bishops, and six lay people including four women. He also explained that it will be possible to follow the work of the plenary via the dicastery's website: www.familia.va.

  At the end of the press conference, attention turned to the seventh World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Milan from 30 May to 3 June 2012. Alfonso and Francesca Colzani explained that the pastoral year in the archdiocese will be dedicated to the family in relation to work and rest. The archdiocesan family services is organising meetings with the aim of "offering individuals, couples and families the inner resources they need to ensure that family life, in both work and rest, coincides with the Gospel. The response from families has been one of great interest as they realise that this has a direct bearing on the difficulties of daily life".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father between December 2011 and January 2012.


 - Thursday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, homage to Mary Immaculate.

 - Sunday 11: Third Sunday of Advent. Pastoral visit to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, with Mass at 9.30 a.m.

 - Monday 12: Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mass for Latin America at 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

 - Thursday 15: Vespers with students of Roman universities in the Vatican Basilica at 5.30 p.m.

 - Saturday 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 p.m.

 - Sunday 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. At midday from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

 - Saturday 31: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the past year.


 - Sunday 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and forty-fifth World Day of Peace. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m.

 - Friday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9.30 a.m.

 - Sunday 8: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 9.45 a.m., conferment of the Sacrament of Baptism upon a number of children.

 - Wednesday 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. Celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls at 5.30 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy, vice president; Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl of the Latins, Poland, vice president; Msgr. Duarte da Cunha, secretary general, and Fr. Ferenc Janka, vice secretary general.

 - Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A., on his "ad limina" visit, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Dennis J. Sullivan, Josu Iriondo, Dominik John Lagonegro and Gerald T. Walsh.

  This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
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VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota S.J., auxiliary of Bucaramanga, Colombia, as bishop of Fontibon (area 80, population 1,536,000, Catholics 1,228,000, priests 84, permanent deacons 20, religious 178), Colombia. He succeeds Bishop Enrique Sarmiento Angulo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Kenneth Donald Steiner, upon having reached the age limit.
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Thursday, November 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in a meeting organised by Italian Caritas to celebrate its fortieth anniversary. In his address, the Pope recalled how Caritas "has an important role to play in educating communities, families and civil society, where the Church is called to shed her light. This involves taking responsibility for educating people to the good life of the Gospel, and that life is good only if it includes the witness of charity".

  "Never abandon this educational role, even when the journey becomes difficult and your efforts seem to bear no fruit. Undertake your duties while remaining faithful to the Church and respecting the identity of your institutions, using the instruments that history has given you and those which 'the inventiveness of charity' - as Blessed John Paul II said - will suggest to you in the future".

  "A work of charity speaks of God, it announces a hope and induces us to ask questions". Such works "are born of the faith. They are works of the Church, expressions of her concern for those who suffer most. They are educational acts because they help the poor to grow in dignity, Christian communities to follow Christ and civil society to shoulder its obligations. Let us recall the teaching of Vatican Council II: 'demands of justice [must] be satisfied lest the giving of what is due in justice be represented as the offering of a charitable gift'. The Church's humble and concrete service does not seek to substitute, even less to assuage, collective and civil conscience, but accompanies them with a spirit of sincere collaboration, and with due concern for autonomy and subsidiarity".

  "Charity requires an open mind", the Holy Father went on. "Responding to need means not only giving bread to the hungry, but also asking ourselves about the reasons for their hunger, using the gaze of Jesus Who could see the profound truth of the people around Him. In this perspective, our modern times are calling you to ask yourselves about the way you work for charity. Our thoughts cannot but go to the vast world of migration. Natural calamities and wars often create emergencies. The global economic crisis is a another sign of the times which calls for the courage of fraternity. The gap between the north and south of the world, and the wounded human dignity of so many people, call for a charity able to expand in concentric circles from the small economic systems to the great. Increasing poverty, the weakening of families, and the uncertainty faced by the young all point to the risk of diminishing hope.

  "Humankind needs not only benefactors", the Pope added, "but also humble practical people who, like Jesus, stand alongside their brothers and sisters and share their fatigue. In a word, humanity is looking for signs of hope. The source of our hope is in the Lord. This is why we need Caritas, not to delegate it with the responsibility for charitable service, but for it to be a sign of Christ's charity, a sign that brings hope".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - "Gaudi and the 'Sagrada Familia' of Barcelona. Art. Science and Spirituality" is the title of an exhibition to be inaugurated this afternoon in the Charlemagne Wing of Bernini's colonnade around St. Peter's Square. The exhibition will remain open until 15 January 2012.

  The exhibition was presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Joan Rigol of the "Fundacio Junta Constructora de la Sagrada Familia"; Fr. Antoni Matabosch, honorary president of the "Fundacio Joan Maragall"; Daniel Giralt-Miracle, curator of the exhibition, and Cecilia Pereira, representative of the Spanish Cultural Action Agency (AC/E)

  "The consecration of the basilica of the 'Sagrada Familia' on 7 November 2010 was a historic moment for the city of Barcelona", said Cardinal Martinez Sistach. "That year we completed the interior of this beautiful and unique church, the building of which began in 1882 and, in 1883, was put into the hands of the young and innovative architect Antoni Gaudi. ... The aim of this exhibition, then, is to express our recognition to the Holy Father, to the Pontifical Council of Culture and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation for the interest and sensitivity they have shown for the basilica of the 'Sagrada Familia' and for Antoni Gaudi, the 'architect of God'".

  "The exhibition we are presenting ... is another of the contributions of Christian faith which the Church has made over the centuries to the world of culture, art and beauty. It highlights the beauty, majesty and symbolism of this magnificent church standing at the centre of the great metropolis of Barcelona. As Benedict XVI said when he visited the city, this basilica is a visible sign of the invisible God, so necessary in our Western European societies with their prevailing secular culture and religious indifference. ... Gaudi was a Christian in word and in action, ... and building the 'Sagrada Familia' helped him in his own personal conversion. We must see him not just as an architectural genius but above all as an exemplary Christian. Let us all pray to the Lord that a miracle may come about through Gaudi's intercession, that he may be declared a blessed".

  Daniel Giralt-Miracle, explained that the exhibition is divided into three sections: art science and spirituality. The first of these "immerses visitors in the aesthetics of Gaudi, surrounding them with his colours, forms spaces and the various artistic techniques he used in his works". The second section outlines the technical aspects of the building of the 'Sagrada Familia', while the third covers "the direct allusions to the Christian religion which Gaudi included in his church", with a series of drawings for the facade of the building and designs for the stained glass windows.

  For his part Joan Rigol explained how "Gaudi's architecture developed in the very specific context of the Catalan cultural renaissance between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. ... The aspiration of Gaudi's generation was to give backbone to a people through the personalising values of culture. ... The Church has always made an essential contribution to the formation of culture and art as an expression of the spiritual values of a community of people, also in Catalonia".

  Finally Fr. Antoni Matabosch noted that "today the proposal made by Cardinal Ravasi to the 'Fundacio Joan Maragall' becomes a reality: ... that of organising an event in Rome to express the cultural dimension of the Church in Catalonia". He also explained that the exhibition will be accompanied by a number of institutional and academic gatherings, including a debate on the theme "Architecture: Symbolism and Sacredness. A Century after Gaudi", to take place at the MAXXI in Rome on 12 December, and a concert by the "Escolania de Monserrat" at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on 13 January 2012.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience fourteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Howard James Hubbard of Albany.

    - Bishop Edward Urban Kmiec of Buffalo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz.

    - Bishop Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg.

    - Bishop Matthew Harvey Clark of Rochester.

    - Bishop Robert Joseph Cunningham of Syracuse.

    - Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Frank Joseph Caggiano and Octavio Cisneros, and by Auxiliary Bishops emeritus Guy Sansaricq and Joseph Michael Sullivan.

    - Bishop William Francis Murphy of Rockville Centre, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops John Charles Dunne and Paul Henry Walsh.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his general audience, held this morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, to reflections on his recently concluded apostolic trip to Benin. The trip had a threefold purpose: marking the 150th anniversary of evangelisation in that region, consigning the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus", and paying homage to the late Beninese Cardinal Bernardin Gantin.

  The Pope reminisced about the various stages of his journey, beginning with his visit to the basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah where he "placed the fruits of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. ... Christian communities in Africa", he said, "are now called to renew themselves in the faith, in order to serve reconciliation, justice and peace. They are invited to inner reconciliation in order to become joyful instruments of divine mercy, each contributing to the common good with its own spiritual and material wealth.

  "Such a spirit of reconciliation is of course also indispensable in civil life", the Pope added, "and has to remain open to the hope which must also animate the socio-political and economic life of the continent". The Pontiff then turned to focus on his meeting with civil, political and religious authorities in Benin, to whom he had likewise "stressed the hope that must drive the development of the continent", at the same time "highlighting the ardent desire for freedom and justice which has moved the hearts of so many African peoples, especially in recent months".

  Speaking of the celebration of the Eucharist at the "Stade de l'amitie" in Cotonou, Benedict XVI noted that the presence of both young and old was "a marvellous testament to the fact that the faith unites the generations and responds to the challenges of every stage of life". During that celebration, the Pope gave the presidents of African episcopal conferences the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus", in which, he said, "the faithful will find the fundamental guidelines to lead and stimulate the journey of the Church in Africa, which is increasingly called to be 'salt of the earth' and 'light of the world'".

  The Holy Father also dwelt on his meeting with children and sick people at the church of St. Rita and at the Home of Peace and Happiness, run by sisters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. There he had "truly tasted the joy of life, the delight and enthusiasm of the new generations who represent the future of Africa", and had seen "how love and solidarity can cause the power and affection of the risen Christ to be present, even in weakness".

  The commitment of clergy, religious and laity is "a sign of sure hope for the future of the Church in Benin", said the Holy Father who also recalled how he had encouraged priests to follow "the path of sanctity, in the awareness that the ministry is not simply a social function, but a means for bringing God to man and man to God".

  The Holy Father's meeting with the Beninese episcopate had focused on "the origins of the announcement of the Gospel in their country, by the work of missionaries", and on his exhortation to them "constantly to rediscover Holy Scripture as a source of spiritual renewal and an opportunity to intensify the faith".

  "In Africa", the Holy Father explained, "I saw a freshness in the 'yes' to life, a freshness of religious meaning and hope, a holistic vision of reality where God is not confined to that positivist perspective which, in the final analysis, extinguishes all hope. This tells us that the continent contains reserves of life and vitality for the future, reserves upon which we can rely, upon which the Church can rely.

  "My journey", he added in conclusion, "was also by way of being an appeal to Africa to concentrate every effort on announcing the Gospel to those who do not yet know it, to renew the commitment to evangelisation, to which each member of the baptised is called by promoting reconciliation, justice and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience the Holy Father welcomed pilgrims in ten different languages, among them "a delegation from the Catholic-Orthodox Forum, which includes many prelates to whom I address my cordial greetings. To the Catholic members in particular, I express my sincere best wishes for the fortieth anniversary of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE)".

  The Pope also spoke in Croatian to priests and faithful from the Greek-Catholic diocese of Krizevci. "Dear friends", he said, "you have begun celebrating a Jubilee in your eparchy to mark the 400th anniversary of union with the Church of Rome and of the establishment of the eparchy of Marca. Today you are thanking God for all the gifts you have received with this pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. May your centuries-long union with the Bishop of Rome help you to become builders of communion between the Christian East and West".

  Finally Benedict XVI turned to address Hungarian pilgrims "and especially a group of Gypsies from the province of Tolna. May the splendour of the faith guide you along the roads of life", he said.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household today released the following communique.

  "On Sunday 18 December, the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will make a pastoral visit to Rebibbia Prison in Rome.

  "At 10 a.m. in the prison's central church, dedicated to Our Father, the Pope will meet with the detainees and answer their questions.

  "At 11.30 a.m., before returning to the Vatican for the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father will bless a tree planted in memory of his visit".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Pio Hipunyati of the clergy of Ondjiva, Angola, professor of Latin at the minor and major seminary of the Catholic mission in Omupanda, as bishop of Ondjiva (area 83,900, population 1,003,280, Catholics 573,459, priests 34, religious 64). The bishop-elect was born in Ounonge, Angola in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1998. He has worked as superior of the Catholic mission in Omupanda and as bursar of the diocese of Ondjiva. He succeeds Bishop Fernando Guimaraes Kevanu, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Bishop Joaquim Justino Carreira, auxiliary of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Guarulhos (area 341, population 1,315,000, Catholics 851,000, priests 49, permanent deacons 1, religious 83), Brazil. He succeeds Bishop Luiz Gonzaga Bergonzini, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Derry, Ireland, presented by Bishop Seamus Hegarty, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 22 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office the presentation took place of the twenty-sixth international conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference will have as its theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", and is due to be held in the Vatican from 24 to 26 November.

  During this morning's presentation, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, noted that the conference aims to ensure that "Blessed John Paul II's teaching on the Gospel of Life, and the translation of that teaching into pastoral activity by the Church, call pastoral care operatives, healthcare workers and all men and women of good will to love and serve life, especially when it is weak and suffering". He also expressed the hope that the conference would "celebrate the sacredness of life and the dignity of the person, which must be defended in all circumstances".

  The theme chosen for this twenty-sixth international conference is inspired by "the profound veneration" which healthcare workers feel for John Paul II, Archbishop Zimowski explained, He also highlighted the late Pontiff's lifelong concern for the sick, expressed in both words and actions. Indeed, it was John Paul II who established the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, as well as the World Day of the Sick and the Good Samaritan Foundation.

  The conference will include "lectures, testimonies and theological-pastoral experiences inspired by John Paul II's teachings on the Christian value of suffering and the Gospel of Life. These will be examined from an interdisciplinary perspective", the archbishop said. On the first day a ceremony will be held in honour of John Paul II, with contributions from Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, respectively president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care and former secretary to John Paul II.

  The conference will be attended by many groups of faithful active in the field of healthcare, and by representatives from other Churches and religious confessions including Rev. Stavros Kofinas of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Rev. Alfred Krauth of the Lutheran Church. Six ambassadors to the Holy See and forty-two prelates will also be present. In all there will be 685 participants from seventy countries.

  The international conference, which will be preceded by a meeting of bishops with responsibility for health pastoral care, will also include a concert entitled "The Cross, Mercy and Glory" organised in honour of Benedict XVI and focusing on the figure of Blessed John Paul II, to be held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on 25 November.

  For his part Fr. Augusto Chendi M.I., under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, explained how the council contributes to health training through its Charter for Healthcare Workers, "which contains a summary of Church doctrine on matters regarding the primary and fundamental value of the life of each human being throughout its trajectory; that is, from conception until natural end". The Charter, which dates from 1995, is currently being updated to include John Paul II's subsequent Magisterium and that of Benedict XVI, as well as the ethical questions that have arisen with the progress of medicine and biology. The new Charter is almost ready and will soon be available in various languages.

  Also participating in today's press conference were Bishop Valentin Pozaic S.J., auxiliary of Zagreb, Croatia; Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau, consultor of the council, and Sr. Myriam Castelli F.S.P., a journalist with RAI International.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday 30 November the Pontifical Academies are due to hold their sixteenth public session in the great hall of the Palazzo of St. Pius X on Rome's Via della Conciliazione. The event has been organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture and by the academies themselves, which are coordinated by that pontifical council.

  A communique made public today explains that the meeting will also include the presentation of the Pontifical Academy Prize, awarded by the Pope to institutions or to young researchers or artists who have distinguished themselves in promoting Christian humanism. This year's public session, which has been organised by the Pontifical Roman Archaeological Academy and by the Pontifical Academy "Cultorum Martyrum", will have as its theme: "Witness and Witnesses. The 'Martyria' and the Champions of the Faith".

  The meeting will be chaired by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Co-ordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies. Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. will read a message from the Holy Father and confer the Pontifical Academy Prize, after which a lecture will be delivered by Fabrizio Bisconti, archaeological superintendent for Christian catacombs.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Donald Lippert O.F.M. Cap., councillor of the vice province of Papua New Guinea of the Friars Minor Capuchin, as bishop of Mendi (area 23,800, population 600,000, Catholics 114,000, priests 36, religious 70), Papua New Guinea. The bishop-elect was born in Pittsburgh, U.S.A. in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1985. Until the year 2007, when he was sent as a missionary to Papua New Guinea, he was active in the U.S.A. as, among other things, parochial vicar, programme coordinator for Hispanic candidates, professor of theology and provincial vicar and administrative secretary. He also spent periods of study in the U.S.A. and in Belgium.
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Monday, November 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2011 (VIS) - At 4 p.m. today, the Pope arrived by car at the Cardinal Bernardin Gantin airport of Cotonou for the departure ceremony at the end of his apostolic trip to Benin. The event was attended by representatives from the civil authorities, the bishops of the country and numerous faithful.

  Following an address from Thomas Yayi Boni, president of Benin, the Holy Father spoke to thank the authorities, bishops, volunteers and all the people of Benin "for their warm and enthusiastic welcome", and for the efforts they had made to ensure the success of his visit.

  "I wanted to visit Africa once more; it is a continent for which I have a special regard and affection, for I am deeply convinced that it is a land of hope", Benedict XVI said. "Here are found authentic values which have much to teach our world; they need only to spread and blossom with God's help and the determination of Africans themselves. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae munus' can greatly assist in this, for it opens up pastoral horizons and will lead to creative initiatives. I entrust it to the faithful of Africa as a whole, to study carefully and to translate into concrete actions in daily life. Cardinal Gantin, that eminent son of Benin whose greatness was so widely acknowledged that this airport bears his name, took part with me in a number of Synods. He made a vital and much-appreciated contribution to them. May he accompany the implementation of this document!

  "During my visit I was able to meet various components of Benin's society and many members of the Church", the Pope added. "These numerous meetings, very different in nature, testify to the possibility of a harmonious coexistence within the nation, and between Church and State. Good will and mutual respect not only aid dialogue, but are essential for building unity between individuals, ethnic groups and peoples. The word 'fraternity' is the first of the three words found on your national emblem. Living in unity as brethren, while respecting legitimate differences, is not something utopian. Why should an African country not show the rest of the world the path to be taken towards living an authentic fraternity in justice, based on the greatness of the family and of labour? May Africans be able to experience reconciliation in peace and justice! These are the prayerful good wishes which I express to you, with confidence and hope, before I leave Benin". In his final act before departing, the Holy Father entrusted the entire continent to the intercession of Our Lady of Africa.

  The papal plane landed at Rome's Ciampino airport at 10 p.m., whence the Holy Father returned to the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique today.

  "The International Theological Commission, presided by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, is due to hold its plenary session from 28 November to 2 December. The meeting will be held at the 'Domus Sanctae Marthae' in the Vatican under the chairmanship of Msgr. Charles Morerod O.P., secretary general of the commission whom the Pope recently appointed as bishop of Lausanne, Geneve et Fribourg, Switzerland.

  "During the plenary, the commission will continue its examination of three important themes. The first is the question of methodology in modern theology, its perspectives, principles and criteria. A significant contribution to this subject has already been made in the earlier five-year period 2004-2008. The second theme concerns monotheism, and the third the significance of the Church's Social Doctrine in the broader context of Christian doctrine".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Filippo Santoro of Petropolis, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Taranto (area 1,056, population 408,481, Catholics 405,542, priests 236, permanent deacons 16, religious 384), Italy. He succeeds Archbishop Benigno Luigi Papa O.F.M. Cap., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Catholic Romanian Church of Fr. Claudiu-Lucian Pop, rector of the "Pio Romeno" Pontifical College in Rome, as a bishop of the major archiepiscopal curia. The bishop-elect was born in Piscolt, Romania in 1972 and ordained a priest in 1995. Before coming to Rome he worked in pastoral ministry in the Greek-Catholic Romanian mission in Paris, France.

 - Appointed Archbishop Santos Abril y Castello, vice chamberlain of Holy Roman Church, as archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major.

 - Appointed Msgr. Cesare Burgazzi, official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as bureau chief of the same section.
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Sunday, November 20, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Shortly before 5 p.m. today, Benedict XVI visited the Home of Peace and Happiness in Cotonou, where six sisters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity look after dozens of abandoned and sick children, and feed may others from the local area who suffer malnutrition.

  The Pope was welcomed by the children with songs and dances. Having prayed with them he visited the centre then, accompanied by the infants, went on to the nearby parish church of St. Rita where a further 800 children from the city were awaiting his arrival. The celebration began with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, after which Bishop Rene-Marie Ehuzu C.I.M. of Porto Novo arose to pronounce a greeting in the name of all those present. The Holy Father then delivered his address.

  "It is with much joy that I greet you", he said. "Thank you for coming out in such great numbers! God our Father has gathered us around His Son and our Brother, Jesus Christ, ... Who loves us very much, is truly present in the tabernacles of all the churches around the world, in the tabernacles of the churches in your neighbourhoods and in your parishes. I ask you to visit Him often to tell Him of your love for Him.

  "Some of you have already made your First Holy Communion, and others are preparing for it", the Pope added. "When I receive Communion, Jesus comes to live in me. I should welcome Him with love and listen closely to Him. In the depths of my heart, I can tell Him, for example: 'Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.' Do not hesitate, dear children, to speak of Jesus to others. He is a treasure Whom you should share generously".

  "Prayer", the Pope went on, "is a cry of love directed to God our Father, with the will to imitate Jesus our Brother. ... Like Jesus, I too can find a calm place to pray where I can quietly stand before a Cross or a holy picture in order to speak to Jesus and to listen to Him. I can also use the Gospels. That way, I keep within my heart a passage which has touched me and which will guide me throughout the day. To stay with Jesus like this for a little while lets Him fill me with His love, light and life! This love, which I receive in prayer, calls me in turn to give it to my parents, to my friends, to everyone with whom I live, even with those who do not like me, and those whom I do not appreciate enough. ... Ask your parents to pray with you!"

  "Look! I have this rosary in my pocket", the Holy Father explained. "The rosary is like a tool that we can use to pray. It is easy to pray the rosary. Maybe you know how already; if not, ask your parents to help you to learn how. At the end of this meeting, each one of you will receive a rosary. When you hold it in your hands, you can pray ... for every important intention. And now, before I bless you all with great affection, let us pray together a Hail Mary for children throughout the world, especially for those who are sick, who are hungry and in places of war".

  Having imparted his blessing, the Pope travelled by popemobile to the apostolic nunciature in Cotonou where he was due to meet with bishops of Benin.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This evening in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature in Cotonou, the bishops of Benin - a country with ten dioceses - met with the Pope. In his remarks he reminded them that the nation is currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of its evangelisation, which was begun by the Society of African Missions.

  "To all the missionaries, bishops, priests, men and women religious, and lay people who have come from their own homeland or whose origins are in this country, who have laboured since that time and up to our own day, the Church is particularly grateful", the Pope said. "They have generously given their lives, at times in a heroic manner, so that the love of God may be proclaimed to all.

  "The celebration of this Jubilee must be for your communities and for each of their members, an occasion of profound spiritual renewal", he added. "It falls to you, as pastors of the People of God, to discern its dimensions in the light of the Word of God. The Year of Faith, which I announced to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, will certainly be a propitious occasion for enabling the faithful to rediscover and to deepen their faith in the Person of the Saviour of Man. It is because they chose to place Christ at the centre of their lives that, in the past 150 years, men and women have had the courage to place everything at the service of the Gospel. Today, this same approach must be at the heart of the whole Church. ... This attitude requires a constant conversion in order to give new strength to the prophetic dimension of our proclamation. ... This meeting with Christ must be solidly rooted in openness to and meditation on the Word of God. The Scriptures must have a central place in the life of the Church and of each Christian. Hence, I encourage you to help them to rediscover Scripture as a source of constant renewal, so that it may unify the daily lives of the faithful and be ever more at the heart of every ecclesial activity".

  Pope Benedict went on: "The Church cannot keep this Word of God to herself; hers is the vocation to announce it to the world. This Jubilee Year should be a privileged occasion for the Church in Benin to give renewed vigour to her missionary consciousness. Apostolic zeal, which should animate all the faithful, is a direct result of their Baptism, and they cannot shirk their responsibility to profess their faith in Christ and His Gospel wherever they find themselves, and in their daily lives. ... On the other hand, as I emphasised in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Verbum Domini', 'In no way can the Church restrict her pastoral work to the ordinary maintenance of those who already know the Gospel of Christ. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community'. The Church, therefore, must reach out to everyone".

  "So that the world may believe this Word which the Church proclaims, it is indispensable that Christ's disciples be united among themselves. As leaders and pastors of your people, you are called to have a lively consciousness of the sacramental fraternity which unites you, and of the unique mission which has been entrusted to you, so that you may be effective signs and promoters of unity within your dioceses. ... The difficulties which are met along the way and which can at times be serious, must never lead to discouragement, but on the contrary become incentives to the awakening among priests and bishops of a deep spiritual life".

  "The formation of the future priests of your dioceses is a reality to which you must pay particular attention", the Holy Father told the prelates, encouraging them "to make it one of your pastoral priorities. It is absolutely necessary that a solid human, intellectual and spiritual formation allow young people to attain a personal, psychological and affective maturity, which prepares them to assume to duties of the priesthood, especially in the area of interpersonal relations".

  "The episcopal ministry to which the Lord has called you has its share of joys and sorrows. To each of you present here this evening, I would like to leave a word of hope. In the course of the last 150 years, the Lord has done great things in the midst of the people of Benin. Be assured that He will continue to accompany you from day to day in your commitment to the work of evangelisation. Always be pastors after the heart of God, authentic servants of the Gospel. It is precisely this that men and women of our times expect from you".

  Following the meeting, the Pope dined with the Beninese bishops in the apostolic nunciature.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father concelebrated the Eucharist with more than 200 African bishops and around a thousand Beninese priests at the "Stade de l'amitie" in Cotonou. Among those present were Thomas Yayi Boni, president of Benin, as well as many other institutional figures and some 30,000 pilgrims, not just from Benin but also from Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Burkina Faso. The ceremony was held in Latin, French, Mina, Yoruba, Dendi, Portuguese and English.

  Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below.

  "It is a great joy for me to visit for the second time this dear continent of Africa, coming among you, in Benin, to address to you a message of hope and of peace. ... Our Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King is an occasion to give thanks to God for the 150 years that have passed since the beginnings of the evangelisation of Benin; it is also an occasion to express our gratitude to Him for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of African Bishops".

  "The Gospel which we have just heard tells us that Jesus, the Son of Man, the ultimate judge of our lives, wished to appear as one who hungers and thirsts, as a stranger, as one of those who are naked, sick or imprisoned, ultimately, of those who suffer or are outcast; how we treat them will be taken as the way we treat Jesus Himself. We do not see here a simple literary device, or a simple metaphor. Jesus' entire existence is an example of it. ... He who had nowhere to lay His head, was condemned to death on a cross. This is the King we celebrate!

  "Without a doubt this can appear a little disconcerting to us. Today, like 2000 years ago, accustomed to seeing the signs of royalty in success, power, money and ability, we find it hard to accept such a king, a king who makes himself the servant of the little ones, of the most humble, a king whose throne is a cross. And yet, the Scriptures tell us, in this is the glory of Christ revealed; it is in the humility of His earthly existence that He finds His power to judge the world. For Him, to reign is to serve! And what He asks of us is to follow Him along the way, to serve, to be attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak, the outcast.

  "The baptised know that the decision to follow Christ can entail great sacrifices, at times even the sacrifice of one's life. However, as St. Paul reminds us, Christ has overcome death and He brings us with Him in His resurrection. He introduces us to a new world, a world of freedom and joy. Today, so much still binds us to the world of the past, so many fears hold us prisoners and prevent us from living in freedom and happiness. Let us allow Christ to free us from the world of the past!"

  "The words of the Gospel are truly words of hope, because the King of the universe has drawn near to us, the servant of the least and lowliest. Here I would like to greet with affection all those persons who are suffering, those who are sick, those affected by AIDS or by other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society. Have courage! The Pope is close to you in his thoughts and prayers. Have courage! Jesus wanted to identify Himself with the poor, with the sick; He wanted to share your suffering and to see you as His brothers and sisters, to free you from every affliction, from all suffering. Every sick person, every poor person deserves our respect and our love because, through them, God shows us the way to heaven".

Christians, builders of peace

  "This morning, I invite you once again to rejoice with me. One hundred and fifty years ago the cross of Christ was raised in your country, and the Gospel was proclaimed for the first time. ... Everyone who has received this marvellous gift of faith, this gift of an encounter with the risen Lord, feels in turn the need to proclaim it to others. ... And this duty is always urgent! After 150 years, many are those who have not heard the message of salvation in Christ! Many, too, are those who are hesitant to open their hearts to the Xord of God! Many are those whose faith is weak".

  "The Church in Benin has received much from her missionaries: she must in turn carry this message of hope to people who do not know or who no longer know the Lord Jesus. ... The Christian is a tireless builder of communion, peace and solidarity, gifts which Jesus Himself has given us. By being faithful to Him, we will cooperate in the realisation of God's plan of salvation for humanity".

  "I urge you, therefore, to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, to be authentically converted to Him. He alone gives us the true life and can liberate us for all our fears and sluggishness, from all our anguish. ... May Jesus Christ give you strength to live as Christians and to find ways to transmit generously to new generations what you have received from your fathers in faith!"

  The Holy Father then addressed some words in English to pilgrims from Ghana, Nigeria and neighbouring countries. "Christ reigns from the Cross and, with His arms open wide, He embraces all the peoples of the world and draws them into unity. Through the Cross, He breaks down the walls of division, He reconciles us with each other and with the Father. We pray today for the people of Africa, that all may be able to live in justice, peace and the joy of the Kingdom of God".

  Finally, the Pope had words for Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, whom he invited "to renew your decision to belong to Christ and to serve His Kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass, the Holy Father consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus" to presidents of national and regional episcopal conferences in Africa, and to presidents of the synods of Eastern Catholic Churches.

  "Upon the reception of this Exhortation, the phase of assimilation and application of its theological, ecclesiological, spiritual and pastoral data begins at the local level. This text seeks to promote, encourage and consolidate the various local initiatives already in place. It seeks as well to inspire other initiatives for the upbuilding of the Catholic Church in Africa", the Holy Father explained.

  "One of the first missions of the Church is the proclamation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel 'ad gentes'. ... I hope that this Exhortation will guide you in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus in Africa. It is not just a message or a word. It is above all openness and adhesion to a person: Jesus Christ the incarnate Word. He alone possesses the words of life eternal! Following the example of Christ, all Christians are called to reflect the mercy of the Father and the light of the Holy Spirit. Evangelisation presupposes and brings with it reconciliation and it promotes peace and justice.

  "Dear Church in Africa", the Holy Father added in conclusion, "become ever more fully the salt of the earth, this earth which Jesus Christ blessed with His presence when He took refuge here! Be the salt of the African earth, blessed by the blood of so many matters, men, women and children, witnesses of the Christian faith even to the supreme gift of their lives! Become the light of the world, the light in Africa which seeks, amid tribulations, the path of peace and justice for all its citizens. Your light is Jesus, the Christ, 'the Light of the World'. May God bless you, dear Africa!"

  The Holy Father then prayed the Angelus, entrusting to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, "the new chapter now opening for the Church on this continent, asking her to accompany the future evangelisation of Africa as a whole".

  "Dear brothers and sisters of Africa, this land which sheltered the Holy Family, may you continue to cultivate Christian family values. At a time when so many families are separated, in exile, grief-stricken as a result of unending conflicts, may you be artisans of reconciliation and hope. With Mary, Our Lady of the Magnificat, may you always abide in joy. May this joy remain deep within hearts of your families and your countries!"
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Saturday, November 19, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 18 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning, during his flight to Benin, the Holy Father responded to a number of questions put to him by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. in the name of the journalists accompanying them on the papal plane.

  Explaining why he chose Benin to launch the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae munus", which is addressed to the entire continent of Africa, Benedict XVI said: "There are a number of reasons. The first is that Benin is a country at peace, both externally and internally. Its democratic institutions work; they were created in a spirit of freedom and responsibility, and therefore justice and commitment to the common good are possible and guaranteed. ... The second reason is that, as in most African countries, there are a number of religions, peacefully existing one next to the other. There are Christians of different denominations, ... Muslims and traditional religions, and these different faiths live in mutual respect and share responsibility for peace and reconciliation, both internally and externally. ... Inter-religious dialogue is a factor for peace and freedom, and it is also an important aspect of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation.

  "Finally, the third reason is that this is the country of my dear friend, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, and I had always wanted to come and pray one day over his grave. Truly he was a great friend to me. ... To visit the country of Cardinal Gantin, a great representative of Catholic Africa, of humane and civil Africa, is one of the reasons I chose to come here".

  Another question put by Fr. Lombardi referred to the growth of Evangelical and Pentecostal movements in Africa. They "present an attractive faith, a simplification of the Christian message which lays great emphasis on healing and mixes their own rites with those of African tradition". How, he asked, can the Catholic Church react to this challenge? In his reply the Pope noted that the phenomenon also exists on other continents, especially Latin America and Africa. Such communities are characterised by a lack of institutions, an easily understandable message, and "a participative liturgy which lays emphasis on the expression of feelings and local culture, and on syncretic combinations among different religions. In a way, this guarantees their success but it also leads to instability. We also know that many return to the Catholic Church, or migrate from one of those communities to another.

  "We must not imitate such communities", the Pope added. "Rather, we must ask ourselves what we can do to give fresh vitality to the Catholic faith. One point, is certainly a simple, profound but comprehensible message. It is important that Christianity should not be seen as a difficult, European system, ... but as a universal message that God exists, that He is concerned with us, knows and loves us, and that religion produces collaboration and fraternity".

  Another vital factor is that "Church institutions should not too cumbersome, that the initiative of the community and of the individual should prevail. I would also draw attention to the importance of a participative but not a sentimental liturgy. Liturgy must not be exclusively based on the expression of feelings, but characterised by the presence of the mystery, into which we enter and by which we allow ourselves to be formed. Finally, I would say that it is important not to lose sight of the universal aspect of inculturation. Indeed. I would prefer to speak more of 'inter-culturality' than of inculturation; in other words, of the meeting of cultures in our shared truth of being human in our time. Thus will we grow in universal fraternity, not losing the great gift of catholicity which makes us brothers and sisters all over the world, a family which collaborates in a spirit of fraternity".

  The third question put to the Holy Father focused on the Church's specific contribution to building lasting peace in Africa, in light of peacekeeping operations and reconstruction initiatives in various African States.

  "It is true", said Benedict XVI in his reply, "that many international conferences have been held for Africa, for universal brotherhood. Fine things have been said and sometimes positive actions have been accomplished, we must recognise this. But it is clear that words, intentions and desires are greater than achievements, and we must ask ourselves why this is. One fundamental factor, I believe, is that renewal and universal brotherhood call for sacrifice; they require us to abandon our selfishness and to exist for others. This is easy to say but difficult to achieve. ... Only by love, and belief in a God Who loves us, can we achieve this, daring to lose our lives, daring to give ourselves because we know that we will gain by it".

  The Holy Father then went on to explain why he believes that Africa can bring faith and hope to the rest of the world. "Humanity", he said, "is undergoing an increasingly rapid transformation. The last fifty or sixty years in Africa, from postcolonial independence to our own day, have been a very trying and difficult time, with many problems some of which have still not been overcome. ... Nonetheless the freshness of the 'yes' to life which exists in Africa, ... its enthusiasm and hope, show that it possesses a great store of humanity, a freshness of religious feeling and hope. ... Thus I would say that the new humanism in the young soul of Africa, despite the problems which exist and will continue to exist, are proof of its great stores of life and vitality for the future".
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