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Monday, January 3, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 31 DEC 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Letter to Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to marks today's closing of the Compostela Holy Year.

  The people who have made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela during the course of this year "must return to their homes as the disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem", the Pope writes. "We cannot be credible witnesses of God if we fail to collaborate with men and women and to serve them. This service to profound understanding and to the courageous defence of man is an evangelical requirement and an essential contribution that we, as Christians, can make to society".

  Addressing himself in particular to the young, "whom I will have the joy to meet next year in Madrid for World Youth Day", the Pope invites them to let themselves "be attracted by Christ, establishing a frank and serene dialogue with Him and asking themselves: Will the Lord be able to rely on me to be His apostle in the world, to be His messenger of love? May your response not be lacking in generosity, nor in the enthusiasm which led St. James to follow his Master with no concern for the sacrifices involved".

  The Holy Father then goes on to encourage seminarians "to identify themselves increasingly with Jesus, Who calls them to work in His vineyard. The priestly vocation is an admirable gift of which we should be proud, because the world needs people completely dedicated to making Jesus Christ present, shaping their lives and their activities around Him, daily repeating His words and gestures with humility, so as to be His image in the flock entrusted to their care".

  "As I conserve in my heart the recollection of my happy stay in Santiago de Compostela, I ask the Lord that the forgiveness and the aspiration to sanctity which have developed during this Compostela Holy Year may, under the guidance of St. James, help to make the redeeming Word of Jesus Christ present in that particular Church and in all of Spain. May this light", he concludes, "also be perceptible in Europe, as an incessant call to strengthen its Christian roots and thus increase its commitment to solidarity and the defence of man's dignity".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 DEC 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m. today, the Pope presided at first Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the year, and the Eucharistic blessing.

  In his homily the Holy Father explained how, "with the coming of Christ and His redemption we are 'at the fullness' of time. As St. Paul says, time comes to fullness in Jesus, it reaches its fulfilment, acquiring that significance of salvation and grace which God wished for it since before the creation of the world".

  "Our human time", the Pope went on, "is loaded with evils, sufferings and dramas of every kind - from those caused by man's own wickedness to those deriving from adverse natural events - but it now contains, definitively and unchangeably, the joyful and liberating novelty of Christ the Saviour. In the Child of Bethlehem we can see, in a particularly luminous and eloquent way, the meeting of eternity and time, as the liturgy of the Church says".

  The Church of Rome "is committed to helping all the baptised faithfully to live the vocation they received and to bear witness to the beauty of the faith. As we seek to be authentic disciples of Christ, essential support comes from daily meditation on the Word of God", said the Holy Father. In this context he also encouraged everyone "to cultivate an intense relationship with the Word, especially through 'lectio divina', in order to obtain the light necessary to discern the signs of God in our own time, and to proclaim the Gospel effectively".

  "Assistance in this evangelising activity in Rome", Benedict XVI continued, "comes from the 'Centres for listening to the Gospel', which I suggest should be recreated or revitalised, not only in homes but also in hospitals and workplaces, and in the places where the new generations are formed and culture is created".

  "The best place to listen to the word of God is in the celebration of the Eucharist. Last June's diocesan congress, in which I myself participated, chose to underline the centrality of Sunday Mass in the life of all Christian communities. ... I encourage pastors and priests to put the pastoral programme into effect: forming liturgical groups to enliven the celebration and offering a catechesis which helps everyone to a greater understanding of the Eucharistic mystery, from which the witness of charity comes".

  The Pope concluded his homily by referring to "concerns about insecurity, which affect so many families and which call the entire diocesan community to draw close to people living in conditions of poverty and distress. May God, infinite love, enflame all our hearts with that charity which impelled Him to give His Only-begotten Son".

  Following the celebration, the Pope made a brief visit to the nativity scene in St. Peter's Square.
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VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2011 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and the forty-fourth World Day of Peace.

  In his homily the Pope explained how the Church today asks the Lord "to bless this new year in the awareness that, in the face of the tragic events of history, in the face of the logic of war which unfortunately has not yet been completely overcome, only God can profoundly touch the human soul and ensure hope and peace for humankind".

  And he continued: "It is in fact a consolidated tradition on the first day of the year for the Church throughout the world to raise a choral prayer for peace. It is a good idea to begin a new stage of the journey by decisively following the path of peace. Today we wish to echo the cry of so many men and women, children and elderly people, who are victims of war, which is the most horrific and violent face of history. Today we pray that the peace which the angels announced to the shepherds on Christmas night may reach everywhere. For this reason, particularly through our prayers, we wish to help all individuals and peoples, especially those in positions of power, to follow the path of peace with ever greater commitment".

  "The title of 'Mother of God', as emphasised in today's liturgy, underlines the Holy Virgin's unique mission in the history of salvation; the mission which lies at the basis of the veneration and devotion Christian people show towards her. Mary, in fact, did not receive God's gift for herself but to bring it into the world. ... And it is in the name of Mary, Mother of God and of mankind, that, since 1 January 1968, the World Day of Peace has been celebrated throughout the world".

  Having then recalled the theme of his Message for the 2011 World Day of Peace - "Religious Freedom. The Path to Peace" - the Holy Father highlighted how "peace is a gift of God. ... It is also a human value to be achieved at a social and political level, but it has its roots in the mystery of Christ".

  "'The world needs God", he said quoting his Message. "It needs universal, shared ethical and spiritual values, and religion can offer a precious contribution to their pursuit, for the building of a just and peaceful social order at the national and international levels'. For this reason I also emphasised how religious freedom 'is an essential element of a constitutional State; it cannot be denied without at the same time encroaching on all fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone'".

  Benedict XVI continued his homily: "Humankind must not resign itself to the negative power of selfishness and violence; it must not become accustomed to conflicts which cause victims and put the future of peoples at risk. Faced with the ominous tensions of the present time, and especially with religious abuses and intolerance which today particularly strike Christians, once again I make a pressing appeal not to succumb to discouragement and resignation.

  "I encourage everyone", he added in conclusion, "to pray that the efforts being made on many sides to promote and construct peace in the world may reach a fruitful conclusion. In this difficult task words are not enough, we need concrete and constant commitment from the leaders of nations. But above all it is vital that everyone be animated by an authentic spirit of peace, which must be implored ever and anew in prayer and put into practice in daily life in all times and places".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 JAN 2011 (VIS) - Following this morning's Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to address faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square for the first Angelus of 2011.

  The Holy Father remarked how "on this day the Church invokes the gift of peace from God through Jesus Christ. It is the World Day of Peace, an appropriate occasion to reflect together on the great challenges our age places before humankind.

  "One of these challenges, which has become dramatically pressing over these days is that of religious freedom", he added. "Today we are witnessing two opposing tendencies, two equally negative extremes: on the one hand laicism which deviously seeks to marginalise religion and confine it to the private sphere and, on the other, fundamentalism which seeks to impose it on everyone by use of force".

  "Wherever religious freedom is effectively recognised the dignity of the human being is respected at its roots and, through a sincere search for truth and goodness, moral conscience is fortified and the institutions of civil coexistence strengthened. For this reason religious freedom is the highway to follow to build peace".

  "By looking to the One Who is the 'Prince of peace' we understand that peace cannot be achieved by arms, nor through economic, political, cultural or media power. Peace is the work of consciences which open to truth and love. May God help us to continue along this path in the new year He has granted us to live".

  After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that his message for the World Day of Peace had highlighted how "the great religions can represent an important factor for the unity and peace of the human family. In this context", he said, "I also noted that the year 2011 will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace which the Venerable John Paul II called in Assisi, Italy, in 1986. For this reason, in the coming month of October, I will make a pilgrimage to the town of St. Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of different confessions, leaders of the world's religious traditions and, in their hearts, all men and women of good will, to join me on this journey in order to commemorate that important historical gesture of my predecessor, and solemnly to renew the commitment of believers of all religions to live their religious faith as a service to the cause of peace. Those who are journeying towards God cannot fail to transmit peace; those who build peace cannot fail to move towards God. I invite you, even now, to support this initiative with your prayers".
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VATICAN CITY, 2 JAN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  The Pope again expressed his felicitations for the new year, and thanked everyone who had sent him "messages of spiritual support".

  Commenting on today's reading, a reiteration of the prologue of the St. John's Gospel as proclaimed on Christmas Day, the Pope highlighted how "this wondrous text expresses, in the form of a hymn, the mystery of the Incarnation as preached by the eye witnesses, the Apostles and in particular St. John whose feast falls on 27 December".

  Benedict XVI then addressed some remarks to thousands of people gathered in Plaza de Colon in Madrid, Spain, who were following him on live television linkup. They are celebrating, for the fourth consecutive year, the feast of the family which has as its theme this year: "The Christian family. Hope for Europe".

  "I invite you", said Benedict XVI, "to be strong in love and humbly to contemplate the mystery of Christmas, which continues to speak to our hearts and becomes a school of family and fraternal life. The maternal gaze of the Virgin Mary, the loving protection of St. Joseph and the sweet presence of the Baby Jesus provide a clear image of how each Christian family should be: a true shrine of fidelity, respect and understanding in which faith is transmitted, hope fortified and charity enflamed. I encourage everyone to live their Christian vocation with renewed enthusiasm in the home, as genuine servants of the love which welcomes, accompanies and defends life. Make your houses true seedbeds of virtue, and serene and luminous areas of trust in which, guided by the grace of God, it is possible to discern the call of the Lord Who continues to invite us to follow Him. With these feelings I fervently entrust the goals and fruits of your meeting to the Holy Family, that joy, mutual commitment and generosity may reign in a growing number of families".

  After the Angelus prayer the Holy Father referred to "news of the serious attack against the Coptic Christian community in Alexandria, Egypt. This vile and murderous gesture, like that of placing bombs near the houses of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all humankind, which only yesterday prayed for peace and began a new year with hope. In the face of these strategies of violence, which aim against Christians but have consequences on the entire population, I pray for the victims and their relatives, and encourage ecclesial communities to persevere in the faith and in the witness of non-violence which comes to us from the Gospel. I think also of the many pastoral workers killed in various parts of the world in the course of 2010. For them too we equally express our affectionate remembrance before the Lord. Let us remain united in Christ, our hope and our peace!"
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VATICAN CITY, 3 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Neal J. Buckon of the clergy of the diocese of Cleveland, U.S.A., military chaplain in Korea, as auxiliary to the military ordinariate of the United States of America. The bishop-elect was born in Columbus, U.S.A. in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1995.
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