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Friday, January 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace, following a centuries-old tradition, Benedict XVI blessed several lambs whose wool will be used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  In a 1978 document, "Inter Eximia Episcopalis," Pope Paul VI restricted use of the pallium to the Pope and to metropolitan archbishops. In 1984 John Paul II decreed that the pallium would be conferred on the metropolitans on 29 June.

  The custom of blessing the lambs takes place every year on the 21 January liturgical memory of St. Agnes, a virgin who suffered martyrdom about the year 305 and whose symbol is a lamb. She is buried in the basilica named after her on the Via Nomentana in Rome, and it is there that the lambs are taken after the papal blessing.

  The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains and the palliums are made by the Sisters of St. Cecelia from the newly-shorn wool.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received directors and officers of the Police Headquarters in Rome.

  The Pope began his address by referring to the current age, marked, he said, "by profound changes" which "sometimes generate feelings of insecurity, primarily due to the precarious social and economic situation, but sharpened also by a certain diminution in the perception of ethical principles, principles which are the foundation of law and of the individual moral behaviour which gives strength to that law".

  He went on: "Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is at the same time affected by the impression that moral consensus is breaking down and that, as a consequence, the basic structures of coexistence are no longer able to function fully. Thus, many people are tempted to think that the forces mobilised to defend civil society are, in the end, destined to fail. Faced with this temptation we - Christians in particular - have the responsibility to rediscover a new resolve in professing our faith and doing good".

  The Pope highlighted how "in our day great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence", noting that this involves "a serious risk because modern thought has developed a reductive view of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what has value and what is true; rather, each individual provides his own measure through his own intuitions and experiences, each possesses his own truth and his own morals. The most evident consequence is that religion and morals tend to be confined to the subjective and private sphere; and faith with its values and its modes of behaviour no longer merits a place in public and civil life. Thus, if on the one hand society gives great importance to pluralism and tolerance, on the other religion tends to become progressively marginalised, considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the public sphere, almost as if it had to limit its influence on the life of man.

  "Yet on the contrary", he added, "for us as Christians the true meaning of 'conscience' is man's capacity to recognise truth and, even more so, the possibility he has to hear its call, to seek it and to find it".

  "The new challenges emerging on our horizon impose the need for a renewed encounter between God and man. May society and public institutions rediscover their 'soul', their spiritual and moral roots, so as to give a new consistency to their ethical and juridical reference values, and hence to their practical actions. ... The provision of religious and spiritual services which, in accordance with current norms, State and Church ensure is offered to the Police, bears witness to the perennial fruitfulness of this encounter".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "The unique vocation of the city of Rome requires that today you, as public officials, should show a good example of positive and profitable interaction between a healthy secularism and the Christian faith. ... Always consider man as an end in himslef, so that everyone may live in an authentically human way. As the bishop of this city of ours, I would like to invite you to read and mediate upon the Word of God, in order to find therein the source and criterion of inspiration for all your actions".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
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