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Monday, February 28, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI received participants in the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life, led by their new president, Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula.

  The question of post-abortion syndrome, which is being examined by the assembly, reveals, said the Pope "the irrepressible voice of moral conscience and the terrible wound it suffers each time a human action betrays the human being's innate vocation to good".

  "In your reflections it would also be helpful to focus attention on the sometimes-clouded conscience of the children's fathers, who often abandon pregnant women", he explained. "Moral conscience has the duty to discern good from evil in the various situations of life so that, on the basis of this judgement, human beings can freely orient themselves towards what is good. To people who would deny the existence of moral conscience in man, reducing its voice to the result of external conditioning or to a purely emotive phenomenon, it is important to highlight that the moral nature of human action is not an extrinsic or optional value, nor is a prerogative only of Christians and believers; rather, it unites all mankind. Through moral conscience God speaks to each of us, inviting us to defend human life at all times, and in this personal bond with the Creator lies the profound dignity of moral conscience and the reason for its inviolability".

  "Doctors", the Holy Father went on, "must not fail in their serious duty to ensure that women's consciences are not tricked into believing that abortion will resolve family, economic and social difficulties, or the health problems of their child. In this latter situation in particular, women are often convinced, at times by the doctors themselves, that abortion represents not only a morally acceptable choice but even a 'therapeutic' act necessary to avoid suffering for the child and its family, and to remove an 'unjust' burden from society. In a cultural context characterised by an eclipse of the meaning of life, in which the shared perception of the moral gravity of abortion and others forms of attacks against human life has been attenuated, doctors are called to show particular fortitude in continuing to affirm that abortion resolves nothing; rather it kills the child, destroys the woman and blinds the conscience of the child's father, often devastating family life.

  "However", the Pope added, "this duty concerns not only the medical profession and healthcare workers; society as a whole must defend the conceived child's right to life and the true good of the woman who can never, in any circumstances, find fulfilment in the decision to abort. In the same way it is important ... to ensure that the necessary help is not lacking for women who, having unfortunately already chosen the path of abortion, are now experiencing all its moral and existential consequences. There are initiatives, at a diocesan level or by individual volunteer organisations, which offer psychological and spiritual support for a full recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community must not abandon this kind of shared responsibility".

  The Pope then turned his attention to the second question being examined by the annual meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life: the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord.

  "This has important clinical applications", he said, "and is a promising form of scientific research; however its realisation depends to a large extent on the generosity of donating cord blood at the moment of childbirth, and on adapting structures in order to make the mothers' desire to donate viable. I invite you, then, to promote genuine and well-informed human and Christian solidarity", he said.

  In closing Benedict XVI referred to the concern of many researchers regarding the increasing number of private cord blood banks for autologous use. "This option", he said, "apart from having no greater scientific merit than the donation of cord blood, weakens that genuine spirit of solidarity which must constantly animate the search for that common good, towards which, in the final analysis, science and medical research are striving".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 FEB 2011 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope addressed to His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir for the occasion of his resignation from the office of patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon.

  The Holy Father notes how "the year consecrated to the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Maron is drawing to a close. The Maronite Church has experienced a period of grace in this exceptional Jubilee Year, which has also been the coronation of your own service for the greater glory of God and for the good of all your faithful".

  "For nearly twenty-five years", Benedict XVI writes, "you worked with your two predecessors in the See of Antioch before being elected by the Synod to succeed them on 19 April 1986. ... You began your noble ministry of patriarch of the Maronites amidst the torment of the war which bloodied the face of Lebanon for so many years. With the ardent desire for peace in your country, you led the Church and travelled the world to console those obliged to emigrate. Finally, peace returned, ever fragile but still extant".

  The Holy Father recalls John Paul II's visit to Beirut in 1997 to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "A new hope for Lebanon" which, Pope Benedict writes, "re-emphasised your Church's constant bond with Peter's Successor". The Letter also mentions Cardinal Sfeir's participation in the 2010 Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, as president delegate "ad honorem".

  "You have chosen to resign from your office as patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in this special circumstance, and I accept your free and magnanimous decision as an expression of great humility and profound detachment", says the Pope. "I am sure", he concludes, "that you will always accompany the journey of the Maronite Church with your prayers, your wise counsel and your sacrifice".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below.

  He commented on today's reading from the Prophet Isaiah who, consoling Jerusalem afflicted by calamities says: "Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you".

  This phrase, said the Pope, is "a call to trust in the indefectible love of God", as is the episode in the Gospel of St. Matthew in which Jesus exhorts His disciples "to trust in the providence of the heavenly Father, Who nourishes the birds of the air, clothes the lilies of the field and knows our every need. Thus the Master says: 'Do not worry, saying: What will we drink? or: What will we wear? For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things?'

  "Faced with the situation of so many people who, near and far, live in dire poverty, these words of Jesus may seem unrealistic, even evasive", the Holy Father added. "Yet in fact the Lord wants us to understand clearly that we cannot serve two masters: God and money. Those who believe in God, the Father full of love for His children, give priority to seeking His Kingdom and His will. This is the exact opposite of fatalism. ... Faith in Providence, does not, in fact, dispense us from the arduous struggle of living a dignified life, but frees us from our attachment to things and our fear of the morrow".

  And he went on: "Clearly this teaching of Jesus, while it remains true and valid for everyone, is practiced in different ways depending on our different vocations: A Franciscan friar may follow it more radically, while a family man will have to take account of his duties towards his wife and children. Yet in all cases Christians stand out for their absolute faith in the heavenly Father, just like Jesus" Who "showed us what it means to live with our feet firmly planted on the ground, attentive to the real situation of our neighbours and, at the same time, with our hearts in heaven, immersed in God's mercy".

  Finally the Pope called on the Virgin Mary to intercede "that we may all learn to live a more simple and sober life, working hard every day and respecting the creation which God entrusted to our care".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

  "Today, Monday 28 February, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Jerzey Buzek, president of the European Parliament. The president 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 discussions, which took place in a cordial atmosphere, provided an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of opinions concerning relations between the Catholic Church, the European Parliament and other European institutions, as well as the contribution the Church can make to the Union.

  "In the course of the meeting attention also turned to questions of current affairs, such as commitment to promoting religious freedom and the protection of Christian minorities in the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications who are currently meeting to reflect on the question of language and new technology.

  The Pope noted how "ideas and relations are always part of the modality of language, understood, naturally, in a broad and not only a verbal sense". In this context he affirmed that "the new languages being developed in digital communications lead, among other things, to capacities that are more intuitive and emotional than analytical, tending towards a different logical organisation of our ideas and our relationship with reality, often privileging images and hypertextual links".

  "The risks involved are, of course, visible to everyone: the loss of inner depth, superficiality in relationships, the flight into emotionalism, the prevalence of the most convincing opinion over the desire for truth. This is the consequence of an incapacity to experience, fully and authentically, the significance of the new innovations, and hence the vital importance of reflecting on the languages developed by modern technology".

  Going on then to refer to "digital culture" and the challenges the ecclesial and civil communities have to face in this field, the Holy Father highlighted how "it is not just a question of expressing the Gospel message in modern language, but also of having the courage to give more profound consideration, as happened in other ages, to the relationship between the faith, the life of the Church and the transformations mankind is experiencing". Whence arises "the importance of helping people in positions of responsibility in the Church to understand, interpret and speak the 'new language' of the mass media in their pastoral functions, interacting with the modern world and asking themselves what challenges does so-called 'digital thought' place before faith and theology? What questions does it raise, what requirements does it impose?"

  After then highlighting how "digital culture challenges our capacity to speak and listen to a symbolic language of transcendence", the Pope noted that "today we are called to discover, also in digital culture, symbols and significant metaphors which may be of help in speaking of the Kingdom of God to modern man".

  "The appeal to spiritual values", the Pope concluded, "will facilitate the promotion of a truly human form of communication. Over and above any facile enthusiasm or scepticism, we know that this is a response to the call imprinted into our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of the God of communion. ... The contribution made by believers can, then, be useful to the world of the mass media, opening horizons of meaning and value which digital culture alone is incapable of seeing or representing".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2011 (VIS) - Holy Father today received in separate audiences three prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo O.M.I. of Cotabato, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin M. Bagaforo.

    - Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla of Davao.

  On Saturday 26 February he received in separate audiences:

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

    - Bishop Emmanuel T. Cabajar C.SS.R. of Pagadian.

    - Bishop Juan de Dios M. Pueblos of Butuan.

    - Bishop Jose A. Cabantan of Malaybalay.

    - Bishop Antonieto D. Cabajog of Surigao.

    - Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar of Tandag.

    - Bishop Romulo T. de la Cruz of Kidapawan.

    - Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez of Marbel.

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 28 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, as a counsellor of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

 - Appointed Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana, Cuba, as a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Riobamba, Ecuador, presented by Bishop Victor Alejandro Corral Mantilla, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Stefano Di Pinto, official of the Office of Pension Funds, as director of the same office.

 - Appointed Stefano Loreti, bureau chief in the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), as director for a five-year period of APSA's "Area for Controlling Management and Procedures".

 - Appointed Francesco Anastasi, official of the Extraordinary Section of APSA, as bureau chief of the Ordinary Section of APSA.

 - Appointed Roberto Carulli and Stefano Lori, officials of the Ordinary Section of APSA, as bureau chiefs in the Extraordinary Section of APSA.

  On Saturday 26 February it was made public that the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, presented by Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, in accordance with canon 126 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
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