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Thursday, March 10, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI presided at the traditional penitential procession from the church of St. Anselm on Rome's Aventine Hill to the Basilica of Santa Sabina where he celebrated Mass. The Pope received ashes from Cardinal Jozef Tomko, titular of the basilica, then himself distributed ashes to the cardinals and bishops present, as well as to a number of faithful.

  "Today we begin the liturgical period of Lent with the emblematic ritual of the imposition of the ashes by which we intend to take on the task of turning our hearts towards the horizons of Grace", said the Pope in his homily. "This is not some superficial or transitory conversion, but a spiritual itinerary which has a profound effect on our conscience and involves a sincere intention to amend our lives".

  "This means undertaking an authentic conversion to God - returning to Him - recognising His sanctity, His power, His majesty", the Holy Father went on. "Such conversion is possible because God is rich in mercy and great in love. His mercy is regenerating. ... God, in fact, does not want the death of sinners but their conversion to life. ... He offers us His forgiveness, ... so as to give us a new heart purified from the evil that oppresses it, so as to lead us to participate in His joy. Our world needs to be converted by God, it needs His pardon, His love, it needs a new heart".

  "'Christ's call to conversion', says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 'continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This ... is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, clasping sinners to her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification, and follows constantly the path of penance and renewal'. This struggle for conversion is not an exclusively human effort. It is the dynamism of the 'contrite heart', attracted and moved by grace to respond to the mercy of God".

  "Everyone can open themselves to the action of God, to His love", the Pope exclaimed. "With our evangelical testimony, we Christians must be a living message; indeed, in many cases, we are the only Gospel that the men and women of today still read. ... One further reason to live Lent properly is to offer a witness of lived faith to a world in difficulty, a world which needs to return to God, a world which needs conversion".

  Finally, the Holy Father referred to today's Gospel in which Jesus reiterates the three principle works of piety in Mosaic Law: alms, prayer and fasting. Christ "highlights how these three works of piety enclose a shared temptation: ... the desire to be esteemed and admired for a good action. ... The Lord Jesus does not ask for formal respect to be shown to a law that is foreign to man; ... on the contrary, He invites us to rediscover these three works of piety, and to experience them more profoundly, not for love of self but for love of God, as a means on the journey of conversion to Him.

  "Alms, prayer and fasting, this is the course of divine pedagogy which accompanies us, and not just during Lent, towards the meeting with the Risen Lord; a course to be followed without ostentation, in the certainty that the heavenly Father can read and see into the secret depths of our hearts".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Hall of Blessings, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with pastors and priests of the diocese of Rome.
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VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this afternoon, the presentation will take place of the second volume of Benedict XVI's book on Jesus of Nazareth: "From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection". The press conference will be presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S. prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Claudio Magris, a writer and German scholar.

  The book has been published in seven languages - German, Italian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish - and has nine chapters and an epilogue. The chapter headings and subheadings were published in the VIS bulletin of 2 March.

  In an interview published by the "Osservatore Romano" Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House which holds the copyright on the Pope's works, explains that there will initially be seven editions of the book with a print run of 1,200,000 copies, and that contracts have been signed with twenty-two publishing houses throughout the world. The work is also available in an e-book edition.

  Fr. Costa dwells briefly on the history of the publication, recalling how nearly a year and a half ago Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, private secretary to Benedict XVI, consigned him the text, the last part of which was written in pencil "in the Pope's unmistakeable tiny handwriting".

  On the subject of the translations, Fr. Costa explains how "the Italian, in particular, was not easy, because over the decades Joseph Ratzinger's books have been translated by various individuals and the challenge was to achieve a certain homogeneity of language. Furthermore, it was important to avoid the risk of the translations in the various languages failing to conserve, or even betraying, the author's ideas".

  "Not all the publishing houses of the first volume have also printed the second", Fr. Costa notes. "The choice was made on the basis of various criteria including editorial and organisational structure, but also reliability. We chose publishers capable of promoting not just the book but also its contents".

  In his preface the Pope announces a third book, which he intends to dedicate to the Gospel accounts of Jesus' infancy. This could not enter directly into the current volume, says Fr. Costa, which focuses on the figure of Jesus, His words and His actions. But, as the Pope writes in his preface, "I wish to remain faithful to my promise and present a small work on this subject, if I am granted the strength to do so".
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VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bruno Lilli, bureau chief of the Vatican's Healthcare Assistance Fund, as director of the same organisation.
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