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Friday, March 11, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with pastors and priests of the diocese of Rome to whom he imparted a "lectio divina" inspired by St. Paul's address to the elders of Ephesus in chapter twenty of the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on the priesthood as service and faithfulness.

"One cannot be a priest part-time", said the Holy Father. "We are always priests with all our soul and with all our heart. ... Being an ambassador of Christ ... is a mission which penetrates our entire being".

The Apostle Paul "did not preach an 'a la carte' Christianity, organised according to taste, he did not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas". Priests "must announce the will of God entire, including the 'more difficult' will, ... the themes they may least like personally".

Referring then to Lent which has just begun, the Pope spoke of conversion which, he said, must be reflected, above all, in "a change of thinking and of heart" which leads us to focus not on the things of the world, "but on the presence of God in the world".

The Pope also highlighted the importance that spiritual life must have for priests. "Praying and meditating on the word of God is not time lost from the care of souls, but a condition enabling us to remain in contact with the Lord, and so be able to speak first hand of Him to others".

Finally, the Pope encouraged priests not to lose hope, despite the difficulties they may encounter in their ministry.

"The truth is stronger than lies", he concluded, "and love is stronger than hatred. God is stronger than all adverse forces. With this joy, with this inner certainty we follow our journey amidst the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world".
AC/ VIS 20110311 (330)


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office yesterday afternoon, the second volume of Benedict XVI's book on Jesus of Nazareth: "From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection" was presented in the course of a press conference chaired by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S. prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Claudio Magris, a writer and German scholar.

Cardinal Ouellet explained how, apart from the natural interest in a book about Jesus, "the Pope's book is humbly presenting itself to the forum of exegetes in order to compare methodology and research results with them. ... I cannot but see in this book the dawn of a new era of exegesis, a promising age of theological interpretation", he said.

"The Pope first enters into dialogue with German exegesis, though he does not overlook other important authors from the French, English or Romance language areas", the cardinal said. The Holy Father's "is that of 'seeking the real Jesus', not the 'historical Jesus' of the dominant school in critical exegesis, but the 'Jesus of the Gospels'".

Cardinal Ouellet explained that, "although the author is not presenting an official teaching of the Church, it is easy to imagine that his scholarly authority and the profound consideration given to certain disputed questions will be of great help in confirming many people's faith. This will also serve to enliven debates that have become stagnated because of rationalist or positivist prejudices, impairing the prestige of modern and contemporary exegesis".

Going on then to comment on the contents of the new book, the cardinal first noted how "the question of the historical foundation of Christianity has interested Joseph Ratzinger since his formative years and his first experience of teaching, as is evident from his book 'Introduction to Christianity', published forty years ago".

"A second question touches on the Messianism of Jesus. A number of modern exegetes, under the influence of dominant ideologies, have made Jesus out to be a revolutionary, a master of morality, an eschatological prophet, an idealist rabbi, a madman of God, a messiah in some way in the image of His exegete".

The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops explains how "the Pope powerfully and clearly outlines the regal and priestly dimensions of this Messianism, the meaning of which is to establish the new form of worship - adoration in spirit and in Truth - which involves all of individual and community life, as an offering of love for the glorification of God in the flesh.

"A third issue", the cardinal added, "concerns the meaning of redemption and the place that it should occupy in the expiation of sins. The Pope examines the modern objections to this traditional doctrine, ... and shows how mercy and justice go hand in hand within the framework of the Covenant established by God".

"The fourth problem involves the priesthood of Christ. In terms of today's ecclesial categories, Jesus was a lay person invested with a prophetic vocation. He did not belong to the priestly aristocracy of the Temple. ... This fact has led many interpreters to consider the figure of Jesus as entirely divorced from any relationship with priesthood. ... The Pope provides an ample response to the historical and critical objections, demonstrating how Jesus' new priesthood was coherent with the new worship He came to establish upon the earth, in obedience to the will of the Father".

"The final issue", the cardinal went on, "concerns the resurrection and its historical and eschatological dimension, its relationship with corporeity and with the Church. ... The Pope speaks out against ... interpretations which declare that the announcement of Christ's Resurrection is compatible with His body remaining in the tomb. He excludes these theories observing that the empty tomb, even if it is not proof of the resurrection, which had no direct witnesses, remains as a sign, ... a trace in the history of a transcendent event. ... The paradoxical experience of the apparitions reveals that, in this new dimension of existence, ... Jesus lives fully, in a new relationship with real corporeity but free from corporeal ties as we understand them. The historical importance of the resurrection is clear from the evidence of the early communities, which instituted the tradition of Sunday [worship] as a sign identifying the fact that they belonged to the Lord".

"It is clear from this book", the cardinal concluded, "that Peter's Successor dedicates himself to his specific ministry, which is to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. ... This book will serve, on the one hand, to mediate between contemporary and Patristic exegesis and, on the other, to foster the necessary dialogue between exegetes, theologians and pastors", he said.

"In this work", the cardinal completed his remarks, "I see a great invitation to dialogue on the essential aspects of Christianity, in a world seeking points of reference, a world in which religious traditions struggle to transmit humanity's heritage of religious wisdom to new generations".
OP/ VIS 20110311 (840)


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Today in the Consistory Hall, the Pope received members of the Belgian association "Pro Petri Sede" which offers annual financial aid for the needs of the Holy See.

"The generous contribution you make to Peter's Successor", said Benedict XVI, "will enable him to help those who have recently undergone difficult trials, in particular the people of Haiti. The service of charity forms part of the very nature of the Church; it is a living expression of God's solicitude for all humankind. The Church, while bringing vital material assistance, can also offer that attention and love of which people who suffer have such need. I thank you in their name for the help you give them in the struggle against that which vilifies and degrades the dignity of each person, 'created in the image of God'".
AC/ VIS 20110311 (160)


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

- Archbishop Hector Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte O.F.M. of Trujillo, Peru, president of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference.

- Fr. Bruno Cadore, master general of the Order of Friars Preachers, Dominicans.

- Claudio Magris, accompanied by his wife.
AP/ VIS 20110311 (70)
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