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Thursday, April 14, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today published the following communique:

  "Today in the Apostolic Palace Benedict XVI received in audience the president of the Republic of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers, who subsequently met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

  "During the cordial discussions mention was made of the good relations between Latvia and the Holy See, also emphasised by the 2000 Agreement, and the high esteem in which the Church is held in the country.

  "Considering the current international economic climate, which has had heavy repercussions also in Latvia, appreciation was expressed for the significant and valid contribution the Church offers to Latvian society, not only through its initiatives in the educational and social fields, but also through the presentation of its social doctrine.

  "Throughout the discussions, emphasis was placed on the importance of safeguarding traditional values and peaceful coexistence. At the international level, mention was made of the contribution of Latvia in the promotion of peace and in areas of collaboration with the Holy See".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI received in audience the bishops and faithful of the Maronite Church, on the occasion of the ecclesiastical communion of their new patriarch, Bechara Boutros Rai on 24 March.

  The Pope emphasised at the beginning of his address that this was the first visit to the Successor of Peter by the patriarch Rai since his election to the patriarchal see of Antioch of the Maronites.

  Referring to the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East (October 2010), the Pope underlined that on that occasion it was necessary "to reiterate many times the urgency of proposing the Gospel to those who do not know it well or have moved away from the Church. With all the vital force present in Lebanon and the Middle East, I know you will make efforts to announce, to bear witness to and to live in communion this Word of life in order to rediscover the enthusiasm of the first Christians".

  "This region of the world which the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and Christ Himself blessed with their presence and their teaching, aspires to the lasting peace that the Word of Truth, welcomed and shared, is able to establish".

  The Holy Father went on to speak about the education of young people, expressing his wish that the patriarch's "role in their formation be better recognised by society, in order that fundamental values be transmitted without discrimination, and to ensure that the youth of today become responsible men and women within their families and society at large, to build greater solidarity and fraternity between the members of the nation. Transmit to the young all my esteem and affection, reminding them that the Church and society need their enthusiasm and hope".

  "Therefore", he concluded, "I invite you to intensify your efforts in the formation of priests and the many young people called to the Lord within your eparchies and in your  religious congregations. By their teaching and their existence, may they be authentic witnesses to the Word of God, to help the faithful anchor their lives and their mission in Christ!"
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of ceremonies to be presided by Benedict XVI during Holy Week.

 - Sunday 17 April: Palm Sunday and Our Lord's Passion; 26th World Youth Day on the theme: "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (Col 2.7). At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

 - Thursday 21 April: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Chrism Mass. At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, beginning of Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. Collection to be donated to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

 - Friday 22 April: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of Our Lord. Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9.15 p.m.

 - Saturday 23 April: Easter Saturday. At 9 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, beginning of Easter Vigil.

 - Sunday 24 April: Easter Sunday. At 10.15 a.m., Mass in St. Peter's Square. At midday, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy See Press Office published the following English-language communique on the IVth Plenary Meeting, held in the Vatican from 11 to 13 April, of the Commission instituted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of major importance concerning the life of the Church in China.

  At the end of the meeting, the participants addressed a message to Chinese Catholics:

  "1. Moved by love for the Church in China, by sorrow for the trials you are undergoing and by the desire to encourage you, we deepened our knowledge of the ecclesial situation by means of a panoramic vision of the organization and life of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions in your country. We noted the general climate of disorientation and anxiety about the future, the sufferings of some circumscriptions deprived of Pastors, the internal divisions of others, the preoccupation of still others who do not have sufficient personnel and means to tackle the phenomena of growing urbanization and depopulation of rural areas.

  "From an examination of the information, there also emerged a living faith and an experience of the Church, capable of dialoguing in a fruitful way with the social realities of each territory.

  "2. We encourage the Bishops, together with their priests, to conform themselves ever more closely to Christ the Good Shepherd, to ensure that their faithful do not lack education in the faith, to stimulate a just industriousness and to strive to build, wherever they are lacking and are necessary, new places of worship and education in the faith and, especially, to form mature Christian communities. We also invite Pastors to take care of the life of the faithful with renewed commitment and enthusiasm, especially in its essential elements of catechesis and liturgy. We exhort the same Pastors to teach priests, by their own example, to love, forgive and remain faithful. We also invite ecclesial communities to continue to proclaim the Gospel with ever more intense fervour, while we unite ourselves to their gratitude to God for the baptism of adults, which will be celebrated during the upcoming days of Easter.

  "3. We dwelt in particular on some difficulties which have recently emerged in your communities.

  "As far as the sad episode of the episcopal ordination in Chengde is concerned, the Holy See, on the basis of the information and testimonies it has so far received, while having no reason to consider it invalid, does regard it as gravely illegitimate, since it was conferred without the Papal mandate, and this also renders illegitimate the exercise of the ministry. We are also saddened because this took place after a series of consensual episcopal ordinations and because the consecrating Bishops were subjected to various constrictions. As the Holy Father wrote in his Letter of 2007: 'the Holy See follows the appointment of Bishops with special care since this touches the very heart of the life of the Church, inasmuch as the appointment of Bishops by the Pope is the guarantee of the unity of the Church and of hierarchical communion. For this reason the Code of Canon Law (cf. c. 1382) lays down grave sanctions both for the Bishop who freely confers episcopal ordination without an apostolic mandate and for the one who receives it: such an ordination in fact inflicts a painful wound upon ecclesial communion and constitutes a grave violation of canonical discipline. The Pope, when he issues the apostolic mandate for the ordination of a Bishop, exercises his supreme spiritual authority: this authority and this intervention remain within the strictly religious sphere. It is not, therefore, a question of a political authority, unduly asserting itself in the internal affairs of a State and offending against its sovereignty' (No. 9).

  "The external pressures and constrictions could mean that excommunication is not automatically incurred. However, there remains a grave wound, perpetrated on the ecclesial body. Every Bishop involved is therefore obliged to refer to the Holy See and find the means of explaining his position to the priests and faithful, renewing his profession of fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff, to help them to overcome their interior suffering and repair the external scandal caused.

  "We are close to you in these difficult times. We invite priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful to understand the difficulties of their Bishops, to encourage them, to support them by their solidarity and prayer.

  "4. With regard to the 8th National Assembly of Catholic Representatives, the words of the Holy Father, once again, are inspiring:  'Considering "Jesus' original plan", it is clear that the claim of some entities, desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church, to place themselves above the Bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, does not correspond to Catholic doctrine, according to which the Church is "apostolic", as the II Vatican Council underlined. (...) Likewise, the declared purpose of the aforementioned entities to implement "the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church" is incompatible with Catholic doctrine' (No. 7).

  "5. The choice of Pastors for the governance of the numerous vacant dioceses is an urgent necessity, and, at the same time, a source of deep concern. The Commission strongly hopes that there will not be new wounds to ecclesial communion, and asks the Lord for strength and courage for all of the persons involved. Concerning this, one should also bear in mind what Pope Benedict XVI has written: 'The Holy See would desire to be completely free to appoint Bishops; therefore, considering the recent particular developments of the Church in China, I trust that an accord can be reached with the Government so as to resolve certain questions regarding the choice of candidates for the episcopate, the publication of the appointment of Bishops, and the recognition - concerning civil effects where necessary - of the new Bishops on the part of the civil authorities' (No. 9). We make these desires ours and we look with trepidation and fear to the future: we know that it is not entirely in our hands and we launch an appeal so that the problems do not grow and that the divisions are not deepened, at the expense of harmony and peace.

  "6. In examining the situation of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions, various difficulties regarding their boundaries have emerged. Concerning this, the necessity of taking note of the changed circumstances was recognised as well as the need of respecting the ecclesiastical norms and always keeping in mind what is written in the Papal Letter to the Catholics in China: 'I wish to confirm that the Holy See is prepared to address the entire question of the circumscriptions and ecclesiastical provinces in an open and constructive dialogue with the Chinese Episcopate and - where opportune and helpful - with governmental authorities' (No. 11).

  "7. Finally, we dwelt on the theme of formation of seminarians and female religious, inside and outside of China ...  We have noted with pleasure that the Catholic communities in China organise within themselves initiatives for the purpose of formation.

  "8. We hope that the sincere and respectful dialogue with the civil authorities may help to overcome the difficulties of the present moment, so that the relations with the Catholic Church may also contribute to harmony in society.

  "9. We have learnt with joy the news that the diocese of Shanghai can start the beatification cause of Paul Xu Guangqi, which will be added to that of Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J.

  "10. To overcome the difficult situations of each community, prayer will be of great help. Various initiatives can be organised, which will help to renew your communication of faith in Our Lord Jesus and of fidelity to the Pope, so that the unity among you may be ever more deepened and visible.

  "11. In the gathering that took place at the end of the Plenary Meeting, His Holiness recognised the desire for unity with the See of Peter and with the Universal Church which the Chinese faithful never cease to manifest, notwithstanding being in the midst of many difficulties and afflictions. The faith of the Church, set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to be defended even at the price of sacrifice, is the foundation on which the Catholic communities in China should grow in unity and communion".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission will hold its annual plenary session from 2 to 6 May in the Domus Sanctae Marthae (Vatican City), under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada. Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general, shall direct the work of the assembly.

  According to a communique issued today, "during the meeting the members will continue their reflections on the theme 'Inspiration and truth in the Bible'. In the first phase of study the Commission will attempt to examine how the themes of inspiration and truth appear in the Sacred Scriptures. Subsequently, on the basis of their individual competences, each Member shall present a report which shall then be discussed collectively in the Assembly".
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received Francisco Vasquez y Vasquez, ambassador of Spain to the Holy See, accompanied by his wife, on his farewell visit.
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VATICAN CITY, 14 APR 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed as advisors of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts:

Krzysztof Nitkiewicz, bishop of Sandomierz, Poland; Bernard Anthony Hebda, bishop of Gaylord, USA; Msgr. Giacomo Incitti, Extraordinary Professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Italy; Msgr. Joaquin Llobell, ordinary professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and Judge of the Vatican City State Court of Appeal; Msgr. Mauro Rivella, under-secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference; Jorge Miras Pouso, dean of the School of Canon Law, University of Navarra, Spain; Marcel Ndjondjo Ndjula K'Asha, dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science, Catholic University of the Congo; Jean-Pierre Schouppe, promoter of justice and defender of the bond at the Interdiocesan Tribunale of First Instance of the Francophone dioceses of Belgium; Markus Graulich, S.D.B., substitute promoter of justice at the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura; Fr. Manuel Jesus Arroba Conde, C.M.F., president of the "Utriusque Iuris" Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome; Fr. Damian Guillermo Astigueta, S.J., ordinary professor at the School of Canon Law, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Priamo Etzi, O.F.M., dean of the School of Canon Law, Pontifical University "Antonianum", Rome; Fr. Philippe Toxe, O.P., ordinary professor of Canon Law at the Institut Catholique, Paris, France; Carlo Cardia, ordinary professor of Ecclesiastical Law and professor of Philosophy of Law at the Faculty of Law, University "Roma Tre", Rome; Ludger Muller, president of the Institute of Canon Law in the Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Vienna, Austria; Helmuth Pree, ordinary professor of Canon Law, University of Munich, Germany; Carlos Rene Salinas Araneda, ordinary professor of Canon Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile; Geraldina Boni, ordinary professor of Law at the University of Bologna, Italy; Maria Jose Roca Fernandez, ordinary professor at the Faculty of Law, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
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