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Monday, May 9, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 7 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled by plane from Rome's Ciampino Airport to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Airport, from which he travelled by car to Aquileia, Italy where he met with its citizens in Piazza Capitolo.

  At the beginning of this first step of his pastoral visit - late this afternoon he will travel to Venice - the Pope wanted to pay homage to "this blessed land, sprinkled with the blood and the sacrifice of so many witnesses", asking the "holy martyrs of Aquileia to still today in the Church awaken valiant and faithful disciples of Christ who are drawn to Him and who are therefore convinced and convincing".

  "Today, I am meeting with you", he added, "to admire this rich and ancient tradition, but above all to affirm you in the profound faith of your forebears: that at this moment of history you may rediscover, defend, and profess with spiritual zeal this fundamental truth. Humanity can only receive hope and the future from Christ; only from Him can the meaning and the strength of forgiveness, justice, and peace be had".

  After the greeting, the Holy Father entered the basilica where he presided over the assembly in preparation for the II Ecclesial Congress of Aquileia that will take place in 2012. Representatives from the 15 dioceses of the Triveneto ecclesiastical region (corresponding to the Trentino-Alto Adigie, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Veneto regions) were present).

  "It is appropriate", he said in the address, "that you wanted this ecclesial congress to take place in the Mother Church of Aquileia, which gave birth to the churches of Northeast Italy, but also the churches of Austria and Slovenia, as well as some churches in Croatia, Bavaria, and even Hungary".

  Benedict XVI told the faithful that they have the mission of "witnessing to the love of God for humanity, above all, through acts of love and life choices made in favor of actual persons, beginning with the most vulnerable, fragile, and defenseless ... such as the poor, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled".

  Faced with today's challenges, such as "the often exaggerated pursuit of economic well-being, in a period of serious economic and financial crisis, widespread materialism, and predominant subjectivism, ... you must promote the Christian meaning of life through the explicit proclamation of the Gospel. ... From faith lived courageously arises, today as in the past, a fertile culture of love for life, from its conception to its natural end, for the promotion of human dignity, for the exaltation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and openness to life, and for a commitment to justice and solidarity".

  The Pope concluded, recommending that "like other churches in Italy, commit yourselves to raising a new generation of men and women capable of taking on direct responsibilities in the various areas of society, especially in the political arena, which today, more than ever, needs people, especially young persons, capable of building a 'good life' in service of all".

  At the end of the service, the Holy Father traveled to Venice by helicopter.
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VATICAN CITY, 7 MAY 2011 (VIS) - After landing in Venice, the Pope travelled by boat through the canals to the dock of St. Mark's Square. After a few words of greeting from the mayor, the Pope addressed the citizens in the square.

  The Holy Father recalled the "Venetian sons of these lands" who became pontiff such as "Patriarch Albino Luciani, who became Pope under the name of John Paul I; Patriarch Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who became Pope John XXIII and was elevated by the Church to the glory of the altars and proclaimed Blessed; and Patriarch Giuseppe Sarto, the future St. Pius X".

  Referring to Venice's traditions and this "suggestive place that is the gateway to the heart of the city" known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic", Benedict XVI emphasized the unique character of "openness that has always characterized Venice, a crossroads of peoples and of communities of every provenance, culture, language, and religion".

  "Also in this day and age, with its new perspectives and complex challenges", he continued, "Venice is called to assume important responsibilities in promoting a culture of welcome and sharing, capable of building bridges of dialogue between peoples and nations; a culture of harmony and love that has its firm foundations in the Gospel".

  While highlighting "the splendor of the monuments and the fame of the civil institutions that demonstrate the glorious history and character of  the Venetians", the Pope noted that "with the passing of the centuries, the faith transmitted by the first evangelizers has been each time rooted more deeply in the social fabric, to the point of becoming an essential part of it". In this context he called to mind "those two important sanctuaries that were born of the fulfillment of a vow made to Divine Providence on being liberated from the scourge of the plague: the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer and the Sanctuary of St. Mary of Health".

  "I invite all you Venetians", he concluded, "to always seek and safeguard the harmony between the outlook of faith and the reason that allows our conscience to perceive the true good, in a way that the decisions of the civil community are always inspired by ethical principles that correspond to the profound truth of human nature. Human persons cannot renounce the truth about themselves without their sense of personal responsibility, of solidarity toward others, and of honesty in their economic and workplace dealings suffering as a result".

  On finishing his address, the pontiff entered into the basilica where he venerated the reliquaries of St. Mark, brought to Venice from Alexandria in the seventh century.
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VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Pope travelled from the residence of the patriarchate of Venice to San Giuliano de Mestre Park where he presided over the celebration of Holy Mass before 300,000 persons.

  In his homily the Holy Father, after greeting those present - particularly the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola - said that they represented "the ecclesial communities born of the Mother Church of Aquileia. Just as in the past, when those churches were distinguished by their apostolic zeal and pastoral dynamism, so today it is necessary to courageously promote and defend the unity of the faith.  It is necessary to give a witness of Christian hope to today's men and women, who are often overwhelmed by the vast and disturbing issues that pose a crisis to the very foundation of their being and their actions".

  While recalling that the churches, works of art, hospitals, libraries, and schools of this city "are dotted with references to Christ", the Pope noted that, "nevertheless, today this being for Christ runs the risk of becoming empty of its truth and its deepest meanings". It runs the risk of "turning into a horizon that only superficially - and in mainly social and cultural aspects - embraces life". It runs the risk of "becoming reduced to a Christianity in which the experience of faith in Jesus crucified and resurrected does not illuminate the path of existence".

  Commenting on today's Gospel reading about the two disciples from Emmaus, "who after Jesus' crucifixion were returning home full of doubt, sorrow, and disappointment", he said that: "The problem of evil, sorrow, and suffering, the problem of injustice and tyranny, the fear of others, of strangers and of those who come to our lands from afar and seem to threaten who we are, leads Christians today to sadly say: 'We were hoping that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, and from injustice".

  "That is why it is necessary that each of us, as with the two disciples from Emmaus, let ourselves by taught by Jesus: above all how to listen and love the Word of God", participating in the sacrament of His Body and Blood. "The Eucharist is the greatest expression of the gift that Jesus makes of himself and is a constant invitation to live our existence in the logic of the Eucharist, as a gift to God and to others".

  Benedict XVI noted that "a traditionally Catholic people can also negatively sense or, almost unconsciously, assimilate the cultural repercussions that wind up insinuating a way of thinking in which the Gospel message is openly refused or surreptitiously hindered".

  "In past centuries", he continued, "your churches have known a rich tradition of holiness and generous fraternal service, thanks to the work of priests and active and contemplative religious. If we wish to listen to their spiritual teaching it is not difficult for us to recognize their personal and unmistakable call addressed to us: Be saints! Put Christ at the center of your lives!".

  The Holy Father affirmed that "the churches that Aquileia has given birth to are today called to strengthen their ancient spiritual unity, particularly in light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geopolitical circumstances. ... My presence among you also seeks to be a keen support for the efforts that are being used to promote solidarity among your dioceses of the Northeast ... and an encouragement for every initiative that tends to overcome those divisions that could frustrate the concrete aspirations for justice and for peace".

  At the end of the Eucharistic celebration and before praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope invited the faithful to call upon Mary Most Holy so that she might "even today sustain the apostolic efforts of priests; render fruitful the witness of men and women religious; animate the daily work of parents in the first transmission of the faith to their children; illuminate the path of youth so that they might walk confidently along the way laid down by the faith of their forebears; fill the hearts of the elderly with resolute hope; console with her nearness the ill and all those who suffer; and strengthen the work of the many lay persons who are actively collaborating in the new evangelization".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, the Pope presided over an ecclesial assembly marking the closure of his pastoral diocesan visit.

  After adoration of the Holy Sacrament and before the greeting of Cardinal Angleo Scola, the Pope gave an address.

  Besides priests, men and women religious, and faithful laypersons, there were also present the Abbot and monks of the Armenian Community of Venice; Metropolitan-Archbishop Gennadios (Limouris) of the Greek Orthodox in Italy and Malta; Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun of the Russian Orthodox Church in Italy; and representatives of the Lutheran and Anglican communities.

  Commenting on Jesus' words to Zacchaeus: "'Today I must stay at your house', and he came down quickly and received him with joy", that "were the leitmotif of the community meetings" of his pastoral visit that was initiated in the patriarchate in 2005, the Pope assured them that "the authentic realization of human being and its true joy are not found in power, success, or money, but only in God".

  "From this encounter", he continued, "is born a new life for Zacchaeus. He welcomes Jesus with joy, finally discovering the reality that can truly and fully satisfy his life". In this context, the Holy Father asked the Church in Venice to imitate "Zacchaeus'  example", and added: "Overcome, and help today's men and women overcome the obstacles of individualism and relativism. Never let yourselves be dragged down by the shortcomings that can stain Christian communities. ... Do not be afraid to go against the current to encounter Jesus or to aim upward to meet his gaze!".

  Benedict XVI encouraged those present to "go forward confidently on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service of the poor, and with courageous witness to various social realities. Be aware of being bearers of a message that is for each person and for the entire person: a message of faith, hope, and love".  The Pope extended this invitation, firstly to the priests and also to consecrated persons and the laity. To these latter he recalled that "holiness" doesn't mean doing extraordinary things, but following the will of God each day, truly living well one's vocation with the help of prayer, the Word of God, the sacraments, and the daily effort of living coherently with that vocation. "Yes!", he exclaimed. "Faithful laypersons who are fascinated by the ideal of holiness are needed to build a society worthy of human persons, a civilization of love!".

  "I urge you", he continued, "to not hold back your energy in proclaiming the Gospel or in Christian education, supporting catechesis on all levels" and "dedicating special attention to the Christian education of children, adolescents, and youth".

  The Pope concluded by emphasizing that "our spiritual life depends especially on the Holy Eucharist. Without that, faith and hope burn out and charity grows cool. I urge you, therefore, to take ever better care of the quality of your Eucharistic celebrations, especially on Sundays".

  After greeting the thirty representatives of the assembly, the pontiff left by gondola for St. Mark's Square and the Basilica of St. Mary of Health.
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VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - At 6:00pm the Pope met with representatives from the areas of culture, art, and economics in the Basilica of St. Mary of Health in Venice.

  The Holy Father offered a few reflections based on three words that he called "suggestive metaphors". They are "three words tied to Venice and, in particular, to the place in which we meet: the first is 'water'; the second is 'health'; and the third is 'Serenissima'" ("Most Serene", a title referring to the Venetian Republic).

  Commenting on the fact that Venice is a "city of water", Benedict XVI offered this proposal: "Venice, not a 'liquid' city but a city 'of life and beauty'. ... This means choosing between a 'liquid' city, birthplace of a culture that seems ever more relative and ephemeral, and a city that constantly renews its beauty, drawing upon the beneficial sources of art, knowledge, and the relationships between persons and between peoples".

  Then, referring to the second word, he explained that "'health' is an all encompassing and integral reality. It goes from the 'doing well' that allows us to calmly live a day of study and work or of vacation up to the 'salus animae' or health of the soul, from that which our eternal destiny depends upon. ... Jesus revealed that God loves life and wants to free it from every negation, even the most radical one, which is spiritual evil, sin, the venomous root that contaminates all. This is why Jesus himself can be called the 'Health' of humankind. ...Jesus saves humanity ... submerges it in this pure and invigorating current that frees humanity from its physical, psychic, and spiritual 'paralyses'. It cures humanity of its hardness of heart, its selfish isolation, and makes it taste the possibility of truly encountering itself, becoming lost in the love of God and neighbor".

  Finally, the third word, "Serenissima", the name of the Venetian Republic that "speaks to us of a civilization of peace, based on mutual respect, reciprocal understanding,  and relationships of friendship". In this sense he noted that "Venice has a long history and a rich human, spiritual, and artistic patrimony to also be able to offer today a precious contribution for helping persons to envision a better future and to work toward it. This is why, therefore, it should not be afraid of another emblematic element contained in the shield of St. Mark: the Gospel. The Gospel is the greatest strength of transformation in the world, but it is neither a utopia nor an ideology".

  On taking his leave, the Pope greeted Venice's Jewish community, the Muslims who live in the city, and finally "the pilgrim Church here and throughout the Triveneto dioceses".

  Benedict XVI later blessed the Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, which has been recently restored, and officially inaugurated the Studium Generale Marcianum Library. From the residence of the Patriarchal Seminary he left for the Marco Polo Airport of Tessera where he returned by plane to Rome. From Rome's Ciampino Airport he travelled by helicopter to the Vatican where he arrived at 9:00pm.
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VATICAN CITY, 7 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI sent a message to the participants in the XIV National Assembly of Italian Catholic Action, which began yesterday afternoon in Rome with the theme: "Living the Faith, Loving Life: Catholic Action's Educational Commitment".

  The Pope writes that the young members and the adolescents of Catholic Action "have before them the example of men and women who are happy in their faith, who want to accompany the new generations with love, wisdom, and prayer, who understand ... how to face the most pressing problems of the everyday life of the family: the defense of life, the suffering of separations and abandonment, solidarity in misfortune, and assistance of the poor and homeless. Assistant clergy, who know what it means to teach holiness, are following you. You are called to cooperate with the bishops of your dioceses in the life and the mission of the Church in a constant, faithful, and direct way".

  "In the instruction outlined by the bishops for the Italian churches", he continued, "you are especially called to value your educational vocation. ... It is necessary to teach ... to build, with the collaboration of all, a project of Christian life based on the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church, placing an integral vision of the person at the center".

  The Holy Father encourages the associations to be "schools of holiness, where one can prepare for a complete dedication to the cause of the Kingdom of God, a profoundly evangelical life plan that characterizes you as believing laypersons in everyday areas. This requires intense personal and communal prayer, a continuous listening to the Word of God, and a diligent sacramental life".

  Referring to formation in cultural and political commitments, the Pope underlined that "it is an important task that requires thought shaped by the Gospel, capable of discussing ideas and proposals that are valid for laypersons". In this sense he recalled that "Italy has gone through difficult historical moments and has emerged revitalized, also because of the unconditional dedication of Catholic laypersons involved in politics and institutions. Today, a nation's public life requires a more generous response on the part of its believers so that the capabilities and spiritual, intellectual, and moral strengths of each might be put at the disposition of all".

  "I ask", Benedict XVI writes, "that you be generous, supportive, and above all, communicators of the beauty of faith. ... Catholic Action can help Italy respond to its unique vocation, situated in the Mediterranean region, at the crossroads of cultures, aspirations, and tensions that require a great strength of communion, solidarity, and generosity. Italy has always offered peoples near and far the richness of its culture and faith, its art and its thought. Today, you, Christian laymen and laywomen, are called to offer with conviction, the beauty of your culture and the reasons of your faith, as well as your fraternal solidarity, so that Europe may be up to the current historical challenge".
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VATICAN CITY, 9 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received Bishop Jan Vokal, bishop of Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, accompanied by members of his family, in a private audience.
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VATICAN CITY, 9 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed as Prelate Auditor of the Roman Rota, David Maria A. Jaeger, O.F.M., professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical "Antonianum" University, consultor for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

On Saturday, 7 May, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Ciro Miniero of the clergy of the archdiocese of Naples, Italy as bishop of the diocese of Vallo della Lucania (area 1,562, population 161,000, Catholics 157,000, priests 106, permanent deacons 9, religious 106), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Naples, Italy in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1982. He succeeds Bishop Giuseppe Rocco Favale, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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