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Monday, May 23, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This Saturday, Benedict XVI held a conversation with the group of cosmonauts and astronauts aboard the International Space Station, on the occasion of the space shuttle Endeavour's last mission.

  From a room in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace the Pope could see the astronauts on a television screen while they could only hear his voice on an audio channel.

  During the conversation, the Holy Father asked the astronauts five questions. The first: "When you are contemplating the Earth from up there, do you ever wonder about the way nations and people live together down here, or about how science can contribute to the cause of peace?".

  United States astronaut Mark Kelly answered that, from space, you cannot see the borders between the nations, but "we realize that people fight with each other and there is a lot of violence in this world ... The science and the technology that we put into the Space Station to develop a solar power capability, gives us pretty much an unlimited amount of energy. And if those technologies could be adapted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence".

  While emphasizing "the responsibility we all have towards the future of our planet", the Pope asked how the astronauts see Earth's situation from their "extraordinary observation point?".

  United States astronaut Ron Garan answered that, "we can see how indescribably beautiful the planet that we have been given is; but on the other hand, we can really clearly see how fragile it is".

  Benedict XVI asked if, "in the midst of your intense work and research", the astronauts ever stop and reflect on the mystery of creation - perhaps even to say a prayer to the Creator? The Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori, who before leaving for space had received a medal from Benedict XVI representing the Creation of Man as painted by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, responded. On seeing the beauty of the planet, he said, "I do pray: I do pray for me, for our families, for our future".

  The Pope addressed his fifth and final question to the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli, assuring him of his prayers for the astronaut's recently deceased mother and asking him how he was living through this time of sorrow; if on the station he felt "far away and isolated, if you suffer a sense of separation or if you feel united to and included in a community that accompanies you with care and affection?".

    Thanking the pontiff for his prayers on the death of his mother, Nespoli agreed that, being outside the world, "we have a vantage point to see the Earth and to feel everything around us".

  The Holy Father concluded the conversation by thanking them for "this wonderful opportunity to meet and dialogue with you. You have helped me and many other people to reflect together on important issues that regard the future of humanity. I wish you the very best for your work and for the success of your great mission at the service of science, international collaboration, authentic progress, and for peace in the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican, Benedict XVI met with administrators, teachers, and students of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Italy on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of its foundation.

  The Pope referred to "great and rapid transformations" that are affecting the university: "humanist culture is being affected by a progressive deterioration; ... there exists the tendency to reduce the human horizon to what can be measured, to eliminate the fundamental question of meaning from systematic and critical knowledge". In this sense, he noted that "in the way in which the empirical sciences monopolize the territories of reason, it seems that there is no more room for reasons to believe; the religious dimension is relegated to the sphere of what is opinion and private. In this context, the very motivations and characteristics of the institution of the university are called into question".

  "The Christian perspective", he continued, "is not in contradiction of scientific knowledge or the achievements of human ingenuity. Just the opposite, it considers faith as the horizon of meaning, the path to full truth, and the guide of authentic development. Without an orientation to the truth, without a humble and ardent attitude of investigation, every culture crumbles, decays into relativism, and becomes lost in the ephemeral".

  Benedict XVI emphasized that "faith and culture are indissolubly united, a manifestation of that 'desiderium naturale vivendi Deum' that is present in each human being. When this tie is broken, humanity tends to fold in on itself and become locked within its own creative capacities".

  "The question of Truth and the Absolute - the question of God - ... is the fundamental question upon which the discovery of the meaning of the world and of life depends. ... Knowledge of the faith, therefore, illuminates human research, interprets it, humanizing it, integrates it in projects for the good, rooting out the temptation of calculative thought that instrumentalizes knowledge and turns scientific discoveries into ways of enslaving persons".

  The Holy Father stressed that "the horizon that animates the work of a university can and should be the authentic passion for the human being. ... Serving humanity is doing the truth in love, it is loving life, always respecting it, beginning with the situations in which it is most fragile and defenseless. This is one of our tasks, especially in times of crisis: the history of cultures shows that human dignity has been truly recognized in its totality in the light of the Christian faith".

  "The attitude of closure or detachment in the face of the proposal of faith means forgetting that throughout history, and even today, it has been an impetus of culture and light for human intelligence, a stimulus to develop all its positive capacities for the true good of humanity".

  While highlighting that "the testimony of the faith and of love are inseparable", the Pope noted that "in Jesus we discover that God is love and only in love can we know Him. ... The pinnacle of knowing God is reached in love. ... The human person needs love, needs the truth, in order not to ruin the fragile treasure of freedom and be exposed to the violence of the passions and to clear or hidden conditionings".

  Addressing in particular the professors, Benedict XVI reminded them that they have been entrusted with "a decisive role: showing how the Christian faith can be an impetus of culture and light for the intelligence".

  The Pope concluded, pointing out that "the Chapel is the beating heart that constantly nourishes the life of the university, along with the pastoral centers connected to it where the spiritual assistants of the different branches are called to carry out their precious priestly mission, which is essential for the identity of the Catholic University".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arabic Republic of Egypt and newly elected Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Mr. Nabil Al-Arabi, during his visit to Rome the past Wednesday, 18 May.

  At this meeting, according to a communique issued today, the minister conveyed the greetings of Sheikh of al-Azhar, Prof. Ahmad Al-Tayyib, and expressed the Grand Imam's desire that the recent difficulties in the relationship with the Holy See would be overcome.

  Cardinal Tauran reiterated the esteem of Pope Benedict XVI for the people and authorities of Egypt and the Holy See's readiness to continue on the path of interreligious dialogue and cooperation with al-Azhar, carried on regularly since 1998.
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VATICAN CITY, 21 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Last Wednesday, 18 May, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care spoke at the 64th World Health Assembly underway in Geneva, Switzerland from 16 to 24 May. His address was dedicated to the theme "Guaranteeing Universal Access to Medical Care".

  "The World Health Report 2010", he said, "emphasizes health system financing as the conduit to the much desired universal coverage in health service provision. It also notes with concern that despite the progress made in some countries, on the whole, we are still a long way from universal coverage. This sad fact highlights the need for a true global solidarity, in which high income countries do not only promise, but effectively meet their commitments on development assistance".

  Then, citing the papal encyclical "Caritas in veritate", he noted that, in it, Benedict XVI asserted that "more economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard".

  As regards the World Health Organization's Draft HIV Strategy 2011-2015, "the Holy See appreciates the emphasis laid on eliminating new HIV infections in children and expanding and optimizing HIV treatment and care for them, which up to date has been lagging behind the progress made in treating adults. In this area, the archbishop emphasized "the importance of education in changing human behavior and responsible living as a key element of the prevention campaign".

  Lastly, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care affirmed that his delegation "fully shares the concerns ... for child injury prevention. ... the Holy See would like to appeal to the international community to support transfer of knowledge on measures and instruments for the prevention of child injury to low- and middle-income countries, where 95% of child injury deaths occur", oftentimes provoked by "long civil wars".
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VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2011 (VIS) - "This Sunday's Gospel ... proposes a double mandate of the faith: Believe in God and believe in Jesus. These are not two separate acts but one single act of faith. Full adherence to the salvation worked by the Father through His only Son", the Pope said while praying the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered today at noon in St. Peter's Square.

  "The New Testament has put an end to the invisibility of the Father", the pontiff continued. "The Son of God, by His incarnation, death, and resurrection has freed us from the slavery of sin, giving us the freedom of sons and daughters of God: He has shown us the face of God, which is love. We can see God, He is visible in Christ".

  "Faith in Jesus means following Him daily in the simple actions that make up our day. ... For Christians, for each of us, therefore, the way toward the Father is letting ourselves be guided by Jesus, by His word of truth, welcoming the gift of His life. ... The challenge of proclaiming Jesus as 'the way, the truth, and the life' constitutes the Church's main task", the Holy Father finished.

  After the Regina Coeli, the Pope greeted pilgrims in Portuguese, showing his joy for the two new Blesseds, Sr.  Maria Clara do Menino Jesus, who was beatified yesterday in Lisbon, Portugal and Sr. Dulce Lopes Pontes, beatified today in San Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.

  He also addressed, in English, the World Council of Churches, which is celebrating an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica in these days. This meeting, said Benedict XVI is the culmination of a decade-long project with the goal of combating all forms of violence. We pray for "this noble intention and recommit ourselves to eliminating violence in families, in society, and in the international community".

  Finally, he greeted representatives of the Pro-Life Movement in Italian, thanking them in particular for "the dedication with which you help women who are facing a difficult pregnancy, as well as engaged and married couples who desire to procreate responsibly; you are thus acting concretely for a culture of life".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican the Pope received in separate audiences first the president of the Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, and then the Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, Tsetska Tsacheva, both accompanied by their respective delegations, on the occasion of the annual commemoration of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

  In his address to the delegation from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Holy Father emphasized that the lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius "were totally dedicated to their apostolic activity and to the divine intuition of making the message of Revelation understandable and accessible to the peoples, which was a reason of unity for different traditions and cultures. In embracing God's salvific plan, peoples can rediscover the foundations upon which to build civilizations and societies that are characterized by a spirit of reconciliation and peaceful living together. There cannot be true unity without respect for the dignity of each person and their inalienable rights".

  In the later audience with the delegation from the Republic of Bulgaria, the Pope said that "for the European peoples, who in these years are opening themselves to new perspectives of cooperation, these two great saints are a reminder that their unity will be more solid if based on common Christian roots. Effectively, in the complex history of Europe, Christianity represents a central and qualifying element. The Christian faith has shaped the culture of the old continent and is indissolubly interwoven with its history, to the point that this history would not be understandable without reference to the events that characterized, first, the great era of evangelization and, then, the long centuries in which Christianity took on an ever more relevant role. That is why it is important that Europe also grown in a spiritual dimension, following the path of its best history. The unity of the continent, which progressively grows in awareness and is also being defined in its political aspects, represents a perspective of great hope".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today, in separate audiences, the Holy Father received two prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their ad limina visit:

  - Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderbad, and

  - Archbishop Mariadas Kagithapu, M.S.F.S., of Visakhapatnam.

On Saturday, 21 May, the Holy Father received, in separate audiences:

- Five prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their ad limina visit:

  - Bishop John Baptist Thakur, S.J., of Muzaffarpur,

  - Bishop Angelus Kujur, S.J., of Purnea,

  - Bishop Thomas Thiruthalil, C.M., of Balasore,

  - Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur, and

  - Bishop Lucas Kerketta, S.V.D., of Sambalpur.

- as well as Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed Fr. Dabula Anthony Mpako, of the clergy of Pretoria, South Africa, as bishop of the diocese of Queenstown (area 25,000, population 2,200,000, Catholics 52,000, priests 22, permanent deacons 10, religious 26), South Africa. The bishop-elect was born in 1959 in Eastern Cape, South Africa, and was ordained in 1986. He is currently pastor of St. Thomas Moore in Monavoni, South Africa.

  On Saturday, 21 May, the Holy Father:

  - appointed Archpriest Mikael Mouradian, formerly patriarchal vicar of the Institute for the Patriarchal Clergy of Bzommar, Lebanon and superior of the convent of Notre Dame of Bzommar, as bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York of the Armenians (Catholics 36,000, priests 10, permanent deacons 1, religious 16), USA. The bishop-elect was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1987. He succeeds Bishop Manuel Batakian, I.C.P.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same eparchy the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  - appointed Archbishop Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Sts. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and apostolic delegate in the Antilles, as apostolic nuncio to Ukraine. 

  - accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Koudougou, Burkina Faso, presented by Bishop Basile Tapsoba, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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