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Thursday, November 24, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in a meeting organised by Italian Caritas to celebrate its fortieth anniversary. In his address, the Pope recalled how Caritas "has an important role to play in educating communities, families and civil society, where the Church is called to shed her light. This involves taking responsibility for educating people to the good life of the Gospel, and that life is good only if it includes the witness of charity".

  "Never abandon this educational role, even when the journey becomes difficult and your efforts seem to bear no fruit. Undertake your duties while remaining faithful to the Church and respecting the identity of your institutions, using the instruments that history has given you and those which 'the inventiveness of charity' - as Blessed John Paul II said - will suggest to you in the future".

  "A work of charity speaks of God, it announces a hope and induces us to ask questions". Such works "are born of the faith. They are works of the Church, expressions of her concern for those who suffer most. They are educational acts because they help the poor to grow in dignity, Christian communities to follow Christ and civil society to shoulder its obligations. Let us recall the teaching of Vatican Council II: 'demands of justice [must] be satisfied lest the giving of what is due in justice be represented as the offering of a charitable gift'. The Church's humble and concrete service does not seek to substitute, even less to assuage, collective and civil conscience, but accompanies them with a spirit of sincere collaboration, and with due concern for autonomy and subsidiarity".

  "Charity requires an open mind", the Holy Father went on. "Responding to need means not only giving bread to the hungry, but also asking ourselves about the reasons for their hunger, using the gaze of Jesus Who could see the profound truth of the people around Him. In this perspective, our modern times are calling you to ask yourselves about the way you work for charity. Our thoughts cannot but go to the vast world of migration. Natural calamities and wars often create emergencies. The global economic crisis is a another sign of the times which calls for the courage of fraternity. The gap between the north and south of the world, and the wounded human dignity of so many people, call for a charity able to expand in concentric circles from the small economic systems to the great. Increasing poverty, the weakening of families, and the uncertainty faced by the young all point to the risk of diminishing hope.

  "Humankind needs not only benefactors", the Pope added, "but also humble practical people who, like Jesus, stand alongside their brothers and sisters and share their fatigue. In a word, humanity is looking for signs of hope. The source of our hope is in the Lord. This is why we need Caritas, not to delegate it with the responsibility for charitable service, but for it to be a sign of Christ's charity, a sign that brings hope".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - "Gaudi and the 'Sagrada Familia' of Barcelona. Art. Science and Spirituality" is the title of an exhibition to be inaugurated this afternoon in the Charlemagne Wing of Bernini's colonnade around St. Peter's Square. The exhibition will remain open until 15 January 2012.

  The exhibition was presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Joan Rigol of the "Fundacio Junta Constructora de la Sagrada Familia"; Fr. Antoni Matabosch, honorary president of the "Fundacio Joan Maragall"; Daniel Giralt-Miracle, curator of the exhibition, and Cecilia Pereira, representative of the Spanish Cultural Action Agency (AC/E)

  "The consecration of the basilica of the 'Sagrada Familia' on 7 November 2010 was a historic moment for the city of Barcelona", said Cardinal Martinez Sistach. "That year we completed the interior of this beautiful and unique church, the building of which began in 1882 and, in 1883, was put into the hands of the young and innovative architect Antoni Gaudi. ... The aim of this exhibition, then, is to express our recognition to the Holy Father, to the Pontifical Council of Culture and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation for the interest and sensitivity they have shown for the basilica of the 'Sagrada Familia' and for Antoni Gaudi, the 'architect of God'".

  "The exhibition we are presenting ... is another of the contributions of Christian faith which the Church has made over the centuries to the world of culture, art and beauty. It highlights the beauty, majesty and symbolism of this magnificent church standing at the centre of the great metropolis of Barcelona. As Benedict XVI said when he visited the city, this basilica is a visible sign of the invisible God, so necessary in our Western European societies with their prevailing secular culture and religious indifference. ... Gaudi was a Christian in word and in action, ... and building the 'Sagrada Familia' helped him in his own personal conversion. We must see him not just as an architectural genius but above all as an exemplary Christian. Let us all pray to the Lord that a miracle may come about through Gaudi's intercession, that he may be declared a blessed".

  Daniel Giralt-Miracle, explained that the exhibition is divided into three sections: art science and spirituality. The first of these "immerses visitors in the aesthetics of Gaudi, surrounding them with his colours, forms spaces and the various artistic techniques he used in his works". The second section outlines the technical aspects of the building of the 'Sagrada Familia', while the third covers "the direct allusions to the Christian religion which Gaudi included in his church", with a series of drawings for the facade of the building and designs for the stained glass windows.

  For his part Joan Rigol explained how "Gaudi's architecture developed in the very specific context of the Catalan cultural renaissance between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. ... The aspiration of Gaudi's generation was to give backbone to a people through the personalising values of culture. ... The Church has always made an essential contribution to the formation of culture and art as an expression of the spiritual values of a community of people, also in Catalonia".

  Finally Fr. Antoni Matabosch noted that "today the proposal made by Cardinal Ravasi to the 'Fundacio Joan Maragall' becomes a reality: ... that of organising an event in Rome to express the cultural dimension of the Church in Catalonia". He also explained that the exhibition will be accompanied by a number of institutional and academic gatherings, including a debate on the theme "Architecture: Symbolism and Sacredness. A Century after Gaudi", to take place at the MAXXI in Rome on 12 December, and a concert by the "Escolania de Monserrat" at the Basilica of St. Mary Major on 13 January 2012.
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VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience fourteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Bishop Howard James Hubbard of Albany.

    - Bishop Edward Urban Kmiec of Buffalo, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz.

    - Bishop Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg.

    - Bishop Matthew Harvey Clark of Rochester.

    - Bishop Robert Joseph Cunningham of Syracuse.

    - Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Frank Joseph Caggiano and Octavio Cisneros, and by Auxiliary Bishops emeritus Guy Sansaricq and Joseph Michael Sullivan.

    - Bishop William Francis Murphy of Rockville Centre, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops John Charles Dunne and Paul Henry Walsh.
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