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Tuesday, December 6, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue today met with a delegation from the Jain religion. The meeting was presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council, and by Nemu Chandaria, deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of Jainology.

  "This meeting was the second one after that of 14 February 1995. Moreover, there have been contacts between the Jain community and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue since 1986", reads an English language communique published today. During the meeting, "held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and friendship, members of the delegations expressed satisfaction over the cordial relations and cooperation that exist between both the Christian and Jain communities in countries where they live their day-to-day lives in proximity.

  "While expressing the desire to expand mutual concrete collaboration", the communique adds, "the delegations agreed that it must be ever more strengthened at the local levels to better contribute towards the common good of the entire society. In particular, they stressed the importance of educating the younger generations to be aware of their own traditions, and to know and better respect those of others.

  "With an aim to find concrete areas of convergence as the basis of collaboration, they discussed the Jain principle of 'non-violence' (Ahimsa) and that of Christian 'charity'. They found some common elements that can motivate and sustain Jain-Catholic collaboration, recognising the differences between the two principles.

  "They also recognised that these elements, on a practical level, call upon the followers of both the traditions to promote mutual respect, truthfulness, honesty, freedom, peace, social harmony and to commit themselves to eliminate every form of violence against human beings, in particular injustice, poverty and exploitation of natural resources".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Tomorrow 7 December, Benedict XVI will switch on the lights of the biggest Christmas tree in the world, a "sign of universal peace and brotherhood among peoples" located in the Italian town of Gubbio.

  The "tree", which is made up of an arrangement of coloured lights on the side of Mount Ingino, has been erected by volunteers every year since 1981. Its base is approximately 450 metres wide and it extends for 750 metres up the hillside from the city's mediaeval walls to the basilica of St. Ubaldo. The silhouette of the tree is marked with 300 green lights, and it covers a surface area of some 130,000 square meters illuminated with 400 multicoloured lights. At the top is a comet made up of 250 lights covering an area of 1,000 square metres.

  The tree is illuminated every year on 7 December, during a traditional celebration attended by representatives of the world of culture, show business and politics. Benedict XVI will activate the illumination from his apartments in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. He will touch the screen of a Sony "Tablet" with an "Android" operating system which, via the Internet, will transmit the command to switch on the electric current to the tree.

  The Holy Father will be seen in Gubbio thanks to a television linkup organised by the Vatican Television Centre. The event, which will be televised both nationally and internationally, is due to begin at 5.30 p.m. and the illumination of the tree will take place at 6.30 p.m.
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy See yesterday became a member State of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM-OIM). The Holy See's request was accepted by the Geneva-based institution in the course of its recent plenary.

  The OIM was established in 1951 and bases its activities on the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits both migrants and society. It has 130 member States and around 100 observers, including States and non-governmental organisations.

  Speaking on Vatican Radio yesterday, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, noted that, "as we are witnessing a continuous increase in the number of migrants and refugees in the world, it is important for us to be present and to participate in the efforts of the international community with the specific contribution of the Holy See: an ethical voice which gives a fresh interpretation to these new situations. ... What must prevail is not so much politics, as the need to meet the human needs of these people, as they migrate through the various regions of the world".

  Archbishop Tomasi recalled how the Church has always been in the frontline in helping migrants, through a broad network of Catholic organisations. For this reason, "collaboration with the structures of the international community is a logical operative step helping us to make our service even more effective", he said. Ecclesiastical structures "serve all people generously, irrespective of their religious faith, colour or legal status. What counts is human beings and their dignity, and this is often at risk in the situations of marginality which arise as people move from one country to another seeking work or new forms of survival". The Church's ethical contribution will, then, focus on "the defence of human beings and their dignity".
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has been awarded the John Paul II peace prize, which is granted by the cultural association "Anassilaos", based in the Italian city of Reggio Calabria.

  In his acceptance speech, the cardinal recalled how John Paul II's Encyclical "Redemptoris hominis" identified "respect for human rights as the best way to ensure peace among peoples". Benedict XVI likewise, "by emphasising the universal values shared by religious, cultures and schools of thought", has "identified the foundation of peace in an absolute value: truth".

  For this reason, Cardinal Bertone continued, "the current Pontiff never ceases to remind Christians of the centrality of Jesus Who, breaking down the walls that separate us, shows us the real possibility ... of commitment to universal peace".

  The secretary of State also dwelt on John Paul II's "concrete gestures for peace", such as his concern for human rights, his trips to conflict zones, his initiatives in the international community and the inter-religious meetings he promoted in Assisi.
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VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Given below is an English-language translation made by Vatican Radio of a comment by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. for "Octavia Dies", a weekly programme produced by the Vatican Television Centre.

  "'What will become of this child?' The Gospel relates that this is the question on the lips of friends and relatives at the birth of the young John, who will be known as the Baptist. It is also the question that we all ask when we contemplate the wonder of a child coming into the world. And in that question there is hope, but also a certain concern.

  "It is the question we asked at the Pope's meeting with children two weeks ago - certainly the most wonderful and moving moment of the entire visit to Benin - with the elderly Pontiff surrounded by delightful little children dancing and holding his hand. The synodal document brought to Africa by the Pope enumerates, in a striking passage, some of the 'intolerable treatment inflicted on so many children'; 'children killed before birth, unwanted children, orphans, albinos, street children, abandoned children, child soldiers, child prisoners, children forced into labour, children ill-treated on account of physical or mental handicap, children said to be witches or warlocks, children sold as sex slaves, traumatised children without any future prospects'. The Church knows she must work for all of these children. Of the more than 125,000 health institutions and charities headed by the Church in the world, over 20,000 are specifically dedicated to children; many others are dedicated to education, or to the rescue of children from a life on the streets or other difficulties.

  "On the occasion of a recent international conference on the protection of children from sexual abuse, the intervention of Msgr. Scicluna - with its 'Decalogue' of clear and firm principles on how to protect children - was well received. And it is fair to remember the valuable and generous efforts of so many women, religious and lay, in this field. This is certainly one of the most wonderful - and beneficial - ways in which women serve humanity and the Church. In this time of Advent and Christmas, which is especially the Christ child, these are spontaneous reflections: we have every reason to continue to be in the frontline on these frontiers".
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