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Monday, December 12, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received representatives from the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives, and from the Italian Federation of Cooperative Credit Banks, who were accompanied by their ecclesiastical assistant Msgr. Adriano Vincenzi.

  In his remarks to them the Pope dwelt on the importance Catholic cooperatives have had in Italy since their emergence in the wake of Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum". That document, the 120th anniversary of which falls this year, "favoured the fruitful presence of Catholics in Italian society through the promotion of cooperative and mutual societies, the development of social enterprises and many other public works characterised by various forms of participation and self-management. The purpose of such activity has always been to provide material support for people and constant attention to families, drawing inspiration from the Magisterium of the Church", he said.

  "The heart of cooperative efforts has always lain in the search for harmony between the individual and community dimensions. This is a concrete expression of the complementarity and subsidiarity which Church social doctrine has always sought to promote between citizens and the State, a balance between safeguarding the rights of the individual and promoting the common good, in order to develop a local economy capable of responding to community needs. Cooperative activities are likewise characterised by their great concern for solidarity, while still respecting the due autonomy of the individual".

  "In a period of great change, of persistent economic uncertainty, and of difficulties in the world of work, the Church feels the need to announce Christ's message with renewed vigour. ... And you, dear friends, must be aware that Catholic cooperatives have an important role to play in this field", the Holy Father told his audience.

  Benedict XVI invited members of cooperatives to make their specific contribution "to ensure that the economy and the market never neglect solidarity", in order "to promote a culture of life and the family, and to favour the creation of new families with access to dignified work which respects the creation that God has entrusted to our responsibility and care". He also invited them "to value man in his entirety, irrespective of any difference in race, language or religion".

  Finally, the Pope recalled how Catholic cooperatives are characterised by their "Christian inspiration, which must constantly guide them", because "for Christians loving others is not mere philanthropy but an expression of the love of God. ... Never forget the importance of developing this spiritual dimension as you seek to respond to contemporary challenges and social emergencies, in order to continue to work in the logic of gratuitousness and responsibility, promoting wise and sober consumption".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2011 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, Benedict XVI travelled to the parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, in the northern sector of the diocese of Rome. There, in the courtyard of the parish complex which were inaugurated last year, he was greeted with dances and songs by children from the local primary school. The Holy Father expressed his thanks for the welcome and pronounced some off-the-cuff remarks.

  "I wish everyone a happy Sunday. We know that Christmas is approaching so let us prepare ourselves, not just with gifts but with our hearts. Let us think that Christ the Lord is close to us, that He enters our lives and brings us light and joy. 'Pray incessantly' says St. Paul today in his Letter to the Thessalonians. ... What this means is that we must not lose contact with God in our hearts. If such contact exists then we have a reason to be joyful. To all of you I wish the joy of Christmas, the presence of the Baby Jesus Who is the God of our hearts".

  Mass began at 9.30 a.m. with a greeting delivered by the parish priest, Fr. Domenico Monteforte. Excerpts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below:

  "Advent is a time of waiting, hope and preparation for the visit of the Lord. As we heard in the Gospel reading, the person and preaching of John the Baptist invite us to take up this commitment". John the Baptist "is the precursor, a mere witness, entirely subject to the One Whom he announces. He is voice in the desert, just as today, in the desert of the great cities of this world, in the great absence of God, we need voices which tell us simply that God exists, that He is always close even when He seems distant".

  John the Baptist "is a witness of the light. This fact touches our hearts, because in a world so full of shadows and darkness, we are all called to be witnesses of the light. This is the mission of Advent: being witness of the light, and we can do this only if we carry the light within us. ... In the Church, in the Word of God, in the celebration of the Sacraments, in the Sacrament of Confession and the forgiveness we receive, in the Eucharist where the Lord gives Himself into our hands and hearts, in of all this we touch the light and receive our mission: the mission of bearing witness to the fact that the light exists, of bringing that light into our world".

  "This 'Gaudete' Sunday is the Sunday of joy. It tells us that, even amidst our doubts and difficulties, joy exists because God exists and He is with us".

  "Looking at this church and the parish buildings, I see the fruits of patience, dedication and love. At the same time, by my presence here, I wish to encourage you also to raise that Church of living stones, which you yourselves represent. Each of you should feel yourselves to be an element of this living structure. A community is constructed with the contribution each person makes, with the commitment of everyone. I am thinking in particular of the field of catechesis, the liturgy and charity, the columns which support Christian life".

  "I also wish to draw your attention to the importance and the central role of the Eucharist. May the Mass be the focus of your Sunday, which must be rediscovered and lived as the day of the Lord and of the community, a day on which to praise and celebrate the One Who was born for us, Who died and rose again for our salvation, and Who asks us to live together joyfully, to be a community open and ready to welcome anyone who is alone and in difficulty. Do not lose your understanding of the significance of Sundays, and remain faithful to your appointment with the Eucharist. Early Christians were ready to give their lives for this".

  "Another point I would like to raise is that of the witness of charity, which must characterise your life as a community. Over recent years you have seen a rapid growth in numbers, but you have also witnessed the arrival of many people in situations of difficulty and want. These people need you, they need your material aid but also and above all of your witness as believers. Ensure that your community always remains a concrete expression of the love of God Who is rich in mercy, and that it invites people to approach Him with trust".

  Following the Mass, the Pope held a brief meeting with the members of the parish council. Before returning to the Vatican for the Angelus prayer, he addressed some remarks to faithful waiting outside the church to bid him farewell.

  "Thank you for your presence and the warmth of your welcome", he said. "Your beautiful, open and heartfelt cordiality reminded me of my visit to Africa. It is a great joy to me to see how, ... in this new parish, people actively participate in the Eucharist and prepare for Christmas.

  "Today, preparing for Christmas is very difficult", the Holy Father added. "I know that people have many commitments, but getting ready for Christmas does not only mean shopping and making preparations, it means being in contact with the Lord, going out to meet Him. I feel it is important not to forget this dimension. ... This is not an additional burden, but the power that enables us to do all we need to do. I hope you maintain permanent contact with Jesus, that His joy and strength might help you to live in this world".
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VATICAN CITY, 11 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Having returned to the Vatican following his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" at Casal Boccone, at midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

  Following a Roman tradition of this third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blessed statuettes of the Baby Jesus which were brought to the square by children from local oratories and which are destined to be placed in nativity scenes in homes, schools and parishes.

  "The liturgical texts of Advent" said the Holy Father, "invite us to live in expectation of Jesus, always to await His coming and to remain open and ready to meet Him. The vigilance Christians are called to show every day of their lives is particularly characteristic of this period in which we ready ourselves for the joy of the Christmas mystery. The external environment presents its usual commercial messages, though perhaps somewhat subdued due to the economic crisis, but Christians are called to experience Advent without allowing themselves to be distracted by the lights, giving things their correct value and fixing their inner gaze on Christ".

  "The liturgy today, 'Gaudete' Sunday, invites us to happiness, to await not sadly but joyfully", the Pope explained. "True joy is not the result of diversion, of avoiding life's responsibilities. True joy is linked to something more profound. Of course, in an often frenetic daily life it is important to find time for rest and relaxation, but true joy is linked to the relationship with God. People who have encountered Christ in their lives, experience a calmness of heart and a joy which no worldly situation can take from them. ... In this time of Advent, let us reinforce our certainty that the Lord came among us, and that He continually renews His presence of consolation, love and joy".

  Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI greeted the children of Rome asking them, when they prayed before their nativity scenes, to remember the Pope, just as the Pope remembered them.

  He also welcomed members of the Movement for Life who have come to Rome from all over Europe for the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Prize, awarded in memory of Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolari Movement. "On this anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights", he said, "let us remember that the first of all rights is the right to life".

  Finally he addressed Croatian pilgrims who are participating in a symposium on Fr. Ruder Josip Boskovic. "That Jesuit scientist and diplomat", the Pope said, "personified and bore witness to the bond between faith and science".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Serzh Sargsyan, president of the Republic of Armenia. The president, accompanied by Edward Nalbadian, foreign minister, then went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States.

  "In the course of the cordial discussions, and having expressed great pleasure at the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Armenia, the parties exchanged views on the role that the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church play in society, and the contribution they both make to the common good. Attention also turned to the importance of the country's Christian heritage, and of the commitment to educating the new generations in fundamental values".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a telegram sent by the Holy Father to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput O.F.M. Cap. of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for the death of Cardinal John Patrick Foley, grand master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Cardinal Foley yesterday died in Darby, U.S.A., at the age of 76.

  "Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal John Patrick Foley, grand master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, I offer you my heartfelt condolences. As I recall with gratitude the late cardinal's years of priestly ministry in his beloved archdiocese of Philadelphia, his distinguished service to the Holy See as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and most recently his labours on behalf of the Christian communities of the Holy Land, I willingly join you in commending his noble soul to God, the Father of all mercies. I also pray that his lifelong commitment to the Church's presence in the media will inspire others to take up this apostolate so essential to the proclamation of the Gospel and the progress of the new evangelisation. To all who mourn Cardinal Foley in the hope of the resurrection, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Seven prelates of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington.

    - Bishop Patrick James Dunn of Auckland.

    - Bishop Barry Philip Jones of Christchurch.

    - Bishop Colin David Campbell of Dunedin.

    - Bishop Denis George Browne of Hamilton in New Zealand.

    - Bishop Peter James Cullinane of Palmerston North, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Charles Edward Drennan.

 - Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

  On Saturday 10 December he received in audience:

 - Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 - Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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VATICAN CITY, 12 DEC 2011, VIS - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Fr. Gaetan Proulx O.S.M. pastor of the parish of Notre-Dame-de-Foy in the archdiocese of Quebec, Canada, and Fr. Denis Grondin Jr. of the clergy of Quebec, pastor in the region of Charlevoix, as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Quebec (area 35,180, population 1,195,261, Catholics 1,040,690, priests 701, permanent deacons 95, religious 3458). Bishop-elect Proulx was born in 1947 and ordained a priest in 1976. For many years he was responsible for forming candidates to religious and priestly life in the Servite Province of Canada and, from 2000 to 2006, was prior provincial for Canada, France and Belgium. Bishop-elect Grondin was born in Rimouski, Canada in 1954 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has been active as vice pastor and administrator in a number of parishes and has worked in pastoral animation in schools and health centres.

 - Appointed Fr. Jose Luis del Palacio Perez-Medel of the clergy of Madrid, Spain, head of the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Peru, as bishop of El Callao (area 147,850, population 1,015,000, Catholics 912,000, priests 102, permanent deacons 8, religious 247), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Madrid in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1985. Prior to his ordination he worked on the itinerant teams of the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Spain and Peru. He is currently a professor at the "Redemptoris Mater" Faculty of Theology in El Callao. He succeeds Miguel Irizar Campos C.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  Saturday 10 December it was made public that he appointed:

 - As members of the Pontifical Council for Culture: Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.; Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation; Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy; Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando of Kandy, Sri Lanka; Fr. Francois Bousquet, professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences of the "Institut Catholique de Paris", France; Jean-Luc Marion, philosopher and professor of metaphysics at the Universities of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and of Chicago, and Arvo Part, musician and composer from Estonia.

 - As consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture: Fr. Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, professor of the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Lisbon, Portugal; Fr. Edouard Ade, professor at the Catholic University of West Africa, Benin; Fr. Antonino Spadaro S.J., editor in chief of the magazine "Civilta Cattolica" and professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; Fidel Gonzalez Fernandez M.C.C.J., professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urban University in Rome and at the Faculty of Ecclesiastical History of the Pontifical Gregorian University; Santiago Calatrava, Spanish architect and engineer; Francesc Torralba Rosello, professor of philosophy at the "Ramon Llull" University in Barcelona, Spain; Piero Benvenuti, professor of astrophysics and director of the "G. Colombo" Interdepartmental Space Centre at the University of Padua, Italy; Wolf Joachim Singer, professor of neurology and director of the "Max Planck Institute Fur Hirnforschung-Frankfurt A. M.", Germany; Bruno Coppi, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-MIT "Plasma Science & Fusion Center" in Cambridge, U.S.A.; Micol Forti, curator of the modern art collection of the Vatican Museums, and; Marguerite A. Peeters, journalist, and director general of the "Brussels-Based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics", Belgium.

 - Fr. Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet S.D.B., Salesian inspector for Uruguay and president of the Conference of Religious of Uruguay, as auxiliary of Montevideo (area 540, population 1,394,000, Catholics 883,000, priests 252, permanent deacons 35, religious 721), Uruguay. The bishop-elect was born in Montevideo in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1987. Among other duties, he has worked as vicar for the Salesian novitiate and post novitiate, master of novices and professor of Church history.

 - Msgr. Edward Robinson Wijesinghe of the clergy of the archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, official of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, as bureau chief of the same pontifical council.
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