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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in Vienna, Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of that city, presided at a Mass of thanksgiving for Sunday's beatification of Hildegard Burjan in the cathedral of St. Stephen. In his remarks following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Benedict XVI had reminded faithful how the new blessed had borne "magnificent witness to the Gospel".

  A Vatican Radio transmission dedicated to Blessed Hildegard explained that she was born into a Jewish family 1883 in the then Prussian city of Gorlitz, and studied philosophy at the University of Zurich. She married and, some time later following a period of illness, discovered the Christian faith and was baptised in 1909. She moved to Vienna where she became a member of the Austrian parliament, dedicating her political activity to serving the Gospel in support of workers and the oppressed, in keeping with the teachings of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum novarum".

  In 1912 she founded the Association of Christian Women Home Workers, offering help to the hungry, creating a support network for families and combating child labour. In 1919 she founded the Congregation of Sisters of "Caritas Socialis". In her dedication to the family she also gave birth to a daughter, against the advice of doctors who recommended an abortion for health reasons. She thirsted after justice, seeing the Face of Jesus in the poor and suffering. "We cannot help people with money and small offerings", she would say, "rather we must give them the confidence that they are capable of doing something for themselves".

  In his homily yesterday, Cardinal Schonborn noted that Hildegard Burjan is proof that sanctity is also possible in political life. She "announced the Gospel through action", he said. "Her beatification comes at a good time to highlight that action is a core issue. ... Hildegard was a convincing Christian because, without too many words, she acted. In our own time we must again learn to understand what it means to be disciples, and to this end what we need are not theories, but examples of people who speak through their actions".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today released a communique in response to questions from journalists about an article published in today's edition of the Italian newspaper "Corriere dell Sera" entitled "Dalla Congregazione dei Santi 1.6 milioni al 'Madoff dei Parioli'" (1.6 Million from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to the 'Madoff of the Parioli'"). The text of the communique is given below.

  "Fr. Francesco Maria Ricci, who is mentioned in the article, is a Dominican religious who works on behalf of his order. He does not in any way belong to the Congregation for the Causes of Saint. It must be made clear that Postulators are 'clients' of the Congregation, with which they interact in order to promote the causes they are handling, but they are by no means part of the Congregation. It is important, then, to highlight the fact that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, its prefect Cardinal Amato and its officials are not involved in any way with the events about which the article speaks".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for February is: "That all peoples may have access to water and other resources needed for daily life".

  His mission intention is: "That the Lord may sustain the efforts of health workers assisting the sick and elderly in the world's poorest regions".
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VATICAN CITY, 31 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Francesco Moraglia of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato, Italy, as patriarch of Venice (area 871, population 375,790, Catholics 372,032, priests 394, permanent deacons 29, religious 755), Italy.

 - Appointed Bishop Filippo Iannone O. Carm. of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, Italy, as vice gerent of the diocese of Rome (area 881, population 2,816,706, Catholics 2,473,000, priests 4,922, permanent deacons 116, religious 27,375), conferring upon him the dignity of archbishop.

 - Appointed Msgr. Matteo Maria Zuppi of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, pastor of the parish of "Santi Simone e Giuda in Torre Angela", and Msgr. Lorenzo Leuzzi of the clergy of the diocese of Rome, director of the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities, rector of the church of "San Gregorio Nazianzeno in Montecitorio" and chaplain of the Italian parliament, as auxiliaries of Rome. Bishop-elect Zuppi was born in Rome in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has served in various pastoral offices within the diocese of Rome Bishop-elect Leuzzi was born in Traini, Italy in 1955 and ordained a priest in 1984. Before becoming a priest he qualified as a medical doctor. He has worked in pastoral care in his native region of Puglia and in Rome, and is author of a number of books.

 - Appointed Fr. Vincent Harolimana, rector of the St. Pius X Minor Seminary in the diocese of Nyundo, Rwanda, as bishop of Ruhengeri (area 1,762, population 989,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 57, religious 82), Rwanda. The bishop-elect was born in Mpembe, Rwanda in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1990. He studied in Rome where he gained a doctorate in dogmatic theology, and is a visiting professor of that subject at a number of institutions in Rwanda.

 - Appointed Msgr. Jozef Hal'ko of the clergy of the archdiocese of Bratislava, Slovakia, spokesperson for the archbishop and director of pastoral care for the Hungarian minority, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 3,759, population 769,768, Catholics 484,749, priests 528, permanent deacons 5, religious 925). The bishop-elect was born in Bratislava in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1994. He studied in Rome and has worked as a professor of ecclesiastical history at the Roman Catholic Theological Faculty of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Bratislava.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Katowice, Poland, presented by Bishop Gerard Bernacki, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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Monday, January 30, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below. Among those present was a group of children from Catholic Action of the diocese of Rome, who annually celebrate January as the "month of peace". At the end of the Marian prayer two of the children read out a message and released two doves, as a symbol of peace, from the Pope's window.

  Benedict XVI introduced the prayer with some brief remarks on today's Gospel reading in which St. Mark relates Jesus' teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum, and the healing of a man with an "unclean spirit" who recognises the Messiah. "Within a short time", the Pope explained, "Jesus' fame began to spread in the region, throughout which he travelled announcing the Kingdom of God and healing sick people of all kinds: word and action. ... The words Jesus addresses to mankind give direct access to the Father's will and to the truth about ourselves" while, moreover, "Jesus united the effectiveness of the Word with those signs of deliverance from evil. ... Divine authority ... is the power of God's love which created the universe and, becoming incarnate in the only-begotten Son, descended upon our humanity and healed the world corrupted by sin".

  "For man", the Holy Father observed, "authority often means possession, power, dominion, success. For God, however, authority means service, humility, love. It means entering into the logic of Jesus Christ Who leans down to wash the feet of His disciples, Who seeks man's authentic good, Who heals wounds, Who is capable of a love so great as to give His life, because He is Love. ... Let us trustingly invoke Most Holy Mary that she may guide our hearts always to draw from the well of divine mercy, which liberates and heals our human condition, filling it with all grace and benevolence, with the power of love".

  After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned three events which took place today. Firstly, the beatification in Vienna of Hildegard Burjan, "laywoman and mother who lived between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and founded the Sisters of Social Charity. Let us give praise to the Lord for this magnificent witness to the Gospel", the Pope said.

  Today is also World Leprosy Day, in which context Benedict XVI spoke of his desire "to express encouragement to everyone affected by the disease, and to the people who assist them and who, in various ways, strive to eliminate the poverty and marginalisation which are the true causes of its continuance".

  Finally, today also marks the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. "In profound communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custos of the Holy Land, we invoke the gift of peace for that Land blessed by God", Pope Benedict said.

  The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in various languages. Addressing faithful from Poland, he mentioned the fact that Thursday 2 February is the World Day of Consecrated Life. "Grateful to religious for their ministry of prayer, for their apostolic and charitable activity in the Church, we pray for new vocations", he said. "May the Holy Spirit arouse in many hearts the desire for complete dedication to Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a joint communique on a bilateral meeting between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, held in Ramallah on 28 January. The text of the English-language communique is given below.

  "Following the resumption of the bilateral negotiations between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), an official meeting took place at the headquarters of the Palestinian President in Ramallah on 28 January.

  "The talks were co-chaired by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for the Holy See's relations with States and Minister Ziad Al-Bandak, the Palestinian President's advisor for Christian relations.

  "The Palestinian side handed to the Holy See delegation the response to the draft agreement proposed by the Holy See in the previous meeting, and the talks took place in a positive atmosphere to strengthen further the special relations between the two sides. The delegations agreed to set up technical teams to follow up on the draft, in preparation of the plenary session in the Vatican in the near future.

  "The Holy See delegation was composed of Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Msgr. Maurizio Malvestiti, under secretary of the Congregation for Oriental Churches;Msgr. Alberto Ortega, official of the Secretariat of the State of the Holy See, and Msgr. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, counsellor of the apostolic delegation in Jerusalem.

  "The Palestinian delegation was composed of Dr. Nabil Shaath, member of the Fatah Central Committee; Dr. Bernard Sabella, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Mr. Issa Kassissieh, deputy head of the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department, and Mr. Wassim Khazmo, policy advisor at the PLO's Negotiations Support Unit".
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to Marianna Scalfaro for the death of her father, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, former president of the Republic of Italy who died on 29 January at the age of 93. The Holy Father expresses his spiritual closeness during this time of grief, then continues:

  "I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences, and to give assurances of my sincere participation in your sorrow, which also affects the entire nation of Italy. It is with great affection and particular gratitude that I recall this Catholic statesman, scrupulous magistrate and faithful servant of the institutions who, in the public offices he held, always strove to promote the common good, and the perennial ethical and religious values of Christianity which characterise the historical and civil traditions of Italy. I raise fervent prayers for his soul, invoking divine goodness - by the intercession of the Virgin Mary for whom he had particular veneration - to grant him eternal peace, and I impart upon you and all his relatives the comfort of an apostolic blessing".
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VATICAN CITY, 28 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, Benedict XVI presided at a meeting of heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
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VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

 - Bishop Javier Echevarria Rodriguez, prelate of the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei.

 - Fr. Richard Schenk O.P., president of the "Katholische Universitat Eichstatt-Ingolstadt".
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Friday, January 27, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whom he thanked for their service to the Church, particularly in view of the forthcoming Year of Faith. "As we know", he said in his remarks to them, "in vast areas of the earth the faith risks being extinguished, like a flame without fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of a religious sense which represents one of the greatest challenges for the Church today. The renewal of faith must, then, be a priority for the entire Church in our time. I hope that the 'Year of Faith' may contribute ... to restoring God's presence in this world, and to giving man access to the faith, enabling him to entrust himself to the God Who, in Jesus Christ, loved us to the end".

  All this, Benedict XVI explained, is closely associated with the question of Christian unity, and he turned to consider certain doctrinal issues related to the Church's ecumenical journey. "Today", he said, "we see the many good fruits that have emerged from ecumenical dialogue. Yet we must also recognise that the risks of indifference and of false Irenicism, completely alien to the mindset of Vatican Council II, require us to be vigilant. Such indifference is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man and that, therefore, we must limit ourselves to finding rules to improve this world. In this scenario, faith comes to be replaced by a shallow-rooted moralism. By contrast, the core of true ecumenism is faith, in which man encounters the truth revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a kind of 'social contract' to which we adhere out of shared interests. The logic of Vatican Council II was quite different", holding that "the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamic process animated by the Word of God".

  The Holy Father went on to highlight a "crucial problem running through all ecumenical dialogue: ... the question of the structure of revelation; that is, the relationship between Holy Scripture, the living tradition of Holy Church and the ministry of the successors of the Apostles as witness of the true faith. It is vital to discern between Tradition and traditions", he said. One important step in this direction has been the recent implementation of measures concerning groups of Anglican faithful who wish to enter into communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining their own traditions. "There exists, in fact, a spiritual richness in the carious Christian confessions, which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to be shared", the Pope said.

  The methodology followed in the various forms of ecumenical dialogue must also reflect the priority of the faith. "Even controversial issues must be faced courageously, while always maintaining a spirit of fraternity and mutual respect. Moreover, it is important to offer a correct interpretation of that 'hierarchy of truths' in Catholic doctrine, as defined in the Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio'".

  On the subject of the documents that have emerged from various ecumenical dialogues, the Pope explained that "they are the important, though provisional, fruits of shared reflections". But he also pointed out that "they must be given their correct status as contributions presented to the competent authorities of the Church, which alone is called to pass definitive judgement on them".

  Benedict XVI also referred to the moral issue, saying: "In our dialogues we cannot overlook the great moral questions about human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It is important to speak on these issues with a single voice, drawing on the fundamentals contained in Scripture and in living tradition. ... By defending the fundamental values of the great tradition of the Church, we defend man and we defend the creation".

  In conclusion, the Holy Father reaffirmed that unity is "a means towards, almost a precondition for, the increasingly credible announcement of the faith to people who do not yet know the Saviour".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, has written a message for the fifty-ninth World Leprosy Day, which falls on Sunday 29 January. The message is entitled: "In the Fight Against Hansen's Disease the Commitment of All Men of Good Will in Required".

  Extracts from the English-language version of the message are given below:

  "Mycobacterium Leprae has not as yet been eradicated, even though the official number of new cases of the infection continues to decrease and at the present time are about 200,000, according to the estimates of the World Health Organisation for the years 2010-2011. In addition to supporting the free distribution of those drugs and medicines that are required, one should, therefore, further promote speedy diagnosis and perseverance in receiving therapies. It is of fundamental importance, furthermore, that the work directed towards sensitising and training communities and families that run the risk of contagion be strengthened.

  "The Gospel phrase 'Stand and go; your faith has saved you', chosen by the Holy Father Benedict XVI as the theme for the twentieth World Day of the Sick which will be held on 11 February of this year throughout the world, constitutes an exploration and a call that touches in a particular way those who have been afflicted by this infection; in this passage from St. Luke, indeed, we are told about ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, readmitted to the community and reintegrated into the social and occupational fabric.

  "As is emphasised by the Holy Father in his Message for this year, 'help us to become aware of the importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and illness, draw near to the Lord. In their encounter with him they can truly experience that he who believes is never alone! God, indeed, in his Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and sufferings, but is close to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts".

  "This love, which is also expressed through individual action and through Church institutions and volunteer organisations, amongst which the Raoul Follereau Foundation and the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, as well as the successes that have been obtained hitherto in terms of a strong reduction in the number of people infected by this disease, certainly do not exempt governments and international organisations from increasing the attention they pay to, and their work to combat, the spread of leprosy, or from their responsibilities as regards prevention, in educational and hygiene/health-care terms, and the 'readmission' of people who have been cured, as well as support for all the victims of infection".

  "Those who have attained a cure can ... communicate all their interior riches and experience and at the same time, in helping their neighbour, all their dignity and profundity as people touched by suffering and involved in working for the health of the community to which they belong.

  "This will amount to a further and relevant contribution to progress in the fight against Hansen's disease which for millennia has constituted a terrible scourge and involved automatic exclusion from society. Indeed, only the involvement of everyone - and at all levels - will allow the transformation of leprosy from being a threat and a scourge into being a memory, however frightening, of the past".
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - A note released today announces that the Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary session at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs yesterday, to carry on negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement, article 10 paragraph 2, dealing with economic and fiscal matters.

 The meeting was presided by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States, and by Daniel Ayalon, Israeli deputy minister for foreign affairs. Today's communique states that "the negotiations took place in an open, friendly and constructive atmosphere. Substantive progress was made on issues of significance".

 The parties agreed on the next steps towards the conclusion of the Agreement, and to hold their next plenary meeting on 11 June in the Vatican.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

 - Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, Italy, accompanied by members of his family.
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VATICAN CITY, 27 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

 - Msgr. Julio Murat, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to Zambia, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Karsiyaka, Turkey in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1994 and has served in Indonesia, Pakistan, Belarus and Austria.

 - Msgr. Santo Gangemi, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio to the Solomon Islands, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Messina, Italy in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1986. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1991 and has served in Morocco, Italy, Romania, Cuba, Chile, France, Spain and Egypt.

 - Msgr. Luciano Russo, nunciature counsellor, as apostolic nuncio, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Lusciano, Italy in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1988. He entered the Holy See diplomatic service in 1993 and has served in Papua New Guinea, Honduras, Syria, Brazil, Netherlands, U.S.A. and Bulgaria.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father presided at the celebration of second Vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The celebration, which marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was attended by representatives from other Churches including the Orthodox Church of Greece, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Anglican Communion and the Patriarchates of Moscow and Romania.

  In his homily Benedict XVI recalled how the theme of this year's Week of Prayer - "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ" - was taken from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. "The significance of this mysterious transformation", the Pope explained, "is admirably expressed in Paul's personal history. Following the extraordinary event which befell him on the road to Damascus, Saul, who had stood out for the zeal with which he persecuted the nascent Church, was transformed into a tireless apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ... This transformation was not the fruit of long inner reflection nor of individual effort. It was, first and foremost, the grace of God working in its mysterious ways".

  The Holy Father pointed our that St. Paul's transformation was not limited to the field of ethics or the intellect. "It was a radical renewal of his being, similar in many ways to a rebirth. Such a transformation had its roots in his participation in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and took shape as a gradual conformation to Him. Aware of this, St. Paul would say: ... 'It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me'".

  In his First Letter to the Corinthians the Apostle describes the Final Judgement, when the destiny of humankind will be fulfilled. "On that day all believers will be made like unto Christ and all perishable things will be transformed by His glory. ... Christ's triumph will then finally be complete, because ... death will have been definitively vanquished and, therewith, the sin which brought death into the world. ... St. Paul tells us then that, through Baptism in the death and resurrection of Christ, each man and woman shares in the victory of the One Who first vanquished death, and starts down a path of transformation which begins even now in new life, and which will reach fulfilment at the end of time".

  "As we say our prayers we trust that we too will be transformed, conformed to the image of Christ", the Pope said. "This holds particularly true for our prayers for Christian unity, ... by means of which we participate in God's plan for the Church. Everyone has the duty and responsibility to dedicate themselves to re-establishing unity. ... United in Christ, we are called to share His mission, which is to bring hope where injustice, hatred and desperation dominate. Our divisions obscure our witness to Christ. The goal of full unity, which we await with diligent hope and for which we trustingly pray, ... is an important victory for the good of the human family".

  In contrast to the prevalent idea of victory as immediate success, Benedict XVI explained the Christian view of victory as a long "process of transformation and development in goodness. It comes about in God's times, not ours, and requires profound faith and patient perseverance on our part. ... As we await the visible unity of the Church, we must be patient and trusting". This does not mean passivity and resignation, but "a ready and immediate response to every opening of communion and brotherhood which the Lord gives us".

  The Pope concluded by exhorting those present to continue the ecumenical journey. "Although at times we may have the impression that the road to full communion is still long and full of obstacles", he said, "I call upon everyone to renew their determination to follow, with courage and generosity, the unity which God wills, following the example of St. Paul who, faced with difficulties of all kinds, always maintained his faith in God. ... The journey, moreover, does not lack signs of renewed fraternity or of shared responsibility before the great problems affecting our world. All this is a reason for hope and must encourage us to continue our commitment to reach the final goal together, knowing that our efforts are not vain in the Lord".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received superiors and seminarians from three Italian regional pontifical seminaries in Assisi, Catanzaro and Naples. All of these institutions, as the Pope remarked in his address to the group, are currently celebrating their first centenary having been founded as part of efforts towards the reformation of priestly education carried out under Popes Leo XIII and St. Pius X. "Bringing diocesan seminaries together into regional seminaries, and the reform of theological studies, produced a notable improvement in quality", Pope Benedict noted. "In this, an important role was played by the Society of Jesus", the Jesuits, to whom the new regional seminaries were entrusted.

  Even today regional seminaries remain important as they allow access to higher education and contribute to the communion of dioceses, "favouring knowledge, capacity for collaboration and the enrichment of ecclesial experience among future priests. The regional dimension is also an appropriate middle way between the needs of the universal Church and the requirements of local areas".

  Referring to the seminarians' formation, Benedict XVI highlighted how today's cultural context calls for "solid education in philosophy and theology". Future priests must, he said, "understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people's questions. ... And the study of theology must always have an intense bond to the life of prayer. ... It is, in fact, vital that the multiple activities of a priest's ministry be harmoniously integrated with his spiritual life.

  "It is important", the Holy Father added, "for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated". For this reason, the Pope said, great attention must be given to "the human dimension when forming candidates to the priesthood. It is, in fact, in our humanity that we present ourselves before God, in order to appear before our fellows as authentic men of God. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a 'man of God'. ... It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ".

  In conclusion, the Holy Father quoted a phrase of John XXII: "Even more than cultured, eloquent, up-to-date priests, what we need are saintly and sanctifying priests". These words, Benedict XVI explained, "are still valid today because the entire Church, and the regions from which you come, have more need than ever of workers of the Gospel, people who give credible witness and promote sanctity with their own lives".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday 25 January the Holy See, acting also in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, adhered to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (New York, 1999) and to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo, 2000). On the same date the Holy See ratified, likewise in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Vienna, 1988), which it had already signed in the year in which it was adopted. The instruments of ratification and adherence were accompanied by a number of reservations and interpretative declarations.

  In a note concerning yesterday's move Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, explains that "this step represents a further recognition by the Holy See of the efforts of the community of States to prevent and combat the most serious forms of transnational criminal activity, of dramatic actuality, through appropriate instruments of international cooperation".

  "The Holy Father reminds us that terrorism and organised crime threaten the dignity of human beings and the common good in every country in the world". Therfore, juridical instruments which counter these forms of illicit activity also contribute to peace and security. With its adhesion to and ratification of the three treaties in question, "the Holy See confirms its intention as well as its effective and practical commitment to collaborate with the international community in a manner consistent with its nature and mission, with a view to guaranteeing international peace and justice".

  The adoption of these instruments constitutes a further refinement of the legal structure of Vatican City State, which had already developed in this direction through the adoption of various laws concerning the prevention and combating of the laundering of money derived from criminal activity and the financing of terrorism. The new legal instruments offered by the three treaties also aim to raise the level of collaboration between the tribunals of Vatican City State and those of other States.

  The secretary for Relations with States also explains that "these international commitments do not prejudice the sovereign right of each State to abstain from collaborating with respect to pending legal proceedings in other contexts when those proceedings could give rise to forms of persecution of an individual for political, religious, ethnic or similar reasons". Finally, Archbishop Mamberti makes it clear that yesterday's steps "facilitate further the coming together of justice and peace", and confirm the truth of the Holy See's "commitment to the respect of human dignity and concord between persons and peoples".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy See Press Office published a note written by its director, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., concerning a television programme, "Gli intoccabili", transmitted yesterday evening by Italy's "La7" television network. Fr. Lombardi highlights the "questionable journalistic methods" with which the programme was made, and his "disappointment at the revelation of reserved documents", noting that such things often form part of the "biased coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church".

  The Holy See Press Office director then turns to focus on two considerations "which were not given space in the course of the debate". Firstly "the activities of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano as secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State certainly had many positive aspects, as he contributed to the efforts being made to ensure administrative rigour, economisation and the improvement of what was a difficult overall economic situation. ... However, a fairer evaluation would have taken account of the trends of the market, the investment criteria adopted over recent years, and other important circumstances. ... Certain accusations - some very serious - made during the course of the programme, especially those concerning the members of the Finance and Management Committee of the Governorate and the Secretariat of State, will lead both the Secretariat of State and the Governorate to adopt all measures (including if necessary legal measures) to protect the honour of morally upright and highly professional people who serve the Church, the Pope and the common good. In any case, the positive criteria of correct and transparent management which inspired Archbishop Vigano certainly continue to guide the current directors of the Governorate. ... This is in keeping with the policy to which the Holy See is committed of increasing transparency and attentively monitoring of economic activities".

  Secondly "the difficult process of discerning the various aspects involved in managing a complex institution such as the Governorate - which are not limited to administrative rigour - was presented in a superficial and biased manner, highlighting the evidently negative aspects with the simplistic result of presenting the structures of government in the Church as being, not so much affected by human frailty (which would be easily understandable), as profoundly characterised by arguments, divisions and power struggles. ... Yet, all this disinformation will certainly not obscure the daily and serene efforts towards increasing transparency in all Vatican institutions. ... In this context, it must be decisively affirmed that entrusting Archbishop Vigano with the role of apostolic nuncio to the United States - one of the most important roles in Vatican diplomacy given the importance of the country and of the Catholic Church there - is proof of unquestionable respect and trust".
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations due to be presided by the Holy Father between February and April.


Thursday 2: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day of Consecrated Life. At 5.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Vespers with members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

Saturday 18: At 10.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, ordinary public consistory for the creation of new cardinals and for the vote on a number of causes of canonisation.

Sunday 19: Solemnity of the Cathedra of St. Peter. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass with new cardinals.

Wednesday 22: Ash Wednesday. At 4.30 p.m. in the basilica of Sant'Anselmo, "statio" and penitential procession. At 5 p.m. in the basilica of Santa Sabina, blessing and imposition of the ashes.

Sunday 26: First Sunday of Lent. At 6 p.m. in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, beginning of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.


Saturday 3: At 9 a.m. in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, conclusion of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.

Sunday 4: Second Sunday of Lent. At 9.30 a.m., Mass in the Roman parish of "San Giovanni Battista de La Salle al Torrino".

Saturday 10: At 5.30 p.m., Vespers in the basilica of San Gregorio al Celio for the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Friday 23 to Thursday 29: Apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba.


Sunday 1. Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

Thursday 5. Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Chrism Mass. At 5.30 p.m. in the basilica of St. John Lateran, beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.

Friday 6. Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Lord's Passion. At 9.15 p.m. at the Colosseum, Way of the Cross.

Saturday 7. Holy Saturday. At 9 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Easter vigil.

Sunday 8. Easter Sunday. Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10.15 a.m. At midday, from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
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VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience sixteen prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

 - Archbishop Thomas John Rodi of Mobile.

 - Bishop Roger Paul Morin of Biloxi.

 - Bishop Robert Joseph Baker of Birmingham, accompanied by Bishop emeritus David Edward Foley.

 - Bishop Joseph N. Latino of Jackson, accompanied by Bishop emeritus William Russel Huock.

 - Bishop David R. Choby of Nashville.

 - Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Shelton Joseph Fabre and by Archbishop emeritus Alfred Clifton Hughes.

 - Bishop Ronald Paul Herzog of Alexandria.

 - Bishop Robert William Muench of Baton Rouge.

 - Bishop Sam Gallip Jacobs of Houma-Thibodaux.

 - Bishop Charles Michael Jarrell of Lafayette.

 - Bishop Glen John Provst of Lake Charles.

 - Bishop Michael Gerard Duca of Shreveport.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to Christ's priestly prayer during the Last Supper, as narrated in chapter 17 of the Gospel of St. John. In order to understand this prayer "in all its immense richness", said the Pope, it is important to see it in the context of the Jewish feast of atonement, Yom Kippur, in which the high priest seeks atonement first for himself, then for the order of priests and finally for the community as a whole. Likewise, "that night Jesus addressed the Father at the moment in which He offered Himself. He, priest and victim, prayed for Himself, for the Apostles and for all those who would believe in Him".

  The prayer which Jesus prays for Himself is the request for His own glorification. "It is in fact more than a request", the Holy Father said, "it is a declaration of willingness to enter freely and generously into the Father's plan, which is accomplished through death and resurrection. ... Jesus begins His priestly prayer by saying: 'Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you'. The glorification Jesus seeks for Himself, as High Priest, is to be fully obedient to the Father, an obedience which leads Him to fulfil His filial status: 'So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed'".

  The second part of Jesus' prayer is His intercession for the disciples who have followed Him, and His request that they may be sanctified. Jesus says: 'They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth'. Benedict XVI explained how "To sanctify means to transfer something - a person or an object - to God. This involves two complementary aspects: on the one hand, the idea of 'segregation' ... from man's personal life in order to be completely given over to God; on the other hand there is the idea of 'being sent out', of mission. Having been given to God, the consecrated thing or person exists for others. ... A person is sanctified when, like Jesus, he is segregated from the world, set aside for God in view of a task and, for this reason, available for everyone. For disciples this means continuing Jesus' mission".

  In the third phase of the priestly prayer, "Jesus asks the Father to intervene in favour of all those who will be brought to the faith by the mission inaugurated by the Apostles. ... 'I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word'. ... Jesus prays for the Church in all times, He also prays for us. ... The main element in Jesus' priestly prayer for His disciples is His request for the future unity of those who will believe in Him. This unity is not a worldly achievement. It derives exclusively from divine unity and comes down to us from the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit".

  By this priestly prayer Jesus establishes the Church, "which is nothing other than the community of disciples who, through their faith in Christ as the One sent by the Father, receive His unity and are involved in Jesus' mission to save the world by leading it to a knowledge of God".

  Benedict XVI invited the faithful to read and meditate upon Jesus priestly prayer, and to pray to God themselves, asking Him "to help us enter fully into the plan He has for each of us. Let us ask Him to consecrate us to Himself, that we may belong to Him and show increasing love for others, both near and far. Let us ask Him to help us open our prayers to the world, not limiting them to requests for help in our own problems, but remembering our fellow man before the Lord and learning the beauty of interceding for others. Let us ask Him for the gift of visible unity among all those who believe in Christ, ... that we may be ready to respond to anyone who asks us about the reasons for our hope".

  At the end of his audience, Benedict XVI delivered greetings in various languages to the pilgrims and faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, reminding them that today's Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Addressing Polish faithful he said: "The conversion of the Apostle of the Gentiles near Damascus is proof that, in the final analysis, it is God Himself Who decides the destiny of His Church. Let us ask Him for the grace of unity, which also requires our individual conversion, while remaining faithful to the truth and love of God".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was the Pope's Message for World Mission Day, which falls this year on Sunday 21 October. The theme of the document is: "Called to radiate the word of truth". Extracts of the message are given below.

  "This year the celebration of World Mission Day is particularly significant. The fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Decree 'Ad gentes', the opening of the Year of Faith and the Synod of Bishops on the theme of the new evangelisation all come together to reaffirm the Church's will to dedicate herself with greater courage and ardour to the 'missio ad gentes', that the Gospel may reach the ends of the earth.

  "Vatican Council II, with the participation of Catholic bishops from every corner of the world, was a luminous sign of the Church's universality. ... Missionary bishops and autochthonous bishops, pastors of communities living among non-Christian peoples, ... all made an important contribution to reaffirming the pressing need of 'ad gentes' evangelisation and, consequently, to placing the missionary nature of the Church at the centre of ecclesiology".

  "Today this view ... remerges with renewed urgency because the number of those who do not yet know Christ has increased. ... We need, then, to retrieve the apostolic zeal of the early Christian communities which, small and defenceless, were nonetheless capable, through announcement and witness, of spreading the Gospel throughout the then-known world.

  "It is no surprise, then, that Vatican Council II and the subsequent Magisterium of the Church place particular emphases on the missionary mandate which Christ entrusted to His disciples, and which is the duty of all the people of God (bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay people). Announcing the Gospel in every corner of the world is the primary responsibility of bishops, who are directly responsible for evangelising the world".

  "The command to preach the Gospel ... must involve all actions and sectors of a particular Church, its entire being and activity. Vatican Council II made this very clear and subsequent Magisterium has underlined it strongly. This means the constant adaptation of lifestyles, pastoral plans and diocesan organisation to this fundamental dimension of the Church's being, especially in our continually changing world. ... All the components of the great mosaic of the Church must be aware that they are touched by the Lord's command to preach the Gospel, so that Christ may be announced everywhere. We pastors, religious and all Christ's faithful must follow the footsteps of the Apostle Paul who ... worked, suffered and struggled to bring the Gospel among the pagans, not sparing energy, time or means to make Christ's message known".

  "Missionary cooperation must expand to include new forms, not only economic assistance but also direct participation in evangelisation. The celebration of the Year of Faith and of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation will be useful occasions to relaunch missionary cooperation, especially in the latter dimension".

  "The immense horizons of the Church's mission and the complexity of today's situation call for new ways of effectively communicating the word of God. First and foremost this requires a renewed adherence of individual and community faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ 'especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing'.

  "One of the obstacles to evangelisation is, in fact, the crisis of faith, not only in the Western world but among a large part of humankind, which nonetheless hungers and thirsts for God, and which must be invited and led to the bread of life and the living water. ... We must renew our enthusiasm to communicate the faith, so as to promote new evangelisation in communities and countries of ancient Christian tradition, which are losing their reference to God, and help them rediscover the joy of believing. Concern for evangelisation must never remain at the margins of Christians' ecclesial activity or individual lives, it must characterise them strongly in their awareness of being both beneficiaries and missionaries of the Gospel The central point of our announcement always remains the same: ... the 'kerygma' of God's absolute and total love for each man and woman, which culminated in His sending the eternal and only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus, Who did not disdain to take on the poverty of our human nature, loving it and saving it from sin and death by the offer of Himself upon the cross".

  "Faith is a gift that was given to us to be shared. ... It is the most important gift of our lives and we cannot keep it to ourselves".

  "Many priests and religious from all over the world, many lay people and even entire families leave their countries, their local communities, and travel to other Churches to bear witness to and announce the Name of Christ. ... This is an expression of profound communion, sharing and charity among Churches".

  "Together with this exalted sign of faith transformed into charity, I would like to mention and thank the Pontifical Missionary Works, which is an instrument for cooperation in the Church's universal mission in the world. Thanks to their activities the announcement of the Gospel is transformed into assistance to others, justice for the poorest, education in isolated villages, medical care in remote areas, liberation from want, rehabilitation of the marginalised, support for the development of peoples, the breaking down of ethnic divisions and respect for life in all its stages".

  "Upon the work of evangelisation 'ad gentes', and especially upon those who carry it out, I invoke the effusion of the Holy Spirit, that the grace of God may make it ever more decisive in the history of the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, Pakistan, as archbishop of Karachi (area 180,000, population 15,536,000, Catholics 150,000, priests 40, religious 185), Pakistan. He succeeds Archbishop Evarist Pinto, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

 - Appointed Fr. Paul Abel Mamba, apostolic administrator of Ziguinchor, Senegal, as bishop of the same diocese (area , population , Catholics , priests , permanent deacons , religious ). The bishop-elect was born in Cabrousse, Senegal in 1960 and ordained a priest in 1988. He has sent periods of study in Cameroon and France, and has served in pastoral roles and as bursar of seminaries and dioceses in Senegal.

 - Appointed Msgr. Udo Breitbach, bureau chief of the Congregation for Bishops, as under secretary of the same congregation.

 - Appointed as consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Fr. Paolo Martinelli, O.F.M. Cap., president of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the "Antonianum" Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome, and Fr. Maurizio Gronchi of the clergy of the archdiocese of Pisa, Italy, professor at the Faculty of Theology of Rome's Pontifical Urban University.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present Benedict XVI's Message for the forty-sixth World Day of Social Communications, entitled: "Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation". Participating in today's conference were Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, Msgr. Paul Tighe, Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti and Angelo Scelzo, respectively president, secretary, adjunct secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

  Archbishop Celli recalled how, "each year in his Message for the World Day of Social Communications, the Pope has sought to analyse the culture of communication, offering guidance to modern man and directing the pastoral activity of the Church. Over recent years the Pope has been very attentive to the process and dynamics of communication, especially in the context of the cultural transformations that have arisen as a result of technological progress".

  This year, however, "the Holy Father turns his attention to a 'classic' aspect of communication: 'silence'; or rather, the pairing of 'silence and word'. This aspect ... is becoming increasingly important in the context of digital culture", noted the president of the pontifical council, going on to explain how Benedict XVI focuses upon the importance of silence as part of authentic communication. Silence can be a vehicle of expression, it gives others the chance to speak and us the opportunity to listen, think and reflect, the archbishop said. "In essence, it is in silence that I am able to give communication its correct significance, and to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of communication itself.

  "Silence has particular importance in the context of that incessant flow of questions which, in a certain sense, is the driving force of modern communication culture", he added. The Pope suggests "that at the heart of this flow of questions lies a fundamental question, which is the search for Truth. Here again the importance of silence emerges, as a place where human beings must face themselves and God". In silence mankind discovers "the possibility to speak with God and about God". For this reason Benedict XVI reminds people engaged in the task of evangelisation that "both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church's work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today's world".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Today's Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, marks the World Day of Social Communications, and the Holy Father's Message for the Day, entitled: "Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation" was made public this morning. Ample excerpts from the English-language version of the text are given below.

  On this "World Communications Day 2012, I would like to share with you some reflections concerning an aspect of the human process of communication which, despite its importance, is often overlooked and which, at the present time, it would seem especially necessary to recall. It concerns the relationship between silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved".

  "Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth. ... By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested. In this way, space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible. ... When messages and information are plentiful, silence becomes essential if we are to distinguish what is important from what is insignificant or secondary. Deeper reflection helps us ... to make evaluations, to analyse messages; this makes it possible to share thoughtful and relevant opinions, giving rise to an authentic body of shared knowledge. For this to happen, it is necessary to develop an appropriate environment, a kind of 'eco-system' that maintains a just equilibrium between silence, words, images and sounds.

  "The process of communication nowadays is largely fuelled by questions in search of answers. Search engines and social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers. ... Indeed, people today are frequently bombarded with answers to questions they have never asked and to needs of which they were unaware. If we are to recognise and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive".

  "Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of sceptical opinions and experiences of life - all of us are in search of truth".

  "Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives. It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: 'As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by His silence".

  "If God speaks to us even in silence, we in turn discover in silence the possibility of speaking with God and about God. ... In speaking of God's grandeur, our language will always prove inadequate and must make space for silent contemplation. Out of such contemplation springs forth, with all its inner power, the urgent sense of mission, the compelling obligation 'to communicate that which we have seen and heard' so that all may be in communion with God".

  "In silent contemplation, then, the eternal Word, through Whom the world was created, becomes ever more powerfully present and we become aware of the plan of salvation that God is accomplishing throughout our history by word and deed. ... This plan of salvation culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediator and the fullness of all revelation. He has made known to us the true face of God the Father and by His Cross and Resurrection has brought us from the slavery of sin and death to the freedom of the children of God. The fundamental question of the meaning of human existence finds in the mystery of Christ an answer capable of bringing peace to the restless human heart. The Church's mission springs from this mystery; and it is this mystery which impels Christians to become heralds of hope and salvation, witnesses of that love which promotes human dignity and builds justice and peace.

  "Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelisation: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church's work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today's world".
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VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Herve Gaschignard, auxiliary of Toulouse, France, as bishop of Aire et Dax (area 9,364, population 362,827, Catholics 261,000, priests 153, permanent deacons 14, religious 211), France. He succeeds Bishop Philippe Breton, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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Monday, January 23, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

  Benedict XVI focused his remarks on a fundamental aspect of judicial ministry: the interpretation of canon law with a view to its correct application. The hermeneutic of canon law "is closely associated with the very concept of Law in the Church", the Pope explained, and he went on to define two forms of interpretation which lead to impoverishment of the law: "The identification of canon law with the system of canonical legislation", which effectively means overlooking "natural law, divine positive law and the vital relationship of all law with the communion and mission of the Church". In the second form of interpretation, "the specific situation becomes a decisive factor in determining the authentic meaning of a legal precept in a particular case"; but in this way "it is human interpretation that decides what is juridical, and a sense of objective law is lacking".

  "But there is another way", said the Holy Father, "in which a correct understanding of canon law leads to its being interpreted as part of a search for the truth about law and justice in the Church. ... Authentic law is inseparable from justice. Obviously, this principle also holds true for canon law, in the sense that it cannot remain closed in a merely human system of norms but must be associated with a just ordering of the Church in which a higher law holds sway. In this perspective, human positive legislation loses its primacy ... and can no longer simply be identified as the Law. Nonetheless human legislation is an important expression of justice, first and foremost for what it declares to be divine law, but also for what it identifies as being the legitimate ambit of human law.

  "In this way", Benedict XVI added, "it becomes possible to apply a legal hermeneutic that is authentically juridical, in the sense that, in keeping with the meaning of the law, we can raise the crucial question of what is just in each particular case. ... Human rules must be interpreted in the light of the situations with which they deal. These situations always contain a core of natural law and of divine positive law, with which all norms must be in harmony if they are to be rational and truly juridical.

  "From this realistic standpoint, the sometimes arduous task of interpretation acquires a meaning and a goal. ... It is revitalised by an authentic contact with the overall situation of the Church, which facilitates access to the true meaning of the law".

  "It follows that the interpretation of canon law must take place within the Church. ... 'Sentire cum Ecclesia' also applies to discipline, because of the doctrinal foundations which are always present and operative in the Church's legal norms. Thus the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, about which I have spoken with reference to Vatican Council II (which is so closely associated with current canonical legislation), must also be applied to canon law".

  "This basic approach is applicable to all forms of interpretation: from academic research on canon law ... to the daily search for just solutions in the lives of the faithful and their communities. Meekness is necessary in order to accept the laws, seeking to study ... the juridical tradition of the Church in order to identify with that tradition and with the legal dispositions issued by pastors, especially pontifical laws and Magisterium on canonical issues, which are binding in their teachings on the law".

  All this has particular importance "as regards laws on the act of Marriage and its consummation, and Holy Orders. ... Particular care must be taken to apply all juridically binding measures which tend to ensure coherence in the interpretation and application of laws, as required by justice. These measures include the Pontifical Magisterium in this field, contained above all in addresses to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Rota itself, ... and the norms and declarations issued by other dicasteries of the Roman Curia".

  The Holy Father continued: "This hermeneutical unity in the essentials in no way prejudices the function of local tribunals, which are called to face the complex real situations that arise in all cultural contexts. Each of them must proceed with a sense of reverence towards the truth of law, applying judicial and administrative norms so as to achieve exemplary communion in discipline, this being an essential aspect of Church unity".

  Finally Pope Benedict turned his attention to the recent transfer to the Roman Rota of an office dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination. "I am sure", he said, "that there will be a generous response to this new ecclesial task".
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VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Pope was presented with two lambs which had earlier been blessed for today's feast of St. Agnes. The blessing took place in the basilica on Rome's Via Nomentana which bears the saint's name and where she is buried. The wool of the lambs is used to make the palliums bestowed on new metropolitan archbishops on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

  The pallium is a white woollen band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops. The lambs, the symbol of St. Agnes who was martyred in Rome around the year 305, are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.
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VATICAN CITY, 22 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from 18 to 25 January, was the theme for the Pope's reflections before praying the Angelus this morning, as he invited the faithful "to join the prayer which Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of His Passion: 'That they may all be one, so that the world may believe'".

  The theme of the texts for this year's Week of Prayer has been taken from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians: "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Pope explained how "we are all called to see Christ's victory over sin and death - that is, His Resurrection - as an event which radically transforms those who believe in Him and opens their way to incorruptible and immortal life. Recognising and welcoming the transforming power of faith in Jesus Christ supports Christians in their search for full unity among themselves".

  Benedict XVI affirmed that "our search for unity will be realistic if change first comes about within us, if we let God act, if we allow ourselves to be transformed in the image of Christ, if we enter into new life in Christ Who is the true victory. The visible unity of all Christians always comes from on high, from God; it requires humility to recognise our weakness and to accept the gift. However, to use a phrase often repeated by Blessed Pope John Paul II, each gift is also a task. And so the unity that comes from God requires a daily commitment on our part to open ourselves to one another in charity. ... The time we dedicate to prayer for the full communion of Christ's disciples will give us a deeper understanding of how we will be transformed by His victory, by the power of His Resurrection".

  In concluding the Pope recalled how the Week of Prayer will conclude this Wednesday with the celebration of Vespers in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for the Feast of the Conversion of the Apostle Paul. The event will be attended by representatives from other Churches and Christian communities, he said, "and together we will renew our prayer to the Lord, source of unity".

  After the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes for a happy New Year to countries in the Far East which are celebrating the new lunar year. "In the present global economic and social crisis, my hope for those peoples is that the new year may be marked by justice and peace, and bring relief to the suffering. My particular wish is that the young, with their enthusiasm and ideals, may offer a new hope to the world".
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VATICAN CITY, 23 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

 - Six prelates of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on their "ad limina" visit:

    - Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville.

    - Bishop Roger Joseph Foys of Covington.

    - Bishop Richard Frank Stika of Knoxville.

    - Bishop Ronald William Gainer of Lexington

    - Bishop James Terry Steib S.V.D. of Memphis.

    - Bishop William Francis Medley of Owensboro.

 - Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, ambassador of France, on his farewell visit.

  On Saturday 21 January he received in audience:

 - Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

 - Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
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Friday, January 20, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father received seventy professors and students of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the "Almo Collegio Capranica". Tomorrow the 555 year-old college will be celebrating the feast of its patroness St Agnes, and it was on that third-century virgin and martyr that the Holy Father focused his remarks.

  "For St. Agnes martyrdom meant agreeing to spend her young life, generously and freely, completely and without reserve, so that the Gospel could be announced as the truth and beauty which illuminates existence. ... In martyrdom Agnes also confirmed the other decisive element of her life: her virginity for Christ and the Church. Her path to the compete gift of self in martyrdom was, in fact, prepared by her informed, free and mature choice of virginity, testimony of her desire to belong entirely to Christ. ... While still young Agnes had learned that being a disciple of the Lord means loving Him, even at the cost of one's life".

  "Formation for the priesthood likewise requires integrity, maturity, asceticism, constancy and heroic fidelity in all aspects. All this must be founded upon a solid spiritual life animated by an intense relationship with God, as individuals and in the community, with a particular care for liturgical celebrations and frequent recourse to the Sacraments. Priestly life requires an ever-increasing thirst for sanctity, a clear 'sensus Ecclesiae' and an openness to fraternity without exclusion or bias", said the Holy Father.

  "Part of a priest's journey of sanctity is his decision to develop, with God's help, his own intellect, his own commitment: an authentic and solid personal culture which is the fruit of constant and impassioned study. Faith has an indispensable rational and intellectual element. ... Those who also achieve maturity in this global cultural formation will be more effective educators and animators of that worship 'in spirit and in truth' about which Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria. Such worship ... must become ... a process whereby man himself, as a being gifted with reason, becomes worship and glorification of the living God".

  "Always maintain a profound sense of the history and traditions of the Church", the Pope told his audience. "Here you have the opportunity to open yourselves to an international horizon. ... Learn to understand the situations of the various countries and Churches of the world. ... Ready yourselves to approach all the men and women you will meet, ensuring that no culture is a barrier to the Word of life, which you must announce even with your lives".

  "The Church expects a lot from young priests in the work of evangelisation and new evangelisation. I encourage you in your daily efforts that, rooted in the beauty of authentic tradition and profoundly united to Christ, you may bring Him into your communities with truth and joy".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience more than 7,000 members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. During the course of the ceremony, the Holy Father sent out seventeen new "ad gentes" missions of the Way: twelve to Europe, four to America and one to Africa. Each mission is made up of three or four large families, members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way who, accompanied by a priest, go to live in an area where Christian practise has lapsed or where the Gospel has never been announced.

  Extracts from the Holy Father's address to the group are given below.

  "Over these decades of life of the Way, your firm commitment has been to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ, ... often abandoning personal and material security. ... Bringing Christ to mankind and mankind to Christ is what animates all evangelising work. You achieve this on a path which helps those who have already been baptised to rediscover the beauty of the life of faith, the joy of being Christian. ... We know that this is not always easy. Sometimes you find yourselves in places in which a first announcement of the Gospel is needed: the 'missio ad gentes'. At other times you are present in areas which, though they have known Christ, have become indifferent to the faith, areas in which laicism has eclipsed the sense of God and obscured Christian values. May your commitment and witness be as a leaven which - patiently, respecting times and with 'sensus Ecclesia' - causes the dough to rise.

  "The Church has recognised in the Way a special gift which the Holy Spirit has given to our times. The approval of the Statutes and of the 'Catechetical Directory' are a sign of this. I encourage you to make your original contribution to the cause of the Gospel. In your vital work, always seek profound communion with the Apostolic See and with the pastors of the particular Churches of which you are a part. For the world in which we live, the unity and harmony of the ecclesial body are an important testimony to Christ and His Gospel".

  "You have just listened to the reading of a decree granting approval to the celebrations contained in the 'Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way' which are not strictly liturgical but are part of the itinerary of growth in the faith. This is a further element showing you that the Church accompanies you attentively and with patient discernment, that she understands your richness but also looks to the communion and harmony of the entire 'Corpus Ecclesiae'. .... The risen Christ is actively present in the Church's liturgical activity, making the paschal Mystery real and effective for our salvation today. ... This work of the Lord Jesus, this entering into the paschal Mystery, which is the true content of the liturgy, is also the work of the Church which, being His body, is a single entity with Christ"

  "This holds true particularly for the celebration of the Eucharist which, being the pinnacle of Christian life, is also the key to its rediscovery, which is also the aim of the neo-catechumenate. As your Statutes say: 'The Eucharist is essential to the neo-catechumenate which is a post-baptismal catechumenate, lived in small communities'.

  "Precisely in order to foment a renewal of the richness of sacramental life among people who have distanced themselves from the Church, or who have not received adequate formation, the members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way can celebrate the Sunday Eucharist in small communities".

  "Celebration in small communities, regulated by the books of the liturgy which must be accurately followed, and with the particular features approved in the Statutes of the Way, helps the followers of the Neo-Catechumenal Way to perceive the grace of being part of Christ's salvific mystery. ... At the same time the progressive maturity in faith of individuals and small communities must favour their insertion into the life of the ecclesial community as a whole, which has its ordinary form in the liturgical celebrations in parishes, in which and for which the neo-catechumenate is implemented.

  "Yet even during the journey it is important not to separate oneself from the parish community, and particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist which is the true place of universal unity, where the Lord embraces us in our various states of spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread that makes us one body".

  In conclusion the Holy Father thanked the neo-catechumens for their expressions of affection and asked them to remember him in their prayers.
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity today published a decree approving the celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. The decree is dated 8 January, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and bears the signatures of Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, respectively president and secretary of the council.

  The text published today reads: "By a decree of 11 May 2008 the Pontifical Council for the Laity gave definitive approval to the Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Subsequently, following due consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by a decree of 26 December 2010, the council gave approval to the publication of the Catechetical Directory as a valid and binding instrument for the catechesis of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

  "Now, pursuant to articles 131 and 133 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' on the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, having received the 'nulla osta' of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Regions 4 and 6), at the end of their "ad limina" visit. Extracts from his English-language remarks to them are given below.

  "At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation's founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature's God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

  "For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering. ... With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. ... The Church's defence of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a 'language' which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world".

  "The Church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

  "In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realise the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

  "Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would de-legitimise the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. ... In this regard, I would mention with appreciation your efforts to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life and to help them understand their personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time: respect for God's gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights".

  "No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment. Yet in faith we can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as from the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church's presence and witness in American society. The hope which these 'signs of the times' give us is itself a reason to renew our efforts to mobilise the intellectual and moral resources of the entire Catholic community in the service of the evangelisation of American culture and the building of the civilisation of love"
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - In keeping with a long-standing tradition a Finnish ecumenical delegation (led this year by Catholic Bishop Teemu Sippo S.C.I. of Helsinki and Lutheran Bishop Seppo Hakkinen of Mikkeli) is currently visiting Rome to mark the Feast of St. Henry. The group was received this morning in audience by the Holy Father. "Our deepened friendship and common witness to Jesus Christ - especially before today's world, which so often lacks true direction and longs to hear the message of salvation - must hasten our progress towards the resolution of our remaining differences, and indeed of all matters on which Christians are divided", the Pope said to them speaking English.

  "In recent times, ethical questions have become one of the points of difference among Christians, especially with regard to the proper understanding of human nature and its dignity. There is a need for Christians to arrive at a profound agreement on matters of anthropology, which can then help society and politicians to make wise and just decisions regarding important questions in the area of human life, family and sexuality. In this regard, the recent ecumenical bilateral dialogue document in the Finnish-Swedish context not only reflects a rapprochement between Catholics and Lutherans over the understanding of justification, but it urges Christians to renew their commitment to imitate Christ in life and action".

  "Our longing for the full, visible unity of Christians requires patient and trustful waiting", Pope Benedict concluded, "not in a spirit of helplessness or passivity, but with deep trust that the unity of all Christians in one Church is truly God's gift and not our own achievement. Such patient waiting, in prayerful hope, transforms us and prepares us for visible unity not as we plan it, but as God grants it".
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

 - Archbishop Edwin Frederick O'Brien, apostolic administrator of Baltimore and pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Mitchell Thomas Rozanski and Denis James Madden.

    - Bishop Paul Stephen Loverde of Arlington.

    - Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of Richmond.

    - Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston.

    - Bishop William Francis Malooly of Wilmington.

 - Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke O.S.B. of Eichstatt, Germany.
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VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Bishop William C. Skurla of Passaic, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines (Catholics 58,763, priests 64, permanent deacons 17, religious 88), U.S.A.

 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary and vicar for Jordan of the patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Latins presented by Bishop Selim Sayegh, in accordance with canon 411 of the Code of Canon Law.

 - Appointed Archbishop Maroun Elias Lahham of Tunis, Tunisia, as auxiliary and vicar for Jordan of the patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Latins (Catholics 160,700, priests 417, permanent deacons 3, religious 1,842), allowing him to maintain his title of archbishop "ad personam".
NER:RE:NEA/                            VIS 20120119 (120)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today, was the theme of Benedict XVI's general audience celebrated this morning in the Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father explained how this initiative has been held annually for more than a century and brings together Christians from Churches and ecclesial communities, who "invoke that extraordinary gift for which the Lord Jesus prayed during the Last Supper: ... 'That they may all be one'".

  The Week of Prayer - established in 1908 by Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community who later entered the Catholic Church - "is one of the most effective annual expressions ... of the impetus which Vatican Council II gave to the search for full union among all Christ's disciples", said the Pope. "This spiritual event, which unites Christians from all traditions, increases our awareness of the fact that the unity we strive for cannot result merely from our own efforts; rather, it is a gift we receive and must constantly invoke from on high".

  The texts for this year's Week of Prayer have been prepared by a group of representatives from the Catholic Church, and from the Polish Ecumenical Council which proposed the theme of "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The history of Poland - marked by defeats and victories, by the struggle to end oppression and achieve freedom - led the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply upon what it means to "win" and to "lose".

  In this context the Pope pointed out that, "in contrast to 'victory' understood in triumphal terms, Christ shows us a very different way. His victory does not involve power and might. ... Christ speaks of victory through love, mutual assistance and boosting the self-esteem of those who are 'last', forgotten, excluded. For all Christians, the best expression of such humble service is Jesus Christ Himself, His total gift of self, the victory of His love over death. ... We can share in this 'victory' only if we allow ourselves to be transformed by God".

  Likewise, "the unity for which we pray requires inner conversion, both shared and individual. But this must not be limited to cordiality and cooperation; we must reinforce our faith in God; ... we must enter into the new life in Christ, Who is our true and definitive victory; we must open to one another, accepting all the elements of unity which God has conserved for us; ... we must feel the pressing need to bear witness, before the men and women of our time, to the living God Who made Himself known in Christ".

  Ecumenism, as defined by Vatican Council II and Blessed John Paul II, is "the responsibility of the entire Church and of all the baptised, who must augment the partial communion that already exists among Christians until achieving full communion in truth and charity. Praying for unity ... must then be an integral part of the prayer life of all Christians, in all times and places, especially when people from different traditions come together to work for victory in Christ over sin, evil, injustice and the violation of human dignity".

  Benedict XVI also pointed out that "lack of unity among Christians hinders the effective announcement of the Gospel and endangers our credibility", but noted that, "as far as the fundamental truths of the faith are concerned, there is far more that unites us than divides us. ... This is a great challenge for the new evangelisation, which will be more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel and Jesus Christ, and give a joint response to the spiritual thirst of our times".

  In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the faithful to unite more intensely in prayer during the course of the coming Week, "to increase shared witness, solidarity and collaboration among Christians, in expectation of that glorious day when together we will all be able to celebrate the Sacraments and profess the faith transmitted by the Apostles".

  At the end of his audience, the Holy Father greeted a group of Italian lawyers, encouraging them to practise their profession "in faithfulness to the truth, which is a fundamental premise of justice".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Guwahati, India, presented by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil S.D.B., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop John Moolachira.
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