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Monday, April 30, 2012


Vatican City, 29 April 2012 (VIS) - Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, Benedict XVI conferred priestly ordination upon nine deacons from Roman diocesan seminaries. During the ceremony, which was held in St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father told the ordinands that the Roman tradition of celebrating ordinations on this Sunday, known as Good Shepherd Sunday, is rich in significance, its meaning being "associated with the convergence between the Word of God, the liturgical rite and the period of Easter in which it falls. The figure of the pastor in particular, so relevant in Sacred Scripture and naturally very important for our definition of priests, acquires its full truth and clarity in the face of Christ, in the light of the mystery of His death and resurrection", he said.

The Pope commented on the reading from the Gospel of St. John, which begins with Jesus' words: "I am the good shepherd" who "lays down his life for the sheep". This phrase leads us immediately "to the apex of the revelation of God as pastor of His people", he explained. "This centre or apex is Jesus ... Who died on the cross then rose from the grave on the third day. He rose with all His humanity, and so He involves us all ... in His transition from death to life. This event - Christ’s Easter - in which God's pastoral work was fully and definitively achieved, was a sacrificial event; therefore the Good Shepherd and the High Priest come together in Jesus, Who gave His life for us".

The second reading, from the First Letter of St. John, tells us of "the fruits of Christ's Easter: the fact that we have become children of God. ... In fact, man's status as child is the result of the salvific act of Jesus. Through His incarnation, death and resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, He gave man a new relationship with God: His own relationship with the Father. ... This relationship is already real in every sense, but it is not yet fully manifest; it will be in the end when - if God wills - we see His face unveiled.

"This, dear ordinands, is where the Good Shepherd wishes to lead us", the Pope added. "This is where the priest is called to lead the faithful under his care: to true life, to life 'in abundance'". At the same time, Jesus reaffirms that the characteristic of the true pastor is that of giving his life. "The biblical figure of the king-pastor, whose main task is to support the people of God, keep them united and guide then ... is fully realised in Jesus Christ in the sacrificial dimension, in His offer of life. It is realised ... in the mystery of the cross; that is, in the supreme act of humility and oblational love".

This, the Pope noted, is the direction in which the formulae used in the rite of Ordination lead. Indeed, among the questions regarding the "promises of the elect", the last, which is as the culmination and summary of the others, says "do you wish to be ever more closely united to Christ, the High Priest Who, as pure victim, offered Himself to the Father for us, consecrating yourselves to God together with Him for the salvation of all mankind?"

By responding, "the priest becomes uniquely involved in the mystery of Christ's sacrifice, through a personal bond with Him that prolongs His salvific mission. This union, which comes about through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, requires 'ever closer union' through the generous response of the priest himself".

Benedict XVI also mentioned the formula used at the moment of consigning the bread and wine to the new priests: "Receive the offer of the holy people for the Eucharistic sacrifice. Understand what you do, imitate what you administer; conform your life to the mystery of the cross of Christ the Lord". These words, he said, "underline the fact that, for priests, celebrating Mass every day does not mean merely undertaking a ritual function, but accomplishing a mission which involves all of existence, in communion with the risen Christ Who continues to enact the redeeming sacrifice in His Church".

The Holy Father went on to note that "Eucharistic and sacrificial aspects are inseparable from the pastoral aspect, of which they are the nucleus of truth and salvific strength upon which the effectiveness of all activity depends. ... The preaching, works and other activities which the Church carries out with her many initiatives would lose their salvific fruitfulness if the celebration of Christ's sacrifice were lacking. This celebration is entrusted to ordained priests. ... Only through the 'door' of the Paschal sacrifice can men and women of all times and places enter eternal life. It is through this 'holy path' that they can make the exodus which leads them to the 'promised land' of true freedom, to the 'green fields' of endless peace and joy.

"Dear ordinands, "the Holy Father added in conclusion, "may this Word of God illuminate your lives. And when the weight of the cross becomes more burdensome, know that that is the most precious moment, for you and for the people entrusted to your care. By faithfully and lovingly renewing your 'yes with God's help I want it', you help Christ, High Priest and Good Pastor, to feed His sheep; perhaps only the sheep which was lost, but for which there will be great joy in heaven".


Vatican City, 29 April 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Holy Father asked people to pray "that all young people may be attentive to the inner voice of God, which speaks to their hearts and calls them to abandon everything in order to serve Him". Addressing faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Regina Coeli Benedict XVI affirmed that "the Lord calls always, but often we are not listening.

"We are distracted by many things, by other more superficial voices", he added. "We are afraid to listen to the voice of the Lord because we believe it can detract from our freedom. The truth is that each of us is the fruit of love; the love of our parents, of course, but also and more profoundly the love of God. ... When we become aware of this our lives change; they become a response to that love which is greater than any other, and thus our freedom is fully realised".

The Pope then mentioned the new priests he had ordained that morning during Mass in the Vatican Basilica. "They are no different to other young men", he affirmed, "But they have been profoundly touched by the beauty and love of God, and could not but respond with the whole of their lives". They discovered the love of God in Jesus Christ, in His Gospel, in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church. "In the Church we discover that the life of each human being is a story of love", he said.

To conclude Benedict XVI exhorted the faithful to pray that "the seeds of vocation which God so generously scatters" may germinate and come to fruit in all areas of the Church, "in the joy of having been called and in the variety of gifts. Families in particular must be the first place in which to 'breathe' the love of God, which gives inner strength even in the midst of the difficulties and trials of life. People who experience the love of God in their family, receive a priceless gift which, in time, will come to bear fruit".


Vatican City, 30 April 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has been holding its eighteenth plenary session in Rome over recent days, during which participants focused their attention on the contribution Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical "Pacem in Terris" has made to the social doctrine of the Church.

 "At the height of the Cold War, when the world was still coming to terms with the threat posed by the existence and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Pope John addressed what has been described as an “open letter to the world”. It was a heartfelt appeal ... for the cause of peace and justice to be vigorously promoted at every level of society, nationally and internationally". These words were expressed by Benedict XVI in a message to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the academy. The message, written in English, was made public today.

"While the global political landscape has changed significantly in the intervening half-century, the vision offered by Pope John still has much to teach us as we struggle to face the new challenges for peace and justice in the post-Cold-War era, amid the continuing proliferation of armaments", the Pope writes. "Pope John’s Encyclical was and is a powerful summons to engage in that creative dialogue between the Church and the world, between believers and non-believers, which Vatican Council II set out to promote. It offers a thoroughly Christian vision of man’s place in the cosmos, confident that in so doing it is holding out a message of hope to a world that is hungry for it, a message that can resonate with people of all beliefs and none, because its truth is accessible to all.

"In that same spirit, after the terrorist attacks that shook the world in September 2001, Blessed John Paul II insisted that there can be “no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness”. The notion of forgiveness needs to find its way into international discourse on conflict resolution, so as to transform the sterile language of mutual recrimination which leads nowhere. If the human creature is made in the image of God, a God of justice Who is “rich in mercy”, then these qualities need to be reflected in the conduct of human affairs. ... Forgiveness is not a denial of wrong-doing, but a participation in the healing and transforming love of God which reconciles and restores".

"Historic wrongs and injustices can only be overcome if men and women are inspired by a message of healing and hope, a message that offers a way forward, out of the impasse that so often locks people and nations into a vicious circle of violence. Since 1963, some of the conflicts that seemed insoluble at the time have passed into history. Let us take heart, then, as we struggle for peace and justice in the world today, confident that our common pursuit of the divinely established order, of a world where the dignity of every human person is accorded the respect that is due, can and will bear fruit", the Holy Father concludes.


Vatican City, 28 April 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care has organised an international congress entitled: "The Blind. 'My Teacher, let me see again!'" The event is due to be held on 4 and 5 May in the Pius X Hall on Via della Conciliazione in Rome, and will focus primarily on the theological-pastoral and medical-scientific aspects of treating blind and partially sighted persons.

Participants will include Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Silvio Paolo Mariotti, head of the blindness and deafness prevention programme of the World Health Organisation. Also present will be Msgr. Roberto Brunelli, director of the diocesan museum of Mantua, Italy, who will illustrate the planning and realisation of a special room for blind people, and the results obtained. Two touch-perceptible versions of works from the museum will be on display at the congress.


Vatican City, 30 April 2012 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for May is: "That initiatives which defend and uphold the role of the family may be promoted within society".

His mission intention is: "That Mary, Queen of the World and Star of Evangelisation, may accompany all missionaries in proclaiming her Son Jesus".


Vatican City, 30 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, accompanied by Bishop Frans Daneels, secretary of the tribunal.

- Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

- Archbishop Luciano Russo, apostolic nuncio to Rwanda, accompanied by members of his family.

On Saturday 28 April he received in audience:

- Cesar Castillo Ramirez, the new Peruvian ambassador to the Holy See, for the presentation of his Letters of Credence.

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


Vatican City, 30 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Pawel Malecha as substitute promoter of justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and Fr. Jose Fernando Mejia Yanez M.G., as head of the chancellery of the same tribunal.

- Antonio Chiminello, consultor of the prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as vice director of the Auditors Office of Vatican City State.

On Saturday 28 April it was made public that the Holy Father:

- Appointed Msgr. Tadeusz Litynski of the clergy of Zielona Gora-Gorzow, Poland, pastor of the parish of Christ the King at Gorzow Wielkopolski, as auxiliary of Zielona Gora-Gorzow (area 10,805, population 1,120,158, Catholics 1,088,947, priests 629, religious 297). The bishop-elect was born in Kozuchow, Poland in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1988. He has worked in pastoral care in a number of parishes, and has served in the diocesan tribunal, first as notary, then as defender of the bond and judge.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Gweru, Zimbabwe, presented by Bishop Martin Munyanyi, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, appointing Bishop Michael Dixon Bhasera of Masvingo as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Gweru.


Vatican City, 30 April 2012 (VIS) - Tomorrow Tuesday 1 May, feast of St. Joseph the Worker and a holiday in the Vatican, no VIS bulletin will be transmitted. Service will resume on Wednesday 2 May.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Vatican City, 27 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

- Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio to South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.

- Maria Jesus Figa Lopez-Palop, Spanish ambassador, on her farewell visit.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Vatican City, 26 April 2012 (VIS) - The Commission for the Catholic Church in China, established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of major importance regarding the life of the Catholic Church in that country, held its fifth meeting in the Vatican from 23 to 25 April. At the end of the gathering the commission released a communique in English and Chinese, the text of which is given below.

"With deep spiritual closeness to all brothers and sisters in the faith living in China, the Commission recognised the gifts of fidelity and dedication which the Lord has given to His Church throughout the past year.

"The participants examined the theme of the formation of the lay faithful, in view also of the “Year of Faith” which the Holy Father has announced will be held from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013. The words of the Gospel, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man”, set out the task to which the Catholic lay faithful in China are called.

"In the first place, they must enter ever more deeply into the life of the Church, nourished by doctrine, conscious of their being part of the Catholic Church, and consistent with the requirements of life in Christ, which necessitates hearing the word of God with faith. From this perspective, a profound knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be a particularly important aid for them.

"In the second place, lay Catholics are called to take part in civic life and in the world of work, offering their own contribution with full responsibility: by loving life and respecting it from conception until natural death; by loving the family, promoting values which are also proper to traditional Chinese culture; by loving their country as honest citizens concerned for the common good. As an ancient Chinese sage put it, “the way of great learning consists in illustrating noble virtues, in renewing and staying close to people, and in reaching the supreme good”.

"Thirdly, the lay faithful in China must grow in grace before God and men, by nourishing and perfecting their own spiritual life as active members of the parish community and by involving themselves in the apostolate, also with the help of associations and Church movements which foster their ongoing formation.

"In this regard, the Commission noted with joy that the proclamation of the Gospel by Catholic communities, which are sometimes poor and without material resources, encourages many adults to request baptism every year. It was thus emphasised that the dioceses in China should promote a serious catechumenate, adopt the rite of Christian initiation of adults, and care for their formation after Baptism as well. Pastors, both bishops and priests, should make every effort to consolidate the lay faithful in their knowledge of the teachings of Vatican Council II, and in particular of ecclesiology and the social doctrine of the Church. Moreover, it will be useful to dedicate special solicitude to the preparation of pastoral workers dedicated to evangelisation, catechesis and works of charity. The integral formation of lay Catholics, above all in those places where rapid social evolution and significant economic development are occurring, is part of a commitment to make the local Church vibrant and thriving. Finally, an adequate response to the phenomenon of internal migration and urbanisation is to be hoped for.

"Practical indications, which the Holy See has proposed and will propose to the universal Church for a fruitful celebration of the “Year of Faith”, will undoubtedly be heeded with enthusiasm and with a creative spirit also in China. These suggestions will stimulate the Catholic community to find adequate initiatives to put into practice what Pope Benedict XVI has written regarding the lay faithful and the family in his Letter of 27 May 2007 to the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China.

"The lay faithful, therefore, are called to participate with apostolic zeal in the evangelisation of the Chinese people. By virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they receive from Christ the grace and the task to build up the Church.

"In the course of the meeting, attention then focused on the pastors, in particular on bishops and priests who are detained or who are suffering unjust limitations on the performance of their mission. Admiration was expressed for the strength of their faith and for their union with the Holy Father. They need the Church’s prayer in a special way so as to face their difficulties with serenity and in fidelity to Christ.

"The Church needs good bishops. They are a gift of God to His people, for the benefit of whom they exercise the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing. They are also called to provide reasons for life and hope to all whom they meet. They receive from Christ, through the Church, their task and authority, which they exercise in union with the Roman Pontiff and with all the bishops throughout the world.

"Concerning the particular situation of the Church in China, it was noted that the claim of the entities, called “One Association and One Conference”, to place themselves above the bishops and to guide the life of the ecclesial community, persists. In this regard, the instructions given in the Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, remain current and provide direction. It is important to observe them so that the face of the Church may shine forth with clarity in the midst of the noble Chinese people.

"This clarity has been obfuscated by those clerics who have illegitimately received episcopal ordination and by those illegitimate bishops who have carried out acts of jurisdiction or who have administered the Sacraments. In so doing, they usurp a power which the Church has not conferred upon them. In recent days, some of them have participated in episcopal ordinations which were authorised by the Church. The behaviour of these bishops, in addition to aggravating their canonical status, has disturbed the faithful and often has violated the consciences of the priests and lay faithful who were involved.

"Furthermore, this clarity has been obfuscated by legitimate bishops who have participated in illegitimate episcopal ordinations. Many of these bishops have since clarified their position and have requested pardon; the Holy Father has benevolently forgiven them. Others, however, who also took part in these illegitimate ordinations, have not yet made this clarification, and thus are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

"The participants in the plenary meeting follow these painful events with attention and in a spirit of charity. Though they are aware of the particular difficulties of the present situation, they recall that evangelisation cannot be achieved by sacrificing essential elements of the Catholic faith and discipline. Obedience to Christ and to the Successor of Peter is the presupposition of every true renewal and this applies to every category within the People of God. Lay people themselves are sensitive to the clear ecclesial fidelity of their own pastors.

"With regard to priests, consecrated persons and seminarians, the commission reflected once again on the importance of their formation, rejoicing in the sincere and praiseworthy commitment to provide not only suitable programmes of human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation for the seminarians, but also times of ongoing formation for priests. In addition, appreciative mention was made of the initiatives which are being undertaken by various female religious institutes to coordinate formation activities for consecrated persons.

"It was noted, on the other hand, that the number of vocations to the priestly and religious life has noticeably declined in recent years. The challenges of the situation impel the faithful to invoke the Lord of the harvest and to strengthen the awareness that each priest and woman religious, faithful and luminous in their evangelical witness, are the primary sign still capable of encouraging today’s young men and women to follow Christ with undivided heart.

"Finally, the Commission recalls that this upcoming 24 May, the liturgical memorial of the “Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians” and the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, will provide a particularly auspicious opportunity for the entire Church to ask for energy and consolation, mercy and courage, for the Catholic community in China".


Vatican City, 26 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

- Archbishop Francois Bacque, apostolic nuncio.

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

- Archbishop John George Vianzy of Portland in Oregon.

- Bishop-elect Liam Stephen Carey of Baker, accompanied by Bishop William Stephen Skylstad, emeritus of Spokane and apostolic administrator of Baker.

- Bishop Michael Patrick Driscoll of Boise City.

- Bishop Michael William Warfel of Great Falls-Billings.

- Bishop George Leo Thomas of Helena.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) - If prayer and the Word of God do not nourish our spiritual life, we run the risk being suffocated by the many cares and concerns of daily existence. Prayer makes us see reality with new eyes and helps us to find our way in the midst of adversity. These words were pronounced by Benedict XVI in his catechesis during this morning's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 20,000 faithful.

The Pope explained how prayer encouraged the early Church, though beset by difficulties, and how it can help man to live a better life today. "Ever since the beginning of her journey the Church has had to face unexpected situations, new questions and emergencies, to which she has sought to respond in the light of the faith, allowing herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit", he said.

This was already evident at the time of the Apostles. In the Acts, Luke the Evangelist recounts "a serious problem which the first Christian community in Jerusalem had to face and resolve, ... concerning the pastoral care of charity towards the isolated and the needy. It was not an unimportant issue and risked creating divisions within the Church. ... What stands out is that, at that moment of pastoral emergency, the Apostles made a distinction. Their primary duty was to announce the Word of God according to the Lord’s mandate, but they considered as equally serious the task of ... making loving provision for their brothers and sisters in situations of need, in order to respond to Jesus' command: love one another as I have loved you".

The Apostles made a clear decision: it was not right for them to neglect prayer and preaching, therefore "seven men of good standing were chosen, the Apostles prayed for the strength of the Holy Spirit, then laid their hands upon them that they might dedicate themselves to the diaconate of charity". This decision, the Pope explained, "shows the priority we must give to God and to our relationship with Him in prayer, both as individuals and in the community. If we do not have the capacity to pause and listen to the Lord, to enter into dialogue with Him, we risk becoming ineffectually agitated by problems, difficulties and needs, even those of an ecclesial and pastoral nature".

The saints, Pope Benedict said, "experienced profound unity between prayer and action, between total love of God and love for their fellows". St. Bernard, a model of harmony between these two aspects, "affirmed that too many concerns ... often end up by hardening our heart and causing our spirit to suffer. This is an important reminder for us today, accustomed as we are to evaluating everything with the criterion of productivity and efficiency. That passage from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us of the importance of work and commitment in daily activity, which must be carried out with responsibility and dedication, but also of our need for God, for His guidance and His light which give us strength and hope. If we do not pray trustingly every day, our activities become empty, they lose all profundity and are reduced to mere activism which, in the final analysis, leaves us unsatisfied. ... Every step, every action in our lives, even in the Church, must be done before God, in prayer and in the light of His Word".

When prayer is nourished with the Word of God "we see reality with new eyes, with the eyes of the faith and the Lord, Who speaks to the mind and to the heart, gives new light for the journey in all times and situations. We believe in the power of the Word of God and of prayer. ... If the lungs of prayer and of the Word of God do not nourish the breath of spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the midst of a thousand daily cares. Prayer is the breath of the soul and of life".

In conclusion, Benedict XVI noted that when we pray, "in the silence of a church or in our room, we are united in the Lord to our brothers and sisters in the faith, like so many instruments which, each in its own individuality, raise a single great symphony of intercession, thanksgiving and praise".


Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) - On 13 May Benedict XVI is scheduled to make a pastoral visit to Arezzo, La Verna and Sansepolcro, three Italian localities with a long history of monasticism and contemplative life.

The Holy Father will leave the Vatican by helicopter at 8 a.m. on Sunday 13 May, and is due to land at Arezzo an hour later. At 10 a.m. he will concelebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli in the "Il Prato" park, after which he will make a private visit to the cathedral of San Donato. Having lunched with bishops of the Tuscany region, he will again board his helicopter to travel to the shrine of La Verna where he will visit the Chapel of the Wounds in which St. Francis of Assisi used to meditate, then meet with members of the Friars Minor and Poor Clares from the local area on the esplanade in front of the building.

At 6.30 p.m. he will travel by helicopter to Sansepolcro. There he will visit the local cathedral which houses a famous crucifix known as the "Santo Volto" (Holy Face), considered to be one of the oldest images of the the clothed and crucified Christ. At 7.30 p.m. he will meet the inhabitants of the town in the piazza Torre di Berta before returning to the Vatican at 8.15 p.m.


Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) - At the end of his catechesis this morning, the Pope pronounced greetings in various languages to the faithful present in St. Peter's Square. He made particular mention of Slovak pilgrims who next Sunday will be celebrating a Day of Prayer for Vocations. "Ask Christ the Good Shepherd", he said, "always to send new workers to serve Him".

Finally he addressed some words in Italian to relatives of traffic accident victims, assuring them of his prayers "for those who have lost their lives on the roads", and recalling "our constant duty to drive carefully and with a sense of responsibility".


Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a note released this morning by the Secretariat of State:

"In the wake of recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media, the Holy Father has ordered the creation of a Commission of Cardinals to undertake an authoritative investigation and throw light on these episodes.

"His Holiness has determined that the said Commission of Cardinals, which will act at all levels on the strength of its pontifical mandate, shall be presided by Cardinal Julian Herranz, and shall have as its members Cardinal Jozef Tomko and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi.

"The Commission of Cardinals celebrated its first sitting on 24 April to establish the method and timetable for its activities".


Vatican City, 25 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Maraba, Brazil, presented by Bishop Jose Foralosso S.D.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 April 2012 (VIS) - The "Osservatore Romano" and the Italian newspaper "Il Sole e 24 Ore" are paying homage to the Holy Father for the seventh anniversary of his election with a book entitled "Benedict XVI, Theologian and Pontiff". The volume is being distributed with today's edition of "Il Sole e 24 Ore" and will shortly be available in digital format on the newspaper’s website, with addition multimedia content and English and Spanish translations. The Spanish newspaper "La Razon" will place the book on its own website on 26 April.

In the prologue to the work Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano", explains that, for the Holy Father's eighty-fifth birthday and the beginning of the eighth year of his pontificate, it was decided to publish a book bringing together a number of little-known texts on the figure of Benedict XVI. These include a dialogue on secularism and religion between the philosopher Armando Massarenti and the journalist Giuliano Ferrara, some suggestions for reading the works of Joseph Ratzinger by the historiographer Lucetta Scaraffia, and a chronological summary of the life of "the theologian who became pontiff".

This initiative, Vian writes, "aims above all to contribute to an understanding of the person and works of an intellectual who has dedicated, and continues to dedicate his life to the tireless search for truth, engaging in continuous dialogue between faith and reason, and using a language accessible to everyone".


Vatican City, 24 April 2012 (VIS) - The Catholic news agency Fides has reported that 22,104 people were baptised in China on Easter Sunday. The statistics were collected by the Study Centre of Faith in the Chinese province of He Bei. The newly-baptised Catholics, 75 per cent of whom are adults, belong to 101 dioceses. In He Bei itself 4,410 people were baptised on Easter Day, 615 more than last year, while in Hong Kong, which has more than 360,000 faithful, there were 3,500 baptisms.

In evaluating these figures, it should be borne in mind that some dioceses do not celebrate all their baptisms at Easter. For example, in Shang Hai there were 379 Easter baptisms but the total figure could exceed 1,500 by the end of the year. According to Sr. Li Guo Shuang of the Study Center, "there are still some dioceses or communities which, due to communication difficulties, have not yet reported data to us. So we must emphasise that the figures are not complete, they may still increase".

Monday, April 23, 2012


Vatican City, 22 April 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, the third Sunday of Easter, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the signs the Risen Christ gave His disciples as they, "startled and terrified, thought they were seeing a ghost".

"The resurrection", the Holy Father explained, "did not cancel the signs of the crucifixion. Jesus showed the Apostles His hands and feet; in order to convince them He even asked for something to eat. ... Thanks to these very realistic signs, the disciples overcame their initial doubt and opened to the gift of the faith, a faith which enabled them to understand the things written about Christ 'in the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms'. ... The Saviour assures us of His real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist and, just as the disciples of Emmaus recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so we too meet the Lord in the celebration of the Eucharist".

Finally the Holy Father recalled that during the period of Easter it is customary for the Church to administer First Communion to children. In this context, he exhorted pastors, parents and catechists "to prepare this feast of the faith well, with great fervour but also with sobriety".

Following the Regina Coeli the Holy Father mentioned yesterday's beatification in Mexico of Maria Ines Teresa of the Blessed Sacrament Arias Espinosa, foundress of the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. "Let us give thanks to God for this exemplary figure of Mexico, a land I had the joy of visiting and which is always in my heart", he said,

Finally the Pope turned his attention to the Day of the Sacred Heart Catholic University, which is being celebrated this Sunday in Italy on the theme: "The Future of the Country in the Hearts of the Young". He said: "It is important for young people to be educated in values, over and above scientific and technical knowledge. It was for this reason that Fr. Gemelli founded the Catholic University, which I hope will remain abreast of the times but also faithful to its origins".


Vatican City, 23 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has written a message for the seventh world congress on the pastoral care of tourism, which begins today in the Mexican city of Cancun. The message is addressed to Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and to Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cardenas L.C., prelate of Cancun-Chetumanl.

 "Tourism", the Pope writes in the English-language version of his message, "like other human realities, is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God. ... Tourism, together with vacations and free time, is a privileged occasion for physical and spiritual renewal; it facilitates the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds and offers the opportunity of drawing close to nature and hence opening the way to listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.

"Travelling reflects our being as 'homo viator'; at the same time it evokes that other deeper and more meaningful journey that we are called to follow and which leads to our encounter with God. Travelling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God and be the occasion of an experience of faith, “for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator”.

"On the other hand tourism, like every human reality, is not exempt from dangers or negative dimensions. We refer to evils that must be dealt with urgently since they trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped. Sexual tourism is one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities. The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples and undergoing abuse and torture, sadly happen often in the context of tourism. This should bring all who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations".

"I would like to highlight three areas which should receive full attention from the pastoral care of tourism. Firstly, we need shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological. The enjoyment of free time and regular vacations are an opportunity as well as a right. The Church, within its own sphere of competence, is committed to continue offering its cooperation, so that this right will become a reality for all people, especially for less fortunate communities.

"Secondly, our pastoral action should never loose sight of the 'via pulchritudinis', “the way of beauty”. Many of the manifestations of the historical and cultural religious patrimony are “authentic ways to God, Supreme Beauty. ... It is important to welcome tourists and offer them well-organised visits, with due respect for sacred places and the liturgical action, for which many of these works came into being and which continues to be their main purpose.

"Thirdly, pastoral activity in the area of tourism should care for Christians as they enjoy their vacations and free time in such a way that these will contribute to their human and spiritual growth. Truly this is “an appropriate moment to let the body relax ... in order to grow in personal relationship with Christ”".

"The new evangelisation, to which all are called, requires us to keep in mind and to make good use of the many occasions that tourism offers us to put forward Christ as the supreme response to modern man’s fundamental questions".


Vatican City, 21 April 2012 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI received members of the Papal Foundation on their annual visit to Rome. The agency is a Catholic association founded in Philadelphia, U.S.A., in 1990 by the now-deceased Cardinal John Krol, which every year finances the needs of the Church around the world.

Speaking to the group in English, the Pope thanked them for their support for "a wide variety of apostolates". He also noted that later this year he will canonise two new saints from North America, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, "striking examples of sanctity and heroic charity" who "also remind us of the historic role played by women in the building up of the Church in America. By their example and intercession, may all of you be confirmed in the pursuit of holiness and in your efforts to contribute to the growth of God’s Kingdom in the hearts of people today".

"In these days I ask your continued prayers for the needs of the universal Church and in particular for the freedom of Christians to proclaim the Gospel and bring its light to the urgent moral issues of our time", the Pope concluded.


Vatican City, 21 April 2012 (VIS) - The commission established by Benedict XVI in 2007 to study questions of importance concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China is meeting in the Vatican today. The commission includes superiors of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia with responsibility in this area, as well as certain representatives of the Chinese episcopate and of religious congregations.

A communique released by the Holy See Press Office notes that, while previous meetings have examined the formation of seminarians, consecrated persons and priests, this year the focus will be on the formation of the lay faithful in the light of the situation of the Catholic community in China, and in the context of the "Year of Faith" which will be celebrated by the entire Church from 11 October 2012 to 23 November 2013. Attention will also be given to progress made in the field of forming priests, consecrated persons and seminarians, and to what remains to be done to ensure they are adequately prepared for the service they are called to offer, within the Church and for the good of society. The meeting of the commission is due to end on 25 April.


Vatican City, 21 April 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday in the Paul VI Hall the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, Germany, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, performed Symphony No. 2 "Lobgesang" by Felix Mendelssohn as a tribute to Benedict XVI for his eighty-fifth birthday. The concert took place under the patronage of the Free State of Saxony and the city of Leipzig.

Following the performance, and having first expressed his thanks to the musicians and organisers, the Holy Father recalled how Mendelssohn had composed the symphony to mark the fourth centenary of the invention of printing, and that it was first performed at the Thomaskirche of Leipzig (the church of Johann Sebastian Bach) on 25 January 1840. The conductor on that occasion had been Mendelssohn himself, the long-time director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

"Art as praise of God, supreme Beauty", the Pope said, "lies at the root of the way that Mendelssohn composed, not just as regards liturgical or sacred music, but his entire oeuvre. ... For him, sacred music was not at a higher level than any other kind; each in its own way had to serve and honour God".

The Holy Father concluded by quoting the words written by Robert Schumann after having attended the first performance of the "Lobgesang": "Let us - as the text so splendidly set to music by the maestro says - 'lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light'".


Vatican City, 23 April 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 April and June.


Sunday 29: Fourth Sunday of Easter. Priestly ordinations at 9 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica.


Sunday 13: Sixth Sunday of Easter. Pastoral visit to the Italian towns of Arezzo, La Verna and San Sepolcro.

Sunday 27: Solemnity of Pentecost. Mass at 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica.


Friday 1 to Sunday 3: Pastoral visit to Milan for the World Meeting of Families.

Thursday 7: Solemnity of Corpus Christi. At 7 p.m., Mass in the basilica of St. John Lateran, procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major and Eucharistic blessing.

Friday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. Mass at 9 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Blessing and imposition of the pallium on new metropolitan archbishops.


Vatican City, 23 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

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

- Archbishop Roger Lawrence Schwietz O.M.I. of Anchorage.

- Bishop Donald J. Kettler of Fairbanks.

- Bishop Edward James Burns of Juneau.

- Archbishop James Peter Sartain of Seattle, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo M.S    p.S. and by Archbishop emeritus Alexander J, Brunett.

- Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane.

- Bishop Joseph Jude Tyson of Yakima, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Carlos Arthur Sevilla S.J.

On Saturday 21 April he received in audience:

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

- Bishop William Joseph Justice and Bishop Robert Walter McElroy, auxiliaries of San Francisco, accompanied by Bishop Ignatius Chung Wang, former auxiliary, and by Archbishop emeritus John Raphael Quinn.

- Bishop Clarence R. Silva of Honolulu.

- Bishop Joseph Anthony Pepe of Las Vegas.

- Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of Oakland.

- Bishop Randolph Roque Calvo of Reno.

- Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, accompanied by Bishop emeritus William Keith Weigand.

- John Charles Wester of Salt Lake City.

- Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath of San Jose in California.

- Bishop Robert Francis Vasa of Santa Rosa, accompanied by Bishop emeritus Daniel Francis Walsh.

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


Vatican City, 21 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has appointed the following cardinals, created in the consistory of 18 February as members of dicasteries and offices of the Roman Curia:

1. Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, as members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

2. Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India; Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, U.S.A.; Cardinal Lucian Muresan, major archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Julia of the Romanians, Romania; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, as members of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

3. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, as member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

4. Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major, and Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major, as members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

5. Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major; Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as members of the Congregation for Bishops.

6. Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Mary Major; Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as members of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

7. Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands, and Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as members of the Congregation for the Clergy.

8. Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka O.P., archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic, and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

9. Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada; Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands; Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy; Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Berlin, Germany; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, as members of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

10. Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as members of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

11. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, as member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

12. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Berlin, Germany, and Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, as members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

13. Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, as member of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

14. Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka O.P., archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic, and Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

15. Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, as member of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

16. Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major, as member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

17. Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as member of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

18. Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China, as member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

19. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, Italy, as member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

20. Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto, Canada, and Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, U.S.A., as members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

21. Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, archbishop of New York, U.S.A., as member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

22. Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

On Saturday 21 April it was also made public that the Holy Father appointed:

- As members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, and Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, U.S.A.

- Archbishop Lorenzo Balisseri, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, as a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

- Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as member of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.

- Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the millennium of the foundation of the Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli, Italy, due to take place on 19 June.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Vatican City, 20 April 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission today concludes its annual plenary session, during which it has been examining the theme: "Inspiration and Truth in the Bible". For the occasion the Holy Father has sent a message to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the commission.

The Pope notes that the theme of this year's gathering is vital "for a correct interpretation of the biblical message. It is inspiration as an act of God which ensures that human utterance can express the Word of God", he writes. "Indeed, any interpretation of Sacred Scripture which overlooks or forgets its inspiration fails to take account of its most important and precious characteristic; that is, the fact that it comes from God".

"Thanks to the charisma of inspiration", the Benedict XVI goes on, "the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and tangible appeal. Yet the Word of God is not confined to writing, for although the Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be announced and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. Thus the Word of God, fixed in the holy texts, is not an inert matter at the heart of the Church but the supreme rule of her faith and her life force. The Tradition she draws from the Apostles advances with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and grows through reflection and study on the part of believers, through the individual experience of spiritual life and the preaching of bishops".

Hence the need for deeper study on the theme of inspiration and truth in the Bible, because it is "fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that Sacred Scripture be interpreted according to its nature; and inspiration and truth are constituent characteristics of that nature".

In conclusion, the Pope expresses his appreciation to the Pontifical Biblical Commission for the activities it undertakes to promote knowledge, study and acceptance of the Word of God in the world.


Vatican City, 20 April 2012 (VIS) - The Vatican internet service released a communique yesterday announcing that, as of 19 April, seventh anniversary of the election of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the new www.vatican.va widget will be available to users of the Internet.

By using this interface it will be possible, automatically and dynamically, to transfer some of the most important content contained in the institutional website www.vatican.va to another user's website.

Pontifical Magisterium is thus enriched with a another means of communication, making the content of the institutional website more widely known, and using all the opportunities technology offers in order to spread the word of the Holy Father.

In particular, using the new widget it will be possible to export all the principal novelties, the Sunday Angelus, Audiences and the Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.

The "Focus" area of the homepage www.vatican.va contains the mail address at which users may request the code to insert on the own homepage of their own websites in order to visualise the "vatican.va widget".


Vatican City, 20 April 2012 (VIS) - Among the many people who have contacted the Holy Father Benedict XVI to congratulate him on his birthday, and on the seventh election of his election, was Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, who made a private visit to the Vatican to see the Pope on Wednesday.

The visit reflects the climate of understanding and collaboration between Italy and the Holy See, which was also on display later that day, during the traditional reception offered by the apostolic nunciature to Italy to mark the anniversary of the papal election. Prime Minister Monti attended and was welcomed by the nuncio, Archbishop Adriano Bernardini. Also present were the ministers of justice, employment, and economic development, as well as other national, regional and local authorities, and ecclesiastical figures. During the event, Prime Minister Monti held a long talk with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also sent the Pope a message of congratulation, in the name of President Barack Obama. The message highlights Benedict XVI's tireless efforts "to unite peoples of different faiths" in the one creed of peace.


Vatican City, 20 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Stanislaw Tillich, minister president of the Free State of Saxony, Germany, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.

- Archbishop Giovanni d'Aniello, apostolic nuncio to Brazil.

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

- Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of Los Angeles, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops Thomas J. Curry, Gerald E. Wilkerson, Edward William Clark, Alexander Salazar and Oscar Azarcon Solis, and by Cardinal Roger Michael Mahony, archbishop emeritus.

- Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa of Fresno.

- Bishop Richard John Garcia of Monterey in California.

- Bishop Tod David Brown of Orange in California, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Mai Luong.

- Bishop Gerald Richard Barnes of San Bernardino, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Rutilio Juan Del Riego.

- Bishop Robert Henry Brom of San Diego, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo B. Flores.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - Returning to a recent series of catecheses on the theme of prayer, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience this morning to what has been called the "Little Pentecost", an event which coincided with a difficult moment in the life of the nascent Church.

The Acts of the Apostles tell us how Peter and John were released from prison following their arrest for preaching the Gospel. They returned to their companions who, listening to their account of what had happened, did not reflect on how to react or defend themselves, or on what measures to adopt; rather, "in that moment of trial they all raised their voices together to God", Who replied by sending the Holy Spirit.

"This was the unanimous and united prayer of the whole community, which was facing persecution because of Jesus", the Pope explained. It involved the community "because the experiences of the two Apostles did not concern only them, but the entire Church. In suffering persecution for Jesus' sake, the community not only did not give way to fear and division, but was profoundly united in prayer".

When believers suffer for the faith, "unity is consolidated rather than undermined, because it is supported by unshakeable prayer. The Church must not fear the persecutions she is forced to suffer in her history, but must trust always, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, in the presence, help and strength of God, invoked in prayer".

Before trying to understand what had happened the first community sought to interpret events through the faith, using the Word of God. In the Acts of the Apostles St. Luke notes how the community of Jerusalem began by invoking God's greatness and immensity. Then, using the Psalms, those early Christians recalled how God had acted in history alongside His people, "showing Himself to be a God Who is concerned for human beings, Who does not abandon them", Benedict XVI said. Subsequently the events were read "in the light of Christ, Who is the key to understanding all things, even persecution. The opposition to Jesus, His passion and death were reread ... as the accomplishment of the plan of God the Father for the salvation of the world. ... In prayer, meditating on Sacred Scripture in the light of the mystery of Christ helps us to interpret current reality as part of the history of salvation which God enacts in the world".

Thus the plea the first Christian community of Jerusalem made to God in prayer was not "to be defended, to be spared from trials or to enjoy success, but only to be able to proclaim ... the Word of God frankly, freely and courageously". The community also asked that "their proclamation be accompanied by the hand of God so that healing, signs and wonders could be accomplished. In other words, they wanted to become a force for the transformation of reality, changing the hearts, minds and lives of men and bringing the radical novelty of the Gospel".

"We too", the Holy Father concluded his catechesis, "must bring the events of our daily lives into our prayer, in order to seek their most profound significance. And we too, like the first Christian community, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God and meditating on Sacred Scripture, may learn to see that God is present in our lives, even at moments of difficulty, and that everything ... is part of a plan of love in which the final victory over evil, sin and death is truly is that of goodness, grace, life and God".


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - After greeting the pilgrims attending his general audience this morning, who had come from many different countries including South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Lithuania and Peru, the Holy Father expressed his thanks for the congratulations he has received over recent days. "I would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes you have been sending me for the seventh anniversary of my election", he said. "I ask you to support me always with your prayers so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I may continue my service to Christ and the Church".


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", today released the following communique:

"On 17 April, as requested during the 16 March meeting held at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Commission received the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. The text of the response will be examined by the dicastery then submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement".


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Vatican Secret Archives, where all the documentation relating to the Holy See is conserved and catalogued, are this year celebrating their fourth centenary. Among the initiatives organised to mark the occasion is a congress entitled "Religiosa Archivorum Custodia", which began yesterday in the Vatican and is examining the history of the archives, their cultural importance and the results of the most recent research.

Due perhaps to an erroneous interpretation of the name (the word "secret" is to be understood in its Latin definition of "private"), the archives have always been surrounded by an aura of mystery. They were established by Pope Paul V in 1611 and originally contained the manuscripts from the pontificate of Gregory VII (1073-1085) which had survived the Avignon schism. Speaking on Vatican Radio Msgr. Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, explained that they "contain centuries and centuries of catalogued letters sent or received by Popes, documents of the Apostolic Camera, diplomatic papers from the various nuncios and diplomatic missions, as well as documents from Councils and Synods, etc. The archives were originally contained in 400 metres of shelf space, now they cover 85 kilometres".

In 1881 Pope Leo XIII opened the archives for free consultation by researchers. According to the German historian Arnold Esch, "it is the greatest archive in the world as regards the Middle Ages. Above all it is an archive which contains material of universal value and importance".

Despite the efforts of academics a large part of the Vatican Secret Archives remains unexplored, chiefly the vast amount of material originating in apostolic nunciatures, and from the period of World War II.


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Rio Gallegos, Argentina, presented by Bishop Juan Carlos Romanin S.D.B., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.


Vatican City, 18 April 2012 (VIS) - No VIS bulletin will be transmitted tomorrow, Thursday 19 April, the anniversary of the election of Benedict XVI and a holiday in the Vatican. Service will resume on Friday 20 April.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated to mark two anniversaries the Pope is celebrating this week: his eighty-fifth birthday on 16 April, and the seventh anniversary of his election on 19 April. The Mass was attended by members of the College of Cardinals and by a group of bishops from the Pope's native region of Bavaria.

In his homily the Pope recalled how on the day he was born and baptised the liturgy "erected three signposts showing me where the road led and helping me find it": the feast of St. Bernardette of Lourdes, the feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, and Easter Saturday which in the year of the Pope's birth fell on 16 April.

St. Bernardette grew up in "a poverty we find difficult to imagine", he said. But "she could see with a pure and genuine heart, and Mary showed her a source ... of pure, living uncontaminated water, water which is life, water which gives purity and health. ... I believe we can see this water as an image of the truth which comes to us in the faith; unsimulated and uncontaminated truth. ... This little saint has always been a sign for me, showing me where the living water we need comes from, the water which purifies and gives life. She has been a sign showing me how we should be. With all our knowledge and abilities, which are of course necessary, we must not lose ... the simple gaze of the heart, which is capable of discerning the essential. And we must always pray to the Lord to help us retain the humility which allows the heart ... to see the simple and essential beauty and goodness of God, and to find the source from which the life-giving purifying water comes".

The Pope then turned his attention to St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived in the eighteenth century. "He was a rather particular saint who wandered as a mendicant from one shrine to another, wishing to do nothing but pray and so bear witness to what is important in this life: God. ... He shows us that, ... over and above what may exist in this world, over and above our needs and abilities, ... what is essential is to know God. He alone is enough". The life of the saint, who travelled to shrines all over Europe, "shows that the person who opens himself to God is not a stranger to the world of men, rather he finds brothers. ... Only God can eliminate frontiers, because thanks to Him we are all brothers".

"Finally there is the Paschal Mystery. On the day I was born, thanks to my parents, I was also reborn with the water of the Spirit. ... Biological life is in itself a gift, yet it begs an important question. It becomes a true gift only if, together with that life, we are given a promise stronger than any misfortune that may threaten us, if life is immersed in a power which guarantees that it is a good thing to be a man, and that the person is a benefit whatever the future may bring. In this way rebirth is associated with birth, the certainty that it is good to exist because the promise is greater than the threat. This is what it means to be reborn from water and from the Spirit. ... This rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow therein, we must ever and anew allow God to immerse us in His promise, in order to be truly reborn into the great new family of the Lord, which is stronger than all our weaknesses and all the negative powers that threaten us. That is why today is a day of thanksgiving.

"The day I was baptised ... was Easter Saturday. At the time it was still customary to hold the Easter vigil in the morning, followed by the darkness of Easter Saturday without a Hallelujah. This singular paradox, this anticipation of light in a day of darkness, can almost be seen as an image of the history of our own times. On the one hand there is the silence of God and His absence, yet the resurrection of Christ contains an anticipation of God's 'yes'. We live in this anticipation, through the silence of God we hear His words, and through the darkness of His absence we glimpse His light. The anticipation of the resurrection in the midst of evolving history indicates the path we must follow and helps us to continue the journey".

"I am in the final stage of my life journey and I do not know what awaits me. However, I do know that the light of God exists, that He rose again, that His light is stronger than all darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than all the evil in this world. This helps me to continue with confidence. This helps us to continue, and I would like to thank everyone who, through their faith, continually makes me aware of God's 'yes'".


Vatican City, 17 April 2012 (VIS) - "Constantine the Great. The Roots of Europe" is the title of an international academic congress to be held in the Vatican from 18 to 21 April. The event has been organised by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences to mark the 1700th anniversary of the battle of the Milvian Bridge and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine.

The congress was presented this morning at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office, by Fr. Bernard Ardura O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Claire Sotinel, professor of Roman history at the University of Paris-Creteil and a member of the Ecole Francaise in Rome, and Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the "Osservatore Romano" newspaper.

"The conference", Fr. Ardura explained, "is the outcome of effective academic cooperation with important cultural institutions such as the Vatican Secret Archives, the Vatican Apostolic Library, the Italian National Research Council, the Ambrosian Library and the Sacred Heart Catholic University in Milan". It is also taking place "with the cooperation and contribution of the European Union delegation to the Holy See, the Lazio Regional Council and the Pontifical Lateran University".

This congress is the first of two, the second of which will be held in Milan in 2013 for the 1700th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Milan, which established freedom of religion in the Roman empire and put an end to the persecution of certain religious groups, particularly Christians. While the 2013 congress will concern itself with what is known as the "Constantinian revolution", tomorrow's event will focus on the environment in which Constantine lived and on relations between Christians and the Roman empire prior to the year 313. Participants will "examine the relationship between religion and the State, the idea of religious freedom in the empire, and religion from the point of view of the emperor and the senate", Fr. Ardura said.

One key area will be the conversion and baptism of Constantine himself, and his attitude towards Christians following the battle of the Milvian Bridge, which took place on 28 October 312 and led to the death of his rival Maxentius. Contemporary and later Christian historians, influenced by the narrative of Eusebius of Cesarea, saw Constantine's victory as the result of divine intervention.

Fr. Ardura pointed out that "from a purely strategic-military viewpoint the battle was not very important, but it soon became the founding symbol of the new world which came into being when Constantine found Christianity. Indeed, ... the era of imperial persecution against Christians was about to come to an end, giving way to the evangelisation of the entire empire and moulding the profile of western Europe and the Balkans; a Europe which gave rise to the values of human dignity, distinction and cooperation between religion and the State, and freedom of conscience, religion and worship. Of course these things would need many centuries to come to maturity, but they all existed 'in nuce' in the 'Constantinian revolution' and therefore in the battle of the Milvian Bridge".

For her part, Claire Sotinel explained that attentive and critical historical analysis "facilitates our understanding of what happened following the victory at the Milvian Bridge, helping us in the twenty-first century to reflect on important issues such as the interaction between religions and political power, the creation of religious pluralism, and the possibility of coexistence among different religions".

Monday, April 16, 2012


Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today celebrates his eighty-fifth birthday. He was born in the German village of Marktl am Inn on 16 April 1927. Later this week, on Thursday 19 April, he will also celebrate the seventh anniversary of his election to the Papacy. For these two occasions, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated this morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, in the presence of members of the College of Cardinals and a group of bishops from the Pope's native region of Bavaria.

Before the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, addressed some words to the Holy Father.

"Seven years ago", he said, "the Lord called you to a great gesture of love, asking you, as one day He did Peter: 'If you love me, feed my lambs, tend my sheep'. With the generosity you have always shown, you pronounced your 'yes' and thus began your Petrine ministry. Today, on the occasion of your birthday, we wish to thank you for the solicitude with which you carry out this service of love. It is no coincidence that your first Encyclical was a hymn to the Love that is God, the love which must always animate pastors, who are called to bring the light of God, the warmth of His love, into the world.

"Holy Father, may the Lord continue to remain at your side, accomplishing the promise announced by God to the just man in Psalm 90: 'With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation'".

After presiding at the Eucharist, Benedict XVI greeted the Bavarian bishops and received a delegation from the civil authorities of that region.


Vatican City, 15 April 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Regina Coeli this morning, Benedict XVI reminded the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that today, the second Sunday of Easter, is known as Divine Mercy Sunday.

In His two apparitions to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, Jesus often repeated the greeting "peace be with you". Following the resurrection, the Pope explained, this traditional salute became "the gift of that peace which only Jesus can give, because it is the fruit of His victory over evil. The 'peace' which Jesus offered His friends is the fruit of the love of God, which led Him to die on the cross and to spill His blood as a mild and humble Lamb 'full of grace and truth'. This is why Blessed John Paul II chose to dedicate the Sunday after Easter to Divine Mercy".

From the risen and living Christ "come the Paschal Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Those who receive these Sacraments receive the gift of eternal life", said the Holy Father. He also noted how Christian worship is essentially "a meeting with the risen Lord, Who lives in the dimension of God, beyond time and space, yet at the same time is truly present in the community. He speaks to us of Sacred Scripture and breaks with us the Bread of eternal life. Through these signs we have the same experience as the disciples: to see Jesus and at the same time not to recognise Him".

In conclusion the Pope invited believers to welcome the gift offered by the risen Christ. "Let us allow our hearts to be filled by His Mercy", he said. "In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which caused Jesus to arise from the dead, we too can take these Paschal gifts to others".

Following the Marian prayer, the Pope told the faithful: "On Thursday, the seventh anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter, I ask you to pray for me, that the Lord may give me the strength to carry out the mission with which He has entrusted me".


Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - Thousands of pilgrims are currently converging on the cathedral of Trier, Germany, for the fifth centenary of the first public display of the "Heiliger Rock", said to be the Holy Robe which Jesus wore before His crucifixion and for which, according to the Gospel of St. John, the Roman soldiers cast lots.

According to tradition, part of this robe was found by Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who gave it to St. Agricius, archbishop of Trier. The faithful were able to see it for the first time in 1512 when the emperor Maximilian I asked Archbishop Richard von Greiffenklau of Trier to put it on public display.

For the inauguration of the pilgrimage, which will last until 13 May, Benedict XVI has sent a message to Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier. The document bears the date of 6 April, Good Friday.

The Holy Father recalls how St. John says that the tunic was a single seamless piece of cloth, for which reason the soldiers decided not to tear it but to cast lots. "The Church Fathers saw in this the unity of the Church, founded as one indivisible community by the love of Christ", the Pope says. "The Saviour's love brings together that which has been divided. ... Moreover, the Robe of Christ is 'woven in one piece from the top'. This too is an image of the Church, which lives not thanks to her own efforts but because of the action of God. As one indivisible community she is a work of God, not the result of man's abilities. At the same time, the Holy Robe is a monition to the Church to remain faithful to her origins, in the awareness that her unity, consensus, effectiveness and witness ... can only be a gift of God".

Finally, the Holy Father writes, "the Holy Robe is not a toga, an elegant garment expressing a social function; it is a modest habiliment which serves to cover and protect the person wearing it, to protect his propriety. It is the undivided gift of the Crucified Christ to the Church which He sanctified with His blood. For this reason the Holy Robe reminds the Church of her own dignity. ... We must be constantly open to conversion and humility, in order to be disciples of the Lord in love and truth. At the same time, the special dignity and integrity of the Church cannot be sold short and abandoned to the clamour and the summary judgement of public opinion".

Concluding his message the Pope notes that "the jubilee pilgrimage has taken as its motto an invocation of the Lord: 'Lead to unity that which is divided'. We do not want to be isolated. We want to ask the Lord to guide us on the shared path of faith, to make it live again for us. In this way - growing together as Christians in faith, prayer and witness, and amidst of the trials of our time - we will be able to proclaim His magnificence and His goodness".


Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued a note concerning news which has appeared recently in Italian media outlets about the Vatican and the Emanuela Orlandi case. Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of an employee of Vatican City State and herself a Vatican citizen, disappeared on 22 June 1983 at the age of 15. Her disappearance has given rise to much speculation over the last thirty years. Among other theories, it has been conjectured that the case was related to the assassination attempt against John Paul II in 1981, and that it involved secret services or groups active in the Roman underworld of the time. In 2008 an Italian television programme transmitted information suggesting that Emanuela Orlandi's remains may be buried in the same grave as the leader of one of those criminal gangs.

Extracts from Fr. Lombardi's note are given below.

"It should be recalled that Pope John Paul II demonstrated particular personal interest in this tragic abduction, intervening publicly on various occasions (no fewer than eight in less than a year) with appeals for the liberation of Emanuela. He also went in person to visit the family. ... This personal commitment of the Pope was naturally backed up by the commitment of his collaborators. Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, secretary of State and therefore the Pope's main collaborator, followed events personally, and made a special telephone available line for contact with the kidnappers.

"As has been stated in the past, and is still maintained by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re - then assessor of the Secretariat of State and today the main and most authoritative witness from that time - both the Secretariat of State and the Governorate did everything possible to deal with the painful situation by collaborating with the Italian authorities, who obviously had responsibility for the investigations as the abduction took place in Italy. The complete readiness to collaborate on the part of people holding positions of responsibility within the Vatican at the time is proven by the facts and the circumstances. ... All the letters and information which reached the Vatican were immediately passed on to Inspector Sica at the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican, and are presumably still held in the competent Italian judicial offices.

"Likewise in the second phase of the investigation, years later, the three rogatory letters send to the Vatican authorities by Italian investigators ... all received a response". At the request of the Italian judges numerous people were interrogated in the Vatican and their declarations sent to the authorities concerned. "The relevant files still exist and remain at the disposal of investigators. It should also be pointed out that at the time of Emanuela's abduction, the Vatican authorities granted Italian investigators of SISDE (the Italian secret service) authorisation to place the telephone line of the Orlandi family under surveillance, and gave them free access to the Vatican allowing them to go to the Orlandi home without mediation by Vatican functionaries. It is not, then, correct to accuse the Vatican of having refused to collaborate with the Italian investigative authorities".

"The main issue is that, unfortunately, no information useful for the solution of the case ... was found in the Vatican. At that time the Vatican authorities, on the basis of messages they received referring to Ali Agca - a period which effectively coincided with the investigation on the attack against the Pope - shared the prevailing opinion that the kidnapping was used by an obscure criminal organisation to send a message or to apply pressure in relation to the incarceration and interrogation of the Pope's attacker.

"There was no reason to imagine other possible motives for the kidnapping. Attributing knowledge of secrets related to the abduction, allegedly possessed by people belonging to Vatican institutions, but without giving any names, is neither a reliable nor well-founded way to proceed. At times it almost seems to be a pretext against the anguish and frustration of not being able to discover the truth.

"In conclusion, ... it has not emerged that there is anything hidden, nor that there are 'secrets' to be revealed in the Vatican. Continuing to affirm the contrary is completely unjustified".

"Finally, since the location of the grave of Enrico De Pedis in the basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Rome has given, and continues to give rise to questions and discussion, over and above any links he may have had with the Orlandi case, we reiterate that the Church has no objection to the opening of the tomb and the burial of the body elsewhere, in order to restore the serenity that is right and just for a holy place.

"To conclude, we would like to draw inspiration from John Paul II's own intense personal participation in this tragic event, and in the suffering of the family, ... a suffering unfortunately rekindled every time a new explanation of the case emerges. ... Alas, many people disappear in Italy every year, and are never heard from again despite searches and enquiries; yet the affair of this young and innocent Vatican citizen continues to come under the spotlight. This should not be a reason to attribute the Vatican with a guilt it does not have, but rather an occasion to gain greater awareness of terrible and often forgotten disappearances (especially of young people), and to make every effort to oppose all criminal activity from whatever source".


Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - A note released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff provides details concerning the taking of possession of the following titles and diaconates:

Cardinal Prosper Grech O.S.A., will take possession of the diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti in Via di Santa Maria Goretti 29, Rome, at 6 p.m. on Saturday 21 April.

Cardinal Karl Josef Becker S.J., will take possession of the diaconate of San Giuliano Martire in Via Cassia 1036, Rome, at 11 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.

Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, penitentiary major, will take possession of the diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman in Via Vincenzo Marmorale 25, Rome, at 11.15 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.

Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China, will take possession of the title of title of Regina Apostolorum in Via Antonino Pio 75, Rome, at 11.30 a.m. on Sunday 22 April.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, will take possession of the diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami in Clivo Argentario 1, Rome, at 5 p.m. on Thursday 26 April.


Vatican City, 16 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Horst Seehofer, minister-president of Bavaria, Germany.


Vatican City, 14 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Archbishop Marek Solczynski, apostolic nuncio to Georgia and Armenia, also as apostolic nuncio to Azerbaijan.

- As consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints: Msgr. Luis Manuel Cuna Ramos, Fr. Filippo Urso, Fr. Wojciech Giertych O.P., Fr. Antonio Escudero Cabello S.D.B., Fr. Marek Rostkowsi O.M.I., Fr. Alfonso Amarante C.SS.R., Sr. Albarosa Ines Bassani S.V.D.I., and Sr. Grazia Loparco F.M.A.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - An Italian book entitled "Il Santo Padre e i volontari europei" was presented this morning at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, respectively president and secretary of the council, and by Michel Roy, secretary of Caritas Internationalis.

A communique released by "Cor Unum" explains that the book contains, "apart from an address by the Pope on the subject of voluntary work, the most important contributions made during a conference on that topic held in the Vatican last year. The conference, which took place in the context of the European Year of Volunteering, was attended by bishops with pastoral responsibility for charitable work and representatives of European charity organisations". The presentation "will also serve to focus on future Church strategies in this field", the communique says.

Speaking during last November's conference Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, focused on the civic importance of voluntary work, especially in view of the current economic and cultural crisis. She also recalled that around twenty per cent of the European population undertakes some kind of voluntary activity. "Volunteer work", she said, "is a great resource for Europe and part of the continent's DNA".

Addressing the participants at the end of the conference last year, Benedict XVI noted that their meeting was taking place on the liturgical memorial of St. Martin of Tours. "Often portrayed sharing his mantle with a poor man", he said, "Martin became a model of charity throughout Europe and indeed the whole world. Nowadays, volunteer work as a service of charity has become a universally recognised element of our modern culture. Nonetheless, its origins can still be seen in the particularly Christian concern for safeguarding, without discrimination, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. If these spiritual roots are denied or obscured and the criteria of our collaboration become purely utilitarian, what is most distinctive about the service you provide risks being lost, to the detriment of society as a whole".


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - The annual report for 2011 on the implementation of the U.S. Church's "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" was presented recently in the United States. The Charter, which advocates a zero tolerance policy, was promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 and is observed by all Catholic dioceses in the country. It contains a series of rules and makes prevision for periodic checks to control efficiency and determine the need for any further improvements.

According to an article in the "Osservatore Romano", the results for 2011 throw light on ongoing efforts to ensure the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse by the clergy, a commitment which constitutes a priority for the local Church. The report shows that almost all the the archdioceses, dioceses and eparchies in the U.S.A. have respected the rules laid down in the Charter. The Charter itself was updated last year by introducing the offence of child pornography, and by placing abuse against people with disabilities on a par with abuse against minors.

The annual report includes 683 new complaints of abuse made by adults, most of which refer to incidents which took place between 1960 and 1984. Assistance programmes have been offered to the people involved and 453 of them have accepted. The report also includes twenty-one accusations presented by minors; some of these have been considered reliable by the police, three have turned out to be false and the rest are still being investigated. As for those accused, 253 have since died, 58 have been reduced to the lay state and 281 have been relieved of their pastoral duties.

The bishops note that the results must not encourage a lowering of guard. Presenting the 2011 report, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, highlights how "even if most of the complaints refer to the past, the Church must remain vigilant. She must do everything possible to ensure the abuses are not repeated, We must all continue to work for complete healing and reconciliation with the victims". For the bishops, the question of abuse "is a shared priority", he says. In earlier remarks Cardinal Dolan had emphasised that all priests found guilty of "these intolerable crimes" will be permanently removed from the ministry.

The report also recalls how more than two million volunteers throughout the country have participated in training courses on protection, held in parishes and schools. Moreover, more than 4.8 million children have been taught how to recognise and protect themselves from attempts at abuse. The U.S. Church's efforts in this field include a series of initiatives culminating in the National Child Abuse Prevention Month, held each year in April.


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - A congress entitled "From Parables to Twitter" is due to begin this afternoon at the "Istituto Massimo" in Rome. It will focus on the challenges and opportunities for evangelisation presented by modern communications technology.

The conference will begin with some remarks by Fr. Francesco Tata S.J., rector of the "Istituto Massimo". Participants will include Ettore Franzini, professor of new communications media at Rome's LUMSA University; Fabio Bolzetta, journalist of TV2000 and spokesperson of "WeCa", the association of Catholic webmasters, and Lucandrea Massaro, social media editor of "Aleteia", a Christian social network created under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. The moderator of the event will be Alessandro Gisotti, a Vatican Radio journalist.


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, announced in yesterday's "Osservatore Romano" that over the next five years 1.5 million pages of manuscripts and incunabula held in the Vatican and in the Bodleian Library in Oxford will be be transferred into digital format. This is the largest such initiative yet carried out by the Vatican Library and is being put into effect with the assistance of the Polonsky Foundation.

Two thirds of the works to be digitised - around one million pages or 2,500 books - will be chosen from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The institution possesses 8,900 incunabula, making it the fourth largest collection in the world. A catalogue of the incunabula has recently been published on the internet and, thanks to this latest project, it is hoped to make more than 800 complete works available online. They include the famous "De Europa" by Pope Pius II, printed by Albrecht Kunne in Memmingen before 1491, and the 42-Line Latin Bible of Johann Gutenberg, the first book printed using moveable type, between 1454 and 1455.

Certain particularly important Hebrew manuscripts are also due to be digitised, including the "Sifra", written some time between the end of the ninth and the middle of the tenth century and perhaps the oldest surviving Jewish codex; a Bible written in Italy around the year 1100; commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud; Halakhah and Kabbalah, as well as writings on philosophy, medicine and astronomy.

Among the Greek manuscripts to be transferred into digital format are works by Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Hypocrites, as well as New Testament codices and works by Church Fathers, many decorated with Byzantine miniatures.

As well as its 8,900 incunabula, the Vatican Apostolic Library also possesses more than 80,000 manuscripts. Msgr. Pasini explains that transferring them to digital format is a way of "better conserving cultural heritage, facilitating consultation and ensuring a high-quality reproduction before any eventual degradation of the original. It also means making those works immediately accessible to many more people online".

The Vatican Apostolic Library’s digitisation project began two years ago, since when the number of manuscripts available in digital format has been gradually increasing thanks to the efforts of the library's own reproduction laboratory. There are also a number of initiatives under way in collaboration with other cultural institutions, such as the ongoing digitisation of the Latin Palatine manuscripts being carried out with the University of Heidelberg.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Vatican City, 12 April 2012 (VIS) - The annual plenary session of the Pontifical Biblical Commission is to be held from 16 to 20 April at the "Domus Sanctae Marthae" inside Vatican City under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to a communique made public today.

The meeting will be chaired by Fr. Klemens Stock S.J., secretary general of the commission, and the participants will continue their reflections on the theme of "Inspiration and Truth in the Bible". As a first stage in its examination of this subject, the commission has chosen to focus attention on the way in which inspiration and truth appear in Sacred Scripture. On the basis of their individual competencies, each participant will present a report which will then be discussed by the assembly as a whole.


Vatican City, 12 April 2012 (VIS) - On Monday 9 April, Edmund Stoiber, former minister-president of Bavaria, Germany, presented the Holy Father with a German-language book entitled: "Benedikt XVI - Prominente uber den Papst" in which twenty leading figures in the Church and from the worlds of politics, culture, the economy and sport have written their individual view on the person and works of the current Pontiff. Contributors include Cardinal Kurt Koch; Cardinal Joachim Meisner; German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, Olympic sportswoman Maria Hofl-Riesch, and footballer Franz Beckenbauer.

The book, which is being published by "Media Maria Verlag", has a prologue by Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, private secretary to Benedict XVI, who also contributed one of the articles. In his preface Msgr. Gaenswein notes that "the opinions are not only those of Catholics but also of Evangelical Christians. They do not hide their Christian faith and are not afraid to give voice to a number of 'desiderata'. Each contribution is like the tile of a mosaic which helps to create a chromatic image in which the essential aspects of Benedict XVI's pontificate become clear".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Vatican City, 11 April 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during this morning's general audience to the transformation which Jesus' Resurrection brought about in His disciples, also reflecting on the meaning that Easter has for Christians today. Faith in the Risen One, he said, "transforms our lives; it frees them from fear, gives them firm hope, and infuses them with something that provides existence with full meaning: the love of God".

Benedict XVI explained how on the evening of the day of the Resurrection the disciples were at home behind locked doors, full of fear and doubt at the recollection of the passion of their Lord. "This situation of anguish changed radically when Jesus arrived. He entered through the closed doors, was among them and brought them peace", peace which "for the community became source of joy, certainty of victory, trusting reliance on God".

After His greeting, Jesus showed His wounds to the disciples, "signs of what had befallen and would never be cancelled. His glorious humanity remained 'wounded'. The gesture had the aim of confirming the new reality of the Resurrection. The Christ Who returned among His followers was a real person, the same Jesus Who three days earlier had been nailed to the cross. Thus, in the shining light of Easter, in the meeting with the Risen One, the disciples came to understand the salvific meaning of His passion and death. Then sadness and fear became overwhelming joy".

Jesus greeted them again: "Peace be with you". Yet this, the Pope explained, was not just a greeting, "it was a gift, the gift the Risen One made to His friends. At the same time it was a commission: the peace which Christ had bought with His blood was for them, but it was also for everyone else, and the disciples would have to carry it throughout the world". Jesus "had completed His mission in the world, now it was up to them to to sow faith in people's hearts".

However, the Lord knew that His followers were still afraid. "For this reason He breathed upon them and regenerated them in His Spirit. This gesture was the sign of the new creation. With the gift of the Holy Spirit which came from the Risen Christ, a new world began".

"Today too the Risen One enters our homes and hearts, although sometimes the doors are closed", the Pope said, "He enters bringing joy and peace, life and hope, gifts we need for our human and spiritual rebirth". Only He can put an end to division, enmity, rancour, envy, mistrust and indifference. Only He can give meaning to the lives of those who are weary, sad and without hope.

This was the experience of the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus, full of foreboding at the recent death of their Master. Jesus came up to them and accompanied them without being recognised, explaining the meaning of Sacred Scripture to help them understand His salvific mission. Later they asked Jesus to stay with them and recognised him as He blessed and broke the bread. "This episode", said the Holy Father, "shows us two privileged 'places' in which we can meet the Risen One Who transforms our lives: ... the Word and the Eucharist".

The disciples of Emmaus returned to Jerusalem to join the others. "Their enthusiasm for the faith was reborn, their love for the community and their need to communicate the good news. The Master rose and with Him all life resurges. Bearing witness to this event became an irrepressible need for them".

For Christians, Easter must be a time for the joyful and enthusiastic rediscovery of the sources of the faith. "This means following the same path as that along which Jesus directed the two disciples of Emmaus, through the rediscovery of the Word of God and the Eucharist. The culmination of this journey, then as now, is Eucharistic communion. In communion Jesus nourishes us with His Body and His Blood, becoming present in our lives, making us new and animating us with the power of the Holy Spirit".

In conclusion the Holy Father invited Christians to remain faithful to the Risen One Who "living and true, is always present among us, Who walks with us to guide our lives", and Who "has the power to give life, to make us reborn as children of God, capable of believing and loving".

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