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The Vatican Information Service is a news service, founded in the Holy See Press Office, that provides information about the Magisterium and the pastoral activities of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia...[]

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Thursday, May 31, 2012


Vatican City, 31 May 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, held a meeting with journalist to answer questions on the publication of reserved Vatican documents, an act for which the Pope's personal assistant has been arrested.

Regarding the questions on the pope's possible resignation, a hypothesis maintained by various media outlets, Fr. Lombardi affirmed that those were baseless creations of some journalists, which have no foundation in reality. The Curia has expressed its solidarity with the pontiff and continues to work in full communion with the Successor of Peter: "This is precisely the moment in which to demonstrate esteem and appreciation for the Holy Father and the service he carries out; to show full solidarity with him and thus, to demonstrate communion, unity, and coherence with how this situation is dealt with".

Fr. Lombardi emphasized that it is important that communication regarding this sorrowful event for the Pope and the Church be inspired by rigorous criteria for the truth: "It seems to me", he said, "that there is a line of desire for truth and clarity, a desire for transparency that, although it will take time, continues forward. I thus honestly believe that we are trying to handle this new situation: We are seeking the truth, and trying to objectively understand what may have happened. First, however, it is necessary to be sure to have understood it, in respect for persons and the truth".

Fr. Lombardi explained to the journalists that it will be necessary to wait for a complete picture of the situation, since the investigations and formal questioning are still at a preliminary stage. The agencies involved at this stage are the Vatican magistrate and a Commission of Cardinals.

The director of the Holy See Press Office also explained that yesterday morning the single defendant, Paolo Gabriele, met with his lawyers who will probably request monitored surveillance or house arrest for their client. At the same time, Fr. Lombardi denied details published in the media such as that packets of documents prepared to be sent to specific recipients were found in Gabriele's house. The material found in the personal assistant's possession is already being studied and catalogued, Fr. Lombardi said.


Vatican City, 31 May 2012 (VIS) - On the solemnity of Corpus Christi next Thursday, 7 June at 7:00pm, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in the basilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome, of which the pope is bishop. The Pope will then preside over the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major that will travel along Via Merulana. Those taking part in the procession will include the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, confraternities and sodalities, Eucharistic associations, religious, children receiving First Communion, seminarians, priests, representatives of various parishes, chaplains and prelates of His Holiness, bishops and archbishops, cardinals, and faithful belonging to ecclesial movements and associations.


Vatican City, 31 may (VIS).- Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: “That believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen One who accompanies them in daily life”.

His missionary intention is: "That Christians in Europe may rediscover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of and participate with more enthusiasm in the Gospel".


Vatican City, 31 May 2012 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father nominated:

- Msgr. Fausto Ramon Mejia Vallejo as bishop of San Francisco de Macoris (area 3,682, population 753,000, Catholics 599,000, priests 60, religious 72, permanent deacons 92), Dominican Republic. The bishop-elect was born in Bejucal, Dominican Republic and was ordained a priest in 1972. He has served as rector of the Santo Cura de Ars Minor Seminary in La Vega, as spiritual director and catechesis instructor for permanent deacons, and as professor in the theology department as well as rector of the Santo Tomas de Aquino Pontifical Seminary. Currently he is the rector of the Cibao Catholic Technological University (UCATECI) in Santo Domingo. He succeeds Bishop Jesus Maria de Jesus Moya, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Bishop Benedetto Tuzia as bishop of the diocese of Orvieto-Todi (area 1,310, population 93,500, Catholics 90,650, priests 132, religious 295, permanent deacons 22), Italy. He was previously Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Italy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Vatican City, 30 May 2012 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Holy Father made some remarks concerning recent developments in the Vatican.

"The events of recent days involving the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart. However, I have never lost my firm certainty that, despite the weakness of man, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Lord will ensure she never lacks the help she needs to support her on her journey.

"Nonetheless there has been increasing conjecture, amplified by the communications media, which is entirely gratuitous, goes beyond the facts and presents a completely unrealistic image of the Holy See. Thus, I wish to reiterate my trust and encouragement to my closest collaborators and to all those people who every day, in silent faithfulness and with a spirit of sacrifice, help me carry out my ministry".


Vatican City, 30 May 2012 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning, which was celebrated in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father continued a series of catecheses on Christian prayer according to St. Paul who, the Pope said, saw it as "a real individual encounter with God the Father, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. This dialogue comprehends the faithful 'yes' on the part of God and the trusting 'amen of the faithful".

In his explanation of this relationship Benedict XVI focused on the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where the Apostle writes: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God".

Comfort, the Pope explained, is not to be understood as mere consolation, but as an "exhortation not to allow ourselves to be overcome by tribulations and difficulties. We are invited to experience every situation in unity with Christ, Who takes all the suffering and sin of the world upon Himself in order to bring light, hope and redemption. Thus He enables us, in our turn, to console those who are afflicted by any kind of suffering". Profound union with Christ in prayer, and confidence in His presence, predispose us to share the sufferings of our brothers and sisters.

"Our life and our Christian journey are often marked by difficulty, misunderstandings and pain", the Holy Father went on. "In a faithful relationship with the Lord, in constant daily prayer, we are able to feel the consolation that comes from God. This strengthens our faith because it means that we enjoy a concrete experience of God's 'yes' to man ... in Christ, the faithfulness of His love which went so far as to give His Son on the cross".

The faith, a gratuitous gift of God, is rooted in His fidelity, "in His 'yes' which leads us to understand how to live our lives while loving Him and our neighbour. The entire history of salvation is a progressive revelation of this fidelity of God's, despite our own infidelity and our constant denials".

In this context the Pope pointed out that God's way of acting is quite different from that of man. "Faced with conflict in human relationships, often even within the family, we tend not to persevere in gratuitous love, which requires commitment and sacrifice. However God never loses patience with us and, in His immense mercy, precedes us always and comes out to meet us. ... On the cross He offers us the measure of His love, which is not calculated and has no limit". Such faithful love can wait even for those who reject it. God always seeks man and wishes to welcome him into His communion, to give him fullness of life, hope and peace.

Onto the 'yes' of God is grafted the 'amen' of the Church, the response of faith with which we conclude our prayers and which expresses our own 'yes' to God's initiative. "In our prayers we are called to say 'yes' to God, to respond with an 'amen' which is an expression of adherence, of faithfulness to Him with all of our lives. But we can never achieve such faithfulness by our own powers, it is not only the result of our daily efforts; it comes from God and is founded on the 'yes' of Christ. ... We must enter into Christ's 'yes' by following God's will so that, with St. Paul, we too can affirm that it is not we who live, but Christ Himself Who lives in us. Then the 'amen' of our individual and community prayers will embrace and transform all of our lives".


Vatican City, 30 May 2012 (VIS) - The "Osservatore Romano" newspaper today published an interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, concerning the question of stolen papal documents.

Archbishop Becciu says that he has seen the Holy Father "suffering because, on the basis of what has thus far emerged, someone very close to him would seem to have acted in a completely unjustifiable manner. Of course, the Pope's prevailing sentiment is one of pity for the person involved, but the fact remains that he has been the victim of a brutal action. Benedict XVI has had to witness the publication of letters stolen from his own home, not simply private correspondence but information, reflections, expressions of states of mind, and effusive comments which he has received merely by virtue of his ministry. For this reason the Pope is particularly sorrowful, also for the violence suffered by the writers of the letters he has received".

In the view of the Secretariat of State, the publication of these documents "is an immoral act of unprecedented gravity, especially because it is not just a serious violation of the privacy to which everybody should have the right, but a despicable abuse of the relationship of trust that exists between Benedict XVI and those who turn to him, even if they do so to express some heartfelt protest. The question does not merely involve the theft of some of the Pope's letters; the consciences of those who address him as the Vicar of Christ have been violated, and the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter has come under attack".

It is, Archbishop Becciu said, unjustifiable to claim that the stolen documents were published for the cause of transparency and reform in the Church. Robbery and accepting stolen goods are both illegal. "These are simple concepts, perhaps too simple for some people, but certainly when a person loses sight of them he easily loses his way and also leads others into disaster. Renewal cannot trample moral law on the basis of the principle that the end justifies the means, which is not in any case a Christian principle".

A number of articles which have appeared in newspapers in recent days have suggested that the published documents reveal turbid dealings inside the Vatican walls. On this subject the substitute for General Affairs notes that, "on the one hand they criticise the monarchic and absolutist nature of central Church government, while on the other they are scandalised because people who write to the Pope may express ideas or even complaints about how that government is organised. Many of the published documents do not reveal power struggles or vendettas but the freedom of thought which the Church is criticised for not allowing. ... Diverging points of view, even contrasting evaluations, are part of the normal order, and if someone feels misunderstood he has every right to turn to the Pontiff. What is scandalous about that? Obedience does not mean renouncing one's own opinions, but sincerely and fully expressing one's point of view, then abiding by the leader's decision".

In conclusion Archbishop Becciu tells the Catholic faithful that "the Pope has not lost that serenity which enables him to govern the Church with determination and foresight. ... We wish to echo the Gospel parable which the Holy Father himself mentioned a few days ago: the winds beat against the house but it does not fall. The Lord sustains it and no storm can bring it down".


Vatican City, 30 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jeremias Antonio de Jesus of the clergy of the diocese of Braganca Paulista, Brazil, pastor of the parish of "Cristo Rei" in the city of Atibaia, as bishop of Guanhaes (area 15.047, population 278,000, Catholics 248,000, priests 26, religious 16), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Atibaia in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1993. He has served in a number of parishes and worked as rector of the major diocesan seminary of "Imaculada Conceicao".

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today released the following declaration.

"The recent massacre in the Syrian town of Houla in which around one hundred people, including numerous children, lost their lives, is a motive of great sorrow and concern for the Holy Father and the entire Catholic community, as it is for the international community which has expressed unanimous condemnation of the incident.

"Renewing its appeal for an end to all forms of violence, the Holy See exhorts the parties involved and the entire international community to spare no efforts to resolve this crisis through dialogue and reconciliation. Likewise, leaders and believers of the various religions, through prayer and mutual collaboration, are called to commit themselves to promoting the peace which is so much sought after, for the good of the whole population".


Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) - The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently published its "Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations", translated into various languages. The document was approved by Pope Paul VI and issued by the congregation in 1978 though it was not then officially published as it was principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.

Over the course of the years the document has appeared in various works dealing with the subject in question, although without the authorisation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is the competent authority in such matters. Since the contents of the Norms are already in the public domain, the congregation believes it is now opportune to publish them.

The publication is accompanied by a preface written by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, extracts of which are given below.

"In the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God held in October 2008, the issue of the problems stemming from the experience of supernatural phenomena was raised as a pastoral concern by some bishops. Their concern was recognised by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who inserted the issue into the larger context of the economy of salvation in a significant passage of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Verbum Domini'. It is important to recall this teaching of the Pontiff".

"As the Fathers noted during the Synod, the uniqueness of Christianity is manifested in the event which is Jesus Christ, the culmination of revelation. ... He Who ‘has made God known’ is the one, definitive word given to mankind. ... The Synod pointed to the need to ‘help the faithful to distinguish the word of God from private revelations’ whose role ‘is not to complete Christ’s definitive revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history’. The value of private revelations is essentially different from that of the one public revelation: the latter demands faith; in it God Himself speaks to us through human words and the mediation of the living community of the Church.

"The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ Himself. If it leads us away from Him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, Who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorised to give it their prudent adhesion. A private revelation can introduce new emphases, give rise to new forms of piety, or deepen older ones. It can have a certain prophetic character and can be a valuable aid for better understanding and living the Gospel at a certain time; consequently it should not be treated lightly. It is a help which is proffered, but its use is not obligatory".

"It is my firm hope that the official publication of the 'Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations' can aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin".


Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) - Given below are extracts from the document "Norms regarding the manner of proceeding in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations", published recently by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document was approved by Pope Paul VI and issued by the congregation in 1978 though it was not then officially published as it was principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.


"1. Today, more than in the past, news of these apparitions is diffused rapidly among the faithful thanks to the ... mass media. Moreover, the ease of going from one place to another fosters frequent pilgrimages, so that Ecclesiastical Authority should discern quickly about the merits of such matters.

"2. On the other hand, modern mentality and the requirements of critical scientific investigation render it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve with the required speed the judgements that in the past concluded the investigation of such matters ('constat de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate')".

"When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:

"a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria;

"b) then, if this examination results in a favourable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, 'for now, nothing stands in the way') ('pro nunc nihil obstare').

"c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgement regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits"


"A) Positive Criteria:

"a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;

"b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:

"1. Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);

"2. As regards revelation: true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;

"3. Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).

"B) Negative Criteria:

"a) Manifest error concerning the fact.

"b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God Himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation.

"c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.

"d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.

"e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.

"It is to be noted that these criteria, be they positive or negative, are not peremptory but rather indicative, and they should be applied cumulatively or with some mutual convergence".


"1. If, on the occasion of a presumed supernatural fact, there arises in a spontaneous way among the faithful a certain cult or some devotion, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority has the serious duty of looking into it without delay and of diligently watching over it.

"2. If the faithful request it legitimately (that is, in communion with the pastors, and not prompted by a sectarian spirit), the competent Ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to permit or promote some form of cult or devotion, if, after the application of the above criteria, nothing stands in the way. They must be careful that the faithful do not interpret this practice as approval of the supernatural nature of the fact on the part of the Church.

"3. By reason of its doctrinal and pastoral task, the competent Authority can intervene 'motu proprio' and indeed must do so in grave circumstances, for example in order to correct or prevent abuses in the exercise of cult and devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrine, to avoid the dangers of a false or unseemly mysticism, etc.

"4. In doubtful cases that clearly do not put the good of the Church at risk, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority is to refrain from any judgement and from any direct action (because it can also happen that, after a certain period of time, the presumed supernatural fact falls into oblivion); it must not however cease from being vigilant by intervening if necessary, with promptness and prudence".


"1. Above all, the duty of vigilance and intervention falls to the Ordinary of the place.

"2. The regional or national Conference of Bishops can intervene" in certain cases.

"3. The Apostolic See can intervene if asked either by the Ordinary himself, by a qualified group of the faithful, or even directly by reason of the universal jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff".


"1. a) The intervention of the Sacred Congregation can be requested either by the Ordinary, after he has done his part, or by a qualified group of the faithful. In this second case, care must be taken that recourse to the Sacred Congregation not be motivated by suspect reasons (for example, in order to compel the Ordinary to modify his own legitimate decisions, to support some sectarian group, etc.).

b) It is up to the Sacred Congregation to intervene 'motu proprio' in more grave cases, especially if the matter affects the larger part of the Church".

"2. It is up to the Sacred Congregation to judge and approve the Ordinary’s way of proceeding or, in so far as it be possible and fitting, to initiate a new examination of the matter".


Vatican City, 29 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Richard J. Malone of Portland, U.S.A., as bishop of Buffalo (area 16,511, population 1,621,000, Catholics 716,000, priests 425, permanent deacons 127, religious 1,075), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, U.S.A., as archbishop of Denver (area 101.279, population 3,328,000, Catholics 549,325, priests 306, permanent deacons 184, religious 203), U.S.A.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Laura Chinchilla Miranda, president of Costa Rica. The president subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"During their cordial discussions the parties highlighted the good relations that exist between the Holy See, the local Church and the State, expressing the hope that they may be strengthened by an Agreement respectful of the identity of the country and of the healthy autonomy and collaboration between civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Mention was then made of the special contribution the Church makes through her educational, social and charitable institutions. Finally attention turned to the importance of continuing to protect the fundamental dignity of human beings, from the moment of conception".


Vatican City, 27 May 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father presided at Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost, the liturgy was concelebrated by cardinals, archbishops and bishops present in Rome.

Benedict XVI focused his homily on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost which, he said, is particularly important in our own times. "Pentecost is the feast of union, of human understanding and communion. Yet it is evident to everyone that in our world, although are closer to one another than ever before thanks to the development of the communications media, ... understanding and communion among people is often superficial and difficult. Imbalances remain and not infrequently lead to conflict; dialogue among generations is problematic; ... we daily witness events which seem to show that mankind is becoming more aggressive and quarrelsome; understanding one another seems too arduous an undertaking, and we prefer to remain within ourselves and focus on our own our interests".

"Thanks to scientific and technological progress we have acquired the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to fabricate living beings, almost going so far as to fabricate human beings. In such a situation praying to God seems outmoded and useless, because we ourselves can construct and achieve anything we want". Yet "men are nursing a sense of diffidence, suspicion and reciprocal fear, to the extent that they have even become a danger to one another". We have greater power to communicate but, paradoxically, we understand one another less.

Harmony and unity "can only come with the gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new voice, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. That morning ... the Holy Spirit descended on the gathering of the disciples. It rested upon each of them and set the divine fire alight within them, a fire of love with the power to transform. Their fear disappeared, in their hearts they felt a new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak frankly so that everyone could understand the announcement of Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again. At Pentecost division and estrangement gave way to unity and understanding".

In today's Gospel Jesus, "speaking of the Holy Spirit, tells us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be ... a place of unity and communion in the Truth. He tells us that acting as Christians means not remaining closed in one's own self but being open to all things; it means welcoming the entire Church into our own lives or, better still, allowing her to welcome us in our hearts. ... Thus the Holt Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resound in the hearts and minds of men, encouraging them to meet and accept one another".

The Holy Spirit leads us to understand the truth, which is Jesus,"but only if we are able to listen and to share, only in the 'us' of the Church and with an attitude of profound inner humility. ... When men wish to set themselves up as God, they only succeed in setting themselves against one other. On the other hand, when they abide in the truth of the Lord, they open themselves to the action of His spirit which sustains and unites them".

St. Paul tells us that the life of man is marked by an inner conflict between the impulses of the flesh and those of the spirit. The former are "the sins of selfishness and violence, such as enmity, discord, jealousy and dissension. ... They can lead us to lose our lives. However, the Holy Spirit guides us to the pinnacle of God so that, already in this life, we may experience the seed of divine live which is within us. St. Paul says, in fact, that 'the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace'".

In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the faithful to live "according to the Spirit of unity and truth. To this end we must pray that the Spirit may illuminate us, guiding us to overcome the lure of our own truths and to accept the truth of Christ, as transmitted by the Church".


Vatican City, 27 May 2012 (VIS) - After celebrating Mass this morning in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Before the Marian prayer the Pope announced that on 7 October, at the start of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he will proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church. "These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and cultural environments", he said. "Hildegard was a Benedictine nun during the height of the German Middle Ages, a true master of theology and a great scholar of the natural sciences and of music. John was a young diocesan priest of the Spanish Renaissance, who participated in the travails of the cultural and spiritual renewal of the Church and society at the dawn of the Modern Age".

The sanctity of their lives and the profundity of their doctrine mean that these two saints "retain all their importance. The grace of the Holy Spirit enabled them to experience profound understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world, two factors which represent the perennial goal of the life and activity of the Church".

St. John and St. Hildegard are particularly significant on the eve of the forthcoming Year of Faith, and in light of the new evangelisation to which the Synod of Bishops will be dedicating its attention. "Also in our own day, and through their teaching, the Spirit of the risen Lord continues to make His voice heard and to illuminate the path which leads to the Truth, which is the only thing that can make us free and give full meaning to our lives", the Pope said.

After praying the Regina Coeli he recalled that Mother Saint Louis (nee Marie-Louise Elisabeth de Lamoignon, widow of Mole de Champlatreux), foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis who lived between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was today proclaimed a blessed in France. She was "an exemplary witness of love for God and for neighbour", the Holy Father said. He also recalled the fact that he is due to travel to Milan on Friday to participate in the seventh World Meeting of Families, and he asked the faithful to pray for the success of that event.


Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - "We must form people's consciences in the light of the Word of God, whence all plans of the Church and of men draw meaning and strength, also as regards the construction of the earthly city. We must renew the soul of our institutions and make history fertile with the seeds of new life". Benedict XVI pronounced these words this morning in St. Peter's Square where he received thousands of members of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association,which is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of its foundation in Italy.

The Pope expressed the view that "in modern society we are experiencing a situation which is in some ways precarious, characterised by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of decisions. Often there is a lack of points of reference from which to draw inspiration for our lives. It is, then, increasingly important to construct the edifice of life and social relationships on the stable rock of the Word of God".

Today, the Holy Father said, believers are called to show a "convincing, sincere and credible witness of faith, one closely united to charitable commitment, It is, in fact, through charity, that people far removed from and indifferent to the the message of the Gospel are able to approach the truth and to become converted to the merciful love of the heavenly Father".

Pope Benedict also dedicated his attention to the work of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association over recent decades. "Your apostolic efforts have contributed to the development of spiritual life in the Italian ecclesial and social fabric through paths of conversion which have helped many people to be profoundly healed by the love of God, and many families to overcome moments of crisis", he said. "Your groups have not been lacking in young people ready to respond generously to the vocation of special consecration to God in the priesthood and in the religious life". The Holy Father also underlined the movement’s support for people in situations of need and marginalisation, especially in the field of the spiritual and material rebirth of prisoners.

The Pope concluded by exhorting those present: "Never cease to look to heaven; the world has need of prayer. We need men and women who feel the draw of heaven in their lives, who make praising the Lord the basis of a new lifestyle. Be joyous Christians! I entrust you all to Mary Most Holy, who was present in the Upper Room at the moment of Pentecost".


Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" today released a communique announcing that, "following the earthquake of recent days, which wrought destruction particularly in the territory of the ecclesiastical circumscriptions of Carpi, Mantua, Modena-Nonantola and Ferrara-Comacchio, the Holy Father, through the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', has decided to send a special contribution of 100,000 euro, to be shared among the dioceses affected by the calamity, to aid the Catholic Church's assistance activities in favour of the victims. That sum is intended to be a concrete expression of the Supreme Pontiff's sentiments of spiritual closeness and paternal solicitude towards the people affected by the earthquake".


Vatican City, 27 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a message to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, for the fiftieth anniversary of his consecration as bishop. In the letter, written in English, Benedict XVI recalls the patriarch’s visit to Rome in 1994 for the signing of a Common Declaration on Christology, his presence at the funeral of John Paul II, and his visit to Rome in 2007 during which the Pope had expressed his hope that they would continue their "common journey towards the re-establishment of full communion".

"I thank the Lord for the many blessings he has bestowed on the Assyrian Church of the East through your ministry, and I am grateful for your commitment to promoting constructive dialogue, fruitful cooperation and growing friendship between our Churches".

"I wish also to reiterate my solidarity with the Christian communities in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, praying that effective forms of common witness to the Gospel and pastoral collaboration in the service of peace, reconciliation and unity may be deepened between the Catholic and Assyrian faithful".

The Holy Father concludes his letter by invoking the blessings of the Blessed Trinity upon the Patriarch.


Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - Made public today was a letter, written in Latin and dated 17 April, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the National Eucharistic Congress of Ukraine, due to be held in Lviv on 3 June, sixth centenary of the establishment of the archiepiscopal and metropolitan see of Lviv of the Latins.


Vatican City, 26 May 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today made the following declaration concerning investigations taking place in the Vatican on the leaking of reserved documents.

"I can confirm that the individual arrested on Wednesday evening for illegal possession of reserved documents, which were found in his domicile located within Vatican territory, is Mr. Paolo Gabriele, who is still being held in detention.

"The first phase of the 'summary investigation' under the direction of Nicola Picardi, promoter of justice, has come to an end and given way to the phase of 'formal investigation', which is being conducted by Piero Antonio Bonnet, investigating magistrate.

"The accused has appointed two lawyers to represent him who are authorised to act before the Vatican Tribunal, and he has had the opportunity to meet with them. They will be able to help him in successive stages of the proceedings. He benefits from all the juridical guarantees laid down by the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in force in Vatican City State.

"The investigatory phase will continue until an adequate picture of the situation being investigated has emerged, after which the investigating magistrate will either acquit the suspect or send him for trial".


Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P. of Malta, Malta, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Joseph Mercieca, on their "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo, Malta, on his "ad limina" visit.

- Bishop Ralph Heskett C.SS.R. of Gibraltar, Gibraltar, on his "ad limina" visit.

On Saturday 26 May he received in audience Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.


Vatican City, 28 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

- Fr. Leopold Ouedraogo, vicar general of the archdiocese of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 9,600, population 2,337,000, Catholics 810,310, priests 188, religious 905). The bishop-elect was born in Ouagadougou in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1979. He has worked as a pastor and as professor then rector of the major seminary of "Saint Pierre et Paul".

- Fr. Elkin Fernando Alvarez Botero of the clergy of Sonson - Rionegro, Colombia, director of the Department for Hierarchical Ministries of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Medellin (area 687, population 3,456,000, Catholics 3,004,000, priests 1,027, permanent deacons 50, religious 3,664), Colombia. The bishop-elect was born in El Retiro, Colombia in 1968 and ordained a priest in 1993. He studied in Colombia and in Rome and has worked in pastoral care, education and as a local collaborator of the apostolic nunciature to Colombia.

- Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, Rwanda, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Gikongoro, Rwanda.

On Saturday 26 May it was made public that the Holy Father

- Appointed Fr. Dieudonne Espoir Atangana of the clergy of Obala, Cameroon, former rector of the the major seminaries of "Notre Dame de l'Immaculee Conception" of Yaounde and "Notre Dame de l'Esperance" of Bertoua, as bishop of Nkongsamba (area 10,952, population 751,000, Catholics 350,000, priests 131, religious 74), Cameroon. The bishop-elect was born in Ngongo, Cameroon in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1986. He studied in Rome and has worked in the field of education in a number of seminaries. He is currently on a sabbatical year, during which he is serving in various parishes in the diocese of Obala.

- Erected the new diocese of Bafang (area 7,229, population 252,284, Catholics 131,475, priests 31, religious 11) Cameroon, with territory taken from the diocese of Nkongsamba, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Douala. He appointed Fr. Abraham Kome, apostolic administrator of Nkongsamba, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Loum-ville, Cameroon in 1969 and ordained a priest in 1999. Among other roles, he has worked as vicar of the diocesan cathedral, master of ceremonies and pastor of the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Kekem.

- Appointed Bishop Jurij Bizjak, auxiliary of Koper, Slovenia, as bishop of the same diocese (area 4,306, population 267,300, Catholics 194,800, priests 161, religious 91). He succeeds Bishop Metod Pirih, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:

"This morning, Friday 25 May, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Petr Necas, prime minister of the Czech Republic. The prime minister subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"During the cordial discussions mention was first made of His Holiness' apostolic trip to the Czech Republic in 2009, after which attention turned to certain themes of mutual interest.

"On the subject of a draft bill on ecclesiastical property, currently being examined by the Chamber of Deputies, the hope was expressed that the legislative process would come to an equitable conclusion, so as effectively to respect the contribution the Catholic Church makes to the entire country.

"The two sides affirmed their desire to regulate relations between Church and State by means of an Agreement, and expressed their intention of maintaining regular and constructive dialogue at various institutional levels".


Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Holy See Press Office published a communique concerning the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the text of which is given below:

"On 24 May members the Supervisory Board of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) met for their regular meeting. One of the topics on the agenda was, once again, the matter regarding the governance of the Institute. Over time this area had generated increasing worries among the members of the board and, despite repeated efforts to communicate these concerns to Prof. Gotti Tedeschi, president of the IOR, the situation deteriorated further.

"Following discussion of the issues, the board members voted unanimously in favour of a motion expressing no confidence in the president for not having carried out various responsibilities of primary importance regarding his office. On this basis, the following statement was issued:

"'During the regular meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), at 2 p.m. on 24 May 2012 this board adopted a motion of no confidence in President Gotti Tedeschi and recommended the cessation of his mandate as president and member of the board.

"'The board members are saddened by the events which led to this vote of no confidence, but believe that this action is important in order to maintain the vitality of the institute.

"'The board is now looking ahead to the search for a new and distinguished president who can assist the IOR to regain effective and wider relations between the institute and the financial community, based on the shared respect of accepted international banking standards'.

"On Friday the Commission of Cardinals will assess the consequences of the motion taken by the board and decide on the most appropriate steps to be taken in the future".


Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (VIS) - The Apostolic Penitentiary today issued a decree granting Indulgences to faithful for the seventh World Meeting of Families, due to be held in Milan, Italy, from 30 May to 3 June.

The decree explains that, in order to help the faithful in their spiritual preparations for the event, Benedict XVI grants Indulgences so that, "truly penitent and stimulated by charity, they may dedicate themselves to the sanctification of the family, following the model of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph".

Plenary Indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) "to faithful who, completely detached from any form of sin, devoutly participate in one of the celebrations to be held during the World Meeting of Families, and in its solemn conclusion".

Faithful who are unable to participate in the event may nonetheless obtain Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions if, "spiritually bonded to the faithful gathered in Milan, they recite the Our Father, the Creed and other devout prayers calling on Divine Mercy to grant the aforementioned ends, particularly when the words of the Pontiff are transmitted by radio and television".

Partial Indulgence is granted to the faithful "whenever, during that period, they pray with a contrite heart for the good of families".

The decree, signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, mentions the theme of the forthcoming meeting - "The Family: Work and Celebration" - and notes that the event will serve to examine how to reconcile the needs of the family with those of work and rest, especially on Sunday, "day of the Lord and day of man, day of the family and of the community".


Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, accompanied by Archbishop Joseph William Tobin C.SS.R., secretary of the congregation.

This evening he is scheduled to received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.


Vatican City, 25 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Abeokuta, Nigeria, as archbishop of Lagos (area 3,345, population 5,421,000, Catholics 2,488,000, priests 278, religious 432), Nigeria. He succeeds Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Gert Melville, professor of mediaeval history at the University of Dresden, Germany, as a member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received participants in the sixty-fourth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, to whom he delivered an address focusing on the challenges of the new evangelisation in a society increasingly distanced from God. "Our situation requires renewed drive, aimed at the essential aspects of Christian faith and life", he said. "At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot relaunch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer. ... We will not be able to win mankind to the Gospel unless we ourselves first return to a profound experience of God".

The Pope began his remarks by recalling that this autumn marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and he exhorted the prelates to implement its teachings in order to meet the social and cultural transformations of our time which, he said, "also have visible consequences in the religious sphere". Societies of ancient Christian tradition are today characterised by secularism. Thus the spiritual and moral heritage which lies at the roots of the West "is no longer understood in its profound significance, ... and a rich soil risks becoming an inhospitable desert".

The Pope identified a number of worrying trends, including a drop in religious practice and diminishing participation in the Sacraments. "Many baptised have lost their identity. They do not know the essential contents of the faith, or believe they can cultivate that faith without ecclesial mediation. And while many look doubtfully at Church teaching, others reduce the Kingdom of God to certain broad values, which are certainly related to the Gospel but which do not touch the central nucleus of Christian faith".

"Unfortunately it is God Himself Who remains excluded from many people's horizon and, when not met with indifference, closure or rejection, discourse about God is relegated to the subjective sphere, reduced to an intimate and private affair which is marginalised from the public conscience. The heart of the crisis affecting Europe also arises from this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent".

In this context, Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that "new methods of announcing the Gospel or of pastoral activity are not enough to ensure that the Christian message finds greater acceptance". As the Council Fathers said, "we must begin again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. ... Our primary task, our true and only task, remains that of dedicating our lives to the one thing that ... is truly dependable, necessary and ultimate. Men live from God, from He Whom, often tentatively and unawares, they seek in order to give full meaning to lives. We have the task of announcing Him, revealing Him and leading others to meet Him".

The Holy Father continued: "The fundamental condition in order to be able to speak about God is to speak with God, increasingly to become men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and moulded by His Grace. ... We must allow ourselves to be found and seized by God so as to help the people we meet be touched by the Truth. ... The old and new mission facing us is that of introducing the men and women of our time to a relationship with God, to help them to open their minds and hearts to the God Who seeks them and wants to come close to them, leading them to understand that doing His will does not curb freedom; rather, it means being truly free, it means achieving true goodness in life.

"God is the guarantor not the competitor of our freedom", the Pope added in conclusion. "Where space is given to the Gospel, and therefore to friendship with Christ, man realises he is the object of a love which purifies, warms, renews, and makes us capable of serving mankind with divine love".


Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - In a traditional annual meeting coinciding with the commemoration of the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Holy Father this morning received in separate audiences Rosen Plevneliev, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, and Nikola Gruevski, prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, each accompanied by a delegation. The delegations subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.


Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Holy See delegation to the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, yesterday delivered an address before that gathering, which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 26 May. Speaking English, the archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See's support for Resolution WHA64.9 on "sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage", which urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity.

He also recalled how Benedict XVI has emphasised the importance of establishing "real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all. Consequently, if it is not to become inhuman, the world of healthcare cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it".

Archbishop Zimowski noted that "more countries, especially those with emerging economies, are moving towards universal coverage", thanks also to "good policies that promote equity. ... Therefore my delegation strongly believes that in the endeavour to promote universal coverage, fundamental values such as equity, human rights and social justice need to become explicit policy objectives", he said.

The archbishop made an appeal for high-income countries to show greater solidarity towards poorer nations in order to overcome funding shortfalls in health. In this context he quoted the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" in which Benedict XVI writes: "More economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard".

In conclusion the head of the Holy See delegation affirmed that "progress towards universal coverage cannot be the effort of State machinery alone. It requires support from civil society. ... With over 120,000 social and healthcare institutions worldwide, the Catholic Church is in many developing countries one of the key partners of the State in healthcare delivery, providing services in remote areas to rural low-income populations, enabling them to access services that would otherwise be out of their reach. The efforts and contribution of such organisations and institutions towards universal access, merit the recognition and support of both the State and the international community, without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent".

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Vatican City, 23 May 2012 (VIS) - "God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. ... For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says 'Abba! Father!', leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy". These words were pronounced this morning by the Holy Father to more than 20,000 faithful filling St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience.

The Holy Father focused his catechesis on two passages from the Letters of St. Paul, wherein the Apostle speaks of the power of the Holy Spirit which enables us to call God "Abba", our Father. The Pope explained that "that great master of prayer which is the Holy Spirit teaches us to address God with the affectionate terms of children, calling Him 'Abba, Father'. This is what Jesus did, even at the most dramatic moment of His earthly life. He never lost faith in the Father and always invoked Him with the intimacy of a beloved Son".

The Holy Spirit, gift of the risen Christ, "places us in a filial relationship with God, a relationship of profound trust, like that of children; a filial relationship analogous to that of Jesus though different in origin and importance. Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who became flesh, while we become God's children in time through faith in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation".

The Holy Father went on: "Perhaps mankind today does not perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consultation contained in the word 'Father' with which we can address God in prayer, because often the paternal figure is not sufficiently present or positive in daily life". Yet, the Pope explained, "the love of Jesus, the only-begotten Son Who even gave Himself on the cross, reveals the true nature of the Father: He is Love".

In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul tells us that the the Spirit cries out within us saying 'Abba! Father!', while in his Letter to the Romans he writes that we ourselves make this cry in the Spirit. The Apostle, Benedict XVI explained, "wants us to understand that Christian prayer is never unidirectional, from us to God. ... Rather, it is an expression of a reciprocal relationship in which it is always God Who acts first. It is the Spirit which cries within us, and we too can cry out because the impulse comes from the Holy Spirit. ... This presence opens our prayers and our lives to the horizons of the Trinity and the Church".

"When we address the Father in our hearts, in silence and meditation, we are never alone. ... We are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony which the Christian community in all places and times raises to God. ... Prayer guided by the Spirit causes us to cry out 'Abba! Father!' with Christ and in Christ. It makes us part of the great mosaic of the family of God, in which everyone has an important place and role, profoundly united to all things".

The Pope concluded his catechesis by exhorting the faithful: "When we pray, let us learn to appreciate the beauty of being friends, or rather children, of God, invoking Him with the confidence and trust of a child addressing his parents who love him. Let us open our prayers to the action of the Holy Spirit, that it may cry out within us: 'Abba! Father!'".


Vatican City, 23 May 2012 (VIS) - Following his catechesis in this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI pronounced greetings in various languages to the more than 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Speaking Polish, he recalled that next Sunday marks the Solemnity of Pentecost. "Together with Mary and the Apostles, let us persevere in prayer", he said. "With Christ, let us ask our Father God for His Spirit to permeate our thoughts and actions, that we may become increasingly worthy of the dignity of children of God".

In other languages the Holy Father said "Let us pray to God to send the Holy Spirit with abundance of gifts that we may become courageous witnesses of Christ. ... May the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost always support and nourish the life of faith of the Christian community. Dear young people, place the search for God above all other things. ... Dear sick people, may the Spirit be a help and comfort in your moment of greatest need".

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Vatican City, 22 May 2012 (VIS) - Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, and Pierpaolo Donati, professor at the department of sociology of the University of Bologna, Italy, today presided at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office to present the seventh World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Milan from 30 May to 3 June on the theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration".

Cardinal Antonelli focused his remarks on preparations for the forthcoming event, which was announced by the Holy Father at the end of the last World Meeting of Families, held in Mexico City in 2009. Over the intervening three years, the Pontifical Council for the Family has met on various occasions with the archbishop of Milan and his closest collaborators in order to combine their efforts for the Milan meeting.

The cardinal listed some of the preparatory initiatives organised by his council. These included: the translation of the catechesis into Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Arabic and Russian; an international academic seminar on "The Christian Family as the Subject of Evangelisation" (Rome 2009); the council's nineteenth plenary assembly on "The Rights of Infancy" (Rome 2010); an international academic seminar with pro-life associations (Rome 2010); an international congress on "The Christian Family as the Subject of Evangelisation" (Rome 2010), and the council's twentieth plenary assembly, held in Rome in 2011, which coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and of the creation of the Pontifical Council for the Family itself.

Cardinal Antonelli also presented the "Enchiridion", a manual bringing together the Apostolic See's most recent teachings on the subject of the family and human life, dating from the final years of the pontificate of John Paul II and from the pontificate of Benedict XVI. "The aim of the publication", the cardinal explained, "is to provide a useful consultative instrument for pastoral care workers, associations, pro-life and pro-family movements, academics, teachers and politicians. It covers a wide range of subjects including: the theology and anthropology of the family, ... inter-religious marriage, regulation of fertility, demography, the ethic of life from conception to natural death, the ethics of health, the rights of minors, ... the family as the subject of evangelisation, ... and attention to canonically irregular situations".

Another volume, entitled "The Family, a Resource for Society", was also presented during the press conference. "It contains", the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said, "new research which throws light on the different contributions, positive and negative, which the various forms of family and cohabitation bring to society".

For his part Cardinal Scola noted that the theme of the Milan meeting, "by bringing together the three fundamental aspects of man's daily life - family, work and rest - highlights two major traits ... of human experience all over the world: the uniqueness of individuals and the fact that they are always in relation with others. Thus this seventh World Meeting of Families has interpreted the perennial importance of these questions, and of this particular historical moment".

The archbishop of Milan went on: "The family founded on faithful marriage between a man and a woman, and open to life, over and above all the cultural developments that have affected it, still imposes itself as the best way to generate and raise children. In the family the child ... sees the future as a promise. From infancy we all discover the meaning of work, first as school work and them as a profession. Through work ... we develop complex social relationships. ... We discover a taste for building, ... but above all we gain a sense of reciprocal trust, which is the vital cement of human coexistence.

"Life imposes its rhythm on us", he added. "It requires us to establish an order between family affections and work. In doing this we are helped by rest, which marks the rhythm of life. ... Celebration is the apex of rest, a gratuitous and shared use of time and space which is a source of joy. Man becomes reconciled with himself, with others and with God. It is no coincidence that all religious traditions have always utilised celebration".

Finally Cardinal Scola of Milan spoke of the interest the seventh World Meeting of Families is arousing in the media. The family, he said, is the focus of attention because it is an "indispensable resource, a 'social capital' which requires specific policies, perhaps also as a result of the serious economic crisis we are in". He also provided some statistics on the forthcoming meeting, noting that more than a million faithful are expected to attend the papal Mass, and 300,000 the Feast of Testimonies.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Vatican City, 21 May 2012 (VIS) - At 1 p.m. today in the Sala Ducale of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father had lunch with members of the College of Cardinals, as a sign of his thanks to them for their felicitations for his eighty-fifth birthday, on 16 April, and for the seventh anniversary of his election to the pontificate, on 19 April.


Vatican City, 20 May 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI dedicated his remarks before praying the Regina Coeli this morning to the Ascension of the Lord, which in many countries is celebrated today, the Sunday following the feast.

"The Ascension of the Lord", the Pope explained to faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "marks the fulfilment of the salvation which began with the Incarnation. Having instructed His disciples for the last time, Jesus ascended into heaven. Nevertheless, He 'did not separate Himself from our condition' because, in His humanity, he drew mankind into intimacy with the Father and thus revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as, for us, He descended from heaven and suffered death on the cross, so too, for us, He arose and returned to God, Who is thus no longer distant, but is 'our God', 'our Father'. The Ascension is the last act of our liberation from the yoke of sin".

The Holy Father recalled St. Leo the Great's explanation that "this mystery proclaims not only the immortality of the soul, but also that of the flesh. ... For this reason, when the disciples saw the Master arise from the earth and ascend towards heaven, they were not discouraged but experienced great joy and felt impelled to proclaim Christ's victory over death".

"The Ascension", the Holy Father concluded, "tells us that in Christ our humanity is raised to the heights of God and so, each time we pray, earth unites with heaven".


Vatican City, 20 May 2012 (VIS) - After praying the Regina Coeli this morning, the Pope expressed his outrage at the "cowardly attack" against a school in the Italian town of Brindisi on Saturday morning, which killed a sixteen-year-old girl and wounded six others.

"Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, and especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are suffering", he said.

The Holy Father then turned his attention to the earthquake which struck the Italian region of Emilia Romagna early this morning leaving seven dead, around fifty injured and more than 4,000 people homeless. "I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity. We implore God's mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded".

The Pope also mentioned the World Day of Social Communications, which is being celebrated today on the theme of "Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation". He said: "Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite everyone to pray that communications, in all its forms, may always serve to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing".

Benedict XVI went on: "Thursday 24 May is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. We join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, remain faithful to His Church and the Successor of Peter, and live their daily lives in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. May Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China".

The Pope also had greetings for members of the Italian Movement for Life who are meeting today in the Paul VI Hall. "Your movement", he told them, "has always been committed to defending human life according to the teachings of the Church. In this context you have announced a new initiative entitled "One of us," to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you always to be witnesses and builders of a culture of life".


Vatican City, 19 May 2010 (VIS) - "'Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State. While in the past it was possible to argue that justice had to come first and gratuitousness could follow afterwards, as a complement, today it is clear that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place'. Gratuitousness cannot be bought on the market, or established by law. Nonetheless, both economics and politics need gratuitousness and individuals who are open to reciprocal giving". With these words, taken from his Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", Benedict XVI addressed more than 8,000 members of three Catholic associations whom he received this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

The associations present were the Federation of Christian Organisations for International Volunteer Service (FOCSIV) which brings together sixty-five Italian groups; the Ecclesial Movement for Cultural Commitment which operates in the world of Italian culture, and the Christian Workers Movement, a social organisation dedicated to solidarity and volunteer work which promotes Christian principles in life, culture and legislation.

"Culture, volunteering and work are three inseparable elements of the daily commitment of Catholic lay people", said the Pope in his address. "The lay faithful become involved when they touch one or more of these aspects and, through cultural service, solidarity with those in need and work, strive to promote human dignity. These three aspects are linked by a common denominator: the giving of self. ... Your activity must be animated by charity. This means learning to see with the eyes of Christ and giving others much more than what is externally necessary; giving them ... the gesture of love they need. This arises from the love that comes from God, Who first loved us; it arises from intimate contact with Him".

The activity of Catholic volunteers bears witness to "the logic of giving", the Holy Father explained, "the giving of one's time, abilities, knowledge, and professionalism; in a word, attention to others without expecting a return in this world. By doing so, not only do people do good for others, but they also discover profound happiness, according the the logic of Christ Who gave all of Himself".

Our first experience of this gratuitous love is in the family and, when this does not happen, the family enters into crisis. "Everything we experience in the family, the unreserved giving of self for the good of others, is a fundamental educational experience for us to live as Christians in our relationship with culture, volunteering and work", Benedict XVI said.

At this point in his address he referred to his Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" in which he argues for an extension of the family model of gratuitousness to a universal dimension, because "justice alone is insufficient. In order for there to be true justice we need that 'extra' which only gratuitousness and solidarity can bring".

Concluding his remarks, the Holy Father encouraged the volunteers "to continue in their commitment towards their brother and sisters. Part of this is the task of highlighting injustices and bearing witness to the values which underpin human dignity, promoting forms of solidarity which favour the common good".


Vatican City, 19 May 2010 (VIS) - "The fresh publication of Holy See documents and of private documents of the Holy Father no longer appears as a questionable - though obviously defamatory - journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the characteristics of a criminal act", reads a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office.

"The Holy Father and a number of his collaborators, as well as the senders of messages addressed to him, have had their individual rights to privacy and freedom of correspondence violated.

"The Holy See will continue to investigate the various aspects of these violations of the privacy and dignity of the Holy Father - both as an individual an as the supreme authority of the Church and of Vatican City State - and will take the steps necessary to ensure that those responsible for the theft, handling and release of secret information, and the commercial use of private documentation, illegitimately acquired and held, answer to justice for their acts. To this end it will, if necessary, request international collaboration".


Vatican City, 19 May 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

- Bishop Nicholas James Samra of Newton of the Greek-Melkites.

- Bishop Barnaba Yousif Habash of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark of the Syrians.

- Bishop Mikael Mouradian of Our Lady of Nareg in New York of the Armenians.

- Bishop John Michael Botean of St. George's in Canton of the Romanians.

- Bishop Gregory John Mansour of Saint Maron of Brooklyn of the Maronites.

- Bishop Bishop Paul Patrick Chomnycky, O.S.B.M. of Stamford of the Ukrainians.

- Bishop Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit of the Chaldeans.

- Archbishop William Charles Skurla of Pittsburgh of the Byzantines

- Bishop Richard Stephen Seminack of Saint Nicholas of Chicago of the Ukrainians.

- Bishop Gerald Nicholas Dino of Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix.

- Bishop John M. Kudrick of Parma of the Ruthenians.

- Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia of the Ukrainians, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop John Bura, apostolic administrator "sede vacante" of Saint Josephat in Parma of the Ruthenians.

- Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego of the Chaldeans.

- Fr. Edward G. Cimbala, apostolic administrator of Passiac of the Ruthenians.

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


Vatican City, 21 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, apostolic nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina and to Montenegro, also as apostolic nuncio to Croatia.

- Removed Bishop Francesco Micciche from the pastoral care of the diocese of Trapani, Italy, and appointed Archbishop emeritus Alessandro Plotti of Pisa, Italy, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of that diocese.

On Saturday 19 May it was made public that he:

- Appointed Fr. Zeferino Zeca Martins S.V.D., provincial superior of the Divine Word Missionaries and professor of law at the Catholic University of Luanda, Angola, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Luanda (area 342, population 3,486,000, Catholics 2,573,000, priests 120, religious 517). The bishop-elect was born in Cacolo, Angola in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1995. He studied in Angola and in Spain and has worked in pastoral care in Madrid and as rector of the central house of his congregation in Angola.

- Appointed Bishop Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp. of Sumbe, Angola, as archbishop of Malanje (area 107,000, population 1,187,000, Catholics 543,000, priests 36, religious 186), Angola. He succeeds Archbishop Luis Maria Perez de Onraita Aguirre, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received the final group from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose prelates have been travelling to Rome over the past six months on their quinquennial "ad limina Apostolorum" visits.

In previous meetings, different groups of bishops emphasized the importance of preserving and fostering the gift of Catholic unity as an essential condition for the fulfilment of the Church’s mission in their country. Responding to this concern, Benedict XVI focused his address this morning on the need to incorporate the rich patrimony of faith and culture contributed by the many Catholic immigrants into the Church in America.

The Pope began by praising the work carried out by the Church in America, to respond to the phenomenon of immigration: "The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families. A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform. ... It is ... of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defence of the human dignity of immigrants".

The Church in America, the Pope said to the bishops, "is called to embrace, incorporate and cultivate the rich patrimony of faith and culture present in America's many immigrant groups, including ... the swelling numbers of Hispanic, Asian and African Catholics. The demanding pastoral task of fostering a communion of cultures within your local churches must be considered of particular importance in the exercise of your ministry at the service of unity. This diaconia of communion entails more than simply respecting linguistic diversity, promoting sound traditions, and providing much-needed social programs and services. It also calls for a commitment to ongoing preaching, catechesis and pastoral activity aimed at inspiring in all the faithful a deeper sense of their communion in the apostolic faith and their responsibility for the Church's mission in the United States. ... the immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society".

In this context, Benedict XVI emphasized the role of the consecrated life: "The urgent need in our own time for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life". We must, therefore, "pray for religious vocations and promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation" present in each diocese.

In conclusion, the Pope expressed his hope that the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, "will awaken a desire on the part of the entire Catholic community in America to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith. With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated, and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfilment and to the welfare of society as a whole".


Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Paul VI Chair, which will be instituted at LUMSA (Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta) University in Rome, was presented in the Holy See Press Office. In attendance were: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops; Giuseppe Dalla Torre, Rector of LUMSA; Michele Bonetti, member of the executive committee of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia; and Sergio Gatti, general director of Federcasse.

Cardinal Re praised the initiative of including the chair dedicated to Paul VI in the sphere of the coursework on contemporary history at LUMSA because "the footprints of his work in history - as the priest in charge of the Italian Federation of Catholic Universities (FUCI), as well as Secretary of State of his Holiness, and later as Archbishop of Milan and Pope - have not been erased or discoloured with the passing of time. On the contrary, they have been made stronger. Pope Montini was one of the great protagonists of the 20th century".

Paul VI has a place in history, above all for his guidance of the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal affirmed. Even if the merit of calling for and opening the Council falls to Blessed John XXIII, "Paul VI led it with an expert and sure hand, respectful of the Fathers of the Church but firm". For example, "his decision to publish the famous 'Nota praevia', on collegiality and Petrine primacy established the authoritative and proper interpretation of the matter".

He also "loved and esteemed his day and looked at the modern world with sympathetic eyes, seeking the reconciliation between the modern age and the Christian faith. There are few like him who have known how to read the anxieties, the worries, the desires, and the weariness of the human being in our days. As Pope he made historic gestures and, as these were carried out for the first time by a pontiff, they can be considered 'firsts': He was the first Pope to ride in an airplane; the first to return to Palestine; the first t renounce the crown, earmarking the proceeds of its sale to the poor; the first to go to the United Nations; and the Pope who abolished the pontifical court, bringing a simpler lifestyle to the Pontifical Household".

The historical investigation to be carried out under the chair instituted at LUMSA will be very useful for analysing two little know chapters of Giovanni Battista Montini's life. The first is the work of formation of the members of the Italian Federation of Catholic Universities because the Pope "had an innate passion for the formation of persons: religious, but also civil, social, and in some way even political formation".

The second is the impressive charitable activity of human and social assistance that he organized and directed during World War II ... through the creation of Vatican Relief for contact with prisoners and his personal and untiring dedication to feed Jewish and political refugees hidden in convents and religious institutions. This was in compliance with Pius XII's wishes but the dedication with which he devoted himself to this task, asking assistance from nations not at war that they send ships full of provisions to Civitavecchia, north of Rome, merit appreciation and admiration. The 'Montini Chair'", concluded the cardinal, "will also contribute to our remembrance".


Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father attended a viewing of "Mary of Nazareth", a coproduction of RaiFiction, Lux Vide, BetaFilm, Tellux, Bayerischer Rundfunk, and Telecinco Cinema directed by Giacomo Campiotti.

At the end of the screening the Pope addressed a few words on the film that focuses on three female protagonists: Herodias, Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Nazareth, whose lives cross but who choose different paths.

"Herodias", Benedict XVI said, "remains locked within herself and her world. She is unable to raise her gaze to read the signs from God and she is not freed from evil. Mary Magdalene's experience is more complicated. She is attracted by the appeal of an easy life rooted in material things and uses various means for getting her own way up until the dramatic moment when she is judged and is faced with her own life. Her encounter with Jesus opens her heart and changes her existence. But the centre is Mary of Nazareth who possesses the wealth of a life that has been a "Here I am" for God. She is a mother who would have always wanted to keep her son at her side, but she knows that He is God. Her faith and her love are so great that she can accept Him leaving to accomplish His mission. Her life is a constant "Here I am", said to God from the Annunciation until the Cross".

"Three experiences", the Pope concluded, "a paradigm of how one can build their life around selfishness, being locked within oneself and material things, being guided by evil, or rather upon the presence of a God who came and stays with us, who awaits us with kindness if we make a mistake and asks that we follow Him, that we trust in Him. Mary of Nazareth is the woman of a full and total "Here I am" to the divine will. In her "Yes", repeated even when faced with the sorrow of the loss of her child, we find complete and profound beatitude".


Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father received in audience:

- Bruno Joubert the new ambassador of France to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters.

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to meet with Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City, 18 May 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father named Msgr. Wayne Kirkpatrick as auxiliary archbishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto (area 13,000, population 5,749,000, Catholics 1,944,000, priests 839, permanent deacons 123, religious 1,132), Canada. The bishop elect was born in 1957 and ordained in 1984. He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the Seminary of Philosophy at Resurrection College in Waterloo, Ontario and a master's degree in theology from St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto. He has a licentiate in canon law from St. Paul University of Ottawa and was named prelate of honour by his Holiness in 1999.

He has served in many roles since his ordination, including 22 years in diocesan administration, concurrently serving in parish ministry as a pastor for 17 years. He presently serves as moderator of the curia, chancellor, and judicial vicar of the diocese, as well as rector of the cathedral. A little over a year ago he was elected President of the Canadian Canon Law Society.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Benedict XVI:Work Should not be an Obstacle to the Family

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - "Work should not be an obstacle to the family, but should rather sustain and unite it", affirmed Benedict XVI in an appeal made at the end of today's general audience.

After recalling that yesterday was the celebration of the International Day of Families that the UN dedicated this year to the relationship between family and work, the Pope noted that work should favour the family, "helping it to be open to life and to enter into relationship with society and with the Church". At the same time, the pontiff expressed his wish that Sunday, "the Lord's day and a weekly Easter, be a day of rest and an occasion to strengthen family ties".

Also during the traditional greetings in different languages to the more than 11,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI highlighted that tomorrow celebrates the Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension. This feastday "invites us to look to Jesus who, ascending to heaven, entrusts the apostles with the mandate of carrying His message of salvation to the entire world... The Lord has prepared a place for each of us and it is waiting for us. May our thoughts and our deeds be directed toward our heavenly homeland".

Prayer in the Letters of St. Paul

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - After having examined prayer in the Acts of the Apostles, Benedict XVI announced that he will dedicate his next series of catechesis to prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, which always begin and end with an expression of prayer and which have given us a rich range of forms of prayer.

In Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square before more than 11,000 people, the Pope explained that the Apostle to the Gentiles wants us to understand that prayer "should not be seen as a simple good deed made to God, an action of our own. It is above all a gift, fruit of the living [and] revitalizing presence of the Father and of Jesus Christ in us".

When we pray we feel "our weakness ... our creatureliness, because we find ourselves before God's omnipotence and transcendence ... and we perceive our limitations ... and the necessity to trust ever more in Him". This then is when "the Holy Spirit helps us in our incapacity ... and guides us to turn toward God". Prayer, therefore, is mainly "the action of the Holy Spirit in our humanity that takes charge of our weakness and transforms us from persons who are bound to material reality into spiritual persons".

Among the effects of the action of the Spirit of Christ as the internal principle of all our acts, the Holy Father observed first that "prayer inspired by the Spirit gives us the possibility to abandon and overcome all forms of fear or slavery, living the true freedom of the children of God". Another consequence is that "our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is no longer affected by deeds or situations. We understand that prayer doesn't free us from trials or tribulations but we can live them in union with Christ, with His suffering, in view of also participating in His glory".

"Many times", the Pope said, "we ask God to deliver us from physical and spiritual evil ... however, we often have the impression that He doesn't hear us and we run the risk of becoming discouraged and of not persevering. In reality, there is no human cry that God does not hear. ... God the Father's answer to His son was not the immediate freedom from suffering, from the cross, or from death: through the cross and His death, God answered with the Resurrection".

Finally, "a believer's prayer, if open to the human dimension and to creation as a whole ...does not remain locked in on itself. It opens itself to share in the suffering of our time. It is thus converted into ... the channel of hope for all of creation and an expression of God's love that is poured into our hearts by means of the Spirit".

The apostle, the Holy Father concluded, teaches us that when we pray "we have to open ourselves to the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit ... in order to turn ourselves to God with our whole heart and our whole being. Christ's Spirit becomes the strength of our our 'weak' prayer, the light of our 'dim' prayer, ... teaching us to live while facing the trials of existence, in the certainty that we are not alone, opening ourselves to the horizons of humanity and the creation that 'is groaning in labour pains'".
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