Home - VIS Vatican - Receive VIS - Contact us - Calendar

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...[]

Last 5 news

VISnews in Twitter Go to YouTube

Thursday, January 19, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

  "No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment. Yet in faith we can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as from the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church's presence and witness in American society. The hope which these 'signs of the times' give us is itself a reason to renew our efforts to mobilise the intellectual and moral resources of the entire Catholic community in the service of the evangelisation of American culture and the building of the civilisation of love"
AL/                                    VIS 20120119 (760)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - In keeping with a long-standing tradition a Finnish ecumenical delegation (led this year by Catholic Bishop Teemu Sippo S.C.I. of Helsinki and Lutheran Bishop Seppo Hakkinen of Mikkeli) is currently visiting Rome to mark the Feast of St. Henry. The group was received this morning in audience by the Holy Father. "Our deepened friendship and common witness to Jesus Christ - especially before today's world, which so often lacks true direction and longs to hear the message of salvation - must hasten our progress towards the resolution of our remaining differences, and indeed of all matters on which Christians are divided", the Pope said to them speaking English.

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

  "Our longing for the full, visible unity of Christians requires patient and trustful waiting", Pope Benedict concluded, "not in a spirit of helplessness or passivity, but with deep trust that the unity of all Christians in one Church is truly God's gift and not our own achievement. Such patient waiting, in prayerful hope, transforms us and prepares us for visible unity not as we plan it, but as God grants it".
AC/                                    VIS 20120119 (310)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

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

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

    - Bishop Paul Stephen Loverde of Arlington.

    - Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of Richmond.

    - Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston.

    - Bishop William Francis Malooly of Wilmington.

 - Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke O.S.B. of Eichstatt, Germany.
AL:AP/                                VIS 20120119 (110)


VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

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

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

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