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Monday, January 30, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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