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Friday, February 24, 2012


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday morning the Holy Father met with priests of the diocese of Rome. Following a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Benedict XVI delivered a long off-the-cuff commentary on the Gospel passage.

The Apostle says: "I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

The first call we receive is that of Baptism, the Pope explained, the second is the vocation to be pastors at the service of Christ. "The great ill of the Church in Europe and the West today is the lack of priestly vocations. Yet, the Lord calls always, what is lacking are ears to listen. We listened to the Lord's voice and must remain attentive when that voice is addressed to others. We must help to ensure the voice is heard so that the call will be accepted".

According to St. Paul, the primary virtue which must accompany vocation is humility. This is the virtue of the followers of Christ Who, "being equal to God, humbled Himself, accepting the status of servant, and obeying even unto the cross. This was the Son's journey of humility, which we must imitate. ... The opposite of humility is pride, the root of all sin. Pride means arrogance, which above all seeks power and appearance. ... It has no intention of pleasing God; rather of pleasing itself, of being accepted, even venerated, by others. The 'self' becomes the centre of the world; the prideful self which knows everything. Being Christian means overcoming this original temptation, which is also the nucleus of original sin: being like God, but without God".

By contrast "humility is above all truth, ... recognition that I am a thought of God in the construction of His world, that I am irreplaceable as I am, in my smallness, and that only in this way am I great. ... Let us learn this realism; not seeking appearance, but seeking to please God and to accomplish what He has thought out for us, and thus also accepting others. ... Acceptance of self and acceptance of others go together. Only by accepting myself as part of the great divine tapestry can I also accept others, who with me form part of the great symphony of the Church and Creation". In this way, likewise, we learn to accept our position within the Church, knowing that "my small service is great in the eyes of God".

Lack of humility destroys the unity of Christ's Body. Yet at the same time, unity cannot develop without knowledge. "One great problem facing the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, 'religious illiteracy'", the Pope said. "With such illiteracy we cannot grow. ... Therefore we must reappropriate the contents of the faith, not as a packet of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality revealed in its all its profoundness and beauty. We must do everything possible for catechetical renewal in order for the faith to be know, God to be known, Christ to be known, the truth to be known, and for unity in the truth to grow".

We cannot, Benedict XVI warned, live in "a childhood of faith". Many adults have never gone beyond the first catechesis, meaning that "they cannot - as adults, with competence and conviction - explain and elucidate the philosophy of the faith, its great wisdom and rationality" in order to illuminate the minds of others. To do this they need an "adult faith". This does not mean, as has been understood in recent decades, a faith detached from the Magisterium of the Church. When we abandon the Magisterium, the result is dependency "on the opinions of the world, on the dictatorship of the communications media". By contrast, true emancipation consists in freeing ourselves of these opinions, the freedom of the children of God. "We must pray to the Lord intensely, that He may help us emancipate ourselves in this sense, to be free in this sense, with a truly adult faith, ... capable of helping others achieve true perfection ... in communion with Christ".

The Pope went on: "Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".

"Where there is truth, there is charity", the Pope concluded. "This, thanks be to God, can be seen in all centuries, despite many sad events. The fruits of charity have always been present in Christianity, just as they are today. We see it in the martyrs, we see it in so many nuns, monks, and priests who humbly serve the poor and the sick. They are the presence of Christ's charity and a great sign that the truth is here".


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received members of the "Circolo di San Pietro" who gave him, as they traditionally do every year, the "Peter's Pence" collection which is raised annually in parishes and religious institutes of the diocese of Rome. The sum is offered to the Pope to help him respond to the many petitions that come to him from around the world, especially from the poorest countries.

Benedict XVI thanked the members of the group for their efforts in favour of the needy, including canteens for the poor, shelters and international aid, and he encouraged them to ensure that faith, charity and witness continue to be the guiding principles of their apostolate.

"Lent has just begun", the Pope noted, "a liturgical period which invites us to reflect upon the nucleus of Christian life: charity. ... The witness of charity has a particular effect upon the heart of mankind; the new evangelisation ... requires great openness of spirit and a sagacious readiness to accept everyone", he said.

The Holy Father highlighted how "the authenticity of our faithfulness to the Gospel may also be measured in terms of the concern and solicitude we effectively strive to show towards others, especially the weak and the marginalised. Concern for others involves wishing their good in all aspects: physical, moral, and spiritual. Although modern culture seems to have lost a sense of good and evil, we must reaffirm that goodness exists and it triumphs.

"Responsibility towards our fellows means, then, wanting and doing good for others, hoping that they too will open themselves to the logic of goodness", he added. "Concern for our brothers and sisters means opening our eyes to their needs, overcoming that hardness of heart which makes us blind to others' suffering. Thus the service of charity becomes a privileged form of evangelisation, also in the light of Jesus' teaching, Who will consider what we have done to our fellows, especially the smallest and weakest, as having been done to Him".

Concluding his address, Benedict XVI highlighted the need to "bring our hearts into harmony with Christ's heart, so that our loving support for others may be translated into participation and sharing of their suffering and hopes. This will reveal both God's infinite mercy for all mankind, ... and our own faith in Him. Meeting others and opening our hearts to their needs is an opportunity for salvation and beatitude".

The "Circolo di San Pietro" was founded in Rome in 1869 by a group of young people under the guidance of Cardinal Jacobini and delegated by the Pope to exercise charity towards the poor.


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received His Majesty Siaosi Tupou V, King of Tonga. The King subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions dwelt on various aspects of the country's social and economic life, as well as on the positive contribution the Catholic Church makes in various sectors of society, and her activities of human promotion. There followed an exchange of opinions on the international situation, with particular reference to the Pacific island States.


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today issued the following declaration:

"In accordance with the decision taken at the end of the second meeting of the Vietnam - Holy See Joint Working Group, held in the Vatican on 23 and 24 June 2010, the third meeting of the Joint Working Group will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on 27 and 28 February. Following a number of visits by the non-resident Pontifical representative to Vietnam, the meeting will serve to strengthen and develop bilateral relations".


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome.

- Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, apostolic nuncio to Italy and the Republic of San Marino.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Erected the new eparchy of Segheneity (area 29,499, population 850,000, Catholics 35,557, priests 52, religious 70) Eritrea, with territory taken from the eparchy of Asmara. He appointed Fr. Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, vicar general of Asmara, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1996. He studied in Rome and has been active in pastoral work in and around Asmara.

- Appointed Fr. Dominik Schwaderlapp of the clergy of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, vicar general and canon of the metropolitan chapter, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 6,181, population 5,200,000, Catholics 2,111,166, priests 1,061, permanent deacons 317, religious 2,028). The bishop-elect was born in Selters/Westerwald, Germany in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1993. He has worked in pastoral care and served for a number of years as private secretary to the archbishop of Cologne

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