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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The programme of the Holy Father's forthcoming trip to Milan, Italy, for the Seventh World Meeting of Families was published today. The meeting is due to last from Tuesday 29 May to Sunday 3 June and will have as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration". Benedict XVI will be present for the last three days.

The Holy Father will arrive at Milan's Linate airport at 5 p.m. on Friday 1 June, where he will be welcomed by the local authorities. At 5.30 p.m. he is due to meet citizens in the Piazza del Duomo and deliver an address. At 7.30 p.m. he will visit La Scala opera house where a concert is scheduled to be held in his honour.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday 2 June the Holy Father will celebrate Lauds and pronounce a meditation in the cathedral of Milan, in the company of priests and religious. He will then travel by car to the city's San Siro stadium for a meeting with young people who are due to receive Confirmation this year. In the afternoon Benedict XVI is due to deliver an address before the local authorities. At 8.30 p.m. he will move on to Milan's Parco Nord for the Feast of Testimonies of the World Meeting of Families.

On Sunday 3 June, Benedict XVI will preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Parco Nord. After praying the Angelus he will return to the archbishopric where, that afternoon, he will meet with members of the "Milano Famiglie 2012" foundation and with the organisers of his visit. At 5.30 p.m. the Holy Father will bid farewell to the authorities at Linate airport before boarding his return flight to Rome.

The World Meetings of Families trace their origins back to 1981 when Blessed John Paul II promulgated the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and established the Pontifical Council for the Family. The first meeting was held in Rome in 1994 and they have been taking place every three years since then. Their purpose is to celebrate the divine gift of family, to bring families together to pray, and to increase understanding of the role of the Christian family as a domestic Church and the basic cell of evangelisation.


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The Twelfth Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops recently held its seventh meeting. The outcome of their deliberations has been made public in a press communique.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod, began by recalling that the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is due to be held in the Vatican from 7 to 28 October on the theme: "The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith". The members of the council then turned their attention to a draft version of the "Instrumentum laboris" or working document of the forthcoming Synod, pausing to examine the issue of "the recipients of the new evangelisation and the identity of Christians in their relationship with Christ".

The communique notes that "debate was particularly intense concerning the primacy of the faith at this time in history, characterised as it is by a crisis in faith which is also a crisis in the transmission of faith. Mention was made of the 'fruitlessness of current evangelisation', also due to the influence of modern culture which makes the transmission of the faith particularly difficult, and represents a challenge for both Christians and the Church. In this context, the Year of Faith will be a good occasion to develop to gift of the faith received from the Lord, to live it and transmit it to others.

"The primary place for the transmission of faith was identified in the family", the communique adds. "There the faith is communicated to young people who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice of Christian faith. The indispensable efforts of families are then extended by catechesis in ecclesial institutions, especially through the the liturgy with the Sacraments and the homily, or by giving space to parish missions popular piety, movements and ecclesial communities".


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - On Sunday 4 March, dioceses in Spain will be celebrating Spanish America Day and, for the occasion, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America has published a message entitled: "Committed with America to the New Evangelisation", signed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., president of the commission.

"Today", the message reads, "the Church in Spain and the Church in America are, in some sense, facing the same challenges. Their rich Catholic tradition ... runs the risk of gradual erosion, Secularisation is advancing on all sides. There is no lack of hostility to the presence and message of the Church. The hedonistic and relativist trend of consumer and media society tends to displace and uproot the Christian culture of the people".

Therefore, it is necessary "to update, reformulate and revitalise Catholic tradition, rooting it more firmly in people's hearts, in the lives of families and in the culture of peoples, so that it may shine forth as beauty of truth, and as a promise of happiness and of a more human life for everyone". Both America and Europe are in need of a new evangelisation.

Speaking in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, Benedict XVI noted that Latin America's most precious heritage is its Catholic faith, which "has animated its life and culture ... for more than five centuries". This heritage, as the bishops gathered in Aparecida said, finds expression "in charity, which on all sides inspires gestures and initiatives of solidarity with the poorest and those most in need". Likewise, it foments "an awareness of the dignity of the person, wisdom about life, passion for justice, hope against all hope, and joy of living even in very difficult circumstances".

The message of the pontifical commission recalls how "calls for a 'new evangelisation' have been made very frequently, by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and addressed in particular to Europe and America. ... There is a need for people who show that God is present in their own lives and at all levels of existence and coexistence; people who invite others to share a life that is new, authentic and more human, a life that refers back to the event which made it possible and which continually regenerates it. ... May the People of God not fail to pray in all dioceses on this Day, that divine providence may arouse new missionary vocations".

The message contains a number of recommendations to strengthen missionary commitment to new evangelisation. These include welcoming families and communities of Latin American immigrants, especially in the current period of crisis "because they need the closeness, solidarity, charity, evangelisation and catechesis of Christian communities". Another important aspect is to welcome Latin American priests who undertake pastoral service in foreign dioceses, and to involve young people in new evangelisation, following the journey which began with World Youth Day in Madrid on "a spiritual, educational an missionary pilgrimage" to the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013.


Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - An exhibition entitled "'Lux in Arcana' - the Vatican Secret Archives unveiled", organised to mark the fourth centenary of the foundation of the Archives, will be inaugurated in Rome's Capitoline Museums tomorrow. The exhibition, which will remain open until 9 September, includes around 100 documents of great importance, including Clement VII's letter to the English parliament on the matrimonial cause of Henry VIII, the bull of excommunication against Martin Luther, documents from the trial of the Templars in France, and a letter from St. Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes to Pope Pius IX.

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