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Friday, April 13, 2012


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - An Italian book entitled "Il Santo Padre e i volontari europei" was presented this morning at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, respectively president and secretary of the council, and by Michel Roy, secretary of Caritas Internationalis.

A communique released by "Cor Unum" explains that the book contains, "apart from an address by the Pope on the subject of voluntary work, the most important contributions made during a conference on that topic held in the Vatican last year. The conference, which took place in the context of the European Year of Volunteering, was attended by bishops with pastoral responsibility for charitable work and representatives of European charity organisations". The presentation "will also serve to focus on future Church strategies in this field", the communique says.

Speaking during last November's conference Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, focused on the civic importance of voluntary work, especially in view of the current economic and cultural crisis. She also recalled that around twenty per cent of the European population undertakes some kind of voluntary activity. "Volunteer work", she said, "is a great resource for Europe and part of the continent's DNA".

Addressing the participants at the end of the conference last year, Benedict XVI noted that their meeting was taking place on the liturgical memorial of St. Martin of Tours. "Often portrayed sharing his mantle with a poor man", he said, "Martin became a model of charity throughout Europe and indeed the whole world. Nowadays, volunteer work as a service of charity has become a universally recognised element of our modern culture. Nonetheless, its origins can still be seen in the particularly Christian concern for safeguarding, without discrimination, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. If these spiritual roots are denied or obscured and the criteria of our collaboration become purely utilitarian, what is most distinctive about the service you provide risks being lost, to the detriment of society as a whole".


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - The annual report for 2011 on the implementation of the U.S. Church's "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" was presented recently in the United States. The Charter, which advocates a zero tolerance policy, was promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 and is observed by all Catholic dioceses in the country. It contains a series of rules and makes prevision for periodic checks to control efficiency and determine the need for any further improvements.

According to an article in the "Osservatore Romano", the results for 2011 throw light on ongoing efforts to ensure the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse by the clergy, a commitment which constitutes a priority for the local Church. The report shows that almost all the the archdioceses, dioceses and eparchies in the U.S.A. have respected the rules laid down in the Charter. The Charter itself was updated last year by introducing the offence of child pornography, and by placing abuse against people with disabilities on a par with abuse against minors.

The annual report includes 683 new complaints of abuse made by adults, most of which refer to incidents which took place between 1960 and 1984. Assistance programmes have been offered to the people involved and 453 of them have accepted. The report also includes twenty-one accusations presented by minors; some of these have been considered reliable by the police, three have turned out to be false and the rest are still being investigated. As for those accused, 253 have since died, 58 have been reduced to the lay state and 281 have been relieved of their pastoral duties.

The bishops note that the results must not encourage a lowering of guard. Presenting the 2011 report, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, highlights how "even if most of the complaints refer to the past, the Church must remain vigilant. She must do everything possible to ensure the abuses are not repeated, We must all continue to work for complete healing and reconciliation with the victims". For the bishops, the question of abuse "is a shared priority", he says. In earlier remarks Cardinal Dolan had emphasised that all priests found guilty of "these intolerable crimes" will be permanently removed from the ministry.

The report also recalls how more than two million volunteers throughout the country have participated in training courses on protection, held in parishes and schools. Moreover, more than 4.8 million children have been taught how to recognise and protect themselves from attempts at abuse. The U.S. Church's efforts in this field include a series of initiatives culminating in the National Child Abuse Prevention Month, held each year in April.


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - A congress entitled "From Parables to Twitter" is due to begin this afternoon at the "Istituto Massimo" in Rome. It will focus on the challenges and opportunities for evangelisation presented by modern communications technology.

The conference will begin with some remarks by Fr. Francesco Tata S.J., rector of the "Istituto Massimo". Participants will include Ettore Franzini, professor of new communications media at Rome's LUMSA University; Fabio Bolzetta, journalist of TV2000 and spokesperson of "WeCa", the association of Catholic webmasters, and Lucandrea Massaro, social media editor of "Aleteia", a Christian social network created under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. The moderator of the event will be Alessandro Gisotti, a Vatican Radio journalist.


Vatican City, 13 April 2012 (VIS) - Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, announced in yesterday's "Osservatore Romano" that over the next five years 1.5 million pages of manuscripts and incunabula held in the Vatican and in the Bodleian Library in Oxford will be be transferred into digital format. This is the largest such initiative yet carried out by the Vatican Library and is being put into effect with the assistance of the Polonsky Foundation.

Two thirds of the works to be digitised - around one million pages or 2,500 books - will be chosen from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and incunabula in the Vatican Apostolic Library. The institution possesses 8,900 incunabula, making it the fourth largest collection in the world. A catalogue of the incunabula has recently been published on the internet and, thanks to this latest project, it is hoped to make more than 800 complete works available online. They include the famous "De Europa" by Pope Pius II, printed by Albrecht Kunne in Memmingen before 1491, and the 42-Line Latin Bible of Johann Gutenberg, the first book printed using moveable type, between 1454 and 1455.

Certain particularly important Hebrew manuscripts are also due to be digitised, including the "Sifra", written some time between the end of the ninth and the middle of the tenth century and perhaps the oldest surviving Jewish codex; a Bible written in Italy around the year 1100; commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud; Halakhah and Kabbalah, as well as writings on philosophy, medicine and astronomy.

Among the Greek manuscripts to be transferred into digital format are works by Homer, Sophocles, Plato and Hypocrites, as well as New Testament codices and works by Church Fathers, many decorated with Byzantine miniatures.

As well as its 8,900 incunabula, the Vatican Apostolic Library also possesses more than 80,000 manuscripts. Msgr. Pasini explains that transferring them to digital format is a way of "better conserving cultural heritage, facilitating consultation and ensuring a high-quality reproduction before any eventual degradation of the original. It also means making those works immediately accessible to many more people online".

The Vatican Apostolic Library’s digitisation project began two years ago, since when the number of manuscripts available in digital format has been gradually increasing thanks to the efforts of the library's own reproduction laboratory. There are also a number of initiatives under way in collaboration with other cultural institutions, such as the ongoing digitisation of the Latin Palatine manuscripts being carried out with the University of Heidelberg.

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