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Monday, September 10, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "The history of Colombia is indelibly marked by the profound Catholic faith of its its people, by their love for the Eucharist, their devotion to the Virgin Mary and the witness of charity of outstanding pastors and lay people. The announcement of the Gospel has produced fruit among you", said the Holy Father to a second group of prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit

Yet the Pope also noted how, in their reports, the bishops had drawn attention to "the devastating effects of increasing secularisation, which is affecting people's lifestyles and upsetting their scale of values, undermining the very foundation of Catholic faith, of marriage, the family and Christian morals". In this context, "tireless defence and promotion of the institution of the family continues to be a pastoral priority for you", he said. "Therefore, amidst the difficulties, I invite you not to lessen your efforts but to continue to proclaim the integral truth about the family, founded on marriage as a domestic Church and a shrine of life".

Benedict XVI then turned to focus on the Episcopal Conference of Colombia's Global Plan (2012-2020) and its overall objective of "promoting the processes of new evangelisation in order to form missionary disciples, encourage ecclesial communion and modify society on the basis of Gospel values. ... I accompany this intention with my prayers, asking God that, in putting it into effect, ministers of the Church may never cease to identify themselves with the sentiments of Christ, the Good Shepherd, going out to meet all people ... so as to offer them the light of His Word. Thus the dynamism of interior renewal will lead your compatriots to revitalise their love for the Lord, a source capable of infusing steadfast hope to live the faith responsibly and joyfully, and irradiate it on all sides".

The Pope went on to invite the bishops to consecrate "your best ministry to the priests, deacons and religious under your care, ... helping them to discern the truth of God's call that they may respond thereto with generosity and right intention. In this context, it would be appropriate for you, following to guidance of the Magisterium, to favour a revision of the content and methodology of their formation, seeking to ensure that it responds to the challenges of the present time and the urgent needs and requirements of the People of God".

Notwithstanding a number of hopeful signs, "violence continues to bring suffering, solitude, death and injustice to many of our brothers and sisters in Colombia", said the Holy Father. and he expressed his appreciation for "the pastoral mission which, often in places beset with difficulties and dangers, is being carried out in support of so many people who are unjustly suffering in your beloved nation". Finally he exhorted the episcopate to continue "to defend human life and cultivate peace, drawing inspiration from the example of our Saviour and humbly entreating His grace. Sow the Gospel and you will reap reconciliation, knowing that, wherever Christ reaches, harmony opens a way. hatred gives place to forgiveness and rivalry is transformed into fraternity".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. has sent a message, in the name of the Holy Father, to Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he greets representatives of Churches, Christian communities and the great world religions, "as well as the population of Sarajevo who are particularly dear to him", and participants in the twenty-sixth International Meeting for Peace which has been organised by the Sant'Egidio Community and its currently taking place in that city.

"It is a source of joy and comfort to see that this pilgrimage for peace, which was begun at Assisi in October 1986 by Blessed John Paul II, continues to bear fruit", the cardinal writes. He likewise recalls how Benedict XVI relaunched, also from Assisi, "the alliance between people of religion and others who feel no sense of belonging to any religious tradition but who are sincerely seeking the truth. He did so in the conviction that profound and sincere dialogue can lead, for the former, to commitment to an ever necessary purification of the religion they profess and, for the latter, to openness to the great questions facing humankind and the Mystery which surrounds the life of man. In this way, the joint pilgrimage towards truth can be translated into a joint pilgrimage towards peace".

"The Holy Father", Cardinal Bertone concludes, "in the hope that the meeting will prove fruitful, spiritually unities himself to all those present, in the certainty that the Lord, Father of all mankind, will continue to guide us along the paths of peace and of peaceful encounter between peoples".


Vatican City, 9 September 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus at midday today. Benedict XVI focused some remarks on what he described as "a word which, in its most profound meaning, sums up the whole message and work of Christ. ... That word is 'ephphatha', which means 'be opened'".

The Pope recalled how Jesus was crossing the region known as the "Decapolis", between the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon and Galilee, when He was presented with a deaf man to heal. Christ touched his ears and tongue and, looking up to heaven, pronounced the word 'ephphatha'. Immediately the man was able to hear and speak. "This deaf man, thanks to Jesus’ intervention, 'was opened'", the Holy Father explained. "Before he had been closed, insulated, it was very difficult for him to communicate; his healing was an 'opening' to others and the world, an opening that, starting from the organs of hearing and speech, involved his entire person and life: Finally he was able to communicate, and thus to relate to others in a new way".

"Yet", the Pope added, "we all know that man's closure and isolation do not depend solely on the organs of sense. There is an inner closure which concerns the deepest core of the person, what the Bible calls the 'heart'. This is what Jesus came to 'open', to liberate, so as to enable us to live our relationship with God and with others to the full.

"That is why I said that this little word, 'ephphatha' - be opened, sums up Christ’s entire mission. He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and so he would learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others".


Vatican City, 9 September 2012 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus today the Pope, speaking French and Arabic, spoke of his imminent apostolic trip to Lebanon, where he is due to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October 2010.

"I will have the happy opportunity to meet the people and the authorities of Lebanon, as well as the Christians of that dear country, and those who have come from nearby States", he said. "I am not unaware of the often dramatic situation being experienced by the peoples of that region which, for too long, has been rent by incessant conflict. I understand the anguish of many inhabitants of the Middle East, who are daily immersed in suffering of all kinds which sadly and sometimes fatally affects their individual and family lives. My thoughts go to those who, in search of safe refuge, abandon their family and professional lives to experience the precarious existence of the refugee. Although it seems difficult to find solutions to the various problems affecting the region, we must not resign ourselves to the violence and kindling of tensions. Commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be be the priority for all sides involved, and it must be supported by the international community which is becoming increasingly aware of the importance that stable and lasting peace in the region has for the whole world. My apostolic trip to Lebanon, and by extension to the entire Middle East, comes about under the sign of peace and with reference to Christ's words: 'My peace I give to you'. May God bless Lebanon and the Middle East".


Vatican City, 9 September 2012 (VIS) - "Ten City Squares for Ten Commandments" is the title of an initiative, which is being promoted by the Renewal in the Holy Spirit Association and was inaugurated this evening in Rome's Piazza del Popolo. The initiative involves a series of evangelisation meetings which will take place throughout the year in various Italian cities. The Pope sent participants a video message which was projected on giant screens set up in Piazza del Popolo.

"What significance do these Ten Words have for us in our current cultural context, in which secularism and relativism risk becoming the criteria for all choices, and in our society which seems to live as if God did not exist?", the Holy Father asked. "Our answer is that God gave us the Commandments to educate us in true freedom and authentic love, that we might be truly happy. They are a sign of love of God the Father, of his desire to teach us true discernment of good from evil, of truth from falsehood, of justice from injustice. They can be understood by everyone, precisely because they translate fundamental values into concrete norms and rules; and by practising them man is able to follow the path of true freedom, ... which leads to life and happiness.

"When he fails to do this", Benedict XVI added, "when in his life man ignores the Commandments, not only does he alienate himself from God and abandon the covenant with Him, but he also abandons life and lasting happiness. Man left to himself, indifferent to God, proud of his own absolute autonomy, ends up pursuing the idols of selfishness, power and domination, poisoning his relationship with himself and others, and following not the path of life but the path of death. The sad experience of history, especially last century, stands as a warning for all humankind. ... With His cross and resurrection Jesus brought the Commandments to fullness, radically overcoming selfishness, sin and death with the gift of Himself for love. Accepting the infinite love of God, having faith in Him and following the path He has laid down is the only thing that gives profound meaning to life and opens the way to a future of hope".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "Mariology since Vatican Council II: reception, outcomes and prospects" is the theme of the twenty-third International Mariological Congress. Receiving the participants this morning at Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father highlighted the appropriateness of the theme in light of the fact that 11 October this year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Council.

The Pope, who himself participated in Vatican Council II as a young theologian, turned his attention to chapter eight of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church "Lumen Gentium", entitled: "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church". Therein "the figure of Mary - re-examined and reinterpreted from the point of view of the Word of God, the texts of patristic and liturgical tradition, and a broad-ranging theological and spiritual reflection - emerges in all her beauty and uniqueness, closely enclosed within the fundamental mysteries of the Christian faith.

"Mary, whose faith is emphasised above all else, is part of the mystery of love and communion of the Blessed Trinity", Benedict XVI added. "Her participation in the divine plan of salvation and the unique mediation of Christ is clearly affirmed and given its correct import, thus making it a model and a point of reference for the Church which, in her, recognises herself, her vocation and her mission. Popular piety, which has always looked to Mary, is likewise nourished by biblical and patristic references.

"Of course the conciliar text was not able to cover all the questions concerning the Mother of God, but it does provide an essential interpretative horizon for all subsequent reflection, both the theological and the purely spiritual and pastoral. Moreover, it represents a valuable and highly necessary point of equilibrium between theological rationality and the emotion of belief".

The Pope concluded: "The unique figure of the Mother of God must be understood and studied from different and complementary standpoints. While the 'via veritas' remains valid and necessary, we cannot but also follow the 'via pulchritudinis' and the 'via amoris', in order to discover and contemplate ever more profoundly Mary's firm and crystalline faith, her love for God and her unshakeable hope".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "The Pastoral Care of the Road/Street: A walk together" is to be the theme of the first Integrated Meeting for the Pastoral Care of the Road/Street for the Continent of Africa and Madagascar, due to take place in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania from 11 to 15 September. The event has been organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, in collaboration with Tanzania's Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

The aim of the meeting is to promote pastoral initiatives and programmes in local Churches for the benefit for people who live on or from the road/street. This includes street women and children, people of no fixed abode, transport workers and those responsible for road safety.

Opening addresses will be made by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, and Archbishop Francisco Padilla, apostolic nuncio to Tanzania.


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

- Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy.

- Vladeta Jankovic, ambassador of Serbia, accompanied by his wife, on a farewell visit.

On Saturday 8 September he received in audience:

- Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community, accompanied by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant'Egidio Community.

- Seven prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia on their "ad limina" visit:

- Bishop Julio Hernando Garcia Pelaez of Istmina-Tado, apostolic administrator of Quibdo.

- Bishop Jorge Alberto Ossa Soto of Santa Rosa de Osos.

- Bishop Guillermo Orozco Montoya of Girardota.

- Bishop Jose Roberto Lopez Londono of Jerico.

- Bishop Fidel Leon Cadavid Marin of Sonson-Rionegro.

- Bishop Hector Cubillos Pena of Zipaquira.

- Bishop Orlando Roa Barbosa, auxiliary of Ibague.


Vatican City,  (VIS) -The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona O.C.D., prelate of Infanta, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Caceres (area 3,207, population 1,314,000, Catholics 1,272,000, priests 224, religious 376), Philippines. He succeeds Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi O.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Jojo Anand of the clergy of Simdega, India, diocesan director of the department for evangelisation and formation in the faith, as bishop of Hazaribag (area 21,213, population 5,347,000, Catholics 38,875, priests 108, religious 515), India. The bishop-elect was born in Minjiutgarha-Kutungia, India in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1992. He studied in India and in Rome, and has worked as director of the Faith Formation Team of the archdiocese of Ranchi and as assistant in the cathedral. He succeeds Bishop Charles Soreng S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Organisations for Food and Agriculture (FAO, IFAD and WFP), also as apostolic nuncio to the Principality of Monaco.

- Appointed Msgr. Piero Amenta, official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as prelate auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

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