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Friday, September 21, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France, recalling that their country “has a long spiritual and missionary tradition, such that John Paul II called it the ‘educator of peoples’. The challenges of a widely secularised society now call us courageously and optimistically to seek a bold and creative response, by presenting the permanent newness of the Gospel”.

“With this perspective and in order to encourage the faithful of the entire world,” he continued, “I have called this Year of Faith … inviting an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Saviour of the world”. The Pontiff then went on to enumerate the duties of the bishop who must be a “good shepherd” toward his faithful and priests, and he called upon them to maintain a “special care for their priests, particularly those who have been recently ordained and those who are elderly or in need”. The Pope praised the initiatives of the French prelates in spiritually, intellectually, and materially assisting their closest collaborators. He also recalled the scarcity of “workers for the Gospel in our days. This is why,” he said, “it is necessary to pray, and to ensure others pray, for this intention, while I encourage you to follow the formation of seminarians attentively”.

“The solution to diocesan pastoral problems that arise should not be limited to organisational matters, important though they are, because there is a danger of emphasising a search for efficiency with a sort of ‘bureaucratisation of pastoral work’, focusing on organisations and programmes that can become self-referential, for the exclusive use of the members of such organisations. … Instead, evangelisation must start from an encounter with the Lord in a dialogue established in prayer, and then concentrate on witness in order to help our contemporaries rediscover the signs of God’s presence”.

The Holy Father thanked the laity for their generosity in responding to the call to participate in Church activities, noting at the same time that it is necessary, on one hand, to remember that, “the specific mission of the laity is Christian action in the public sphere, where they act on their own initiative and in an independent manner, in the light of faith and the Church’s teaching. It is therefore necessary to safeguard the difference between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ministerial priesthood of those ordained to serve the community: a difference that is not only of degree but of nature. On the other hand, full fidelity to the deposit of faith taught by the true Magisterium and professed by the entire Church must be maintained”.

Later the Pope spoke of one of France’s patron saints, Joan of Arc. This year the Church celebrates the sixth centenary of her birth. He noted that “one of the most original features of her holiness is precisely the link between mystical experience and political mission”, and he urged the bishops to promote her as a “model of secular sanctity in the service of the common good”.

“I would also like to emphasise the interdependence between the development of the person and the development of society itself and the fact that the family, which is the foundation of social life, is threatened in many places by a faulty conception of human nature. Defending life and the family in society is not at all backward-looking but prophetic, since it entails the promotion of values that allow the full development of the human person created in the image and likeness of God”.

Another of the tasks of a diocesan bishop is “to defend the unity of the entire Church within the portion of God’s people which has been entrusted to him, even if his heart expresses legitimately different sensitivities that merit equal pastoral concern”. In this area the Pope referred to “the specific expectations of younger generations who require proper catechesis so that they might find their place within the community of believers”. He recalled the many French youths, accompanied by their pastors, who participated in World Youth Day in Madrid, as a sign of the “new dynamism of the faith that opens the doors to hope”.

Lastly, Benedict XVI expressed his support for the programme "Diaconia 2013", which calls on diocesan and local communities as well as all believers to “put the service of all our brothers and sisters, especially the most fragile, at the heart of ecclesial outreach. May that service of our brothers and sisters, rooted in God’s love, arouse in all your faithful the desire to contribute, each to the extent of their own strengths, to making humanity a single, fraternal, and communal family in Christ”, he concluded.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father sent a telegram to Pietro Baldelli for the death of his brother, Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, penitentiary major emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The cardinal died yesterday at the age of 77. In the text the Pope recalls his "exemplary witness of Christian and priestly life", and his "dedicated and faithful service to the Holy See, especially in various diplomatic posts, always arousing appreciation for his fervent apostolic zeal and his faithfulness to the Gospel".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - A national meeting of indigenous priests, religious and catechists of Colombia came to an end yesterday in Bogota, Colombia. During the event participants reflected on certain key themes affecting pastoral workers in indigenous communities. The meeting was organised by the Commission for Missionary Animation of the Colombian Episcopal Conference's Pastoral Centre for the Evangelisation of the Faith, and coincides with the centenary of St. Pius X's Encyclical "Lacrimabili statu".

For the occasion the Holy Father sent a message to Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, president of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, in which he notes that St. Pius X's Encyclical, "in continuity with Benedict XIV's Encyclical 'Inmensa pastorum', highlighted the need to work more diligently for the evangelisation of indigenous people, and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress".

The Pope describes the current situation as "ripe so that - with right intention and configured to Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life for all humankind - pastors and faithful may experience a growing desire to protect the dignity and rights of indigenous peoples, while these, in their turn, may feel a greater desire to do their duty in accordance with their ancestral traditions. I pray to the Almighty that, first and foremost, the sacredness of their life may be protected. They must not for any reason be coerced because God wishes no one's death and orders us to love one another as brothers. May their lands by duly protected. May no one for any reason manipulate indigenous peoples, and may they not be attracted by harmful ideologies".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Vatican Publishing House and the Italian publishers Rizzoli signed an agreement concerning the publication of Benedict XVI's latest book about the infancy of Jesus in the Gospels.

The Vatican Publishing House gives Rizzoli the mandate to to sell the rights to the work throughout the world. In Italy the book is due to appear at Christmas and will be published as a joint edition of the Vatican Publishing House and Rizzoli. The German edition is to be published by Herder which has previously published the books of Joseph Ratzinger. Work is continuing on translations into the major languages. The definitive title has not yet been made public.

Joseph Ratzinger - Benedict XVI has focused his research and his work on making known the "person and the message of Jesus".

This new and much awaited volume on the figure of Jesus in the Gospel narratives of His infancy completes the two previous volumes and is of great theological and academic importance. The earlier works are entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today published the calendar of celebrations to be presided by the Holy Father in the months of October and November:


- Thursday 4: Pastoral visit to Loreto, Italy.

- Sunday 7: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's Square for the opening of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Universal Church.

- Thursday 11: At 9.30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's Square for the opening of the Year of Faith.

- Sunday 21. Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, canonisation of the following Blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), Kateri Tekakwitha and Anna Schaffer.

- Sunday 28: At 9.30 a.m. Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the conclusion of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.


- Friday 2: All Souls Day. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Pontiffs.

- Saturday 3: At 11.30 a.m. Mass at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica for cardinals and bishops who died during the course of the year.


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

- Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio to Sweden and Iceland.

- Ten prelates of the Conference of Bishops of France on their "ad limina" visit:

- Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas of Rennes, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Nicolas Souchu.

- Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers.

- Bishop Thierry Scherrer of Laval.

- Bishop Yves Le Saux of Le Mans.

- Bishop Alain Castet of Lucon.

- Bishop Jean-Paul James of Nantes.

- Bishop Jean-Marie Le Vert of Quimper, Cornouailles.

- Bishop Denis Moutel of Saint-Brieuc.

- Bishop Raymond Centene of Vannes.

- Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed as consultors of the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims within the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue: Fr. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua, director of the Department for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria; Fr. Amir Jaje O.P., secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Iraq; Fr. Felix Korner S.J., professor of the theology of religions at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Rotraud Wielandt, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Bamberg, Germany; Ian Netton, vice director of Arab and Islamic studies at the University of Exeter and professor of Islamic studies at Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and Romana Bashir, head of the Christian Study Centre in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

- Appointed Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Fort Worth, U.S.A., as bishop of Orange in California (area 2,025, population 3,037,000, Catholics 1,291,000, priests 269, permanent deacons 96, religious 412), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Tod D. Brown, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Rochester, U.S.A., presented by Bishop Matthew H. Clark, upon having reached the age limit.

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