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Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "We have reached the eve of the day on which we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II and the beginning of the Year of Faith", said Benedict XVI at the start of his catechesis during this morning's general audience in St. Peter's Square. "And it is about the great ecclesial event of the Council that I wish to speak", he explained.

"The documents of Vatican Council II are, even in our own time, a compass guiding the ship of the Church as she sails on the open seas, amidst tempests or peaceful waves, to reach her destination". Vatican II, in which Pope Benedict participated as a young professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn, was, he said, "a unique experience" during which "I was able to witness the living Church ... which places herself at the school of the Holy Spirit, the true driving force behind the Council. Rarely in history has it been possible, as it was then, to touch almost physically the universality of the Church at a moment of peak fulfilment of her mission to carry the Gospel into all ages and unto the ends of the earth".

In Church history Vatican II was preceded by many other Councils such as Nicea, Ephesus, Chalcedon and Trent. In general though, they met to define fundamental elements of the faith, and particularly to the correct errors endangering that faith. This was not the case with Vatican Council II, because at that time "there were no particular errors of the faith to correct and condemn, nor were there specific questions of doctrine and discipline to be clarified. ... The first question that arose during the preparation of this great event was how to begin, what task to give it. Blessed John XXIII in his opening address of 11 October fifty years ago gave some general guidelines: the faith had to speak with a 'renewed' and more incisive voice, because the world was changing rapidly, but it had to maintain its perennial message intact, without giving way or compromising.

"The Pope", Benedict XVI added, "wanted the Church to reflect upon her faith and upon the truths that guide her. But that serious and profound reflection ... had to be the starting point for a new relationship between the Church and the modern age, between Christianity and certain essential elements of modern thought, not in order to seek conformity, but to show our world, which tends to distance itself from God, the requirements of the Gospel in all its greatness and purity".

"The age in which we live continues to be marked by forgetfulness and deafness towards God. I believe, then, that we must learn the simplest and most fundamental lesson of the Council: that the essence of Christianity consists in faith in God, ... and in the individual and community encounter with Christ Who guides our lives. ... The important thing today, as was the desire of the Council Fathers, is for us to see - clearly and anew - that God is present, that He concerns us and responds to us. And when faith in God is lacking our essential foundations give way because man loses his dignity. ... The Council reminds us that the Church ... has the mandate to transmit God's salvific word of love, so that the divine call which contains our eternal beatitude may be heard and accepted".

The Pope then went on to mention the four conciliar Constitutions, describing them as "the four cardinal points of our guiding compass": "Sacrosanctum Concilium" on the sacred liturgy, which speaks of the centrality of the mystery of Christ's presence in the Church; "Lumen Gentium" which highlights the Church's fundamental duty to glorify God; "Dei Verbum" on divine Revelation, which speaks of the living Word of God that unites and animates the Church throughout history, and finally "Gaudium et Spes" which deals with the way the Church transmits to the world the light it received from God.

"Vatican Council II", Benedict XVI concluded, "is a powerful appeal to us to make a daily rediscovery of the beauty of our faith, to understand it deeply through a more intense relationship with the Lord, and to live out our Christian vocation to the full".


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The "Osservatore Romano" newspaper has produced a special booklet to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II

The booklet will narrate the events of the Council on the basis of contemporary accounts, previously unpublished material or little known details, images and photographs of the Popes who guided or experienced the event, including Joseph Ratzinger who participated as a young theologian.

Last summer Benedict XVI wrote an introduction to an edition of his own conciliar writings, to be published by the German publisher Herder and edited by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller. That text, which is embargoed until 5 p.m. today, appears in the Italian, English and Spanish editions of the special booklet; it will also be published in the original German and in Italian in the "Osservatore Romano" of 11 October, and on the newspaper's website in seven languages (Italian, English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and Polish).


Vatican City,  (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to receive in audience His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion.


Vatican City,  (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Elevated Bishop Frans Daneels O. Praem., secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, to the dignity of archbishop.

- Appointed Fr. Vital Corbellini of the clergy of the diocese of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, missionary in the diocese of Ji-Parana and pastor of the parish of "Sao Joao Batista" at Jaru, as bishop of Maraba (area 81,832, population 646,000, Catholics 450,000, priests 35, religious 51), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Garibaldi, Brazil in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1986. He has worked in pastoral care in many different parishes and was vicar general of the diocese of Caxias do Sul from 1997 to 2001.

- Appointed Bishop Gregorio (Leozirio) Paixao Neto O.S.B., auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, as bishop of Petropolis (area 2,880, population 834,000, Catholics 646,000, priests 104, permanent deacons 2, religious 385), Brazil.

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